Games

As an unknown fan for years independently released updates for System Shock 2

And why did the franchise come to life again.

August 11, 2019 System Shock 2 turned twenty years old. In honor of this, the developers announced an improved edition of the game called Enhanced Edition with bug fixes and improved picture.

However, this is not the first update of the cult classic in the last couple of years – the original System Shock 2 still receives updates after it was re-released on Steam and GOG. For work on patches, developers thank Le Corbeau each time, a player that no one knows about.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun conducted a small investigation into who it might be. The mysterious fan has been releasing his own updates for Looking Glass Studios games for a long time – including the first two parts of Thief.

In 1999, System Shock 2 received praise from both critics and players alike, but it did not gain commercial success. After the closure of Looking Glass, franchise rights passed from one owner to another for a long time, until they were finally acquired by the Star Insurance Company

By that time, the game was not sold anywhere, and the old builds did not work – it had to be reprinted. About this and thought in 2012, Stephen Kick – the head of the future Nightdive Studios. Once he wanted to re-run the childhood game, however, it simply was not installed, and in GOG it was not.

In the end, Kik decided to take matters into his own hands and wrote to representatives of Star Insurance Company with a proposal to re-release the original Looking Glass games. They agreed: as a result, the developer received the rights not only to release the reissue, but also to continue the series – System Shock 3. Kik invited friends and organized Nightdive Studios, which took up the games in the series.

At the same time, an unofficial NewDark patch began to “walk” through fan forums. The author of the patch under the nickname Le Corbeau (from the French – raven) updated all the games on the Dark Engine – reissuing System Shock 2, the first two parts of Thief and the DromED editor. A fan reworked even the demo.

There were so many profound changes in the patches that many players did not even believe that everything listed in the list of fixes was true. Le Corbeau fixed many bugs, changed codecs, updated permissions. Now the game started perfectly and worked on modern PCs.

As a result, to reissue System Shock 2 in GOG, Nightdive decided to take this patch as a basis. Naturally, Kick did not appropriate the stranger’s achievements – he indicated the authorship of Le Corbeau. GOG agreed to release this version.

However, the main question remained: how was the fan able to conduct such a deep reverse engineering? Most likely, he had access to the source code.

In an effort to track Le Corbeau’s activities, Rock, Paper, Shotgun journalist stumbled upon a thread

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 from the 2010 Dreamcast Talk forum. There, a fan talked about how he got a Dreamcast dev. With it came an old CD-ROM, on which was the source code of the games from Looking Glass.

However, to confirm that it was all the same Le Corbeau, no one succeeded – no one could contact him. Kik himself complains about this: he would like to join forces with a fan to work together on System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition.

He did an excellent job, but one day our efforts will go in one direction. We want to improve the game, mainly multiplayer, and we need help.Stephen KickCEO Nightdive

Nightdive also managed to get “in the closet of the founder of the studio Paul Neurath” the source code of the original Looking Glass games – it was published in the public domain. Based on the find, System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition is created. Patches from Le Corbeau will not be used – they will remain in the original versions of the games.

We want to do about the same as with the first part (previously, Nightdive also released the Enchanced Edition – ) . Our plans are to improve the game and mainly focus on multiplayer so that the cooperative works.Stephen KickCEO Nightdive

Now, Nightdive is engaged in a remake of the first System Shock sponsored on Kickstarter. Recently, production was restarted – according to Kick, “a year ago the studio was at a standstill, but this is the reality of game development.”

Now we don’t care how much development takes – we continue to work hard on the game. All we want to do is offer the best possible experience, and at the same time preserve the vision of the creators of the original.

Stephen Kick CEO Nightdive

At the same time, Otherside studio, led by Warren Spector, continues to develop System Shock 3 – which is known almost nothing but a short teaser . However, the most interesting thing is that neither the third part, nor the remake of the first, nor the re-release of the original games would have happened if Kik had not stumbled upon the work of Le Corbeau in the back of the forums in 2012.

During the first call to Star Insurance, they asked me if I wanted to make System Shock 3 – which then seemed impossible. Now, seven years later, he is in development – and all because one of the nights on my PC the second part did not start.Stephen KickCEO Nightdive

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