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Development on the new System Shock has been paused

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Stephen Kick, CEO of Nightdive Studios has written up a post on the System Shock reboot Kickstarter, to state that development has been paused. Pretty strange, considering how positive their post was in January…

I won't quote all of it, just the parts that aren't rambling:

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.
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.

Changing engine wouldn't have been a quick thing to do, so they lost time with that. Then it just all reads like they kept wanting to add more and more and lost all real focus on what exactly they were making. Sounds like a classic case of feature-creep to me, too little focus.

He does say very clearly it's not cancelled, just that they're taking a break:

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.  

So it's going to take longer, let's just all be glad it's not another time I'm having to write about Linux specifically being delayed or cancelled.

This is probably going to sting a little for the people that pledged to it, having the CEO of a respected developer come along basically saying they all screwed up. Could this be the next Duke Nukem Forever? I joke of course, but there's a fair few unhappy backers making themselves known. They had some pretty high pledge levels too, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens here.

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sub Feb 16, 2018
Shouldn't it be a great opportunity to bring an old gem to new life
for a new generation of gamers by "just" taking what you already have?
A fantastic story and gameplay.

So take some capable programmers, gifted artist and make this happen.
Don't "add" stuff beyond minor, maybe subtle, things.

Shame on them. *facepalm*
Cybolic Feb 16, 2018
I'm actually quite positive regarding this news. They were starting to add a bit too many features and the design work, while impressive, was certainly larger in scope than what was initially planned. I think, by putting the project on hold and reassessing, it will be much easier for them to see which new features and designs actually fit with the original System Shock and which were taking the project too far away from its roots. If all goes right, this could very well result in a better final result than where they were heading last month.
Guest Feb 17, 2018
Not good news at all. Not in the game development industry but am a programmer. Anytime a project I've worked on is put on hold that usual spells the end of it. It's just too hard to have a team go back a month or two(or more) later and try to pick up where things left off.

I hope I'm wrong, I really do.
Joeyboots80 Feb 17, 2018
I would rather them take a break and reassess the project rather than barreling down a path they are growing increasingly uncomfortable with and perhaps releasing a product that does not honor the original material. As Cybolic said, perhaps this will be a good thing and the final product will hew a bit closer to the original game. Only time will tell. I wish these people the best and i hope they return to it and release an awesome game.
ElectricPrism Feb 17, 2018
Even if they fail to ahear to a strict timeline I think they need to specify a schedule including "how long this break" will last.

1. Taking a break [1-2 weeks]

1a. Reassess development efforts, complete core product first or "Release In Chapters"

1b. Reassess waste and minimize.

2. Restart development with new Roadmap, Priorities

3. Expanding on the main vision is okay once the hard shit is done, everyone wants to work on the "cool" and "exciting" features and new things, but sometimes you have to grind your ass off developing and doing the hard work on the parts you don't want to do.

It's a fact of almost any job, you gotta grind when you don't want to on things you're not especially excited about.

A little bit of self-discipline will bypass a future of regret.

If I was them I would also look into how other small studios function and the kind of stress and problems that are typical aswell as how they cope with stress and deadlines.

(This is one of a couple interviews of successful comedy studios South Park)

View video on

Last edited by ElectricPrism on 17 February 2018 at 7:45 am UTC
TheSHEEEP Feb 17, 2018
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Quoting: HendrinMckayNot good news at all. Not in the game development industry but am a programmer. Anytime a project I've worked on is put on hold that usual spells the end of it. It's just too hard to have a team go back a month or two(or more) later and try to pick up where things left off.

I hope I'm wrong, I really do.
Nah, you're not wrong. I have the same experience. The money is gone, obviously, after all this time.
The only chance for them is to find some external money source and start over from scratch.

And when has that ever happened successfully?
At best, we're looking at a Duke Nukem Forever situation here.
DrMcCoy Feb 17, 2018
I don't like Nightdive Studios at all (for various reasons I won't get into here), but I do actually think this explanation of what happened and their plans to counteract what went wrong sounds reasonable.

They got carried away making the game, in their eyes, better, so much so that it started to become a different game altogether. That happens. It's not great, but not terribly uncommon either.

Stopping development for a while, rethinking their situation (and then hopefully getting back onto the original track) is exactly what they need to do now. That seems like the right move to me.
Cestus Feb 17, 2018
it is a good thing to reassess and go back on track! it's better than lose focus and ending up a failed kickstarter.
Doc Angelo Feb 17, 2018
I think his write-up is way too short and too vague to achieve what he supposedly wants to achieve: That the backers know what's up. I don't think they do. At least I don't know what's up after reading this.

What was the so called "something that happened"? What exactly did go wrong? What are features or mechanics you already tried to implement that would end up ruining the core of the original game? What has the engine switch to do with "envisioning more"?

And most importantly: How long is the hiatus? 2 weeks? A full month? Half a year? Open ended? Are only programmers and artists on a break, and game designers work on way to get back on track, or is the full studio on a leave?

QuotePlease accept my personal assurance that we will be back and stronger than ever.

I'm not going to lie: After such a short and vague post, I wouldn't accept it as a backer. As I see it, one would write a post like this because he doesn't know the answers himself, and he doesn't even know if he would come up with a solution in the very near future. Otherwise, one could've taken the time to come up with a solution and then write about the new vision for the game. Or at least come up with a new mission statement and rough details on the plan to get back on track. But what is written now is a mere "Something's wrong, project's postponed without an ETA. Bye!"

As others said; I'd be happy to be wrong about this. But I'm long enough on this planet to not hold my breath for it.

Last edited by Doc Angelo on 17 February 2018 at 10:02 am UTC
appetrosyan Feb 17, 2018
I guess that's a good thing.

Technically, System shock is very easy to mess up, and I'll wait as long as it takes for that not to happen.

Meanwhile, they could do something else, something no less exciting. You have to be very meticulous and crafty to make an immersive sim truly immersive, and then also manage not to be boring.
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