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Remember When Raven Software Was Good?
I'm talking about Raven's original hit series (progressively less and less so), the Heretic/Hexen saga. What I'm interested in discussing here is why, since Raven discontinued the series to do games based on lisenced/prefamous intellectual property (for obvious reasons), so few similar titles have sprung up? My questions are:

-What aspects of the first four games did you like/dislike?

-Is the genre of FPS action meldable with medieval/fantasy/RPG? How successful was this series, or the particular games (Heretic1/2, Hexen1/2) in doing this?

-How do the few examples of games in this vein to surface recently (I'm thinking Painkiller, kind of) measure up to the originals?

-Finally, say Raven or some other company decided that there was money in this and so they decided to do a game in the tradition of Heretic, Hexen and etc: What would you like to see in it? What aspects preserved, what changed or discarded?
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What The Hell 
My icon changed between preview and submit??!? 
The Sad Thing 
is Raven wasn't always bad. When Raven came home and announced his new promotion as head of the accounting department, he found his wife in bed with his best friend, and that just drove him over the edge. 
The Basic 
topic of this discussion does deserve some exploration. Are FPS compatable with fantasy settings? Yes, most definitely, but you have to take the scope of what is feasible in consideration. The first video games that did it for me were the fantasy RPG's done from a first person perspective, Dungeon Master, Wizardy and later the Ultima Underworld series

The pace and physical setting of the FPS lends itself to certain types of fantasy adventures, but not others. Heroic fantasy of the LOTR variety would be too elaborate and slow for the FPS, but the Sword and Sorcery style of Conan or Lieber's Gray Mouser series would be a perfect match.

Some general thoughts about how it should be designed.

Avoid stats -- this means of conveying value was invented for pen and paper role playing, any of this can be substituted by a GUI visual aid.

minimize the RPG elements -- only to the extent getting better items, building up more powerful players adds to game play, keep it -- but anything that slows the game down by seducing the player to spend a lot pf time on the primping/vanity page of player stats should be eliminated.

emphasize weapons -- build a set of ranged weapons that go beyond the crossbow and longbow combos typical of this genre. Clawed grappling hooks, razored lassos, boomerings, sling staves could help fill this out. Make the weapons interesting to use in how you interface with the mouse and the results of their usuage. The light saber in Jedi Knight II almost made that piece of shit of a game worth playing. If each weapon in the game had its own distinct characteristics, how could it fail?

No classes -- the player is a warrior, an assassin for hire and a thief for personal gain; what he does in any given situation is to his advantage at that given moment. A skills system, like Runequest introduced a long time ago could be useful as the player decides what works to his advantage as he is playing the game, but the class system has always been problematic (when you are thirty odd hours into playing Baldur's Gate, and you find your Ranger/Druid not exactly it is pretty hard to turn back), and in fact Runequest introduced the system as a means of overcoming the inherent limitations in the Dungeons and Dragons class based system.

Just flipping through a half dozen Dragon magazines I still have from the 1980's there is quite a wealth of material and ideas for gameplay, traps and the like that have not yet been exploited in any videogame that I have played to this day. 
Was fun. But I did rely too much on the lightsaber throw. 
That's Because 
it was a fucking awesome move. 
My Opinion 
The original style of artwork/theme/atmosphere was really good with the first 2 games (Heretic and Hexen). I liked that weird, cartoon-ish evil medieval world. I think subsequently the artwork, although good, did not have the same stylized quality that struck me as so cool.

I did appreciate Raven's effort in Hexen II, carried over somewhat to Heretic II, to create detailed levels based on ancient civilizations and etc... the "source material," that is, of much fantasy. Unfortunately, I don't think it worked out as well practically as it could have. Both games have interesting level design, and it did improve quite a bit in Heretic II, but I think both are too dungeon based. In Hexen II, for example, much of the level design was just indoor dungeons only with different colours of bricks... I found Hexen II SP very confusing, and never finished it.

I was vastly impressed with the unique action/fantasy/fighting mix in Heretic II. However, I really think the original Heretic was the best out of the entire series however. IT had the most emphasis on action, on simply _mowing_monsters_down_ (as doom did), but had a satisfying mix of extra abilities and weird weapons that made things interesting.

I don't play many RPG's... my idea of an RPG is dungeon siege, and that hardly counts. I actually think that the series lost popularity because they became more and more eccentric, trying to make their games "deeper" - that is, more complex and (nerdily) historically accurate settings, more RPG elements, multiple character classes, and then that final, doomed attempt to innovate even more with the new combat system and unrecognized genius of Heretic II.

I think if they made a sequel in the series, they would have to go back to Heretic-style emphasis on action. RPG elements, such as inventory, artifacts, magical abilities, and all those atmospheric touches they always had, would be good. Character classes and advancement might be too much actually.

Before I heard about Quake 4, I always theorized that Raven might be doing Heretic 3, as id was doing Doom 3, on the same engine.

But they'll probably never do that, since as the screenshots from Quake 4 and Prey all illustrate, that engine is only good for Doom3-style tech themes. Or apparently anyway. 
was that a family guy reference to the evil monkey? 
the screenshots from Quake 4 and Prey all illustrate, that engine is only good for Doom3-style tech themes.

And what is it about those shots that says that, aside from the fact that they're from tech-themed games? 
I agree with lun. All three games have very similar themes and art styles, so are bound to look similar. Of course, the fact they all use the same tech is going to make them look similar as well, but I'm sure the Doom 3 engine can do non-tech-themed corridors too. 
Has everyone forgot that Doom3 did some rather good Hell and Temple environments? 
Yes we have.

Hell was pretty good, but those rocks sure were shiny. 
Yeap, Than 
I have the DVD set, sometimes I can't help myself. 
To Continue Derailing The Thread 
Hell was pretty good, but those rocks sure were shiny.

Yeah, blame the texture artist, not the engine. 
Let's Actually Get The The Heart Of The Issue Here. 
Your beef is not with Raven. Your beef is with the industry as a whole not making the games you want. It also seems you're placing the theme and setting of the games far ahead of 'Is the game fun?', which should be the only thing that ever matters in a game.

I'm flattered that you think Raven is the company setting the pace and gaming styles everyone follows, but let's be honest, the entire industry doesn't follow what one company makes, just whatever sells well. The reason so many WW2 and other 'realism' FPS games exist is not because one single company doesn't happen to be making a fantasy shooter, but because Half-Life/Counterstrike/etc sold so well amoung the public.

Games are expensive to make, and most developers aren't able to afford making whatever they want, they need a publisher for the cash. And publishers aren't going to take risks with their cash for the most part. So sure, maybe if there were a Fantasy FPS currently out and it sold a few hundred million copies or whatnot, there would be more copy-cat type games out there. But getting to that stage to make that type of game requires more than just the decision by the developer to do such a game.

I think rather than bashing Raven specifically, you should be emailing people like Activision and EA and such saying how much you'd like to see more fantasy games. Maybe you should organize a team to make a fantasy mod for one of the latest games out there, hell, maybe a bunch of people will see it and like it that companies get an idea that 'Hey, maybe such a theme would be worthwhile to try!'. Or maybe you should just wait, the current trend of gaming can't remain forever. 
and we're back on track 
Erm.. Let's Hijack The Thread... 
why is it that everyone is addressing only the last couple of sentences from my post?

I don't think Raven is setting the standard for the industry. Furthermore, I didn't mean for this to be a thread where I talk about what I think is wrong with the industry either. It was to discuss fantasy FPS, past and potential. That's the point.

Nor do I think the theme/setting are more important than the "is this fun" factor. On the other hand, if I see 40 clones of one really good movie, I enjoy that progressively less and less. Perhaps a similar principle could be applied to interactive entertainment without seeming too ridiculous.

It isn't bashing Raven specifically to say that they chose to do games that'd make more money. That's what every company does, or else it goes under. I'm not some kind of hippie who doesn't realize that. In fact, you'll note in the earlier portion of my post that I said the most successful resurrection of the franchise would probably involve a focus on action more and eccentric elements less. This was supposed to be a thread for floating about interesting ideas, not arguing about industry trends.

As for the Doom engine thing,I played Doom 3 all the way through and the ONE hell level did not impress me, and the temple maps were basically (shiny, as well) variations on the tech corridors, though well-done. Doom 3 was fairly well recived, RoE seemingly less so, and I'm just saying, unless the developers of Prey and Q4 change a significant amount in their games from the general Doom3-ness of the original, I'm willing to bet that the more Doom3-like products are released, the less success (in every way, including sales) they will have. 
And Yes, I Do Realize 
that I just contributed to the hijacking....

You mean this isn't a thread about why Raven sucks?

If we're supposed to talk about fantasy in FPS, perhaps it should have been titled something like, let me think on this for a moment here, "Fantasy in FPS". 
Raven does suck now IMO. It seems like they sold out - they didn't really stay true to creating original properties, and instead took the "easy way out" by just getting a bunch of lame, tired properties to clone games off of. At least, that's my opiniong on Star Wars, Star Trek, and X-Men games. Not saying those games are bad or anything, just that while id and Valve work on creating innovative, new, FRESH universes (ok, maybe not, but at least original and not copied from crummy movies) Raven is content to sit back and pimp the Star Wars name for all its worth.

As for Fantasy in FPS, Hexen is my 2nd favorite game ever, partially because of its unique fantasy setting, partially because, for its time, it was FUCKING ORIGINAL. I had never seen anything like Hexen done before. I definitely think Hexen was a major influence in the direction FPS games took (more towards consistent worlds than level - screen - level - screen.)

I think most people associate fantasy with role playing, and that a lot of people just expect those who are interested in LotR to be RPG fanatics as well.
I also think that sucks. I would love to see a true successor to Hexen, whether made by Raven or not, whether Hexen or not, as long as it's an innovative and fun FPS set in a fantasy realm. That would be great!! No more apocalyptic futures, war torn with bio-engineered super soldiers from hell with glowing eyes and cryptic gas-masked voices. That would be great. 
Melee Weapons 
How about meelee weapons in an fps? A big part of fantasy as I see it is magic swords, axes etc, bows and magic play the other two thirds. Imo, meelee weapons work well when you use them for short periods, like the beginning of RTCW(and wolf3d) where you start with just a knife, and you use that until you can get ahold of a gun. Playing a whole game with meelee weapons in first person wouldn't be very fun I'd think, but making it third person would take away some of the coolness of it being an fps, and it would lose quite a bit of cool feeling. Maybe with a tribes 2 approach, allowing the player to look down and see his torso and legs and the rest of his arms holding the weapon? I don't know if this would actually help the meelee, it might. Any other ideas to make big meelee weapons work in first person(there are few things more sucky than having an ubertall sword show just the handle and the arm swinging around. Even worse is when the sword just points forward, stabbing things.) 
They should take the hard way out and make original games that don't sell enough to recoup their alarmingly high cost of development and go out of business like Troika and Looking Glass. 
Ok Lunaran, You Got Me... 
... the title was suggestive

I think melee weapons would be cool, but I don't understand how they could be done well in FPS. Rune and Heretic II both have excellent melee combat, so it's definately possible in a computer action game, but in both the excellent melee combat is inextricably linked to playing from a third person perspective.

One of the things I have to applaud the Heretic/Hexen series for is its unique weapons. Heretic had very doom-type combat, and several of the weapons functioned very much like their doom counterparts - the crossbow like the shotgun, phoenix rod like the rocket launcher, the dragon claw and hellstaff are like the chaingun - but basic, functional, powerful weapons are a must for any fun FPS, and it mixed in things somewhat less conventional (necromancer's gauntlets! hellstorm! flamethrower! those weird bouncy mace things!).

I think in a new fantasy FPS, it shouldn't just use bows and swords. That would seem lame compared to modern games where you can use machine guns and rocket launchers. Instead, it should go with all magical weapons, which are impressively powerful - this could include a magic crossbow as in heretic, but the point is you should be able to mow things down, not stick 5 arrows in a guy before he dies.

maybe a solution for melee weapons (this is really risky and complicated) would be to use third person for melee, and first person for shooting. Yeah, actually, that seems basically impossible to do really well. 
They Did It In Star Wars!! 
All the lightsaber shit was 3rd person, then you switch to 1st person for shooting.

Re: BlackDog
Nah, I think they should go the hard way and make original, innovative games that sell millions of copies, like Blizzard did with StarCraft, Valve did with Half-Life, Sid Meier did with Civilization, whoever made God of War, etc, etc... That would be a better choice than losing millions of dollars imo. 
That's A Bit Obvious, Zwif 
Of course making great million selling games is better than losing millions of dollars. What sort of limp noodle can't see that?

The problem you don't recognise is that original, innovative games often fail. Couple that with the current ridiculously high cost of development, and going out of business becomes a serious risk for any independent studio wanting to make their own games.

Of course, Raven isn't independent. 
I think the third person with first person in jkII didn't work that well, and seeing a character from the third person really takes away some of that very cool 'being me' feeling of playing a first person shooter. I thing chainsaws, burning weapons(necromancer gloves) stabbing spears etc, work well in first person, but as soon as a swinging weapon comes along, it all starts to not work. Dunno, someone smart might be able to do something about it. 
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