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The latest Kickstarter update for Nightdive Studios' remake of the original System Shock tries out something new and offers an eight and a half minute long video that showcases some actual gameplay with stylized voice-overs from multiple team members, explaining what exactly we're seeing on the screen. The update goes over the current state of the game's art, the level design direction, and some work-in-progress concepts and gameplay elements. Have a look:
Apart from that, the update expands the FAQ and brings us up to speed with the current state of development, and announces a fifth anniversary sale of Nightdive's projects on Steam. Here's what the folks at Nightdive have been busy with lately:
Q: What stage of development are you at?
A: (TL;DR) We are currently working on Vertical Slice in Pre-Production.
(Read on for more details…)
Game development breaks down into several Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production milestones. This varies a bit from company to company as well so keep in mind that how we define these milestones may differ somewhat from how others use these same terms. The end goal for all developers is it to take chunks of related work and set deadlines for that effort.
For System Shock, Pre-Production breaks down into several smaller milestones:
Once the Vertical Slice Milestone wraps up the team moves into Production. Similar to Pre-Production, Production breaks down into several smaller milestones (Alpha, Beta, Final). We will explain more about these milestones and goals as the project develops.
- Concept / Pitch / Prototype - This was the work that was necessary for the Kickstarter. The team put together a high level game design document, established an art style, and created pitch materials including the Kickstarter video.
- Hold that thought….Change engines to UE4!!! - Once the Kickstarter funded, the team went back to work only to change gears in a massive way. An engine change is never easy but the team felt that it was the correct call for the project so we spent several months moving from Unity to UE4, revising our processes, and rebuilding our pipelines. On top of that we streamlined our character development pipeline to Maya. This whole process made several of us want to pull out our remaining hair, except for Jason that is! We are very glad that work is complete!
- First Playable - First Playable is unsurprisingly the first playable version of a game. For us, it meant a small section of the Medical Deck, the Mutant enemy, Sparq Beam, door codes, audio logs, throwable items, cameras, detection states, shatter tech, and a bunch of new art and additional tech all working in one build! First Playable also gave us the chance to prove out, adjust, and refine our development pipelines. In addition, being on UE4 required us to redo some things that had previously been done for the Unity version of the game. In all, we created a playable game that had approximately 7 encounter scenarios and had approximately 10 - 15 minutes of gameplay.
- Vertical Slice - Vertical Slice is a thin deep slice of the game. If you think of cutting a cake and applying it to game development, you look for a full featured experience in a small section of the game. For Shock, we are finishing building out the Medical Deck including labs, vents, and patient rooms, adding in several new enemies including the Cyborg Drone and Cyborg Commander, new weapons, turrets, hacking puzzles, and so on. This milestone also lets us finalize the combat for multiple weapon types and throwable items. By the time this milestone is complete, we should have a good hour of gameplay that is very indicative of the final game.
Q: When is the release date?
A: We're still early in development. Once we enter our Production phase, we'll have more info for all of you.