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:

September Update
over 4 years ago – Sat, Sep 07, 2019 at 03:04:02 AM

Welcome to this September Update...

We will be going through some of the environments, art direction and how characters come together. Everyone has been working so hard, so please enjoy!


This month we have a variety of storage based environment pieces to show, starting with an in engine view of the cold storage.

Robb's concepts of containers and storage that are soon to come. Wait... what's that gorilla tiger doing up there?

Shipping containers
Storage lockers

System Shock’s Texture Aesthetic

Here’s a look into the approach we’re taking with textures of the game. With System Shock we want to create a quasi retro look that combines modern physically based rendering tech with a low-res, pixelated texture aesthetic that evokes the low resolution of the original game. To this end, the texel density of every object and character in the game is strictly limited to only 256 pixels per meter, to keep the level of pixelization consistent across all surfaces. Like some modern 2d games that combine old school aesthetics with modern framerates and effects, we hope to use some of the limitations of old graphical styles to give a unique feeling, evocative of how you might remember older games rather than how they actually looked. 

Small objects
Large objects

A consequence of this low-res aesthetic is that UV need to be very meticulously laid out to keep details as clean and readable as possible while also minimizing ugly distortions that would be less noticeable at higher resolutions.  UV edges need to be “squared off” when possible and lined up exactly along texel edges to try to ensure a clean, readable texture pattern. 

Literally every pixel counts, and from a character artist’s perspective this is possibly the most challenging aspect of production.

As an example, here’s the low-poly model of our new version of the male Humanoid Mutant on the right, next to his older prototype on the left Though very similar, we bulked him up slightly and humanized his face to make him appear a more mutant and less zombie.

Mutant lowpoly comparison

A major change however is in their UVs - the original layout was made before we adopted this texturing style, and while this layout works fine at modern texture resolutions, it introduces warping and unnecessary seams at our low texel density. The new version’s UVs attempt to minimize seams and conform as much as possible to the texture grid.

Mutant UV comparison
Texture grid comparison

Here’s some different angles of the Mutant low-poly model along with a couple wireframes:

Mutant lowpoly and wireframe

And here’s some shots of him taken from Substance Painter. 

Humanoid mutant textured

Next month we’ll be able to showcase several more fully textured characters, but in the meantime here are some more low-poly models with their wireframes.

Protoborg male
Protoborg female
Humanoid mutant female
Cyborg surgeon

The Shockbot

On to hi-poly model progress, here’s Robb Waters’s extensive concepts and Chris Mansell’s detailed model for the Shockbot, arguably the most critical character model in the game.  

Shockbot concepts
Shockbot concepts
Shockbot concepts
Shockbot concepts
Shockbot renders
Shockbot weapon renders

Why is he so important?  Since SHODAN is forced to repurpose existing technology aboard Citadel Station, the Shockbot is the foundation for a number of her minions.  The Cyborg Elite and Cyborg Enforcer are composed largely of repurposed Shockbot parts, and the Flier-Bot is in fact the Shock-bot’s detachable, transforming torso unit!  The Cyborg Warrior has been reconceptualized as an enhanced Shockbot with a human brain grotesquely grafted in place.   Here’s a look at the Shockbot and Laborbot’s grim family tree.

Shockbot family tree

Speaking of the Warrior, here’s Robb’s ortho design for the head and the enhanced laser weapon it will wield.

Warrior head
Laser weapon

And here are some very early WIP renders of the hi-poly Warrior skull 

and cable support system mounted onto a Shockbot body.

Warrior head renders


While on Citadel, you may run in to a few obstacles beyond an enemy attack. For example, a wire puzzle:

We will leave you on a final concept for the month, Edward Diego.

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August Update
over 4 years ago – Tue, Aug 06, 2019 at 02:03:45 AM

Are you ready for this months update?

I am thinking that we should start off this update with a bathroom break.

Level Design

Last month we showed a concept from the maintenance level, and now here it is coming together. 

 Here is another concept from Robb Waters of the maintenance level. 

Moving along to some things in progress...

Character Design

Here are some concept and work in progress models for the Protoborgs, yet-unprocessed Citadel crew members awaiting full cyberconversion. Whether a thrall of Shodan or a minion of Trioptimum, all cybernetic humans are marked by bio-mechanical circuitry running within the connective fascia tissue beneath their skin. Male and female protoborgs can be found in coma-like stasis around the Medical level, and their bodies are also the organic base for cyborg enemies such as the Drone, Enforcer, Elite and Assassin.

An update to the hood for the Cyborg Assassin. Robb decided that tucking the visor under the hood made its presence too subtle, so we’ve opted to install it over the hood to better evoke the iconic look of the original.

Then Robb's sleek redesign of the Autobomb. 

Environment Props 

 Last month you may have noticed the proxy table in the operating theater, here it is complete! 

Can you imagine the meetings that must have happened at this TriOp executive table?


VMU is not liable for any accidents which may occur due to distraction from playing GamePigTM games in a heads-up display. Oink!

 Robb Waters has really outdone himself in this awesome Space Minotaur poster.

Our programmer Matt K. has been hard at work to bring back the GamePig to Citadel Station, we hope you don't get too distracted!

KEX Team News

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil returns and is now coming to Nintendo Switch! The sequel to the hit game Turok is available August 9th, featuring a host of enemies, weapons, missions, and locations. Remastered for today’s consoles using a new engine with improved graphics, Turok 2 will transport players into sprawling environments with vicious enemies lurking behind every corner.

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July Update
almost 5 years ago – Tue, Jul 09, 2019 at 02:01:08 AM

Happy July backers, ready for this beefy update!?

Last month we showed you a bit of a peek in to the Research level of Citadel, so let's dive deeper and see some old vs new comparison shots.

Stairs? On Citadel? Can you believe it?!

I would say the station is looking good enough to bloody up soon... So moving on to some enemies being modeled, starting with the Cyborg Assassin. 

Robb Waters' modernized version of Trioptimum's elite cybernetic soldiers, a favorite enemy of the Nightdive team and the only enemy type from System Shock 1 that also appeared in System Shock 2. The prominent head-mounted scanner of the original has been reinterpreted as a surgically implanted visor that plugs directly into the optic nerve.

Conceived for the System Shock Remake, the Cyborg Surgeons are ambient, non-aggressive characters who process and maintain Shodan's minions, as well as perform menial data tasks around the station.

Male and Female variants of the Humanoid Mutant, crewmembers of Citadel Station warped by Shodan's biological experiments and implanted with cybernetic eyes. To add visual variation, Mutants will wear stretched, tattered, and bloody versions of the crew outfits they wore during their grotesque transformation, like the Standard Operations and Doctor outfits shown here.

The Virus Mutant, the horrific result of a human's exposure to Shodan's V-5 Mutagen Virus.  Some wormy visual cues in its skin point to the fact that it is a crude, early predecessor to the Hybrids of System Shock 2.

Lastly, before showing some concepts, we have a new element added to the environment. 

A bit eerie, isn't it?

For concept corner, here is a weapon we have yet to show!

As you may have noticed above, we have an exam table, but Robb has taken the concept to the next step.

Can you imagine this bot working on you while strapped down?

 Then to wrap things up, Maintenance level concept, look forward to an ingame viewing of this soon!

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June Update
almost 5 years ago – Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 01:23:10 AM

Happy E3 and let's show some more System Shock!

Now I would like to start this update with showing a character from start to finish. Say hello to the Cyborg Drone!


Examples of the lowres sprites of the cyborg drone from the original System Shock.

Robb Waters's modern update of his original design.  A guiding principle of the concepts for the remake is the idea that Shodan is repurposing already existing tech throughout the station for the creation of her cybernetic minions, giving them a brutal, improvised, function-over-form appearance.  In the case of the drones, security cameras have been unceremoniously grafted to the heads of Citadel's security detail.

To start the 3d process of creating the drone, a mannequin based on our generic male corpse body is brought into the clothing simulation software Marvelous Designer.  Here the character's clothing is roughed out and tailored to the body, creating a base for the folds and wrinkles of the drone's jumpsuit.

Inorganic and more tight-fitting elements of the drone are created using more traditional box-modeling techniques in 3d Studio Max.  Edges are chamfered and bevelled to help them retain their shape when subdivided into higher polygon counts.

All the elements of the character are brought together as different subtools within Zbrush, where the clothing and skin elements receive additional hand-sculpted details and tweaks.

The subtool elements of Zbrush are exported back into 3d studio max and traced over with new, lower poly topology to create a game-ready mesh.

The lowpoly mesh is quickly autorigged in Adobe Mixamo to get a sense of how it looks in motion and check for any obvious proportional issues.

The ingame mesh is UV-mapped in 3d Studio Max with a texel density of 256 pixels per meter.

The disparate parts of the hipoly and lowpoly meshes are brought into texture baking software Knald to generate the normal, AO, height, curvature, and transmission maps.

The mesh and projected textures are brought into Substance Painter to paint final physically based textures.

...and that is that! 

Now are you excited for the Cyborg Warrior?

Moving on to some new stuff!

Our artists have been working hard and have some stuff to show off, starting with the new and improved MedBed prop.

How do you feel about puzzles?

Bang bang, watch out we have a Mini Pistol on Citadel Station now.

Last but not least, we are starting to build out and populate Research level. Those who tuned in to the last dev stream got to see a sneak peak, but I have some more to share here.

Would you be interested in seeing more of this built on future streams?

Nightdive Studios General News

You may have heard this exciting E3 news already but... *drumroll* Turok and Turok 2 are getting a physical release on Switch with Limited Run Games!!!

Keep an eye out for future updates.

See you next time!

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May Update
almost 5 years ago – Thu, May 16, 2019 at 01:22:56 AM

Hey there Hackers, Karlee here with this month’s update!

Now last week we showed some concepts of a few weapons by Robb Waters, including some grenades of various types. Now wouldn’t it be cool to shoot them instead of lobbing them out by hand?


Are you ready for the Hacker to up his arsenal?


Let’s look at a few more concepts before moving on, but this time, an enemy! Here is Robb’s concept of the Cyborg Assassin, aka “Former Tri-Op Special Forces”. 


Now, what is under that shroud?


As you can tell, a lot goes into the creation of any character from concept to 3D model. Remember the Cyborg Drone concept? Check out his model progress.


Finally, can you figure out what tileset Jonathan is working on?



Blood: Fresh Supply Out Now


Brought to you by Nightdive's Samuel Villarreal and the KEX engine team. Originally released in 1997, Blood is a First-Person Shooter that helped redefine the genre and introduced many elements now accepted as commonplace. In the original and the updated Blood: Fresh Supply, players jump into the boots of undead gunslinger Caleb as he seeks revenge against the dark god Chernobog. Caleb’s arsenal features a mix of standard and occult weaponry, which he uses to devastating and gore-filled effect. In the game, players visit a terrifying world populated by hordes of bloodthirsty fiends – including cultists, gargoyles, zombies, hellhounds, and an unholy host of other terrors.  

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Now with Nightdive's KEX engine to achieve the following:  

  • Vulkan, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.2 support, play with unlocked frame rates! 
  • Antialiasing, Ambient Occlusion, V-sync and Interpolation support 
  • Support for high resolutions including 4K monitors 
  • Fully customizable keyboard and controller pad support 
  • Extended modding support, including support for already existing mods 
  • Completely rewritten netcode supports up to 8 players: 
  • Play online in co-operative mode, kill each other in “Bloodbath” or split the difference in classic 4v4 team-based “Capture The Flag” mayhem 
  • Battle it out in local split-screen action 
  • Roll your own soundtrack with full CD and MIDI music support
  • Look fully up and down with a new 3D view, or stick with the classic BUILD-engine style!


Pick this title up on:



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