Category Archives: Publishing

Happy 25th Anniversary Heretic II!

The year was 1997. Raven had just completed Hexen II, Take No Prisoners, and Mageslayer, each for an entirely different publisher. Every thing came together under one roof in the wake of the Activision purchase, and teams were a little in flux.

At the time Raven wasn’t necessarily a dedicated FPS shop. Black Crypt was a tile-based RPG, Necrodome was a vehicle-based action game, Mageslayer and TNP were top-down. Rolling from the completion of Hexen II (and in parallel with its expansion Portal of Praevus), we got the opportunity to create something a little experimental using the Heretic/Hexen IP.

Tomb Raider was still pretty new at the time… and over-the-shoulder action was a genre that was still fairly untapped. We still maintained our relationship with id Software so we got the chance to use the powerful engine fueling the recently completed Quake II to create a third person shooter. This game would branch from Heretic rather than Hexen, as we imagined Hexen was going to continue on as a first-person series (alas, that did not happen).

We went to work right away and started building a third person camera and some Tomb Raider-style wall climbing and mantling, as well as some nice spell-slinging. I seem to remember using Hexen II’s imp as a starter enemy. All-in-all a great proof of concept within a month or two.

Often when a game comes out of the concept phase and is headed foe production, someone creates a Powerpoint presentation or pitch doc to show to folks who wear the big hats and sign the checks. In this particular case we were eager enough about the world that we created a little mini-storybook, got a bunch of printed copies, and sent it off to Activision.

I think Dan Freed wrote the text, and it includes art by Brian Pelletier and Rob Gee. It may read a bit cheesy, and you can see that Corvus was even misspelled in all the sidebars, but I think it demonstrates how incredibly amped we all were about this thing we were making.

You can scan through the whole thing here!

Fast forward less than a year and we shipped a real third-person shooter, merging Quake’s first-person sensibilities into a camera and character with a feel that no game had previously. It had melee combat and acrobatics. It had mutiplayer in third-person, which basically had never been done like this. It had a full single-player campaign that could be played cooperatively. It had in-game cutscenes where no mechanism existed in the Quake engine. All in around 10 months.

Yes, Half-Life shipped just a week before and ate Heretic II’s lunch but we stand behind the work we did. It was an amazing experience that we all remember fondly to this day.