Reworked System Shock on Hiatus

Discussion in 'System Shock' started by Flatfingers, Feb 16, 2018.

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  1. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    For those who haven't seen the news yet, Stephen Kick announced on Kickstarter earlier today that development of the NightDive version of System Shock has been suspended temporarily.

    I wish some Official Person had provided that update here for fans of NightDive and of this project. That said, here's the full text of today's announcement:

    Personally, while I've spoken in favor of preserving the original game's structure, I don't feel any jubilation at today's announcement. It has to be hard for everyone involved.

    Best of luck to the team to come back with a renewed focus toward a great refreshed game.
     
  2. Laserbrain

    Laserbrain New Member

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    well I hope nightdive knows what they are doing, if this project fails it will seriously hurt any other crowd funding campaign in the future.
     
  3. Judicator

    Judicator New Member

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    I've raised concern may times, now we got to know the truth.
    It is a bit sad because while we were asking for informations all of that was happening wihout us being aware of it or being able to give our opinion.
    Now is too late however and what we can do is to look ahead and try to be supportive and hope that we can finally get SS with updated graphics with all its core mechanics.
    I don't feel like it is useful right now to criticize the team or the lead or whatever, I just hope to get info as soon as possible and to hear a well planned strategy that could lead to get the game done.
     
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  4. Chrono

    Chrono New Member

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    The question is how long they will suspend they work on SSR?
    Without a timeframe its a slap in the face for the Backers.
     
  5. Judicator

    Judicator New Member

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    Oh I agree.
    But what else can we do?
    Over at Polygon they spoke of a 18-24 months timeframe.
    Honestly I don't know, it could be as well as it could not.
    If I got it right they intend to fund the development with the income from the old games sales.
    Well that kind of concerns me since many people will be less prone to give their money to NDS after all this mess.
     
  6. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    If the original work of adapting older games for today's computers is an overall profit-maker for NightDive as I suspect it is, that can probably fund a relatively straightforward remaster of System Shock. Hence simply being on "hiatus."

    Burning through the Kickstarter funding won't sit well with some backers. This is a PR problem if NightDive want to make more games -- but it's a problem from which I believe they can recover by delivering a stable, good-looking, performant remaster of the original game in a reasonable time frame (i.e., less than three years from now).

    I'd like folks to cut NightDive some slack, personally. There's no crystal ball in making commercial art. Sometimes an idea works, sometimes it doesn't. Those of us on the "remaster" side can say "I told you so" all day long, but we didn't have all the answers, either.

    So they goofed up. They can't change the past. All they can do now is move forward with a more achievable vision. They can still succeed by making a good-looking, good-feeling remaster of this remarkable game.

    What I look forward to seeing is the extent to which they reach out this time for sanity checks from those backers who did try to tell them to stick with a remaster for this game. ;)
     
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  7. Judicator

    Judicator New Member

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    Let's hope!
    Firstly I'd like to know what's the plan and I sincerely hope they will come with something more than: we are sticking to the original plan.
    I don't expect to see a detailed roadmap but at least if we are going to get a 1:1 copy of the game with updated graphics or there going to be additions. I would like to know also what they are starting from, from scratch or what, if there will be some kind of manager.
    I have many questions that I would like to be addressed.
     
  8. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    This is where I stick up a little bit for my fellow software project managers. :D

    In smaller organizations, the roles can get a little fuzzy -- people will often wear more than one hat. But game producers, who (among other things) often do the project management -- which I think is the role Jason Fader was in (Jason, you can correct me on this if I'm mistaken) -- don't always get to decide what to do. Rather, their role is to figure out how to break down the overall vision and high-level goals from the studio head or creative lead into reasonably well-defined tasks, to manage the resources allocated to those tasks, and to track the progress of the work done to accomplish those tasks.

    I'm as confident as a completely ignorant person can be that NightDive will continue to have an experienced project manager leading the revised System Shock effort.

    What I'd like to know is whether this time around, that person will have the power to say "NO" to proposed enhancements and make that stick. Because that's how you actually ship a product.

    Of course it's not really that simple, especially when your product is a computer game. A game isn't some mere widget. Most are a form of commercial art, and art does not like being mass-produced on a conveyor belt in some tidy, easily-predicted process. A good project manager for a game is skilled at assessing the likely value for every proposed feature -- how much can it be expected to contribute to achieving the overall "feel" of the finished game, versus how much is it likely to cost in developer hours? So you rough out the features you know you have to have (hashed out in pre-production meetings); you build a schedule that captures the overall sequencing for implementing these things; you leave some slack for the features you didn't think of but whose value (benefit versus cost) makes them worth including; you tack on more time for integration and testing and other things (delays due to developer illness, milestone reviews, vertical slices for the publisher, technology changes, etc., etc., etc.)... and then you double that time estimate for an established group, or triple it (at least) for a group of people making their first game together. And then you pray that the universe does not decide it hates you by throwing some external disaster at you (remember when Hello Games had their physical studio flooded?). And then, if you actually ship a thing, you pray that it's sufficiently successful as a piece of commercial art that it earns enough to fund the development of your studio's next game.

    If after reading this, cranking out code or sketching artwork looks a lot more attractive, you might not be wrong. ;)

    I also would appreciate an Official Person from NightDive, once their internal conversations are at an appropriate point, sharing with us fans their overall goal and their general plan of attack for achieving that goal. And then we'll see.
     
  9. Judicator

    Judicator New Member

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    Well that's the point.
    We don't know how things went out exactly but looking from here the last word had to be Stephens', I mean apparently he was the one to decide what to do.
    Yeah they should firmly stick to the design document, if there's actually one.
    It's not just distrust towards this or that member of the team but I was hinting exactly at that: a key figure who can keep the team on track now that the budget, if any, is even tighter and the team smaller.

    Now the question is: how long it will take to reorganize the team and the work?
    If they are going to start form scratch it's going to be weeks and hopefully we can have an update in june?
     
  10. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    Depending on how small the core group is, and if they decide to scale back to a remaster rather than a reboot, I would imagine a sufficiently good plan could be done by April. (And by "sufficiently good" I mean good enough to get started, not perfect; no sensible project lead demands perfect planning in a messy world.)

    I hope in addition to describing the new vision, NightDive (presumably Stephen) will also talk a little about how that will be achieved: the high-level technical tasks required for a remaster (so we can sort of understand the scope of the work), but also some of the nuts-and-bolts internal team structure and processes that will guard against scope creep this time. I suspect some visibility into both of these components will be needed to mollify backers and fans who are more skeptical now.

    I still think that's possible.
     
  11. amurshock

    amurshock Member

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    Personally, the worst thing regarding this debacle is my impression, that most of the funds collected through Kickstarter were pretty much rendered useless. Most of the human capital that was built up during the last 15 months is gone.

    I supported the campaign at the crew-member tier which is by far the highest amount I ever spent on a game / reward based crowdfunding campaign. I did it because of love for the franchise and because of the obvious passion and (then) competence displayed by Nightdive. As a frequent backer of video game projects on Kickstarter I was completely aware of the risks involved, hence no regrets.

    I’m curious what this uncertain future brings. My optimism however is pretty much gone, at least for the moment. I hope Stephen Kick and whoever is left, somehow manage to turn this thing around and deliver something worthy of the System Shock name.

    A lot has been said in the Kickstarter comment-section and I’m an advocate of the episodic approach in case everything else fails. I’d hate to see the franchise Nightdive was built upon, be ultimately responsible for the company's downfall. Don’t let Shodan get you down!

    All the best to Stephen and the entire team. Please speak up if there’s anything folks like me can do. I’m still crazy about this venture after all.
     
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  12. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    So -- as we know Stephen Kick (@pripyatbeast) is at GDC, would it be unreasonable to hope that he'll announce an end to the hiatus on development of the revived System Shock?
     
  13. Krash

    Krash New Member

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    At the conference? Nah, if asked he might confirm, but pretty sure they're going to be spending a few more days next week putting together the big update for the end of the month. I think @KarleeMeow mentioned it would include a Q&A with Stephen to try to cover as many of the inevitable questions as they can -- which should include clarity on some of the things discussed here.
     
  14. Shaun Gupta

    Shaun Gupta Moderator Staff Member

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    Stephen made a comment today on Discord:

    "Hey @everyone, we're almost finished with GDC, have some good news to share in the next KS backer update coming at the beginning on April"
     
  15. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    Asked and answered, then -- thanks!
     
  16. Shaun Gupta

    Shaun Gupta Moderator Staff Member

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  17. Flatfingers

    Flatfingers Member

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    The PC Gamer interview was brief but positive. I'm looking forward to April to seeing what the starting room looks like in Unreal.

    More importantly, though, I'd be happiest to see a straightforward description of the post-hiatus goals -- something a bit more clear than "do what's in the Kickstarter" -- as well as what steps will be taken this time to control scope creep.

    BTW, I'm not an absolutist on additional features. It's useful to be able to say, "OK, we didn't plan for this feature we just thought of, but the techies and project manager have taken a hard look at it and they agree the possible benefits will be worth the likely costs at this moment in the development schedule."

    But it has to go through that analysis. "Hey, this would be cool, too!" can't be a sufficient reason to tack on something beyond the essential requirements, regardless of who says it.

    I'm very curious to hear what changes to the team structure are being made to insure this hard focus will be respected.

    All of which sounds like "Grrr!" but I'm really mostly positive. I think the hiatus is a good sign that fan concerns are heard and respected.

    What I'm really hoping for is just some straight talk to reassure backers that 1) the game NightDive are going to make this time will stay structurally close to the great original game, and 2) project management this time can say "no" to proposed enhancements and make that stick.
     
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  18. Krash

    Krash New Member

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    This isn't at all confirmed, so I might be speaking out of turn here, but I get the impression that with the new direction @StephenKick himself has taken the reigns over a lean and mean core team with a laser focus on fleshing out a pure product -- and he's already mention that he's getting back into the thick of it on the art side.
    Both Jason Fader (Game Director) and Kevin Manning (Art Director) have updated their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that they're no longer attached to the project as of February, so my guess is that the team as a whole has been restructured so as to keep it small, and they're hitting the ground running building on the work that's already been done to date.
     
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