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The great announcement promised in the previous update for Nightdive Studios' System Shock is here, and it is great indeed. The game, rather sneakily, moved away from Unity Engine and onto Unreal Engine 4. And while the reason given is Unreal's improved console functionality, moving away from Unity is always good in my book. Here's the timeline of this transition:
August: After listening to everyone during the Kickstarter campaign, it became clear that console support was very important to a lot of you. We took a hard look at what Unity could do on consoles, and what we wanted to achieve for both visual quality and performance. While Unity is a great engine, it was clear that we needed to use an engine that fit our project goals more closely. We took a few weeks to research various engines (mainly Lumberyard and Unreal).And to show us that this is not just idle promises, the developers are offering this pre-alpha gameplay trailer:
September: After the engine research and evaluating feedback on our visual style, we decided to try out Unreal and see what it had to offer. Around the same time, we needed to fill critical spots for the leads team. Recruiting takes time (actually, a lot of time, especially for the senior positions). I think we went through about 30+ interviews for various candidates from Sept-Dec. Most of the folks we selected were developers I had worked with on Fallout: New Vegas, so it made getting them up to speed on things pretty quick.
October-December: During this time we focused on getting the nuts and bolts of the content inside of Unreal. Around the end of October, we were confident Unreal was the right way to go, but we didn’t want to announce the change just yet, since we wanted to prove to our backers (and ourselves) that we could deliver a slice of the game in Unreal with the updated visual direction. Couple that with the lengthy time recruiting/onboarding takes and we were steadily making progress towards our goal by the end of December.
January: The next step before being ready to reveal our efforts was to establish a proper level using everything everyone had built up for Unreal. This is essentially for the “Vertical Slice” phase, but the early stages. I like using an iterative corner approach to vertical slice, meaning we would work on a small section of the vertical slice content, iterate and refine it until we were happy with the end result (typically finding problems and correcting them, tweaking things here and there, etc). Once the corner (in this case it was actually a series of rooms, a vent shaft, several hallways, and a lovable mutant named Marty) was finished, we would be ready to expand on the rest of the vertical slice content.
February: After a lot of hard work, the corner was finally to a point we were happy with, which brings us to now! That pretty much paints a picture of where our heads were at with all of this. We didn’t make this decision lightly, and wanted to be sure we could do the game justice with this engine shift. Feel free to ask questions either in the comments or the Discord server. Let us know what you think! We want to ensure you feel we’re going in the right direction with all of this.