Last week, Nightdive Studios teased new in-game PC footage of its forthcoming System Shock remaster. Running on Unreal Engine 4, some prospective players suggested the reimagined Citadel Station looked better when powered by Unity—as it had been in last year’s pre-alpha demo. The game’s director Jason Fader has now addressed why Unreal was chosen, where he and his team’s priorities lie, and what a “faithful reboot” exactly entails.
Speaking via a Kickstarter backer update post, Fader explains that the remake’s visual appearance is still a work in progress and that the engine change and visual differences are in fact unrelated. “What you see in the video is a rough style we are experimenting with to push crisper visuals,” explains Fader. “Art direction was a lower priority for the engine change since we wanted to be sure the technology could do what we needed first. Now that we have the pipelines set for getting art into the engine, we’ll be iterating on the style and mood.”
Fader also suggests last week’s footage represents one and a half month’s worth of “direct content creation”, compared to the the Unity demo’s six months. “Not exactly the fault of Unity,” admits Fader, “but as you see, it’s easier for our team to create content in Unreal.”
Fader then includes an extensive Q&A addressing would-be player concerns. This is worth reading in its entirety—it covers where the project is going, what features are yet to come and what will be reworked, and how audio is being implemented, among other things—however the following answer is worth repeating. In response to the question “Great, now you are making a console game with a PC port…”, Fader says:
“Whoa there! We never said that, and even if we didn’t switch engines, the game would still come out on consoles. Personally, I’m a PC gamer through and through (mainly because I can’t aim well with a controller). System Shock is being made for PC gamers first. It would be a shame if only PC folk could appreciate our game, so we’ll be bringing it to console as well, but PC is the main target for everything we do.”
As far as the “faithful reboot” maxim goes, Fader explains that while he and his team had first planned to make a “straight 1:1 remake”, there were too many things they wanted to tweak and adjust this time round. The decision to craft a reboot, then, was arrived at—so long as it maintained “the spirit of Shock 1.”