Shadowrun Returns: A Kickstarter success story, for a change.

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I've done my fair share of Kickstarter bashing since funding computer games via crowdsourcing became a trend. It seems only fair I take a few minutes to talk about a Kickstarter success story.

I'm talking about Shadowrun Returns, which shipped last week. The Kickstarter campaign for Shadowrun Returns ran from April 4th - April 29th, 2012. The goal was $400,000 but the campaign pulled in $1.8 million. The original launch date (based on backer rewards) was intended to be January 2013. Obviously, July is not January but I'm not sure anyone thought January was a realistic goal (an 8 month development cycle seems crazy).

By November of 2012 developer Harebrained Schemes gave a more realistic release target of "May or June," citing a switch from an overhead perspective to an isometric one, and just a general expansion of the initial vision based on the bigger budget they had to work with.

They slipped a bit, but compared to many other Kickstarter projects they came pretty darn close. They also didn't let the extra funding twist their vision, and the game they released last week is very true to what the Kickstarter campaign offered.

As a backer of this project, I felt that Harebrained also did a fine job of keeping me updated on the progress without over-sharing. We didn't get updates on the new office furniture or the fact that the office coffee maker was on the fritz. I'm exaggerating of course, but some campaigns stuff your in-box with really trivial updates, which is almost as bad as the projects that never update you on what's happening. It's a fine line, and Harebrained danced along it nicely.

This isn't the forum for reviewing computer games, but I'll just say I've been very pleased with the resulting product. The only major blemish is a checkpoint save system that, in my experience, isn't as big a deal as some reviewers are making it out to be. Balancing that out is a pretty incredible level/mission editor which ought to give the game long legs, once the community starts generating more content.

If you're a fan of old-school, party-based RPGs with tactical turn-based combat and lots of text-based dialog and lore, you might want to check out Shadowrun Returns on Steam. It's currently $20.

Even if you're not interested in the game itself, you might find Gamasutra's interview with Harebrained's Jordan Weisman of interest. In it, Weisman shares his experiences with the campaign, including mistakes he sees other crowdfunders make, and reasons he feels his was so successful. It's a good read.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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