Saturday, May 26, 2007

Run Between The Shadows!

In 1989, FASA Corporation, a Chicago-based game company, rolled out Shadowrun. It was a pen-and-paper role-playing-game (RPG) set in a dark future after magic and mystical races had returned to the world.

In this bold new world, magic existed with cyber-technology. Players could create and adventure with cyberware-augmented human or troll heroes (who had their skeletons enhanced with nano-bots or weapons built right into their bodies) or with magic-wielders elven, human, or other race capable of laying waste to people and building.

RPG gamers snapped up the new product and ran with it. Since that time, Shadowrun has constantly been a property sought out by gamers. They adventure through a dark world of treachery and betrayal, working for Mr. Johnsons (the name applied to anyone willing to pay them to run through the city to get information, things, or people. Players could sign up as bodyguards, transport specialists, or outright assassins.

Megacorps run the world, and the players can choose to affiliate with one of them or live off the grid and risk life and limb just to live to see another day.

The RPG was so popular that it spawned a video game for the SNES console as well as the Sega Mega Drive. There was also a CCG, collectible card games.

On May 29, 2007, Xbox 360 and Windows Vista release the latest Shadowrun game. Although initially conceived as being based on the Halo gaming platform, the game designers soon had to write their own engine to drive the game. Shadowrun features 16-multiplayer capability in a first-person shooter scenario.

As a first-person shooter, the player will be able to choose between two different megacorps to play. In addition to the individual gamer’s experience against the game, the designs aren’t his.

Not only that, but Shadowrun will be the first video game to allow crossover gameplaying of the PC and Xbox 360 over Xbox Live. Alterations were made in the PC controls (which some game players have already protested even before the game has been released) to put the console players on equal footing with the PC players. The PC functionality has been lessened to provide harder target acquisition and limited movement to imitate the console player’s handheld controller. The console player also has access to auto-aiming to compensate for the pinpoint accuracy the PC player enjoys.

Screenshots released from the game are beautiful and show the amount of work the designers and the artists have gone to in order to make a good game. Players will have fully rendered 3-D environments to combat each other.

The original Shadowrun game was pen and paper role-playing-game (RPG) that rose to an overnight cult following in 1989. FASA Corporation published the game from that period to 2001 when they closed their doors and sold the rights to WizKids, another company created by FASA’s owners/product designers Jordan Weisman.

The RPG was set in 2050 and the major conceits were that the world had changed from nations and being politically-driven to megacorporations and being profit-driven. Magic and magical creatures and races had also returned to the world. The players usually rolled up characters who became “shadowrunners.” They were called that because they ran between the shadows of the megacorps and off the grid. They were usually hired by “Mr. Johnsons” to steal data, corrupt computer systems, and kidnap employees.

Shadowrun the PC Vista and Xbox 360 game is set in Brazil in 2021 and is a prequel to the events that changed the world. In the RPG game, the VITAS plagues (Virally Induced Toxic Allergy Syndrome) and the Computer Crash of 2029 set those events in motion. The new game is going to backfill some of the history of the RPG and sharpen the definitions of the races involved in the Shadowrun world.

As a writer, I was involved with Shadowrun and ended up doing three novels based on the game. I had a great time with the books and invented my own team of shadowrunners headed up by Jack Skater. The team included a troll street samurai called Elvis. How can you not love this stuff!


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Travis said...

I grew up playing the SNES Shadowrun game, i stumbled onto your blog while looking up info on Shadowrun(I'm trying to post some of the music from the game on my blog). Anyway...I saw Mel Odom and thought "like The Rover's Mel Odom!?" I love that book! I'm going to try and find a copy of these Shadowrun titles. Big fan of your work and am sure I'll love these.