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Thread: Nightdive Studios resurfaces!

  1. #1
    Registered: May 2004

    Nightdive Studios resurfaces!

    Stephen Kick posted an update on Kickstarter announcing the end of the hiatus and explaining the reasons behind it as well as the future direction the game will be taking.

    We had a brief respite, and took the time necessary to make some tough decisions which included saying goodbye to some of the developers that you've come to know through past updates. What we're left with is a concentrated team that consists of the original developers who worked on the Unity demo. With that said, let's take a look at the work we're doing.


    So what does this mean?

    It means we've gone back to the original vision we shared with you at the start of our Kickstarter campaign - this time with more reliable performance and higher fidelity visuals thanks to the Unreal Engine.

    Are we starting over, is this all that's done?

    No, we're not starting over. We have been able to re-use the majority of work we've done over the past year and we're making significant progress in a very short amount of time. With that said we'll be inviting our highest tier backers to privately test the game beginning in September at which point we estimate that the game will be fully playable, from start to finish. The majority of the art won't be finished, but we'll be ready to start high-level testing.

    He also answered some backer questions posted on Discord.

    At this current moment in time, how many things are you planning to change within the game in regards to story, gameplay, and level design?

    The story is going to remain unchanged but with the additional logs/emails added in from the backers of the CITADEL CREW MEMBER pledge. Gameplay will be very similar to what you experienced in the original game with the largest difference being the UI which is a hybrid of Shock and Shock 2.

    What changes do you think NDS will be making with the remake's direction in terms of its style and feel?

    We're going to be re-visiting the style and feel of the original game. I personally feel as though we hit the mark the first time and by applying what we've learned while working in Unreal we can achieve a similar look and feel but with enhanced performance. Our intent with the art direction so far is to bring more of the vibrant colors of the original game while keeping the oppressive atmosphere of a rundown Citadel Station. We're even incorporating some old school techniques like using sprite sheets for the animated computer screens.

    While the remake is certainly getting made, I had the sense that it will be somewhat pared back compared to the original expanded-upon-the-original vision we heard about in earlier updates. Will this mean a game more akin to the original - closer to a 1:1 remake, or will there still be some expansion on the original System Shock's story and concept?

    This will be closer to a 1:1 remake with updates to the weapon/character designs but without altering the core gameplay of the original. Expect to see something resembling the direction of the Unity demo.

    Has the KS funding pool been toasted, if it has, can you sustain the investment required to get to the end 2019 timeline from your residual revenues (or will this potentially mean the project takes longer as funds have to trickle in)?

    We still have the funds necessary to complete the game, but the timeline will inevitably move back with our shift in direction.

    Is there prospectively more risk of slippage past 2019 (if so, best brace for it nice and early)? What is the exit plan if the project becomes non-viable?

    Yes, at this stage the game could slip past 2019. Our only plan is to finish the game and deliver on the promise we made to our Kickstarter backers.

    Which people still work on the SS1 reboot, as of now?

    I've personally taken over as game director and I am now leading a team of developers, some of who worked on the original System Shock and the Unity demo.

    Are you willing to share some details on why/how no successful publishing deal has been achieved yet, and how do you guys think you will still be able to get a publishing deal going in the future?

    I am, but those details will be part of an exhaustive Post Mortem I'll share once the game has shipped.

    At what point in time, roughly, had NDS realized scope creep had hit the project?

    It was soon after the Kickstarter when the team offered many suggestions that seemed great on their own, but in aggregate represented too much of a departure. However, I approved the proposed changes in scope after receiving positive feedback and a verbal commitment from a publisher to fund the game and the new design we submitted. We promised a bigger, better game and we were told that the game was going to be funded beyond the amount we raised on Kickstarter. Unfortunately, that deal fell through 7 months later for reasons we are still not clear on. To put it bluntly, we were left high and dry after making crucial, consequential changes in staff and scope.

    My question is whether you have considered or looked into doing physical releases of any of your re-released PC games? If you have considered it, is there anything that made it not worth doing or prohibitively difficult to do? My understanding is it's a real pain to get physical games published on Xbox, but are physical console releases something you have considered or would consider for future console game releases? I'm guessing most of this is stuff you probably don't want to discuss publicly until it happens, but it would be very cool to see some physical Nightdive releases one day.

    We've considered it! We have to find the right partner to help us achieve that goal, but for some of our PC-Only releases I'd love to have classic "Big-Box" copies re-issued. We’re currently looking into releasing physical editions of Turok & Turok 2 for Xbox One.

  2. #2
    Registered: May 2004
    A few comparison screens posted on Discord of the new direction versus the old Unity demo, courtesy of Learonys:

  3. #3
    Registered: May 2004
    After some talking to the devs on Discord, here's what the current plan looks like in more detail:

    * the game overall will aim to be very close to the original
    * there will be loading between floors
    * gameplay space will correlate close to 1 to 1 with the original, but there will be some new areas and the shape of some of the rooms will be changed slightly (similarly to the Unity demo)
    * they are currently planning to implement the customisable difficulty, though the options are not nailed down yet (needs testing and balancing)
    * new features like freezing and dismemberment haven't been taken off the table yet, but they have been put on the backburner/low priority list

  4. #4
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Better be manual saving.

  5. #5

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: 100 Rads Bar
    If they don't try to cater to the console gaming community, we should have manual saving.

  6. #6
    Registered: May 2004
    Even if they do try to cater to the console gaming community, we should have manual saving.

  7. #7
    Registered: May 2010
    I find it quite disappointing that they didn't stick to the art design of the Unreal version. I know, it would have deviated from the original, but, frankly, i like the design of SS 2 much over the original System Shock anyway. Just my opinion of course. The whole project seems a bit disorganised though. Let's hope they will find their way again soon...

  8. #8
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    And that was Night Dive's thinking after getting the KS cash. Which was their downfall. SS1 and SS2 are very different games. Trying to make SS1 more into it would have resulted in something that would have felt nothing like the original in the end.

  9. #9
    Registered: May 2004
    I asked about how the UI will look and today one of the devs had this to say:

    The UI design is more minimalist than the original system shock but still built in the style of an ocular implant with all the old features.

    We are calling it a hybrid because we are bringing some features across and letting some of the quality of life improvements from SS2 influence how we update things. We are using a grid based inventory system for instance.

    The demo UI is very similar to what we are working with right now.

    The minimap is currently in mid development and Matt is trying to make it as flexible as possible!

    We're not making any changes to how things work unless we're positive it's an improvement rather than a preference
    Also, this about dismemberment:

    I'm doing R&D in to a good way to do visual dismemberment that won't eat up a ton of development time, so it will depend on where that leads

    We will definitely have visual damage and gore on the enemies even if not complete dismemberment

    SS1 had a lot of body parts littered around!
    And about cyberspace:

    Cyberspace is getting an overhaul, but we're still working out how to do it justice.
    Last edited by Starker; 9th Apr 2018 at 14:18.

  10. #10
    Registered: Dec 2000
    Location: New Atlanta, Sector 11, Building 71-G.
    I like those screenies, glad to see the Unreal engine can give it that unity look. Neurosurgery units never looked so good.

  11. #11
    letting some of the quality of life improvements from SS2 influence how we update things. We are using a grid based inventory system for instance.
    What? Why would they still be making not-like-system-shock changes to the game like this?

    Cyberspace is getting an overhaul, but we're still working out how to do it justice.
    That makes me nervous. SS2's completely-rubbish cyberspace ultimately redeemed itself in an unexpected way, but that was SS2... if they mess up SS1 cyberspace in a remake of SS1, I'll be annoyed.
    Last edited by Shadowcat; 14th Apr 2018 at 04:43.

  12. #12
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowcat View Post
    What? Why would they still be making not-like-system-shock changes to the game like this?
    Because that's what they promised?

    General Features
    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.
    → Re-imagined enemies, weapons, and locations by original concept artist Robb Waters.
    → Terri Brosius reprises her role as SHODAN, and new VO will be recorded.
    → Brand new musical score composed by Jonathan Peros.
    → The user interface, game mechanics, enemies, and puzzles will be updated to reflect modern aesthetics and sensibilities, while maintaining the feel of the original.

    Scope Features
    → $900k Goal: Modern Inventory Management, Modern Controls, New Puzzles, Updated Faithful Levels, Game Difficulty Modes.
    → $1.7m Goal : Enemy limb dismemberment, More puzzles, Ammo types/weapon settings, Vending machines, Weapon upgrading, Hardcore mode (No respawning), Ironman mode (Only 1 savegame. If you die, the save is deleted)
    Last edited by Starker; 10th Apr 2018 at 08:01.

  13. #13
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I think they got themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    If they make a "remaster", the appeal will be mostly limited to fans of the original wanting another go, and most of those people probably contributed to the Kickstarter already. I don't see a remaster attracting new players who haven't played SS1 or SS2 before, not enough of them to attract any publisher interest anyway. If they can finish the game on what remains of the Kickstarter funds, great. But it's hard to see that. Given the staffing level they ramped up to, they probably spent a good chunk of the budget already.

    On the other hand, if they make a modern version of System Shock that is appealing and accessible to new players who didn't play the original, then they alienate most of the old fans and the people who contributed to the Kickstarter. And it's hard to shop the game to publishers if you have an angry fan base ready to write you off.

  14. #14
    Registered: May 2004
    Yeah, at this point they are probably mostly running on whatever profits the studio makes and let's not forget the game was only about 25% done at the start of the KS. And that's only based on their estimates, which are hardly ever accurate at the start of software development. And who knows how much money was wasted on the AAA direction. It will probably make for an intriguing post mortem, though.

  15. #15
    Some good points. Although anyone who "remembers" System Shock having a grid-based inventory has a worse memory than I do -- and my memory is rubbish.

    I suspect there are plenty of System Shock fans who didn't back this on the basis that all the "improvements" that were listed made it sound like a very different game. That was certainly my reason. If it had actually sounded like System Shock to me, I would have been all-in.

    I guess I just misunderstood where the recent change of direction was actually redirecting towards, and allowed myself to get a bit hopeful.
    Last edited by Shadowcat; 11th Apr 2018 at 09:24.

  16. #16
    Registered: Aug 2004
    It's not like you can't just play System Shock if that's what you want to do.

  17. #17
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    And thanks to the source code release, we can at least go create our own source ports to further enhance in new directions the original game.

  18. #18
    Registered: May 2004
    And there's the Citadel remake as well. No matter how the Nightdive project turns out, things are looking pretty bright.

  19. #19
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    And thanks to the source code release, we can at least go create our own source ports to further enhance in new directions the original game.
    It only really counts if Shadowcat decries you for it.

  20. #20
    Registered: May 2004
    Stephen Kick on RPG elements:

    We're definitely borrowing some aspects from SS2, most notably the UI and inventory system - but as far as the RPG elements, I don't believe those will be making it in.

    The core game will be very similar to the original System Shock
    Also, a dev had this to say on how ammo will be handled:

    Ammo is planned to work like in SS1 where it will go into a hidden "infinite" bag and be pooled to whatever gun you want.

  21. #21
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Not sure what I think of borrowing UI from SS2. On the one hand, it didn't pause the game, which was kind of rad and remains an extremely unusual choice. On the other hand, it was kind of obnoxious in its own right.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    It only really counts if Shadowcat decries you for it. ;)
    That's right. You'll never make it to the big time until your game has earned a promotional quote from me saying "It's just not the same".

  23. #23
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowcat View Post
    ...and my memory is rubbish.
    How would you know? Maybe you've just forgotten that your memory is perfect

    BTW, that fifty quid you owe me, you said you'd pay me back today.

  24. #24
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    I'm disappointed.

    Last night the level designer streamed his production process on twitch. He was creating the very first location of the first level. Which is geometrically 100% similar to the original.

    I'm highly disappointed. Oh, I already told that..

  25. #25
    Registered: May 2004
    Er, he wasn't creating the first location, he was working on assets being used throughout the game. He isn't the level designer, he's producing art for the game.

    Oh and the stream itself is watchable here on Twitch: or here on Youtube:

    Some of the really cool stuff is at the end, like 1:57:20.

    Here's a good place to start, perhaps, to skip most of the actual work:

    Oh, and he talks about level design and the overall work process here:
    Last edited by Starker; 12th Apr 2018 at 22:01.

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