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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.

12 Likes, Who?
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sub 16 February 2018 at 10:52 pm UTC
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*
mirv 16 February 2018 at 11:32 pm UTC
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While saying they're just going to take a break doesn't bode well (heard that a few times, and it's rare for the game to actually come back afterwards), it's probably best to not get too worked up yet. I'm not going to say they haven't screwed up (they have, at least a little), but it was never going to be "just" anything with a System Shock game. It is a new game, and while the core story elements are there, their own telling needs just as much effort put into the complete storyline as graphics and gameplay.
So, let's just see where they go from here.
Cybolic 16 February 2018 at 11:35 pm UTC
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 17 February 2018 at 3:46 am UTC
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.
Beer 17 February 2018 at 5:38 am UTC
QuoteI have put the team on a hiatus while we reassess our path so that we can return to our vision.

I know this is partly PR.. but if what he said is true, this comes off to me as someone who really knows how to lead a project. Sometimes it's necessary to take a step back to "cleanse your palate", so to speak.. so you can look at things from a refreshed perspective. Rebooting a classic is walking on thin ice and it sounds to me like he gets that, and wants to make sure what they release is something fans will enjoy.
Joeyboots80 17 February 2018 at 6:27 am UTC
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 17 February 2018 at 7:29 am UTC
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 at 17 February 2018 at 7:45 am UTC
TheSHEEEP 17 February 2018 at 8:15 am UTC
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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 17 February 2018 at 8:25 am UTC
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 17 February 2018 at 9:22 am UTC
it is a good thing to reassess and go back on track! it's better than lose focus and ending up a failed kickstarter.
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