The Making Of: System Shock 2

EDGE is offering an interesting retrospective/behind-the-scenes look at the seminal System Shock 2, with excerpts from Ken Levine.

Here's one particularly interesting bit:
(The three partners sat down, and we ended up with a game design which was basically our design for Shock 2, but in a totally different world. It was a kind of Heart Of Darkness story, with a military commander gone crazy and your mission was to go to this crazy spaceship and assassinate him.)

This was pitched around various publishers. The one that bit was Electronic Arts, which through its purchase of Origin was in possession of the System Shock IP. EA suggested that the game could, in fact, be System Shock 2. (And we said, '˜Um. sure',) Levine laughs. (I rewrote the story and changed a few of the things, but the game design never changed.)

It was a rare opportunity. The original System Shock was one of the games that made Levine want to move into the videogame industry in the first place. What made it so special? (The feeling of being in a real place,) he raves. (The feeling of a mystery, of unraveling it not in an adventure game way, but in the context of an action game. You arrive and. what happened? That's a really good storytelling mechanism.) Austin Grossman and Doug Church's original idea from Shock was something Irrational expanded in its sequel. (In Shock 1 you were a specific guy, you had a backstory,) Levine notes. (With Shock 2, I started you out with the classic '˜wake up with amnesia'.)