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System Shock shows off new old look

What a shock!

The retronauts at Night Dive Studios have shared a look at the latest version of their crowdfunded System Shock, a game which has gone from a straight remake to an expanded reimagining and back down to remake. They had to scale the game down and lay off some staff after some publisher funding fell through, see. Now, yup, it again looks like System Shock but a bit fancier.

But if you want to have your own crack at updating System Shock, hey, they've now released some of the game's original source code - and more's to come.

"We have been able to re-use the majority of work we've done over the past year and we're making significant progress in a very short amount of time," Night Dive boss Stephen Kick said in Friday's Kickstarter post. While the game isn't due to launch until 2020, they think it will be fully playable (though unfinished) in September, at which point they'll let mega-bucks Kickstarter backers have a go.

Kick explained more of why they expanded the remake's scope, and why that went wrong:

"I approved the proposed changes in scope after receiving positive feedback and a verbal commitment from a publisher to fund the game and the new design we submitted. We promised a bigger, better game and we were told that the game was going to be funded beyond the amount we raised on Kickstarter. Unfortunately, that deal fell through 7 months later for reasons we are still not clear on. To put it bluntly, we were left high and dry after making crucial, consequential changes in staff and scope."

Ah, it's too bad - especially as it led to some people losing their jobs. I liked the look of the reimagined version and the idea of borrowing more from modern immersive sims. Have a look at this video dev diary from November 2017:

Cover image for YouTube video

That's more interesting to me than just remaking System Shock - a game I can still buy and play in its old style if I want. But that's not what the Kickstarter pitched, and apparently popular opinion is against me.

"The vast majority of you agree that we are doing the right thing and that what you want is a high quality game that adheres closely to the vision of the original System Shock rather than the reinterpretation that we were previously working toward," Kick said.

The vast majority of you are super boring boooooo.

The Kickstarter post has a look at a greybox version of the new layout too, along with some new music to hear.

In original System Shock news, Night Dive have released the Mac version's source code. This doesn't include any game data, to be clear, so it's not like the game is now free. And obviously old Mac source code isn't immediately useful for most people.

"We have been hard at work updating this code and plan to release a new version of System Shock: Enhanced Edition as well as the code in the near future," Kick said. That could be a useful foundation for people to update it with new bits and pieces, as folks have done with engines like Doom and Quake for years.

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Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.