System Shock - The Remake

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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby alpan » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:14 am

I've backed this, but am staying far from any pre-release exposure (at least, exposure that involves actually playing anything).

That said, the KS campaign has been pretty clear that the remake will involve "improvements, overhauls, and changes":

A modern take on System Shock, a faithful reboot; it’s not Citadel Station as it was, but as you remember it. Many improvements, overhauls and changes are being implemented to capture the spirit of what the original game was trying to convey, and bring it to contemporary gamers.


Though I vehemently disagree with bringing Chris Avellone into the project -- increasingly it feels like he's the only legitimate writer in business -- I'm okay with the general impulse of refining the original experience. The project doesn't (at least explicitly) aim to make "today's gamers understand why the original game was so influential", it's more like massive fan service a la the original big-time gaming KS wave of 2012-2013.

And why be concerned about the slight modifications to gameplay when the completely overhauled visuals themselves present the largest obstacle to appreciate System Shock for what it was? They won't be playing that game, yes. But they never were going to be. Let's not mistake the past for mere nostalgia. If Night Dive does a good job with this remake, a group of contemporary gamers will appreciate the System Shock name, and hopefully they won't be consigned to conventions of 1994 in the process.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Dinosawer » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:52 am

Speaking as someone playing the original for the first time now in 2016, aside from the visuals the gameplay doesn't at all feel old, not with mouselook added. They could've just upped the visuals, streamlined the UI a bit (better suited for mouselook, a handful of hotkeys for grenades and stuff) and had a very good game by today's standards.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Etsu » Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:26 pm

Dinosawer wrote:Speaking as someone playing the original for the first time now in 2016, aside from the visuals the gameplay doesn't at all feel old, not with mouselook added.

I can't speak for the first one, but the second one is much better that many modern shooters/space horror shenanigans, at least with a controller. I can't believe that BioShock came from this. It's like we are going backwards.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Talvieno » Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:56 pm

Etsu wrote:
Dinosawer wrote:Speaking as someone playing the original for the first time now in 2016, aside from the visuals the gameplay doesn't at all feel old, not with mouselook added.

I can't speak for the first one, but the second one is much better that many modern shooters/space horror shenanigans, at least with a controller. I can't believe that BioShock came from this. It's like we are going backwards.

Yes and no. It's worse for us, but better for games in general. I suppose to explain what I mean, I'll have to delve into the history of gaming.

Back when the first games were out, they were difficult for the average person to grasp but still did quite well with their intended audience. That was because the average person that had a computer generally wasn't using it for games, and was fairly well versed in computer technology to begin with. They were smart - and at least moderately wealthy, being able to afford the then-expensive computer equipment for their games. Games were therefore tailored for this audience. This had the side effect of shutting out the majority of people from being able to play games: they were targeted at people of greater-than-average intelligence and often required a greater-than-average intelligence (and the possession of a fair degree of computer skills in an age where anyone that used a computer was considered "techy") in order to overcome the steep learning curves.

Over time, games grew less obtuse and complicated so that they could reach a wider audience. This opened them up more to people, and people stopped thinking of computer games as "things nerds and dorks play". Now everyone can play games. It's slowly becoming a cultural standard, and gradually overcoming the stigma that developed around it. It's better for gaming in general, but worse for us, as there aren't nearly as many super-complex games out there anymore. Dwarf Fortress is one of the few remaining examples of games that go all-out on complexity and depth, mostly ignoring the standard conventions about UI. As a result, it's a severely niche game, despite being really fun to play after you understand it.

Spoiler:      SHOW
On the other hand, there's a negative side effect that goes with making games more open to the general public: you begin to see what the general public is interested in. The games you normally hear about are violent ones now - things like Assassin's Creed, or Call of Duty, or Modern Warfare - games that even have violent-sounding titles. These tend to top the charts in terms of sales, and it's what people hear about most. They don't really hear about less-violent games as much... which is to our detriment. It's turning people away from video games as a medium, mostly because the media is looking at it and decrying video games in general as violent, and saying it produces violent tendencies in people. In reality, it's the other way around, though - people that have violent tendencies want violent games, and therefore violent games do the best in the market.

Which kind of sucks.

Bioshock, however, I would say is a better example of these, and something I'd much prefer to have at the forefront of the gaming industry and on all those magazine covers than "12-year-old boy stabbed classmate after playing too much Call Of Duty". Bioshock is based almost completely around the story - the gameplay comes second. Assassin's Creed's story, on the other hand, is bare-bones and hardly holds itself together. It claims to be about a secret organization that keeps peace... by mercilessly murdering anyone that gets in their way. Logic, right? Bioshock, on the other hand, gives the player a series of choices and rewards them if they make merciful, peaceful decisions. I'd rather have people know gamers by Bioshock than Assassin's Creed any day... but unfortunately, that's not how it happened. Assassin's Creed is more popular and better known by a good deal, and everyone knows Call of Duty as "That game uncultured, swearing twelve-year-olds play". To us, we can differentiate, but to the general public, it's not so easy. Their unfamiliarity with video games actually often leads them to think stereotypically about anyone that plays them - and let me tell you, we're shown in a very negative light right now, and it's not been getting any better.


If they make System Shock a little more accessible to the average person, that's to their credit. If they can keep the same complexity as the original at the same time, that's even better.

Trouble is, that's not something easy at all to pull off. I just hope they manage.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby alpan » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:03 pm

I'm not sure the general "games are becoming more streamlined" line of thought is a good fit for System Shock 1 and 2. My understanding is that System Shock 1 was considered complex at the time because the immediate comparison was with the pumping, run-and-gun action of then-ascendant Doom (with much simpler level layouts, too), and part of why that comparison was unfavorable was due to the extremely clunky control system. It surely didn't seem all that complex to me when I played it in 2000, and I thought SS2 was an upgrade in all respects -- and even that game was somewhat clunky in its controls.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Talvieno » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:13 pm

I've only played System Shock II. It was fairly complex compared to today's shooters. I figured the first one would've been similarly complex. Was I wrong in assuming that?
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Dinosawer » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:19 pm



Nope, you are not. :ghost:
Well, I don't play that many shooters, but I've played Mass Effect and stuff.
Aside from level design, the game does not at any point tell you what to do or where to go, you have to explore and figure stuff out from logs you find lying around next to dead people. Stuff, varying from "what am I supposed to do" to "where is stuff" to "how do I open this door". Which is one of the things I really like.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby IronDuke » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:29 am

Talvieno wrote:really smart stuff

That explains a lot, actually. Thanks for all that. I am now so enlightened I am floating. :mrgreen:
Spoiler:      SHOW
If that came across as sarcastic, it wasn't, FYI.


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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Flatfingers » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:59 am

My opinion remains that there's more value in a proper remake (modern controls and graphics) of the original System Shock than in what's nearly a new game that replaces Looking Glass's consistent emphasis on the player with changes to satisfy the new developer's personal interests. (E.g., the RPG progression mechanics introduced in System Shock 2.)

The original gameplay is worth keeping, not to preserve it like a museum piece, but because it remains to this day a great example of developers deliberately making games to support different problem-solving preferences, and it would be helpful for today's gamers to see that this was already possible 20+ years ago. It's a distinctly different philosophy of game design than the "this is how you should have fun" designs that have become common today. Keeping the original gameplay of System Shock (while freshening up the interface) is a proper goal because there still aren't enough games being made that fully embrace this design philosophy of respecting players and what they find fun.

I don't mind if people disagree with this opinion, but please note that it's a reasoned argument and not just mindless "nostalgia" talking.

This graphic (a bit NSFW; mods, feel free to remove if desired) puts it more strongly than I would, but I think there's some truth to it.

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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Talvieno » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:13 am

I think you misunderstand me. I do not equate "ease of use" with "simplicity".

Let's say you have a matching game. It's a simple game - you have 36 cards to choose from, all laid out upside-down so you can't see their faces:
[] [] [] [] [] []
[] [] [] [] [] []
[] [] [] [] [] []
[] [] [] [] [] []
[] [] [] [] [] []
[] [] [] [] [] []

Each card matches to one other card. Your objective is to match all the cards with each other in as few moves as possible, and on each move you can either A. look at two cards, or B. remove two matching cards from the field. It won't take most people too long to finish, even though they may forget a few cards along the way and have to take a few extra turns to re-check.

Now let's say you put them all in a line.
[] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

The game just got significantly harder, and it's not because of increased complexity. It's because now it's harder to use. It's easier to remember things on a 6x6 grid than points on a 1x36 line. The game is technically just as complex as before. Now it's just harder to play, and that's going to make a lot fewer people actually enjoy playing it.

Now, let's say you have the same 6x6 grid, but at the start of the game, you turn all of them upright. You can see all the cards. You just removed a mechanic.


Option 2 is what they did going down the road to Bioshock Infinite. They turned the game into a story: "Booker picked up 16 sets of two cards each." That is not what I'm saying to do. I'm saying to put the cards in a grid instead of a line. Modernize the UI. Make it easier to play - not make the game less challenging. Make it more accessible. Make it easier to actually get into. Explain the purpose of the cards with a short tutorial showing the player how to play instead of dropping them in a game world and expecting them to figure it out on their own, etc.

Am I making any sense? :P

The problem isn't the amount of information. It's how the information is presented. There's always a way to better present a game without making it less complex or less fun. The question is whether or not the developers can find it. I haven't played System Shock so I don't know how complex the gameplay itself is, but if it's overly obtuse it could probably use some slight tweaking here and there too.


I think we're saying basically the same thing, but I'm doing a lot worse of a job at saying it. :lol:
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Dinosawer » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:58 pm

I'm pretty sure you are saying the same thing. :ghost:
Aside from the UI the gameplay itself doesn't really feel obtuse to me. The only thing I had to look up was how to enable mouselook and how the wire puzzles worked because
Spoiler:      SHOW
output strength depending on cable orientation aside from start and end point makes no electrical sense and never occured to me.


Also Tal, you should play System Shock. :)
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Flatfingers » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:31 am

I'm going to echo Dinosawer on that -- you really, really should give System Shock Enhanced a try. :)

It's the (second version of the) original game's mechanics, level geometry, and world dynamics, all intact, with a WASD+mouselook mode and marginally higher-resolution graphics. I say "second version" because the original original version was 320x240 graphics and no CD audio. The rerelease had a very slight increase in resolution plus Terri Brosius as the voice of SHODAN, and it's now the canonical version on which System Shock Enhanced is based.

The "high-resolution" mode of SSE is still pretty rough on modern eyes. But it's possible to get used to it pretty quickly because the world itself is so immersive, and that's the part worth experiencing.

As originally implemented. ;)
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Etsu » Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:42 am

Talvieno wrote:Yes and no. It's worse for us, but better for games in general. I suppose to explain what I mean, I'll have to delve into the history of gaming.

I wasn't talking about the complexity of the controls or anything like that. (As I said, my Xpadder profile for System Shock 2 makes it very simple.) It's just my impressions about what I felt when I tried to play BioShock years ago compared with what I felt playing System Shock 2 recently. I wasn't aware that BioShock was a good game for non-players though. I would choose a game from Quantic Dream or Telltale instead, or maybe a nice traditional Point & Click adventure game like A Golden Wake or any other from Dave Gilvert's catalog. I actually don't remember BioShock having anything regarding story. I only remember having a gun and being forced to shoot at stuff, so I uninstalled it. Maybe some day I will try it again if it has an "easy" difficulty or a mod that removes the guns. (The "easy" difficulty made Dead Space enjoyable for me, something that seem impossible, even if I ended up finishing it on "Normal".) Not because I don't like guns in games, or hard difficulties. (I certainty do.) It just to be able to focus in the good parts of the game without be bothered by the rest. (Yes, even Dead Space have good things hidden in there. I dare you to find them. It's not the writing though. :lol:)

In other news, I finally have a keyboard that works (so far) so I may be able to finally play this freaking demo. (News update: Never mind. Keeps crashing like crazy. :crazy:)
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Dinosawer » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:37 pm

I played too much system shock, Shodan starts to send me email irl :wtf: :ghost:
They hit a million. I hope they hit 1.1 for Linux, but less than 1.4 (?) for changes to gameplay. The gameplay needs no changing.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 4:43 am

Dinosawer wrote:I played too much system shock, Shodan starts to send me email irl :wtf: :ghost:


wat 0.o
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