By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
If that made no sense to you, let me give an example. Let's say I wanted to have some fun…I spawn two enemies. One behind the other. Now I can shoot the second guy from between the first one's legs, arms, or any other teeny space you can find on his person, because they're all different parts (in previous Quake engine games, the enormous bounding box made this impossible). I can also shoot off his gun. Or sunglasses. Or his holster. Or his hat. Or anything else I can think of, for that matter. Not to mention the fact that I can shoot him in the legs, hands, arms, neck, heck, anywhere you can think of on his person, you can shoot him (and yes, there's even an animation when you shoot guys in the crotch).
The weapons have presented a minor problem for the developers, as Eric Biessman explained. "The only bad thing about making a realistic game, is that most guns fire bullets. Finding a way to differentiate between each weapon has been a pretty big challenge." But the big question on a lot of people's minds (at least mine) is, "what the heck are they doing with the license?" Raven could have made a realistic first person shooter without the SoF license, but with it, they've added some unique features. "What we did was make the magazine into a sort of web site where you get various offers [and] missions. So you can buy your weapons, and use the magazine to find out where the hot spots are…that's pretty much how we tied in the title." Expect to rescue hostages, storm military installations, and just be a totally badass mercenary in Soldier of Fortune. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry…you'll have a couple of friendly sidekicks to back you up.
And then there's that other title Raven's working on…Star Trek: Voyager. There are so many horror stories about working on anything Star Trek related. What's Raven's experience been like? Apparently, they've had no problems. "I was worried about that," Brian Raffel explained. "But they realized that they should give us free reign. And we've already come up with some unique things that they've seen and hey…maybe they'll wind up in the series."
While Paramount might be giving them plenty of room, the fans won't be so forgiving, as Brian Pelletier pointed out. "We want to have free reign, we want to say, 'yeah, it's a licensed product, but we're just going to do what we want to do.' We want to make this really cool action game…but, it's Star Trek. So we really have to make sure we please those Star Trek fans. Not just the action gaming fans, but the Star Trek fans. It is a balance, and that's going to be the main issue here, trying to get that right balance. I actually look forward to it."
No doubt about it, Raven's come a long way. In the years since their inception, there have been some pretty strange legends about them. My favorite one, is that there is a reference to Welcome Back, Kotter hidden in Hexen II. If you ever played the game, chances are you remember the sound that the Archers made when they first saw you. Take a sample of about four guys at random and ask them, and chances are that they'll all tell you it's, "Horshak" a reference to the character Arnold Dingfelder Horshak from Welcome Back, Kotter. I asked Chia Chin Lee, the author of that sound for the real story. "That was actually Mike Werkle [one of the 3D artists on Hexen II]. It wasn't intended to be 'Horshak' at all. I didn't even hear, 'Horshak,' I just heard some weird syllables. But what I did was, I took a whole bunch of [samples] of his voice, and reversed little parts, and did all these little strange manipulations and came up with a sentence. And then we put it in the game, and the programmers, they thought it sounded like 'Horshak,' so they put in the game, 'the Archers horshaked you.' But it was totally unintentional."
The other most common misconception, is where the name, "Raven" comes from. I had always assumed it was an Edger Allan Poe reference, but it turns out to be much different. Brian Raffel explained, "my brother and I, when we started the company, we were heavy into role-playing [games] at the time, we were making a D&D style game, and one of the guys we played with, his character's name was Raven. We said to him, 'well, we're doing a medieval game so what do you think [we should call our company]' and he said, 'well, how about Raven.' And we said, 'okay.' I mean, when we started the company, we never expected to be in this situation. We were going to write a D&D module and submit it to TSR…that was going to be our business. And then we started thinking, 'well maybe we can get a game published,' and before we knew it…we were here."
Whether they saw it coming or not, Raven is definitely set to make a splash at this year's E3 with both Soldier of Fortune and Star Trek: Voyager. They do have plans to start work soon on a third title, although nobody has any idea what that will be yet. No matter what that turns out to be, you can bet that it'll be another massive, art-intense Raven game.
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.
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.