Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

A year of my life, now in (online) stores again

Thanks to londo for pointing me to the news that, after a dozen years, System Shock 2 has been re-released. It's now available as a digital download, for the modest price of $9.99, apparently running on all modern versions of Windows. (It has been demanded for many years, but the rights wound up in horrible legal limbo -- it's a little astonishing somebody finally managed to cut all the red tape.)

Boy, does this bring back memories. Shock was by *far* the most gruelling software project I've ever dealt with -- the game industry is slightly insane to begin with, and adding multiplayer to a single-player engine (which was my focus in the job -- I wrote most of the multiplayer code) is a downright dumb idea in retrospect. I spent over a year on the project, including the final four months *after* the game went gold, when it was just me and the testers working 70-hour weeks, trying to get multiplayer properly debugged. (It turns out that debugging multiplayer takes about four times the effort of single-player, but we didn't realize that until it was much too late.)

By coincidence, alexx_kay just posted a pointer to this article about Jon Chey, one of the lead engineers of the game, which includes this picture of the SS2 development team, with me sitting in the front row:

It was a looney project, but a good group to do it with, a mix of folks from Irrational and Looking Glass.

Anway, the game is a thing of beauty, and the ego-boo is remarkable. Even after all these years, one perk of winter for me is wearing my Looking Glass Studios crew jacket, which still gets random people coming up to me and telling me how much they liked the game. If you like good horror stories -- not so much about gore as about suspense and terrifying backstory -- it would be worth your while to check it out. The graphics are crude by modern standards, but it is still the gold standard for storytelling in computer games...
Tags: looking glass

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