a fan mission for System Shock 2

           by Thomas Green

1. Installation
2. How to Uninstall
3. The Story
4. Information to Read Before You Play
5. Concluding Thoughts
6. Credits

1. Installation

The installation process is fairly easy. You do not have to download any additional software, it just involves a few steps which I will cover below. At first, you will move all .crf files to a folder called res. What this does is tell System Shock 2 that any special files in new folders (like strings or snd) should be checked first and then look to the folder res for the rest of the game data. This lets designers add custom text, sounds, textures, etc. without having to overwrite or extract existing files.

You should leave these .crf files in the res folder even when you uninstall this level. The game will play the exact same, and you will be prepared to install other fan missions whenever you want. (The actual FM installation starts at step 4.)
  1. Create a new folder in your Shock2 base directory called res.
  2. Move all files of type .crf from your Shock2 base directory into your new res folder.
  3. Open up the file install.cfg in your Shock2 base directory. Change the resname_base line to point to your new res folder.
    My line looks like this: resname_base C:\fun\Sshock2\res+E:\shock. This way Shock knows to check for custom sounds/textures/text/etc. before using the original game information.
  4. Rename the file earth.mis in your Shock2 base directory to something else, like oldearth.mis, this way you avoid overwriting it when you unzip a file with the same name later.
  5. Also rename the files cs1.avi and cs3.avi in your cutscenes subdirectory to something else, accordingly.
  6. Unzip into your main Shock2 directory making sure to include folder names. New folders should now appear: snd, snd2 and strings. If you followed the above steps it should not ask you to overwrite any files.

***** Note: different gamma settings on different monitors with different video cards at different times of day will give you drastically different light levels. I suggest you balance your gamma to a suitably dark level that you can still see where you are going

***** Note: this has only been tested with the "Classic" English version of System Shock 2 (the version that came patched on the CD). If you have any problems hearing the custom sounds or seeing the new text, just drop me a line.

Start up Shock like normal. New game. Choose a difficulty level. You will be immediately playing Arboretum. Enjoy!

2. How to Uninstall

  1. Delete the subfolders snd, snd2 and strings.
  2. Delete earth.mis, cutscenes\cs1.avi and cutscenes\cs3.avi and replace them with their backed up counterparts.
OPTIONAL) You can move all your crf files back to your Shock directory and delete the res folder, but this is not recommended because the original game will run just fine with them in the res folder. More importantly, it will save you a step when you want to play a future fan mission.

3. The Story

      It's late, after a long night of trauma work at the Manton Bay trauma center. Most of the incidents were minor accidents that are a common occurence due to the rigors of life in space. But a recent accident at Dock-7 brought in more than enough excitment for the medical staff.

      Dr. Jay Millins had already seen a lot on his two medical tours, and the shattered remains of a dockhand's arm crushed between two massive storage units was more of an interesting problem to the doctor than a true emergency. But as always, the senior medical staff took over the interesting cases and left the young Dr. Millins with the routine patients. Two of the higher ranking surgeons seemed to have it out for Jay, he just never knew why.

      But it all just didn't matter, because in three more months, Jay would be the ranking medical officer aboard a military frigate, the Nutellen. Finally in charge for the first time in his career. He couldn't wait.

      Jay watched the news flicker by on his wall as he sipped at a steaming mug, lost in thoughts of his future when a buzz came from the door. He checked the time to make sure it was as late as he thought it was, set down his mug, and walked to the door. The screen showed Dr. Lewis, medical director for the center, looking just as tired as Millins yet buzzing at his door nonetheless.

      With a soft hiss, the door slipped open and the two men looked at each other, neither having really seen the other off duty before.

      "Dr. Millins."

      "Dr. Lewis. What can I do for you?"

      "Mind if I come in? It's kind of important."

      Jay looked back at the mess his quarters were in but was in no position to tell his boss to go away. Motioning Lewis in, they both sat down and after the standard pleasantries, Lewis got to the point.

      "It seems as if there is a problem that we just got word of. Ever hear of the outpost in the Handle system?"


      "They're a botanical research facility making some great progress in tests dealing with that system's sun and photosythnesis."

      Jay gave a puzzled look and slouched back in his chair, "So, what is the emergency?"

      Dr. Lewis shifted a bit uneasily in his chair, "We got a message from them yesterday after they made contact with a shuttle with a seriously wounded man onboard."

      "Ok. They run decontamination protocols, stabalize the patient, a medical transport brings him back here and everything is fine. I still don't see the emergency."

      Dr. Lewis frowned a bit, "We were able to confirm with our shipping logs here, that they did not receive their required medical supplies last month. And more importantly, we cannot get in contact with them again. At all. They are not picking up our signal."

      Jay sat up with a look of concern. This just wasn't sounding good for him at all. "Dr. Lewis, what exactly does this have to do with me?"

      "With the closest medical transport taking three weeks just to get to us and with no medical treatment, that man wont live long. Can I, uh, take you up on that coffee now?"

      Jay raised his voice "Dr. Lewis, what does this have to do with me?"

      "We're sending you out tonight on a frieghter heading near the Handle system. They'll drop you off at the facility. We'll need you to stabalize the situation and contact us with the details, in the mean time, we'll have the medical transport coming right behind you."

      Jay stood up, trying to conceal his anger "Dr. Lewis you said we have no contact with them now. You need a combat medic with a hazard team not me."

      "You have your orders."

      "This is crazy. What's going on here?"

      Dr. Lewis stood up, left a transport ticket on his chair and walked to the door.

      Jay quickly followed after him. "Why all this for just one man? There has got to be someone I can talk to about this. I am NOT going."

      "There is someone you can talk to. The medical director...and that's me. You leave in two hours."

      The door closed softly leaving Dr. Jay Millins staring blankly at the ticket on the chair....

4. Information to Read Before You Play

      I hope you enjoy my first level for System Shock2. It has been quite an experience completing this level, and I hope you like the results.

      The reason I created this map was to give you Shockers out there a new place to explore. Instead of the same old hallways and suprises that aren't really surprises anymore, I have put this place together to give you something new. It really started out as a case of me wanting to play some of the really good fan missions for SS2 only to find that we had very few missions at all. So I figured I would help remedy the problem and create a mission myself.

      An important thing to keep in mind is that this is NOT a continuation of the System Shock story. It is NOT SS3. Let me state again that this place is NOT part of the SS2 universe, it is a place of my own design using the tools available.

      The mission is roughly the size of the one of the maps in the original game (i.e. "MedSci1"). Due to the scope of the level, lots of interesting game elements had to be left out as they either didn't fit the setting or would have been just been crowded in. There are no skill choices or upgrades. No Xerxes or Shodan..etc.

      Do these things make up the SS2 concept? You bet.
      Is the level better for not having them in it? Most certainly. Those things just do not make sense in this place. Making a single level instead of a complete game, one has to make choices as to what goes in and what doesn't.

      One more point, if the very first sound you hear upon entering the level is very loud, then your volume is set just right. :)

      That's it. I hope you enjoy Arboretum.

           - Tom

********************* WARNING ***************************

5. Concluding Thoughts


Now that you've been through the level, here are some bits of information that might be of interest.
  1. There is not a single crate in this level. Yes, that's right, not a single crate, the crutch used by the level designing community since the days of Wolfenstein. I wanted to make sure the editing world out there knew it could be done. :)
  2. There are 10 Toxin Hypos hidden throughout the map. They have no realistic function other than a "game" element to see if you can find them.
  3. There are 4 secret areas to be found.
  4. Chronological time to build was about 6 weeks. A third of this time was probably experimenting with different issues in test levels to get things to work right.
  5. One of the hardest parts to build was the central courtyard area. It went through many revisions and with lots of extras chopped off, still chugs hard on the frame rate. A good learning lesson for you all "don't put a centralized hub in your level that is large, full of objects, and sees most other parts of the level".
  6. Some elements that happen in the game have to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to the story. Hybrids, ok, but a midwife in this setting? Areas blocked off yet have some bad guys still inside. I know, I know... :)
  7. While building the level, it was really nice to be caught by surprise once. I entered the Operations room and entered the left section after adding the lights to the screens there. Before I flipped on the switch to turn on the white lights, I looked at the greens and oranges lighting up the area in a nice glow and was caught off guard. I liked it so much that I disabled the switch to turn on the main lights so that all you get are the screen colors. I just wasn't expecting such interesting lighting.
  8. The mission is comprised of 722 brushes, 938 objects, 64 lights, and lists a build time of 4:20:33:52
  9. If you have ANY comments at all please email them to This was my first Shock level and knowing what worked and what didn't can be of help on my next endevor. Was there something you hated? Something over done? Something you appreciated? Something you really liked? Let me know. I want all the feedback I can get.

6. Credits

Level Design
           - Thomas Green (Doc4)

Sound Editing
           - Thomas Green (Doc4)
           - Stephen Christopher Smith

Video Editing
           - Lars Dieckow (Daxim)

Voice Acting
           - Tom Butler (Trauma)
           - Lars Dieckow (Daxim)
           - Thomas Green (Doc4)
           - Patrick Kelly (Patrikor!)
           - Shawn Maynard (Nupraptor)
           - Amanda Seuberling
           - Stephen Christopher Smith

Beta Testing
           - Amanda Seuberling
           - Stephen Christopher Smith

      Thanks go out to the fellow editors who helped me with the technical difficulties (Daxim, Garbo, HK, Lance, Xarax, and a few of you others out there).

      And to Christopher, I thank you for showing a strong interest from day one. That support helped get me through the times when I wanted to drop this project early on and to keep plowing ahead. I seriously doubt I would have gotten this beast underway without your support.

      And a special thank you to Amanda for listening to my constant ramblings about the level and what I was doing. You were very patient with me and quite helpful in getting this done.

Completed: 04/12/01

Distribution of this level is allowed as long as it is free and the package is kept intact. You may not include this level to any map pack without my permission. No one may edit and re-distribute this mission without my express permission.

"This level was not made and is not supported by Looking Glass Studios, Eidos Interactive or Electronic Arts."