System Shock 3 could be in a rough spot, as news of a number of important layoffs at developer OtherSide Entertainment's Austin happened late last year.
After the OtherSide Entertainment layoffs were spotted, former staff working on System Shock 3 posted replies on the OtherSide and RPGCodex forums, confirming that the title was lagging behind in development.
System Shock 3 OtherSide Entertainment Layoffs
The OtherSide Entertainment layoffs were first spotted by ResetEra user Mr. Tibbs, who noted that a number of key System Shock 3 staff had updated their LinkedIn profiles to reflect that they stopped working at the developer's Austin office back in September, October and November of last year.
OtherSide Entertainment had lost Starbreeze as publisher after the company encountered its own financial problems and sold back the rights to System Shock 3. At the same time, OtherSide's Warren Spector was quoted as saying that the title would aim for "for AAA quality at the AA price tag".
Back in December, a former System Shock 3 Community Manager posted their own thoughts on the OtherSide forums, expressing their worries for the studio:
"I want to say, having been at OSE while layoffs were happening and having left just before this next round in Austin, I deeply admired every single developer I had the chance to work with. Having played the internal SS3 demo, I know the Austin team worked their asses off and made some stunning progress in the past couple of months. It hurts to see many of these developers out of a job on a project they worked so hard on. Some of the developers in Boston, like Jared, still haven’t found full-time work since June.", they said.
The former Community Manager then pointed at a thread on RPGCodex, where another former OtherSide Austin employee, going by the username Kin Corn Karn, was detailing the situation behind doors.
"Warren [Spector, Studio Director] kept promising us a play test to give Boston feedback, but for whatever reason it never happened, so most of us didn't play it until it launched. We were horrified. Not only was it a financial loss for the company, the damage to our reputation was irreversible even if Austin had nothing to do with it. When the news about Starbreeze came it cast a big shadow over our hopes to find a new publisher.", they said on the OtherSide Boston-developed Underworld Ascendant which launched in a disastrous state.
"There's a lot of criticism of Warren here that I don't think is very fair. He was the most visible face of the team so I imagine it's natural to assign him blame, but if anything we needed more of his direct involvement. The team had a lot of strong personalities and he was mostly hands-off. In person he has a very gentle, kind, and humble demeanor. He had a good vision for the game, and perhaps some ambitions that were outside our reach, but I don't recall his involvement ever being corrosive.", he continued, describing Warren Spector.
They then proceed to outline a series of problems that made System Shock 3's development difficult. These included developing the title in Unity instead of Unreal Engine 4, an understaffed design team, and "milestone tunnel vision" (which they say saw the work from milestone demos being thrown away).
Forwarding to last Friday, the same former employee revealed that while the core systems of System Shock 3 were done, OtherSide Austin was "critically behind" in content development, following by saying that "everyone on the content side is no longer with the studio."
They added that, had Starbreeze not pulled their support as System Shock 3 publisher, the developer "would've delivered something interesting with some fresh and innovative gameplay, but a much smaller game than what people were expecting and inevitably disappointing for a sequel to such a beloved franchise."
Lastly, when another user asked if System Shock 3 was abandoned, they responded with the following: "I don't actually know what's going on, but the team is no longer employed there."
OtherSide Entertainment's Twitter account has been silent since December and details about System Shock 3 have been scarce in the past months, which isn't particularly encouraging. We'll have to wait and see if the developer issues an update soon.