Nightdive Studios, the team behind the highly anticipated System Shock remaster, has offered further insight into where the project went wrong in the run-up to its recent development hiatus, and offered a speculative new release date as production resumes.
In its original guise, Nightdive's System Shock was intended to be a remaster of Looking Glass Technologies' classic first-person sci-fi horror. However, the project quickly ballooned in scope, and was already being referred to as a "reboot" by the time its Kickstarter commenced in July 2016. In February this year, despite having raised $1,350,700 USD in backer money, Nightdive announced that it was putting the project on "hiatus" after letting "things get out of control".
Now, having had time to reflect and regroup, Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick and business development director Larry Kuperman have spoken to PC Gamer at this week's GDC, offering more details on what went wrong, and how it hopes to get the project back on track.
"As we geared up and started moving forward with [the System Shock reboot]" explained Kuperman, "we began to run into feature creep.
"All of those things like 'you know what would really be cool, how we might reinterpret this', various people wanted to put their imprint on it. As this process evolved over a period of time, it grew in complexity, and it veered away from this original representation."
If the project had continued to follow that particular trajectory, said Kuperman, "It wouldn't have been true to the System Shock vision."
According to Kick, Nightdive's decision to halt production on the game in February was down to the fact that "based on the backer feedback [...] we weren't going in the right direction with the game, what we promised to them. That's what really caused the shift in what we're doing now, which is going back to what we'd established and represented with the [original] demo".
To that end, Nightdive's System Shock will now revert back to the studio's originally pitched vision: "Our intention is to ship exactly the game that was promised, with as much of the features that were promised as we can, in a timeframe that will get it out as fast as we can."
That, said Kuperman, will likely mean a release in "Q1 of 2020."
Despite that new date being almost two years after the game's originally anticipated launch, Kuperman is adamant that the extended development time won't present financial difficulties for the studio. "We've also had renewed interest from some publishing partners," he revealed, "for whom the more complex and costly game was something of a challenge for them, that this is what they were hoping we would provide."
Kickstarter backers will apparently be able to see some early work on one of the game's starter rooms, built in the Unreal engine, in the next update in early April.
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