Back in 2016, Nightdive Studios released footage of a remastered version of System Shock. It was an immediate hit and one that provided fans of the original a glimpse of something greater to come. Things were looking good for Nightdive Studios and shortly afterward, they set up a Kickstarter campaign. Surpassing their goal of $900,000 USD, they managed to raise $1,350,700 USD. Funding completed, the team started working on what was supposed to be a faithful recreation of System Shock. The game was on track to be released in December 2017.
Except, something happened along the way. The team moved from the Unity game engine to the Unreal Engine 4. The release date got pushed into sometime in 2018. Then slowly, they started incorporating things, features to the game. Despite the best intentions, the original concept was gone. Something had gone terribly wrong. Now, the team behind the remaster has decided to take a step back assess the situation. CEO of Nightdive Studios, Stephen Kick, has addressed the matter with a new update that was released today.
Maybe we were too successful. 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.
As our concept grew and as our team changed, so did the scope of what we were doing and with that the budget for the game. As the budget grew, we began a long series of conversations with potential publishing partners. The more that we worked on the game, the more that we wanted to do, and the further we got from the original concepts that made System Shock so great.
Ultimately the responsibility for the decisions rests with me. As the CEO and founder of Nightdive Studios, a company that was built on the restoration of the System Shock franchise, I let things get out of control. I can tell you that I did it for all the right reasons, that I was totally committed to making a great game, but it has become clear to me that we took the wrong path, that we turned our backs on the very people who made this possible, our Kickstarter backers.
I have put the team on a hiatus while we reassess our path so that we can return to our vision. We are taking a break, but NOT ending the project. 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.
I have to say, that as someone who helped Kickstart this project, I’m conflicted. I was genuinely excited when I first saw the footage for the remaster. As a longtime System Shock fan, I really wanted this to be the stuff of dreams. So part of me is ok with what Stephen has said. However, the other part of me is frustrated. Sure, the demo that was released was amazingly good, but it was just a teaser. Now we’re being told that we don’t know what’s going on with the game? Yeah, I’m a bit frustrated, especially since they have my money. I’d love to ask for a refund as I feel this project is being mishandled. And I’m not the only one who feels this way by looking at the comments on the Kickstarter page.
I want to believe that Stephen is being honest. I want to believe that he feels bad that they took peoples money and haven’t delivered empty promises. However, I’ve been on the losing end of multiple crowdfunded projects and you would think I’ve learned my lesson by now. Ultimately, being negative about what’s transpired isn’t going to change things. I know that and you know that. But damn if this isn’t a complete bummer.
Here’s to hoping that Nightdive Studios manages to get things back on track and delivers on their promise. And hopefully, that promise resembles System Shock and doesn’t suffer the fate of another Kickstarter game. You know which one, so I won’t name any names.