System Shock has been the inspiration for countless games, from immersive sims like Deus Ex to direct spiritual successors like Bioshock. Even Dead Space was originally intended to be System Shock 3. But according to a new report, the origins of System Shock itself are stranger than you might imagine.
A report published by Rock Paper Shotgun tells the story of the game’s creation through the voices of its developers. And in the course of his memoirs, designer Austin Grossman claims that the original inspiration for the game was none other than Sonic.
The first mention of the System Shock project that I heard was someone saying, “Oh yeah, we’re going to do Sonic the Hedgehog, but in space. That was the original concept. I don’t know whose concept it was, and why it seemed like a super good idea to them.
It’s a really weird origin story that the game’s executive producer, Warren Spector, has a hard time remembering. “I don’t remember anything about it at all. Even looking back, I don’t see it. Strange.”
Grossman goes on to explain that the idea eventually “came to a halt” and then System Shock was replaced by a more familiar cyberpunk premise.”
Everyone watched Ridley Scott films, and I was a big fan of William Gibson. After all the pretentiousness and forced quirkiness of the Ultima franchise, we just wanted everything to be messy and messy and futuristic for a while.
In the article you can find some more interesting facts about the origin of System Shock. Grossman, for example, came up with the idea of telling a story through audio recordings, and programmer Rob Fermier stated, “There was a desire to make the mechanics a little more degestive in nature.” Grossman cites several sources of inspiration for the idea for the audio zine, including the game Pool of Radiance and the scene from The Fellowship of the Ring “when they are in Moria and Gandalf is reading the record that the dwarves kept of their fall”. It also emerged that one of the alternative names for System Shock was BIOSfear, “which is similar to a computer BIOS and also a ‘biosphere’,” Fermier elaborates.