I’m fan of System shock (opens in new tab) and so I have to admit that there’s definitely some bias involved, but Nightdive Studios has revealed a new trailer for the upcoming remake today at the PC Gaming Show and I’m here to say it’s a for real banger.
The trailer has a little bit of everything: action, horror, smoky shadows, neon lights and, of course, SHODAN, the perfect, immortal machine, whose narration literally gives me goosebumps. She might be terribly insane, but it’s good to hear that voice again.
What I especially like, however, is the way the trailer looks like how I remember System Shock from when. It’s obviously come a long way in the last 30 years, but that’s how I see this world through the hazy lens of memory. This, rather than note-for-note repetition, is what I really want from the System Shock remake: capture that essence of the original in a modern take, and I’m there.
We still don’t have a release date for the System Shock remake, but I feel like it should be getting close. Today’s trailer goes beyond what Nightdive showed earlier, and director of business development Larry Kuperman said development “is pretty much complete.”
“You can play from start to finish, all weapons and enemies are in place and working,” said Kuperman. “What remains to be done is what is called ‘polishing’. Our goal is for the release version to be as close to perfection as possible.”
There is still a bit of a wait ahead, however. “Since we’re supporting consoles and PCs, it’s an iterative process,” said Kuperman. “Testing and tweaking it over and over again.”
Following the reveal of the new trailer, original System Shock mastermind Warren Spector took a few minutes to talk about his experiences with the game, the influence it has had on the industry, and the challenges of bringing it to a modern audience, for whom themes of corporatism, corruption, and unbridled technology may not be as impactful or far-fetched as they were when System Shock was new.
“SHODAN feels pretty close to reality to me right now,” said Spector, who has been advising Nightdive and providing feedback on the System Shock remake since the project’s inception. “I’ve worked on several games now where they have a predictive quality that I could never have predicted, and System Shock is one of them. SHODAN is just around the corner, as far as I can tell. did in 1994.”
Interestingly, while the “predictive quality” may be there, Spector said the game itself has largely disappeared from popular consciousness. “Core players” and some veterans (like me) know this, but he’s not sure that gamers in general “see the influence” System Shock has had on so many other games over the years. He remains very proud of the impact he’s had, even if it’s not obvious to a large audience.
“The ways in which it’s influential, I think, is the gender-first mashup idea,” Spector said. “It wasn’t a pure shooter, it wasn’t a pure RPG game, it wasn’t a pure horror game, a horror survival game. something that looked, and in fact was, really new.
“And so, just from a technical point of view, the fact that System Shock was the first game that I know of that was really physics-based. The character really reacted to stimuli from the environment. And that was something new that I think had influence, and frankly could have more, and I would be a very happy guy.”
Spector also touched on an important aspect of System Shock that has not stood the test of time and which he clearly believes is best left for history: the interface. Updating the original System Shock control scheme to current standards is a “big challenge” for developers, he said, because the original, to be polite, wasn’t exactly simplified.
“If you look when the game opens, the original, there was a help screen that popped up and filled the entire screen with text. It’s just insane,” Spector said.
“I’m going to tell you a funny story, I went to Gen Con, a big gaming convention, with System Shock, a game that I loved very much, and another game that I won’t name because I liked it a lot less. It was similar in many ways to System Shock. , but more direct, and you could control it with a joystick. And I’m seeing adult players crouch, in seconds, be crouched, leaning, in a corner, unable to move and unable to figure out how to move. And I I turned around, and I saw a kid, couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, reaching for a controller, was over his head, and just enjoying the hell out of the experience that was a simpler but similar game. And that was kind of what a revelation for me. The UI, I just don’t know how the guys who made it did it. It’s amazing to make the game playable nowadays.”
and how he did previously (opens in new tab) (it’s a little notoriously (opens in new tab)), Spector has once again distanced himself from the idea that he is the creator of System Shock, saying he is “not very comfortable” with the label.
“I consider myself, above all, a tireless advocate of a specific type of game, the genre we call immersive simulation,” he said. “Games that are designed to let the player feel – basically force the player to feel – like they are themselves in the world, with as few distractions and ‘game-like’ things as possible. System Shock was really, at the time, the most advanced of it, and I can’t say how much the team is responsible for that.”
Nightdive’s System Shock does not yet have a release date, but a brief demo is available at Steam (opens in new tab).