UPDATE: System Talk: Nightdive discuss System Shock Kickstarter and its success

We dive into Nightdive's head to retrieve some juicy System Shock info as we celebrate the campaign's successful completion.
UPDATE: Good job, fellow meatbags! Not only is the System Shock remake happening, but, thanks to you, it's shaping up to be all kinds of spectacular. The Kickstarter campaign recently reached its end but not before hitting some pretty big stretch goals along the way, including additional content, languages, and platforms. Congrats to Nightdive and to everyone who helped them get the System Shock remake off the ground and into orbit around the deliciously twisted corridors of Citadel Station.
It was only five days ago when we sat down and spoke with Nightdive about their vision and now, with the campaign finally done, the discussion we had is more relevant than ever.
Enjoy!
Re-touching the sacred totems of gaming can be a thankless endeavor and yet Nightdive are in the business of doing exactly that: salvaging and re-introducing beloved classics to today's audiences.
With System Shock, however, they are confidently going the extra mile and we secured some time with Stephen Kick, the studio's CEO, to talk about the particulars of the ambitious project and how fans' expectations fit into the grand scheme.
How did you choose System Shock for a remake?
Once we had acquired the rights to the System Shock franchise we worked with a SystemShock.org modder to create the Enhanced Edition we eventually released on GOG.com. What they were able to accomplish was nothing short of amazing - with the addition of mouselook, higher resolution support, and some bug fixes we knew the game would be much more accessible to a wider audience, but at the same time we began to recognize the potential for creating a remake from the ground up. The game design, narrative, and pacing all withstood the test of time and we knew that by translating those timeless features into a new engine and recreating the iconic look of Citadel Station within it we’d have something very special. We started with a simple prototype to experiment and once we began to revisit the enemies we brought Robb Waters (the original concept artist) on board to breathe new life into his oldest creations. Momentum started to build and it was decided that remaking the entire game would be the next evolutionary step for not only System Shock, but for Nightdive as well.
Apart from the visual and technical upgrade, what element of System Shock are you most excited to re-touch?
I think the greatest obstacle new players have when first experiencing System Shock is the amount of information thrown at them from the very start. You enter your name, select a difficulty level and bam! You’re hit with all these red boxes covering the screen with descriptions of each area of the UI which is also taking up 75% of the screen. Going back and streamlining that experience and introducing the player to each of those elements in meaningful ways that’s conducive with the overall design is what I’m really excited about. It’s going to be a huge challenge to make all the various systems that are integral to the experience easy to understand and access, but once we solve that problem the player will be able to focus on the game itself from the outset instead of that initial feeling of being overwhelmed with information. I’m also very excited at the potential of adding new, never before seen areas to Citadel Station and re-working and modifying existing areas to make them more believable. I think that’s one advantage Shock 2 has over the original. Many of the decks on board the Von Braun feel like lived-in spaces where the crew existed and went about their duties before tragedy struck. I really want to bring that sense of depth and atmosphere to the many locations on board Citadel Station.
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?
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.
The head of Kickstarter's gaming department recently said that "Kickstarter fatigue only lasts until someone sees their favorite game pop up". Was that ever a concern for you, that people are done with Kickstarter?
Ever since Double Fine launched their Kickstarter I thought there was endless potential for crowdfunding and it’s been very interesting watching the scene evolve over the years since then. It has gradually become a tumultuous place where backer confidence and patience has been severely tested which was something I was completely aware of when considering Kickstarter as our fund raising platform. I knew we’d have to do something different in order to rebuild that confidence and show that we weren’t just talk, so we did what any serious developer looking for funding would do - build a demo/prototype that would show our understanding of the IP and prove that we’ve put some skin in the game and were ready to start development. This wasn’t just an idea, it was real, and you can play it right now before you even consider backing the project. I think this was the key towards our success and I think future Kickstarters will have to consider releasing a demo to the public before asking for funding.
How do you feel about fan response to the announcement and subsequent success of the Kickstarter campaign?
It’s been pretty amazing - I think the most fascinating thing for the team has been watching the hundreds of videos that started appearing on youtube of people playing the demo. The general consensus has been overwhelmingly positive and that’s really motivated us to go above and beyond as we get further into development. We reached our $900K goal in a very short amount of time and what else can I say? We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received and can’t wait to deliver an experience that captures the essence of what made System Shock so revolutionary. The Kickstarter campaign isn’t over quite yet, but once it’s done the real fun begins :)
Big thanks to Stephen Kick for the thoughtful tidbits and congratulations to Nightdive on the successful campaign!