|you thought I had forgotten you, Insect?|
Why? Because I've played this game since 2004 and have seen the community around it grow and evolve from having to hack together tools and patches and workarounds to having the impossible and the game re-released along with a (slightly) updated engine, easy fan missions, mods, and other twists.
I am just a fan, with no special knowledge and only minor involvement in System Shock's fan community and this is mostly as response to a Slideshow List I saw another blog pull.
10.) ZERO Micro-Transactions
That will be the fastest way to piss the fan base off. Learn from EA's attempt at burdening down Dungeon Keeper Mobile with cries of GIVE ME MONEY PAY US NOW! YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS SHINY THING! Make the mobile version a different experience that has its own merits but isn't trying to be the console or PC game. Make the console and PC games have worthwhile Expansions (not DLC. EXPANSIONS. DLC is spending fifteen bucks for a gun or maybe an hour of content. An Expansion is several hours of new content and a lot of new assets to play with.)
Micro-transactions need to be left at the door. It is one modern design element I want to be left behind. It will be the easiest way to alienate fans and lose faith in not just Otherside as a developer, but Night Dive as publishing house. There are still fans that hold a grudge about the whole 'tech ninja' debacle where Night Dive appeared to steal credit from community regulars for patching System Shock 2. I am not one of those, but people out there have not forgotten even in the face of everything else going on. You're a small team under a small publisher. You need the community at your side to help act as megaphone and excited noisemaker to draw new people in.
9.) Choices that Matter.
System Shock Infinite did this to great effect especially given the limits of the dark engine and that it was entirely a fan effort. You had several factions and events you could work within but once you made a choice you weren't completely locked out of the other paths in that you could still complete tasks to make them happen. This caused a complex chain of things where you could have up to five separate cut-scenes play as parts of a larger ending, or end the game early because you took a really specialized build to kill SHODAN on Ops when she revealed herself, or even earlier by using the grenade launcher to go back to the start of the game and join SHODAN, or do none of these and oops you think you won but really got brainhosed into being a minion.
That was done by fans who had to beat and hammer the engine to do what they want. These people theoretically can bake these things into their engine so even if they don't, we can later on.
8.) Allow us to tackle problems in our own ways.
I liked that about both prior system shocks. You could do things your own way. Sure there are ways that work BETTER than others, but on the whole you could largely approach your work as you see fit. That way I can have one or two psionic powers, none, go full psionic, or find ways to get through all guns blazing. My fear is tools that completely remove the need for skills. Example being if you played your cards right you didn't need the modify skill because enough auto upgrade devices were around on most difficulties that made you not need it, or auto-hacking tools so you could get one or two things and still have enough to use on the end boss's shield terminals.
I like being able to work around absent or under-used skills, but I want those skills to still have meaning so you can do interesting things. Let's take the auto upgrade tools. Maybe they only do specific mods in order of importance but don't let you go with the really exotic ones unless you already have a high enough rank in maintenance.
Maybe you can either choose to dump organs, or weapons, or random junk into the research machine and have it automagically do a lot of stuff but it's slower, or you can have the thing on you and your implants tell you to do specific things at specific times and it gets done faster but you have to babysit it.
Point is there are lots of ways players can approach situations if they have the tools.
7.) Keep both types of hacking shown in the prior system shock games.
System Shock 1 had Wire puzzles and fully immersive wireframe cyberspace levels. System Shock 2 had you tapping on node buttons to make things happen. There is room for both in that I like the match three and things happen for unlocking doors or re-configuring vending machines, but the wireframe cyberspace needs to exist for data mining. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The shock2 version doesn't break flow and in fact you're able to get shot at and hurt by enemies while trying to hack. Shock 1 lets you grab system upgrade software, access codes, logs, and even mini-games for your PDA.
As an aside, having files you can inject into replicators to dictate what they make (even different files so a thing can be cheaper than what it's produced at in your target) would be groovy. It would also play into the idea of building that safety bubble aspect where you can have easy to access replicators have the consumables you most often use.
6.) Keep the horror house feel and sound.
While we all can agree System Shock 2's graphics did not age well, the sound remains very incredible and tense. At least it does to me and is the reason I hate playing it in the dark (especially with the new lighting from the community patch.) This is what the shock games are at their absolute core. Strip away the details on who and what and just look at the games themselves. You're dropped into a situation more or less alone with maybe a disembodied voice that can sorta at some times offer help and guidance, but you're very much alone against the unknown. Admittedly I didn't like the background music in Shock2, but the ambient noises? Those random announcements by Xerxes that are mundane and generally about this or that droid doing a poetry reading or how long til Christmas, regulations, and so on.
I want that. It is the heart and soul of the Shock Franchise. Even when I personally was very powerful there was always that sense of foreboding because of just how danged creepy the level itself was.
5.) Remove the Inventory Tetris, but Keep the character Customizeability.
Take notes from the first game here. There were implants that did things beyond simple stat buffs, skills that improved when other skills also got upgraded, and with the way game design has changed over the past fifteen years more can be explored and done. What I don't want is 'huh huh huh huh they want immersion so you must unload every round, pick up even broken weapons to get at their ammunition, physically drag batteries and other objects to where they need to go.' To that I say No! Those things break flow, bog the player down, break pace and kill story for the sake of some self-important sense of realism. We are allowed to make concessions for the sake of speed and pace. Console-friendliness does not have to be hated nor is it going to inherently make things worse. I want to play a game, not play tetris just to make my inventory have enough space for an item.
4.) Show us what happened to Goggles and the other Von Braun survivors.
The Player Character from system shock 2 was not the only survivor, just the one that faced SHODAN down. I want to know what happened. Did Rebecca-SHODAN murder them and play off as being a sole survivor? Did she have to play the meek shell-shocked lovebird because she wasn't going to be able to get back to earth on her own?
What of Goggles himself? Is he dead, alive? Is he going to be a reoccurring enemy that leads the assault teams in hunting SHODAN down? That'd be an interesting twist, the player character of the prior game hunting you down in this one.
3.) Getting to see more of the setting.
In System Shock there was a tool marked '?' that when waved over inventory items, your stats, skills, psionics, and so on would give you in-universe background into each. Sue System Shock 1 had a somewhat generic feeling cyberpunk world, but Shock 2 expanded and adapted it to have personality and live, and show that there is actually a lot going on. After all how often does a russian mafiosa get to buy up a once-great corporation with the intent on rebuilding it in a setting where nanites are used both as currency and as to build everything while the hero that stopped a populist uprising in Boston is the son of the man who let the AI Demon out of the bottle?
Please, show us more of this world.
2.) A new take on SHODAN.
SHODAN is a nightmarishly intelligent AI that has an admittedly deserved sense she is better than the humans that made her. Yet just sticking her in as yet another bodiless voice that you end up having to fight at the end borders on killing what credible threat she may pose because we've seen it before. The end of system shock 2 offers a new way she can be used, as that angel on your shoulder daring you to embrace perfection and discard your weak flesh, while another version of her runs amok thanks to being deciphered from a warning beamed from the Von Braun to earth about the events of the second game as a third is leashed and neutered aboard Citadel's command deck kept in Saturn's orbit for study.
1.) Easy to use Mapping/Modding Tools.
This is born out of the fact that DromEd was, for a very long time, buggy, crash happy, and temperamental. It is still somewhat Odd to use but with the Newdark patch it's gotten far better. I rank this so high because with mapping and mod tools you can do things like make new levels, edit existing levels, fix texture alignment, object and enemy placement, and tweak the game over-all to have life once the primary campaign is over and the userbase starts to grow tired of it. Even if some things I list cannot be done given time and money constraints, modders tend to be able to chip away at a thing for years. Just... don't treat it like 'oh the fans will fix it so we can rush.'
One More Thing...
Please, Otherside, Night Dive. Go to the System Shock Community. Lurk there. Make your presence known there. Start a dialogue with us so that we know you are listening and so that you can benefit from the insight of fans that have spent the past sixteen years ripping the last game to shreds, and the past twenty one years ripping the first game apart. We want this to succeed and we want System Shock 3 to be something memorable. Many of the regulars are going to be crusty and a lot of people will complain, but that's true of everywhere. So look past that and you will see people are crusty and grumbly because they see the wider industry has been ignoring them, and that they are very protective of their baby so don't want random outsiders to hurt it.
Don't forget to salt the fries.