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System Shock 2 Retrospect...and Possible Followup? 257

Starsmore writes: "Gamespot has a retrospective on the 1999 cult classic System Shock 2, which normally isn't that big of a deal on it's own, although it's a nice read for those interested in some of the stories behind the production of System Shock 2. The biggest draw is that tucked at the end of the article (and shown below for those that don't want to RTFA), is this: 'But why even look back at System Shock 2 at this point? Because Irrational has been, and it plans to make a related announcement this Friday (tomorrow). The studio has decided that it wishes to further what it started in System Shock 2--to work on games that promote "emergent" gameplay--open-ended exploration that offers many choices and combinations of options to players. You'll see what we mean tomorrow. Be sure to come back then.' " Could this possibly mean a sequel to the System Shock franchise? Update: 10/09 22:30 EDT by C : As many of you suspected, Irrational is in the process of developing BioShock , a "spiritual successor" to the System Shock games. Here's hoping they can distill much of what made games like System Shock and Thief so successful, yet succeed at their aim of building a game with truly emergent gameplay.
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System Shock 2 Retrospect...and Possible Followup?

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  • by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:12AM (#10467511) Homepage
    Could this possibly mean a sequel to the System Shock franchise?

    Wait until tomorrow and you will find out.
    • Re:Obvious answer (Score:2, Insightful)

      by halowolf ( 692775 )
      Well, now that Irrational has got the development of Tribes: Vengeance out way I suppose they have some time up their sleaves for announcements ;)

      I'll play TV while I wait it seems...

  • by Ghostgate ( 800445 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:14AM (#10467524)
    to work on games that promote "emergent" gameplay--open-ended exploration that offers many choices and combinations of options to players

    There's a few out there if you look hard enough (Morrowind, for example), but most single player games just aren't very deep these days. Of course, to make a really open-ended game requires a LOT more testing, driving up the budget and especially the time to develop the game - and modern games already take a long time to develop. Most developers feel the extra effort isn't worth it in most cases, unfortunately.
    • by PepsiProgrammer ( 545828 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:42AM (#10467640)
      Is still Deus Ex (The original, the sequel blows )

      Emergent gameplay: Check
      Open Ended Exploration: Check
      Many combinations of options: Check
      Good plot (Espescially considering current world trends): Check

      All it needs now is a graphics/ai overhaul and it will be perfect (Someone want to start a doom3 total conversion?)
      • by Blublu ( 647618 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:56AM (#10467891) Journal
        I can't see why people hate Deus Ex 2 so much. Sure, it wasn't an exact copy of Deus Ex 1, but it was still a good game despite the fact that it was suffering from mild console syndrome. Oh well.
        • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar.iglou@com> on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:40AM (#10467999)
          Someone already mentioned the terrible inventory system and HUD, and it should also be noted that the concurrent X-box development of the game led to the PC version having abysmally small levels (meaning lots of irritating long load waits) in spite of the fact that the devs had previously stated that the PC version would have larger maps with fewer load points, and the game has very low-res, ugly textures. While fans created a third-party add-on with much improved texturing, such a thing should not have required third-party intervention and there is no solution to the tiny map size.

          Not to mention that the main character is bland (possibly partially a result of them designing the story around the main character being either male or female), the story is flat without depth in the characters, there's only one real twist to the story and it's not exactly that shocking, the "universal ammunition" system is garbage, character development was heavily dumbed down from the first game (in the first game, you had to carefully choose your development choices to optimize according to your play type, and you could never fully max out every stat. In DX:IW, you could max out every stat before the middle of the game, and if you didn't like your choices you could easily swap no less than three of them out and re-max them), character models look hideous and the overall interface was too far streamlined down to accomidate the X-Box, destroying much of what made Deus Ex fun in the first place.
          • Okay, replace the word "mild" with "heavy"... I forgot about the tiny map sizes. I agree it was dumbed down because of the damn Xbox, and the unified ammo and that stuff was annoyign at first, but still I enjoyed playing it and thought it was a good game. Not AWESOMELY GREAT, but enjoyable. If anything, it was just overhyped.
            • The problem is that quite a bit was promised, and very little delivered. A number of promised features (larger map sizes on the PC version, destroyable light sources, AI that isn't as dumb as paint) never made it to the final release.

              Deus Ex was a revolutionary title. It had flaws in its mechanics, yes, but overall it was great gameplay mixed with a great story. Deus Ex: Invisible War was a complete disappointment, failing in every way to live up to its predecessor. It's one thing to try to improve upo
            • I agree with you. I thought compared to other games out there it was enjoyable. I had a lot of fun playing it. I was disappointed, though, when comparing it to the original--it doesn't stack up at all.

              My least favorite change wasn't the universal ammo or the lack of inventory (though I do miss the micromanaging of the inventory). What I really miss the old weapon mod system. DX2 only lets you mod the weapon twice, and then you have to throw it out and start with a new gun. I hated that. I never got attache
          • There are other problems to past the obvious ones you mentioned. The game is orders of magnitude shorter than the original, the game seems very rushed (Biggest indicator of this is all the talk and build up of red greasels, but none ever show). The input system feels laggy, almost none of the neat things the engine was supposed to do came to fruition (dynamic shadows in gameplay namely) and the physics system was not implemented well at all.

            All and all it was just an extremely dissapointing game. Part o
            • I enjoyed both games. I bought the original the very day it was released in stores, came home and played Deux Ex 1 for 2 weeks straight, until I had seen every ending, etc. I love Deus Ex and still have it installed!

              I also bought Deus Ex 2 the day it was released (for the Xbox). There were things that I didn't like, mainly the small levels, long load times, shortness of the game, easiness of the game, and buggy physics... but it was still a very fun game. I really enjoyed it. Do I like it as much as t
          • the "universal ammunition" system is garbage,

            Yes, but that was probably an overcompensation for the horrible ammo supply in the first game.

            In case you can't remember, you played a top-secret government super-agent, and yet you couldn't even convince your shadowy bosses to reload your 9mm pistol in between missions. Looting ammo from the numerous heavily-armed opponents didn't work, because they'd turn out to only have 3-4 bullets in their assault rifles.

            That problem greatly reduced the flexibilty of ch
            • Yeah the lack of ammo in the first game makes it a bit hard to go run and gun through the whole thing with your choice of weapon.

              The worst example of this in the game are the throwing knives I think there are 2 or 3 sets of 4 in the whole game (And you cant remove them from people you kill with em)

              Great thing about deus ex is that you dont need thousands of rounds of ammunition to play it. I have personally played through the game without firing a shot (and with harming only one person).

              But the universa
              • Great thing about deus ex is that you dont need thousands of rounds of ammunition to play it. I have personally played through the game without firing a shot (and with harming only one person).

                I played a significant portion of the first game without firing a shot - although I wasn't exactly a pacifist.

                It's all thanks to that gloriously deadly glowing blue sword thing I 'borrowed' in Hong Kong. Utterly brilliant for ambushes, and works against even the nastiest of foes. I'm hiding in a shadow, they walk p
            • Well, I never had a problem. Ammo was pretty tight, that's true, but it was manageable. Of course, you can't just use the spray & pray approach that might work in other games, where there's an ammo crate around every corner.

              You also have to adapt your weapon usage to the types of enemies you expect to encounter - if most of the guys on a "level" use assault rifles, then you're better off using one as well.

              Personally, I first specialized on my pistol skill, because that's the most prevalent ammo type

            • Oh come on. Didn't you read the bit in the manual that explains that the future as depicted by Deus Ex is the victim of a horrible ammunition shortage?

              Me, I blame the Democrats.
        • I can't see why people hate Deus Ex 2 so much.

          If they had released it as a game in it's own right, it would just have been just another mediocre game with little plot, no atmosphere, crap gameplay and teeny-tiny levels. It was pretending it was in some way related to Deus Ex which caused people to judge it more harshly.

          OTOH, that's the only reason they sold any number of copies, so from a comemrcial POV they did the right thing. They sold a lot just based on the name before word got around it was a turk

      • Is still Deus Ex (The original, the sequel blows ) [...] All it needs now is a graphics/ai overhaul and it will be perfect (Someone want to start a doom3 total conversion?)

        It could do with some extra levels though. I recently replayed it and even though I took my time I still had it finished in no time.

        Also, it would be tres cool if you could stick with UNATCO and work your way up in MJ12.

        But it's indeed still one of the best single-players games out there, though my personal favorite is Morrowind.

      • While DeusEx was certainly a very good game, it is really not all that perfect. The open ended game play in the end boiled down to being able to chose between three different end sequenzes, didn't matter what you did the last 30h of gameplay, the end sequence you got only depended on the last 5min (endsequences itself also kind of sucked, but thats another story), kind of a disapointment after all those hours of gameplay.

        The open gameplay also was not that open, if you stand infront of a door you in genera
    • I have come to the conclusion that I favor linear games (with or without branching) over open ended games. I do not want to wander around and do silly things, I want a clear goal and many methods for achiving it (NetHack), or an engrosing story that pulls you allong rather than leaves you hanging (All Roads []).
      • I do not want to wander around and do silly things, I want a clear goal and many methods for achiving it

        I see what you are saying, but that's what makes a game like Morrowind so special. It DOES have a linear storyline, or a "main quest" sort of thing. The beauty of the game is that you can follow that main quest all the way through, without deviating much, and "win" the game (of course, you can still keep playing once you have done this), or you can put it on the back burner and do anything else that loo
    • "Emergent" usually refers to a phenomenon which results from the combination of other phenomena, none of which by themselves can achieve the larger phenomenon.

      Traffic jams are an example - individual drivers usually take the most immediately advantageous action at any point in time. (Ride the bumper of the person in front of you, jam in to faster-moving traffic if a hole presents itself.) But the emergent result of the individual behavior is a traffic jam, something that none of the individuals involved
  • Is that like reading Slashdot for the trolls?
    • No, it isnt, because there are trolls on slahsdot.
    • That article was empty. It really seemed like an old artivle they puulled from the archives where they changed the intro and conclusion. Why did they end up talking about monkeys anyway? It has nothing to do with the real anouncement they wanted to make. Also, there is absolutly no date on the article. It might be normal on gamespot, but it's a serious flaw. Anyway, the article was just horribly bad. Can't believe I wasted time reading it.

      For who want to play the game back and can't stand the low polygo

  • by Starsmore ( 788910 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:17AM (#10467539) Homepage
    Hey, I didn't put that stuff in on my original submission, don't blame me. :P
  • by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:17AM (#10467540) Journal
    The original System Shock is a classic - I absolutely loved that game. SS2 was even better, however its much more creepy to play if you turn off the in-game music and just have the sounds of the things moving around.

    If they announce a sequel I'll be a happy man indeed.
    • I loved that game, but I haven't been able to make it work on my current machine. No matter what patches I apply or how I install it, it always crashes seconds into the game.

      Besides, technology has moved on. Now, imagine the Doom 3 engine used to run the System Shock 2 game. Wouldn't that be yummy?

      • I would love to see another game from that era and the 80's is Sid Meier's Pirates!, in full 3D glory, with the same kind of gameplay. I have been able to get System Shock and Pirates Gold! to run with moderate success, assuming you save often, in DOSBox [].
    • I played SS2 the first time with headphones, in total darkness except for the monitor, in one sitting. I did not stop to go to the bathroom, or eat or drink.

      Don't talk to me about 'much more creepy!'
      • Ahh. The only way to play it. (well, not the one sitting part.). 3 in the morning, all dark, headphones, alone in the whole house, all windows open, door in my back open. Then i fell through a broken glassplate right in the middle of a bunch of eggs plopping open. (Leave our babies alone ...).

        Then i HAD to stop. Looked in every room in the house to make sure nothings there. :) My heart ...
        • by AsbestosRush ( 111196 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @09:22AM (#10468984) Homepage Journal
          I actually did this as well. I was in the middle of the first level of the game when you are trying to go down the elevator. Headphones, alone in the house, 1130 or something like that, all the lights off... I was walking down a hallway and xerxes started talking. Even though I'd head it before, this startled me enough to turn around. When I turned back around, a zombie was beating the piss out of me, doing those creepy groans. I shut the game off and turned on every light in the house. :)
          • Even though I'd head it before, this startled me enough to turn around. When I turned back around, a zombie was beating the piss out of me, doing those creepy groans. I shut the game off and turned on every light in the house. :)

            And changed your shorts. ;)

    • I'd hope there would be a sequel too, but one that would be more like Shock 1 than Shock 2... In my opinion, Shock 2 was a great game but not such a good sequel as they changed so many important things. The most disapointing change for me was the change of the user interface, which they changed from an 'adventure-like' point'n'click mouse interface to a typical first person shooter interface. Sure it made the fighting easier, but you no longer could examine things the way you did in Shock 1, and it made the
  • by EvilCabbage ( 589836 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:22AM (#10467561) Homepage
    System Shock 2 was one of the last games that really scared the hell out of me. Clive Barkers: Undying did a pretty good job of that too.

    If only Clive and the System Shock crew could get together, I'd be afraid to turn lights off for the rest of my life.
    • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:09AM (#10467730)
      Oh yes. Yes. Absolutely, yes. Completely.

      I didn't play SS2 when it first come out. I tried the original SS looking for a Doom-clone and it didn't satisfy me, so i never bothered to look into the sequel. Besides it didn't ran that well on my computer back then.
      Years later, with much better hardware i stumbled into a site that praised SS2 from top to bottom as the most underrated game ever. For some reason it stuck on me, and some days later i had a discussion with a friend who unconditionally loves the game, so i decided to give it a shot. When i found it on a bargain bin it went home with me.

      A week later, i was so hooked my studies suffered. The game is, to this day, still the most atmospheric game i've played, and it sucked me in completely. It's tensefull, and creepy, and the "damn-that-made-me-jump-off-my-seat" moments just keep coming one after another (damn monkeys!). Doom 3 captured much of that atmosphere - and borrowed quite a lot from SS2, in fact; but the game itself wasn't anyware as good. Doom 3 is a shooter with a few jumpy moments, SS2 it's a suspense horror movie translated to the PC.

      I enjoyed it inmensly. Graphics are dated, (through functional) but the gameplay are story are excellent and the sound, even by today standarts, is top notch - so much, playing it with headphones it's a must. By all means, if you're reading this and haven't tried it, do so.

      Anyway, SS2, through it didn't sell well back when released it's to this day one of the most cherished games of all time. Unless they manage to fuck it up completely, System Shock 3 would sell like hot bread. I know i'm not the only one that would buy it in a heartbeat. Damn, i would even buy the original SS2 if they ported it to the Doom 3 engine. Twice.
      • by greyhoundpoe ( 802148 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:21AM (#10467953)
        I still remember the cooperative multiplayer, crawling through that damned ship while on a phone line with a friend of mine. That was hands down the best cooperative-horror game experience I've ever had. Both players could specialize--I hacked, he fought--and the entire experience was so *immersive*. We still talk about one moment when, hacking a crate, he had the bright idea to come up behind me, groan "I'm... sorry...." into the mic, and club me from behind. I knocked half the stuff off my desk trying to turn around so quickly. Screw Doom 3. I miss System Shock 2.
      • "It's tensefull, and creepy, and the "damn-that-made-me-jump-off-my-seat" moments just keep coming one after another (damn monkeys!)."

        Absolutely. I can recall more than one occasion when my desk was covered with sweat (from my arms) after playing that game.

      • Graphics are dated

        Go reload the game. Add in System Shock Rebirth [] graphics mod. Now at least the creatures will be up to date graphics :-D
    • Agreed.

      Undying is easily my favorite single player game, and scared me quite well (Resident Evil series never caught me.) It can be picked up for $10 in a two pack with American McGee's Alice (mediocre... great atmosphere and characters, too many stupid jumping puzzles and annoying bosses).
    • ...Quake 1 gave me a big scare. The first time I played this game I started by looking around in the room where I spawned at the start of one of the levels. One of those chainsaw toting Ogre monsters (which I had not seen since he had gotten behind me) revs up his saw and lets out a loud scream. The combination of speakers on a high volume setting and a sound quality I was not used to (I had previous played DOOM on a 386 with a crapy sound card) combined to startle me to the point that I dropped a can of Co
    • Don't forget Thief (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ghostgate ( 800445 )
      Not really a game that scared me, per se, but the original Thief made me more tense and paranoid than any other game I've ever played. Of course, you HAD to play it with the lights out to really experience it the way it was meant to be. But all the elements came together in that game so well. And unlike many other "stealth" games that have popped up since then, Thief was one of the few where you weren't enormously powerful. So you COULDN'T simply force combat whenever you wanted to, because your opponents w
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:22AM (#10467563)
    as long as it's _really_ open ended. That is, I can do what I want and live with the consequences. I can play the game however I see fit. Morrorwind did a great job of this, but it left it open to easy exploitation once you learned the system, and the game got really easy. This was fine, because there was so much to see and do I didn't care that the challenge was gone. What I hate is seeing the 'seams' in games. You know, the places where the game developer's limited what you could do because it would fsck up the pacing of the game or let you finish it too quik or they're just full of themselves and want you to do things their way (**cough** Half-Life **cough).
    • " You know, the places where the game developer's limited what you could do because it would fsck up the pacing of the game or let you finish it too quik or they're just full of themselves and want you to do things their way (**cough** Half-Life **cough)."

      Hehe. UT 2004 drives me nuts with that. It has these huge outdoor maps, and when you fly to the edge of the map *ThUnk* you hit an invisible wall. Uhh thanks guys. I really wish they had done something like had the computer automatically turn the s
    • Yeah, for all the praise and hype that surrounded it, Morrowind failed to impress me (except with some of its visuals).

      The problem is that the core gameplay mechanics just sucked. Combat could be trivialized way too easily, and it was too easy to steal and sell things without reprecussion, even without having the skillset of a thief.

      Also, dialog was not adequately changed in many instances to reflect your character's deeds... which is pretty lame, considering the fact that NPC dialog is pretty much the

  • by darkmayo ( 251580 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:23AM (#10467567)
    I recall there being a bunch of hullaballo with EA being pricks about that license. If Irrational hasnt accuired the license then we may be looking at a spiritual successor to System Shock 2.
  • by kerrle ( 810808 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:24AM (#10467572) Journal
    System Shock, along with the Thief series and the first Deus Ex, is pretty much one of my favorite games ever. There was just something amazing about the atmosphere, but even more, slowly piecing the plot together from the emails of now dead crewmembers was just amazing. There's a reason Doom III pretty much lifted it intact; it worked great in SS2.
    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:05AM (#10468072)
      Yeah, except that in Doom 3 you already know what happened so it doesn't work _at all_. Not to mention the fact that all the audiologs are more or less the same: "This is the [bored sigh] audio log of dr. [whatever]... The guys in the delta complex are ticking me off [exasperated voice] again. Something weird happened, and I wonder if it is related to them... [indifferent voice] Well, I hope everything will be alright. The code to my locker has been changed, and the new code is 1, 2, 3."

      In System Shock 2 it took a long time before the crew was even aware of any problem, and once they were they had enough time to organize resistance (unlike Doom 3 where the entire thing is over in a few minutes, basically the time it takes you to walk from the comm. center to marine HQ). As a result you find many, varied logs, some from before the problems start, some from people getting suspicious, and some from those who actively fight back.

      While it is rather hard to actually identify crew members in SS2, I often found myself wondering if the mutilated corpse in front of me was in fact that of one of the people who's logs I had been reading. The notion that I could still hear their voices while they were no longer around to speak added a poignant touch to the game.

  • Kick ass game (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AnthonyPaulO ( 732084 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:29AM (#10467597)
    That game truly kicked ass. I've gotta say that the only games that managed to scare me have been the original Doom and System Shock 2. Everything worked so well together in SS2, I couldn't stop playing it, and when I finished, I played it again as another character. It is so good that I'm getting the itch to install it and replay it one more time. I've a former roommate that played it for a few hours (I purposely turned off the lights in the whole apartment and pumped up the 3D sound) and he kept shitting in his pants until he got up and refused to play any more of it, and that night he kept looking over his shoulder. I just died laughing. Good memories. I wish the do a SS3, I would be first in line to buy it!
    • and he kept shitting in his pants until he got up and refused to play any more of it...

      You'd think he would have gotten up the first time he shit his pants. This guy's not like the other children, class.
  • Please not DX:IW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:30AM (#10467600) Homepage Journal
    If they decide to XBox it to the extreme like Deus Ex: Invisible War, count me out. Please let it be quality.
    • Re:Please not DX:IW (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PepsiProgrammer ( 545828 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:53AM (#10467671)
      Exactly, the xbox ruined Deus Ex: IW. But I think some other factors did as well.

      I think the current world political situation alsoinfluenced the game in a negative way. Look at it this way, if they released a game with a plot like the original now, they'd probably all be 'detained' indefinately. The second game completely lost the feel of the first even if you can look past the xbox crippled engine/design.

      I imagine the current political situation is also why the movie project also got the axe. Nobody wants to be labeled a terrorist/antiamerican/nonrepublican anymore.
      • I thought exactly the same thing about this... In the original DX, you work for a counter-terrorist group. Turns out the government in DX is so corrupt and twisted that you end up joining the "terrorists" in order to find a cure for the government sponsored plague.

        Yeah, a plot like that would really fly well today. It's funny, though, I've played through DX about a half-dozen times... and each time I play through it again, the closer to home some of the "shadow government" themes hit. Really, it's g

      • There is an interesting anectote to the missing twin towers in Deus Ex' New York skyline. The texture was too big, so they used only half of it. When somebody inquired about this, they simply replied that terrorists had destroyed them as well.

        And that was a good while before September 11, 2001...
  • Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Knnniggit ( 800801 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:39AM (#10467634)
    I played the hell out of System Shock 1 and 2, and loved them both. The monster respawning did WONDERS for the atmosphere. Even when backtracking through finished areas the games were really tense. And don't even get me started on the groves. If they choose to do this, sweet. If not, then maybe someone will have the balls to make a DOOM 3 mod. It seems like the perfect engine for it. =)
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hthb ( 798809 )
      There was an attempt to create a SS2 remake for the Doom 3 engine (System Shock 2 :Rebooted), but EA stopped it short by sending a threat of lawsuit to the team leaders.
  • The Many (Score:3, Funny)

    by MourningBlade ( 182180 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:40AM (#10467635) Homepage

    The Many sings to us. Where is the love in your cold world of machines?

    Quit your job. Join the many. Embrace the world of flesh.

    ...Ok, that was either an ad for porn or a sign that my job is in danger. Fucked either way.

  • Could it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:52AM (#10467666) Homepage
    Could this possibly mean a sequel to the System Shock franchise?

    Could this possibly be another example of Slashdot's new habit of trolling for comments by adding rethorical questions?
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Friday October 08, 2004 @02:59AM (#10467695)
    Because of this incident (Coumbine), Irrational was asked to bring a demonstration version of System Shock 2 to E3 that had no guns in it.

    Well actually that doesn't sound very hard to me, given how much time I spent with a crowbar in that game and about two bullets left... :-)

    I did love it though, and hope they are working out a sequel!
  • by Mike Rubits ( 818811 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:02AM (#10467706)
    "We've got nothing. Suckered you along there for a while, didn't we!"

    I'm waiting for a company to try and do something like that.
  • by Sta7ic ( 819090 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:10AM (#10467735)
    "Emergent" and "open-ended" gameplay? I'm really curious as to where you people are getting these ideas. The number of games that I know of that pull either of these qualities is small, mostly including Fallout, Morrowind, Deus Ex, and the SimCity games.

    Emergent gameplay is defined as when rather than actions being scripted, the level of interaction with the environment is sufficient to allow the player options. Rather than "grab key, use on door", the player can also pick the lock, find a bomb, or find an alternate route around the door (DX, LaGaurdia Airport, using the metal crates to climb up to the window of the building leading to the hanger). These sorts of games require multiple parallel systems that usually aren't too complex, but annoying to get synced up. The "alternate route" option requires more complex level geometry, etc. If you're dealing with a globally emergent system, rather than a local one, you suddenly need to be able to track all the details going on, such as how many churches you have, and where there's more high res space.

    Open ended gameplay is a lot easier, but frequently less useful. Why have a game if all you do is run back and forth killing stuff (FF* ignoring the full motion story, BBS door games where nobody else joins in, Diablo 2) and your level increases ad nauseum? Players only navel gaze so long, even though the EverCrack and Diablo 2 addicts are threatening to prove me wrong.

    Morrowind is an example of a game with both emergence and open-ended gameplay gone horribly wrong, as others have mentioned. You can run around all you want, but you can seriously break the storyline if you wander too far, collect items within the Fence, or exterminate entire towns. It's also far too easy to wander off, get lost, and even get bored of the game. The alchemy system is a nice example of emergence, but is so broken to be insane. The enchanting and spellmaking systems, while fun, aren't all that balanced and even your strongest custom spells will look like wet firecrackers against God's Fire. Because of the massive cost of constant effects, you'll also never really keep your enchanted items after the first half of the game because they just can't cut it. The apalling weakness of scrolls is also degrading.

    Deus Ex is an example of emergent gameplay and level design coming together to make a wonderful experience. Take Hell's Kitchen, the first time around, where you have at least 30 distinct ways to learn about the warehouse, approach and enter, destroy the generator, and exit to the helicopter. Your 'ware choices seriously affect how you play your character (even if skills make less difference, since there are fewer "real" choices), along with what sort of toys you drag along. The lack of scripting in many places actually improves the game, making it possible to walk out of many areas without ever engaging the enemy.

    (flamebait) As for open-ended gameplay done right, we'll have to look at Tetris.

    If not Tetris, then Fallout 2. You can plot your course almost however you choose - doing a line drive to San Fran to snag the power armor early, go through The Den and either become a slaver or get a five-fingered discount on equipment, become a boxer, wander around the wastes... the game is as open as you want it to be and lets you go whereever you want. The variations are too many to outline, but anyone that's treked past Klamath, through New Redding, and visited NCR knows just how loosely your path is written.

    System Shock 2 had very little in these departments. The ability to hack or psi your way towards better gear was nice, but optional, and not terribly emergent -- it granted options, not other ways around. The "open ended" nature more meant farming monsters with a wrench (or energy weapon if the weapon degradation was low enough) -- no new ways around or reasons to hang around. Extra level space does not open endedness or emergence make.

    As much as I respect Shock 2, I really feel that Shock 1 was superior for the gameplay, even if I am biased to the Skorpion. Both games have an awesome atmosphere, and were very well crafted. But the limits they pushed were with the story and the technology, not the gameplay.
    • I very much agree on your points on "open-ended gameplay". It is IMO a highly hyped term for something that works very well for some types of games, but kills others.

      Open-ended-ness makes strong storytelling hard - mind you that I don't consider any of my favorite games SS1, SS2 or DX1 open-ended.
      I see DX:IW much as a failed attempt to implement this idea with a storyline. For me, the "open" structure of the story made it seem weak - I didn't really relate to any of the characters and what they stood for
    • Emergent gameplay is defined as when rather than actions being scripted, the level of interaction with the environment is sufficient to allow the player options.

      I was under the impression that "emergent" gameplay is what you get when the tools you have are sufficiently generic to allow solutions the designers never even considered. You make it sound like if you have three pre-designed solutions, that would be emergent gameplay, but I don't think that is the case.

      A great example of emergent gameplay is

    • It has been some time since I played, but I think you might be a little off base. I seem to recall some challenges you could get through either by hacking things, or burte force through... I do seem to recall being able to progress in multiple ways.

      I concentrated on the hacking skill, harldy using weapons at all - I found that worked pretty well, especailly towards the end that was pretty useful. In my mind it was better balanced than most people think.
  • HOOOAH!!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:12AM (#10467746) Homepage
    Well this makes me damn happy. In a list of my favourite games, System Shock 2 is one of them.

    I was overjoyed when Thief 3 came out, especially after, quite sadly, Looking Glass closed their doors.

    For those of you who have never played either the incredible Thief Series, or System Shock, you are in for a treat. Be aware that the graphics are sub-par, but the audio! Eric Brossius is FRIGHTENING. He is responsible for the audio in Both the Thief Series, and System Shock 2. They damn well better have him on board.

    By the way, if you want better system shock 2 graphics, check into Rebirth: r_ info.htm

    Its a mod that makes for better graphics.
  • If you haven't played System Shock or System Shock 2 yet, go and get a copy now. Then when you have it installed, wait until late at night and turn off the lights and turn the sound all the way up. Only then can you properly experience these games.

    I did these things and scared the hell out of myself when I actually came across the first hybrids/cyborgs. If you aren't scared in the slightest by these games, you aren't playing them correctly.

  • by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:44AM (#10467858) ck_rebirth.htm [] is a nice little project that aims to update the aging graphics with better textures.

    Unfortunately, it has kind of died (latest update in 2003...), but the downloadable Beta 1 works fine.
  • System what? (Score:2, Informative)

    For those interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, System Shock 2 is available for download at an abandonware site located at this adress: Just scroll through the list of games till you get to the end of the 'S' section and follow the instructions to download the 148mb installer.
  • But are we about to be told that SS2 (and SS in fact) will have a new sequel that will be advanced and revolutionary and groundbreaking, but will capture all of the excellent features of the first two games?

    And will we then be told that it will be released exclusively for XBox/PS2?

    And will we then be told it will make best use of two analog sticks?

    And will we then be told it will have a unified ammo system and generic instead of localised damage systems?

    Please, please, please don't let them do to System
  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:27AM (#10467963) Homepage Journal
    Some cool SHODAN's quotes to give you the chills and flashbacks:

    "Step right into my trap, little hacker!"

    "Look at you hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect immortal machine?"

    "Welcome, to my DEATH MACHINE, interloper!!"

    The rest of cool quotes can be found here: [] [] is still an awesome Web site. Don't forget its forum.

    I never did get to play co-operative play with SS2. I heard it is pretty cool. Did anyone play it?

    • "Look at you hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect immortal machine?"

      Heh, i think i've figured out, on some (possibly very deep) subconcious level, why we found SS2 so scary. Not only did Shodan say those things to us, she was a woman, and a babe []. Those flashbacks are of your first date, or if you haven't had one, what your nightmares are about. It's all very Freudian.

      (this post semi-serious).

    • I never did get to play co-operative play with SS2. I heard it is pretty cool. Did anyone play it?

      I have, with one friend. It took a while to set up, since at least one of the two computers was crashing a bit more often than normal. Once it was working, the gameplay mechanics worked out well - items (and nanites) are not shared, but cyber modules, research and logs are shared amongst all players. That way, you can actually perform a team of specialists in that game.

      In playing the game, I haven't really

  • i'll take a remake (Score:3, Interesting)

    by real_smiff ( 611054 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:33AM (#10467980)
    ok this'll probably get me flamed but i'd play a remake of SS2 with a better engine. the game was wonderful but i could never get the mouse movement smooth and responsive like it is in ID FPS games (Quake etc., or Unreal) for example. Was i doing something wrong or did anyone else find the engine had problems (movement wise, it had problems in other areas like collision detection and dodgy animation IIRC but those aren't as important to the experience).
  • *Screeches like a littel girl, and then giggels incesantly* Seriously system shock 2 was an awsome game, a sequel, or a connector, or something, would be awsome.
  • The last PC game I was majorly in to, and I mean MAJORLY, was Falcon 4. In this game, an entire war was being simulated. How you performed your missions had a bearing on how well the entire war went, to a degree. If I recall correctly, you could set your own mission, like a bombing mission on one of their long-range search radars. This would hamper their intel thereafter if you are successful. Or an airfield, a supply line, etc. Is this considered an open-ended game?

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!