There’s a problem at Nightdive Studios with their System Shock reboot, a problem that happens a lot when a company raises large amounts of cash on Kickstarter, it’s feature creep.
In June of 2016 Nightdive raised over 1.3 million for what should have been a reasonably straightforward project, a remaster of the original System Shock. The development team appears to have got carried away with their ambitions and the first sign of something possibly about to go wrong was a change to the game engine from Unity to Unreal.
In an update today, Nighdive’s CEO Stephen Kick has now confirmed there was trouble afoot as the team lost focus and the project started to become something more than just a remaster. The original delivery date of the game was supposed to be the end of 2017 but that has now come and gone and Kick has admitted Nightdive have made mistakes. This explains why backers are not currently playing the game. Kick posted:
In March of 2016, Nightdive Studios released our video of our vision of System Shock Remastered. Done in Unity it was an immediate hit with almost a half million views on YouTube. In June of 2016 we launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the vision into a reality. It was tremendously successful with over 21,000 backers contributing over $1.3 million to the campaign. We put together a development team and began working on the game. But along the way something happened.
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.
We have seen this time and time again with Kickstarter projects. Star Citizen is the ultimate example of Kickstarter crowdfunding feature creep, but in comparison, the System Shock reboot funding was tiny. This announcement today shows that when the money is sitting in the bank, a project can easily be mismanaged.
In the case of Nightdive, at least they have admitted that mistakes have been made which might reassure backers that a game will eventually appear. Let’s hope Nightdive can rethink the project and steer the game in the right direction and this is not another Kickstarter disaster.
By the sound of things, a lot of backer’s money has been flushed down the toilet while they grew the “concept” instead of delivering on the original pitch.