Dev Spotlight - Stephen Kick
Hey Backers! My name is Stephen Kick and I’m the CEO and Founder of Nightdive Studios- I’m responsible for the day to day operations around the studio and making sure our developers have everything they need to do their job to the best of their abilities. I’m also part of the team that negotiates the licensing rights to the many games in our catalog, meets with our many partners, and ensures that we revive and re-release as many classic PC games as possible.
I remember looking at college applications during my senior year of high school and not being particularly motivated to spend another 4 years in school. It didn’t help that at the time I really didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to study but like many people my age I found myself completely infatuated with gaming. After seeing an ad in PC Gamer for a school in San Francisco that offered degrees in Game Art & Design, I decided I’d go and give it a shot. After completing my 3rd or 4th 200 page game design doc I decided I’d have more fun working on Character Art and refocused my efforts. After graduation I quickly found a position as character artist at a local indie studio, and shortly after that employed at Sony Online Entertainment. I worked on a few MMO’s including Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and PlanetSide 2 before deciding to quit and spend about a year traveling.
My journey took me through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and finally Panama over the course of 9 months. During that time I revisited a few of my favorite classic games, Full Throttle, The Curse of Monkey Island, Fallout 2, and many others. It was when attempting to install and replay System Shock 2 that I discovered there was no legal way to purchase the game, or play it on modern operating systems. The fact that one of the greatest PC games of all time was no longer available concerned me, so I set out to discover what had happened to the franchise. My quest led me to discover the rights were being held by an insurance company in the midwest, and after speaking with their legal counsel, I negotiated a deal that would grant me to rights to redistribute the game. On February 13th 2013 I launched System Shock 2 on GOG.com - and Night Dive Studios was born. This November will mark our 4th anniversary, and with almost 100 games published on Steam and multiple development teams currently working to bring back forgotten classics, we begin our most ambitious project yet, a faithful remake of the original System Shock.
I grew up an only child in a small town in Massachusetts just South of the New Hampshire border. Consoles weren’t allowed in the home so when my family purchased a personal computer, my life was forever changed. My first two games were NHL 95 and LucasArts’ Dark Forces, but many more would follow. After work my dad would come home and we’d play adventure games together for hours. We’d solve the puzzles, print out screenshots, and paste them in our own detailed guides that read like journals from some mythical quest. Video games were rapidly consuming my attention and often times in class instead of homework I’d be planning the perfect base layout for a future MP game of Command & Conquer: Red Alert, or using Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Crayola markers to lay out my strike pattern for an upcoming mission of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six.
I remember going to my local Electronics Boutique for a midnight release of Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and being the only person there, going home, installing the game and becoming so distraught at the poor performance that I spent the next 3 weeks mowing every lawn in the neighborhood to save up and buy my first 3D accelerator, a 6MB beast that blew my mind. It made the newly released N64 look like a kid’s toy. When Quake was released I started getting into creating custom levels and my interest in game development started to grow. When I wasn’t gaming, I was playing sports. I played soccer, basketball, lacrosse, ran cross country, and competed in track and field. If gaming hadn’t been such a strong influence on me there’s no doubt I would have pursued a professional career in athletics.
My favorite part about this journey I’ve taken has been hearing from you, the fans of classic games who have reached out and shared their love for the medium. Everyone has such wonderful stories of how they were introduced to video games and your appreciation for what we do is what makes it all worth it. Our goal from the very beginning was to scour the depths of PC gaming history and recover and restore lost classics for all to enjoy once again, and with your help we’re able to take it to the next step. I can’t thank you all enough for your support!
- Stephen Kick