System Shock for many is a classic that had paved the way to influence modern FPS franchises such as Deus Ex, Bioshock, Thief and even Dishonored years after their release.
The series started originally in 1994 and was developed by Looking Glass Technologies, followed by a sequel five years later, co-developed by Looking Glass Studios and Irrational Games. It was even designed by Ken Levine from Bioshock fame, which makes sense since those games were meant to be a spiritual successor to the System Shock franchise.
Both System Shock and System Shock 2 received wide acclaim for it’s games, but Looking Glass Technologies for a multitude of reasons got unlucky and went bust in the year of 2000. Some IPs or ex-employees from their business went on to grow into large franchises in their own right, but System Shock got stuck in IP ownership limbo for better part of a decade, between EA and an insurance group that handled the liquidation of Looking Glass Studios and for the longest time, a sequel or even a remake seemed like an impossibility for the longest time.
Fast forward to 2012, and Night Dive Studios LLC was setup lead by Stephen Kick, formerly an artist at Sony Online Entertainment, setup a business notably known for acquiring rights to oldschool game IPs and revamping them for the modern age. With that he successfully acquired the rights to System Shock and within a few years, System Shock is back!
Since then, there have been a few notable moves. Aside from the re-releases of the games on good old GOG.com including System Shock: Enhanced Edition, the two major moves on the front are the System Shock remake called System Shock, and System Shock 3!
System Shock Remake
We’ve done a quick video about it showcasing the demo which allowed them to close $1.35 million in funding on Kickstarter and have a release window of December 2017 for PS4, PC, Mac and Linux. They’ve moved to Unreal Engine 4 since their demo which was originally on Unity, and so far, seems to be a faithful remake of the original game which is great for gamers like myself, that always wanted to play a game of such influence on modern gaming, but could never get through it due to the poor visuals and the game not aging quite so well. Hopefully, the success of this title will lead Night Dive Studios to pursue a modern remake of System Shock 2 as well!
What the original looked like
System Shock 3
Concept art for SS3 of a key AI character in the series, SHODAN
Then, System Shock 3 was announced, this time with OtherSide Entertainment leading the development charge. The IP rights are still retained with Night Dive, but the amazing thing is that this studio is made up of ex-Looking Glass and ex-Irrational Games staff including Warren Spector (Designer on System Shock) and Paul Neurath (former Creative Director at Looking Glass). In addition to having members of the original teams that worked on the franchise, Starbreeze (PayDay 2) are publishing them with $12 million in funding for the team! No release date has been made public yet and as of March 2017, they stated that they are in early concept stages so I wouldn’t expect this to be released in the next 3 years minimum.
All in all, it’s amazing to see that such an old franchise can still have so much influence to gather backing from consumers, industry veterans and peers to garner so much support in revitalizing the franchise after close to two decades. If anything, this makes me that much more eager to step into the System Shock world and patiently await the the release of System Shock in December.