IRC Chat Interview with Ken Levine at #system`shock`2

Q: Who is Polito? - Digital Nightfall

A: Polito fills a similar role in the beginning of the game that Rebecca lansing did in the first game. She's your contact on the outside. (sort of)

Q: Is she a tutorial device? - Digital Nightfall

A: Not really, though she does sort of give you some of those kind of hints early on in a very story focused kind of way. She emails you and gives you your early "missions". But of course, there's more to Polito than you might think.

Q: One time i heard mention of "another threat" besides SHODAN......? - Digital Nightfall

A: Ah, yes...however, the threat is strongly, umm, related to SHODAN. There is SO much to this game that I can't tell you about it...we've only let slip perhaps 2-3% of what we're doing.

Q: So the character creation happens ALL in the game... no setup screen like UW? - Digital Nightfall

A: The character creation has no set up screen. You never leave the 3d. We do our wasn't always that way, but we sat down and looked at and said, hey, we've got this great engine, why build a whole bunch of 2d screens when we can keep you immersed and utilize our technology.

Q: How much is the environment shaping up to be like a true-to-life starship? Is it a place that you'd like to spend a 5 year voyage on?... - Digital Nightfall

A: I don't know. I've never been on a true to life starship. But I think it's pretty cool.

Q: How much is the interior like Citadel.. from what we've seen... it looks very very similar... any total departures? - Digital Nightfall

A: Plenty. The engine is so much more expressive, we were driven to take advantage of that. I think you'll be [impressed] when you see the leaps that the Shock engine has made from the Dark engine.

Q: How long do we have to wait to get shocked? - Ducky

A: Shock 2 will be appearing in the spring of this year. I'm guessing some time around E3.

Q: Can you give us a guestimate percentage on how far you are in the game? - Ashrim

A: Let me say this. The game now has meaningful gameplay and there are levels that are now playing like the real game will. That's not to say that all the art and final balancing is done for those levels, however.

Q: Will SS2 have a time limit(s) as an option, as SS1 did? It made for replayability - a means of adding tension once you knew the game well. - JSterrett

A: Right now there is no plan for time limits. However, it's not something we've ruled out, simply something we've never discussed. Shock 2 will inherently have more replayability due to both the multiplayer and the different types of characters you can develop.

Q: Will there be plenty of secret areas to discover, like in SS1? (with a secret% per level?) - Exxos

A: There will be secret areas. I don't think we have a secret % per level meter in mind. And no BFG. Look for much nastier, gritty weapons.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about that cannon in the screenshot? - Digital Nightfall

A: That is the grenade launcher. Many types of grenades, many ways to modify. They bounce! They time! They emit!

Q: Will we be able to choose individual models/skins for our characters ? Or will they be based on the 'profession' we choose ? - Kensai

A: Currently we have no plans for radically different skins, though we will have some modifications to tell people apart.

Q: What kind of connections will we need for coop? - JSterrett

A: Minimum modem is unclear right now. Remember, this is LG/Irrational's first multiplayer we are building the tech specifically for Shock 2. So right now we have no numbers. I would assume a 28/56. The fact that we are cooperative eases the latency issues somewhat, but its unclear exactly how much impact that will have on performance.

Q: Will there be a special webside by LG/IG for multiplayer? - JOS

A: We are discussing that now.

Q: What impact have the reactions to Thief had on the SS design? - JSterrett

A: Clearly, the only really negative reaction to Thief (in my perspective, but I may be biased because I worked on it) was on the graphics front. It's a tribute to the design of the engine that we've been able to (with LG) modify it so radically in the time we've had since Thief shipped and before.

Q: Can you give us some specific examples of how the engine has been improved from Thief to SS2? - Fleet

A: 16 bit color made a huge impact, colored lights make a world of difference and there's a new dithering technique that gets rid of all of the banding you might have seen in Thief, plus, multiplayer.

Q: Ken, why did you not include me in the game? - Moose

A: You ARE in the game.

Q: I assume differentiation of characters will be important enough. But are plans for a (very simple) signing language considered (see: Quake2 taunts) ? - Kensai

A: No plans right now for a signing language, but if somebody has some thoughts send me some email.

Q: Off topic, but how is Thief selling? - Snowlock

A: Thief is selling quite well and I would say is the best reviewed game this year along with Half Life.

Q: Will we be able to hide from enemies in shadows (sort of like Thief) to a limited degree? - Ashrim

A: Yes, the game naturally and organically uses that feature. Also sound propogation.

Q: How much is stealth a factor in ss2? Can you get the drop on enemies? Evade them totally? Do different enemies have different senses? Different sharpnesses of different senses? - Kicker

A: Can't talk about that too much right now except to say we are using hte same engine as Thief, so we have CAN use everything they can.

Q: Can we modify weapons to emit less noise? - JOS

A: Nice idea, actually never thought of that one.

Q: Will there be more of those cool subgame "entertainment packs" you could pick up in Cyberspace in SS1? :) - Exxos

A: You'll have to wait and see.

Q: How difficult can we make the game? Seeing there will be up to 4 people in coop, and all :> - Ducky

A: we will balance the game over the number of players, of course. Difficulty levels are still up in the air...stay tuned.

Q: What graphical improvements are being made to cyberspace? - Grizzly

A: Ah hah...Cyberspace, cyberspace, cyberspace...Solus, should we tell em? Ah, nah... (Ahhh... not yet. - solus ) Let's keep em in suspense.

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