From the Vault – The Long Lost System Shock 2 Sketchbook

by IG.Admin on July 13 2010

57 comments

It is common for studios of Irrational’s longevity to lose or misplace assets, due to hardware failures, moves across town, and the inevitable ravages of entropy.  Finding these assets years later is like stumbling upon buried treasure on an island you discovered by accident.

We just dug up a particularly precious artifact:  a sketchbook from System Shock 2. We’re talking original artwork on honest-to-goodness paper – no Wacom tablets or Cintiq monitors, but  paper with the original coffee stains still intact.

We are pleased to share with you some of the contents of this archaeological find.  Enjoy the art in this installment of From the Vault, while we look for more treasures in long-abandoned boxes and dusty storage closets.

ss2_001 ss2_005 ss2_006

ss2_007 ss2_010 ss2_011

ss2_012 ss2_013 ss2_015

Avatar Image Posted this July 13 2010 07:03 pm, under From the Vault,
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From the Vault
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  • sidshuman | July 13, 2010 7:08 pm

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    Hot damn. Thanks for sharing, guys!

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  • remo | July 13, 2010 7:10 pm

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    This is fantastic

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  • July 13, 2010 7:11 pm

    [...] This post was Twitted by irrationalgames [...]

    See Original Post at [real-url.org]

  • vben | July 13, 2010 7:17 pm

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    That is some great concept art. Makes me yearn for paper art once again.

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  • lucasrizoli | July 13, 2010 7:21 pm

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    These sketches, particularly the one of the pipe-wielding Hybrid, bring System Shock 2 and BioShock a little more closely together, to me, at least. I find it easier to see a resemblance in sketches such as these than in the in-game polygonal models.

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  • conrad.s | July 13, 2010 7:40 pm

    Real Coffee stains are never as symmetrical as the purposely made ones. So much more authentic.

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  • seankh | July 13, 2010 8:56 pm

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    Could this be the prelude to things to come?……

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  • Vengeful | July 13, 2010 9:41 pm

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    If the title didn’t say system shock I would of thought these were very early sketches for bioshock.

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  • July 14, 2010 7:15 am

    [...] From the Vault – The Long Lost System Shock 2 Sketchbook [Irrational] Tagged:artirrational gamespcsystem shock 2total recall [...]

    See Original Post at [www.kotaku.com.au]

  • IG.Nate | July 14, 2010 9:52 am

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    Bit of history here….This was my sketchbook that I had from the end of Thief through the end of System Shock 2. Frankly, I had utterly forgotten about it until about a month ago when I visiting my sister in Maine. She said ” I think I have one of your sketchbooks here”. Sure enough this was it, and I had not seen it since we shipped SS2. What I found most amazing in going back through these sketches is how few versions of game assets we did back then, there was simply no time. It was really just “Oh, you drew the laser-pistol? great, yeah…build that” , “Security Bot huh? Yeah, that’ll do”

    Also hilarious: The sketches I did of the Von Braun crew member uniforms are actually colored with watercolor…I’m not sure if I even have a fucking lead pencil at my desk anymore….ahhhh youth

    -NW

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  • NomarDll769 | July 14, 2010 11:07 am

    Amazing!! I’m really digging those coffee stains too.

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  • sh0dan | July 14, 2010 11:15 am

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    Cool beans.

    Is the helmeted space suit concept for the Zero-G levels you guys were going to do?

    Because I look at it now, and I see parallels with the Big Daddy from Bio Shock. It has the same encumbered design.

    Seeing stuff like this makes me hope you guys are (somehow) working on SS3.

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    • IG.Nate | July 14, 2010 12:52 pm

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      That may have been…or it could have been a random doodle….It was 12 years ago so I’m not sure

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  • skirby4 | July 14, 2010 11:37 am

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    The fact that you guys post this stuff is awesome. As a person trying to get into the industry, I just love seeing this stuff.

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  • Barney | July 14, 2010 12:28 pm

    I still can’t believe the fact that the team behind System Shock II created a video game like Bioshock. I feel betrayed.

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  • Rye0077r | July 14, 2010 12:51 pm

    Awesome blossom!

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  • IG.Nate | July 14, 2010 12:53 pm

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    Bonus points if you can identify the SS2 item in the top left of image #8….

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  • July 14, 2010 1:14 pm

    [...] finns det en hel del konceptkonst från spelet bevarat, vilket utvecklarna Irrational idag släppt ut till oss internetinvånare: [View with [...]

    See Original Post at [nukem.se]

  • July 14, 2010 2:59 pm

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [wiigamer.com]

  • July 14, 2010 3:02 pm

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.videogamez.info]

  • colornerdy | July 14, 2010 3:54 pm

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    Coffee stains complete the picture, Sell this on eBay, and some chap would kill for it. KILL.
    Anyways, I love this inside access and this post is no less worse.
    Cheers Collin.

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  • July 14, 2010 4:11 pm

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.latestgamereviews.info]

  • July 14, 2010 4:49 pm

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.moderngames.info]

  • July 14, 2010 6:44 pm

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.gamestrike.info]

  • July 14, 2010 9:38 pm

    [...] are more here, but I’ve already spoiled the best one. It’s mostly more mundane stuff. For instance, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.software-nook.com]

  • July 14, 2010 9:41 pm

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [modmyxbox.org]

  • ftrapture | July 14, 2010 11:34 pm

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    Well what the crap, that is really a load of awesomesauce.

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  • July 14, 2010 11:59 pm

    [...] Vía | Irrational Games [...]

    See Original Post at [www.ludoqia.com]

  • July 15, 2010 12:19 am

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.gametard.info]

  • July 15, 2010 1:36 am

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [videogamemania.info]

  • July 15, 2010 3:03 am

    [...] are more here, but I’ve already spoiled the best one. It’s mostly more mundane stuff. For instance, [...]

    See Original Post at [games-all-around.com]

  • July 15, 2010 3:08 am

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [feelthegame.net]

  • July 15, 2010 9:29 pm

    [...] 16 Tem System Shock 2′nin çizimleri. Wacom tablette falan çizilmiş değil. Bildiğiniz kağıt üstü skeçleri. Tozlu ve kahve lekeli.Oyunun yaratıcısı Irrational Games 1999 hitinin orijinal çizimlerini bulmuş olmaktan dolayı heyecanlı. [...]

    See Original Post at [pikselkukla.wordpress.com]

  • shodanfreeman | July 16, 2010 4:47 pm

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    These are awesome, any chance we’ll see more of these?

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  • petrov_t_blind | July 16, 2010 8:23 pm

    It’s bizarre seeing these as the finished product was a bit different but as I remember an awesomely stylized, atmospheric and engaging experience. It would be great to see more things on in my opinion the greatest game of all time.

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  • mrlemonyfresh | July 18, 2010 12:54 am

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    I’ve always wanted to do something like being involved with remaking system shock 1 or helping continue the series, but EA have an iron grip on it. It might just be possible to remake one or create a spiritual successor that stayed true to it without using copyright names and references, but that would be system shock without SHODAN and that’d be hard to replace

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  • bish777 | July 18, 2010 11:30 am

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    Nate, is it a large nanite container?

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  • July 22, 2010 1:25 am

    [...] videojuego del que fue heredero espiritual Bioshock presenta ilustraciones que claramente se utilizaron posteriormente en el desarrollo, y otras que finalmente fueron [...]

    See Original Post at [www.el-hacker.com]

  • July 24, 2010 12:21 pm

    [...] you are waiting, why not check out their fantastic sketchbook of System Shock 2 back when pen and paper ruled game design. Share and [...]

    See Original Post at [www.girlgamerssuck.com]

  • revenile | August 6, 2010 6:45 am

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    Seeing all this badass art only makes wish more than ever that System Shock 2 would see a re-release on steam or gog or something, I’d almost hack the site and force a paid for preorder if that happened :/ I missed the game when it came out and now it’s rare and stupid expensive to find.

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  • benjaminshepherdpagan | August 18, 2010 8:05 am

    I wound’t mind seeing more…Can I haz some more?

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  • bioblitzer | August 21, 2010 8:15 am

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    haha Brill

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  • August 25, 2010 4:40 pm

    [...] System Shock 2 was a great game, I was still dreaming about being an astronaut and thought that girls were icky when it was released, but hell, I still do to this day. Irrelevant point aside, System Shock 2 was labelled the spiritual predecessor to bioshock, and the folks over at irrational games have released concept sketches from one of their newly discovered sketchbooks. [...]

    See Original Post at [robotgeek.co.uk]

  • assassinsnyper | August 25, 2010 6:28 pm

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    Thank you for the insight!!!

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  • deadman321 | August 29, 2010 10:01 am

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    Awesome sketches. I love SH2.

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  • spectregunner | September 23, 2010 6:55 pm

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    Very cool! I’m always interested to see concept art and how it matches in-game. The game engine certainly limits the ability to fully realize an idea.

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  • carlosspcywenr | October 6, 2010 9:46 pm

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    This is my first encounter with System Shock of any kind. Was it the precursor to Bioshock? I like the futuristic idea, though it’s been a bit overdone these days. I wonder how much more scary can we make a fucked-up space-station?

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  • December 1, 2010 4:05 am

    [...] original pitch for BioShock, and now we’ve been given a glimpse into the the System Shock 2 sketchbook. It includes some of the original artwork for Ken Levine and Irrational’s 1999 RPG-shooter, [...]

    See Original Post at [www.latestgamereviews.com]

  • brettstenger | January 23, 2012 1:48 pm

    This looks really cool i wish they would revamp this game series r make it available to consoles T.T

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  • november17th | January 20, 2013 2:15 pm

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    Amazing work! I enjoy their roughness and it would be nice to see more of them.

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  • jakkapakka | November 24, 2013 11:07 pm

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    I hope I;m not the only one who thinks the mech-suit was ‘put aside’ for some later project that we all know and love? ;)

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