System Shock

Created by Nightdive Studios

System Shock is a complete remake of the genre defining classic from 1994 built by a team of industry veterans. Remember Citadel.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Sometimes You Need To Take a Step Back In Order To Take Two Steps Forward
9 months ago – Sat, Feb 17, 2018 at 12:48:31 AM

Kickstarter Update from Stephen Kick, CEO of Nightdive Studios

 

In March of 2016, Nightdive Studios released our video of our vision of System Shock Remastered. Done in Unity it was an immediate hit with almost a half million views on YouTube. In June of 2016 we launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the vision into a reality. It was tremendously successful with over 21,000 backers contributing over $1.3 million to the campaign. We put together a development team and began working on the game. But along the way something happened.

Maybe we were too successful. Maybe we lost our focus. The vision began to change. We moved from a Remaster to a completely new game. We shifted engines from Unity to Unreal, a choice that we don’t regret and one that has worked out for us. With the switch we began envisioning doing more, but straying from the core concepts of the original title.

As our concept grew and as our team changed, so did the scope of what we were doing and with that the budget for the game. As the budget grew, we began a long series of conversations with potential publishing partners. The more that we worked on the game, the more that we wanted to do, and the further we got from the original concepts that made System Shock so great.

Ultimately the responsibility for the decisions rests with me. As the CEO and founder of Nightdive Studios, a company that was built on the restoration of the System Shock franchise, I let things get out of control. I can tell you that I did it for all the right reasons, that I was totally committed to making a great game, but it has become clear to me that we took the wrong path, that we turned our backs on the very people who made this possible, our Kickstarter backers.

I have put the team on a hiatus while we reassess our path so that we can return to our vision. We are taking a break, but NOT ending the project. Please accept my personal assurance that we will be back and stronger than ever. System Shock is going to be completed and all of our promises fulfilled.  

Stephen Kick

January Update
10 months ago – Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 01:07:54 AM

Happy New Year to all our wonderful backers, we hope it has been a good one so far!

We thought a new video for the new year was what was needed. Join our Art Director Kevin Manning and some of our concept art team, Robert Simon & Cody Williams, to talk about some pieces as well as the process. 

               

Graybox Sneak Peek

Some of you may have already seen this little area posted on our Game Director Jason Fader's Twitter:

Recognize this area?
Recognize this area?

 

                                      

FAQ

Q: When is the release date?  

A: We're still early in development. Once we enter our Production phase, we'll have more info for all of you.  

Q: What happened to the old Unity Demo?  

A: At this time, we have taken down the old demo since it does not reflect the current state of the project.  

Q: Will there be an Unreal Demo soon?  

A: We do not have plans to release a build of the game until the backer Beta begins.  

Q: Any hope for a Nintendo Switch version? How about Xbox One X?  

A: It is not off the table.  

Q: Will there be Mod Support?  

A: While we did not hit this goal as part of the Kickstarter, however it is a goal on Backerkit: https://system-shock.backerkit.com/  

Q: Will System Shock be Mac compatible?  

A: Yes. Mac, Linux, and Windows  

Q: How does the sizing work on the shirts?  

A: We will update the Backerkit entry with a sizing chart for both male and female shirts.

Q: Can I use PayPal as my payment method on Backerkit?  

A: We're still considering PayPal - hold tight!  

Q: How long do I have until I need to finalize my Backerkit survey?  

A: A few months before launch, we will send out a number of updates before we're ready to finalize orders.

Q: Are refunds available?

A: Nightdive Studios will not consider refunds until after the game is finished, as per standard practices with most Kickstarter campaigns.

                  

If you have any other questions or support needs, please let us know here:

http://support.nightdivestudios.com/

Or join in on the conversation on Discord:

http://www.systemshock.com/discord

               

GDC is around the corner and so is another big update, see you next time~!  

 (。・ω・。)ノ♡Karlee Meow  

Also find us on:

https://twitter.com/NightdiveStudio

https://twitter.com/SystemShockGame

https://www.facebook.com/NightdiveStudios/

https://system-shock.backerkit.com/

https://shop.nightdivestudios.com/

http://forums.nightdivestudios.com/

http://www.systemshock.com/discord

November Update
about 1 year ago – Wed, Nov 08, 2017 at 12:33:18 AM

Hey there Hackers!

We’re going to try something new (for us) and show A LOT of what we’re working on… even stuff that’s a work in progress. We appreciate everyone’s patience with us as we find the best way to reveal things we’re working on. If folks like this format, we’ll try to do more of these in the future. Please let us know what you think:

                                        

Updated FAQ

With the video update today we thought this would also be a good time to answer some of the questions that have been coming up again and again in both our Kickstarter comments, Discord, and other social media channels. We will be answering more questions on future updates or join us on Discord at http://www.systemshock.com/discord to talk about all things System Shock.   

Kristina Tomalesky|Lead Producer                  

Q: What stage of development are you at?  

A: (TL;DR) We are currently working on Vertical Slice in Pre-Production.  

(Read on for more details…)  

Game development breaks down into several Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production milestones. This varies a bit from company to company as well so keep in mind that how we define these milestones may differ somewhat from how others use these same terms. The end goal for all developers is it to take chunks of related work and set deadlines for that effort.

For System Shock, Pre-Production breaks down into several smaller milestones:

  • Concept / Pitch / Prototype - This was the work that was necessary for the Kickstarter. The team put together a high level game design document, established an art style, and created pitch materials including the Kickstarter video.
  • Hold that thought….Change engines to UE4!!! - Once the Kickstarter funded, the team went back to work only to change gears in a massive way. An engine change is never easy but the team felt that it was the correct call for the project so we spent several months moving from Unity to UE4, revising our processes, and rebuilding our pipelines. On top of that we streamlined our character development pipeline to Maya. This whole process made several of us want to pull out our remaining hair, except for Jason that is! We are very glad that work is complete!
  • First Playable - First Playable is unsurprisingly the first playable version of a game. For us, it meant a small section of the Medical Deck, the Mutant enemy, Sparq Beam, door codes, audio logs, throwable items, cameras, detection states, shatter tech, and a bunch of new art and additional tech all working in one build! First Playable also gave us the chance to prove out, adjust, and refine our development pipelines. In addition, being on UE4 required us to redo some things that had previously been done for the Unity version of the game. In all, we created a playable game that had approximately 7 encounter scenarios and had approximately 10 - 15 minutes of gameplay.
  • Vertical Slice - Vertical Slice is a thin deep slice of the game. If you think of cutting a cake and applying it to game development, you look for a full featured experience in a small section of the game. For Shock, we are finishing building out the Medical Deck including labs, vents, and patient rooms, adding in several new enemies including the Cyborg Drone and Cyborg Commander, new weapons, turrets, hacking puzzles, and so on. This milestone also lets us finalize the combat for multiple weapon types and throwable items. By the time this milestone is complete, we should have a good hour of gameplay that is very indicative of the final game.

Once the Vertical Slice Milestone wraps up the team moves into Production. Similar to Pre-Production, Production breaks down into several smaller milestones (Alpha, Beta, Final). We will explain more about these milestones and goals as the project develops.

Q: When is the release date?  

A: We're still early in development. Once we enter our Production phase, we'll have more info for all of you.

Q: What happened to the old Unity Demo?  

A: At this time, we have taken down the old demo since it does not reflect the current state of the project.  

Q: Will there be an Unreal Demo soon?  

A: We do not have plans to release a build of the game until the backer Beta begins.

Q: Any hope for a Nintendo Switch version? How about Xbox One X?  

A: It is not off the table. 

Q: Will there be Mod Support? 

A: While we did not hit this goal as part of the Kickstarter, however it is a goal on Backerkit:

https://system-shock.backerkit.com/

Q: Will System Shock be Mac compatible?  

A: Yes. Mac, Linux, and Windows  

Q: How does the sizing work on the shirts?  

A: We will update the Backerkit entry with a sizing chart for both male and female shirts.  

Q: Can I use PayPal as my payment method on Backerkit?  

A: We're still considering PayPal - hold tight!

Q: How long do I have until I need to finalize my Backerkit survey?  

A: A few months before launch, we will send out a number of updates before we're ready to finalize orders.

                                  

Nightdive Studios Fifth Anniversary

Today marks the 5th Anniversary of Nightdive Studios, we couldn't do it without such a great community! So let's celebrate with a sale, all our titles are up to 80% off on Steam:

http://store.steampowered.com/sale/nightdive/

We are so excited to be celebrating 5 wonderful years!
We are so excited to be celebrating 5 wonderful years!

            

 If you have any other questions or support needs, please let us know here: 

Support.NightdiveStudios.com

 See you next time~! 

 (。・ω・。)ノ♡Karlee Meow 

Also find us on:  

https://twitter.com/NightdiveStudio

https://twitter.com/SystemShockGame  

https://www.facebook.com/NightdiveStudios/ 

https://system-shock.backerkit.com/ 

https://shop.nightdivestudios.com/ 

http://forums.nightdivestudios.com/

http://www.systemshock.com/discord

October Update
about 1 year ago – Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 01:20:18 AM

Hey there hackers,

               

Wow it has been a long time since I have been able to write to you, but I have so much to share! Starting with our most recent interview with PCGamer talking about how we are approaching the reboot, plus lots of new concept pieces:

https://goo.gl/xm1AgG

Now a little something from Game Director Jason Fader...

                     

Fader and Spector  


Hi everyone, Jason here! Last month at PAX, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Warren for a bit. We’ve spoken before, but this was the first time we actually got to relax and just chat about everything. While I’d love to go into all of the neat Shock stuff we were bouncing around, a lot of it is super hush hush.

Warren and I at PAX West 2017
Warren and I at PAX West 2017

 

I’ll be honest, no matter how long I’ve been in the game industry, I still fanboy at my idols. Warren was no exception. As he would recall tales of his early days in the industry, I couldn’t help but feel honored that I am a part of a legacy that he helped start with System Shock. Most of our time chatting was spent on books, movies, and TV shows we gravitated towards. I would bring up my passion about recent TV shows that cover stories around artificial intelligence, and he would discuss amazing books that inspired him. Eventually we discovered we both had cats waiting for us at home and proceeded to exchange cat pictures.  

As for specific Shock stuff we discussed, I can’t say much. I can say SHODAN is a character very special to both of us, and was the topic of several conversations. If you can picture us around a cocktail table with drinks in our hands as we delightfully discuss the finer points of System Shock and everything else, it was basically like that. I eagerly look forward to more times when we can unwind and share a drink. :-)

  

Art & Animation

As you may have seen from the PCGamer article, we have shared quite a few new pieces of concept art! Right now, I would like to focus on this one piece in particular.

Comparison of Old & New Maintenance Level.
Comparison of Old & New Maintenance Level.

          

Here we have a concept of the new Maintenance Level done by artist Robert Simon side by side with the original. With this we can easily show you our direction of preserving the old while still keeping things fresh! What do you think?

Moving on to something a little different, our animators wanted to share something we find really cool and spooky for the month of October.  Please enjoy our in-game footage of a mutant!

                           

Discord

The time has come, we are opening up our Discord to the Public! So please feel free to invite your friends to join in the community:

https://discord.gg/Nightdive

                

FAQ  

Q: Will System Shock be Mac compatible?  

A: Yes. Mac, Linux, and Windows 

Q: How does the sizing work on the shirts? 

A: We will update the Backerkit entry with a sizing chart for both male and female shirts. 

Q: Can I use PayPal as my payment method on Backerkit? 

A: We're still considering PayPal - hold tight! 

Q: How long do I have until I need to finalize my Backerkit survey? 

A: A few months before launch, we will send out a number of updates before we're ready to finalize orders. 

Q: I pledged at the $75 tier and still have issues with shipping, what gives? 

A: We are so sorry with the delay, we were working hard with Backerkit to resolve this issue. At this time, all backers at that tier should no longer have to worry! 

               

 If you have any other questions or support needs, please let us know here: 

Support.NightdiveStudios.com

         

See you next time~!  

(。・ω・。)ノ♡Karlee Meow

Also find us on:

https://twitter.com/NightdiveStudio

https://twitter.com/SystemShockGame

https://www.facebook.com/NightdiveStudios/

https://system-shock.backerkit.com/

https://shop.nightdivestudios.com/

http://forums.nightdivestudios.com/

July Update: Dev Diary by James Henley
over 1 year ago – Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 11:52:02 PM

Hey folks!   
   

This is James Henley, Lead Level Designer on the System Shock reboot. We thought that we’d give a little bit of insight into the level design process this month! Being a creative process, there’s a lot of variation from person to person but what follows is my personal approach. I’m going to speak in generals so try not to read too much into game content specifics from this. 

First off, however, let’s address the elephant in the room...

                     

System Shock’s levels are already designed, aren’t they?

This update is about process rather than intent, so I’ll keep this brief! The purpose of a reboot is to leverage an existing foundation while still allowing the freedom to re-envision, clarify, or otherwise expand upon a work. You could view it as building a new body to house an old soul.  

The answer to the question is both “yes” and “no.” The original levels were designed under specific philosophies and restrictions that have grown or otherwise evolved in the years since. To that end, much of my work involves translating old intentions and bringing them forward to work in tandem with the technology and principles we have today. My goal is to create a believable world space that retains System Shock’s original sense of exploration and freedom.  

I won’t get into the specifics of my design philosophies at the moment but let’s just be clear that I’m not talking about the modern trend of corridor-shooter level design; I’m an advocate of choices, exploration, and the freedom to tackle challenges in a variety of ways. My job is to develop a believable world space for the player to explore, not a cinematic corridor to be raced through.

                            

Initial Planning

Before we can place so much as a single piece of flooring, we must first consider the goals and themes of an area, addressing questions such as:

  • What section of the station does this level occur on?  
  • What are the major narrative beats it must cover?(General objectives, Key events & interactions)
  • Is it a new tileset / major set of assets?

This information is compiled in a short document to provide material for the larger discussion meeting that comes next.  

A level designer’s work can often be viewed as the end product of an assembly line, loosely speaking. Everything in the game feeds into it and much of what we rely on are the fruits of another department’s labors; creatures, tiles and art assets, hackable objects, etc. Accordingly, stakeholders meet to hash out some of the more detailed points of the level, such as:

  • What kind of artistic themes and points of interest can we leverage?  
  • What is the player’s toolbox? (Abilities or powers, Weapons and other possible gear)
  • What is the designer’s toolbox? (New and returning creatures, Mechanics to introduce, Gating mechanisms, Features of the area itself, thematically or geometrically)

                                

Paper, Please

Even in the digital age, I’m still a fan of working with paper first and foremost! I have a small notebook that I cram full of bullet point notes to clarify thoughts, sketch out room designs, etc. There’s just something about not being bound to my computer that lets me feel more creative at this stage.

Sorry, gotta scrub all the sensitive information!
Sorry, gotta scrub all the sensitive information!

 

I like to start by establishing the overall gameplay beats -- the pacing and flow of both narrative and game elements within a level’s critical* path. This means determining what the major objectives are at a more granular level. Where do you go? How do you get there? What affects your ability to get there and what options do you have for solving that?

* The specific events, be they branching or linear, that must be encountered in order to progress from beginning to end of a level

I write the major events, objective updates, etc. on cue cards. Yes, cue cards. I spread them around on the floor and start grouping, ordering, and reordering them to get a feel for strengths and weaknesses in the flow of events. I enjoy this approach because iteration is simple, rapid, and I can sort through and make adjustments anywhere from my office to a coffee shop -- though the latter is less appreciative about the whole “spreading them out on the floor” thing.

                                     

Spatial Relations

While the cue cards have helped hash out a lot of information at the high level, that doesn’t necessarily tell a lot about the physical layout. I have one more step before I dive into the in-engine side of the process: conceptual mapping. It’s a fancy term for a pretty simple thing; a flow-chart mapping out the spatial relation of level locations and events, as shown below. It gives an opportunity to identify potential for shortcuts, space requirements, and helps clarify a few other bits and pieces.

 

Even in a sci-fi setting, there are still a number of equivalent locations that we already have ingrained context for in the world around us, such as factories, hospitals, department stores, etc. During this stage, I do a lot of research into floor plans and layouts to determine what existing contexts can be leveraged in order to help make the space more believable. Would this kind of room really be near that kind? Are these features logical or are we placing them this way strictly “because plot?” There is a point where you have to draw the line in favor of the “it’s a game” argument but there’s little reason to abandon environmental believability prior to that. Ultimately, it’s a balancing act of realism vs. intended player experience.

                   

The Gray Box

To be honest, all the doc preparation in the world doesn’t change the fact that level design is ultimately an organic process once you get into the engine itself; it’s strictly a set of guidelines to help propel the work along. Planning for the space isn’t quite the same as working within it. New ideas form, plans change, and feedback is taken into account. That’s just the way things go.

So why all the initial work on paper? I think Eisenhower said it best:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Personally, I build much faster and more effectively with a handful of guidelines established.

The first stage of actual level creation is known as the gray box. Temporary assets are used to block out the various rooms and corridors, stub out points of interest, and ultimately create the framework for a playable area. It’s not pretty, but it’s the bone structure of the game world’s physical space. A designer’s job is to make it functional and effective; an artist will make it look damn good later!

A quick gray box demonstration room.
A quick gray box demonstration room.

                                      

Gray boxing is a critical phase in the life of a level. Iterations can be performed fairly quickly at this point without as much risk of the changes impacting other departments. We play through the level frequently to feel out travel times, sight lines, room designs, verticality, and all manner of minutiae. Side paths, alternate routes, and the like are implemented and tested.

Gray box sections can even be provided to art as reference for more accurate concepting of props and space purposes.  

Feedback is taken and adjustments are made accordingly. As a general rule, I assume that nothing is right the first time; iteration is the key to a polished design.

                   

Stubbing in the Gameplay

Once the gray box geometry begins to stabilize, encounters and event markers can be stubbed in. Even if the correct creatures aren’t available, something can always be placed as an approximation. This allows us to:

  • Plan encounter locations  
  • Plot patrol paths  
  • Arrange stealth routes or alternative solutions to combat  
  • Test the overall pacing in a variety of playstyles
From a non-combat perspective, we can also start plotting the specifics of:

  • Key item placement (Weapons, Progression items or stand-ins, Information provisions critical to narrative)
  • Event areas for scripting  
  • Environmental storytelling
            

Polish and Iteration and Iteration and Iteration and...

As you’d expect, all of this is run through another round of feedback and iterations! This cycle of adjustments continues until design signs off and hands the level over to the artists so that they can work their own magic. While they do that, we can continue to iterate on and polish the non-geometry gameplay elements -- though the occasional change to geo may still be necessary. Nature of the beast, and all.

Throughout the entire level design process, communication lines are kept open with the Art department and ideas are shared about the look, shapes, or visual goals. It’s not enough to just pass them a box and say “make this pretty.” They have their own goals to meet and intentions to express, so a strong dialogue between level designers and artists is critical to making sure that everyone is getting what they need out of the world that’s being built.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek under the hood at how a level initially takes shape. I’m sure Art’s side of the process would have cooler things to show but, hey, a level’s gotta start somewhere!
                                        
                 

CS:GO "Oceanic Ordinance"

Calling all CS:GO players! Come vote for the "Oceanic Ordinance", a custom P90 with the Nightdive Studios logo paint job.

Thanks Tom (DonHonk), for creating such an awesome design!
Thanks Tom (DonHonk), for creating such an awesome design!



                                                                 
If you have any other questions or support needs, please let us know here:


See you next time~!  
(。・ω・。)ノ♡Karlee Meow