Nightdive Studios

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Night Dive Studios, Inc.
FormerlyNight Dive Studios, LLC (2012–2019)[1]
TypePrivate
IndustryVideo games
FoundedNovember 7, 2012; 9 years ago (2012-11-07)
Founders
  • Stephen Kick
  • Alix Banegas
Headquarters,
US
Key people
Number of employees
10 (2015)
Websitenightdivestudios.com

Night Dive Studios, Inc. (doing business as Nightdive Studios) is an American video game developer based in Vancouver, Washington. The company was founded in November 2012 by Stephen Kick and Alix Banegas, former video game artists for Sony Online Entertainment, after Kick found himself unable to purchase the 1999 game System Shock 2. He successfully negotiated with the rightsholder Star Insurance Company, which had acquired System Shock and other assets from the defunct developer Looking Glass Studios, and Nightdive Studios released the game via GOG.com in February 2013. The company is known for obtaining rights to abandonware video games, updating them for compatibility with modern platforms, and re-releasing them via digital distribution services.

History[edit]

Founding and System Shock 2 (2012–2013)[edit]

Nightdive Studios was founded by Stephen Kick and Alix Banegas, former character artists at Sony Online Entertainment.[2][3] Kick was with that company for three years, working on Free Realms and PlanetSide 2.[4] While Banegas had left the company earlier to establish a plushie business, Kick remained in his position until 2012.[3][4] After also quitting his job, he and Banegas, now his fiancée, commenced a nine-month-long road trip from San Diego through Mexico and Central America.[4][5] To pass the time during this trip, Kick brought a netbook and several classic video games to play.[5] While staying in a hostel in Guatemala, he wished to play the 1999 game System Shock 2 but found that the CD-ROM version he had brought no longer worked on his netbook.[3][5] Kick looked for fan-made patches for the game and tried purchasing an updated version via GOG.com to no avail, and he discovered that there no longer was a legal way to obtain the game.[2][3] The rights to the System Shock franchise had been acquired from its defunct developer, Looking Glass Studios, by Star Insurance Company (a subsidiary of Meadowbrook Insurance Group), while the trademark was retained by the game's publisher, Electronic Arts.[6]

Starting in October 2012, Kick sent various emails to Star Insurance Company to inquire about the status of the series' intellectual property (IP).[5][7] To his surprise, the company's legal counsel responded within a few days, asking Kick what he was planning to do with the IP.[3][5] Star Insurance Company had recently acquired the System Shock trademark from Electronic Arts but was wary of producing a new entry in the series given the high cost associated with such a production.[3][5] Kick pitched the idea of updating System Shock 2 for modern platforms and re-releasing it via digital distribution services, including GOG.com and Steam.[5] He argued that the game was highly sought after, as over 34,000 people had placed it onto their GOG.com wishlists, and that a re-release would be profitable.[3][7] The insurer was fond of this idea, so Kick and Banegas, who had then almost reached the Panama Canal, returned to the United States.[4][5] Arriving in New Mexico, Kick began phoning with Star Insurance Company's legal counsel and eventually reached a deal.[4] He raised money from his friends and family to pay the license fee for System Shock 2, establish a company, and relocate to Vancouver, Washington.[3][4] Subsequently, Kick and Banegas founded Night Dive Studios on November 7, 2012.[2][8] Kick assumed the role of chief executive officer, while Banegas became the chief financial officer.[5] The company name was inspired by their shared passion for diving, especially night diving, and Kick specifically recalled one night dive he had experienced in the Great Barrier Reef.[3][5]

Around the time of the company's foundation, a French developer known as Le Corbeau released a patch for System Shock 2 that allowed it to run on modern computers. Kick was unsuccessful in contacting the developer but still used the patch as the new version's groundwork, asserting that it was the IP holder's legal right to use it.[5] Night Dive Studios cooperated with GOG.com to fix further bugs and release the new version onto the service in February 2013.[5][7] According to Banegas, the game's returns in its first month painted Night Dive Studios as a viable business.[3] Kick decided to continue Night Dive Studios in similar efforts to bring back older games to modern systems.[2] The company brought System Shock 2 to Steam in May 2013.[9] Later that year, it released updated versions of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Harlan Ellison's 1995 game based on his eponymous short story;[10] Wizardry VI, VII, and 8;[11] and the Trilobyte games The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour.[12]

Subsequent history (2013–present)[edit]

In 2014, Night Dive Studios re-released 28 edutainment games from Humongous Entertainment,[13] as well as the adventure game Bad Mojo. The company also generated speculation that it might be planning to re-release The Operative: No One Lives Forever, as news sources took notice of a Night Dive Studios trademark filing that included material referencing the No One Lives Forever franchise.[14] Kick responded to these rumors by saying that the company could not comment on future releases for the time being.[15] Kick later revealed that they had indeed been working on trying to acquire the publishing rights for both No One Lives Forever and its sequel, to the point where they had the original source code to construct a remake of the title, but could not get the three companies with stake in the games' IP, Activision, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros., to negotiate the rights.[16]

2014 also saw the company's participation in the Humble Bundle series of games collections, with a Humble Bundle package in May 2014 that featured all of the company's titles through that date,[17] and a "flash sale" bundle in July that featured the company's Humongous Entertainment re-release titles.[18] In December 2014, Night Dive Studios coordinated the re-release of the 1996 first-person shooter role playing hybrid game Strife as Strife: Veteran Edition, after acquiring rights to the game. Because the game's source code had been lost, a derivative of the Chocolate Doom subproject Chocolate Strife was used as the game's engine, with its original programmers being contracted to do additional coding for the re-release. The source code of Strife: Veteran Edition has been made available under GPLv3 on GitHub by Night Dive Studios' and Samuel "Kaiser" Villarreal on December 12, 2014.[19] While this was the first source code opened for a Night Dive Studios release, Kick announced his commitment in recovering, preserving and also opening of more source code in a Reddit AMA in 2016.[20]

In February 2015, Kick announced that the studio was working on re-releasing PowerSlave for digital distribution services with an added bonus of porting the Saturn version into the package. Kick also announced that he was working with the original developers of Noctropolis and the original source code and the updated package will feature remastered music, widescreen support and bug fixes.[20] Using the funds generated by past releases, Night Dive Studios acquired the System Shock IP from Star Insurance Company in August 2015, intending to create a remake of the first System Shock.[3][5] The company released an enhanced version of the original game, which adds support for more resolutions and mouselook, in September that year. Night Dive Studios has since announced it has acquired full rights to the System Shock series, and are considering developing a third title in the series, as well as remakes for both previous titles, working with original concept artist Robert Waters for some of the design.[5] By December 2015, the company had licensed the System Shock IP to OtherSide Entertainment, headed by former Looking Glass Studios creative director Paul Neurath, for the development of System Shock 3.[3] In May 2016, Night Dive Studios rebranded as Nightdive Studios.[21]

Operations[edit]

Nightdive Studios is headquartered out of the hose of Kick and Banegas in eastern Vancouver, Washington.[3][5] As of November 2015, the company employs 10 people, including Larry Kuperman as the director of business development.[5] Most staff work remotely, with locations including San Francisco and New Zealand.[2][3] According to Kick, this distribution allows the studio to operate "on pretty much a 24/7 basis", while employees collaborate via GitHub, Jira, and Slack. However, he noted that this setup also caused a lack of in-office socializing and camaraderie.[2]

Games published[edit]

Original releases[edit]

Year of release Title Developer(s)
2015 Spirits of Xanadu Good Morning, Commander
2016 Womb Room Bearded Eye
2021 System Shock Nightdive Studios

Re-releases and remasters[edit]

Year of re-release Year of original release Title Developer(s) Original publisher(s)
2013 1999 System Shock 2 Electronic Arts
1990 Wizardry 6: Bane of the Cosmic Forge Sir-Tech Sir-Tech
1990 Wizardry 7: Crusaders of the Dark Savant Sir-Tech Sir-Tech
2001 Wizardry 8 Sir-Tech Canada Sir-Tech
1995 I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream The Dreamers Guild Cyberdreams
1999 Shadow Man Acclaim Studios Teesside Acclaim Entertainment
1993 The 7th Guest Trilobyte Virgin Interactive Entertainment
1995 The 11th Hour Trilobyte Virgin Interactive Entertainment
2014 1996 Strife: Veteran Edition Rogue Entertainment Velocity
1996 Harvester DigiFX Interactive Merit Studios
1997 Spy Fox in "Dry Cereal" Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Putt-Putt and Pep's Balloon-o-Rama Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Freddi Fish and Luther's Maze Madness Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1992 Putt-Putt Joins the Parade Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1994 Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1999 Spy Fox 2: "Some Assembly Required" Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Putt-Putt and Pep's Dog on a Stick Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Freddi Fish and Luther's Water Worries Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1998 Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't so Frightening Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1993 Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1994 Putt-Putt and Fatty Bear's Activity Pack Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1997 Putt-Putt Travels Through Time Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
2001 Spy Fox 3: "Operation Ozone" Humongous Entertainment Infogrames
2000 Pajama Sam 3: You Are What You Eat from Your Head to Your Feet Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1998 Freddi Fish 3: The Case of the Stolen Conch Shell Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1998 Spy Fox in Cheese Chase Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
2003 Pajama Sam: Life Is Rough When You Lose Your Stuff! Humongous Entertainment Atari
1999 Freddi Fish 4: The Case of the Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1998 Putt-Putt Enters the Race Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
2000 Putt-Putt Joins the Circus Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
2003 Putt-Putt: Pep's Birthday Surprise Humongous Entertainment Atari
1999 Spy Fox in Hold the Mustard Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1997 Pajama Sam's Sock Works Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1998 Pajama Sam's Lost & Found Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
2001 Freddi Fish 5: The Case of the Creature of Coral Cove Humongous Entertainment Infogrames
1994 Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon Access Software Access Software
1989 Tex Murphy: Mean Streets Access Software Access Software
1991 Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum Access Software Access Software
1996 Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive Access Software Access Software
1998 Tex Murphy: Overseer Access Software Access Software
1995 Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Bad Mojo Redux Pulse Entertainment
1990 Sid Meier's Covert Action MPS Labs MicroProse
1993 Sid Meier's Pirates! Gold Plus
  • MicroProse
  • MPS Labs
MicroProse
1994 Sid Meier's Colonization MicroProse MicroProse
1992 Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender MicroProse MicroProse
1989 Sword of the Samurai MPS Labs MicroProse
1994 Dragonsphere MPS Labs MicroProse
1992 Darklands MPS Labs MicroProse
1993 BloodNet MicroProse MicroProse
2001 Pajama Sam: Games to Play on Any Day Humongous Entertainment Infogrames
1993 Fatty Bear's Birthday Surprise Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1996 Deadlock: Planetary Conquest Accolade Accolade
1998 Deadlock II: Shrine Wars Accolade
1999 Redline Beyond Games Accolade
1999 Slave Zero Infogrames North America Infogrames North America
1997 7th Legion MicroProse
2000 B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th Wayward Design Hasbro Interactive
1991 F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter 2.0 MPS Labs MicroProse
1994 Fleet Defender: The F-14 Tomcat Simulation MicroProse MicroProse
1989 Silent Service MicroProse MicroProse
1992 Task Force 1942: Surface Naval Action in the South Pacific MPS Labs MicroProse
1995 Across the Rhine MPS Labs MicroProse
1991 Command HQ Ozark Softscape Microplay Software
1996 Eradicator Accolade Accolade
1998 NAM TNT Team GT Interactive
1990 Silent Service 2 MPS Labs MicroProse
1993 The Labyrinth of Time Terra Nova Development
  • Electronic Arts
  • The Wyrmkeep Entertainment
1994 Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb The Dreamers Guild
2015 1994 1942: The Pacific Air War MPS Labs MicroProse
1992 Challenge of the Five Realms: Spellbound in the World of Nhagardia MicroProse MicroProse
1988 F-19 Stealth Fighter MicroProse MicroProse
1991 Hyperspeed MPS Labs MicroProse
1990 Knights of the Sky MicroProse MicroProse
1995 Let's Explore the Jungle Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1995 Let's Explore the Farm Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1995 Let's Explore the Airport Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1998 Z.A.R. Maddox Games Auric Vision
1997 MadSpace: To Hell and Beyond Maddox Games Auric Vision
1997 Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths Nayma Software
  • Nayma Software
  • Got Game Entertainment
1996 Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri Looking Glass Technologies Looking Glass Technologies
1997 Big Thinkers! Kindergarten Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1997 Big Thinkers! 1st Grade Humongous Entertainment Humongous Entertainment
1997 Noctropolis: Enhanced Edition Flashpoint Studios Electronic Arts
1996 Timelapse GTE Entertainment GTE Entertainment
1994 System Shock: Enhanced Edition Looking Glass Studios Origin Systems
1989 Tank: The M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank Simulation Sphere, Inc. Spectrum HoloByte
1999 World War II GI TNT Team GT Interactive
1993 Starlord Third Millennium Software MicroProse
1997 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Iguana Entertainment Acclaim Entertainment
2016 1995 D: The Game WARP Acclaim Entertainment
2017 1998 Turok 2: Seeds of Evil Iguana Entertainment Acclaim Entertainment
1989 Space Rogue Classic Origin Systems Origin Systems
1998 Tender Loving Care Aftermath Media Aftermath Media
1996 Titanic: Adventure Out of Time Cyberflix GTE Entertainment
2018 1998 Forsaken Remastered Acclaim Entertainment
2000 Metal Fatigue Zono Psygnosis, TalonSoft
2019 1997 Blood: Fresh Supply Monolith Productions GT Interactive Software
2020 1998 SiN: Gold Ritual Entertainment Activision
1997 Doom 64 Midway Games Midway Games
2021 1999 Shadow Man: Remastered Acclaim Studios Teesside Acclaim Entertainment
1998 SiN: Reloaded Ritual Entertainment Activision
1996 Quake id Software id Software
TBA 1996 PowerSlave Lobotomy Software Playmates Interactive
1997 Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition Westwood Studios Virgin Interactive
1999 Machines: Wired for War Charybdis Acclaim Entertainment
1999 System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition
  • Looking Glass Studios
  • Irrational Games
Electronic Arts

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kick, Stephen (June 28, 2019). "Articles of Conversion of Night Dive Studios, LLC Into Night Dive Studios, Inc" – via Corporations and Charities Filing System.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Nightdive turns games of the past into a bright future...virtually". VentureBeat. April 25, 2017. Archived from the original on April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gwaltney, Javy (March 19, 2019). "This is How System Shock Came Back From The Dead". Game Informer. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Coleman, Ben (February 25, 2015). "Ghosts of Games Past". Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Newman, Jared (November 9, 2015). "How One Company Is Bringing Old Video Games Back From The Dead". Fast Company. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Newman, Jared (May 30, 2011). "The Lost History of System Shock". G4. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Smith, Adam (February 13, 2013). "Many Questions: System Shock 2 Comes To GOG". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  8. ^ Nightdive Studios [@NightdiveStudio] (November 7, 2017). "Today is the 5th Anniversary of Nightdive Studios! Let's celebrate with a sale, all titles up to 80%off on #Steam" (Tweet). Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Carlson, Patrick (May 11, 2013). "System Shock 2 arrives on Steam". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  10. ^ Carlson, Patrick (September 6, 2013). "Classic horror game I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream finds release on GOG". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Walker, John (September 11, 2013). "Wizard! Wizardry VI, VII, and 8 Are Now For Sale On Steam". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on March 5, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  12. ^ Conditt, Jessica (October 24, 2013). "The 7th Guest, 11th Hour bundle up for safety on Steam". Engadget. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  13. ^ Cowan, Danny (April 22, 2014). "Putt-Putt, Spy Fox join Humongous Entertainment's Steam catalog". Engadget. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  14. ^ Sarkar, Samit (May 1, 2014). "New trademarks filed for No One Lives Forever games". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Tyrrel, Brandin (May 1, 2014). "No One Lives Forever Resurfaces Through Trademark Filings". IGN. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  16. ^ Hamilton, Kirk (February 27, 2015). "The Sad Story Behind A Dead PC Game That Can't Come Back". Kotaku. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  17. ^ Peeples, Jeremy (May 8, 2014). "Humble Night Dive Studios Weekly Bundle Launched". Hardcore Gamer. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  18. ^ Devore, Jordan (July 28, 2014). "This Humble Flash Bundle has Putt-Putt and other Humongous titles". Destructoid. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  19. ^ Villarreal, Samuel (December 12, 2014). "Strife Veteran Edition GPL Source Release". GitHub. Archived from the original on July 21, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Kick, Stephen (June 22, 2016). "IamA Founder of Night Dive Studios, Stephen Kick – We track down and restore classic video games! AMA!". Archived from the original on July 14, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2016 – via Reddit.
  21. ^ Nightdive Studios (May 6, 2016). "Check out the new ND fresh look!". Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018 – via Facebook.

External links[edit]