It’s a great time to be a fan of immersive sims: between the continued percolation of Gloomwood early access, Fortune’s Run coming in September, and the knockout launches of Amnesia: The Bunker and the System Shock remake. of Nightdive, we eat well. The latter game is also getting a particularly fun treatment, with former Looking Glass programmer Marc Leblanc streaming his first game of Nightdive on Citadel Station.
While now an engineer at Riot Games, LeBlanc was a programmer on the original versions of System Shock and Thief, and his memories of Looking Glass Technologies (eventually Looking Glass Studios) are a highlight of seeing him working on the new version of the game he helped create.
“If you had told me that in 30 years I was going to play a remake of this game and release it on the internet,” LeBlanc said before starting the game, “I would have said you were crazy. But we we are there.”
In his first stream of the game, LeBlanc seemed impressed with Nightdive’s visual overhaul and tactile detail, admiring the 3D modeling and animation work that was out of reach for Looking Glass at the time. “We see our feet, we never could have done this in 1994,” LeBlanc joked as he watched the Hacker swing his simulated body through space in a medical-level healing pod.
The developer seemed to miss the original game’s voiceover work, however, which often included non-professionals from the offices of Looking Glass and the surrounding area. Right away, LeBlanc shouted out Helen Dunsmoir, the original voice actress for Mission Control character Rebecca Lansing: “She lived down the hall from us at MIT,” LeBlanc recalled. “She was part of the original D&D game from which Looking Glass was born.” LeBlanc, however, was thrilled to find that fan-favorite musician and actress Terri Brosius was brought back to re-record her lines as SHODAN.
LeBlanc also provided his own recollection of creating the classic code 0451 – the number originally appeared in System Shock and became a calling card for Looking Glass and eventually the immersive sim genre more broadly. System Shock producer Warren Spector argues the code was not an intentional reference to Ray Bradbury’s novel Farenheit 451 and was originally an actual door code used in the Looking Glass offices .
“For the record, he East a Ray Bradbury reference,” insisted LeBlanc when he encountered the first use of the canonical code in System Shock. “I know Warren said it wasn’t, but it was.
“The timeline is this: we did it [setting 451 as the in-game door code] when the office was in Lexington, we did that as code. It’s been in the game for a very long time.” LeBlanc went on to say that using 451 as Looking Glass’ real life the door code of his second office was itself a reference return to gambling, and also, perhaps, a small security risk.
“Patty the office manager, I think she asked Me what the code was in System Shock,” LeBlanc explained, “And she made it the code for the door to their current office, which was crazy naive. It would be a major security breach to publish your access code in a video game.”
Regardless of the obscure nature of 451 or the more popular creation of 0451, LeBlanc is still working on his System Shock game. His last show had him exploring the Executive Level of the Citadel and the Delta Grove, so he still has plenty of System Shock left to go. You can also follow the developer’s VODs on YouTube or Twitch. The remake is also worth checking out for itself – our own Joshua Wolens called it “the definitive way to play System Shock in 2023 and beyond” in his review.