System Shock Remastered Edition Update #39 - Development Hiatus

Last month, we got an art design video update for Nightdive Studios' System Shock reboot and from the outside, everything seemed fine. Which is why I'm a bit surprised, to say the least, that this month's Kickstarter update informs us that the project is now on hiatus, as the Nightdive team reassesses its scope and their vision for it. Here's the official statement:

In March of 2016, Nightdive Studios released our video of our vision of System Shock Remastered. Done in Unity it was an immediate hit with almost a half million views on YouTube. In June of 2016 we launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the vision into a reality. It was tremendously successful with over 21,000 backers contributing over $1.3 million to the campaign. We put together a development team and began working on the game. But along the way something happened.

Maybe we were too successful. Maybe we lost our focus. The vision began to change. We moved from a Remaster to a completely new game. We shifted engines from Unity to Unreal, a choice that we don’t regret and one that has worked out for us. With the switch we began envisioning doing more, but straying from the core concepts of the original title.

As our concept grew and as our team changed, so did the scope of what we were doing and with that the budget for the game. As the budget grew, we began a long series of conversations with potential publishing partners. The more that we worked on the game, the more that we wanted to do, and the further we got from the original concepts that made System Shock so great.

Ultimately the responsibility for the decisions rests with me. As the CEO and founder of Nightdive Studios, a company that was built on the restoration of the System Shock franchise, I let things get out of control. I can tell you that I did it for all the right reasons, that I was totally committed to making a great game, but it has become clear to me that we took the wrong path, that we turned our backs on the very people who made this possible, our Kickstarter backers.

I have put the team on a hiatus while we reassess our path so that we can return to our vision. We are taking a break, but NOT ending the project. Please accept my personal assurance that we will be back and stronger than ever. System Shock is going to be completed and all of our promises fulfilled.

Stephen Kick

Fortunately, at the moment it doesn't look like this hiatus is of the indefinite variety since, according to this Polygon interview with Nightdive's director of business development Larry Kuperman, they fully intend to release the game within 18 to 24 months. An excerpt:

A source familiar with the project, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Polygon that “mission creep” and unrealistic ambitions had eaten up the Kickstarter funds, something that Nightdive largely confirmed. In an interview with Polygon, director of business development Larry Kuperman said that a strategy to pitch the game to publishers, in order to secure more funding, had not been successful. He added that around 15 contract workers will no longer be working on the game, but that Nightdive is not laying off any full-time staff.

Kuperman said that he had been speaking with various publishers about funding development, but that Nightdive’s vision and ambition did not match with market expectations. “A shiny new thing comes along and gets added to the project,” he said. “And our developers wanted to add their own ideas. The vision expanded.”

After the hiatus, said Kuperman, development will begin again, with some creators of the original demo — which attracted so much interest on Kickstarter — likely returning to work on the project. When pressed for a timeline, he estimated the game’s release at “18 to 24 months” from now.


Kuperman said that “mistakes were made,” but added that the company is determined to honor its Kickstarter commitments, using funds from sales of other classic games updated and re-released by the company.