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volume 1, issue 36

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

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Acknowledgments: A lot of people deserve thanks for this article...Jason "loonyboi" Bergman took a moment to thank them all.

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Inside Raven Software:
the definitive history (part three)

By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

"Some people complained bitterly about it from the start, " Michael Raymond-Judy explained. "They weren't interested in hearing why we were doing it…I was pleased to discover a substantial presence of people around the 'net that basically said, 'hey, let's wait and see.' Unfortunately some of those were people hoping for a Tomb Raider clone."

Regardless of the initial reaction, Heretic II was their second fully 3D game…and this time they were prepared. Man, were they prepared. Raven devoted an incredible amount of resources to Heretic II. "At one point I was leading a group of like, ten programmers," Pat Lipo recalled. Heretic II used the Quake 2 engine, which obviously wasn't exactly ready out of the box to handle a third person title. "It's a great code base," Lipo explained. "It's really good technology. But, especially doing a third person game, there was so much we had to do to make the game be what we wanted it to be. So extending it was a lot of work."

Heretic II art by Brian Pelletier (with inks by Mark A. Nelson).

Heretic II was the first project for one Raven newcomer, Mark A. Nelson. If you were a comics fan a few years back, you may recall the name. I certainly did, and was really pleasantly surprised to discover that he had joined Raven. Mark explained to me how he wound up at a gaming company. "I was at GenCon, because I did a lot of work for TSR. I had known Les [Dorscheid, a conceptual artist at Raven] for years, and Les came up to me and asked if I had ever thought about doing [a] computer game, and would I want to come over [to Raven] and take a look at it. So I said okay, and I dragged Kevin Long along, and the two of us brought up our portfolios…what it was, is that they had basically just said, 'well you guys have good drawing skills, and that's what we're looking for, because we can teach you Photoshop in two or three weeks.' So they were trying to hire guys with really strong drawing and painting backgrounds." Mark came on board as one of the seven conceptual artists on Heretic II. Another comics veteran turned Raven artist is Jeff Butler, who comic book fans may know as the co-creator of The Badger (with Mike Baron). In all, there were seven conceptual artists on Heretic II, a number that rivals many major motion pictures.

"We were doing tons of art," Brian Pelletier, Project Lead on Heretic II explained. "One of the main things was just trying to figure out what the character was going to be [like]. Alone, I did about thirty drawings of the character before I finally got something…overall we did over a hundred sketches before we got it nailed down." Pelletier, in addition to working on conceptual art for the game, helped a great deal with the overall design. "[I] wrote the story, wrote the script…me and Dan Freed." This was a great proving ground for Pelletier, as he's now overseeing development on Star Trek: Voyager.


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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Rowan Crawford. This article is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't try it...or we'll peck your eyes out.