System Shock Remake

System Shock will feature ‘modern level design principles for pacing and exploration’

In a new Kickstarter Q&A, Nightdive Studios’ community manager Karlee Meow revealed some new information about the upcoming remake of System Shock. According to Karlee, the switch from Unity to Unreal Engine 4 was made because Unreal is a more efficient engine.

As Karlee said:

“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.”

Karlee reiterated that Nightdive Studios is making a PC-game first and that PC is the main target for everything Nightdive Studios does regarding System Shock. However, Unreal Engine 4 also performs better on the PC than Unity Engine, so this engine switch makes sense even for its PC version.

Karlee also talked a bit about the concept of System Shock, and whether it would be a straight forward remake of it. And unfortunately, this System Shock remake won’t be what was initially advertised.

When its Kickstarter campaign was launched, Nightdive Studios claimed that this would be a 1:1 remake of System Shock. However, the team has discarded these ideas and will introduce some changes to the game’s story and level design.

As Karlee explained:

“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.”