System Shock 3

Yeah I listened to game dev club on SS2, including the interviews about it.

SS2 imported the engine (obviously) from Thief, including the crappy visuals and awesome sounds. It imported the giant spiders. But because they upped the engine to 16 bits and probably due to time limits, they couldn’t maintain the same size of levels the Thief engine supported (which is part of what made it great), and stealth is pretty much half-assed in SS2 – it’s in the engine, but it’s very hit or miss. From SS1, SS2 got the diaries (which were novel at the time), the survival-horror atmosphere, backstory, the concept of enhancements, and SHODAN.

The RPG system was new, but I also think it’s incredibly lacking. Mostly, I think the project suffered from not enough development time – it feels rushed everywhere, and it suffers from the worst malady of RPGs – you need to make choices about your character before you know what you’ll need, and making the wrong choice can doom you to failure.

Uhh… the only thing that got upgraded to 16-bit was the lightmaps (RGB565 vs Dark Project’s 8-bit grayscale), but Thief 2 got that same upgrade and its levels were even larger than Thief’s.

If I had to guess, I’d say they kept the level size down because the player frequently transitions between map segments. In Thief it doesn’t much matter if a map takes minutes to load, because you’ll be in that one map for hours. Also, SS2’s automap system only supports a single map page, so they had to keep the levels within the scale of the map. Tellingly, the one truly massive level in the game, the first segment of the Rickenbacker, has no automap.

It’s actually possible, using the editor, to merge the split-up decks into a single map, and the engine handles it just fine.

Thief 1 supported only 8-bit textures. Shock2 transitioned to 16-bit textures, which was later incorporated into Thief 2.

It’s fine now, after both NewDark and the arrival of faster CPUs. At the time, System Shock 2 was extremely sluggish, and the loads between segments took forever.

The software-based renderer was limited to 8-bit textures, but the hardware render path supported 16-bit textures just fine. One of the earliest graphics mods for T1 involved just replacing T1’s 8-bit textures with the 16-bit equivalents from T2.

Interesting – I didn’t know it supported 16-bit out of the box! Weird that they didn’t use those textures.

In any case, the PCs/graphics cards back then did a lot better with T1’s 8-bit textures and massive levels than they did with Shock2’s 16-bit textures and small levels.

Me too.

I really don’t recall SS2 being “extremely sluggish” and “loads between segments took forever”. I remember it being the opposite for me. Maybe I had a pretty good PC then, but I kinda doubt it was that good. I was probably running a Celeron 300 overlocked to 450 when this shipped.

In fact, a lot of reviews at the time criticized the game because it’s engine was already looking creaky and outdated to people because of Half-Life the year before and Quake III Arena which already had Q3Test out there.

I remember seeing lots of issues at the time. Games like Half Life had better graphics and ran super smooth as well.

I agree it looked really dated graphics-wise when it came out, but I don’t remember it being sluggish on my machine. But I was playing on my brother’s machine which had a Pentium and either a Voodoo2 or a Voodoo3, I can’t remember which one it was. I played it on the day of its release.

I think Bluddy is confused unless he can find some articles about it. Performance was not a problem with System Shock 2. It was almost universally praised at the time as well.

In fact the reason the AI models are so ugly is because Irrational set their polygon budget too low. They’ve admitted in interviews that the AIs could have looked much better even for the time.

Since that era still had CPUs doubling in speed every few months, it’s possible my machine was just slow. I do remember half life ran perfectly well, while ss2 was sluggish though.

Worked on my machine. :)

I took a look at some of the fan made model upgrades for System Shock 2 years ago, but I didn’t like the style changes they had made. Especially the midwives or whatever they were called. They had replaced the iconic “Soulblighter” look.

Interesting article and theory about the mysterious backstory of the NewDark patch:

System Shock, Thief, Flight Unlimited, Ultima Underground… The devs at LGS were incredible talented…

Isn’t that the game where you play as Ed Norton, sewer worker and hunt fatbergs?

That’s the one where Kate Beckinsdale plays a hot vampire wearing tight leather pants, right?


Your quest, Avatar, is to reach King’s Cross Station from West Ruislip.

Oooops, I should double check my posts late at night.

I could blame it on autocorrect, but it was an honest mistake, shows my age. :‑|

Ultima Underworld of course. :-)