In an industry where triple-A blockbusters come and go, there continue to be a number of classic titles that exert their influence over entire genres. Thief, Command and Conquer, Warcraft, Civilization, the list goes on but System Shock always stands as an amazing example. The RPG/FPS was a pioneer for its time, revolutionizing gameplay, sound design and choice in an FPS. Thanks to Nightdive Studios, System Shock will be returning with spiffy new visuals.
Nightdive founder Stephen Kick spoke to GamingBolt about the remake, expectations of the same and how it will shape up for the new generation.
"The first game, as great as it was suffered from a lack of modern features which we take for granted today such as mouse look and a streamlined user interface."
I will get right to the point. What are your personal expectations regarding the System Shock remake?
Our goal is to take the strong foundation that was established by the original System Shock and strengthen it into an experience that anyone familiar with a first person shooter will enjoy. The first game, as great as it was suffered from a lack of modern features which we take for granted today such as mouse look and a streamlined user interface. The overall experience is daunting and often confusing.
There is a steep learning curve for newcomers before they feel comfortable which prevents a whole new audience from experiencing one of gaming’s most influential treasures. It’s my expectation that when we launch a new generation will finally experience System Shock and fall in love with the story, setting, and ground breaking concepts and mechanics that were established over 20 years ago.
How much of the original’s level design and aesthetics remain true to the original?
We’re staying very true to the aesthetics of Citadel Station. We’ve done a considerable amount of research into what gave the Station the unique look and feel in the original and have developed a style that captures that while taking advantage of advanced rendering features that are available to us with a modern game engine. The level design will also go mostly unchanged – the familiar locations, routes and pathways will all be present but massaged to provide a more immersive and believable experience. For example, the Medical Pavilion will be embellished to include a greater sense of functionality. If this really was a space used for surgery and other medical procedures that area should reflect that using lighting, props and a layout more conducive to that activity.
How much of stuff is being added from System Shock 2 in remake? Are you adding new gameplay elements as well?
We feel that the UI experience in Shock 2 was a great step forward for the series and you’ll see some of those influences in our game. We’re sticking very closely to the original in terms of gameplay, but some of the mechanics that were present in the original, again, are being massaged to conform to the expectations of a modern audience.
"It’s been very challenging to balance staying true to the original and adding new features – what we’re finding is that the original game is incredibly robust."
I have feeling that System Shock remake will be a sort of hybrid of the original and the sequel. Is my assumption wrong?
I think it’s safe to say that Nightdive’s System Shock will take advantage of all the advancements the industry has made towards creating a truly immersive experience and inevitably a comparison will be drawn from System Shock 2 as well as Bioshock which is a very good thing. The “Shock” universe is one of the most beloved in gaming and if we’re compared with any of those games we’d be extremely honored.
One of the biggest responsibilities of working on a remake is staying true to the game’s original vision. How do you balance between staying true to the original vision and adding new features?
It’s been very challenging to balance staying true to the original and adding new features – what we’re finding is that the original game is incredibly robust. That is to say there is a lot going on and the list of original features is pretty staggering. It’s given us a lot to chew on and haven’t determined if adding anything new would stray too far from what made the original so great. We’re certainly aware of the risk of disrupting the formula and make decisions based on what we believe will make the best game.
So far the game has only been announced for the Xbox One and PC. Why are you leaving out PS4 fans at this out? I know you have stated in the past that it may come to other platforms but what exactly is stopping the PS4 version to happen?
We announced a PS4 version during the final stages of our Kickstarter. We saw the demand from our fans and made it happen. Unfortunately, the release between PC, Xbox One and PS4 won’t be simultaneous, but it will be worth waiting for the platform of your choice.
"We’re reaching out to as many of the original team as possible to get their feedback; we want to make a game as true as possible to their ideals."
How are far are you guys into development?
We’re in the early stages of development. We’ve had a lot of time to go over the data and feedback we received during the Kickstarter and demo and are fine tuning the overall design and vision for the game before we go into full production.
Do you have plans to add VR into the game?
We want to be very careful when considering VR. Our first priority is to make the best game we can and while we’re certainly aware of the potential VR has we’re not convinced that it’s the right thing for the game. Personally I feel like we’d be more likely to create a standalone VR experience that compliments the game we’re making on now as opposed to shoehorning VR into it. It is exciting to think about though; I can’t imagine a game franchise that would be more appropriate for virtual reality.
How much of the original staff are coming back into this? I know that Robert Waters is back. Who else is back?
It’s just Robb right now but we are actively consulting with OtherSide Entertainment which is largely composed of former team members. We’re also having very productive conversations with Austin Grossman and Dorian Hart. We’re reaching out to as many of the original team as possible to get their feedback; we want to make a game as true as possible to their ideals.