Harebrained Schemes, the development studio responsible for 2018’s BattleTech revival, is looking for an Art Director and Lead Game Designer to helm an “unannounced horror project,” according to two job listings posted on its official website. Should the project come to fruition, it will be Harebrained Schemes’ first horror game, following a nine year history of producing turn-based RPGs and the odd tabletop game.
Both the Art Director listing and the Lead Game Designer listing refer to the new project as a “new horror-themed game,” but otherwise there’s not much to go on. Under the “Nice to Have” section of the Lead Game Designer ad, Harebrained Schemes does ask for someone with “knowledge of architecture, environment art composition principles, interior/exterior space design, etc.,” which seems a just little too specific to mean nothing, but I’m not willing to jump to any conclusions just yet.
Besides, what would this indicate? That Harebrained Schemes is out here staffing up to make Haunted Mansion Tycoon? Or some kind of M.C. Escher maze house game? Has Harebrained Schemes finally landed the coveted “House of Leaves” license? Friends, we just don’t know. (These are all good ideas though, which are copyright Me, 2020, no take-backs, so don’t try anything.) Both job listings go on to emphasize Harebrained Schemes’ small team sizes, pet friendly offices, free parking (!!), and comprehensive benefits package, but there is little be inferred from this.
Founded in 2011 by Jordan Weisman (no relation) and Mitch Gitelman, Harebrained Schemes appeared on most folks’ radar in 2012, when it successfully kickstarted an isometric RPG set in the Shadowrun tabletop universe, which Weisman had helped create in the late 1980s. The resulting game, Shadowrun Returns, released on Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, and Linux in 2013, and was enough of a critical and commercial success to spawn two stand-alone expansions, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Dragonfall released for the same platforms as Shadowrun Returns in 2014, while Hong Kong would skip the mobile versions for its 2015 debut.
Weisman and company would return to Kickstarter in 2015 to help fund BattleTech, a turn-based strategy title that, again, was based on a tabletop game that Weisman helped develop in the 1980s. The campaign had an initial goal of $250,000 (Harebrained Schemes had already set aside $1 million of its own money), and by the time funding ended, the developer had raised $2,785,537.
While Harebrained had originally planned to have BattleTech out the door by early 2017, this time-frame came and went, with Paradox Interactive eventually stepping in to further fund and publish the game. Later in 2017, Paradox announced that BattleTech, which by then had obviously missed its original launch window, would not debut until sometime in 2018. The game eventually made it to PC, macOS, and Linux on April 24, 2018.
Shortly thereafter, Harebrained Schemes — which I’ve never once been able to spell correctly on the first try — was acquired by Paradox Interactive for a one-time payment of $7.5 million. Since then Harebrained has put out three DLC expansions for BattleTech: Flashpoint, Urban Warfare, and Heavy Metal. One must now assume that preliminary pre-production activities were also spooling up for whatever this new horror game is, and as far as I’m aware, Weisman did not create any tabletop horror franchises in the 1980s.