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View Poll Results: Will Nightdive deliver the promised System Shock remake?

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  • Yes...and it will be true to the System Shock vision!

    2 28.57%
  • Yes...but it won't be true to the System Shock vision!

    3 42.86%
  • Hell No!

    2 28.57%
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Thread: Nightdive Studios Takes a Dive!

  1. #51
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: The Spiraling Sea
    A rundown on the breakdown...


  2. #52
    Good summary.

    What a shame.

  3. #53
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    This Dumb Industry: The Death of System Shock

    It finally happened. I backed a Kickstarter project that spent the money and didn’t manage to create a product. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but it really is a shame it happened to this project in particular.

    As I’ve said before, the 1994 classic System Shock was a really important game, both for the industry and on a personal level. It was the first of the immersive sim games, making it the progenitor of Thief, Deus Ex, BioShock, Prey, and (to a lesser extent) the Dishonored series. It’s a game I loved so much I novelized it. The sequel, System Shock 2, is often considered one of the greatest games of all time.

    So when I saw that Nightdive Studios was crowdfunding a remake of System Shock, I didn’t have much choice in the matter. Of course I was going to support it. But what really made me glad to put my money in was this blurb from the Kickstarter:

    A modern take on System Shock, a faithful reboot; it’s not Citadel Station as it was, but as you remember it. Many improvements, overhauls and changes are being implemented to capture the spirit of what the original game was trying to convey, and bring it to contemporary gamers.

    (Emphasis mine.) This was exactly what I was looking for: The game as I remember it.

    The tricky thing about nostalgia titles is just how much we forget their faults. I remember the game as looking cool. I remember the sounds being spooky. I remember the gameplay feeling frantic. But then I launch the game twenty years later and discover the visuals are so blocky I can’t tell what things are, the font is illegible, the gameplay is awkward, and the interface is an abomination. I didn’t notice those problems at the time because all of the technology was new and nobody knew how to do better. What the Nightdive team seemed to be offering was a way to revisit the game with all those problems fixed. And maybe this would give us a way to share this classic with the younger generation without having to explain “You can’t use the mouse to look around. You have to use the keyboard. I’m so sorry. We didn’t know any better.”



    This looks like a parody of mid-90s PC interface design, but this is actually from the game. In fact, this is the first thing you see when the game launches. Hope you can memorize it, because some of these things will be really important later!


    As a backer I read and watched their development updates. As time went on, the news made me more and more uneasy and their creative decisions became increasingly inexplicable. Every update announced a disastrous idea with optimism and enthusiasm. I wish I’d written about it at the time so I could seem prescient now, but I was actually second guessing myself. “Oh, I’m just worrying because the project means so much to me. If I speak up now I’ll come off like an entitled, overprotective fan. They probably know what they’re doing.”

    But no. The project has now failed, and it failed in exactly the way I feared. They ran out of money and quit. My gut instinct was right.

    So let’s go back in time and look at how the project evolved.

    June 2016





    The initial Kickstarter asks for 900k. That’s not a lot of money. Keep in mind that this isn’t a 2D sidescroller. This is an RPG shooter with very large environments. That means complex visuals, complex mechanics, and complex animations. This was one of the earliest examples of audiologs, which means you also need a bunch of voice acting. There are dozens of named characters. Sure, everyone is dead by the time the game starts so you don’t need mo-capped in-game cutscenes, but you still need character designs and portraits to go with the audiologs. The game also has a hacking minigame, upgrades to your abilities, inventory management, and a fly-through cyberspace minigame. There are sixteen different weapons of all different types: Melee, tranquilizer, energy weapons, and traditional firearms. On top of the sixteen weapons are an additional eight different types of explosives. Also, there are multiple types of ammo for some weapons. There are different movement modes that including flying, crouching, lying prone, leaning left and right, moving in low gravity, and cyber-skates that let you glide off the walls. The environments need to be dynamic and feature elevators, lighting changes, destructible objects, moving walls, forcefields, and several different types of doors. The game is non-linear and has a little Metroidvania in its DNA, so the player needs to be able to backtrack across the levels and have their changes to the environment maintained. And on top of all that, there are opening and ending cutscenes that have aged far better than many other games of the same time period, and doing them justice will be difficult without spending a lot of money.

    There’s a reason this game is considered a classic. This is a big game with a lot of content. I have no idea how they planned to get all that done for just 900k. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was less than the budget of the original game in 1994.






    According to the business types and executives I’ve worked with, it costs almost double someone’s salary to employ them. If you pay someone $50k a year, then it probably costs you close to $100k once you’re done paying for health insurance, taxes, equipment, unemployment insurance, and whatever else it costs you to keep them around. So 900k is enough to employ 10 people for just one year at 45k each. 45k sounds low for industry veterans, ten people sounds like a very small team for a project this complex, and a year sounds like a really tight schedule. And that’s assuming you spend everything on salaries and don’t have any operating expenses and you’re not planning on doing any marketing.

    It’s June now, and they’re promising a delivery date of December of 2017. At best that gives them a year and a half to get this done. It’s probably less than that, since if you want to release in December you need to go gold a few weeks earlier.

    But fine. Maybe the right people could get this done for 900k. Maybe these people are willing to take small salaries and manage their budget very, very carefully. They have a playable demo, after all.

    The end of July rolls around. The Kickstarter ends, and the team gets 1.3 million. That gives them some breathing room. Maybe I’m just worrying.

    March 2017
    I’ve been ignoring the game since the Kickstarter campaign ended. But when the team makes a big announcement I take notice.

    “We have officially switched our engine for System Shock to Unreal Engine 4.”

    Just… what?

    When the campaign was going you had a working demo made in Unity. It had scenery, models, animations. You’re throwing that all away? Why? You already had a tight budget and tight schedule.

    Worse, the new stuff looks terrible. The original Unity demo looked like remastered System Shock. For context, here is what the original game looked like:






    And here is what that same hallway looked like in the demo featured in the Kickstarter pitch video:






    That’s so perfect. It captures the feel of the original while using modern rendering techniques. This is exactly what you want if you’re trying to make the game look, “The way you remember it”.

    And now here is a screenshot from the game after the switch to the new engine:






    This looks like a generic corridor shooter. It looks flat and sterile and boring. The earlier screenshot is unmistakably System Shock, and this one could be from anything.

    The team defends the change by saying that it’s not fair to compare the two. See, that original demo represented six months of work, and this new footage is just their first rough draft.

    Yeah. I get that. That’s why we’re upset. I know games can look good in Unreal Engine. It’s a good piece of technology. The point is that you’re not there yet. We’re now nine months into this project. Fully half of the time budget is gone, and you’ve actually made negative progress. You haven’t even worked your way back to where the game was during the Kickstarter campaign.

    To explain this seemingly insane move, Game Director Jason Fader said:

    After listening to everyone during the Kickstarter campaign, it became clear that console support was very important to a lot of you. We took a hard look at what Unity could do on consoles, and what we wanted to achieve for both visual quality and performance.

    This is really annoying because it’s highly unlikely but impossible to disprove. This is a remake of a 24 year old game in a niche genre that was exclusive to the PC. Are these aging, PC-focused, immersive-sim fans really clamoring for console support in significant numbers? Are there really that many people demanding to take this first-person game with a complicated interface and play it with thumbsticks? Or did you change engines for other reasons and are now trying to justify it by claiming it’s the “will of the backers”, since that’s impossible to disprove?






    Regardless of what the community wanted, what this looks like is they took that 1.3 million from old-time PC fans and used it to pivot to the console market.

    Moreover, even if you really thought that “visual quality” was lacking, was jumping engines really your only option? What is it that Unreal Engine could do that Unity couldn’t? Are you seriously suggesting you couldn’t get that demo running smoothly on the Xbox One? I get that UE is the bigger, more impressive engine and is favored by AAA developers, but you’ve got a budget of 1.3M. You’re not making a AAA game. The backers were evidently fine with the visuals. So who are you trying to please?

    Moreover, this jump took the project away from the grid-based design structure of the original. See, System Shock used this odd engine that was reminiscent of Wolfenstein 3D or Rise of the Triad. The environment layouts could be depicted on graph paper. Shock had the small improvement that you could optionally have floors and ceilings slope at exactly 45 degrees, which helped break up the boxy look and make the levels look more interesting.






    Yes, things like this constrain the artists, but they also simplify design. If you’ve ever opened up a modern level editor you know there’s a lot of fussing around required, even if you just want to make a simple box building. That same building might only take a few seconds to throw together in something simplistic like Minecraft.

    What I’m getting at is that this change didn’t just create a massive setback, it also made the game harder to develop. It takes more time to construct a freeform environment than to build one based on a simple grid. Not only was the original budget and schedule very tight, but now they’ve thrown everything away and started over with an even more ambitious design. Madness!

    I must be missing something. Nobody is this crazy. Certainly not these industry veterans. I’m just being an obsessive fan and second-guessing them because my emotional investment is too high. I should probably just ignore the updates. The game will either be a success or it won’t. Speculating won’t change that. Neither will arguing with a press release.

    November 2017

    The Nightdive team releases a video showing their progress. Unable to contain my curiosity, I watch it.

    The good news is that the art style has recovered. The game has shed the “everything is made of dull plastic” look and is starting to develop a style of its own. It still doesn’t look anything like the original game or “System Shock as I remember it”, but it no longer looks boring. I guess it looks contemporary in terms of art design. I think looking like a modern game seems like a terrible mistake from a cost perspective, but maybe they’ve found a way to streamline it somehow? Maybe they’re going to use prefab rooms, like the Snap Map system they had in Doom 2016. Because if they’re trying to make the entire game at this level of detail, then I have no idea how they’re going to pay for it all.






    The video is narrated by art director Kevin Manning, who says:

    “I started on the project about a year ago as the lead artist, and just as the switch to Unreal [Engine] was happening. It was an interesting time for sure, as our small team learned the new toolset[…]”

    You… you guys didn’t already know the Unreal toolset!? This is beyond absurd. I sort of assumed you chose UE because it was familiar. But not only did you throw away six months of work and and commit to a more ambitious design, but you decided you were going to do this with unfamiliar tools?

    A bit later in the video:

    “The team, the public, and our Kickstarter backers were all split between the retro look of the demo and reimagining it similar to what Doom and Wolfenstein had done.”

    I’m sure you can find a handful of people who were asking for modern visuals, but are the backers really “split” over this? I certainly never heard any of these alleged demands for more advanced visuals. More importantly, this isn’t a democracy. Even if there is a paradoxical “vocal yet silent majority” pushing you in the direction of Doom 2016 and Wolfenstein: The New Order, that simply isn’t an option. Those are AAA games with multi-year development cycles and tens of millions of dollars to spend. You’ve got 18 months and $1.3 million.






    The rest of his talk follows the same lines. It discusses spending months learning tools, doing tests, and working on concept art. Those are all things you do at the start of a project. It’s clear they’re not going to hit their release date, since that’s next month. But I feel like progress should be further along than these static environments and motionless placeholder foes.

    Later in the video Game Director Jason Fader shows off “shatter tech”. He blasts a cryogenic barrel to freeze a zombie. Then he blasts it to show that the body shatters. You can even cut off specific limbs. Cut off a leg and it’ll topple over, then shatter.

    I guess that’s impressive. But how is this moving you closer to your goal of shipping the game you promised? This gun is not a weapon from System Shock. Cryo barrels were not a part of System Shock. Shattering wasn’t part of the game either. With so much to do, you’re working on complicated technology-heavy features that weren’t even part of the game you’re trying to remake?

    On top of all the other work you have to do, you’re now going to add balancing new weapons, creating new layouts, integrating new mechanics. You’re not “remaking” System Shock. You’re just making a new AAA shooter and slapping the System Shock name on it.

    January 2018

    They release another video. This time they’re focusing on concept art. Considering how the game was supposed to release last month, it seems like we’re really late in the project to still be mucking around with concept art. This should have been done ages ago. You should be in full-tilt content creation by this point, and you’re still trying to figure out what the game should look like?

    Concept art is important. But it’s not that important. You can make a game without concept art. But you can’t make a game without content. You can’t make a game without code. If you’re behind schedule and budgets are tight, then concept art is one place you can cut some corners. On a small team you don’t hire laser-focused specialist workers, you hire generalists and have them work on may different parts of the game.

    I want to stress that this concept art isn’t just rough sketches to establish architectural cues and color palette. This is very elaborate work. It’s the kind of stuff I’d expect to see from a huge studio when they’re trying to keep their two dozen environmental artists organized.




    Oh, the game is finally starting to look pretty good. Oh wait. This is just more concept art. You guys know you can't SHIP concept art, right?


    In the video, Environmental Concept Artist Robert Simon talks about making 3D models so he can turn them into Photoshop images to be used as concept art. This seems like a decadent expenditure of resources, and that’s before you get to the part of the video where it’s revealed that he’s not the only concept artist on the team.

    It’s like they think they’re a AAA studio. Maybe their project lead has only managed large-budget games and he doesn’t know how to scale down to something this size? Maybe they have other money besides the Kickstarter funds? I don’t know.

    I can’t make sense of this. This behavior is so divorced from reality that I feel I must be missing something. The only theory I can come up with is that maybe their real goal is to have a major publisher take them under their wing and give it proper AAA funding. Maybe they’re trying to imitate Doom and Wolfenstein because they’re hoping to follow in their footsteps. I don’t have a shred of proof, but I think this theory makes more sense than “The project lead doesn’t understand the concept of money”.

    February 2018

    That game is now on “hiatus”. They’re calling it a hiatus, but I would wager the odds of them resuming work on this project are extraordinarily low. I guess “hiatus” sounds better than “we laid off the team because we ran out of money”. The closure was announced in a post hilariously titled Sometimes You Need To Take a Step Back In Order To Take Two Steps Forward.

    Yes, you can put a good spin on bad news. But there’s only so far you can get with corporate-speak. Even if we’re willing to call shutting down the whole team “one step back” instead of “falling over dead”, there’s nothing in the announcement to hint at what those “two steps forward” could possibly be. This announcement is like the doctor calling you a week after the funeral to tell you he thinks grandma is gonna pull through.

    From the announcement:

    “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.”

    Your project was “too successful”? You blew through all your money and you never even escaped pre-production! Maybe you personally had fun working on it, but from the standpoint of everyone else on the planet this result is identical to taking the Kickstarter money, putting it in a big pile, and setting it on fire. From our point of view it’s the same: Money went in, and nothing came out.

    You don’t regret changing engines? You say it “worked out” for you? How so? The state of the game at the end of the project is not as robust as what we saw during the pitch video, when you had combat and more than one working weapon. After all that work, you never even made it back to your original position at the starting line.




    Yes, double-click to open the door. If there's any game that's in desperate need of a remake, it's this one. Also, note that keypad. That's the first appearance of the code 451 in a videogame.


    More from the final announcement from Nightdive:

    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.

    (Emphasis mine.) So that seems to confirm my suspicion that the real goal was to get adopted by a big publisher. Now the development decisions make more sense.
    • Moving to Unreal Engine was a ludicrous waste of resources if they were trying to ship the game they promised us, but it makes sense if you’re trying to court publishers who prefer projects with cutting-edge technology. Same goes for that shatter physics stuff.
    • The move towards a more grounded, conventional, and expensive art style made no sense if you’re trying to please the backers who fell in love with that original demo, but it makes sense if your real goal is to impress publishers who don’t know or care what System Shock is or was.
    • It’s wasteful to make such high-quality concept art for a small team, but it makes sense if you’re trying to show a publisher your vision.
    • Making consoles a priority is somewhat questionable if you’re looking to fund a game exclusively through the support of older PC-focused backers, but it makes complete sense if your goal is to spin up project up to AAA scale.
    • Prioritizing visuals over gameplay and financial viability seems crazy unless you’re betting everything on the hope that you’ll get a huge infusion of cash, far larger than the initial Kickstarter fund.

    I wouldn’t mind if they were shopping the project around while also working to deliver the game they promised. But several of these moves made it so that the game could only reach the market with the help of a publisher. I can forgive a project that fumbles due to gradual scope creep, changing marketplace needs, or unforeseen technology problems. But these were deliberate, willfull decisions that ran against the promises made to the Kickstarter backers. I can’t prove they intended to use the KS money to tart themselves up and look for a publisher to be their sugar daddy, but throwing the original demo away was inexcusable in the face of their original promises, regardless of their motivation.

    I realize I’m accusing a group of total strangers of being dishonest with the backers. I don’t know these people and I don’t know any facts beyond what they’ve publicly shared. I want to believe this is just the result of ambition, naivety, and cluelessness. But if we assume they used the Kickstarter to build a tech demo so they could sell themselves to a publisher then everything they did makes sense. If we assume they just wanted to ship the game they promised, then nothing they did was rational.

    Wrapping Up

    The tragically ironic thing is, this is the exactly problem that led people to turn to crowdfunding in the first place. We couldn’t get the big publishers to fund these mid-budget projects because they’re so obsessed with photorealism and high production values. All they care about is big-budget blockbusters. And then Nightdive comes in, gets funded, and decides to make a big-budget game.

    I’ve said before that I think it would be good if project leads would release the source code and art assets if their crowdfunded project fails. The code could have educational value for aspiring developers. Maybe the public will finish the project for you and something good can come of it. But most importantly, it would be a sign of good faith and a demonstration that you were really working on a game and not playing ping-pong for the last N months. (I’m not suggesting this was the case at Nightdive, since it’s pretty clear they were working hard. I’m just saying it would be a good thing to make standard practice.)

    Of course, I’m not expecting the Nightdive team to release the source for the their half-finished game. The final announcement makes it pretty clear they’re still dreaming of finding a publisher willing to bankroll their ever-expanding ambitions.

    Where can the franchise go now? Even if the license somehow made it into the hands of a new team, they couldn’t very well crowdfund it again after the failure of this crowdfunding effort. Private investment? Good luck trying to raise a proper AAA budget in a pitch that begins with “This is a remake of a game that invented a genre that’s really expensive to produce and that has never sold particularly well.” Publisher support? I think it’s pretty clear they’re not interested. If they weren’t interested in adopting the project when production was underway, then I think they’re going to be even less eager to acquire it now that it’s been closed down and parts of the team have moved on.

    As much as I love this series, I don’t think it’s viable as a AAA product. The audience simply isn’t there. The modest $1.3 million Kickstarter proves this is a niche game. (For contrast, Pillars of Eternity – a text-driven top-down party RPG like the kind the AAA industry stopped making a decade and a half ago – got four million bucks. The System Shock Kickstarter had the best possible proof-of-concept demo and they only got a third of that.) If you spend fifty million dollars making System Shock then you’ll never get a return on your investment. This game is only viable as a low / mid budget title, and Nightdive has made it clear they’re not interested in making that sort of game, even if they somehow got another infusion of cash.

    Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick is still insisting that he “doesn’t regret” changing engines and he’s not talking about going back to the original plan. This means there’s no route forward for the game. System Shock is now deader than it was three years ago.

    What a sad, needless waste. They should have just made the game they promised us.

  4. #54
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Stephen Kick said a week or so ago that they are going to get the project on track again (as in, more in line with the original demo) and that the biggest problem right now is that it has gotten too far from what was originally planned. Among other things he also mentioned there is money set aside to deliver the physical goods.

  5. #55
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by Vae View Post
    A rundown on the breakdown...

    At several points in that video they emphasized that they were taking advice from LGS alums. That's probably a big mistake right there. The LGS crew were always forward looking and not keen to walk the same ground again.

    If the Nightdive project turns out to be dead, I hope the IP ends up in the hands of a team who can make something out of it. The remaster was a cool idea and appropriate for a team with limited budget, but I would be fine with a reboot from a major studio instead.

  6. #56
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Night Dive just needs to hurry up and release the source code already for the original SS1.

  7. #57
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Not that I would complain if they did, but... what exactly would we do with the source code? It's already been brought up to date to run on modern hardware and operating systems and we've had mouse look added and so on. What else would you want from it?

  8. #58
    Zombified
    Registered: Sep 2004
    there is a night and day difference between a wrapper and a full source port - hardware rendering, proper resolutions, engine fixes, modability and more. think DDFix vs NewDark.

    the SS1 source release has been hinted for a while now, and pretty much double-confirmed not long ago. looks like they will release two versions - the original unmodified source, and a fixed version they were working on, so there is a good chance we will have a (basic?) working (windows?) port right away.

  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    If the Nightdive project turns out to be dead, I hope the IP ends up in the hands of a team who can make something out of it. The remaster was a cool idea and appropriate for a team with limited budget, but I would be fine with a reboot from a major studio instead.
    As far as I've been told, the project is genuinely not dead and they will return to the original vision as per the Kickstarter promise. The next updates will be decisive.

  10. #60
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    When and if we get it.

  11. #61
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Stephen Kick keeps communicating with the backers and he has promised to update us. He answered backer concerns on Discord just a couple days ago.

  12. #62
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by voodoo47 View Post
    there is a night and day difference between a wrapper and a full source port - hardware rendering, proper resolutions, engine fixes, modability and more. think DDFix vs NewDark.

    the SS1 source release has been hinted for a while now, and pretty much double-confirmed not long ago. looks like they will release two versions - the original unmodified source, and a fixed version they were working on, so there is a good chance we will have a (basic?) working (windows?) port right away.
    We already have a working Windows version with most of what people would want in the original game e.g. widescreen support, mouse look, remappable key bindings, and bug fixes.

    To go beyond that and provide support for modern resolutions, hardware rendering, 3D objects, and mods, you would basically be remaking the entire game in a new engine with all new art. Basically, doing what System Shock Remastered was supposed to do. Source code for the original game isn't going to be much of a help with that.

  13. #63
    Zombified
    Registered: Sep 2004
    uh, source code of the game is not going to help with creating a proper windows port? google gzdoom, eduke32, glrott, ecwolf etc.

  14. #64
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    What's wrong with the Windows version we already have? Have you played System Shock: Enhanced Edition? What more do you want out of it?

  15. #65
    Zombified
    Registered: Sep 2004
    are you seriously trying to tell me that you don't see a difference between a wrapper that just barely duct tapes things into working, and a proper source port that would make the renderer utilize your graphics card (having an accurate z-buffer would most likely get rid of all the texture wobblines, yes please), allow modern resolutions (no, the wrapper's max stable resolution of 1024*768 is not cutting it), make use of all the mouse buttons and other controllers, tweak the player physics so navigating the environment would not feel like pushing around a sack of rubber bands, improve the stability manyfold, allow to run natively on any operating system, future proof the game so it will keep running as new operating systems arrive, and many other things.

    is this for real?
    Last edited by voodoo47; 2nd Mar 2018 at 07:01.

  16. #66
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I can't believe what I'm hearing / reading. heywood doesn't want the source code to be released. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!.

    This is why we don't get to have nice things.

  17. #67
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    Did he not say in his first post on the subject that he wouldn't mind if they released it? Not seeing a use for the source code does not make him resistant to the notion of releasing it.

    Of course there's a world of potential in the source code, so I don't agree with him on that front either. I've seen what GZDoom can do to extend the Doom engine, so who knows what can be done for SS1's engine.

  18. #68
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    ZDoom you mean. GZDoom came later. ZDoom had already done 90% of the ground work by then.

  19. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    To go beyond that [...] you would basically be remaking the entire game in a new engine with all new art. [...] Source code for the original game isn't going to be much of a help with that.
    Do you know why there have been so many projects which aimed to remake SS/UU/etc but which never got a whole lot further than creating a new engine and enabling you to move around the original maps? It's because the hard part -- the really hard part; the actual game -- is not the graphics engine or the art, but all of the logic embodied within the original source code. The source code is where the game lives, and that is the most spectacularly difficult thing to recreate. The suggestion that the original source code would not help with creating a remake of the game is honestly about as far off the mark as it is possible to get.

    There have, of course, also been successful attempts at enhancing and updating the games in various ways; but those successes are not an indication that the original source code is not useful but rather indicative of the truly exceptional talent of the people who created them. Access to the source code makes everything easier. Even if you personally can't see a use for it, be assured that a source code release is always a good thing, and to be encouraged.
    Last edited by Shadowcat; 2nd Mar 2018 at 07:24.

  20. #70
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    ZDoom you mean. GZDoom came later. ZDoom had already done 90% of the ground work by then.
    Yes, and GZDoom went a whole lot further, and is currently the most impressive example of extending the Doom engine that I've found. Which is why I used that, and not ZDoom. My choice was not an oversight.

  21. #71
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Just to be clear, I am not opposed to releasing the source code. That would be kind of absurd. It certainly couldn't hurt anything.

    My point is that System Shock Enhanced Edition already has pretty much everything I would want to play SS1:

    Native Windows app
    Mouse look
    WASD movement
    Customizable key bindings
    Higher resolutions
    Support for widescreen ratios
    Bug fixes

    It's all there and it seems stable and polished. I don't recall hitting any bugs or crashes with the GOG release. It's even on Steam now so the lazy masses can check it out easily.

    So I asked the question, have you played that version, and if so, what's missing? voodoo47 mentioned binding mouse buttons and other controllers. I'm not sure why anyone would try to play this game with anything but keyboard and mouse, so I don't know about the value of supporting other controllers, but he's right that the mouse button bindings don't seem to be configurable.

    As for hardware rendering, I genuinely don't see any point in trying unless it's in the context of remaking the game in a new engine. Taking low resolution textures and sprites and hardware rendering them at high resolution just makes for a blurry, ugly mess.

  22. #72
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Trance View Post
    Yes, and GZDoom went a whole lot further, and is currently the most impressive example of extending the Doom engine that I've found. Which is why I used that, and not ZDoom. My choice was not an oversight.
    Fair enough. All I meant is that much of the great features that you see in GZDoom were introduces in ZDoom, like:

    * Support for not just Doom 1 & 2, but also Hexen, Heretic and Strife
    * Dynamic lighting
    * Particle effects
    * Support for much higher screen resolutions
    * Custom key layouts and additional player abilities like crouching and jumping
    * Support for scripted events + custom screen layouts (to allow for things like player journals, text-based logs like in System Shock minus the audio etc).

    To my knowledge (which I'll freely admit is limited as I don't follow the Doom scene to the same extent as I used to after Doomworld.com got rid of their news page) what GZDoom added in was things like:

    * Support for 3D models
    * Better multiplayer functionality, support for more players etc etc.

    And GZDoom, I believe is the continuation of ZDoom. So it's as you say the more current source port.

    Feel free to mention any other additions, but that is what I know of.

    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    As for hardware rendering, I genuinely don't see any point in trying unless it's in the context of remaking the game in a new engine. Taking low resolution textures and sprites and hardware rendering them at high resolution just makes for a blurry, ugly mess.
    A decade ago back when TSSHP was still a thing, that had hardware rendering and looked absolutely beautiful whilst retaining the look of the original. Just nicer. So a source port could do similar things.

  23. #73
    Zombified
    Registered: Sep 2004
    ok, lets try to go through everything;
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Native Windows app
    nope, still just a wrapper that's fooling the game into running on windows.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Mouse look
    it's actually locking the screen and binding it to the mouse cursor, I guess it works well enough, but pretty sure real mouselook would be better.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    WASD movement
    yeah, but it still feels like rolling around a bag of rubber bands.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Customizable key bindings
    a bit, yeah.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Higher resolutions
    again, a bit. 800*600 seems to be ok, but go above that, and you can get crashes and very poor performance. also, I don't believe things are actually truly getting rendered at higher resolutions, more like some sort of scaling going on.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Support for widescreen ratios
    with incorrect FOV and broken text.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Bug fixes
    a few crash handlers in the wrapper are not the same thing as fixing the actual bugs in the engine.
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Taking low resolution textures and sprites and hardware rendering them at high resolution just makes for a blurry, ugly mess
    I genuinely don't know how to respond to that, because reality says otherwise. check any source port of an old 3D game (Doom, Duke3D, whatever) running in the fullhd resolution (don't use any texture packs and filters to get as close to the original as possible). it's like saying the original DOS version of Duke3D looks better in the 320*240 resolution instead of 800*600 (max the original game supported, if memory serves). hint - it looked better in 800*600, if your had the cpu power for it.

    actually, lets have a look at a new game using a source port of an old engine and see how blurry and ugly it is when running in a high resolution;




    making a game run in hardware mode is the most important thing of them all - sw rendering always sucked at 3D, and today's computers are very unsuitable for it, which makes things even worse (the very reason why you need an extremely powerful cpu to run SS EE at very high resolutions, and things are still clunky and choppy). switch the engine to hw rendering, and you can run it on your raspberry pi handheld fullspeed until kingdom come.


    I'm still half expecting you to go "just kidding", as this is not something that I should be explaining to someone who has been around games for a very, very long time (as far as I can tell).
    Last edited by voodoo47; 2nd Mar 2018 at 14:37.

  24. #74
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by voodoo47 View Post
    nope, still just a wrapper that's fooling the game into running on windows.
    The application you run IS a native Windows application. It doesn't run in a DOS emulator like SSP did. That's the important part. Neither of us knows exactly how they implemented the port; which bits of code that required direct hardware access were tricked versus which were modified, where they implemented a translation layer versus where they just changed the original code, and so on. If there is something specific you think they didn't do that should be done, what is it and why does it matter?

    it's actually locking the screen and binding it to the mouse cursor, I guess it works well enough, but pretty sure real mouselook would be better.
    That's what mouselook IS.

    yeah, but it still feels like rolling around a bag of rubber bands.
    The game is trying to simulate your momentum. It's a feature, not a bug. I agree that it's not well implemented, because sometimes it feels like momentum, and sometimes it feels like sliding on ice. It doesn't bother me as much as the melee combat, which has always felt very clunky. But these are part of the System Shock gameplay and I'm not sure I'd want to change them.

    again, a bit. 800*600 seems to be ok, but go above that, and you can get crashes and very poor performance. also, I don't believe things are actually truly getting rendered at higher resolutions, more like some sort of scaling going on.
    1024x768 is ideal, and it was supported from beginning in the original game. I ran the game at up to 1920x1200, but there's really no advantage given the low-res interface, textures and sprites. Everything in the interface is definitely just scaled up to the higher resolutions. Same for the sprites. I'm not entirely sure about the textures, sometimes it looks like there is more detail in the distance than at 1024x768, sometimes not. There are different scaling options (closest, linear, best), but they only seem to affect the splash screens and interface, not the texture mapping.

    But I think it's kind of a moot point to argue. The game assets are relatively low resolution, so they are going to be scaled one way or another, either by your monitor if you're running the game at a lower resolution, or by the software renderer if you're running it at a higher resolution. Even if you implement hardware rendering you're still just scaling low res graphics up to resolutions they weren't designed for.

    with incorrect FOV and broken text.
    Correct about the FOV. But I don't know what broken text you're talking about.

    a few crash handlers in the wrapper are not the same thing as fixing the actual bugs in the engine.
    There were no game bugs that I encountered. As far as crashes go, I got different results on different computers. On one of them (running Win 10, not sure if that matters), I could run any resolution I wanted. On my other computer (Win 7) it would hang when reading emails if you ran a custom resolution.

    making a game run in hardware mode is the most important thing of them all - sw rendering always sucked at 3D, and today's computers are very unsuitable for it, which makes things even worse (the very reason why you need an extremely powerful cpu to run SS EE at very high resolutions, and things are still clunky and choppy). switch the engine to hw rendering, and you can run it on your raspberry pi handheld fullspeed until kingdom come.
    Extremely powerful CPU to run SS EE at high resolution? What are you talking about? My desktop runs an i5-4670K - not exactly the latest and greatest CPU. Laptop is i7-7500U. Both run the game smooth as butter at any resolution, which is a big improvement over SSP in DOSBox which could get laggy at 1024x768 on my older computer.

    I'm still half expecting you to go "just kidding", as this is not something that I should be explaining to someone who has been around games for a very, very long time (as far as I can tell).
    And I'm beginning to seriously doubt you've ever even played this version of the game.

  25. #75
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Heywood is obviously just trolling at this point.

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