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    Tuesday - 7.20.1999
    Gobs of Good Info From PC Paradox - 11:10pm EST - Dan
What the PC Gamer preview lacked in content, it made up in screenshots. This preview does just the opposite. Here's the most complete summary of the Shock 2 back-story to date:
The near destruction of Earth by SHODAN sends shockwaves throughout the world. The events on Citadel station lead to a general rebellion against the government by a mega-conglomerate. TriOptimum, the corporation that created SHODAN falls nearly into ruin. The Unified National Nominate (The UNN), a paramilitary Junta, steps in to fill the power vacuum.

Thirty five years later, Nobel Laureate Marie Delacroix, working under a grant from the dwindling resources of the skeletal TriOptimum corporation, publishes preliminary research findings on a faster than light mechanism. Hungry to get their hands on this technology, the UNN allows TriOp to develop a prototype. The unit performs successfully and work begins on the first FTL starship, the "Von Braun."

The UNN will not allow TriOp to undertake a mission, however, unless an element of the military is attached. To that end, the UNN "Rickenbacker", a heavy destroyer, is literally tethered to the Von Braun. The mission is launched in early 2114.

A few months into its historical journey, the situation is deteriorating. Tension is growing between the civilian elements of the Von Braun and their military counterparts on the Rickenbacker. Things are almost coming to a head when something remarkable happens: The ship receives a distress beacon from the surface of Canopus 5, hundreds of millions of miles outside of colonized space.

A team is sent to investigate the beacon. However, when they return, William Bedford Diego, Captain of the Rickenbacker (and son of Edward Diego) orders an entire deck of the Von Braun cleared of all personnel.

A week later, the players awake from cryogenic sleep to discover that they've been implanted with military grade cybernetic implants. The surgery has destroyed their memory of recent events…They remember neither going in for the surgery, nor what has happened since. They soon realize, however, that something terrible has happened aboard the Von Braun.. They find guidance in both the helpful voice of a surviving crewmember and the logs and emails from those who were not so lucky.

Shadows envelop the decks of the Von Braun, and strange shapes lurk in the darkness. The ships' defenses act as executioner to their former masters for the crime of humanity. And behind it all is the cold voice of a virtual nightmare thought long dead….

Sounds nice, eh? Here's a huge list of cool stuff you will find in the game:
Pistol: Developed by TriOptimum's military division, the Talon M2A3 .45 caliber pistol is a standard issue sidearm provided to all UNN military personnel. After 23 years in service, the weapon has been designed to accept a number of kinds of ammunition, including the standard steel-jacketed rounds, uranium tipped armor piercing rounds and even a slug injected with a compressed napalm mixture.

Psi Amp: Developed by Esper Industries, a critical branch of TriOps military R&D division, this controversial device allows psionically abled individuals to amplify and project their powers into the world. Before the development of the Psi Amp, Psi Powers were mostly detectable in a lab environment. The Amp contains and inhibits the normal diffusion problems inherent in Psi phenomena. The amp also allows the user to effectively channel their innate Psi powers to a number proscribed effects. This device caused furor in the Psi community, primarily because of its obvious military applications, but also because of the Amps tendency to define Psi powers along a few specific (and generally utilitarian) axes.

Stasis Field Generator: An experimental device, originally developed as an effective, non narcotic method to both tranquilize and immobilize patients undergoing major medical procedures. However, the military and security utility quickly became apparent to the TriOptimum executive corps. The generator can essentially freeze in place a target for a variable period of time. However, the stasis field uses a lot of power and its effect greatly decreases with distance.

Laser Rapier Mark IV: The Mark IV laser rapier is an advanced variation on the units first developed by TriOp before the Citadel crisis. The Mark IV consumes less power and is considerably more deadly. It has no particular flaws except its lack of a ranged attack and its relative expense to produce.

EMP Rifle: The EMP rifle's origins lie back in the 20th century, where it was discovered that a residual effect of nuclear explosions was the total disruption of radio and electrical signals. Scientists were able to isolate the magnetic pulse that caused this disruption and incorporate it into a weapon that was devastatingly effective against droids, cyborgs and robots. However, it has absolutely no effect against non-cybernetic organic targets.

Light Armor: The Dartech class 1 is a complex mesh of Kevlar and substrate steel mesh that provides lightweight, marginally effective firepower stoppage. The armor is not only designed to resist penetration, but also to disperse the kinetic energy of the impact throughout its frame. Dartech is the arm of TriOps' military branch that generally supplies the poorer belligerents, such as terrorists and local militias. While it's better than nothing, more than one wearer has met an unpleasant end while wearing the DarTech class 1.

Hack Soft: This piece of software was developed by a rogue group of former TriOp employees who grew disgusted with the secrecy maintained both by their employer and UNN security forces. While officially illegal, this soft has been mass-replicated and rapidly disseminated to virtually every corner of patrolled space. When equipped, it enables one to hack into many computers aboard ship, permitting the user to access restricted areas, shut down security systems, alter replicator databases to allow purchases of previously restricted items, and execute a variety of other nasty tricks.

Rad Patch: Kathryn Delacroix, the chief engineer aboard the Von Braun, was well aware of the imperfections inherent in the rushed development of the ship. Notably, the coolant system of the ship had a chronic cracking problem, leading to the widespread leakage of hazardous materials. While these leaks are easily detected and usually quickly fixed, she demanded that an excess supply of ChemCal rad hypos be distributed throughout the ship. Unlike most of her cautions regarding conditions on the Von Braun, this one was actually heeded. Most effective when used shortly after the hazardous event, anti-radiation hypos inject small amounts of an agent commercially known as NukeTralizer. This agent radically accelerates the half-life breakdown of many potentially hazardous compounds.

Replicator: The ValueRep Series 12 Replicator is 'One Stop Shopping' at it's most literal. Replicators use state of the art fiber-helix long strand protein to synthesize almost anything the customer could demand. Essentially, the Series 12 culls a huge database of protein codes to item match user selection. The replicator then uses a variable number of nanite machines to create the desired product. The Series 12 is a consumer version of the Replicator and therefore collects nanites from the customer to facilitate the process. ValueRep (itself the primary consumer products brand of TriOptimum) has made a small fortune out of illegally engineering its replicator database to 'overcharge' customers, skimming a residual amount of nanites in the transaction. While each Series 12 contains a database for each citizen that determines what types of items they may legally replicate, these devices are notoriously hackable, and are therefore nearly single-handedly responsible for the proliferation of firearms in such slum sprawls as Los Angeles, Ramsey and Vladivostok.

Soda Can: Invented in the early part of the 20th century, soda was created as a refreshing beverage, a mixture of carbonated water and corn syrup. For such a trivial seeming product, soda and similar beverages fueled the rise of the first two mega-corporation, the names of which are illegal to publish by UNN Information Ordnance #234/fd34. Net rumors suggest that these two corporations' market skirmishes turned into physical ones, promulgated by the destruction of offshore bottling plants by hired mercenary squads in 2023.

Nanite: Efficient Nanite based technology was introduced after a series of radical experiments at the University of Masala in '78. Nanites are sub-atomic machines that are capable of being programmed to perform a nearly infinite variety of tasks, from forming themselves in a replication grid to form into arbitrary objects, to fighting bacteria and viruses in the human bloodstream. In other words, nanites (combined with replication tech) created the "every material". The UNN Currency Redefinition Act of '82 opened up the door for moving financial transactions to a strict Nanite basis.

"Stat" Diagnostic Bench: Hospital recuperation has taken on speed and comfort with the introduction of this device, modeled after a military test unit. Introduced by MedQuest, a division of the scientific arm of TriOp, the bed is designed with special nanite based polymers which alter their position and temperature to best suit the patient. These beds can monitor medication, alert staff to emergencies, and record and cyber diagnose most forms of physiological and psychological distress. When the Van Wyck Medical subsystem is attached, the med bench can also perform advanced medical procedures.

Protocol Droid: The RD/19 protocol series can be easily modified for a wide variety of uses, from personal assistant to chambermaid to registered nurse. They are fairly inexpensive to produce and are therefore extremely widespread both on earth and extra-planetary locations. The RD/19 exhibits a fairly serious design flaw, however, in that it's internal power plant is both cheaply made and inherently unstable; in rare cases, the unit has been known to combust spontaneously. While this problem has been addressed through mechanical workarounds, a fairly knowledgeable tech with bad intentions could restore the droid to its potentially dangerous condition.

Security Camera: With development split between the military and the consumer divisions of TriOp, the Sharpeye security camera was plagued with developmental problems from the start. Immobile and extremely fragile, these cameras provide security forces with images of activity throughout the Von Braun and the Rickenbacker. Trans Digital Video is transmitted to the security sub-systems where it is analyzed for a variety of pre-programmed hostile signatures. If a hostile is detected, an alarm is sounded and security forces are sent to the area to investigate. These devices perform with a near legendary shoddiness, however, and intruders are more likely to escape notice on the first sweep of the camera.

Weapons Platform Turret: Deemed excessive by TriOp, the UNN demanded that security turrets be installed in key places on the Von Braun. As the Von Braun was the first faster than light capable craft, it would also be travelling outside of patrolled space and be therefore vulnerable to attack and/or boarding by unknown assailants. What made the TriOp execs and the crew of the Von Braun uncomfortable, however, was the fact that the control codes to the turret's AI structures were only available to the military crew of the Rickenbacker, although numerous instances were documented of the turrets being sent offline by anonymous hacks. This unit is armed with the AM534/3 slug throwing unit. While deadly, the standard ammunition in the unit has minimal armor piercing capabilities (most likely as a precaution if one needed to be shut down by armored UNN marines).

Repair Bot: The R9/ORU Optimized Repair Unit (known as \"The Beaver\"), developed by CyberSci, a division of TriOp's scientific arm is primarily intended for industrial use. It is equipped with a 50,000 amp laser unit which is intended to facilitate small repair jobs in both atmospheric and zero G conditions. These units are repeatedly called upon to maintain and repair circuitry, ships systems and engineering components. The ORU is criticized for its minimal centralized computing power and is therefore often controlled by a nearby, independent processing unit.

That's quite a nice gob of info, eh? That's just a sample, the preview has much much more! Read it! While you're at it, check out the rest of PC Paradox, one of our esteemed FGN affiliates!

    SShock2 Preview at PC Gamer Australias - 10:30pm EST - Dan
The Australian branch of the popular PC Gamer magazine has posted up a brief preview of System Shock 2. Here is some vaguely new information:
To increase skills you'll need cyber modules, which are obtained in one of two ways: Dr. Polito transmits them to your personal computer as a reward whenever you complete a certain sub-quest, or they can be found throughout the ships—your adventure takes place on both the Von Braun and Rickenbacker. (I can't help but think that, if the good doctor had given me all of the modules at the beginning of the game, a lot of trouble could have been avoided!)

Once again you'll find yourself up against a rabid super-computer (XERXES) that has taken control of the ship and all of its mutated crew. Beware: SHODAN is mixed up in all of this, but you'll have to discover how it all fits together. Your investigations are aided by the crew logs you discover, the research you complete, and the ghosts or psychic emanations that are the result of coming to terms with your new neural wear.

The preview talks about many things we already knew, but phrases them in new ways. It's well worth the read! The preview can be reached from here. Of course, as always, the things that really shine are the screenshots!

Make-up Remover Too Strong? - 640x480, 76 K
Yes, another image of a Mid-wife, once again with the skin of her face gone. I do believe that we are also seeing a new gun here.

Is this Glass Bullet-Proof? - 640x480, 72 K
I do believe that we've seen this scene before in a different screenshot. At any rate, nothing new to see here.

A Very Full Inbox - 640x480, 160 K
It looks like Dr. Polito & the player have been in quite a bit of contact. Those message subject lines are rather interesting.

A Bird's Eye View - 640x480, 80 K
This is just a birds-eye-view of a rather messy scene.

A Perfect Shot - 640x480, 90 K
Another Once-Grunt about to bite the dust. Ah well, they are a dime a dozen.

No Longer a Once-Grunt - 640x480, 92 K
Oh no! It looks like we can't call them Once-Grunts anymore! This screenshot shows them labeled as "Hybrids"!

Hybrids Like Their New Name - 640x480, 107 K
This Onc- err... Hybrid is so happy that he has a new name, he are trying to show his love with blood!

You Can't Help Me, Doc, You're Dead Too! - 640x480, 105 K
Here is another example of an apparition in action. These are not ghosts, but the psionic imprints of dead people which you can detect with your psi-amp. They are re-enacting an important event.

The Other Big Blue - 640x480, 139 K
The preview made Xerxes sound like another villain. Oh my, just what we need! I wonder if Xerxes stands for anything...

An Unfriendly Green Mist - 640x480, 90 K
Radiation will harm you if you stay in it for too long, without proper protection.

A Better Automap! - 640x480, 180 K
This is a very nice view of the very nice automap! Spoiler haters will want to steal clear of this one.

And there you have it. Another fresh dose of SS2 excitement concluded.

    Shock 2 Photos from E3... Sorta... - 9:00pm EST - Dan
Our friend George Shannon sent us some photos of the SS2 booth at E3 this year. They don't show much, but here they are anyway, and here is George with the descript:
There are two of the booth, they kind of go together. Two are of the booth itself, with the huge System Shock logo beside the computer desks. Sorry about my finger. :>

Josh Randall is in one of these, he's in the middle, explaining details to someone, and looks like he has the TV balanced on his head.

The other (smaller) picture needs work. I wanted to get a picture of the big flatscreen monitor showing a movie with SHODAN talking. Unfortunately either the flash ruined the shot or the monitor isn't made for camera shots. You can sort of see it, you may want to work on the monitor content yourself, if you want to. I might fiddle with it, if you're busy, cause I thought I timed the shot well, heh.

Thanks anyway, George! I tried to fiddle around with the image of the monitor to no avail. Here they are again.

    Shock2 Recommended System Revealed - 9:00pm EST - Dan
We were finally able to get a statement from LGS regarding the minimum & recommended system specs for SS2. They are, as follows:
- 200 Mhz Pent (266+ recommended)
- 32 Megs of RAM (64+ recommended)
- 4 MB D3D Accelerator Card (8MB+ recommended)
- around 250 MB disk space
Of course you will also need things like a CD-drive, keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

    Multiplayer - "To Be Determined" - Is a Patch! - 8:50pm EST - Dan
I heard it just today. System Shock 2 will not support multiplayer out of the box! You will have to download the m-player support via a patch off the LGS website. The patch is slated to be released on the 12th or 13th, so you shouldn't have to wait too long for it after SS2 is released, on the 12th. I'm not quite sure why they are doing it this way, but hey, there it is.

    Thursday - 7.08.1999
    Gamespot UK Previews System Shock 2.... Again! - 7:50pm EST - Dan
While info bits have been flying around the forum like mad, and me unfortunately occupied with other nagging issues in my life, (and other websites), this site hasn't seen as much action as it should. While half the people, I know, cry out to stop the spoilers, I know that the other half cry out for more and more new info. With 34 days left until the release date promised by retailers (but never the developer!) you'd think that now would be the time for the most new news & info to be happening! Let me remind everyone, that System Shock 2 is a game that you discover a bit at a time. The more you know now, the less you have to discover. So it's not really surprising that the dev team, & producers, & publishers, & beta testers have kept their lips mostly shut (with the exception of EvilSpirit). They all don't want to spoil any of the surprises! I agree with that. I wish I didn't know half the things I know about this game. But, oh well. Back to topic, Gamespot UK has a preview of System Shock 2 up, (what is this, your third one?) and surprise, surprise, they tell us nothing new! From my POV, anyway, since I pretty much know everything that has been publicized... hehehe.
Ever since HAL terrorised the Jupiter bound astronauts in 2001, maniac computers have been the stuff of Sci-fi legend. There's nothing quite as chilling as a cold, implacable computerised foe to set gamers' pulses racing and one of the finest examples of the genre was Looking Glass Technologies' System Shock. Now after an almost unforgivable interval of five years, a sequel has materialised on the horizon and the early indications are that System Shock II could well be another Sci-fi classic.
Bravo! Well said! You can read the rest of this SS2 preview here.

    Saturday - 7.03.1999
    Types of Ammo? - 8:00pm EST - Dan
System Shock 2 will have the most complex weapons system ever seen in a 1st person game. One faction of this system is the large variety of ammo types at your disposal. Here's Ken with a brief list of some ammo types in the game:
Yes, there's a number of energy dependent weapons. Not only do they have to be recharged, but some can be modified to hold larger charges and your maintenance skill affects how efficient you are using them, yielding an even larger charge. Here are the ammo family types in Shock 2:
1) Ballistic rounds (armor piercing, standard, anti personnel, etc.)
2) Grenades (frag, timed, emp, etc.)
3) Energy (energy stays in an internal battery on each weapon locally. you can recharge at energy stations or use various psi powers or portable batteries you find in the world to help)
4) Prisms- Used for the more advanced energy based weapons, these are used in a more traditional fashion (expended like ammo)
5) Annelid weapons (exotics)- These actually use bioorganic matter that the player has to collect in the game. The matter is toxic, so the player must locate specially shielded beakers to collect the matter.

Of course, there's also psi powers which require psi energy to use. Psi energy can be replenished a number of different ways.
And people were worried that they were gonna "dumb down" System Shock 2. Silly people worry to much!

    Radio Interview With Ken Levine in Mp3 - 1:15pm EST - Dan
"Tech Radio," is a truly awesome 3-hour, interactive radio talk show heard on 106.7-FM WJFK, one of the top-rated FM stations in the Washington DC metro area. Recently they held a 15 minute long interview with Ken Levine, talking about non-other then System Shock 2. Jeff, one of the talk-show heads, was kind enough to send me an mp3 of the show. You can now download and listen to this 8 meg file! Although if you have been keeping up with the news on this site, you won't learn anything new, I still highly recommend listening to it. It was very exciting to actually listen, rather then read, to a group of people who are truly psyched about this game! Download it now!

If you'd rather have it in Real Audio format, click here.

    Friday - 7.02.1999
    What's Coming From SS1? - 4:40pm EST - Dan
Ken Levine spilled the beans on what specific things SS1 fans will find familiar in SS2.
Specific hings returning from Shock 1:
Rapier- yes
Diego- sort of
Assassins- Yes
And a few other big, incredible, yummy things that you're just gonna have to wait and see...

Shock 1 fans will not be disappointed.

I have a vauge idea of what the yummy stuff will be, but don't want to start rumors or give spoliers, so I keep mouth shut. Also note that the SS2 demo is being worked on as you read this. It's gonna be a heafty download.

    Thursday - 7.01.1999
    Message From a Happy Developer - 11:30pm EST - Dan
I got a very happy email from the SS2 dev team member most of you know as Matt:
Just wanted to drop you a line about SS2. Since we are at the end of the project, I've had a few days where I've been sitting around waiting for bugs. So to occupy my time, I've been playing the game and I can sum it up in two words - FUN and ADDICTIVE! I don't want to give away any details that haven't been discussed but it's the most fun I've had in a game in a long time. I admit that it seems a little weird. You might think that the last thing I'd want to do is play the game I've been working on for a year but I can't help myself. I can't wait to start chatting with you guys once the game comes out. There are so many different approaches to take and strategies to use, it's fun playing the game to see how your choices affect how you approach the game. It seems like I play the game for 15 minutes then go tell some one what I cool thing I just did/happened to me. Well, that's it for now.
Arge!! Still over a month to wait!!