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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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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. 
What about the thief series? 
never liked it for some reason. not that i did play it much, just sometime ago somewhere the first level. i stumbled around through the dark (oh yeah, i remember. gamma adjustment didnt work). then when the first guard appeared i totally was knocked down :). sneaking almost always doesnt work in fps, you'd need a real great ai for that. 
I haven't played it very much, but a friend of mine (whose favourite series it is) says that although it is very good, it is definately not for everyone given its emphasis on sneaking and not on action.

I thought sneaking was good in Far Cry, but that still had good action.. I think an SP game as fast as Q3 would be nice though. 
I Enjoyed Thief, 
especially some of the later levels like Lost City, but I know it wasn't for every one; it's style wasn't nearly ruthless as it could have been. If it was entitled Assasins, and the missions didn't center around nabbing artifacts but instead committing major acts of evil like, say, assassinating a Prophet or burning down an Alexandrian like library and setting the human race back a thousand years it would have been quite awesome, but alas, the protagonist is just another rougish good guy.

Also, the Drom-Ed, the editor for it, is awful. 
raven is basically a department of activision, they are activisions bitch, i doubt it has a design team its just a bunch of artists working on whatever license Activision just paid for 
not only that, but how much creativity can raven actually have? after doing grunt work like star trek you'd think they would want to use some creativity, but instead they just steal ID's art style for quake4 
qwertyasdafsdfa: da fuk? Quake 4 is an id software intellectual property; the design and art direction is being overseen by id. Raven are doing most of the work, but are following the basic design guidelines laid down by id. Of course it's gonna resemble id's art style. It's a sequel to an id game. 
I Like Being A Bitch 
It's a special treat when they let me wear the little nipple-tassles while I prance around and shake my booty.

(also, trolls are more effective when they are less obviously retarded--the more you know!) 
Thief is very cool, but very much a sneaker. The Dark Mod project are doing some interesting things with the D3 engine - - which might give you some ideas what is possible in a fantasy setting. 
Hexen: EoC 
While Raven doesn't seem to want to go back to Hexen/heretic anytime soon, they did give the Hexen: Edge of Chaos people the permission to create their own Hexen game, which I think is cool. I think it shows they want their fanbase to be happy, instead of just choking the franchise by not letting anyone make anything that resembles it.

The mod doesn't look spectacular right now, but looks promising, so gj Raven for giving the OK for those people. 
The Answers. 
I haven't read any replies so can answer with a pure, untainted mind.

Tronyn, I only played the Hexen 2 and Heretic 2 demos, I liked their style, but at the time was interested in more modern games, so I didn't buy them. However, I do share an interest in those sort of games, so...

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

Like: Fantasy styles. Based on solidly controllable engines.

Dislike: Not playing them when they were actually competive technologically. Also, controlling a gay Elf :P.

-Is the genre of FPS action meldable with medieval/fantasy/RPG?

Absolutely, definitely, 100%. Although 3PS is sometimes more suitable, but FPS can work well too depending on the type of combat one is aiming for. But from what I have played and experienced I see no problems with the genre at all.

How successful was this series, or the particular games (Heretic1/2, Hexen1/2) in doing this?

Don't know really, but seemed to be good.

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

Painkiller is different, it's a pretty normal FPS with some fantasy/gothic settings amongst others. A good game but it can't really be compared. And indeed I can't really compare other games to the originals as I don't know the originals.

BUT... I can at least sing the praises of:

Wheel Of Time: Just a bloody good fantasy FPS. A great example of how the genre can work (focused in the magical direction in this case).

Enclave: A very good 3PS with a strong range of fantasy styles and simple, but beneficial RPG elements. A good example of bringing in some RPG aspects without overwhelming the gameplay.

Both of which show how well the genre can work in two pretty different directions. One could also include the underrated Blade Of Darkness in the camp with Enclave, albeit with a different combat focus that perhaps strays too far from the FPS standard.

-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?

Again I wouldn't really know what would be good in the H/H tradition, but I would happily give a modern version of those games a try as long as they stood well on their own.

And again, as far as the genre in general goes, I would love to see more of it, in pretty much any form, whether it be standard fantasy or something warped and gothic, whether it be swords or sorcery, simple FPS gameplay, or with complex RPG elements. I just like the style, both in it's own right and as a respite from sci-fi action games.

Having said that, there are a couple of directions I'd personally like to see. I'd like to see stronger RPG elements, such as character developement, progression, exploration, side missions, etc, but without the time-sucking extent of say Morrowind. Something not that complex, but a bit more integral to playing the game than Enclave. And I'd like to see a strong fantasy style with a distinctive touch to it. Something that makes the world you're in a bit different. WOT had this, because of the strong background in Jordan's books, but Enclave for example didn't have quite the same distinct feel.

Oh and of course I'd love to see anything set in the Warhammer universe, but that goes without saying.

Good topic, BTW. 
That's exactly the kind of response I was looking for :)

Wheel of Time - I am ashamed that I have *never tried it,* but I recall hearing about it a long time ago... is there a demo around somewhere? sounds awesome.

I think character advancement could be good. I am patiently waiting for someone to meld Diablo/Dungeon Siege games with FPS action.

What I mean is, the excellent physics/graphics/level design of FPS, combined with the character advancement and huge amount of items/skills/environments in these RPGS. The thing I *really* want though, is to be able to control your own character - do your OWN COMBAT, not just click on the monsters - in a dungeon siege type game. That would rule. Coop would be especially good.

I think most developers have chosen to use the third person perspective for their fantasy action games because, like Die by the Sword, Heretic II, Rune and Enclave all emphasize to some degree or another, the combat is based on bows or swords, and is more mid-range or melee than just about any FPS. What I would really like to see though is a fantasy FPS with combat as ranged and fast as Quake 3 - a sort of modern update of Heretic 1. The Plasma Gun in Q3, for example, could just as easily be cast as a fantasy weapon - probably some kind of magical artifact - with much the same gameplay.

I played the Painkiller demo, but it seemed more similar to Quake (less creepy and with faster gameplay) than to any of Raven's early titles, but I recall a few people saying they thought it very Hexen-like.

As for Hexen: Edge of Chaos, I'm looking forward to it. From the shots though it seems like they are very much remaking Hexen 1, with all the blocked-in-by-stone-walls outdoor areas and all. I'd really like to see some larger outdoor areas, rolling hills, and etc. 
I am patiently waiting for someone to meld Diablo/Dungeon Siege games with FPS action. 
sounded awesome, "plays like a first person Diablo," until I ran into:

"The weapons you're using aren't your typical first-person weapons. Most of them don't require you to aim, and many track targets automatically. Forget about pixel-point damage, trying to lead an opponent, or carefully lining up a head shot"

I guess they thought aiming would alienate Diablo fans or something? bah. 
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