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    Sunday - 1.31.1999
    Information Data.Node Updated - 2:30pm EST - Dan
I've uploaded the latest draft of the System Shock 2 Information Data.Node. This update doesn't include much really. If you've been paying attention to the news posts on this site, it should be all old news to you.

One thing that needs doing, however, is a redesign of that page. It's way too huge, so huge that it's a pain to get around in. I'm open to suggestions (and offers of help) on the best way to renovate it. I'm thinking frames.

    Friday - 1.29.1999
    When is 9:00pm EST in Your Time Zone? - 11:50pm EST - Dan
Note: This information has been corrected. Thanks to Tyr for the help.

The chat with Ken Levine, and several of the other SS2 design team, will be on Sunday, 9:00pm EST.

Okay, that's nice, but what if you live in Europe, or Australia? How do you figure out what time to be in the chatroom if you want to join in?

Here's how. Windows 95, and 98 users, double click on the clock in your system tray. (If you use a Mac or Unix, sorry, you can't play System Shock 2 anyway!) That's in the bottom right, by the way. A Date/Time properties dialog box should pop up. Click the Time Zone tab.

You should notice that every time zone in the pull-down menu is preceded by a GMT, and then a positive or negative number of hours. The chat will be held at 2:00am, GMT. Simply add or subtract the number of hours shown in your time zone from 2:00am, and you will get the time that the Chat will begin.

For example, If you live in California, then you have GMT -08:00. Subtract 8 hours from 2:00am, and you get 6:00pm
If you live in Central Europe, then you have GMT +01:00. Add 1 hour to 2:00am, and you get 3:00am.
Simple, no? Sorry for the fact that it will be so late for everyone in Europe. It was the only time Ken could set aside. I hope to see many of you there!

    New System Shock 2 Fan Story - 7:30pm EST - Dan
One thing most of the fan stories have in common (not mine!), is that they find different ways to answer the question, "How did SHODAN survive?" Today's new story takes a concept used in the others, but presents it with a very original twist. I really enjoyed reading it, and I feel that you will too! It's quite long, (9 pages in MS Word) but very interesting throughout. Thanks to Rataeve for writing such a cool Shocktale!

Story #8 - By: Aaron "Rataeva" Kelly

    Thursday - 1.28.1999
    Columns/Press Section Created - 2:40pm EST - Dan
The systemshock2.com Columns/Press page is now up. Before now, we were sharing TTLG's Press page, which only presented TTLG exclusive articles. Our new Columns/Press section contains a complete listing of all known System Shock 2 articles on the web. Because it will be updated only when a new article is published, updates to this page will not be announced on the top menu. Simply refer to the Recent Articles menu to see the latest happenings in this area.

    Hot System Shock 2 Desktop Background Image - 1:20pm EST - Dan
Robert Johnson sent me a really quite awesome image that he put together. It's ment to be a Windows desktop background, but it is way cool for it's artistic value alone!

SS2KynetiC (1024x768 112K)

For future refference, I've got it stashed in the FanWorks section.

    Chat With Ken Levine - 12:55pm EST - Dan
Late last night, in systemshock2.com's IRC channel, #system`shock`2, I was lucky enough to bump into Ken Levine as he set up his IRC Client for thescheduled chat this Sunday. The opportunity was given to ask him some burning questions, so I took it! (Everything below is a direct quote. Nothing is paraphrased. Grammar and spelling has been corrected where needed.)
Q: Who is Polito?

A: Polito fills a similar role in the beginning of the game that Rebecca lansing did in the first game. She's your contact on the outside. (sort of)

Q: Is she a tutorial device?

A: Not really, though she does sort of give you some of those kind of hints early on in a very story focused kind of way. She emails you and gives you your early "missions". But of course, there's more to Polito than you might think.

Q: One time i heard mention of "another threat" besides SHODAN......?

A: Ah, yes...however, the threat is strongly, umm, related to SHODAN. There is SO much to this game that I can't tell you about it...we've only let slip perhaps 2-3% of what we're doing.

Q: So the character creation happens ALL in the game... no setup screen like UW?

A: The character creation has no set up screen. You never leave the 3d. We do our best...it wasn't always that way, but we sat down and looked at and said, hey, we've got this great engine, why build a whole bunch of 2d screens when we can keep you immersed and utilize our technology.

Q: How much is the environment shaping up to be like a true-to-life starship? Is it a place that you'd like to spend a 5 year voyage on?...

A: I don't know. I've never been on a true to life starship. But I think it's pretty cool.

Q: How much is the interior like Citadel.. from what we've seen... it looks very very similar... any total departures?

A: Plenty. The engine is so much more expressive, we were driven to take advantage of that. I think you'll be [impressed] when you see the leaps that the Shock engine has made from the Dark engine.

Great stuff, eh? You too can get a chance to ask the System Shock 2 lead designer questions on Sunday, the 31st, at 9pm EST (GMT -05:00), at #system`shock`2 on polaris.starchat.net. To read the entire chatlog, click here.

    Wednesday - 1.27.1999
    Interview with Ken Levine at The Vault Network - 3:00pm EST - Dan
The Vault Network has done an extremely good interview with Ken Levine about System Shock 2. Although it doesn't give much new info on Shock2, it does tell quite a bit of the history behind Irrational Games, and the project.
... A few weeks later, Looking Glass gave us a call and said, "Hey, how would you guys feel about doing a game in the Dark engine?" Well, Jon and I had both worked on Thief, and Xemu had been at LG for many years, so we were a fairly natural choice to work with the engine. LG gave us the freedom to do any game we wanted, so long as it was sci fi RPG. However, they didn't get too upset when we jumped up and down and said, "System Shock 2! System Shock 2!"
The interview also talks about many design issues of System Shock 2, that are, while old to us, very worth reading if you have not been keeping track of the game. Check it out!

    Exclusive Screenshots! Courtesy of Skarz - 1:50pm EST - Dan
Never rains, but it pours, eh? We have 3 totally new, totally exclusive screenshots, given to be by Skarz, the wacked out level designer himself.

Return of the Rumbler The first time we saw this beast, he was barley visible in the shadows. Now we get a full view of this ferocious behemoth!
Hacking Security Systems Security systems and hacking will both be very elaborate in System Shock 2, even more so then they were in SS1.
Steam it up Steam fills the air as the water in a flooded room comes into contact with some hot pipes. This is one of the simpler scripted events we can expect to see.

Not bad, eh? According to Skarz, this stuff is nothing compared to what is yet to come...

    Valuable Information Salvaged - 1st Design Document - 12:30pm EST - Dan
Several nights ago, an anonymous source mailed me what he/she claimed to be a fragment of the very first Shock 2 pitch document, back before Irrational Games & Looking Glass Studios had a deal with EA and the real license to make System Shock 2. The game was called Junction Point. Anyone who had frequently visited the old TriOptimum website would recognize this name as the title of the rumored unofficial sequel to System Shock. Looks like the rumors were right on target. I have since then consulted with my sources at Irrational, and they have verified the authenticity of the document. Though just about all of the specifics have changed, the heart of the concept behind Shock 2 is still very much described with these words.
Design Document #1

Part of Shock’s unique appeal is the fact that it brought the vibe of the Underworld dungeon crawl into a science fiction setting. Primarily, Shock was at heart a real role-playing game, not an action shooter. However, certain members of the press and the gaming public mistook it for a Doom clone, somewhat limiting the product’s commercial success. With Junction Point, we are clearly setting out to make a role-playing game, not only embracing the sense of role-playing that Shock provided, but expanding on it. Hence, the major design precepts of Junction Point are:

Pacing: Slow it down, baby.
Junction Point is paced like an RPG, not a Quake deathmatch. The player will be rewarded for carefully exploring their surroundings, examining items and approaching combat with a plan of action.

Persistence of World: Like Underworld and Shock, the world of Junction Point is open ended and freely traversable.
Junction Point takes place on the cramped decks of the USN heavy cruiser "San Francisco" as it plies its way towards Earth. Citadel Station felt like a real place, with its own sights, sounds and smells. With the technological advances afforded by DromEd, Act/React and LG’s exceptional audio we intend to raise the ante on immersion. As Junction Point is not a mission-based game, he the player will never be pulled out of the environment. They can travel anywhere on the San Francisco that their wits and trigger finger allow them. Objects they leave behind will remain there for the course of the game (unless, of course, somebody else takes them!). Destroyed things remain destroyed and dead things stay dead. This adds powerfully to the notion of immersion, as the player has free run of the environment. Of course, as the player is inserted clandestinely into the San Francisco with no way to get off, they are conveniently confined to our small corner of the universe.

Character Growth: The player character grows, not just their gun collection.
The player character will, of course, obtain a wide array of new weapons, armor, and other goodies through the course of the game. However, she will also grow inside. As she is a burgeoning psionic (see psionics-, below) she will learn new mental techniques in the course of her explorations. She will need to, ummm, experience a certain amount of gameplay to advance her skills. The player will be allowed to focus (apply experience points to) their psionic efforts into various areas, such as suggestion, illusion, telekinesis, etc. The more they focus their efforts in a specific area, the more they improve their skills there.

Persistence of Storyline: Junction Point is not mission-based. It has an overarching storyline broken down into organic "chapters" that often overlap each other.
The game will have an overarching storyline, but sub-missions will organically appear throughout the game. Some threads will block other avenues of gameplay (for instance, a key to a door that must be passed to proceed further in the game) and some threads are presented simultaneously ("repair a shuttle" and "reboot the security network") with each thread leading to its own portion of gameplay. This allows us to allow a player who is stuck in one aspect of exploration to proceed in others (an analog version of multiple mission choices).

Techno-Horror Tone: Junction Point tells a dark tale set in a very dark place.
Shock provided players with a unique tension and suspense much more akin to Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil than Doom. Junction Point also is set in a suspenseful futuristic horror setting and introduces a number of themes and game mechanics that support this vibe. The storyline is a moody cross between System Shock and Apocalypse Now.

Desperate Gunplay: Like Shock, the combat in Junction Point will be quick and decisive.
Most PC shooters are essentially games of attrition. Players can take dozens of rounds of shotgun shells, grenades, and BFG fire before they even start feeling woozy. The gunplay in Shock was a much more decisive affair; it was crucial to get the drop on your foe and fire on him before he knew you were there. Junction Point will adhere to this style of gunplay. The player will be fairly vulnerable to gunfire and ammo will be difficult to come by. They will have to take their foes by surprise, make ample of use of cover and make every shot count. To reinforce this, the player will be rewarded for careful shooting by the fact that shots to critical body parts (head, heart, etc.) will do more damage than other hits. With non-human and robotic enemies, the player will have to find out the best places to hit!

Isolation: The protagonist of Shock was a vulnerable isolated character.
This leveraged the horror/suspense of the story and provided a number of useful design tools. JP will continue the theme that the player is alone in a hostile world and that their only contact with friendly forces is non-interactive in-game cut-scenes (see ghosts below) which play a similar role to the logs and emails of Shock.

When thinking about what you have just read here, remember that this information is not only very old, and outdated, but most of the details have indeed been changed. The concepts, however, remain the same.

    Tuesday - 1.26.1999
    Chat With System Shock 2 Lead Designer - 8:30pm EST - Dan
On Sunday, January 31st, 9:00pm Eastern Standard Time, Ken Levine, System Shock 2 Lead Designer, will be in the #system`shock`2 IRC channel. Don't miss it!

Never been to the chatroom before? Here's how. You can join our System Shock 2 IRC Channel at any time. To connect, use any popular IRC client, such as pIRCh or mIRC, and log on to server polaris.starchat.net and join #System`Shock`2. This Channel is hosted by the The StarChat Network.

    New ScreenShots Galore!! - 1:20pm EST - Dan
The wait is over once more! We have five, yes, FIVE (5), new System Shock 2 screenshots! These were an exclusive GameGrab from GameCenter.

Wield yea a CannonEnemy deconstruction sometimes require big tools, and this shocker's packin a hefty one!
Battle that Mutant! A not so friendly familiar face gets up close and personal.
Big Badda-Boom! Grenades are definitely making a comeback, a big bright pretty comeback!
Unlucky Victim This does not look like a lab accident.
Remember... Our favorite Screenshot!

Along with the screenshots, Gamecenter also had the following bits of detail on the 3 character classes.

System Shock 2 is an RPG with an in-game character generation system--your character develops as you make decisions along the way, rather than right at the beginning.

If you decide to specialize in Cyber-Tech skills, you can hack into systems, repair damaged computers, and research advanced technologies.

If you choose Psionic skills, you can gain the edge by Electro-dampening your cybernetic enemies, or using your Enrage power to turn them against each other.

Those who go for Weapons skills will be able to configure, modify, and repair all sorts of weapons and use a variety of ammo types, such as armor-piercing, dum dum, and incendiary.

This should be enough to keep us happy, for a little while anyway. I can foresee plenty of action on the shock 2 forum very soon.

    Monday - 1.25.1999
    Sharky Extreme Previews SS2 - 1:00pm EST - Dan
Sharkey Extreme has done a "First Glimpse" at System Shock 2. As I've come to expect, the preview doesn't say a thing that we don't already know. And once again, yes, I am forced to correct an error in their article:
You will need to master the Advanced Psionic Powers System...
The key word at fault is: need. The developers have already made it clear to us that developing your psionic skills in System Shock 2 is every bit as optional as learning runic magic in Ultima Underworld. It is in no way required to win the game. (But you will miss out on quite a bit!)

That aside, it is a very good article! I am pleased with how they sufficiently hyped this game. Interested in checking out this short article? Thanks to Ben & Lars for reporting this.

    Saturday - 1.23.1999
    More Fan Fiction - 10:40pm EST - Dan
We're on a roll here. Another, yes, one more fan story. Written by Andre Frey, and submitted to us by Nick Price. This time the story is told in the form of logs, describing the events directly after the closing of System Shock, and gives us a unique idea of how SHODAN may have escaped destruction. It's very good, just like the others. Stop in and read it when you have the free time.

    Apparition & Ghost - What's the Difference? - 10:40pm EST - Dan
At one point, it was mentioned that there would be apparitions in System Shock 2. This statement caused a great deal of controversy and confusion, for when people heard "apparition", they immediately thought "ghost". After all, in Thief, the creature dubbed "apparition" is indeed a ghost. To clear things up, let me assure you that Shock 2 has no ghosts.

To clarify, a ghost is a character. The apparitions are not characters, they are events. They are visions, sort of like ESP or clairvoyance, which rely on your Psionic skill for reception.

    GameCenter got it Wrong Again - 10:30pm EST - Dan
I heard this from my sources at Irrational. GameCenter got it wrong again. Polito is not a voice that guides you along. Oh yes, and they are very tight lipped over who "she" really is.

    Wednesday- 1.20.1999
    A Quick Note on Multiplayer - 2:40pm EST - Dan
I'm not sure if this is new news or not...
While nothing is settled yet, we are currently looking at 4 players max. Saves should be allowed. -- Robert "Xemu" Fermier System Shock 2 Lead Programmer
I suppose this means that all players must be present to load. Would anyone like to clarify?

    Another Addition to the Fan Fiction - 2:00pm EST - Dan
We once again have a new submission to the SS2 FanWorks section. Another very nice story, by George Shannon . Once again, we look at the Hacker's possible future, and this time, it looks like he's gotten involved with... foochball? Yes, I said foochball. Go read it for yourself!

    GameCenter Preview Changed - Who is Polito? - 1:30pm EST - Dan
As I went back to re-read the GameCenter preview, I noticed something remarkable. They had changed on of thier statements. Instead of saying that SHODAN guides you along, they say:
... and Polito, a character you first encounter as a voice, will guide you on your way.
Now we all get to wonder who, or what, this Polito is!

    Tuesday- 1.19.1999
    Reduced Depth & Complexity?.. Not a Chance! - 10:30pm EST - Dan
Last night I received an e-mail, from an anonymous source, that set to rest some of my puzzlement about the Game Center preview. For one "SHODAN guides you along" is most definitely an inaccurate statement. Also, "... and set [the weapons] to highest damage possible" isn't really accurate. Different weapons and different ammo types are differently effective against different types of enemies. There isn't ever a "do most damage" setting, unless it has a cost in the sense of "burn most ammo" or "be most inaccurate." And of course, the quote, "The reason [the first game] wasn't a commercial success is because it was too deep and complex for some gamers," is not a direct quote from Levine. In fact, he recently clarified this position on the net:
The complexity of the interface of Shock 1 was to some degree of barrier of entry to most players. One of our primary design goals on Shock 2 was to simplify the interface WITHOUT limiting its expressiveness. This was no easy task, believe you me. However, I can say without hesitation that the player can actually do MORE specific actions in Shock 2 in Shock 1. To that, I mean they may:

Walk, run, lean, crouch, manage inventory, drop items, load different types of ammo, install softs, configure cybernetic implants, configure weapons, hack computer, repair tech items, research technology, etc.

I think the primary change we've made is adding mouselook. We believe this is de rigeur in modern 3D fp gaming. However, because the last thing we want to do is alienate the fans of the first game, we have ALSO included a classic Shock mode which interfaces similarly the the first game. In other words, you can play the the game a la Shock 1, with the keyboard controlling movement and the mouse controlling aiming of weapons.

I understand your frustration, esp. given the current trend of PC games out there where the sequel only vaguely resembles the original. However, Shock 2 is not that kind of sequel. On our press tour last week, the most common response from the journalists who loved the first game was "Wow,it really feels like System Shock.". This was the best compliment the team could have received.

System Shock 1 is one of my favorite games of all time. Our design was made with incredible amounts of respect to that classic. In fact, I think we might be dinged for making the game too "deep", because we've re-introduced the character development and growth RPG aspects last seen in Underworld 2.

Ah yes, that sets some concern to rest right there! (On the actual post, he went on to talk about this site, and how good it is a place to get System Shock 2 info. *is proud*)

    New System Shock Fan Story - 7:10pm EST - Dan
An enthusiastic System Shock fan has contributed to our Fanworks section. He has written a very original, very well composed short story, describing the possible events after the conclusion of System Shock. In it, the hacker returns home, to earth, in an attempt to lead a peaceful life, only to make a starting discovery. It was written by Michael Goldsby . I encorage everyone to take a look. If you like it, email Michael and let him know!

    Saturday- 1.16.1999
    System Shock 2 Preview on C-Net's GameCenter - 1:30pm EST - Dan
Looks like we have our first turnout from the press tour. ( I may be mistaken ) C-net's GameCener has a short preview up today, and while it mostly tells us what we already know, id does offer a few small tidbits of good info.
Although the game looks sufficiently complex to us, there are interface elements that demonstrate this ease-of-use philosophy. For instance, pass the cursor over certain objects and text pops up to explain how to use that item. Another ease-of-use feature is that your PDA will give you messages to help you navigate the environment.
Sounds very much like Shock1's autohelp, but maybe taking it a step further.
The team also promises to include some advanced weapons beyond what you'd normally find in Quake. Your inventory will be limited, so you'll have to pick your weapons wisely. And your weapons come with the ability to be modified, repaired, and set to highest damage possible. One unique weapon is actually attached intravenously to your wrist.
This sounds very cool to me! Those wrist mounted "skrills" on Earth Final Conflict are just so spiffy!

A few problems though. This won't be the last preview that will compare SS2 to Half Life, which just shouldn't be done. Also, I'm curious as to why they chose to say,

In System Shock 2, an accident has occurred on your spaceship and most of the people around you are dead. Looking Glass promises that the story line will offer many surprises, but we know that you'll need to find out what happened, and Shodan (a master computer) will guide you on your way.
They make it sound rather dull, don't they. Odd, also, how they said "most" of the people are dead, and that SHODAN "guides you on your way". Hmmmm.....

Read the full article here. Thanks to Lars & CiDcO for reporting this.

    Wednesday- 1.14.1999
    Chat with MSG - System Shock 2 Artist - 7:00pm EST - Dan
It's been great to see things finally picking back up on our IRC Channel. Yesterday we were lucky enough to be visited by Michael "MSG" Swiderek, System Shock 2 2D artist from Irrational Games. Aside from having a great chat, here are a few SS2 info bits we picked up. (The following is not paraphrased. It is a direct cut-&-paste quotation.)
As far as news goes, I don't know what I can say -- I'm sure there'll be some new stuff soon with the press tour. We've been doing a lot of playing this week -- things look pretty good. I haven't yet tried coop, but from what I hear it's coming along.

We're tweaking [the controls & interface] alot -- we plan to get a bunch of people to play different configs and determine from that. But it's all configurable. Anything Thief is capable of, we are too, but Thief has different emphasis, so the gameplay is different (hiding is different). The [user interface] has come a long way, and I think we're coming closer and closer to something great. Hopefully some shots will be going out soon; there were a bunch taken today. You'll see a lot of different stuff. We've changed [the interface] even more -- We've been progressing more towards an aesthetic, so what you saw might have been a sort of "half way" thing.

I think the realistic head on SS2.com is a cool touch.

I've heard the new screenshots will show a new, cool enemy. . . But don't hold me to that. :) ... we have Mark Lizotte doing some stuff [on the enemies], and he worked on the original. . .

One of my favorite things about Thief was the cutscenes -- we're also very lucky to have Dan Thron working on Shock 2. (he did the in-between cutscenes)

To my knowledge, yes [Eric Brosius will be doing the music], and I think Josh Randall, our producer might be doing some, but I don't really know. I've heard that the music will be, "Shock-y." The sound effects are pretty darn cool, from what I've heard. . . I was really impressed with the way they were integrated into the gameplay. . .

I really encourage everyone to try and make it. Even if you don't manage to meet one of the developers, it's still loads of fun chatting with your fellow System Shock enthusiasts. A complete version of this chat log is available here. Interested in learning more about MSG? Take a look at the interview TTLG held with him, and 3 of his co-workers.

    Monday- 1.11.1999
    Watch Those Polys - Creature Polygon Count - 1:40pm EST - Dan
The High or Low Poly thread on our forum has been quite active. The question being, do we prefer many creatures of very simple construction, or few and far between enemies who are very detailed. Ken Levine stepped in last night to clarify a few things.
It's really not so simple a question and perhaps its my fault for phrasing it how I did. We've put a lot of thought into this. Shock 2 has a number of methods for dealing with poly counts. One is the brain dead solution of having a very high poly monster in a sealed off area that you know you won't run into any other monsters in. The other solution is to populate areas of levels with mostly middle poly (numerous) foes and hope you dont' get too many. Then we have a bunch of both low poly and low AI overhead monsters who exhibit more animal behaviors that we can have tons of. Remember, because we have patrolling monsters and dynamically spawned monsters (behaviors few if any other games exhibhit) we never know where the player will be fighting whom.

Compare this to the linear half-life, et al. where everything is carefully stage managed. Because Shock 2 is the game it is, which is to say a very free wheeling, exploratory, you're on your own find the best way to solve the problems kind of game, we pay the price in never knowing WHAT the player is going to be seeing at once.

Which, as you might guess, can be limiting (watch those polys) and amazing (if you've played any other LG game, you know what I mean).

I'm a first hand witness to exactly what he's talking about. I've created some very unique situations in Underworld & Shock, and payed the price with some pretty hefty system slowdowns.

    Sunday- 1.10.1999
    SystemShock2.com's Chatroom Page Open - 11:40pm EST - Dan
The Java Chat Client it not yet available, but I went ahead and set up a page with information on how to reach our IRC Channel, and a link to the IRC Log. This channel has been mostly dead ever since the Holidays, and I'd really like to see a revival of the activities there.

SS2- ChatRoom & Services

    Info on the Press Tour - 8:00pm EST - Dan
Do we have any readers who are a resident of northern California? Just letting you know that the media tour will be located in your area! Yeah, I know, that's a big area. I'll post up any other info when I get it. I learned this through a third party.

    Thursday- 1.7.1999
    New Yet Old System Shock 2 Pics - 10:40pm EST - Saam
Thanks to Harrisben for this tidbit of info. It appears that Gamecenter has "scored" some screenshots of System Shock 2. However, after going there and looking myself, I noticed that they're the same ones we've had in our SS2:\Multimedia Databank all along! So spare yourself the traveling (unless you really love GC!) and take a look at them here locally.

    Coming Soon: "From the Design Doc" - 3:00pm EST - Dan
I received a great letter from Ken Levine this morning.
Congratulations from Irrational Games on the launch of SystemShock2.Com. We're looking forward to some great insight from the fans on this page. Look forward to a new feature on this page, called "From the Design Doc" where Irrational delivers an actual section of the real System Shock 2 design document to your web page."
Sound exciting? I'm excited! Stay tuned!

    More Info on the Press Tour - 3:00pm EST - Dan
We've been informed (via the forum) that the press tour will involve...
... all the major print and net press sources: pc gamer, cgw, pc games, gamespot, etc.
Hopefully everything made public will be available through the web. Of course, this site is the place to watch if you don't feel like hunting the web, or flipping through every gaming magazine at your local bookseller.

You can read the entire thread here.

    Wednesday- 1.6.1999
    NPCs in System Shock 2 - 1:30pm EST - Dan
Every RPG needs non player characters (NPCs), right? System Shock 1 didn't, but then again, it didn't have stats either. System Shock 2 will have stats, but will it have NPCs as well? From the System Shock 2 Forum, I bring you once again comments by Ken.
[NPCs] are a tricky thing in Shock. The key is to make the player feel all alone.
Even if perhaps there are a few NPCs around.
Press tour next week. Many questions will be answered soon.
He loves to tease us with words like "perhaps" and "maybe" or "possibly". For those of you who never played System Shock, one of the most chilling aspects of the game was that you were totally alone in a very hostile environment. Although this concept is not unique to Shock, Shock's Sci-fi horror aspect and atmosphere made this point a very unique experience.

Press tour next week? I can't wait!

You can read the entire thread here.

    Tuesday- 1.5.1999
    Security Alert Levels - 1:30pm EST - Dan
One thing both those two new screenshots have in common is the security alert icon in the upper left corner of the display. Curious as to what this was all about, I went ahead and asked Ken (lead design) on the forum. Here's what he replied.
Oh, that little security alert symbol. Well,there's these little things called security cameras that have four states of awareness. When the camera reaches the highest state, its sets off an alarm. This alarm not only calls bad guys to where you are, it also increases the patrols in the general area.

To counteract this, the savvy tech player can hack into security systems and shut them down for a period of time. However, a badly executed hack might bring down the security forces on the hapless hacker.

One of the many cool high tech sims in Shock 2.

System Shock had cameras, but they were little more then beacons to ensure that the player cover a certain amount of ground on a level before allowing them access to other parts. This system sounds much more elaborate, complex, realistic, and exciting! In a way, this mirrors the way Thief worked. Guards have 4 levels of alertness: Totally oblivious, slightly aroused, search mode, or Fully alert (attacking, sounding alarms, running for help, etc.). I wonder if the cameras in Shock2 will be hidden, like most modern security cameras, or those big camcorder looking things we had before. I hope the security alert comes with flashing red lights and alarm klaxons to make your spine chill and adrenaline flow!

You can read the entire thread here.

    We All Know Jenn is Great - 3:30m EST - Dan
A tribute to the ego of the webmaster, or a co-worker's fond comment?

Jenn is (I think?) the webmaster of LGS's Official SS2 page. If you zoom in (in IE, right click on the image and select [zoom in]) on the display up top (it's ShockWave), you can see very teeny tiny print right in the center. *grins* Nick pointed this out to me.

    Monday - 1.4.1999
    System Shock 2 Fan Works Redesign - 5:50am EST - Dan
What was once the System Shock 2 Fan Stories site has now been the victim of a total overhaul- featuring a new design, new title, new everything. The only thing still the same are those 4 stories, meaning at the moment, it's pretty empty. Even with the addition of two of my sketches, it isn't much. We need more! The growth of this site is totally up to the fans. You can choose to ignore it, and it will die, or contribute, and watch it flourish. I, for one, hope it flourishes. Do you have anything to offer? Send it!

Take me to the Fan Works

    Hot Topic- The Assassin Cyborg & Polygon Count - 3:15am EST - Dan
Ever since the release of the screenshot featuring the return of the Cyborg Assassin, whom we all love to hate, a big discussion on the forums has been: why so low poly count and detail?

It's a valid concern. In Thief: The Dark Project, the creature poly count was, while not terribly bad, definitely sub par, and the texture quality was debatable (I happen to think that it was very, very good). From this early glimpse, it looks as though SS2 will be going the same way... or will it? Thankfully we have Ken Levine, production leader, to quash our fears...

I certainly appreciate the posts. The assassin is not done yet, there are some crtical elements that I can't talk about yet that you 're not seeing. It will be cool.

Take our word for it: we're not deliberately holding back on the polygons.It's always a fine choice between performance and graphics and I think a bad framerate can kill a game. Our design allows combats between the player and quite a few enemies at one time. Would you rather have fewer enemies and better looking ones or more enemies? The trade off really is that simple. That question isn't rhetorical, I really want to know what people think.

In addition, remember, you're not seeing the cool motion captures working when you're looking at the foes, so keep that in mind. It's much less than half the pictures.

If I had my way, I wouldn't want to show ANY of the graphics until the game was ready to ship and everything is done, finished and final. You ever been to a rehearsal of a play months before it is performed? We're still in the "rehearsal stage". But I know people want to be intouch with the development of the game.

Thanks again for your thoughts.


So what'll it be, do you suppose? Should SS2 have high detailed enemies a few at a time, or hordes of low detailed enemies? Let's hear your opinions on our discussion forum.

    System Shock 2 & Half Life: How Do They Compare? - 3:50am EST - Dan
Half life is undeniably the most successful first person shooter since Doom itself. (funny hearing me say that.. I couldn't stand Doom) SS2 and HL have many parallels. Both are science fiction first person games, where the main character is an intellectual, rather then a brute, and have a strong emphasis on storytelling and immersion. Some reviewers even compared HL to the original System Shock.

So what will set SS2 apart? Will SS2 be a *gasp* HL clone? Absolutely NOT!

First and foremost, HL is a shooter, and SS2 is a role playing game. That very distinction sets them worlds apart. To describe this further, we once again have Ken Levine, Lead Designer.

First off, I think Half Life is a brilliant product. I played it all the way through and loved it.

However, it is a very very different product from Shock 2. Half life is more like interactive Pirates of the Caribbean, a very stage managed, linear experience. That linear experience is incredible and entertaining. There is little room for experimentation. In order for you to see all those cool sequences, the designers had to have a pretty good idea of the player's position, loadout and state at any one time.

System Shock 2 is less focused on presentational elements (though we have quite a few Half life style in engine cinematic sequences)and much more centered on providing a world with incredible depth of simulation and interaction. We want to provide the player with a nearly endless variety of tools (both from a weapons/tech items perspective and a character skills perspective) and let them approach problems as they see fit.

I remember the first time I played Ultima Underworld. I was being pursued by a bunch of goblins. I was in bad shape, near death, fleeing down a hallway, slinging stones towards my tormentors. All of a sudden, I ran smack dab into a spider's lair, and there I was, locked in a pitched 3 way battle. The designer's never intended for this to happen. I created the event through my actions and it made that moment unforgettable. That vibe, that feeling of uniqueness is what Shock 2 (and all LG games) are about and that's what we are striving to provide the tools to make happen.

Half life is about expert presentation. Shock 2 is about ultimate improvisation.

That clears things up quite nicely, don't you think? Situtations like the one Ken described are part of the reason why I still consider Ultima Underworld I to be my favorite game of all time.

    Sunday - 1.3.1999
    TTLG and FGN Present SystemShock2.com - 11:40pm EST - Dan
Welcome one and all to the newest shrine to the gaming excellence on the web: The System Shock 2 (SS2) news, info, and media headquarters. SystemShock2.com is now operational. This site is produced (that is, constructed, maintained, and generally masterminded) by Through the LooingGlass, long time provider of news and information concerning the games of Looking Glass Studios (The guys making SS2). And we (Dan Todd, Saam Tariverdi, et al.), plan on making this site every bit as informative and pleasing as TTLG has been, and continues to be. We are a member of the Future Games Network (FGN), the fastest growing new gaming site network on the web, and as such, be entitled to all the rights and privileges thereto, such as discussion forums, chart rooms, and other web services (stuff that webmasters get to enjoy, and every one else never notices!)

Okay, enough rambling. Posted below is a quick tour, and below that is a brief history of what has happened with SS2 thus far. I'll post up some SS2 news as soon as some pops up! Enjoy!

    A Quick Tour of Our New Site - 11:40pm EST - Dan
In the upper left corner, as many of you have most likely already noticed, is my artist conception of SS2's villainess, SHODAN. Below that, we have the main menu.

Info Data.Node - If you have been keeping track of SS2 for the past months, then you should be familiar with TTLG's SS2FAQ. Well guess what. That's it. It's not even a mirror, it's the same site, exactly the same as before. Our esteemed maintainer, La0s, just got back from vacation, so there won't be any updates for a few more days.

Media Databank - Your one stop shop for all the released SS2 graphics, screenshots, and official artwork. Once again, exactly what we have at TTLG. Pretty empty at the moment, and we all hope that will change soon.

Columns / Press - Finally, something new! Well, not really. This is where we will post up all of our exclusive articles and interviews and whatnot, and links to online previews and such. At the moment we only have one interview, and, well, we are still waiting for a gaming mag site to post up a preview of this game. At the moment it just links to the TTLG Press page, but that will be chaning shortly, most likely. Stay tuned, of course.

Discussion - Perhaps our greatest claim to fame, the place where the SS2 designers and fans can meet to discuss this game. Ken Levine, the head honcho in charge of SS2 stuff, visits this forum, leaving comments and answering questions, at least once ever two days or so. You can see the obvious advantage to participating in this, I hope.

Fan Works - This is where you fans come in. We already have a few stories, and pieces of art, and we want more. You guys (yes, fans, I'm talking to you) need to submit them, so we can show 'em off for you. he world of System Shock has some incredible room for fictional creation, so do it! Right now the page is an exact replica of the SS2 FanStories Site from TTLG. It will get a total overhall shortly.

Chatroom - Off-line at the moment. Soon it will link you to the FGN Java chatroom (I know what you're thinking.. Java chat? They usually stink. Not this one.), as well as info on how to get to TTLG's SS2 chatroom (that's #system`shock`2 on Polaris.starchat.net), and a link to that channel's Log.

Down below we see links to SS2's Terrible Trio, the developers and Publisher. Further down is our neat little counter thing. (I confess, the fist 100 hits or so are me) Then we have... okay, this stuff is obvious....

Back up top, there are three well labeled lists. In case you disagree with me as to how well they are labeled, I shall explain them. (Some would argue that I just enjoy typing, but seeing as I haven't written any novels yet, I tend to disagree... where was I?) Top News is a list of links to the news post that we feel are extremely noteworthy. As you can see, the only one currently there is the news of our opening. Yes, this is indeed extremely noteworthy. Next is the Recent Articles. Just as our Columns / Press section provides a complete list of articles, this menu post the ones that are the most recent. Latest Updates lets us know the dates when the SS2 sites, like the official one, Data.Node, or the Media Databank, are updated.

That pretty much covers it. If anyone is still scratching their heads in confusion, wondering where they are and how they got here, just click here and all shall become clear.

    System Shock 2 - What's Happened Thus Far - 11:40pm EST - Dan
Around the middle of 1998, rumor was heard that a sequel, perhaps unofficial, was being made for System Shock, the 1994 action/RPG, science fiction/horror classic.

Then, at E3, it became official. System Shock 2 was in development by Looking Glass Studios (LGS) and Irrational Games Inc. (IGI) (a company formed by ex-lglass people, may of which worked on System Shock 1 (SS1)), and will be published by Electronic Arts (EA) (who own Origin, the people who published SS1). Excitement and rejoicing abounded, and when the dust settled, TTLG was serving LGS's long time fans daily news (well, at least the days when there was news, the reported it) on SS2.

And well, SS2 is now under development. But just what is SS2 about anyway? Well, what better way to describe it then with the official press release.

* * *

Cambridge, MA, September 21, 1998 - Looking Glass Studios, a leading entertainment software developer, today announced preliminary details about System Shock 2, its forthcoming 3D science fiction role-playing game. System Shock 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to Looking Glass' System Shock(TM)™, a groundbreaking game which was ranked the sixth best game of all time in the October 1998 issue of PC Gamer. Co-developed by Looking Glass Studios and Irrational Games, a development studio comprised of former Looking Glass Studios employees and members of the original System Shock development team, System Shock 2 is being co-published by Looking Glass Studios and Electronic Arts(TM).

System Shock 2 utilizes an enhanced version of Looking Glass Studios' proprietary Dark Engine, which is first being used in Thief: The Dark Project™, to create an immersive role-playing world rendered in 16-bit color with colored and dynamic lighting models. The game will also contain advanced role playing features including character generation and growth, an elegant inventory system, a compelling science fiction world to explore and a unique multiplayer mode.

"Since its release in 1994, gamers have been clamoring for a sequel to System Shock," said Paul Neurath, managing director of Looking Glass Studios. "System Shock was ahead of its time in terms of both gameplay and technology. For System Shock 2, we're once again incorporating cutting-edge technologies and gameplay elements to create a role-playing game that maintains the integrity of the original while continuing the Looking Glass tradition of being ahead of the curve."

* * *
That dosn't really tell us much. How about a few blurbs for the LGS site.
  • Sequel to the award-winning original System Shock, judged by PC Gamer this year as the Sixth Best PC Game of all time.

  • Incredibly Rich Science Fiction Role-Playing Game System- Detailed Character Generation and Growth, Inventory and Equipping, Traits. System Shock 2 proves that real RPGs can have incredible 3D technology.

  • Advanced Psionic Powers System- Distract and confound your foes with a dazzling variety of Psi-powers such as Cyber-Psi, Cryrokinesis and Force Wall.

  • The most detailed weapons simulation in any first person game: modify, repair and set your weapons to do the most damage possible. Choose your ammo wisely…your foes will.

  • Unique cooperative multiplayer mode for up to 4 players.

  • Hack security systems, ship's replicators and sensitive data access panels, but watch your step. One false move can drop you in a world of hurt.

  • Incredible 3D engine featuring 16 bit color, colored lighting, variable translucency objects, AI's that can patrol and alert each other to danger and stunning particle effects.

  • A groundbreaking, easy to use interface that compromises none of the depth of the System Shock experience.
  • Sound exciting, eh? Want to know more? Of course you do! Well then here's the link to the Data.Node, and more SS2 info then you most likely know what to do with. Dig in!