System Shock: Remastered Delayed, Developer “On Hiatus"

Citadel, on hold.

87 Comments

Kickstarter crowdfunding has allowed plenty of die-hard game fans see their dreams come true, but also plenty of those dreams die. In the case of System Shock's remaster by Nightdive Studios, those dreams are now another step away from becoming reality.

Nightdive Studios' System Shock remaster was expected to release this year on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but a recent update from the team says otherwise. The remaster has been delayed, again, and the development team is on hiatus.

On a Kickstarter post, Stephen Kick, CEO of Nightdive Studios, takes responsibility for a change of direction, which is why he decided to put the team on hiatus to "reassess" its vision for the game. Kick also makes it clear that the remaster is not being canceled. His update does not detail how long the team will be out, nor an expected release date.

"Maybe we were too successful," Kick's update states. "Maybe we lost our focus. The vision began to change. We moved from a remaster to a completely new game. We shifted engines from Unity to Unreal, a choice that we don't regret and one that has worked out for us. With the switch we began envisioning doing more, but straying from the core concepts of the original title."

"Please accept my personal assurance that we will be back and stronger than ever. System Shock is going to be completed and all of our promises fulfilled."

In 2016, Nightdive Studios created a Kickstarter campaign for a remaster of the 1994 game System Shock. The team released a trailer of their vision done in Unity beside the campaign, which gained over 21,600 backers and raised $1.3 million. A third System Shock game is also supposedly in development by ex-Looking Glass and BioShock developers.

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edargnwod

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Thanks for the free cash and all, but I'm just not feeling it right now. Now hold my wine for me and don't speak while I reassess my glorious vision of how to make a masterpiece better...

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JackNief

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....Well at least they got Turok 2 out.

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Pyrosa

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Edited By Pyrosa

Umm... Why stray from the core concepts and gameplay in the first place?!? The whole reason people funded this was to get basically the SAME gameplay, but with an updated engine, graphics, controls, etc...

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XenomorphAlien

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And this is why Kickstarter sucks. Such an easy way to be basically robbed.

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Thanatos2k

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@xenomorphalien: There have been far more successes than failures coming out of Kickstarter. Kickstarter does not suck. People who are unable to produce games when financed through Kickstarter suck.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

Ok, we're in gross incompetence territory now. You shouldn't have a "vision" for the game - the game already had a vision, right?

I'm not sure I've ever seen a good game released after they go "on hiatus." You're taking the money and running.

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: They might be running, but I don't think they've got any money left to take with. I think they've got 1.35 million dollars worth of abandoned unity assets and partially built Cryengine levels and no more money to finish either with. : \

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@Mogan: They financed their lives for the past couple years. I wish I could get paid an engineer's salary to live without having to produce anything.

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: They were producing something, and if they'd got more money they might have finished it. It turns out they were doing the wrong work, but they were still working. I don't see any reason to suspect their intentions, just their results.

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Thanatos2k

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@Mogan: I don't either. But there's still no consequences for their failure.

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: I think the consequences are that Nightdive has a hard time Kickstarting their next project and, unless they manage to finish them, they've got no System Shock remake to sell for money.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@Mogan: Nightdive maybe. How about the dozens of people who got paid to work on it, the ones responsible for botching this? They'll flutter off safely anonymous to their next gig.

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: Assuming that's how any of this actually went, those folks would need to find a "next gig" that'll hire them despite what they did to System Shock.

I'm not real interested in trying to speculate out exactly who to blame from my armchair here. I'll just remember not to get my hopes up for another Nightdive project.

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attirex

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Translation:

Stephen Kick: hold my beer and take the wheel.

(snorts coke off a whore's arse while driving his Lambo)

11 • 
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attirex

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Edited By attirex

Translation: we took y'alls money are are living in Tahiti.

8 • 
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PSYCHOV3N0M

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@attirex: IT'S A MAGICAL PLACE!!! :D

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@attirex: Nnno. The translation is that they started remaking System Shock and realized they wanted to do more than the original plan, and blew the scope of the project beyond the Kickstarter budget, but then couldn't get a publisher to back all the more expensive ideas they had.

This is mismanagement, not a swindle.

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attirex

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@Mogan:

Same difference.

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@attirex: In that the odds of you getting to play a System Shock remake have just dropped dramatically, but beyond that, it's literally not.

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asnakeneverdies

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@Mogan: I don't know Mogan, the Tahiti theory has its merits.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@asnakeneverdies: Not if you were paying attention to project. They've been making the game, and showing off what they've done. They obviously spent the money on the project, they just spent it poorly. : \

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Thanatos2k

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@Mogan: Seems worse, like the team was working on their own thing under the project lead's nose, and once he found out he got enraged and canned them all. Mismanagement indeed.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: I haven't heard anything about secret projects or firing a bunch of people. Last I heard only the contract workers had been let go.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@Mogan: Yeah, a whole bunch of them. You pay any engineer at least 50k a year, and it's been a couple years. They had a million bucks. How many more team members could there have been on that budget. Sounds like almost everyone got fired and now they're building a new team.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: Where'd you read that?

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@Mogan: A polygon (shudder) article quoted a source as saying at least 10 of them were fired. Contractors are still paid engineers.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: Yeah, that's the one I read. "... around 15 contract workers will no longer be working on the game, but that Nightdive is not laying off any full-time staff."

So not everyone, and probably not the main folks. Not that this looks good for the project, but I don't see any kind of house cleaning rampage by the project lead. It also sounds like some of the folks who worked on the original demo may come back to work on the project, should development start back up. As somebody who liked that original Unity demo, that sounds like a good thing.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@Mogan: But again, you have 15 contract engineers. You're paying them probably 75k a year each. You started with a million dollars after fees. This has to have been nearly the whole team with the budget they had, and the game should have been done by now or they're out of money. (They're also almost certainly out of money)

That the people who made the demo WEREN'T working on the game speaks volumes. The hell were they doing over there.

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rmiller365

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Moral of the story? Wait for a complete product before paying for it. It's like paying to see a Marvel movie before they throw in the huge chucks of CGI and effects. Why even waste the time and money?

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asnakeneverdies

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@rmiller365: Why even waste the time and money watching a Marvel movie at all?

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shadowwarrior4

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changing directions? i dont know much about this but this how duke started its infamous hell ride by the studio "changing direction"

or it could just be like Prey cancel the original idea and reboot with a total different game with the same name

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mdinger

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Edited By mdinger

I backed this. Devs seemed pretty experienced and it's surely hard to mess up remaking a game. They were going to use Unity and they obviously already had the story/scenario, so all they really needed to do is remake graphic/sound assets. We knew for certain they could do that, because they already had a playable demo as part of their Kickstarter campaign. How they managed to f**k it all up, especially when they had 1.4 million to throw at it, is hard to imagine. Anyway lesson learned, won't be backing anything via crowdfunding again and will stick to Early Access.

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Thanatos2k

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@mdinger: "won't be backing anything via crowdfunding again and will stick to Early Access."

I don't even....what

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mdinger

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Edited By mdinger

@Thanatos2k: With Early Access you are still supporting a game's ongoing development but already get a (hopefully) playable form of said game. And you can refund it if you find out after 2 hours (or 14 days) it's terrible/unplayable. That's two key things Steam Early Access has over crowdfunded/Kickstarter games where there is no guarantee the game is ever even going to be made, and even if it is, you can't refund it if it turns out to be terrible.

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Thanatos2k

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@mdinger: With early access you are playing a game in its worst possible state. It ruins your experience for the full game, if you ever end up playing it. The alternative to Kickstarter is not early access.

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mdinger

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Edited By mdinger

@Thanatos2k: Kickstarter and Early Access are both about supporting a developer before they have a complete game - in neither case do you expect a remotely finished product. However, I'd rather find out that the game being developed is terrible (or not what you're likely to enjoy) and get a refund than being ripped off with unplayable garbage or never getting any game whatsoever. Neither of those two situations is likely with Early Access, whilst both are all too common with Crowdfunding.

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Thanatos2k

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@mdinger: Paying to ruin my experience with a game is never something I'd consider doing.

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mdinger

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Edited By mdinger

@Thanatos2k: I get what you're saying, but it's still better than paying to never get a game at all. I guess you don't bother with either funding model?

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Thanatos2k

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@mdinger: I fund games I want to play on Kickstarter, and accept that some may never appear.

I would never buy or play a game in early access.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: I guess a work in progress you can pay to sort of play is better than an idea you can pay to maybe get made?

I'm just going to stick to pre-ordering. Much safer that way. : p

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Thanatos2k

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@Mogan: Preordering is horrible. There is never a need to preorder anything when digital distribution exists.

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Renunciation

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@Thanatos2k: I'm not going to respond to any more of your comments, I will stick with replying to you.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@mdinger: It's pretty straight forward, really. 1.35 million stops being very much money as soon as you want to do more than faithfully rebuild an old classic, brick for brick, in a super cheap engine like Unity. Nightdive got to remaking the game, realized they wanted to do even more, and figured they'd surely get publisher backing to pay for it. By the time the Kickstarter money was gone, they hadn't secured any publisher deals, and now they've got a partially finished project and no money to keep it going.

Hopefully, they either find a publisher who'll help them get their original, smaller scope remake built, or Nightdive is able to fund it from the proceeds of their other projects.

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lion2447

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Going on "hiatus" after the company has collected funding money is irresponsible and disrepectful to the backers. How long until they come back? Will all the money be used up by the time they return? Will they be asking for more money because of the hiatus?

Delays are one thing, but going on hiatus and not giving a date of return shouldn't even be allowed.

Kickstarter should have an automatic refund clause if a limited number of delays occur. It would help reduce aggressive timelines by making the kickstarter campaigner really think how long a project will take including potential pitfalls that cost time. It would help backers see a more truthful timing of a projects completion.

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Mogan

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@lion2447: All the money is used up NOW. Nightdive went way off plan, biggering and biggering this remake, and ate up all their Kickstarter money in the process. The idea was they'd be able to get a publisher to fund the rest of the project, but that fell through.

They're on hiatus because they don't have any money to keep funding the project as it currently exists. It sounds like the plan is to figure out if there's a way to reduce the scope of the project back down to the original goal of a simple/faithful SS1 remake, and then see if they can find a way to fund that.

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lion2447

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@Mogan: "...if there's a way to reduce the scope of the project back down to the original goal of a simple/faithful SS1 remake, and then see if they can find a way to fund that."

What's funny is that the simple/faithful remake was already funded. That's what they were supposed to do. It got out of hand when they started bringing in original ideas and changing an engine to run the game. Changing an engine alone pretty much means starting over.

Kickstarter should force campaigners to show a breakdown of work with progress points and milestones. The money should then be given out in a staggered fashion to help minimize waste. Delays are inevitable, so a safety buffer time should also be included. (On a side note, this is why I hate game reveals too early. You know it will take years with additional delays before they come out. hint:- FF7 Remake -) :)

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@lion2447: More disappointing than funny. I really liked that original tech demo.

I don't think trying to predict how game development will go and then forcing the team to stick to that plan is a good idea. Game development isn't a straight line, and nobody can predict all the potential pitfalls or complications before a project is under way. The punishment for screwing up crowd funded game development is that it's real unlikely your studio will be able to get any more projects funded that way.

I agree on the early game reveals though. Bethesda has had the right idea lately; not showing stuff until the E3 of the year it launches.

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se7en1989

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@lion2447: It all sounds shady to me to be honest.

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