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Re: System Shock - The Remake

I'm still thinking about how to respond to that "gender" choice thing.

I'm normally a fan of including options for both sexes when creating a protagonist for character-based games. That inclusiveness is defensible on any number of grounds, from "sells more copies" to "is properly respectful of biological diversity."

But in the canonical version of System Shock, The Hacker is categorically male. Why is Nightdive tampering with that?

I think it's consistent with my "don't change anything but the graphics/UI and controls" position described up-thread that I would prefer that the protagonist of the reworked System Shock, who is nearly completely not a character at all in the original game, be left intact.

I'm open to alternative viewpoints on this, however. What are the strongest arguments in favor of allowing a choice of sex for the protagonist in the new version of System Shock, and how should that choice be represented in the new game?

Re: System Shock - The Remake

I'm not entirely sure.
The hacker is canonically male, yes, but the only places that's acknowledged is in the cutscenes in the intro and game over (and presumably the ending but I'm not there yet).
Other than that it's not really referred to at any point in the game. I think it could be argued that, given its player-centric design, letting the player choose which gender of "avatar" they feel best with is a good thing that fits system shock. The difference with the original would be extremely minor compared to other changes being made.
Who knows, maybe they wanted to do that in 94 but didn't manage.
Either way, I think you could argue this a technical upgrade and not a "change" since it doesn't matter for the story. The hacker isn't a written character. It's the placeholder for the player.
(It would be another matter if they changed Shodan or Diego, obviously. Though I do want them to change the written text, since it still refers to Shodan as "he" in the original :ghost: )

On the other hand, I don't think it should be acknowledged too much in the remake either. I like that the hacker had a tad more bodily presence because I think it improves immersion (I personally modded skyrim so you can still see your body in first person because I find being a floating pair of hands odd), but I don't think it should be obvious aside from the actions and places where it's natural to see it (and the cutscenes, of course).
For that matter, the fact that it's a "backer mission" and not a stretch goal (and thus not linked to "more money") makes me suspect they might do just that.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Nightdive have posted Update #14, which contains an important change to the $1.4M stretch goal related to "RPG features."

It deserves to be quoted nearly in full:
1.4m Goal Changes

We've altered the 1.4m stretch goal to something a bit more manageable from a game development standpoint. Before, it was vague and misleading regarding “RPG Elements”. That lead to a bit of confusion and unease with our backers, and to be perfectly honest, deep system features like that are pretty dangerous as stretch goals. We have an awesome vision for the game and setting a bunch of features we deeply believe in to a stretch goal stifles our own creativity since we can't fully plan for things.

Now, the 1.4m stretch goal is something much safer for us to scale if we don’t make the goal. It’s to add content in the form of more maps such as Groves, floors of Citadel Station, and Cyberspace content. This will make it better for us to properly execute on our core vision of the game, while still being able to offer some more awesome content if we hit the stretch goal.

As I mentioned before, we have a pretty good vision of where we want to take things and what RPG systems we’ll be leaning towards within our budget. Also, RPG systems can imply a lot of things, so I'll go over some core concepts that we're following with the overall systems design.
  • Stats are boring - Instead of letting the player feel stronger with stat boosts and level identification, we’re more in favor of ability and skill depth. As the player progresses, they will get more abilities/weapons, which will take skill to master (player skill, not skill points)
  • Things should make sense - We want to have vending machines, but they're mainly for food/drinks that the player can get to help heal themselves or provide a slight boost to their abilities. You won't hack a vending machine to get a gun, since why would a vending machine on a space station have a gun?
  • Upgrades are good in moderation - Throughout the game, the player will find upgrades to their abilities and find better weapons. We're not going to get crazy with this one since the point of the game is to have fun, and not noodle around in your inventory. If something is tedious, don't expect us to do it.
  • Multiple ways to solve a problem - We're going to assume our players are smart and want to find creative solutions to problems/enemies. We'll provide the tools/weapons/abilities, and the player will decide how they want to solve the problem given their playstyle.
I know that isn't very detailed, but it's still early in the game’s development, and things can change. Those rules above are what we're confident in delivering. At the end of the day, we always ask ourselves “What would Looking Glass do?” and strive to carry on their tradition of innovation and quality while being as faithful as we can be to the original game.
I still disagree with altering the original gameplay. But as Nightdive are obviously determined to do that, this is the honest and responsible way to go about it.

Re: System Shock - The Remake

Dinosawer wrote:...but most of that is stuff the original already does :eh:
Upgrades come in the form of new/upgraded modules and guns, and there were regularly multiple way of doing things (I think I found the laser override code in three different ways :ghost: )
"Abilities" is the kicker. That's the main way in which progression was controlled by Irrational in SS2 where progress was left to the player in the original. I remain unconvinced that shoehorning developer control over magical character "abilities" into the original game, which emphasized gear-based progression, improves the original.

I am convinced that this objection is being dismissed by Nightdive, though, who are determined to make this "their" game. So no point in further objections from me about it.

On a related note, Nightdive's Stephen Kick had these comments for today: Gamers are concerned that the ambitious stretch goals will add stuff to the game which will somewhat change the original's DNA. What's your take on these additions, as well as the feedback?

Kick: These proposed changes to the existing foundation of the game won’t alter the experience in a dramatic way - for example we want to make sure that the roleplaying aspect of the game comes naturally to the player and that we don’t force them to choose a role from the outset like in Shock 2 and have that dictate the experience. They should feel free to experiment with the mechanics in the game and not feel penalized for a prior choice should their play style evolve and change throughout the game. If you want to take a more stealthy approach and focus on hacking and avoiding combat our system will reward you for that and make you more proficient in those skills. It’s more of a behind the scenes approach that won’t take you out of the game for an extended period of time, forcing you to think about where to put skill points.

As for the feedback, it’s justified. As soon as you start talking about messing with the formula of a beloved franchise you can see the torches being lit in the distance. We want to add our own unique touch to the game, but it won’t in any way violate what’s been established or change the basic foundation of the game.

Re: System Shock - The Remake

Yeah, seems they're set on doing their own thing. Well, I nearly played the entire original by now, so I'll just play it as another SS game.

In other news, they revealed their last stretch goals, being open sourcing SS1 after bringing the code up to modern standards (ie making sure it compiles), mod support, a graphic novel and VR. Doesn't look like they'll get it in the KS unless funding rockets in the last 24 hours though. Which is too bad, cause I'd really like the 1.9 (original soundtrack remixed - I really like the original soundtrack, and with that backer achievement thingy they are gonna implement it as game soundtrack too), 2 (SS1 open sourced, for obvious reasons) and 2.3 (mod support - if Nightdive won't, maybe someone can do a Classic mod to bring back the exact gameplay of the original) million goals.
Though, apparently they said some goals would stay achievable with post-KS paypal funding, so maybe?
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

As an aside, I've just finished the original (well, everything except the final boss battle - there seems to be a bug that lets the timer during the boss battle go a lot faster than in the original, and I really can't beat Shodan in 5-10 seconds. :problem:

Still, absolutely no regrets I played it. I didn't expect a game from 1994 to keep me glued to my pc for days on end. The "here's the environment, now figure out what to do" was a very refreshing change from the handholding that's more popular now. :)
Warning: do not ask about physics unless you really want to know about physics.
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Re: System Shock - The Remake

Aaaaaaand... funded.

$1.35M, 150% of their target. Not bad. Some nice things from the stretch goals were missed -- assuming you're one of those people who think this needed anything beyond "WASD controls and modern graphics" ;) -- but it's great to know that by late 2017 we should see Citadel Station in a version that today's gamers can enjoy.


Also, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the original, Dinosawer. There are so many amazing game design concepts in System Shock, and so many that I wish more games had adopted.

One of them is "solve problems in the way you enjoy most." But another is offering a remarkable level of customization of the play experience: the choice of four difficulty levels each for combat, story, puzzles, and cyberspace.

This customization wasn't taken as far as it could have been. In particular, it didn't change puzzles much at all. Even so, this system made it possible to play System Shock as a straight-up shooter (Combat maxed, Puzzles and Story minimized), or as nearly an interactive novel (Story almost maxed, Puzzles and Combat minimized), or as an exploration-friendly tour (Combat and Cyberspace minimized, Puzzles maximized and Story almost maxed). How many games offer anything even remotely like this respect for different ways of having fun in a game?

Oh, and progressing from a puny dartgun to the mighty Mark III rifle loaded with Penetrator rounds for those moments when "aggressive negotiations" are required? Very satisfying indeed. :)

Finally, I'm curious whether you, Dinosawer, and others would agree that System Shock is as "immersive" as its fans have claimed it is.

What else have others taken from System Shock?

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