System Shock (upcoming video game)

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System Shock
System Shock Remastered.jpg
Steam storefront header
Developer(s)Nightdive Studios
Publisher(s)Nightdive Studios
Director(s)Stephen Kick
Writer(s)Chris Avellone
Composer(s)Zircon, Jonathon Peros
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
ReleaseQ1 2020
Genre(s)Action role-playing

System Shock is an upcoming remake of the 1994 video game of the same name. The first-person action role-playing game was originally developed by Looking Glass Technologies; the remake is in development by Night Dive Studios. The game is planned to have a simultaneous release on Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. While Night Dive had planned for release in the second quarter of 2018, the studio had to effectively restart the development due to scope creep of the original product, and plan to release in a few years.


The rights for the System Shock series, up until 2012, had been held by Meadowbrook Insurance Group (a subsidiary of Star Insurance Company), the entity that acquired the assets of Looking Glass Studios on their closure.[1] In 2012, Night Dive Studios were able to acquire the rights for System Shock 2 and produced a digitally-distributable version updated for modern operating systems. Night Dive Studios subsequently went on to acquire the rights for System Shock and the franchise as a whole.[2]

Shortly after the release of System Shock: Enhanced Edition, Night Dive Studios announced their plans to develop a reimagining of System Shock as a new title for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One, featuring improved art assets and other improvements, and reworking the game to use the Unity game engine.[3] Originally announced as System Shock Remastered, Night Dive Studios has opted to simply name the new game System Shock as they consider the effort they are putting into the title makes it more of a reboot of the franchise rather than a remastering of the original game.[4][5] Veteran designer Chris Avellone and members of the Fallout: New Vegas development team have confirmed their involvement with the project.[6]

Night Dive Studios planned to fund the development of the game through a Kickstarter campaign that started on June 28, 2016, with a goal of US$900,000. Alongside the Kickstarter campaign, the studio released a free demo featuring an early build of the first level of the game, exhibiting their efforts so far on the project and intended to "demonstrate [their] commitment and passion" to faithfully rebooting the game.[7] The Kickstarter goal was met on July 9, 2016 with 19 days left in its campaign, and closed on July 28, 2016 with more than $1.35M in funding from about 21,600 backers. The additional funding will be used towards macOS and Linux versions of the game, expanded areas, and support for the Razer Chroma.[8][9] With the successful Kickstarter, Night Dive Studios anticipated a December 2017 release for the game.[8]

During the Kickstarter period, Night Dive Studios saw that there was a considerable demand for a PlayStation 4 version of the title. They subsequently talked with Sony and were able to affirm that a PlayStation 4 version would be possible. The studio plans to release this version in early 2018. The addition of the PlayStation 4 port did not impact the Kickstarter funding request, as the studio will be able to complete this with the $900,000 sought.[10] After breaking the US$1 million mark on Kickstarter, ports for macOS and Linux were confirmed.[11]

In November 2016, Night Dive Studios announced that it had pushed the release date back from December 2017 to the second quarter of 2018, and that it will aim for a simultaneous release on all computer and console platforms announced.[12]

During the 2017 Game Developers Conference, Night Dive Studios announced they would move development from Unity to Unreal Engine 4, with director Jason Fader said "Unity is not a great engine to use if you want to make an FPS on console".[13] Fader cited issues related to a combination of fidelity, cross-platform support, content pipelines and performance issues as the reason for the switch.[13][14] Fader also clarified that they now considered the game a more "faithful reboot" than a remaster; the game's story, character, weapons, levels, and enemies remain as in the original game, but they are applying "modern design principles" to rework some of these and add in others to make the game more playable for current audiences. Fader offered one example in level design, calling the original System Shock's maps a "product of the time" which did not age well; while somewhat fixed to the level's layout, the team is able to open up some areas and remove unnecessary mazes to make the game more interesting for players.[14] Fader offered that while the story remains beat-for-beat, the team has added Chris Avellone to change some of the dialog and to fix in some of the plot holes from the original game.[13]

In mid-February 2018, Night Dive announced that development of System Shock was put on hold. CEO Stephen Kick stated "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. System Shock is going to be completed and all of our promises fulfilled."[15] Kick explained that as the project had shifted from a remake to a reboot, they "strayed from the core concepts of the original title", and found they needed a larger budget. Night Dive's director of business development Larry Kuperman said they had approached publishing partners to fund the expanded effort, but could not obtain this additional support. Kick opted to put the project on hold, reassigning the team to other projects in the interim.[15] Speaking at the Game Developers Conference in March 2018, Kick and Kuperman explained that because of the feature creep, a newly assembled team had restarted the game's development, staying focused on the promises of what they would deliver during the Kickstarter, and that they are now looking towards a 2020 release for the title. The refocusing of the title also helped them to engage with interested publishing partners who were more amenable to supporting them with a highly-focused title.[16]


  1. ^ Newman, Jared (May 30, 2011). "The Lost History of System Shock". G4tv. G4 Media. Archived from the original on July 13, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Newman, Jared (September 11, 2015). "How One Company Is Bringing Old Video Games Back From The Dead". Fast Company. Mansueto Ventures. Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  3. ^ Frank, Allegra (November 25, 2015). "System Shock is being reimagined, and we've got the first look". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on July 16, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  4. ^ Favis, Elise (May 15, 2016). "System Shock Remastered Launches On Kickstarter This June". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  5. ^ Frank, Allegra (June 24, 2016). "System Shock reboot opens for crowdfunding next week — here's your preview (update)". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on July 11, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Frank, Allegra (June 28, 2016). "System Shock reboot is getting help from Obsidian Entertainment co-founder". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Williams, Mike (June 29, 2016). "System Shock Reboot's Alpha Demo Is About Building Kickstarter Trust". USgamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on July 2, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Saed, Sharif (July 11, 2016). "System Shock Kickstarter passes funding goal with 16 days to spare". VG247. Videogaming247. Archived from the original on July 12, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Pereira, Chris (July 28, 2016). "System Shock Remake Pulls in $1.35 Million, So Here's What Being Added". GameSpot. Archived from the original on July 30, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  10. ^ Frank, Allegra (July 20, 2016). "System Shock remake is coming to PS4". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on July 21, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  11. ^ Smith, Adam (November 25, 2015). "Nightdive Clarify "RPG Stuff" In System Shock Remake". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on July 23, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  12. ^ Pereira, Chris (November 18, 2016). "System Shock Remake's Release Date Pushed Back". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c Grant, Christopher (March 1, 2017). "See what the System Shock reboot looks like in Unreal Engine". Polygon. Archived from the original on March 2, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Peel, Jeremy (May 29, 2017). "Making it in Unreal: why Nightdive rebooted System Shock, then rebooted it again". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Campbell, Colin (February 16, 2018). "System Shock reboot that raised $1.3M on Kickstarter is now on 'hiatus'". Polygon. Archived from the original on February 16, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  16. ^ Fenlon, Wes (March 23, 2018). "Nightdive talks System Shock remake's change in direction, expects release 'probably Q1 of 2020'". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on March 24, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.

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