A surprising bit of news has been revealed about System Shock 3 this week. The series has been on hiatus since 1999, and the news that there was finally a sequel in the works was met with equal parts joy and skepticism. Despite the long delay though, fans remained hopeful. System Shock 3 has not had an easy time getting to market though.
The project has gone through a ton of problems, which is a big part of the reason you both don’t hear much about System Shock 3, and why it has taken so long to come out. The near-total silence around the franchise, which should be getting tons of hype, is pretty telling. More cynical fans also point to the lack of development progress in the scant coverage we have seen as another bad sign. Now, something else has come along to ruin the day of fans of the franchise.
The revelations come via a former developer of System Shock 3, posting as ‘Kin Corn Karn‘ on RPGCodex:
“The only reason I’m posting is because I saw so much confusion about the state of the company and the project. I thought some first person information would be welcome. I never suggested we were halfway done, core systems are a great foundation for a game but most of the work is content development which we were critically behind in, both in real assets and in tool support for an efficient pipeline.”
The game is in turmoil, to put it bluntly. According to these posts, the game is barely even through the rough first stages of development. The core systems are there in some form, but much of the actual meat of the game is missing from these bones. The content, both in terms of art and gameplay elements, is just not there. And as a result, System Shock 3 is looking more and more like a dead effort.
Going into more detail, the poster reveals a key detail. As is too often the case in making games, a critically missing lack of direction and over-hype have led to the game being essentially lost in limbo. This happened with an infamous Starbreeze project, Overkill’s The Walking Dead. That game suffered from a lack of direction rushed development and a ton of bad decision-making. The Swedish publisher had a laundry list of problems that nearly bankrupted the studio, and oh yeah, the game bombed.
If you’re wondering what Starbreeze has to do with this, it’s because at one point the Swedish publisher held the rights to publish System Shock 3, before shedding them midway through their financial reconstruction efforts. That company is now back focusing on their core games, like Payday.
But anyway, back to the posts:
“Those high expectations drove a lot of expensive experimentation. We were a small team and knew we couldn’t compete with current immersive sims in production quality and breadth. So, we had to be creative and clever and weird. And we were on our way to make something unique and possibly fun, but probably not what the audience was hungry for.”
Developer OtherSide Entertainment has yet to respond to these claims. And other than that in-engine trailer released a while back, there has been precious little shown of the anticipated sequel so far. But what appears to be the final nail in the techno-coffin of this game is that according to the poster, “I don’t actually know what’s going on, but the team is no longer employed there.”
Combining this with the layoffs in December 2019 that former community manager Sam Luangkhot later confirmed, also admitting she was “worried” for the prospects of the company, doesn’t paint a very pretty picture. Luangkhot also confirmed that the statements from the RPGCodex posts were legitimate.
This means that the team was caught in a hard situation where they had a ton of legacy and hype to live up to, something that has doomed many sequel projects in the history of the games industry. Given that we’re seeing so little progress and there have been so many issues, it’s a wonder if this game ever comes out. And while it’s hard to say for sure that this means System Shock 3 is canceled, the loss of the core team is a pretty bad look.