System Shock remaster that raised $1.3m now on hold – Development got “out of control”

System Shock remaster that raised $1.3m now on hold – Development got “out of control”

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.

Stephen Kick

[Kickstarter update]

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.

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  • Paul Younger

    Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

    • TheFrank

      As much as I enjoyed the original System Shock (and I’ve been playing FPS since before Wolf3d), it badly needs to be updated, at least up to full polygons (enemies, weapons, levels). Anything before Quake 1 tech just looks silly at this point.

      I’m still waiting for the Powers That Be to just open source the Dark Engine (that powered Thief 1/2 & System Shock 2) so that the community doesn’t have to “stealth-patch” (see what I did there?) the game to play on operating systems that were made after 2003.

      • Paul Younger

        Have to agree, it does need an update just a shame this appears to have been botched at this stage.

    • Freeman4096

      haha, good stuff! I always enjoy reading never ending news how kickstarter backers are getting cucked. take more!

      • Chris Skuller

        Right… it’s great that, one, a promising new way for developers to make ambitious games has been rode into the ground by irresponsible companies, and two, that hopeful people are losing their money.

        What’s wrong Freeman? Why so bitter? Did you mother ween you with vinegar or something?

        • Freeman4096

          promising?? how naive can one get? I bet you vote for liberals!

          • Chris Skuller

            How is it not promising? And considering how scared you seem to be of trying new things, I’ll bet you vote for conservatives.

            • Freeman4096

              “trying new things” – talks about crashed remaster! xD you idiot!

              • Chris Skuller

                There’s risk inherent in everything. Can’t avoid it all. And I certainly can’t sit on the sidelines casting stones at people who might get burned taking that risk. Had the game launched, and it still might, you and everyone else would enjoy it, owing a debt to all those who put up the cash to make it possible. That you would cast stones now shows the measure of your character. You should reflect on that. I have said my final piece. Feel free to take the last word if you like. I will not be responding further.

      • Ossi Hurme

        I’ve backed maybe handfull of projects. So far I’ve been satisfied but then again I won’t back projects if they don’t have gameplay to show. Also you get games cheaper when you’re backing.

        Divinity: Original Sin = I was fan of Larian and they had already much of the game done. This was no brainer.
        Kingdom Come: Deliverance = They had awesome demo already done and great concept. Took longer than anticipated but it is awesome game. The game that Skyrim should have been actually.
        Pathfinder:Kingmaker = Still in developement. No hurry. I think I backed this around year ago.
        Then I have backed two games that I can’t remember (gotta check mail) 😛 Other is rather recent but the other has been in development for years. I think they switched it from top down to 3rd person at some point. Setting is really interesting so hopefully it comes out eventually.

        • Freeman4096

          kingdom come is average game. give it up, fanboy.

          • Ossi Hurme

            Never(Michael Caine voice)!

    • xCheck

      I’m all for ambitious and big new games for PC which we haven’t got in a while so I like what they try to do. But the budget was modest already in the beginning so it is a bit weird why they started to do such a big changes to their original plans.

      CIG did/does it right and started expand the goal while getting more money and it has been a huge success.