I got really excited and thrilled when I got a chance to do an interview with Night Dive Studios founder Stephen Kick. Because as you might already know, Night Dive Studios handles both “System Shock Remastered” and “System Shock 3“. And I just happen to be a huge fan of the “System Shock” series. So I tried to ask Kick as many good questions as I possibly could think of (I´m quite happy with the result I have to say). Any ways, please enjoy the interview =)

the night dive studios team

(from right to left) Paul Neurath, Warren Spector, Austin Grossman and Stephen Kick.

Robin TGG
I have to say that I really like your slogan:
“Night Dive Studios’ mission is to bring lost and forgotten gaming treasures back from the depths”

As I truly like the idea of having a studio that works hard to bring back some of the old game gems from the past. However, how, when and where did Night Dive Studios happened exactly? And who came up with the name and business concept for “Night Dive Studios”? (for some strange reason what not. I read it as “Night Drive Studios” the first time I heard about your studio).

Kick – Night Dive Studios
I had been working in the industry as a character artist for a number of years when I reached a point where I was no longer having fun, my passion had become work and I was burned out making someone else’s game – so I quit! I decided to travel the world, gain new perspective and perhaps find some new direction for my life. On this trip I brought with me a laptop that I loaded up with some of my favorite classic games – The Curse of Monkey Island, Fallout 2, System Shock 2, etc.

It was one stormy night in Guatemala when I decided to revisit Shock 2 only to discover I couldn’t get it to run. Perplexed, I visited GOG.com to purchase a working copy to find it unavailable. I thought it unthinkable that one of the greatest games of all time was no longer playable so I set out to unravel the mystery of what happened to the IP and do what I could to bring it back for all to enjoy once more. The rest is history – we had such a great reception re-releasing SS2 that I decided to find more games you could no longer play or purchase legitimately.

The name “Night Dive” came to me while reminiscing of a recent trip I had taken in Australia. On one particular night dive I had descended about a hundred feet into pure darkness – it was terrifying but all I could think of were the dangers and treasures that await me in those depths. I couldn’t help but relate tracking down lost classic video games to that experience, plus it gave me an excuse to use a skull and tentacles in the logo 😉

system shock 1

Looking Glass Studios and Origin Systems released “System Shock 1” back in September, 1994 (for MAC and DOS)

Robin TGG
How exactly did Night Dive Studios get their hands on the System Shock IP? (I do recall some story about someone being in the jungle playing System Shock?).  And what was it like to make and work on the Enhanced Edition of System Shock 1? I would also like to ask if you worked close with anyone from the original System Shock team during the development of System Shock: Enhanced Edition?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
We discovered who ended up with the IP after Looking Glass went bankrupt and worked with them to release System Shock 2 – after a few years we made an offer to purchase the IP and they accepted. System Shock: Enhanced was a great experience, we were able to reach out to a dedicated modder who had done some fantastic work on the original game and together we created the enhanced version that’s now on Steam and GOG. We didn’t work with anyone on the original team, but since the release we’ve had access to the original source code and it’s providing us with some interesting opportunities for future updates.

system shock enhanced edition

If you enjoyed the original “System Shock” game, then you´re going to love the Enhanced Edition for sure.

Robin TGG
Not so long ago you released the very first trailer for System Shock 1 Remastered. And even though everything in the video was pre-alpha footage. I just couldn´t help myself from jumping up and down like I´ve won the lottery, because graphical-wise the trailer got me really excited (the Unity Engine has done wonders on the graphics front).

In the matter of fact, I haven´t felt like this since I saw the trailer for Resident Evil Remake (the Gamecube version). And that´s the vibes that I got from the System Shock 1 Remastered, simply put. It´s a full-blown remake of System Shock but with modern-day graphics. And that´s more than enough to make me really thrilled.

So my question for you would be this. What are your own personal hopes, goals and expectations for the remake of System shock?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
My personal hope is that we keep the vision of System Shock as true to the original as possible – System Shock is a masterpiece and working on a complete remake has been a daunting task for a number of reasons. First, it’s a big game – the levels are huge, there are a ton of enemy types, weapons, and various environments. Second, we’ve made such a strong impression with the pre-Alpha trailer that we’ve set the bar incredibly high for the graphical fidelity and overall experience.

Third, we’re a small team, this is our first game from scratch (collectively we’ve shipped over a dozen games) and we’re working with one of the most beloved franchises in gaming. Ultimately it’s our responsibility to deliver an unforgettable experience and it’s going to be a product of our love and passion for the game that both old fans and new fans will enjoy.

system shock 1 remastered zombie attack

“System Shock 1 Remastered” looks really, really good so far.

Robin TGG
Is it true that System Shock 1 Remastered will get it´s own Kickstarter campaign? And that the game is set for a release to PC, PS4 and Xbox One sometime during 2017?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
We are considering a crowdfunding campaign with a release date in 2017. The current platforms we’re aiming for are PC and Xbox One. Other platforms are not out of the question.

Robin TGG
Not so long ago you stated the following about “System Shock Remastered” in the regards of the in-game engine (Unity Engine):

“After 20 years, we are remastering and re-imagining the original System Shock. We will keep the new game true to the classic experience, keeping all the things you loved, while updating the user interface and graphics to use a modern-day engine (Unity).”

So my question would be this, just recently I heard that you had recruited System Shock’s original concept artist (Robert Waters). Is that true? If so, what was Waters reaction when he found out that he would be working on “System Shock Remastered”?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Yes, it’s true! As part of our team Robb has been able to faithfully translate the original vision he established in 1994 for a new audience. His concepts are chilling and have really guided the team in creating what you’ve seen so far in our pre-Alpha trailer – he’s also breathed new life into areas of the game that served little purpose in the original. For instance, there is a side room on the opening level that contains some plant life, we’ve looked at that area and re-evaluated it’s purpose on a space station.

In reality a room like that would be there to grow food, produce oxygen and provide an area for crew to escape the monotony of life in space. So, we’ve expanded that area to create a believable space which is an influence we’ve proudly taken from the level design of Shock 2. Everything should serve a purpose and by redesigning some of these areas we’ve ensured the game to be faithful while also having flexibility enabling us to add new zones and new gameplay and narrative opportunities.

otherside entertainment system shock 3 page

Yep, Shodan is back again in “System Shock 3”.

Robin TGG
Back in December last year you launched a teaser page for System shock 3, and then you officially announced System Shock 3. That´s awesome news for everyone who loves System Shock of course. However, I do have some questions to ask you about SS3.

1. How did OtherSide Entertainment get involved in the SS3 project? Did you reach out to them, or did they reach out to you?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
We’ve been working with Paul Neurath of OtherSide since acquiring the rights to re-release Shock 2 and it’s always been our goal to put the future of the franchise back in the hands of the original Origin/Looking Glass crew.

2.
In the signup form for the SS3 newsletter, one of the questions asked the following:

“- On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), please rate your interest in virtual reality gaming?”

Does that mean that you have plans to add virtual reality support to SS3?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
You’ll have to ask OtherSide 🙂

3.
Will there be a Xbox One and PS4 version of SS3?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Again, you’ll have to ask OtherSide.

4. Is Warren Spector a part of the System Shock 3 team?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Yes, it’s been announced that Warren will be a part of the System Shock 3 team!

Robin TGG
Is Ken Levine involved in the “System Shock Remastered” or “System Shock 3” project in some way? If that´s not the case, then why not?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Not in an official capacity, but we have had the opportunity to connect and talk about the Shock series since our announcements were made.

strife veteran edition

The original “Strife” game was release back in February, 1996 (Rogue Entertainment and Velocity Inc.).

Robin TGG
I bet that there is quite a few Gamers out there who doesn´t know that Night Dive Studios and Rogue Entertainment released a game called “Strife: Veteran Edition” together back in 2014 (Strife VE is available via Steam, and the game has received some very positive reviews from the players).  So could you tell us a bit what Strife VE is all about, and how the project came about in the first place?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Strife was the unsung hero of the Doom engine games – it was ahead of it’s time, but unfortunately it was late to the 3D accelerated graphics party leaving it in this awkward space of being innovative but outdated. It was a game we immediately started getting requests for following our success with Shock and involved a considerable amount of work tracking down the rights holders – looking back on it I believe it took over a year to get papers signed. After we signed a deal we reached out to Sam Villarreal and James Haley who are both prominent modders in the Doom community and worked with them to deliver the best version of the game that we could. Since then Sam and James have joined our team and are working on more exciting restorations.

blood 1

Will Night Dive Studios make a new “Blood” game? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell.

Robin TGG
Back in September last year Stephen Kick (Founder and CEO of Night Dive Studios) mentioned that he would love to work on a new “Blood” game (Monoliths classic FPS series) during a Twitch Stream hosted by GOG.

So, is that something which you could elaborate a bit more about now? And “if” you get the rights for Blood, would it be a remake of the original game (a reboot). Or would you make a brand-new Blood game that´s based in the Blood universe?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Duke Nukem and Shadow Warrior are phenomenal Build Engine games but I think you could argue that Blood was the best. So it’s strange that it would be the last game to get a proper remaster. The rights situation is muddy but it’s definitely on Night Dive’s wishlist – I imagine that if we ever did get the opportunity Blood would get a lot of love from our team. A new entry in the series would be an exciting project, I know Jace Hall has expressed interest in making a new Blood and having some of the original Monolith crew involved would be even more exciting.

system shock 2

Night Dive Studios “might” make a “System Shock 2” remake “if” SS3 and SSR turn out really well (grades and sales).

Robin TGG
Since Night Dive Studios has already released an enhanced edition of System Shock 1, and due to the fact that you´re working on a Remake of System Shock 1 as well. I just have to ask if there are any plans at all for a remake of system Shock 2 at this time?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
We currently don’t have plans to remake Shock 2 though it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Robin TGG
If you could bring back any title of your choice to life again, then which game (s) would you like to resurrect? And would “Crusader No Remorse” and “No Regret” be one of those titles? (I´m a huge fan of the Crusader series).

blade runner game

I´m probably not the only one out there that would love to see Night Dive Studios develop a new “Blade Runner” game.

Kick – Night Dive Studios
How could I not say No One Lives Forever? Let’s see – the Myth series would be great, Blade Runner, and some real niche titles like The Dark Eye, The Space Bar, Bad Day on the Midway, Drowned God – I would LOVE to remake Dark Forces in a similar fashion to our Shock remake.

Robin TGG
How have the reaction and feedback been for SS3, the remake of SS1 and the Enhanced Edition of SS1 so far? Personally, as a System Shock fan, I couldn´t possibly be any happier.

Kick – Night Dive Studios
After my first phone call with the then current rights holders, I dreamt about the possibility of a Shock 3 but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that Night Dive would be responsible for making it all happen. As a fan myself it’s been overwhelming and I think many other fans feel the same way. I think it’s even more special because it was so unexpected and one of those things we all fantasize about at some point in our lives. Shock is something so many people love and being able to bring it back for all to enjoy is why I started Night Dive.

system shock 1

The “System Shock” series is very well-known for it´s awesome music.

Robin TGG
Will Greg LoPiccolo and Tim Ries make the music for “System Shock 1 Remastered”? Or do you have someone else in mind as the composer of the game?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
We have an in-house composer, Jonathan Peros, working on the score though he is consulting with Greg, and I believe Tim on the music. We are taking the score in a new direction though the demand for some of the original music has been very strong!

deus ex 1

Night Dive Studios would love to get a chance to make a “Deus Ex 1” remake. So, pick up the call Square Enix!

Robin TGG
Let´s say that Square Enix reached out to you and said that they would like you to make a remake of Warren Spector´s Deus Ex 1. Would you be interested in that?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
Where do I sign?

Robin TGG
Is there anything else that you would like to add and say to our readers?

Kick – Night Dive Studios
I’d like to say thank you to everyone who supports what we do, it’s a labor of love and the passion of a small yet dedicated group of people who go above and beyond to ensure that current and future generations will be able to enjoy their favorite games. We hope that by showing developers we still appreciate what they’ve done that they take the steps necessary to ensure gamers will be able to experience their creations for all time.

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Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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12 Comments ON " Night Dive Studios interview with Stephen Kick "
  • Jeremy Alexander

    As an old school Original Gamer, I just love even the thought of new generations of these great games. If I could add a bit of history, Strife was one of the most innovative games of its time, but one of the reasons it is forgotten is that it contained a bug that would show up randomly about a third of the way through that made it impossible to progress in the game without restarting. After that happened 3 times I gave up and moved on, and so did many other people. I squealed with joy when the new edition was released. It is forgotten, not because it was not recognized as great, but because many, if not most, of the people that loved it never got to experience it all.

    • So do I 😉 Because even the Enhanced edition of SS1 feels very outdated imo. I actually missed out on “Strife” :S I think it´s because the game didn´t get a lot of media buzz in Sweden. So I´m going to give that game a go asap =) True that, and that´s what Night Dive Studios is all about. So I really hope that they will get a chance to make a new Blood game (either a remake of Blood 1 & 2, or a brand-new title). And btw, check this out 😉
      http://thegg.net/opinion-editorial/system-shock-1-remastered-what-i-hope-and-expect-of-the-remake/

      • Jeremy Alexander

        Good linked article. Like you missed out on Strife, I missed out on the Blood games for some unknown reason. I even own them on GOG and have not been able to play them yet. Gonna have to get on that. Now if someone will just release the No One Lives Forever series and does a new one, I can die happy. 🙂

        • Thanks man =) Oh? I´m sorry to hear it :S You should, especially “Blood 1”. As I still think, it´s the best game in the series so far. Yes, I shall sort it out asap 😉 True that, and Night Dive Studios want both the “No One Lives Forever” and “Blood” IP. So I wish them the best of luck. Off-Topic, we “might” get an interview with Warren Spector as well. So “if” I get that chance, I will ask a lot of questions about “Deus Ex” and “System Shock” 😉

  • LordCancer Kain

    COME ON, FIRST TUROK AND NOW SYSTEM SHOCK? WHY XBOX ONLY? SO DUMB!

    • Ehrm…”Shock 1 Remastered” will be released to PC, Xbox One and PS4?

      • LordCancer Kain

        no, that is just not true, the website lists platforms as steam and xbox one and this very interview NDS says they are targeting pc and xbox one only. “other platofrms not out of the question” but i do not see turok remasters getting announced for ps4 and it seem NDS are pretty set on not supporting ps4 going forward which is a shame. i just dont understand why they chose to target a platform with half the install base, it makes little sense.

        Robin TGG

        Is it true that System Shock 1 Remastered will get it´s own Kickstarter campaign? And that the game is set for a release to PC, PS4 and Xbox One sometime during 2017?

        Kick – Night Dive Studios

        We are considering a crowdfunding campaign with a release date in 2017. The current platforms we’re aiming for are PC and Xbox One. Other platforms are not out of the question.

        • “WHY XBOX ONLY?” Ah, I take it that you´re a PS4 user then? Yes, now I follow what you mean (It was late at night when I answered you the first time). I have no idea really, and like you said. It makes no sense. Then again, maybe they have had problems with Sony in the past? Or perhaps it´s just much easier to work with PC and Xbox? (code and so on). I´m sorry to hear it though, one can only hope that there will be a PS4 version sometime in the future.

          • LordCancer Kain

            yes, i switched from 360. i would love to get turok and shock trophies. it is frustrating that they hint at other platforms but reveal nothing. i wished they just say no. atleast remedy doesn’t beat around the bush, you know what your getting with them. NDS i feel are being misleading and no one likes a tease. you might be right about it being easier since its basically the same api on pc/xbox. I really like NDS so it is disappointing. i guess i will wait awhile and if they don’t announce them ill pick them up on a steam sale as a feint protest.

          • Ah, I see. Yes, and I don´t understand why Night Dive Studios would do that either. That might be the case, but I don´t think they could avoid the PS4 base for all that long. As it´s a really huge community. Imo, it´s an enormous mistake not to include PS4 from day 1. Hehe, sounds like a good plan 😉

  • Derceto

    A Deus Ex remake by these guys? Fingers and toes crossed. If anyone could do it the proper justice it deserves, it would be them. Would be even better if they convinced SE to sell them rights. What a travesty that it ended up in their hands.

    Another game I would love to see these guys bring into the century would be Alone in the Dark. The original. AitD and Deus Ex are 2 of my all-time favs. Of course, System Shock is right up there as well, and will surely have the remake day 1.

    Good on you guys Night Dive. For preserving and treating things properly at the same time. Thumbs up.

    • That´s what I´m hoping for 😉 And I have requested an interview with Mr. Warren Spector (huge fan here!). I hope to land that interview, because I got a lot of questions to ask him about Deus Ex, System Shock 3 and some of his past games. Absolutely, I would want to see a new “Alone in the dark” as well. However, this time it has to be done “right”. I mean, “Alone in the dark” 1-4 kicks ass! Nevertheless, as we all know, the latest title in the series sucks really hard.

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