Interview with Mitch Gitelman
General Manager of Shadowrun at FASA Studios -
other press members of XCN (Xbox Community Network), we have been able to ask
some questions to Mitch Gitelman, General Manager at FASA Studios, about the game
XCN : Will
you make use of Live Anywhere and if so, how?
Mitch Gitelman : Live
Anywhere is a vision of connecting gamers regardless of device or platform. Shadowrun
fulfils that vision as the first Games for Windows Live title and the first title
to allow Xbox 360 and Windows Vista gamers to play together. As a Games for Windows
Live title, we feature integrated chat, gamertags and gamer scores, Achievements,
Friends lists, and invites across all platforms.
: The game doesnt have a single-player campaign and has only a few online
modes. Wont this, despite the addition of magical abilities, make the game
Mitch Gitelman : Not at all. Multiplayer focused games
are an emerging genre and we are no more limited than any of the other games in
our genre. Counter strike has been one of the most popular shooters for years
and Shadowrun's innovative game play is fun, addictive and will keep players entertained
for a long, long time. The combination of races, tech, magic and weapons has tons
of replay value and you can play all our maps and game types against our bots
at different skill levels.
XCN : You
try to redefine the FPS genre by using magic and different races with unique characteristics.
Isnt it likely that after a short time certain combinations will dominate
the game and make other combinations obsolete?
Mitch Gitelman : No.
We've been playing Shadowrun for years and we're still learning new tactics and
new combinations. In addition, Shadowrun is about improvisation using the tools
you have in the situation you're in. No combination is effective in every circumstance
and you can only have 3 abilities usable at any given time. So every time you
settle on a combo, you are denying yourself others. Now, some of our combos are
"classics" like glider/teleport that many players will take every game.
That doesn't mean they're overbalanced, though. That means they're really, really
fun to use.
XCN : Why did you
pick typical fantasy races like elves and dwarves to appear in a futuristic shooter
Mitch Gitelman : Shadowrun is based on a paper and
pencil role-playing game where magic has returned to the 21st century and reawakened
dormant magical DNA in some people, turning them into creatures of legend. From
a game play point of view, "typical" races like this are great because
you can take one look at a character and get an idea of what he's capable of.
That instant recognition saves considerable "training time" and effort.
: The Shadowrun series has predominately been an RPG, what was behind the
decision to make this new game a first person shooter?
: Its true that Shadowrun started as an RPG but its also been
a tactical combat board game, a collectable card game and an action figure combat
game. The world of Shadowrun is large and theres a lot to do in it. Pen
and paper and electronic RPGs explore the story element of that world, but other
mediums have focused on the combat like we did. But the question remainswhy
a team-based first-person shooter? If you look at FASAs history, youll
see why. Weve been making multiplayer shooters since 1990 with the BattleTech
pods. The pods were location-based multiplayer units that linked 8 players together
in virtual reality cockpits along with voicechat. Seven years ago, we released
MechWarrior 4 and people are still playing it in multiplayer leagues. We produced
MechAssault, the launch title for Xbox Live at the birth of online console action
gaming. After that, we developed Crimson Skies, a game that lots of people call
their favorite online game for the Xbox. And then I hired John Howard, the lead
designer of Halo, melded the design teams of those great games together and set
out to make Shadowrun. So why adapt it to an FPS? Because we know it would kick
If you ran a studio with a history of making groundbreaking and fun multiplayer
action games and the lead designer of the best FPS on console, what would you
XCN : How have you integrated the hacking
phases of Shadowrun in this next-gen version ? Will we have the chance to see
some shadowrunners from the SNES version (Anders, Steelflight or Akimi for example)
Mitch Gitelman : This version of Shadowrun is focused on the combination
of magic and technology. In future versions, we will move the timeline forward
and introduce new elements such as decking. Because this game is set 25 years
before the SNES game, those characters do not appear.
: Why should we (the gamer) buy Shadowrun? What is it's main feature?
Mitch Gitelman : Its an intense, team-based first-person shooter
that combines ancient magic, modern weapons and advanced technology in a way thats
never been done before. Rather than turn magic and tech into just another weapon,
weve made them into tools the player uses to outwit and outfight the enemy.
Notice that I used outfight instead of outshoot. Thats
because Shadowrun isnt just about putting your cross-hairs on a troll and
pulling the trigger. Its about using the right abilities and the right weapons
at the right time to get the advantage in combat. Its really a thinking
persons shooterbut someone who thinks on fast on their feet. If you're
bored of first person shooters and are ready to go to the next level, Shadowrun
is for you.
XCN : Please can you
tell us more about the multiplayer gameplay of Shadowrun?
: Shadowrun is focused on team based gameplay. Shadowrun will support
a maximum of 16 players per game but youll see a lot more that 16 players
flying around the battlefield. You can summon creatures to fight for you, strangle
crystals to block entrances and capture enemies, and trees of life to magically
heal you. Shadowrun has three different gametypes. These are Raid, Extraction
The Raid gametype requires the attacking team to capture
a magical artifact and deliver it to the extraction area. The defending team must
stop the attackers from escaping with the artifact.
The artifact always starts
in the same place and only the attackers can carry it. If it is dropped and not
picked back up, it will eventually return to its initial location.
side on offense and the other on defense Raid is the more tactical of the two
gametypes, often feeling like a high speed chess match with magic and machine
In Extraction the artifact starts in the center of the
map. Both teams can pick the artifact up. Each team wants to bring the artifact
to a separate extraction area on the opposite side of the map from where they
Extraction is the more fast paced and frantic gametype. Both sides are
after the same thing so combat happens faster and faster paced.
is basically a game of team deathmatch, however there is no respawn. The only
way to come back into a specific round is to be resurrected by a teammate.
: Traditionally the mouse and keyboard control combination has been considered
superior to that of a control pad, do you think the pc gamers will be at an advantage
over the Xbox360 players with cross platform play due to the differences in control
Mitch Gitelman : I know there are a lot of people who dont
believe we could make the controls fair but we did it. Remember that Shadowrun
isnt just about putting your crosshairs on the enemy. You can be a great
shot but get your ass handed to you by someone who uses tech, magic, and character
abilities better than you. We have great testers who helped us balance the game.
These guys are league FPS players, so they know what theyre doing.
: Will the game release at the same/ similar price on both platforms?
Mitch Gitelman : We have not announced pricing for Shadowrun yet.
: Shadowrun seems to be a cross between a 3d-shooter and a RPG. Does the character
collect new spells, while receiving more experience (as in a normal Role-play)?
Mitch Gitelman : Shadowrun has been described as an "RPG on speed"
because after choosing a magical race, you buy new tech, weapons and magic to
your character each round. So you may start out with a pistol and one spell but
by the end of the game, you are a powerful shadowrununner, capable of all sorts
of wild things.
XCN : Many thanks for your
Related links :
- Other Xbox
Gazette, April 25th 2007
Thanks to : Mitch Gitelman,