When we last reported on the Kickstarter-funded System Shock remake from Night Dive Studios, all sounded relatively well, and the team were gearing up to expand the scope of their plans, from making a straight remake into something more akin to a modern-day reboot for the series.
Unfortunately, greater scope means a greater budget and investments in both time and manpower. After additional publisher support to back up this new vision didn’t come through, Night Dive are ‘taking a step back’ to reassess the project and get it back more in line with their original Kickstarter promises, as detailed in this (public) backer update from Stephen Kick, Night Dive CEO.
While the update makes it clear that production on System Shock isn’t ending or being abandoned, it sounds like some tough calls had to be made and we’re likely going to hear more on the project in the coming weeks. More than anything, it sounds like feature creep bogged down production, and while the studio are happy with their decision to switch from Unity to Unreal, development was going down a path that not too many Kickstarter backers were ready to get behind.
Understandably, many of those who put money down on the game are feeling less than enthusiastic after this announcement, with no shortage of comments on the backer update declaring the project dead and buried. While I feel that’s jumping the gun a bit, Night Dive’s story of creeping ambition and stretching beyond their original stated goal (A ‘faithful reboot of the genre-defining classic’, according to the Kickstarter page) isn’t too unusual, and feels like a story told by many a studio since the first videogames waddled their blocky, pixellated little fish-legs out of the primordial code-soup.
Let this be a reminder that as safe a bet as any Kickstarter may seem (the System Shock Remake had a playable demo and copious footage to show for it), the games industry is an unpredictable place, and any big project like this is fraught with risks. As good as the odds may be, backing a Kickstarter should always be considered a gamble, not an investment or a discounted pre-order.