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    Monday - 6.28.1999
    Screenshot of Brian Norris - 7:30pm EST - Dan
GA-Source was good enough to send me a screenshot of Brian Norris, the man who won the "Get Killed By SHODAN" contest, as he will appear in the game. I wonder if they also have his face on a dead body, or if it's just in the log... Here's the screenshot.

    Finally, a SS2 Mag Ad! - 1:00pm EST - Dan
I've finally found a System Shock 2 ad in a magazine (Computer Gaming World). It's a 2 page ad, with SHODAN's face on the left, and text w/ screens on the right. The right page has the SS2 logo (very cool) on the top, the text "She doesn't need to use her body to get what she wants... she's got yours." below it in large font, then three new small dark screenshots with caption, and a paragraph of text below that.

Take a look at the SS2 Ad

Hopefully it will catch many an eye.

    Brian Norris Has Been Killed By SHODAN! - 1:00pm EST - Dan
Brian Norris of St. Louis, MO, is the winner of the System Shock 2 - Get Killed By SHODAN contest. I don't know weather to congratulate you or not, Brian.. :) Brian will have his name and face appear on a log entry, and his face on a corpse.

    Thursday - 6.24.1999
    Useful Info-bits from TTLG Forums - 12:15pm EST - Dan
I decided that it was about time to scour the Shock 1&2 forum at TTLG Forums for all the good bits of info the dev team has been dropping there. Here is what I came up with. (The questions link to the thread they were taken from.)

What's the average playing time for SS2?

We are shooting for about 30 hours gameplay for the average player who does all the subquests and exploring, but only plays through once. Power users will clearly do it in less, and playing again as a different character class will clearly not take as long. I think people will enjoy the level of difference you can get out of making very different character class choices.
-- Rob "Xemu" Fermier
Lead Programmer, System Shock 2

It's kind of a meaningless number. I've heard as much as fifty in one case, for a single play through. I think most gamers are going to want play at least once single player and then play it through again as a different type of character (I know I will!). Then there's multi...

I started a playthrough recently, and it took me well over thirty hours, I'd guess, and I still haven't finished it. And I knew what I was supposed to be doing (somewhat). It's a long game. I don't think the average gamer will beat it in a weekend (which is what most games take, I think).

Will there be a Mac Version?

It won't be released in a Mac version; the Mac version of System Shock 1, was (I believe) ported by someone independent. If there were someone who wanted to port and release SS2 for other platforms like the Mac or Linux, it's not implausible that something similar could be arranged between their high mucky-mucks and the LGS/Irrational high mucky-mucks to do so, but I'm not one of them.

How exactly does the Mouselook / Interact mode work anyway?

When in mouse-look mode, the left button is your trigger, you look around and turn with the mouse, walk with the keyboard, and the right button sets you to 'interact' mode.
When in interact mode, the left button still shoots, but the right button is used to interact with the world. Moving your mouse moves the cursor on the screen, of course. The player is still free to move via the keyboard. To go back to mouselook mode, either right-click on a non-interatctive part of the screen, or hit tab.
- Ken & Digital Nightfall

Can the player use two guns at once?

Nope, no two-fisted gunmen. But you can set your guns to things like "burst" or "double-barreled" which do more damage and use more ammo, for almost the same effect.

Are there energy based weapons that drain the players power, rather then use ammo?

The two guns from the "energy" weapons category, namely the laser pistol and the EMP rifle, use energy as their ammo. So they are replenished at energy stations, and their capacities are enhanced by the maintenance skill, can be recharged with portable batteries or the appropriate psi power.
-- Rob "Xemu" Fermier
Lead Progammer, System Shock 2

What does the "strength," "endurance," and "agility" stats determine?

Off the top of my head (I'm at the wrong job currently to look it up in the manual), strength affects hand to hand damage, the number of inventory slots you have, and the ability to wear some armor. Endurance affects hit points and (um, I think) damage from radiation/toxins or psi overload. Agility affects movement speed and damage from falling.

Agility also affects how much your aim is disrupted after each shot. Some weapons also have an agility requirement, I believe.
-- Rob "Xemu" Fermier
System Shock 2 Lead Programmer

Will Shock2 be captioned?

Logs and email both save the complete text to your PDA. There isn't (as far as I've seen) any captioning for the in-game scenes, though but they're much less information-dense; most of everything else in the game is textually annotated. I'd guess at a ballpark of about 95% of information is text-only or includes text.

Will the Lazer Rapier cast blue light on the walls?

Shock 2 does support dynamic lighting on weapons effects; I don't believe that the laser rapier uses it -MSG

Can more players joing your co-op game?

Unfortunately (as far as I've been told), games can only get smaller, not larger; you can load a saved game with fewer of the original players, but not more, and you can't join a game in progress.
You can save anywhere. If you lose a player while playing, the remaining people can keep playing, though.
Thank you all for asking these questions! I expect more to come soon! Keep watching the forum and asking questions!

    Three System Shock 2 Articles - 1:50am EST - Dan
The first one I have to report is an interview at PC.IGN.COM. In this interview they talk to Ken Levine, and he tells them a bunch of good stuff that we already know! But there is a nice list there that would be fun to post here:
  • 35 psi powers
  • 14 weapons (with 2 settings each, up to 5 different ammo types for each and 3 levels of weapons modifications)
  • dozens of useful items such as recyclers (lets you turn useless objects into nanites)
  • five types of armor
  • nineteen different chemical compounds (used for researching exotic artifacts)
  • ICE picks (hacking aids)
  • portable batteries
  • 11 different types of implants (including Lab Assistant and WormBlend)
  • exotic weapons that actually use infected worms for ammunition
  • and even a mini-game machine that lets you play micro-games while navigating the 3d world!
  • Lots of fun toys, eh? The other article is a preview at Thresh's Firingsquad. The preview does a basic overview of the game that, while not talking about anything new, manages to go into a bit more detail on several subjects.

    The last article is not really an article, but a pair of extremely high quality screenshots, which we gained from PlanetTriva.com. The big thing about these shots is that they were taken using a TNT2 3D card. Very nice indeed! Here they are:

    Humble Beginnings
    Unless I'm very much mistaken, this player has just started the game.

    Putty in My Hand
    Unless I'm very much mistaken, this player is about to do a psionic takeover of this droid's 'mind'.

    We'll have some new info going up soon!

        Friday - 6.18.1999
        Skarz & MSG Spill Beans in Chatroom - 7:20am EST - Dan
    Skarz and MSG, a pair of notorious hoodlums who like to hang out in the SS2 chatroom... ok, yes, they are developers too, were in a sharing mood yesterday, and dished out some tasty SS2 info that has gotten me even more excited:
    Samples: u know that post bout 11 august ... any truth in it?
    MSG: As far as I know, that's the release date. We actually have been given nothing official, and that seems in keeping with everything we've heard.
    MSG: Well, there's still a lot being done (tweaking, level design, bug fixing). However, there's little bandwith for certain types of new features, and I don't have much that I can do.
    MSG: I have small tasks, but they're completely insignificant things, so I'm mostly playtesting starting today.

    MSG: I hope SS2 will be a classic -- it's hard to be objective, given my involvement, but I think it's going to hit a nitch that hasn't been hit before.
    MSG: It's a first person game, but it goes in a direction that ss1 went in even more -- there's so much plot and depth, and the focus is not just shooting.
    MSG: It takes SS1 to a new level I think -- it's very similar.
    MSG: There's a lot that's different, but I think even if it wasn't called "System Shock 2", people could tell that it's a sequel.
    Skarz: SS1 will always have a place in everyones heart (kind of like the original Star Wars), but SS2 is bigger, more in-depth, nicer looking, etc.
    Skarz: It will really be up to you. I personally like SS2 better. It's a sequel that stands on its own...

    MSG: We support a lot of Thief features, but we really don't want the game to seem like Thief in space, either, so there's a balance that's been struck.

    MSG: We opted not to have moving objects cast shadows.
    MSG: Performance issues. Seemed like a waste.
    MSG: There are shadows -- they're just not dynamic.

    Samples: in a screenshot in a preview we saw what looks like water , can u confirm that there is indeed water in SS2?
    MSG: Yup.
    MSG: There is.
    MSG: There's a hydroponics deck. I should hope there's water. : )
    MSG: Yes -- you can swim in it.

    Skarz: I can peak the Voodoo2 here at work to over 150fps in normal areas and over 40fps most of the time
    Skarz: I havn't benched my TNT2 at home yet, but it plays smooth at 1024 for me all the time. ;-)

    Samples: are there still alot of bugs in SS2?
    MSG: Nope.
    Samples: what is the nature of the current bugs?
    Skarz: As of today- I have NO bugs on my list! Woohoo!
    MSG: However -- just to show the complexity of the game, we've had/fixed more bugs than any previous LG game.
    Skarz: 15,000 bugs fixed - SS2 is a big F$#% game.
    Skarz: Level designers got most of the bugs (cause the levels are so complicated). I used to get and fix over 400 new bugs a week. Sometimes over a 100 in one day!
    MSG: That's another new thing for LG -- more design bugs than code bugs.

    Samples: are the levels of SS2 larger than SS1?
    Skarz: SS2 levels got so big- we had to split them into 3 and sometime 4 parts- they are entire decks of a spaceship
    Samples: are there more levels than in SS1?
    Skarz: Oh ya- there are alot more than that ;-)
    Samples: so u have to load from hard disk each time u enter another part on the same level?
    Skarz: yep - kind of like Half-Life- but our areas are ALOT bigger that anything Half-Life had loaded at once.

    Samples: will there be more minigames in Shock2?
    MSG: Yup. The minigames are darn cool.
    Skarz: Minigames rock da house!!!!!
    Skarz: Lot's O minigames!

    Samples: does the psi business enhance the game?
    Samples: does it seem off-set to the main theme of the game?
    Skarz: Matt and myself have always been the two Marine style people here- and now even we are hooked on the Psi stuff. It was done Right(tm). ;-)
    Samples: the hacking .... is it more realistic than in SS1?
    Skarz: And remember- if you personally don't like Psi- don't use it. Ever. The game will work how ever you want to play it.
    Skarz: You can hack a lot- and it's very kewl.

    Samples: will the avid quake fan give Q3 up to play the marine ?
    Skarz: Hell no! Q3A and SS2 are way way different.

    Skarz: I will say this- SS2 becasue of the different ways to play through has a VERY HIGH replay value.

    Digital`Nightfall: the stores all say august 11th.. yet you guys seem to say that you're more or less done... whazzup wit dat?
    Skarz: being done with content is one thing- making a great game by tunning and/or adding stuff is another

    Skarz: The EA PR department is very excited about SS2- Ken recently flew out to EA to show the sales staff the game and SS2 was on of 5 showcased products there- and that includes the EA sports stuff!
    Skarz: EA thinks SS2 will do very well- and should be advertising acordingly

    Oh Drool! August is soooo far away it seems....

        SS2 Preview at GameLinks - 7:00am EST - Dan
    There's a new preview up at GameLinks.net. They have lots of screenshots and info, but it's all old. Is it just me, or are those MY thumbnails?

        Tuesday - 6.15.1999
        SS2 Preview at Computer Gaming Review - 11:10pm EST - Dan
    Howard Liu, the original author of the SS2 Data.Node (Then called the FAQ back at TTLG), was lucky enough to visit SS2 at E3 this year. He wrote a preview for Computer Games Review based on what he saw. Though he doesn't go into any new territory, he does re-explain many things very well. Here's some snippits:
    . . .

    Speaking of the map, the automap will not be in the same vein as System Shock 1, but will instead have more of the abstracted feel found in Thief: The Dark Project. Monsters will not always be found in fixed locations on the map (although some inevitably will be posted to guard significant locations), but the majority of the levels will be populated by patrolling, roving creatures and machines. These will respawn, but players can take steps to diminish or possibly eliminate the local respawn and to keep creatures from showing up as a nasty surprise: security cameras, for instance, can be foiled to prevent controllers from calling in more foes to the player's position. The upside to this is that the inventory will be more fluid than is typical in the genre, as creatures have semi-random treasure tables (to borrow an RPG term), allowing the player to collect power cells, ammunition clips, nanites or other expendable goodies.

    . . .

    Nanites are the lifeblood of the hacker -- any hacking attempt will exact a cost in nanites, as do purchases from a matter replicator. Hacking, in fact, is not the cyberspace arcade game found in System Shock 1, although it bears a resemblance to the logic puzzles in that game. As seen in the E3 build, hacking (at least, what I saw of it) combines a probability based game with mild logic twisters as the player tries to deactivate three nodes in a row to overcome an electronic security system. Shutting down a node is a matter of hacking skill (and the right equipment), but picking the right nodes to attack can be a puzzle in and of itself (I think...). Cyber modules are another noteworthy currency, the equivalent of experience points in System Shock 2. At enhancement stations found throughout the game levels, players can expend cyber modules to permanently increase stat or skill ratings, allowing the player to either optimize current abilities or to branch out and become a more well-rounded character. A third currency is the psi-hypo. Psychic power doesn't regenerate over time in System Shock 2, as the developers felt that this encouraged players to sit around, doing nothing while points slowly recharged, so psi-hypo stims will be needed to restore this power.

    . . .

    Equipment will play an even larger role in System Shock 2 than it did in the first title. The inventory has been given a full makeover, and now resembles a full CRPG layout. The boxes and paper doll system common to computer role-playing games (although I associate it most closely with The Summoning). The number of boxes available for inventory is a function of the character's strength, and enables the character to lug around more special objects, guns, ammunition clips, or stims. Wetware is still in evidence, although it's now more limited in the sense that the character must pick and choose which upgrades to equip -- spaces are limited.

    Everything keeps getting better and better. Thanks, Howard!

        Infobits From Boojum - 11:10pm EST - Dan
    The Sneaksie Taffer turned System Shocker Boojum dropped by the SS2 forum to answer a few questions. Here's what she had to say!

    Re: The Manual

    Speaking as the person whose fault the manual will mostly be, 1) some monsters are described. Pretty much only the things you already know about ("here's a gun turret") or the ones you will encounter quite early in the game. Later monsters aren't described. 2) Some stuff is described, but the most strange/unusual devices actually require in-game research to learn about, and those aren't mentioned in the manual. The backstory in the manual goes up to some time before the game starts, so you know who and where you are, but doesn't talk about the what-the-heck-happened-here things. Probably about the same far-backness as "You're the hacker who released the ethical constraints on a TriOptimum AI for Diego", but wordier. And yes, there's lots of quotes.
    Re: What type of 3D Card do you need?
    (though I don't think our QA strongly recommends a voodoo 1, as it doesn't support changing gamma, and thus your level brightness is sort of arbitrary) (SS2 is a D3D game - Dan)
    Re: Environment Destroyability
    Things that are strictly terrain (walls, floors) are as solid as in Thief, but there are a lot more things like wall screens, devices, computers, ceiling ducts, and so on, which are all excitingly smashable. While we did have bullet holes in walls for a while (that is, player-caused bullet holes, rather than ones which are already there), I think these are mostly being phased out again because putting too many in a space causes severe frame rate problems.
    Thanks for the insight, Laura! Also, thanks goes to all of you who asked the questions!

        Monday - 6.14.1999
        Lots of New Details, and More - 2:00pm EST - Dan
    I've just received a very late, but very welcome report on System Shock 2, based on what someone saw of it at E3. There is lots of new info here, so if you don't want to spoil too much for yourself, don't read it. It's mostly harmless, though.
    Okay... here's what I have, use what you like. I got all this from Josh Randall, who is quite a cool guy. Some of these are spoilers, I suppose. (about the gameplay, no plot explanation here)

    Multiplayer will have savegame features and character creation, so the players make their chars and get through training, and when all done, the game progresses to the next story step.

    The missions will be a little more non-linear, and will be recorded in a little logbook to keep track of them. Some areas will be character-dependent (i.e., one kind of character can get somewhere and other's won't, or will have a hard time with) but any plot element will be able to be overcome with any of the three types (I guess this is already known)

    They did say they'd like to do SS3 (Lord knows I'd like to play it) so they're leaving, Josh hinted, 'loopholes'... just in case.

    The screenshot caption is right, the automap/minimap is quite cool, and very detailed from what I saw.

    SHODAN's movie sequences (and maybe in-game, but I didn't see that) will have her lips moving in-sync, data tentacles wiggling. (I tried to get a shot of this, but it didn't come out at all)

    Oh... and the monkeys we've been seeing? I can't resist spoiling this part, it's just too damn cool. While stomping around the beginning areas of the game, Josh wandered into a research lab. On the far wall are glass alcoves holding several test monkeys. I laughed, saying that was a cool idea to include. Then the monkeys started pounding on their glass case, smashing quite nicely. Then... they started casting force balls at the player, a psi power the player can get. These aren't just monkeys, they're PSIONICALLY ENHANCED monkeys! (which is, I suppose, why their brain is visible in the screenshots).

    I didn't see much of the later part of the game (I guess it just wasn't prepared for the showing) but the sequences are amazing, like concentrated Half-Life. The beginning required escaping from the compartment you woke up on, because there was going to be an explosion in minutes and will suck you right out into space. You can see the second ship outside the window, and someone's yelling orders at you through a real-time head-link. I had to resist the urge to continually say "What's that?" "What's that do?" while Josh moved around in SS2. I can't wait for this game.

    One other thing, non SS2, but cool and funny. I saw a bit of Dues Ex, which looks great. Warren Spector was showing someone around one of the rooms, I guess it was a starting area, one of your own compounds. Warren picked up a newspaper and it zoomed in, allowing you to read it. Moving on, Warren tossed it away, and it landed on someone's head. The game physics just stopped the newspaper, so it just 'stuck' on the guy's head. He started jerking spastically, I guess the physics also told the guy he had things falling on his head, so he kept flailing wildly every second or two, while the newspaper remained stationary. Everyone thought it was hilarious. Warren did too, and I think he was trying not to blush. :>

    Thief 2 wasn't much, unfortunately. They showed off the colored lighting and some new skins, otherwise not much different, but I'm kind of impressed they had something already, and ready for an E3 showing.

    Hope you find this useful,

    We found it very useful, George. Thanks! I'd also like to post a word from MGS regarding some of the screenshots.
    Things like the disparity between the head size and corpse size are simply bugs that have been fixed -- a lot of those screenshots are really old (and that last round that cropped up have been _especially_ old).

    However, screenshots are just screenshots -- they don't necessarily give a perfect portrayal of how everything looks in the game. We spent our polygons in the way that best facilitates a game like System Shock 2, and, I think you'll find that the monsters look great when in motion. Additionally, we have what I believe is the most complex environment that I've seen in a first person game -- fully populated rooms and intricately complicated architecture. When you're actually aboard the Von Braun, I hope you'll agree that the decisions that were made were the most effective at creating the kind of immersive and thoroughly rich environment that is signature to the System Shock legacy.

    I have no doubt that I will have little room to criticize when all is said and done... :)

        Friday - 6.11.1999
        Details Count in System Shock 2 - 10:40pm EST - Dan
    Finally some fresh SS2 info from the forum! I'll start it off with a comment from Ken on the comment I made the other day:
    More precisely, you can rip a monster's guts out of him, research that and that tells you how to better damage it.
    Next we have Tim Stellmach, someone who's not on the SS2 team (he's the head of Thief 2 development), but has played the game quite a bit. He answered a few questions asked by Toni Hollming.
    Based on the last I saw of the game (noting that nothing I say is official):

    You can eat and drink in Shock2, but you don't have to. (You get food from the local Valu-Rep, of course. Or you find it in recreation areas or perhaps in dead mutants' pockets.) Eating and drinking restores small amounts of hit points. Alcoholic drinks restore hit points, but reduce psi points! You can also smoke cigarettes, which as far as I can tell just does you damage.

    There are minigames, (via a gameboy-like device, -Dan) but I don't think it will be possible for users to make their own. Some minigames have been getting added just lately, and there seems to be a strange theme shaping up among several of them...

    I believe that the different types of swing in Thief melee combat are used in Shock2, but that you need a special Talent on your character sheet to use the overhand bash.

    I've never heard a cyborg whistle. Creatures do make sounds when they're idle, like the guards in Thief, but they're different sorts of sounds.

    . . . I believe there is a psi power that makes you invisible.

    Tidbits such as these are always enjoyable. Enough to wet your appetite even more, without giving too much away. You can read the entire thread, here. Thanks, Tim! Next up to bat is Ken Levine again, with some really great news and a little bad news.
    We only use one player character skin strictly so we can support 4 meg 3d cards. We had a big discussion about this one, and we decided that would be the best choice. System Shock 2 is a VERY texture intensive game. Tonight, Dorian Hart (a designer on the team) said that Shock 2 is the most object rich game in history. And he's not kidding. That was our goal and I'm confident we pulled it off. If you like meaningful interaction with the (virtual world) around you in ways besides killing things, Shock 2 is your game. Of course, there's some nasty monsters who need a good whuppin', too.

    1) We need to support 4 meg card users , because our marketing data suggests their the majority of our audience. We made a choice to be hardware only at the risk of losing potential customers because we wanted things like colored lighting and larger spaces than Thief had, which were unavailable in the software renderer. So we bit the bullet and took the sales hit.

    2) Quake multi games are deathmatch with no monsters. Our multi is cooperative WITH monsters. Monsters too have texture maps which take up memory.

    3) We are the most object rich 3d game in the world. Objects have textures. 3D cards can only support as many textures (without swapping) as they have memory. The Quake games are fun, but have a scant fraction of the objects we have in the game. Hence, they have more freedom to use texture memory for things like skins. A skin is a 256x256 .pcx file, which take up a substantial amount of memory on a 4 mb card (of which only 2mb are used for textures). Hence, we had the make a decision: do we want object rich gameplay with dozens and dozens of FULLY INTERACTIVE objects (14 weapons, alien artifacts, chemicals, "gameboys" (for mini games), software enhancements, implants, alien organs, hypos, tons of ammo types, vials of toxin-a, override access cards, etc.) or skins.

    We've spent the last two years of our lives making this game. No choices were made in a trivial fashion, or in a fashion that didn't heed the wishes and interest of you guys, the gamers.

    Of course, SS1 was exactly the same way when it first came out, both in interactiveability and complexity of the 3D world. You can read the rest of this thread here.

        Wednesday - 6.9.1999
        Screenshot Downpour from the PCZone Preview - 2:00pm EST - Dan
    PCZone has done an impressive multi-page preview of System Shock 2. In spite of having several small errors, the preview shined. I hear that this same preview also appeared in the print version of this mag, which is a very good thing. The preview is, however, not the main focus of this post. The screenshots are. It contained a total of 19 new, very nice, screenshots of SS2 beta version. Nothing really new is shown, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Check them out!

    Full Screen Automap
    Many of us have been waiting for this. The automap from SS2 looks very much like it did in SS1. I wonder how some of the more complex environments will be handled. I hope all that business in the background isn't just decoration.

    Blasted Grunt
    We're sick of grunts. Kill them. Kill them all!

    He Looks Very Upset
    This grunt heard the above comment. Kill him before he kills you!

    Pre-Game Training Level
    This shot will shock people who don't know what it is. It's of the pre-game training "mission,' on Earth.

    A Walking Deadman?
    I may be wrong, but it looks like the player is on the floor looking up at this standing deadman.

    Is that You, Abe?
    Won't it be fun to carry that head in your inventory?

    Lurking in the Shadows
    Since SS2 uses the Thief Engine, then all rules to hiding in the dark apply.

    Oh Look! A Log!
    Finding logs in SS2 should be just as exciting as it was in ss1! That thing next to it looks like a piece of hardware ready to be plugged into you head.

    Yes, That is a Droid Alright
    A nice view of a room with a droid.

    A Green Cocoon
    A mysterious shot of a man on a table in some type of green case.

    Peek Around the Corner
    Demonstrates how it looks to lean, and some nice architecture.

    Not that &%(@ Midwife Again!
    Yes, another Midwife shot.

    Dare I Say, Monkey Business?
    Another view of those monkeys we saw before.

    Mind Versus Matter
    This player is pitting his psionic skills against the brute force of this once-grunt.

    Purple, Very Purple
    A nondescript purple corridor. Did I just contradict myself?

    Interesting Architecture
    I don't know how else to describe it. It looks like a shaft. I just contradicted myself again.

    Shuttle Landing / Launching
    This looks like a shuttle taking off or landing, but I may be wrong.

    Training Menu
    Best bet is that this is a screen right after you finish your training.

    Too... many.. screenshots... ugh. Thanks, Dave, for telling me about the preview! Oh, I should mention a note from Ken Levine. When you research something, it's either to learn how to use it, or how to better hurt the enemy which the artifact came from. That's the case the majority of the time, there are exceptions.

        Friday - 6.4.1999
        SS2 Info-Bits from Ken on the Int-face - 11:00pm EST - Dan
    Mr. Ken Levine was good enough to answer a question on the interface.
    ------To pick something up you will have to hit a key to freeze the display and then you can click on anything that is visible. I would have preferred thiefs approach. You center something in the screen and if you can do something with it it lights up. I have a feeling that SSII's approach will in a small way hinder the immersion.----

    This isn't quite accurate. First of all, the display nor the game is never frozen. Even when in use mode, the game never stops. Also, you can pick up items in an extremely similar manner to Thief, with a single click while in shoot mode.

    What is shoot mode and use mode?

    Shoot mode is pretty much exactly mouse look mode a la every other fp game out there. However, with a click of a key, you go into use mode, which turns the mouse into a cursor control, letting you use items, manage inventory, etc. However, there are accelerators for nearly everything (using med hypos, reloading weapons (both with the same ammo type AND different types), etc. We've worked very hard on the interface, held a number of focus group sessions, etc. and I think I can safely say we haven't made any major or at least obvious mistakes there (i.e. a particular interface task taking more steps than it needs to). I think it's one of the things I'm proudest of in the game.

    Feel free to ask any questions about the iface. We're pretty free to talk about it...

    It's also true that you can play in a mode very like SS1, if you would prefer the familiar over the improved.

        An SS2 Fansite - 10:50pm EST - Dan
    Mike WIlliams has been working on his System Shock 2 fansite for quite some time, and it looks like it's finally ready to show off. Right now he has a very limated collection of things there, but that should change as time goes on. Go on over and take a look, support SS2 webmasters! :)

        Thursday - 6.3.1999
        SS2 Release Date Pinpointed? - 2:00am EST - Dan
    I've heard tell from several sources, none of them official, that the release date for System Shock 2 has been set to August 11th. This means two solid months of beta testing. Yes, it's a good thing.

        Great Interview at GA-Source - 1:30am EST - Dan
    GA-Source has posted up a great interview with Ken Levine. Ken makes the game sound simply amazing, which it is! Here are some clips of the best parts:
    In Shock 2, we let the player improvise to solve problems. Several tools are provided, including 35 psi powers 14 weapons (with 2 settings each, up to 5 different ammo types for each and 3 levels of weapons modifications) dozens of useful items such as recyclers (lets you turn useless objects into nanites), five types of armor, nineteen different chemical compounds (used for researching exotic artifacts), ICE picks (hacking aids), portable batteries, 11 different types of implants (including Lab Assistant and WormBlend), exotic weapons that actually use infected worms for ammunition, and even a mini-game machine that lets you play micro-games while navigating the 3d world!

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also controllable turrets, replicators, a hackable security system and tons of other cool features.

    There is only one ending, but as the game is an RPG, we encourage and support nearly infinite ways of approaching a problem. We have a great time in the office comparing how differently team members approach parts of the game. Last time we played, I was a Psi-powered character (psi characters can develop up to 35 different psi powers), but I also took several weapon and tech skills. However, I kept getting the urge to try to hack into security crates (which are protected from tampering by plasma-thermite charges) and ended up having crates explode in my face when I failed to hack them.

    In Shock, you're not locked into any monolithic character path. A player who begins the game as a marine is free to develop as a hacker after his initial vector is chosen. We don't stick to a hard-line class system like some other games do. The psi-power (OSA) character is probably the most advanced character to play. Second would be the hacker-tech guy (Navy), followed by the weapons specialist (Marine). All are challenging, but playing as an OSA or Navy requires more thought.

    I'm grinin' ear to ear over here! Don't forget to read the whole preview!

        Eight New SS2 Shots - at 1024x768 - 1:00am EST - Dan
    PC Zone posted up (sorta) nine new SS2 screenshots. For some reason, all the links are broken on their site. I was able to grab eight of the nine screens. They have all been archived here at the SS2mmdb. If you would rather have thumbnails then text descripts, that is the place to go.

    Too Bad She Doesn't Look Like Her Drawing
    Anyone who looked at the SS2 concept art has the original sketch of the Midwife fresh in their mind. Some may be glad that they changed how her torso looks, and others such as myself, not. Also note that this ones face seems to be intact (you can see her lips and nose).

    In the Shuttle Bay
    I think that we have seen this room before from other angles.

    This is Not SHODAN
    This is Xerxes, the ship's computer on the Von Braun. Though he's not directly related to SHODAN, believe you me, he has his own problems to contend with. (- Ken)

    Your Mind is Mine!
    Somehow, I get the idea that this Once-Grunt is under the control of the player, but that's just speculation on my part.

    How Much is that Droid in the Window?
    Oh darn, little Joe wanted a C3-PO action figure, but all they had at Wal-Mart was full sized SS2 Droids.... oh well! Okay, let me get out of gag mode. This should be a familiar sight to SS1 players.

    Heat Makes Thing Grow
    This looks like a very damp, hot, steamy environment. A perfect place for biological infestation to creep in. Ick.

    Shot to the Chest at Point Blank Range
    What more is there to say?

    Two Fried Once-Grunts, and a Coke
    They don't look too happy.

    I hope that no one minds too much that these shots have been compressed. I think you'd rather download a 100K jpg with good quality, then a 500K jpg with perfect quality.

        Tuesday - 6.1.1999
        A Fresh Collection of Concept Work - 12:30pm EST - Dan
    Someone at LGS/IGI/EA was feeling generous, and gave Gamespot UK a handful of 'new' concept artwork. It is now all viewable in the artwork section of the SS2mmdb.

    Among the new images, we see some early concepts of the Rumbler, Midwife, our character, plus more. Thanks, ThAn, for the info!