Rebuilding the Legendary System Shock

Playboy, of all places (and as such you should expect some mild NSFW content in the page), has published an article on the upcoming System Shock remake from Night Dive Studios, with excerpts from many of the developers included in the project. For many RPG fans she needs no introduction, but here’s an excerpt on SHODAN, the memorable AI villain whose writing and voice acting (courtesy of Terri Brosius) greatly contributed to the series’ success:

At the end of a hallway, the hacker reaches a locked door. Three numbers are scrawled in blood next to the keypad. Grunting and banging can be heard from the other side. The hacker types in the password and a pale humanoid lunges from the opening. This mutated crewmember is just one of many victims of the insane computer, SHODAN. Artificial intelligences go haywire in science fiction all the time, from HAL 9000 to GlaDOS. But none, before or since, have ever gone quite as horribly wrong as SHODAN. Far from a passionless machine, SHODAN waiss alive with emotions—bad ones. Her delusional rants and oppressive egomania are a big part of why people remember System Shock.

“I find her really interesting from a game design perspective, because she’s actually the environment around you… whether it’s the cameras, or the robots, or the traps,” says Chris Avellone, a prolific gaming scribe recruited for the remake. “The way she speaks—it’s so cruelly elegant. I don’t want to be on her electrified interrogation bench. I’m curious about it, but I don’t want to be on it.”

Stuttering electronic distortions in SHODAN’s voice help sell her inhuman nature. In fact, a large part of System Shock’s identity comes from its sound. It’s also one area where Kick says they’ve received the most feedback from the demo. Instead of the upbeat electronic tunes of 1994, low ambient sounds play in the background, disturbed every now and then by an alluring melody. For their modern sound direction, the team wants to forge their own horror-oriented path, Kick says, but they also hope to please everyone with the soundtrack.

“We’re going to have those foreboding, daunting atmospheric orchestral overtones that are going to really push the story and the themes further in System Shock,” Kick says, “but we’re also going to have some of that original electronic music redone, but melding gracefully with acoustic instruments, and an orchestrated score.”

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