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System Shock is a faithful reboot of the genre defining classic from 1994 built by a team of industry veterans. 

Remember Citadel.
System Shock is a faithful reboot of the genre defining classic from 1994 built by a team of industry veterans. Remember Citadel.
21,625 backers pledged $1,350,700 to help bring this project to life.

Feedback Responses and BackerKit

Posted by Nightdive Studios (Creator)

More info on that video...

Hi everyone, Jason here. Last week, after seeing a lot of feedback regarding the video, I took to Discord and quickly wrote up a response to concerns I was seeing, and thanks to some loyal fans, it was reposted in various places. In case you missed it, here’s what I wrote: 

So, the engine change and visual change are unrelated. Things would pretty much look the same in either engine, but the big difference is performance. The visuals are still a work in progress and know that I'm listening. What you see in the video is a rough style we are experimenting with to push crisper visuals. Art direction was a lower priority for the engine change since we wanted to be sure the technology could do what we needed first. Now that we have the pipelines set for getting art into the engine, we'll be iterating on the style and mood.  

The other thing I heard was people were worried that the gameplay was becoming stripped down due to the simple combat shown in the video. Gameplay wasn't a priority for assessing the engine since, again, everything we've researched indicates Unreal can offer the same (if not better) foundation for the gameplay systems.  

We're only 20% through our vertical slice, and there's still a lot to do. The next steps are getting interesting creature and environment behaviors, while also iterating on the hacking puzzles, cyberspace, weapons, and items. This is a big game, so we're trying to tackle these components in order, starting with a solid tech foundation and an effective the process for getting art into the game. For now, we chose to bring art in we could finish quickly so we can get the other departments (like design) testing their stuff in engine. More elaborate and iconic art is coming, but remember, for this early stage of v slice, it's about establishing a solid foundation to build upon.  

Oh, another thing worth mentioning is that the UE4 video represents 1.5 months of direct content creation, whereas the unity demo had about 6 months. That was another reason for the switch, content took too long to get into unity. Not exactly the fault of Unity, but as you can see, it's easier for our team to create content in Unreal.



Q: Why UE4 instead of Unity?

Jason: Unity is a great engine, as is Unreal. When we started researching engines, Unreal ultimately was the best fit for the content we wanted to make. The team found we were able to get the content into the engine with the visual fidelity and target performance more easily. Basically, for our team and project, Unreal will enable us to be more efficient and aligns better with our goals. Another big draw was its console performance… which I’ll talk about below.                                               

Q: Great, now you are making a console game with a PC port...  

Jason: Whoa there! We never said that, and even if we didn’t switch engines, the game would still come out on consoles. Personally, I’m a PC gamer through and through (mainly because I can’t aim well with a controller). System Shock is being made for PC gamers first. It would be a shame if only PC folk could appreciate our game, so we’ll be bringing it to console as well, but PC is the main target for everything we do.                                        

Q: What does “Faithful Reboot” mean? What are you changing from Shock 1?  

Jason: When we started working on this game, we had a few choices. Initially we were planning on doing a straight 1:1 remake, but we soon realized this would be our opportunity to introduce the Shock universe to a new generation of gamers that might have missed the opportunity to appreciate Shock. After having numerous meetings with the original Shock 1 devs about the story, levels, etc, it became clear there were a lot of things they would have done differently. 

Early in development, we started meeting with those former LGS guys and started asking the question “What would you do differently with today’s technology?” The answers were overwhelming. I think the funniest answer was “Less grenade types for sure”. At that point we realized this needed to be a reboot, but maintain the spirit of Shock 1. Whenever we look at the design, or art, or audio even, we ask ourselves “What would LGS do?”. The answer becomes clear after understanding LGS was about innovation, trying new things and bringing together concepts unheard of in games before them. We see ourselves as maintaining that tradition, and chat with the LGS guys to ensure what we’re doing holds up to their expectations. The mutant frozen shatter stuff is a good example of that. 

So what’s different? We’re changing very little of the story other than refining the dialogue and plugging plot holes. Gameplay will be different, but more of an evolution of the original to get combat feeling more reactive and systems with an expected level of depth. Again, a lot of these changes come down to understanding what LGS would do if they were making Shock 1 anew today. 

Levels will harken back to the original game thematically, but the layout will see a pretty big change to apply modern level design principles for pacing and exploration. We’re not going to dumb things down, but we also don’t want to ignore the last 20 years of progress level design has made. 

Oh, another thing that we’re a big proponent of is to assume the player is intelligent, and not hold their hand every step of the way. We’ll start the game off teaching you the basics, but then you’ll be on your own to figure things out. A big part of the fun from classic games was figuring things out yourself, and we think that’s what most of you would prefer :-)    

A group photo from last week at GDC with: Larry Kuperman, Stephen Kick, Joe Fielder, Paul Neurath, Warren Spector, and Jason Fader
A group photo from last week at GDC with: Larry Kuperman, Stephen Kick, Joe Fielder, Paul Neurath, Warren Spector, and Jason Fader


Q: Things look untextured and bland.   

Jason: This was a VERY rapid pass on art stuff and is not final. There’s still a lot more work that will be going into art, as well as bringing in the more iconic nuances of Shock 1. We’ll post more updates on art once things are further along.

Q: Things now look like a generic scifi shooter  

Jason: Keep in mind, this video doesn’t really show off the gameplay we’re going for. Combat is a thing you’ll do, but there will be LOTS of other options to take as you play. We know some players will walk to just run and smash a lot of faces, and they’ll be able to do that, but for the thinking player, they’ll have a diverse set of gameplay tools to tackle situations in hackery or stealthy ways. Without getting into too much detail, the station is essentially a living character, and the player can learn how to use aspects of the station to their advantage. I’ll be sure to share more about the gameplay systems as things get further solidified.  

Q: Will there be any hud?  

Jason: Definitely! Not sure what the HUD will look like currently, and we’re chewing on a few options. We probably won’t have a finalized HUD until the end of v slice or early in the production phase.  

Q: Will you still be launching on Linux? Mac?  

Jason: Yup! That goal has never changed. When we say “PC”, we mean Windows, OSX, and Linux.  

Q: Do you plan on porting to Nintendo Switch?  

Jason: Hard to say right now. It depends on what kind of demand there is for it.  

Q: Are you planning to reboot SS2?  

Jason: Oh boy, one game at a time. Let’s see how this game goes and then board that ship when we get to it ;-)




Q: Why does Shodan sound that way? (girly, smurf, distorted)

Jonathan: To disclose- I can’t speak to the intentions behind the processing, as thus far in the process Terri Brosius has provided her VO with her own processing. But I can speak from an audio direction standpoint, and how we felt that these lines fit in the context of the game… 

Terri is unique in that she is SHODAN in a much deeper way than most voiceover artists are their characters. Back in the original Shock days, she wrote her own lines and directed herself. She knows SHODAN’s character better than just about anyone. As such, we have been directing her only as much as we need to and she gives her own take, given how close she is to the character of SHODAN. 

From an audio direction standpoint, what I can say is that when we received the SHODAN lines for the latest video, we all got chills. My skin crawled, even hearing the voice outside of the context of the rest of the video elements, and that hit my mark. There are some subtle differences for sure, especially in the quality of the processing of the voice. However, none of these differences felt outside the bounds of what SHODAN is or could be. To speak specifically to her voice raising pitch, historically SHODAN’s voice has always modulated pitch, both low and high. There may be some new inflections that arise, but nothing that we feel is outside the bounds of what SHODAN means, both technically and emotionally.  

Q: The music isn't "synthy" enough.  

Jonathan: Both because of the history of System Shock and its importance as a sci-fi game, synthesizers are crucial part of its aural soundscape. Because of exactly this reason, when we began work on System Shock, I began accumulating external and analogue synthesizers, modular and otherwise, to build System Shock’s score. They’re my babies! :) Aside from the piano, the music in the trailer is about 90% built out of these synthesizers and processed guitar work. For the trailer, it’s pretty cinematic, so two things about that:

First, before working on this trailer there was a lot of internal discussion about what the goals of this trailer was and what we could best do to achieve these goals. The track that you are hearing are indicative of these goals - nothing more or less. A trailer is a different beast than a game is, and seeks to accomplish different things for a different audience.  

Secondly, System Shock is a wide game from a gameplay perspective; just as there is exploration, combat, hacking, storytelling, and creepiness, there is music to match all of it. Some points may call for theme, some for spooky ambience, and some for punchy electronic music. Just like Jason has to do, we are all constantly asking ourselves “What would System Shock be if LGS was making it in 2017?” As such, there will be some necessary alterations that come from 20+ years of innovation and improvement. But if you’re open to a faithful modern interpretation that tries to capture the essence of what defined System Shock in its time, then maybe you’ll find some enjoyment from the more punchy electronic music found in combat in the game. :)

Jonathan's modular synth board, aka his "Babies".
Jonathan's modular synth board, aka his "Babies".



Q: Where is my Backerkit survey?  

Karlee: We have currently been soft launching the surveys, and you should receive your survey within the next 48 hours if you haven’t yet already. If you need Backerkit support, please contact:

Q: How long will be Backerkit and funding be up for?  

Karlee: More than likely this will be an available feature to use until launch.


We hope that this answers a lot of your questions and concerns, but please feel free to leave us a comment about your thoughts.

Signing off with excitement,  


Karlee Meow

Andy Barker, Jeremy Hughes, and 122 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      automaticjerk on

      The thing to remember when dealing with level design, whether it's System Shock or whatever, is that the feel of the level is the most important thing. Citadel station didn't look like a space station would, what with all the ramps and everything. We all knew that. It didn't matter, though, because it felt like one. All those offices with upturned furniture and nothing else, the small movie theater on floor 2(?), elevators you didn't have to use after a certain objective was met, but you still could. It's the little things that matter. Oh, and laser rapiers. They also matter.

    2. Missing avatar

      Gordon Clarke on

      With regard to grenade types: I personally didn't feel that there were too many. I was able to put all of them to good use in many different ways. The one problem I did have with them is that, more often than not, I managed to kill myself with them. That's probably more to do with my own lack of skill, though.

    3. Missing avatar

      Gordon Clarke on

      Honestly, I look forward to seeing the changes that will be made in the remake. Even so, I'd also like to see some familiar areas of Citadel Station make a comeback wherever possible. Considering the team behind this, I'm confident this won't be a disappointment, and I can't wait to play it!

    4. Missing avatar

      Matti Peltoniemi on

      Well this puts some concerns to rest, but at least one burning question remains: Where is the artbook from backerkit?

    5. Tommaso Bosco on

      I would like to receive the last unity build as an extra :p

    6. Missing avatar

      John on

      Until this is elaborated on, I can only read it as 'we WILL dumb level design a little bit, just not as much as other games'.

      I don't think many people backed a System Shock 'faithful reboot' out of love for 'modern level design principles for pacing and exploration'...

    7. Andrew Tuckett on

      "Levels will harken back to the original game thematically, but the layout will see a pretty big change to apply modern level design principles for pacing and exploration. We’re not going to dumb things down, but we also don’t want to ignore the last 20 years of progress level design has made."

      I'm not a fan of modern level design principles and feel that designers make incorrect assumptions about players motivations as they move through levels. Like for example - making levels easy to navigate - The game ends up having simple maps to navigate but all the intrigue goes out of the experience. Why would Shodan want to make things simple for the player? Why would lighting indicate where to go next? Unless it is a Shodan trap playing with expectations that is. You need to invert player expectations built up by the last 20 years of modern level design and take advantage of player expectations to craft better level design.

    8. Missing avatar

      Noel Patterson on

      I can't wait for this! And would love a Nintendo Switch version too, my long-haul flights could do with something scary to play when the lights go off :-).

    9. Missing avatar

      Gambler on

      Thanks a lot for the update, really appreciate it :)
      As for the Nintendo Switch... I don't care at the moment. PC is my first and foremost gaming platform, so something like the Switch can go at a lower priority ;)

    10. Missing avatar

      Sig Fried on

      If this game does indeed get a port to the Nintendo Switch, I wouldn't mind double dipping, or even increasing my backing pledge (if it isn't too late!).

      System Shock on the go is too good to pass up!

    11. Missing avatar

      James McBoyle on

      I think it's looking good so far, and the chance of a Switch port has my wallet running scared (I would *love* to be able to play this on my Switch), so I hope it gets enough interest to make it worth-while.

    12. Remember Citadel on

      Thanks for clearing things up. Pretty much all of my concerns were addressed :)

      @Steve: There's no edit button.

    13. Jason Fader Collaborator on

      Regarding level design, that's a question better left to James Henley, our lead level designer. I'll have him do a writeup in the future about the level design changes.

      To alleviate some concerns, the "Less grenade types" thing was a comment from the former LGS folks. They felt there were too many, but to be honest with all of you, I haven't even started balancing out the thrown weapon system yet, so feedback is definitely welcome if you have strong opinions one way or the other.

    14. Steve Williams on

      Maintains my excitement..damn, am I missing where the edit button is?

    15. Bruno Teuile on


      My biggest question will be is you will keep the cyberspace interaction we had in SS1, even if it is rebuild we better graphisms (at this time, it was great, but I think you can achieve more with todays tech)? For me, it was the best things this game brings back to player, and I bake this game mainly for that point. I was so dsapointed this features disaperars from SS2 than it came out.

    16. Steve Williams on

      Personally, I love your latest update which mains my excitement over this project.

    17. Missing avatar

      Robert Pollard on

      With regard to level design be careful. One of the strengths of the original is that the levels were non-linear, especially near the end of the game. One could take different elevators to approach tasks in different and sometimes imaginative ways. It would be a shame to lose this.

      Another thing SS1 did very well, is to hide the level loading whilst riding the elevators. As such, the player is never removed from the environment. Again, a massive plus point with regard to creating a cohesive station.

    18. Netzbummler on

      TBH, I'm still not fully convinced. Things like less variety in grenade choices and the insistence that "you have to go with the times" ring the wrong bell with me. After all, I backed this KS *because* it was totally old-school, a return to the original with updated everything. Maybe I'll find over the next months that you are doing the right choices, but the overwhelmingly negative comments to your last update should show you the your backers, the people WHO ARE PAYING YOU, actually *want* old-school. Do keep that in mind when trying out new ideas.

    19. Flatfingers on

      While I still have doubts that radically changing the geometry of levels is necessary -- what, *specifically*, are these "modern level design principles"? -- many of the responses provided here directly address concerns I've stated.

      I appreciate the team taking the time to communicate some of the reasoning behind your decisions to change what was a great game.

    20. teresa pons

      Yooo if you are making it available for the switch that would be awesome and I wants it. I'm happy even if you don't....but you can add me to the list of said demand :)

    21. Zoltán Sághy on

      What is wrong with grenade types? I really liked the alternative ammo system (I missed it greatly from Infinite), the grenade types and all the modifications you can made. Bioshock (1) built uppon these things and I think it did it quite well keeping it simple. Can you involve us in with this?
      I agree with the rest. But you know... Lever R music needs to be the "most badassest" dirty/dark electro metal thing ever. :D

    22. Shaun Gupta on

      Thanks for the amazing and detailed update! I'll likely be thinking this all over and giving some feedback in your forums, but suffice it to say I like most of what I read.

      I already PM'ed this question, but my backer tier has multiple digital copies. I've gotten my survey, but it only allows me to choose one platform for my digital copies. I want to split them up (and preferably allocate them over time as needed if it's possible), and I'm afraid to finish the survey until I know the answer on that. (I'm looking forward to buy shirts as soon as I can finish it.) Again, this is PMed to you, so you can let me know wherever is more convenient.

      I know a lot of people are asking about Art Book status on BackerKit as well!

      Thanks for all the hard work, NDS!

    23. Missing avatar

      Avvy on

      Why "less grenade types"? To me the only thing that made these games worthwhile, was the variety of weapons and ammo types, and grenade types. Without that it is just another sci fi shooter. This is the world of 3 dumb bioshock games, 3 dumb dead space games, Alien Isolation, and lots of other shooters and sci fi horror games. The whole reason I am still replaying System Shock after 23 years, is because of depth you get from things like many ammo types and grenades. It plays as much like an RPG with an inventory as it does a shooter. If you dumb that down even slightly, it is pointless to me. I hoped this project would be a 1:1 conversion or to make it deeper than the original, for an audience that never has games made for them. The only FPS games I have even seen in the last 20 years that aren't deliberately dumbed down action games, are gimpy low budget games like Stalker and Arma. Both of which I love, but my point is that if you enjoy games like that, there is very slim pickings and we are a forgotten audience. To remake Shock and simplify anything would be an insult to that audience imo.

    24. Sergey on

      Too much darkness, why create like a doom?