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Challenge Shadowrun developers at their own game

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

Shadowrun, Microsoft's marriage of PC and console video games – an industry first – hits store shelves today and the developers are marking the occasion by matching their magical and military skills against the public.

The notion of linking console and PC gamers in a single online experience is so novel, that none other than Bill Gates was trotted out to introduce it at the E3 video game trade show and conference in Los Angeles, Calif., in May 2006.

"I called that," FASA studio manager Mitch Gitelman told me on a visit to Toronto last week. "I said Bill Gates would introduce it and everybody said I was crazy, but I was right." (We'll publish the interview soon – keep your eyes peeled.)

The FASA Studio team that spent three and a half years (including one year of seven-day weeks), putting together the first video game that lets people on both PCs and the Xbox 360 console play against each other online are on Microsoft's Xbox Live network and hosting online chats all day today.

Among the participants are lead designer John "Mediocre" Howard, multiplayer development lead Peter "Telo" Burzynski and technical art director Mike "Portergraphic" Porter. A more extensive list is on the Shadowrun website.

The game, set in 2031, melds magic and technology, giving the player the option to play as a cybernetically enhanced soldier for a global corporation for control and profit, or one of the rebel Lineage who want magic to remain free to all.

Does any of this sound familiar?

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