Many Questions: System Shock 2 Comes To GOG

By Adam Smith on February 13th, 2013 at 11:01 am.

Today, Good Old Games announce that they will finally, and exclusively, be selling a digital download version of System Shock 2. It will be available tomorrow. I envy those who can now play for the first time, but there is no longer an excuse not to indulge in yet another playthrough of one of the finest and most frightening games ever made. I spoke to Stephen Kick of Night Dive, who secured the rights and worked on the release, and Guillaume Rambourg at GOG.com. How did all of this come about and what is System Shock 2’s place in gaming, past, present and future?

RPS: The story of the System Shock rights and trademark has frustrated people for years. As I understand it – and I may well be wrong – Looking Glass retained the rights while EA held the trademark. When Looking Glass ceased to be, the rights passed to Meadowbrook Insurance Group and without both, the series cannot be revived. What negotiations, with any parties involved, have taken place in order to secure digital distribution rights?

Stephen Kick (Night Dive): The rights are still held in a very complicated tangle and going into all of it makes for very dry reading. The short version is that negotiations began in October of last year. I pitched the rights-holder with the focus being on the digital distribution of System Shock 2 and–as much to my surprise as anyone’s, possibly–here we are today.

Guillaume Rambourg (GOG.com): We, of course, have been working on getting System Shock 2 on GOG.com more or less since we started operations, and we were absolutely thrilled when Stephen contacted us from Night Dive indicating that he was able to secure these rights.

RPS: System Shock 2 has been one of the most requested games on GOG since GOG came into existence – how much effort has been going into securing rights and for how long?

Kick: It’s been a very lengthy process that’s required a great deal of patience and research. Before negotiations began I had very little experience in the realm of business so the idea of starting a development studio and potentially working with the System Shock license was incredibly daunting. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time, but to be honest I never imagined I’d see the day. I had just replayed the game while travelling through Guatemala on my netbook, and found myself completely immersed in the story and lost in the atmosphere.

I didn’t expect the game to hold up after all this time, but I found myself more engaged than I had been with any game for as long as I can remember. I really started to wonder why the game was no longer available and it lead me on a search for old interviews, articles, videos, forum posts, or anything else I could find relating to the game. I even contacted members of the original development team to get their side of the story. What I discovered was a mystery that needed to be solved. Knowing that gamers may never have the chance to play such an incredible game fueled my desire to make it happen.

Rambourg: We have contacted lots of publishers, developers and lawyers over the past 4-5 years – mostly industry veterans actually – to better understand the big legal puzzle behind this game and identify who owns the trademark, the IP, the code, distribution rights and so forth. We got lots of answers, sometimes aiming at the same direction, sometimes pointing in conflicting ones. You know the drill: one step forward, two steps back. It was a real investigation a la Tex Murphy. A very tough case, definitely, but we never lost hope.

And actually the unexpected occurred: one day Stephen contacted us and informed us he secured the rights for digital distribution of System Shock 2! He had heard of GOG and our popular community wish list–which allows our users to request games and site features they want to see on GOG–and the fact that over 34,000 users had voted that they wanted to see SS2 released on GOG made Stephen wanna join forces with us to make the release happen.

We could scarcely believe that our wishes had finally been answered, and after the usual legal checking of bona-fides on our end, we entered a deal with Stephen and there we are, talking to RPS about the digital return of one of the best PC games of all times. That’s a great day for everybody at GOG–and for all PC Gamers out there too!

RPS: You have updated the Night Dive website to read: “System Shock franchise to resurface with GOG/Steam release”. What is your involvement in the release and is the digital version an update, with high-res textures etc, or a straight re-release?

Kick: Night Dive Studios secured the license to distribute the game, and made the initial modifications to allow the game to run on most current operating systems.

Rambourg: There are some user-made mods out there which do phenomenal work on the game’s stability, but none of them were quite perfect, so we took the game to our expert techninjas to analyse and swat the remaining bugs. It was some work to get it done, but as this is a game that we’ve wanted to release for four-plus years, it was also definitely a labour of love.

Kick: This release is the original version in all its glory. Fans will be able to apply the mods they know and love, and hopefully we may see some new mods from the community in the future.

Rambourg: We definitely hope that having a legal source for this ground-breaking game will spur more interest from the community.

RPS: What other work are Night Dive involved in? I hadn’t heard of the studio before now and the website doesn’t give much away.

Kick: We are currently developing an original IP, and unfortunately I can’t say much more than that. We are a team comprised of veteran developers with a passion for gaming, and we hope you’ll enjoy what we have in store. We’re also always on the lookout for old games to bring back for new gamers to appreciate.

RPS: Can you go into any detail on the difficulty of ensuring the game works on modern PCs? It has been a common reason for people to keep old machines running.

Rambourg: As we mentioned, there are a number of community-made efforts that help a lot with stability on newer systems; they’ve pointed the way for us, and the game runs pretty much flawlessly on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8. Our most recent build has gone through all of our test team PCs without a hitch, and the game is definitely polished up and ready for its time in the limelight again.

RPS: Will there be any extras included with the GOG download? Soundtracks and the like?

Rambourg: Yes, indeed. With the help of Stephen, we’ve pulled out all of the stops to make this a virtual collector’s edition. In addition to the soundtrack, the GOG.com version of the game will have concept art, maps of the Von Braun, a interview with Ken Levine, the first pitch document, and much more.

Kick: It’s going to be a fantastic archive of System Shock 2 assets.

RPS: Although Bioshock is in some ways a spiritual successor to System Shock and its sequel, they are very different. Shock 2 is much more RPG-like, with a full inventory and skill progression paths. Do you think the weight of demand is partly because there hasn’t been anything quite like it since?

Kick: SS2 had an innovative design that formed the foundation for many modern games while seamlessly blending the best of both the FPS and RPG genre. No other developer has been able to replicate that sweet spot, and I think that’s really special.

Rambourg: It’s a game that appeals to the hardcore PC gaming fan; while it has more accessible controls than many early shooters, the gameplay is tough, but plenty rewarding for someone who has the skill to bull their way through – or the cunning to figure out clever ways around.

Kick: Bioshock was definitely more approachable for console gamers, and I think if they had made the game as challenging as System Shock it would have alienated that market. It’s difficult to keep everyone happy these days when the success of a game is determined by units sold or a Metacritic score. Ultimately, I hope that introducing SS2 to new gamers will inspire them to expect more from their gaming experiences.

Rambourg: After playing something as tense and thought-provoking as System Shock 2, I think “World War 2 FPS #37″ doesn’t feel quite as satisfying an endeavour. I’d love it if this encouraged fans to ask for more robust gameplay from their developers!

RPS: I regularly cite Shock 2 as the most frightening game I’ve ever played but I haven’t revisited it for almost a decade and worry that age may have diluted the atmosphere. Is that an unfounded worry?

Rambourg: The best horror games work not because of what they show, but because of what they hint at. Imagination is scarier than anything you can show, and every byte of this game is filled with dark hints that pull at your imagination. The testers who’ve made sure this game runs on modern OSes have assured me that the spooky audio logs are just as affecting now as they were a decade ago.

Kick: H.P. Lovecraft once said that, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” I have a feeling this idea played a large role in how SS2 was designed. SS2 doesn’t rely on cheap scare tactics like creatures jumping from vents or enemies spawning behind you. The fear and atmosphere stems from the cryptic and frightening audio logs you discover that subtly reveal the horrific tragedy that has befallen the Von Braun. The sparse resources and non-regenerating health create a tension that fill you with dread, and the rapidly decaying state of the ship and your mind elevate the terror to a whole new level. I’d recommend playing the game alone in the dark with a good headset for the full experience.

Rambourg: But only if you’re not prone to heart problems!

RPS: Along with the Thief games, Shock 2 perfectly fits my definition of a ‘good old game’. It comes from a time when first-person games seemed to be exploring new environments and methods of interacting with the world, something that appears to be on the rise again, with such as Dishonored and Human Revolution going some way toward reviving the tradition. But how important a part of PC gaming history do you reckon Shock 2 is?

Kick: Like I mentioned before I think SS2 laid the foundation for future games that blend genres. What I really loved with SS2 that Deus Ex and Dishonored exercised was the decision not to include a full multiplayer component. Personally, if I play a game I want it to be one or the other. The expectation of including a multiplayer component to a single player centric game is completely unrealistic and sometimes I feel it’s just an excuse to add another feature on the back of the box. It may seem obvious, but you’re essentially asking your studio to develop two games simultaneously which often comes with sacrificing the quality of both the single player and the multiplayer. Overall you end up with a mediocre experience. All three of these games remedy the lack of multiplayer with an experience you can enjoy multiple times, each time in a completely new way. SS2 has three distinct classes with dramatically different play styles that are challenging and fun to master all their own.

Rambourg: System Shock 2 is the culmination of the innovation that the developers brought to the FPS genre starting with Ultima Underworld. The FPS genre got its first blowout success with Doom in 1993, so this is 6 years later and someone is creating something that–in many ways–bears almost no resemblance to the game that put FPS gaming on the map. And it’s brilliant! It’s a touchstone that you see referenced in many ways in games from Metal Gear Solid to Mass Effect. And Deus Ex and Bioshock, of course. The storytelling, the way that immerses you through a variety of channels – even the focus on tension, isolation, fear. It all takes you to a place that the first person perspective is uniquely suited to, but does so in a manner very different than Doom or Quake.

RPS: SHODAN and GlaDOS construct rival deathtraps. Which is the most deadly?

Kick: The fact that SHODAN can create and alter reality to her will is pretty terrifying. Especially since she’s totally insane. GlaDOS was trapped inside a potato battery by Wheatley, a lesser artificial intelligence. So I’m going to have to go with SHODAN!

RPS: Now that System Shock 2 is secured, what will replace it as GOG’s most demanded game?

Rambourg: Actually, our community wish list shows we have quite a bunch of LucasArts’ titles to sign next and we will do our best to satisfy our gamers. Heck, we just signed SS2 after all, so impossible is nothing for GOG! If you guys want to support us, make sure to vote in our community wishlist so that we can give more weight to all our ongoing and upcoming business talks. It worked for SS2, so it can work for other titles. I know that some people may think that voting in the wishlist doesn’t accomplish anything. I’m here to tell you it does. It gives us ammo to sign publishers and sometimes – like with Stephen and Night Dive – even opens the door for opportunity when we need it most!

RPS: GOG had a Colonization screenshot with a colony called System Shock 2 – tease, coincidence or promise? Loom was on there too!

Rambourg: At the time, we didn’t know that we’d be releasing System Shock 2, no. It was more like an Easter egg (or cry for our prayers to get heard!) because we have constantly been asked–for the last four years–when we will release System Shock 2. Perhaps I should tell our team to post more screenshots like that and maybe we’ll have the good fortune to sign the remaining top games from our wishlist!

System Shock 2 will be available at GOG.com tomorrow from 11:00 AM GMT, for $9.99.

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192 Comments »

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  1. povu says:

    Well l-l-l-look at this, that was unexpected.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Unexpected and more than welcome. Both System Shock games have to be two of the very best first-person games ever made. I’d be tremendously tempted to argue that they’re possibly two of the best games created full stop. It is almost sad experiencing them for the first time, taking in the genius, the artistry, the tasteful sound, level and visual design. Sad because one realises that so very, very few people are capable of creating such perfect gaming experiences.

      Though they may have inspired many other games designers, there is NOTHING out there that even comes close to providing the semi-abstract, malignant open-world level design, with effective audio and musical soundtracks, appropriate voice acting and writing, and solid RPG gameplay mixed with some good shooting. The sense of progression against tremendous odds, building up one’s skills (physical, mental etc) and using them to continue further and further to the end, is the absolute antithesis of the “console mentality” or the Call of Duty school of game design.

      Again, it is almost depressing that experiencing System Shock 1 or 2 is tempered with the realisation that there is very little other games out there that can match them on any level. Ultima Underworld isn’t far off, though. Why doesn’t anyone make “free-look” first person RPGs any more that are focussed on the dungeons rather than bland, repetitive and empty open worlds?

      (Oh and try playing either game with Autechre’s “Oversteps” as the soundtrack, it works so well.)

      • stele says:

        Agreed 100%. I hold SS1 and SS2 are two of the best games ever made, hands down. Add Deus Ex, Thief 1 and Thief 2 to the list as well. Consider as well that these highly popular and immersive games all came from the same people.

      • Triplanetary says:

        I agree. The repetition and ultimate pointlessness of most of Skyrim’s dungeons is a big mark against it. It’s a game that cries out for some really well-crafted locales, but has virtually none.

        System Shock 2 is certainly the pinnacle of well-crafted locales. The only thing that comes close in recent memory is Dishonored. (Hey, I said close.)

      • zain3000 says:

        Come on, guys. That’s apples and oranages, and you know it. SS2 is one of my favourite games of all time too, but I played the living hell out of Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, etc…

        They are all beautiful pieces that make up the entirety of our gaming mosaic. Take a step back and appreciate the whole.

      • nindustrial says:

        You, sir, get a bunch of points just for mentioning Autechre.

  2. gschmidl says:

    What about the infinitely superior System Shock 1?
    (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Not sure what you mean. The only System Shock 1 I’ve played was the one System Shock 2 improved on.

      • coldvvvave says:

        I enjoyed virtual reality hacking levels in SS2 so much. Oh wait no they cut hacking. And thy made it more linear. CoD-ification!

      • Muzman says:

        The writing in SS1 is more naturalistic and conversational. It doesn’t merely plop information in your lap that you need (of course SS2 isn’t too bad at this either by todays standards). You have to tease it out and read between the lines a lot of the time.
        That level of integrity to the concept is rare, especially now

    • abandonhope says:

      System Shock Portable has been available for a while now. Have at it.

      • gschmidl says:

        I know, but it’s not exactly legit, is it? Oh well, I bought the original twice, I guess (floppy and CD).

        • LionsPhil says:

          There is a question over how useful a legit copy is when there’s no path for the money to make its way back to any of the people who put in the work (or even investment if the rights-path has been particularly tortuous) to make it happen.

          Having SS1 on GOG would probably kill SSP.

        • sbs says:

          I think it has been abandonware for a long while.

          • jalf says:

            Legally speaking, there is no such thing. You can call it “abandonware” if you like, but it makes absolutely *zero* difference to whether it is legit.

            Abandonware is not, and was never, a thing. (Except in the informal sense of discussing something that the original developers/publishers have no sold or supported for a long time)

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            I don’t think anyone cares if it’s legit, it just needs to be justified by the individual.

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            While there’s no such thing as abandonware in the legal sense, I really don’t see any moral problem with downloading a classic game that has been out of print for 15 years. Granted, I have both the CD and floppy versions, so it’s moot for me, but I say if you missed out on SS1, download portable and enjoy.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            A game released in the US, in the 90s, is, at minimum, still under fully-enforceable copyright until the year 2040.

    • mouton says:

      Superior? Nah. Awesome? Yes.

      • JabbleWok says:

        +1

        So it seems DieGo-G has finally achieved ultimate victory over the SHODAN insurance company, setting free SS2 for all to play. Well, OK, for a price.

        Next, presumably, the sequel – liberating System Shock er… 1

    • Taidan says:

      It’s definitely at least equally good! (Hmmm, getting some splinters there.)

    • internisus says:

      I came here to ask after the original System Shock as well. A very cool game, particularly for its modular interface and incredible music. It is too often overshadowed by its sequel, although the latter deserves that success as an incredible experience of philosophical post-human horror. This is a great victory, but I’ll be sorely disappointed if SS1 does not appear on GOG as well.

    • fish99 says:

      System Shock 1 was a fine game and very innovative, but by todays standard it’s very slow and hard to play, with clunky FPS and movement mechanics, and I think adding RPG elements to SS2 really perfected the formula.

  3. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Ok, I have clearly failed as a player of games, and as a human being, but I have never played SS2. Do I need to play the first game to properly enjoy this one?

    • Premium User Badge

      amateurviking says:

      No, just dive in. All we be well.

    • Flint says:

      No, the only thing the two games share is the main villain. There’s a few references to the first game’s events but they’re minor background things, otherwise SS2 is as clean a slate plot-wise as you can get from a sequel.

      • Premium User Badge

        phlebas says:

        True for most of the game – the ending (without wanting to say too much) might be a little less effective without having seen the original, though?

    • grundus says:

      This is something I would also like to know. I think I have System Shock, it came in one of those DOSBox-based classic game collections. I don’t know where it is though, but I’ll make the effort to find it if necessary.

      Also: LucasArts. Ohboyohboyohboy make that happen please for the love of all that is holy! X-Wing, TIE Fighter, the SCUMM games, any of these would be an instant buy for me.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        I’m surprised they haven’t released the X-Wing games already. I thought they’d be right behind the adventure games they released on Steam. Surely they don’t think the genre is so dead that people wouldn’t buy them. They only need to look at Star Citizen.

        Lucasarts is sitting on the biggest space IP in the world, and it’s ideally suited to the space sim genre. I can’t believe they aren’t doing more with it.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      All you need to know about the first game’s story is briefly recapped at the beginning of SS2. And there really isn’t a whole lot of it, either.

      The only problem is that SS was a better game (in my memory, that is; sadly, the control scheme must have been designed by an epileptic octopus), and I do hope they get around to releasing it as well. But it really doesn’t matter what order you play them in; SS2 will definitely be more accessible to newcomers (but quite how much, that’s a mystery).

      • mouton says:

        I don’t know, it felt more shooty-shooty most of the time. It was awesome nonetheless.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          I thought the atmosphere was better in SS. In that one, you really feel that you are a tiny and insignificant insect taking on an entire space station, and it’s quite remarkable how almost nothing you do in that game ever turns out right, because Shodan’s always one step ahead of you – the entire plot is just a glorious string of your failures and last-ditch efforts to salvage your previous last-ditch efforts. The sequel lost most of that.

          The gameplay itself is quite different in the two games, so that’s purely personal preference. But System Shock’s Shodan beats System Shock 2’s Shodan, hands down.

          • Ravenger says:

            I prefer SS1 for the plot and atmosphere, but I agree the controls are clunky by modern standards.

            Luckily there’s a mod for SS1 which implements SS2 style mouselook controls and keymapping, which makes the game much more playable to modern audiences, and which also adds higher resolutions.

            http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=1719.0

            I’ve tried this and it works perfectly.

          • mouton says:

            I thiiink your nostalgia might be coloring it up a bit, I didn’t find the SS1 plot as glorious.

            But it’s arguing the shades of greatness, really.

          • Epicedion says:

            I found the atmosphere in SS2 to be better, simply due to such modern amenities as ‘graphics’ and ‘sound.’

            SS2 is very much a cautious-exploration game, where at first you have no idea what’s around any corner. It’s very rare that you ever feel safe, even if you’re crossing an area for the twelfth time on your way to the local chemical storeroom, there’s always the chance that you’ll pop around a corner and be face to face with something you haven’t seen before.

            Top that off with the they-got-this-wrong-in-Bioshock survival element, where weapons fail and ammunition runs low, and you’ve got a game that occasionally just makes you want to hide in the corner behind a potted plant next to the mangled corpse of a former crewmember while listening to the last recorded message to their kid back on Earth and playing Adventure in your PDA and trying to ignore the zombie-thing slouching around right outside the window whispering ‘we are.. (we are…)’.

          • Ravenger says:

            Having played SS1 very recently, I can say it’s definitely not nostalgia.

            I’m not a big fan of some of the big coincidences that are required to drive SS2’s plot, and it suffers from a poor ending, allegedly caused by the assets for the original ending being lost.

            That’s not to say I don’t love SS2. I do, and I have the original shrink-wrapped version I bought when it first came out.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I like how SS1’s interface is a slightly clunky not-WASD-and-mouselook, since it means you can’t suddenly spin 180 and hit a target like most FPS protagonists controlled by even mildly experienced players. It’s fairly important that you’re not a powerful MUHREEN but some hacker kid who’s got caught up in all this, and faffing with trying to load and fire weapons is awkward and tense while oh god something just turned the corner wait is that some kind of semitranspar—

            THEY FIND YOUR BODY AND GIVE IT NEW LIFE

          • gritz says:

            Ravenger: Awesome link! I gave up on trying to get into SS1 years ago because I couldn’t adjust to no mouselook.

            I wonder if anyone could port that over to the Ultima Underworld games since they use the same engine?

          • Ravenger says:

            I’d love the same mod for UW1 and UW2. The only reason I haven’t gone back to replay them is due to the clunky controls.

    • derbefrier says:

      I too have never played it. I also hear it has co-op any word on if that will work? Wanted to play this for while and now I have no excuse will pick this up asap.

  4. andytizer says:

    This is really exciting news as this has been in ‘re-release development hell’ for so long.

  5. bigjig says:

    WOW!!! I am speechless, I am without speech

  6. ran93r says:

    I still have my original disc somewhere but will pick this up just to thank the guys for (hopefully) getting it running nicely without me having to faff.

  7. Bweahns says:

    L l l l look at you hacker…

    This is one of my all time favourite games. I played it on my PII 350 with a Voodoo2. It was so immersive and scary. However people today can’t go back and play it and have the same experience as it simply looks too dated now. I never played the original Dues Ex and would love to do so but I can’t get past the ancient graphics.

    • mouton says:

      Try again. I am serious.

      In my experience, the shock that your system gets while seeing aged graphics is only temporary – after an hour or two, your brain gets used to it and focus on the positive elements, which – if the game is a classic – are certainly there.

      Remember all those games that were pretty but ultimately bland and boring? See, this goes both ways. Graphics are only a surface.

      • tobecooper says:

        Listen to this man for he speaks the truth. I had a lot of similar experiences with old games.

        Also, to keep in line with the rest of the comments – System Shock 2! Wheeeee!

      • mutopia says:

        This person writes truth. I even remember it happening in under an hour. There’s absolutely no excuse not to enjoy these (often unsurpassed) games. Sadly some give up before that hour passes, which is why we need people to point out this unnamed effect.

        And the really *fantastic* thing is that soon that part of your brain which fills in gaps and imagines the game world REALLY kicks in and then you’ll be having so much fun you’ll actually enjoy the graphics. Really.

        That said the texture packs and unofficial patches for Looking Glass & Ion Storm games are excellent, of course. But even without they are beautiful games (although at minimum you should get widescreen resolution & FOV patch, which I’m sure is already integrated into this GOG release).

      • derbefrier says:

        I recently expirienced this when I bought the old thief games a few months ago and played them for the first time. It took a bit to adjust but I got completely engrossed in the games . The gameplay is just so damn good I forgot I was playing a decade old game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Download the New Vision mod and HDTP. Looks better than COD.

      • gritz says:

        Ha! I love Deus Ex more than I love drinking water, but New Vision and HDTP (what a joke) don’t help a whole lot. New Vision is very nice, but not relevatory, and HDTP is completely worthless unless you like having an uber-detailed and uber-ugly Hermann Gunther who sticks out like a sore thumb.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      Ugh. Deus Ex looks fantastic.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Deus Ex was panned for looking dated when it was brand new (same goes for Thief 1 and 2, as well). The graphics aren’t why people replay it constantly, though.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          Not really true. A few idiots didn’t like the graphics, but it wasn’t a general complaint. Fact remains it looks fantastic.

          • Lagwolf says:

            Yes, people who moaned about DX’s graphics were in the minority and probably after attention. I can’t remember if I played SS2, but if it comes anywhere near close to the amazing DX I have to give it a go.

          • gritz says:

            I think the problem was that it used the Unreal Engine but looked nowhere near as good as Unreal or UT. Expectations were higher.

        • Muzman says:

          They were right about Deus Ex. They were wrong about Thief 1 (and probably 2)

      • sebmojo says:

        It looked shit at the time, it looks double shit now. Possibly triple.

        I’ll grant you the sunrise towards the end is nice but whatever its other merits Deus Ex an ugly, ugly game.

        • bjohndooh says:

          I don’t think Deux Ex was particularly ugly – maybe not as nice HL1, Q3A or UT99 but not much worse.

          • KenTWOu says:

            Even Warren Spector admitted that Deus Ex was ugly, cause they ignored art-design completely during the early stages of development. That’s why Half-life’s NPCs from 1998 looks much better than Deus Ex NPCs from 2000 in terms of polygons and animations.

  8. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    Hurrah! I was just thinking about this the other day. Glad they’ve finally sorted out the rights issues.

  9. MOKKA says:

    The System Shock Games are in my illustrous ‘Club of Games I heard of when they got released but never came around to play them but now I really wished I did’, along with the original X-Com and Homeworld. Now I’m happy that at least I’m able to get one of those titles off this list.

  10. faelnor says:

    There are some user-made mods out there which do phenomenal work on the game’s stability, but none of them were quite perfect, so we took the game to our expert techninjas to analyse and swat the remaining bugs. It was some work to get it done, but as this is a game that we’ve wanted to release for four-plus years, it was also definitely a labour of love.

    What a load of crock! With the release of newdark (updated game engine based on the leaked source code, released by an anonymous person), there were no remaining bugs that GOG’s “expert technicians” would have been able to swat – unless they were themselves the authors of newdark. Are they going to use a now-deprecated DDFix distribution?

    Anyway, as soon as the game is released, everyone should hop by systemshock.org and download SS2Tool in order to fix what GOG’s guys broke (besides multiplayer — multi is broken anyway).

    @RPS: Why didn’t you ask him about the original System Shock? It is the better game, in my opinion, and it is arguably the more important one in terms of new features and influencing the future of video games. Do they own that IP too? Are they working on releasing it?

    • Premium User Badge

      Surlywombat says:

      What are you moaning about? The fact that they did some of their own work to make it stable? If they didn’t people would complain about them “stealing” the modders work.

      Amazing how people will find something to bitch about even in the best news of the year.

      • mouton says:

        I don’t know what he was talking about, but it sounded like that linux thingy?

      • faelnor says:

        I’m not moaning about anything. I’m saying that, unless they are the authors of the new patch, all their hard “work of love” will have been in vain because it has been done better by someone else. Their answers are quite vague, but chances are that people will have to install the newdark 2.4 patch (RPS link) anyway to get the most of their game, overwriting any modification GOG might have done.

        • mouton says:

          Well, you did sound a bit hostile. At least wait until they release their version before unleashing fanpatch hell.

          Which reminds me, still have to play VTM:Bloodlines. Sigh.

          • animlboogy says:

            You should get around to that.

          • Triplanetary says:

            I suffered through VTMB’s entire campaign without the fan patches, which is a feat I always make sure to mention when I meet a new lady at the bar.

        • Kadayi says:

          How do you know their work is in vain as a matter of interest given the GoG versions not even been released yet? Or are you passing of personal assumption as concrete fact?

          • Baines says:

            The text says they are releasing the original game, fixed to squash bugs and run on modern systems. The newdark patch did both of those and improved the engine itself. If they aren’t using newdark, then there is a good chance that they are replicating work that has already been done, and the end result could be less than what we already have available. We might also not see a new newdark if the GOG version breaks it.

    • dux says:

      My favourite part of your post was the part where it was based on fact and was not at all conjecture.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        From what was said it sounds like they were unhappy with the fan made patch and that’s why they did their own work. Don’t see how that patch will “Fix” what they did, if what they did was further “fix” what the fans almost fixed.

    • Mark says:

      After spending years and years negotiating complex legalities to try and get the game released again, you want GoG’s paid version to use a fan made patch by multiple authors that was based on leaked source code?

      • faelnor says:

        Nope, I just want the users to get the best SS2 experience available today. And how do you know it was fan-made? As far as I’m concerned, no one really knows who made it, and if it’s indeed from multiple authors.

        As it was not clear in my opening post, I very much enjoy the length these guys went to get the game on sale legally again. It’s a substantial feat. The whole part about spending so much sweat on getting it up and running made me laugh is all, because I know exactly what is involved from a technical standpoint (different GOG-authorized or not DDFixed .exes, newdark availability, etc.). For your information, newdark or not, they’re going to include fan-made patches :)

        We’ll know for sure tomorrow.

      • Twist says:

        Mark, I think you’re vastly under-appreciating the detail and polish of the New Dark patch. Either GOG is using the New Dark patch, Night Dive is the mysterious developer who created the New Dark patch, or end-users will ultimately have to apply New Dark to enjoy the best possible experience.

        This is basically the same engine as the Thief games, and the GOG versions of the Thief games use a deprecated fan-made patch called DDFix. The mysteriously-developed New Dark is vastly superior to DDFix and should be applied to any install of Thief, Thief 2 and System Shock 2.

    • faelnor says:

      As predicted, they are using nothing except community patches (an old version of SS2Tool, including newdark) without credit. So much for the labour of love.

  11. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    Yay! I have it on CD, but I will pay to not have to muck around.

  12. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    I must have played the Med/Sci demo over and over back in the heady days of coverdisks. When I got the full game, it was one of those that enjoyed an almost permanently slot on my 1.3gb HD.
    And yet I don’t think I ever finished a game as OSA on hard or impossible. Guess this news is a good enough reason as any to give it a go.

    • ZephyrSB says:

      Wait, you played the demo more than once? I was literally out the door and down the shops as soon as I finished it…

  13. Premium User Badge

    Surlywombat says:

    Thank you.

  14. IgnusDej says:

    Nice turn GOG! This is going to be bought! The next big thing I’m waiting for is Metal Gear Solid! Please do it!

  15. Jekhar says:

    First off, hooray! But why does the article state right at the beginning GOG will finally, and exclusively, be selling a digital download version, but the Nightdiver site says “System Shock Franchise To Resurface With GOG/Steam Release”? Which is correct now? I’ll be getting it on GOG regardless, but that made me wonder.

  16. Jockie says:

    Hooray, now hopefully gaming will adapt SS2 as a template for excellence and we can get back on the path we should’ve taken 14 years ago.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      fingers crossed!

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Based on all the preview evidence I have seen thus far, Bioshock Infinite – to take a pertinent example – looks like it inherits nothing from System Shock 2 save for the first person perspective. It will be a linear, rollercoaster ride of set piece after set piece. If they have created an open-world game of any sort, I would be deeply shocked.

      With the exception of The Elder Scrolls (do NOT get me started on these empty, bland shells masquerading as deep RPGs – at least post-Morrowind), there are almost no “non-FPS” first person games being released any more, since the advent of the XBOX 360 generation practically ruling such things to be “inappropriate” and too intellectually and physically challenging.

      Much as I would love to see more immersive simulations, they require a huge amount of time, effort, talent, and budget to create. The closest thing to this I’ve seen in a while would have to be Dishonored, which wasn’t truly open world, Deus Ex H.R. which was also ultimately linear, and The Dark Mod.

  17. The white guar says:

    Why? WHY do I have to attend important meetings and undergo exams and eat and sleep over the next days? OH WHY? *weeps*

  18. Alexander says:

    Look at you, pathetic gamers.

  19. Kakrafoon says:

    I long for a re-make of System Shock 2 with the graphics of Dead Space.

  20. Alextended says:

    I just hope this inspires the fan tweaks, HDmakes, etc, to resume.

    They really should fix the multiplayer too though, I don’t see it mentioned in the interview I skimmed…

  21. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I sho’ dang loved this game. Eh? EH?!

  22. mike2R says:

    “there is no longer an excuse not to indulge in yet another playthrough of one of the finest and most frightening games ever made”

    How about it scared the shit out of me last time?

    Seriously good game, but the only way I got more than an hour or two into it was when playing it co-op. Which was an absolute blast on a LAN with me downstairs and my friend upstairs, communicating by yelling. “BEEEEEES!!! RUNNNNNNN!!!”

  23. Awesom-O says:

    AWESOMEEEE

  24. Hoaxfish says:

    System Shock 2 gets all this coverage? Where was the coverage when Daikatana arrived on GOG? Amateurs!

    On a more sensible note… who gets paid when I buy SS2 from GoG? Other than GOG getting some as the store-front?

  25. Subject 706 says:

    Silence the discord! *BLAM*

  26. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Good news and great interview. Can’t say I enjoy SS2 much anymore. But it makes for a good addition to anyone’s old games shelf.

    I was particularly pleased with his take on offering a single experience per game, either just singleplayer or just multiplayer, since it echoes my exact feelings on the matter. It may not be true of every game out there, but it’s true of enough titles for a game that successfully caters to both the singleplayer and multiplayer community to be a rarity and thus the exception.

    Naturally its all pretty mute, since there’s value from a business point of view to just provide one title that caters to a wider audience of both SP and MPers. Developers and publishers will keep insisting on that model. But at least it’s good to see it being openly argued against.

    • animlboogy says:

      I mostly agree with the sentiment, except to say that a lot of good single player games could also be good co-op games in the tradition of the late 90’s D&D PC games. Or, indeed, System Shock 2.

  27. Danda says:

    Will this have the co-op patch installed? I finished this game playing with my brother via LAN.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Oozo says:

    Those monkeys. Those bloody, scary monkeys.

    • Skabooga says:

      Never before and never again have I been so frightened to hear “Ooo OOo ooo ooo ooo aaahh” coming softly from around the corner.

  29. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    Grim Fandango next? Yes please.

  30. Beybars says:

    So these rights are only for the digital distribution? no sequel?

    *sobs uncontrollably…

    Anyway for those that didn’t play it, try the SHTUP and rebirth mod they update the visuals of the game texture and models, there are also other mods that update the weapons and audio right here: http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?board=2.0

    • LionsPhil says:

      As Kieron once pointed out, SHODAN can only fail so many times before completely undermining her.

      Spiritual sequeling is probably the best way to go.

      • Beybars says:

        Interesting point, but SHODAN didn’t completely fail at the end of SS2. It ended with such a kick in the teeth cliffhanger that begs and screams sequel, obviously she isn’t going to adapt to being a human being get married and have children.

        • Bart Stewart says:

          The only System Shock 3 that makes any sense is as a final game: SHODAN reaches Earth.

          Or perhaps a base on the Moon — just close enough to be a serious threat without needing the developers to model actual Earth cities. Assuming it was made by developers who actually understood why the System Shock games resonate, I would be very interested in buying and playing that game.

          I would be willing to pay extra for the “My Mom SHODAN” DLC.

      • gritz says:

        “Spiritual sequeling is probably the best way to go.”

        You would have thought so, but no.

      • Casimir's Blake says:

        It doesn’t need to be SHODAN. An equivalently malignant AI, on a wrecked space-station or colony, place a lone survivor in this open world with little or nothing save their clothes: BAM. Sequel. No, not a sand-box, a hand-crafted experience. This is the difference between System Shock and other open-world games. Every map, level, corner, room had a purpose. But this does require imagination and talent, which is thin on the ground these days.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I’d class that as “spiritual”, but that’s pretty much just arguing semantics.

          It being called “System Shock” seems like the least important part to me because SHODAN’s tale has been told, and the setting is generic enough that you can drop in any other cyberpunky sci-fi.

    • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

      So these rights are only for the digital distribution? no sequel?

      *sobs uncontrollably…

      Surely that’s the best possible outcome?
      Game is now available for everybody forever, but the IP is safe from EA’s grubby mitts.
      Am I wrong in assuming that there’s virtually no chance that one of EA’s “Bioware-*thing*” sweatshops could produce anything remotely worthy of the title? Let the series rest, having gone out with a bang…

  31. Risingson says:

    I played SS2 last year, and yes, it is a much weaker game than SS1, which I also replayed. Not half the atmosphere, not half the frights, not half the intelligence of the first game.

  32. C0llic says:

    YES!

  33. Shooop says:

    Excellent.

    I’ve wanted to play this game for the longest time, but all the headaches of getting it to run were too much. GoG, you’re alright with me.

    Also, if the dated graphics are a bit daunting of an obstacle for you, there’s mods to help with that.

    http://www.moddb.com/mods/shtup-system-shock-2-texture-upgrade

    http://www.moddb.com/mods/system-shock-rebirthhigh-poly-pack

    The second one, Rebirth mod makes the Many look especially horrifying.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      …and comes with a free tit-job for the cyborg midwives. The texture upgrade is amazing, but Rebirth does mess up with the game’s art direction, and not really in a good way. I wouldn’t recommend that one.

      • fiddlesticks says:

        There’s a new version of Rebirth which doesn’t give the midwives ridiculous breasts and overall stays much closer to the original vision of the models. Get it here: http://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=8.0

      • Beybars says:

        If you’re referring to the midwife tits, then I have to disagree since the original concept art for the midwife shows here with an exposed chest:

        http://www.giantbomb.com/system-shock-2/3030-8870/images/?tag=Concept+Art

        I think back then, when the game was released, developers had to suffer self censorship or publisher censorship when it comes to nudity, so the concept midwife never materialized.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          You know, there is a difference between an “exposed chest” and “watermelons bolted to the front”. The concept art gives the poor girls a lot more reasonable proportions.

  34. Premium User Badge

    JB says:

    Kick travelled through Guatemala on his netbook? That must have been some journey.

    In all seriousness, this is great news. I’ve never tried SS2 co-op, so now’s my chance!

  35. Dudeist says:

    Who will want Bioshock Inifinite now?? lol

  36. Totally heterosexual says:

    Hell yes.

    That’s all I have to say about this. So I am going to say it again.

    Hell yes.

  37. fiddlesticks says:

    MY CUP RUNNETH OVER!

  38. jobyek says:

    Finally!

  39. Ergates_Antius says:

    I regularly cite Shock 2 as the most frightening game I’ve ever played but I haven’t revisited it for almost a decade and worry that age may have diluted the atmosphere. Is that an unfounded worry?

    It has *invisible spiders*! Spiders! Invisible ones!

  40. D3xter says:

    Can someone find out what happened to all the Psygnosis-published games after they were bought by Sony?
    I would rather like the likes of Discworld 1+2, Discworld: Noir, Lemmings, Drakan etc. on GoG and other services.

    • cptgone says:

      i’d love to play Discworld Noir again. haven’t even played the other Discworld games yet.

    • animlboogy says:

      I was having a wonderful morning until you reminded me they existed. Why, why did Sony shut them down?

    • Jekhar says:

      I hope they’re coming to GOG eventually. I’d like to pull of some crazy flying maneuvers in Lander again.

  41. Sidewinder says:

    Hooray!

  42. sinister agent says:

    Still remember the first time I played this, in 2002. I’d never heard of it, nor had my cousin, who was the one who bought it in a compilation including Wing Commander 4 and Dungeon Keeper 2. Best game bargain in history, that.

    I can still picture the “what. the. fuck” looks we shared as started to dawn on us just what we were getting into.

  43. Sharzam says:

    OMG OMG OMG it is finally happening one of the greatest games of all time is on.

    Now to convince the kiddie winks to actually play it so i can wave a finger at them “see thats how you make a game”

  44. Mark says:

    I replayed this about 3-4 years ago and it was still terrifying. If you’re worried about the graphics looking dated – don’t, you will adjust very quickly. Really really worth it.

    Think i’m gonna play though with a 100% Psi build this time…

  45. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Ah, the real fight is not Shodan versus GladOS; rather it’s Shodan versus Durandal.

  46. QualityJeverage says:

    Well this sure is creepy.

    Literally yesterday, I was thinking about how I’d never played System Shock 2, and how it was one of those gaming blindspots I really wanted to fill in. I assumed it had to be on GoG, and was surprised to find that it wasn’t. Some more searching revealed the nightmarish network of legal problems the game was tangled up in, so I decided it was probably dead for the foreseeable future and went on with my day. Resolving to maybe hunt down a copy if the opportunity arose.

    Now the very next frakking day, GoG has broken through and gotten a hold of it.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      Could I invite you to want a re-release of the original System Shock next?

      I encourage you to use your terrible power responsibly.

  47. Saiko Kila says:

    I’ve never played it. Envy me :)

    • Vinraith says:

      Without the benefit of nostalgia it’s generally very hard to get through a game of this age in my experience. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try, of course, it’s just a shame that the interface and graphics have aged so very, very badly.

      • USER47 says:

        Aren’t you talking about SS1? SS2 aged pretty well, the controls and interface are better than in most modern games designed for gamepads.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The mode-switching interface seems kind of awkward if you’re used to slick modernism.

          But, as for SS1, I like it. Switching over to scavenge a precious single shotgun shell from a hybrid’s discarded broken shotgun because you’re desperate for ammo leaves you utterly defenceless while you do it. No well-lit corner feels safe enough.

  48. SwordChucksYo says:

    Ah…System Shock 2. One of my favorite games of all time. Anybody who hasn’t played it yet, needs to. Now. Alone. In a dark room. With the headphones on max volume.
    Hopefully, resurrecting games like this will wake up the general populace as to the current state of (specifically FPS) games, shows them what once was, and could be again.
    This game treats you like an adult. It’s not going to hold your hand and lead you safely through it. It’s not afraid to sit back and let you make mistakes.

  49. Axyl says:

    Just waiting for GOG to get their hands on Flashback now. This was the other game on my list. :D