Jordan Weisman discusses Shadowrun Returns' level editor

By Ozzie Mejia, Jun 23, 2013 9:00am PDT

Harebrained Schemes is on the verge of releasing the crowdfunded Shadowrun Returns. The game ships with a fully fleshed-out game editor. To learn more about the editor and other aspects of the long-awaited revival, Shacknews spoke to Shadowrun game designer, Jordan Weisman.

"Basically, the game masters can create any story, any adventure they want," Weisman told Shacknews. "The only limitations are that this is not an open-world system. From the beginning, we said it wasn't an open world. It is based on narrative and Shadowruns. You create a series of runs that can have all sorts of interdepencies with each other and you can create hub locations, like we have in our campaign, that can give you access to the runs. We've published as part of our Seattle campaign, and later with Berlin, a huge amount of building blocks to be able to build environments, both exterior and interior."

In addition to using the game's own assets, Weisman says that they'll also give creators the ability to make their own assets. "We are also going to release a kind of art guide for people that want to build their own environmental building blocks," he explained. "The editor has support for you to bring in and use your own art for your environments. That will be there as more of an unsupported feature, because there's a lot more that goes into bring art in. But if people want to do that, the mechanism exists for doing that on the environments."

One aspect of the editor that's off-limits is weaponry and magic. Weisman says that's out of respect for the Shadowrun lore, particularly the Shadowrun book and pen-and-paper RPG's. It's also because the system doesn't have an opening to create a new weapon.

That doesn't mean game masters won't have an entire playground's worth of assets to play with. The entire Shadowrun Returns campaign will be available for the game editor, something Weisman says continues the idea of Shadowrun as a pen-and-paper RPG.

"Ultimately, what's played around the tabletop is a world that is created by the game master and the players," said Weisman. "We don't view our campaign as *the* story for Shadowrun, we view it as just the first story for Shadowrun. It's just a building block for everything else."

While Shadowrun Returns will release concurrently on PC and tablets, don't expect the game editor to come to the palm of your hand. Inherent limitations means the game editor will not be coming to tablets, though Weisman hopes to bring user-generated content to tablet owners in some capacity.

"The editor runs on PC's and Macs," Weisman added. "The easiest way to consume and spread would be through the Steam portal, but it's not locked in. You can spread content however you want. For the tablets, what we're thinking we're probably going to end up doing is, on a regular basis, gathering a 'best-of' and bundling it up for distribution on the tablets."

What about the content created on PC and Mac? Can any of that be shared with a tablet version of Shadowrun Returns? Weisman rules that out for the moment, indicating that there's a matter of working with distributors. However, he does offer some hope for the future.

"We're still working that out, with how it's going to work out with the different app stores," said Weisman. "So right now, we're not able to say 'Yes, you'll be able to move your content directly to tablets.' The safest thing we can say at the moment is that we'll grab these and publish them in bundles to tablets, but that'd be an editorial process we'd be doing. Long-term, we hope that we can get a mechanism where you can move stuff as easily as you can on the PC, but there's a lot to navigate there, both on the back end and on the app stores, with the different rules and regulations of the tablets."

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