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Thread: Legacy of Kain Master Archive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Legacy of Kain Master Archive

    Welcome to the new, ongoing master archive for Legacy of Kain sources.

    Over the past two decades, a plethora of official interviews, Q&As, and special features relating to LoK has been scattered through various publications. As Felipe Pepe eloquently illustrates at Gamasutra, this material is fading away and may yet be lost.

    I've created this compilation because I believe a definitive place to gather everything we know, chronicling the past, will always be relevant to the future of the franchise, no matter what form it might take.

    These sources are all constituent parts of the games' universe and folklore, and hopefully a worthwhile read for anybody interested in the series. Although GLoK Interviews with Amy Hennig at Nosgothic Realm collected some of these in one place, I hope for this resource to stand on that thread's shoulders and become the definitive infodump for everything publicly available.


    The archive will be a work-in-progress for a while, but please be excited for the finished result. Within reason, I will index every noteworthy LoK-related article I am able to find. However, although I've managed to track down and include some interviews here which are not currently reproduced anywhere else on the Internet, there is still missing material to be unearthed.

    If you have a concern, request, or access to a source which doesn't appear here, please contact me by PM. Most of the sources' text will be mirrored here in this thread, so that users can avail of Ctrl+F to search the whole collection for keywords. For posterity's sake, they will also be mirrored at the Legacy of Kain Wiki over time.

    Criteria for addition: the interview or article must feature the words of one of the series' developers. In general, editorials which don't contain a direct quote from a developer will not be fully archived here, but may be linked to (though a few exceptions exist). The URLs of video interviews and personal developer portfolios also warrant inclusion.

    Enjoy the archive. Thanks to all involved in generating and sharing these invaluable insights on these great games. Thanks also to all those who may hopefully pay visits to this thread in the future and debate its content.


    1. Official websites


    2. Full articles

    In these articles, Legacy of Kain is the primary focus. Their text is therefore fully reproduced in this thread.

    2.1) 1997-2001 — 2.2) 2002-2006 — 2.3) 2007-present

    3. Excerpted articles

    In these articles, Legacy of Kain is secondary to the main topic. Thus, only relevant content is excerpted here.

    4. Staff forum posts

    These sources originated as exchanges on discussion boards. Text is reproduced here if practicable.

    5. Staff portfolios

    These sources are developer portfolios. Any relevant text is reproduced here.

    6. Notable videos

    These sources are videos. They are not reproduced as text here, though transcripts are linked where applicable.

    7. Other notable media

    These sources do not neatly fit into the above categories. Any relevant text is reproduced if practicable.

    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 23:38.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    2.1) Full articles (1997-2001)

    (return to source index)

    1997 – [BO1] [PSX Nation / Dyack] – Interview with Denis Dyack

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 1997
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer, Tenaya (archivist), Nosgothic Realm (host)
    Personnel: Denis Dyack

    "A fantastic interview with the writer/director of Blood Omen. This was originally posted at, but has since been removed, so we reconstructed it here."

    Quote Originally Posted by PSX Nation / Dyack
    PSN: How long have you worked in the video game industry?

    Denis: Silicon Knights has been in the industry for over five years now. Our first three projects were multi-player real-time strategy products: Cyber Empires, Fantasy Empires, and Dark Legions.
    Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was our first attempt at creating an RPG game.

    PSN: What made Silicon Knights want to develop for the Playstation?

    Denis: Actually, we were developing Kain a few months before we even knew what platform was best. For the longest time we thought that Kain would be coming out on the 3DO system but thankfully just at about the time when we could not wait any longer the Sony system was announced. At the time Crystal Dynamics was heavily leaning toward the Saturn for all their products but thankfully our Producer Lyle Hall and I were able to convince them to choose the Sony. At first glance, it was apparent to us that Sony was far superior in technology then the Saturn and 3DO in both 3D and 2D. To further make the decision easier for us, the elegant design of the Sony also made the Sony the easiest system to work on.

    PSN: Can you tell us what inspired Kain?

    Denis: Four separate things inspired Kain:

    1) The Wheel of Time series - Robert Jordan. This series moved me personally because of its intricacies. The subtle and multi-threaded plot lines are what were missing in the Fantasy genre, particularly in the game industry. It was our goal to create a story line that was very complex and compelling as Jordan had done. One of our goals at Silicon Knights is to become the Robert Jordan or Steven King of the video game industry.

    2) The Unforgiven - Directed by Clint Eastwood. I am not a big western fan but after I saw this movie I was blown away. This movie was more about people then anything else. This movie was the ultimate definition of gray. There were no real "good guys" or "bad guys". Everyone had a good side and everyone had a bad side and every action had a price. I knew instantly that after seeing this movie that our industry needed a game that addressed these issues. Image a game were everyone in the world was your enemy (including yourself), a world where you had to kill innocents to survive and a world that you are the ultimate pawn. How would players react in this situation, how would they feel. If everyone in world thinks you are evil, are you? Or is evil simply a matter of perspective.

    3) Necroscope Series - Brian Lumley. This author created a scientifically based vampire series that was very visceral. This series particularly inspired Ken who wrote the scripts for the story that Ken and I conceived. When we create stories we try to model some classical models that were laid out by Shakespeare. You see, when he wrote a play he targeted his story at several levels. For the drunken commoners in the front rows he would insert dirty jokes to keep them entertained but for the aristocracy in the balconies he would write very cerebral metaphors. For Silicon Knights the gore is our dirty jokes, but for those who want more there is a real story behind Kain. A story that you can sink you teeth into and one that you can learn something from. We tried to address morals, evil and good, propaganda and fate in ways that have never been explored in a computer game before.

    4) The Pillars of the Earth - Author?. I never read this book but just stared at the cover, which inspired me to create the "Pillars of Nosgoth" (which is what Kain was originally called). Sometimes it is funny how things come to you.

    PSN: What caused the slowdown on Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain? Was it a limitation of the PlayStation such as RAM constraints?

    Denis: The Sony has 3 meg of RAM. 1 meg is dedicated to video and 2 Meg is dedicated to data (V RAM and DRAM respectively). The problem with Kain was that we had 2.5 megs of graphics (best in VRAM) and .5 meg of data (best in DRAM). This meant that we had to store graphics in the Sony were it did not belong. This accounted for most of the slowdown.

    PSN: Can you tell us what Silicon Knights is currently working on?

    Denis: No, Sorry, I wish we could. Since we generally put more time into our projects then average we have to be very tight lipped about them until the time is right. The one thing that I can say is that no one will be disappointed with what we are making - everything is leaps and bounds ahead of our previous works.

    PSN: Do you think that we will see a sequel to Blood Omen?

    Denis: Another tough question. It is not clear whether we will do a sequel to Kain. I cannot say more on subject currently. Sorry.

    PSN: We kinda think the story of Vorador would make a good sequel or prequel actually. What do you think?

    Denis: Yes. Vorador was very much like a father figure for Kain. If we decide to do more in the Blood Omen series then it is a safe bet to say that he will be in it. Thus, we would definitely consider a prequel. Through email over the net it appears that Vorador is one of the most popular characters in Kain. Once Ken and myself thought of this character, we knew that there had to be a great deal of history behind this guy. We did not have a chance to talk about this history much in Blood Omen. It would definitely be fun to fully explore the character Vorador.

    PSN: Do you think that the PlayStation's capabilities are maxxed out?

    Denis: No. Generally, development of smarter algorithms will allow you to get more out of any system. Without question the Sony is far to new of system to say that no more can be gotten out of it. The real question is "because of the accelerated hardware curve have developers reached a point of diminishing returns in trying to get more out of the Sony?" This answer will vary from developer to developer but our answer to this question again is "no".

    PSN: How many people are involved on the New project?

    Denis: Everyone at Silicon Knights. We throw everything into our projects, we are committed to doing nothing but the very best games.

    PSN: The story of kain is very detailed and well written. was the story written as a team effort or was it written by just one person?

    Denis: Generally, everyone at Silicon Knights contributes to the story - we work very much like a guild mentality where everyone contributes to the content. I created the initial concept and story outline - it was initially called the "Pillars of Nosgoth". Next, everyone at Silicon Knights brainstormed and contributed to parts of the story. We kept the good and threw away the bad. Once this was done, Ken and I then created the detailed story. Ken then started to write it up as well as creating detailed mythologies in the world of Nosgoth. Ken wrote the story & scripts in the game and he did a great job!

    PSN: Are you going to incorporate the Analog feature in your new project?

    Denis: Yes.

    PSN: What are some of your favorite games of all time and why?

    Denis: I will not mention our own games here because I just might be a bit biased.

    Defender (arcade) - I would play this game until I got blisters on my hands and thumbs. It had great interface once you got used to it. It had great game mechanics.

    Empire - Without this the grandfather of strategy games we would not of had Civilization and other classic strategy games.

    Ultima III - (Atari) The best in the series in my opinion. I can still remember when I was sucked into the whirlpool for the first time and I thought all was lost.

    Dune II (PC) - This started the real-time strategy craze.

    Carrier Command (Atari) - A really neat concept. A multi-player game before its time.

    Virtua Fighter II (Arcade) - Great graphics and game play.

    Soul Blade (Sony) - Great character design and game play.

    PSN: Were you involved with the PC version and if so was anything changed for it?

    Denis: No, we were not involved.

    PSN: Silicon Knights motto is "Putting the magic back into software". Do you feel you've accomplished that?

    Denis: I think we have taken some steps in the right direction.

    Some background:
    When Rick and I first started making games we thought that there was way too much quantity and not enough quality. There was a certain magic missing from games that we wanted to bring to the industry. Since those times the conditions of the industry have only gotten worse and not better. There is so much crap out there right now that it is unlikely a non-gamer will buy a good product out of a lack of knowledge. This means that they are unlikely to buy a product at all. Even the gamers are getting frustrate. This is shown by how 10% of the games in our industry make 90% of the money. Our industry needs to get the non-garners to buy games, to increase the market to the average person. But our industry still seems to be too immature for this, and too many companies are thinking short term and not putting enough time and money into games. It has been our goal to change the industry by putting magic back into it. This is a goal we will never stray from.

    Finally the answer:
    In order for us to completely put the "magic into software" we must create a game that completely immerses players into a state of optimum experience. It is part of Silicon Knights agenda to discover how to do this. There is no formula that makes a good game and we are unlikely ever to find one. But we now believe that it is not one but a combination of fundamental principles will allow us to do the best games. We believe that a combination of Art, Story, Game-Play, Design, Technology, Music and Sound that combine in a way that makes them greater then the sum of their parts. We came to this conclusion halfway through the development of Kain. So if you liked Kain, wait until you play our next game where we hope to take the next step towards our "Holy Grail”.

    PSN: Do you believe in vampires? Have you always had an interest in horror and vampires?

    Denis: No. Yes, almost everyone at Silicon Knights loves horror. Both Dark Legions (our previous game) and Kain had very Dark mythologies.

    PSN: To your knowledge does the PlayStation "C" exsist?

    Denis: No.

    PSN: Are you continuing to work with Crystal Dynamics?

    Denis: This is extremely unlikely for many reasons that I cannot go into.

    PSN: If Kain and Dracula got into a fight who would win?

    Denis: Dracula is a sissy and Kain would kick his ass. All Kain would have to do is throw Dracula in the sunlight or water and watch him cry and whimper into oblivion.

    PSN: Eric McCoy would like to ask
    question: Will you use the same voice actors from LOK?(They were the best I have heard on a game)

    Denis: If it is appropriate, yes. They blew us away. When we first went into the recording studio Ken and I were very concerned that the actors would not be able to communicate the complicated dialog that Ken created. After five minutes with Simon Templeman (who had many years of theatre experience) we knew that there was no problem. We learned never to underestimate the talents of the Actor's Guild.

    PSN: Where did you get your training to get into the video game business?

    Denis: Well, I have a Computer Science Degree and a Masters Degree in Computer Science. This is pretty well a must for programmers these days. There are not really many places that can teach you how to create a computer game, however, they can give you the tools. I highly encourage anyone to go to school and get educated. School will give you the tools. The more tools at your disposal the better off you will be. "Knowledge is power" - Nietsche. Whether you are an artist, programmer, designer, producer or director. The latter is now my main role although I have done every other in the past.

    PSN: Any advice for someone trying to break into the videogame business?

    Denis: Yes. Always go for quality and your vision. Always think long term. If you put the hard work into your vision the success is likely to come. Never let anyone tell you that something cannot be done. Nothing is impossible it is only unlikely. Read the "Book of Five Rings".

    1998 – [SR1] [Gamers' Republic / Hennig] – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

    (return to full articles)
    Published: November 1998
    Credit to: Brady Fiechter, Raina Audron (archivist), The Ancient's Den (host)
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "The night is his comfort. The souls of the dead are his peace. He welcomes darkness and the death that it brings. He delights in the face of all that is evil. Vast does he stand in his wicked glory, and he sees how evil goodness is. He is vampire, Nosferatu, prince of darkness. He is Raziel."

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer's Republic / Hennig
    Imagine the plight of the vampire. He must live forever, eternally suspended in darkness. But even under the dreary conditions imposed by his state, he seems to take pride in his wickedness, accepting himself for what he has become, almost relishing in his damnation. In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the vampire Raziel is haunted by more than the curse of his condition: Banished to an underworld to spend his eternity in agony, tortured by insidious elements unwholesome to the flesh of vampires, Raziel is faced with the challenge of confronting his former master, Kain.

    The story of Soul Reaver does not lurk silently in the background like so many adventure games, an excuse to give form and basic meaning to the gameplay and visuals. There is much we don't know about Raziel, and as the story unfolds through voice-overs we learn profound revelations about his existence and the vampires around him. But, from the very beginning, we do know that he is rightfully angry with his fate. He maliciously strikes down his brethren with as he cocks his head toward the heavens, devouring their released souls. The spirits of his fallen are his nourishment, feeding his evolutionary process. In victory against the 10 clan leaders, special abilities are bestowed upon Raziel as he assimilates his victim's essence, every confrontation leading to a greater being: with the power of the fallen clan leader now transferred to Raziel, walls can be deftly scaled, phase shifts can be made to pass through barriers like a ghost, water can be tolerated for swimming.

    A vampire, existing as a supernatural being, possesses fantastical powers that render him impervious to typical combat strategies. The mechanical, haphazard mentality will not grant Raziel the succulent souls he hungers for; only a careful and deliberate approach will lead to the demise of the vampires. "Instead of just getting in there and slashing at the enemies and attempting to take their hitpoints down, because these enemies exist in the vampire state, when undamaged, they are particularly formidable," explains Amy Hennig, producer/director of Soul Reaver. "You have to be cagey enough to get them into a damaged state in which they are vulnerable, so that you can go in for an impale, burn them, or throw them. You have to think about what tools you need - 'do I have fire, impaling elements, something to control them with?' If the answer is 'no,' you are in an vulnerable state, and you must locate what you need."

    Dispersed throughout the levels, objects such as urns and boulders can be used to stun the vampires, and one- and two-handed weapons must be found in order to forever put the them to rest. While some weapons are burning tools, most objects embellishing the environments can be dislodged from their foundations and used for impaling: lightning rods from a village home, iron posts from a grave-yard fence, steel fixtures on a window pane - the variety in what can be found is only limited to a designer's creativity.

    Raziel starts out with only his claws to do battle, but once he first confronts Kain, he destroys the Soul Reaver sword (the weapon Kain used to butcher his victims in the original game), and must claim it as his own in the spirit world. Once Raziel claims the sword, he can baptize it, as with other weapons, in streams of light, water, fire, spirit, imbuing it with added strengths. As he continues deeper into his dark world, Raziel will only mature, both physically and mentally, learning magic spells and better utilizing weapons.

    In what is a grandly innovative idea, every area Raziel explores can be travelled through in two separate planes of existence - the spectral and the material. These disparate realities teeter between the mystic and the mortal, and they can be passed into and out of by an awesome, real-time morphing command. When in the spectral realm, the entire environment shifts to open up new doors, contort buildings and rocks for previously nonattainable passage, even remove objects entirely. If not captured after the kill, a vampire's soul can escape into the spectral plane, and Raziel is forced to chase it or risk it manifesting back in the material plane stronger, sometimes in a completely altered form.

    Providing a unique new set of obstacles for the player, the existence of the two completely separate worlds is a provocative concept. The path of survival, the means to the richest reward, is not always so obvious: the player must carefully ponder each situation faced. "The whole goal from our gameplay point of view is to have the player active all the time, but thinking all the time, too. The cool thing about people's favorite games - games like Zelda and Metroid - clearly your adrenaline is engaged, but your brain is engaged, too," says Amy. "So, having area-based puzzles, room-based puzzles, having to think through everything and not just charging through, say, a bowl in a china shop, adds a greater element to the game. Because the enemies are vampires, you have to think about how you take them on. Because there is the material and spectral, you have to think about where you should be at any one time, what the consequences are of losing health and dropping into the spectral world. It'll be a very hard game to play if you aren't thinking."

    Soul Reaver is a game so dark and foreboding that light wilts in its presence. The artists have seized the story and made a world that is beautifully haunting in its shadowy dread and misty ambience. Decorated with exquisite gothic artwork, every corner of the cavernous walls drip into a pool of visual decadence. The grandiose architecture is influenced by actual Roman and Greek structures: looming arches rest on towering pillars, huge concrete pistons extend into decaying brick towers. There is a sense of authenticity, a sense of realism to the environments that is unlike anything that has been achieved before. These sights really must seen.

    Not surprising, the designers are achieving a level of detail even they thought impossible. "We amazed ourselves at how believable it all became," says Amy. "The people here are artists... They don't just extrude blocks. We said from the beginning, if we're going to do a game like this, we're going to do it with a level of architectural reality and convincingness that hasn't been done before. I think we are succeeding." They are more than succeeding. It's as if they've given themselves the license to imagine anything: the only ceiling to their gloomy vision is the hardware. But around every foggy turn, the team seems to be circumventing limitation: textures are painted as art, displaying actual murals and meticulous designs in the walls and floors; and as we become entrenched in the surroundings, our suspension of disbelief remains flowing - not once, throughout the entire journey will the CD visibly load.

    With Soul Reaver's disturbing vampire theme, there is certainly a wellspring of darkness for the team to cultivate as the game continues through its design process. They are already realizing the theme with extreme poignancy. In a religious undercity, zealot cult members will actually rush to torched vampires and split themselves open to pour blood over the vampires' charred remains, resurrecting them. Scenes like this are why Amy says, with an air of confidence in her voice, that "fans of the first game will not be disappointed." Nor will those gamers who appreciate the fine art of making an unforgettable video game.

    1998 – [SR1] [Next Generation / Hennig] – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

    (return to full articles)
    Published: November 1998
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer, Spirit Kalika (archivist), A Gathering of Reaved Souls (host)
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "Vampires abound in this 3D sequel to the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain."

    Quote Originally Posted by Next Generation / Hennig
    Playing the first Legacy of Kain was not unlike playing Gauntlet inside the massive fantasy world of Nosgoth. But the addition of a vengeance-bent, anti-hero Kain gave the top-down epic a deeper sense of character than the game's 2D graphics first revealed. The sequel to Legacy of Kain, however, is more comparable to Tomb Raider than it is to Gauntlet. This begs an interesting question: Will the followers of Kain get more of what brought them to Nosgoth in the first place? In a word, yes.

    "The main similarity is the soul-sucking or soul-devouring mechanic," says producer and director Amy Hennig, who produced the first Kain as well. "Basically you stun or damage an enemy and then you have the ability to draw its soul out of its body, the same thing Kain was doing with blood."

    However, the player does not return in the role of Kain, but rather, Raziel, Kain's firstborn vampire son. At the end of the first game, Kain has a choice to sacrifice himself and save the world, but "we assume he refuses," says Hennig, explaining that the world is subsequently thrown out of balance, and 1,000 years later, Nosgoth becomes a land overrun with six races of vampires. When Raziel grows wings and evolves beyond Kain, Kain kills Raziel in a jealous rage. But Raziel is raised from the dead by the underworld king to collect vampire souls and ultimately seek his vengeance on Kain. The plot unfolds from there within approximately 15 areas. Hennig estimates that this makes the game about as large as Tomb Raider II.

    "We've tried not to create scads and scads of layout because it's very time-consuming and very shallow," Hennig says, addressing one of the criticisms of the original Kain. Instead, Crystal Dynamics is attempting to create a world that entices players to revisit areas when they've gained new abilities. For example, when Raziel gains the power to scale walls, unreachable areas in earlier levels become accessible.

    The elaborate architecture within these 3D environments is some of the best Next Generation has seen on the PlayStation. On top of that, it morphs in real time. "The idea is that the world exists simultaneously in two dimensions," says Hennig, "the real world (the physical world) and then its nightmare flip side, the spectral plane, which is sort of a dark, funhouse-mirror version of itself."

    As Raziel cannot die, he reverts to the spectral plane when he runs out of energy to exist in the physical plane. Players can then continue playing in the spectral plane, only their goal is to recoup the energy necessary to return to the physical plane. Also, since the switch between physical and spectral planes morphs the landscape, plane-shifting will be key to solving several puzzles.

    And the combat? Like the first game, it drives the gameplay. Yet, instead of collecting an arsenal of traditional weapons, Raziel will be limited to the Soul Reaver, Kain's all-powerful sword from the original game. This title weapon has taken on spirit properties and can be powered up at elemental forges to incur a variety of damage. Also, combat will require some puzzle-solving as well. As the vampires are immortal, players will need to stun their opponents and then find some means of finishing them off, be it impaling them on a nearby object, like a lightning rod or fence post, or exposing them to sunlight or water.

    At the time of this writing, the combat was barely present in the game, and the Soul Reaver itself was nowhere to be seen. Still, Hennig feels the January 15 shelf date the team is shooting for is possible; however, given Crystal has been extremely late with a number of projects in the past, Next Generation wouldn't be surprised if it slipped as much as six months. And if extra time is needed, so be it. This team of 26 has the potential to polish up and ship the best internally developed game at Crystal yet.

    Image captions
    Raziel falls to his second death
    The water glyph statue
    The portal to the physical plane
    A bonfire just waiting to roast some fresh meat

    1999 – [SR1] [Official PlayStation Magazine / Sandoval] – Analysis: Soul Reaver

    (return to full articles)

    NO LINK (print only)
    Published: February 1999
    Credit to: Daniel Griffiths
    Personnel: Rosaura Sandoval

    "Be afraid. Be very afraid. Return with us to the land of Nosgoth, home of vampire Lord Kain and his six ghoulish lieutenants. Come, enter the sequel to the hit bloodbath Legacy of Kain. Welcome to Soul Reaver– a game which could quite possibly be (whisper it) even better than Tomb Raider 3. Daniel Griffiths ate garlic for a month and donned a crucifix to battle with its makers..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Official PlayStation Magazine / Sandoval
    Among the verdant shrubbery of Palo Alto near San Francisco is a building that looks curiously like a church. Inside lurks Crystal Dynamics, god of ground-breaking PlayStation fare and divine inspiration behind Eidos' ever-swelling portfolio. This building has birthed Gex (in his many forms), Akuji (who has no heart), and Unholy War (which wasn't that good). Its next work will be its greatest yet. A sequel to the best-selling Legacy of KainLegacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.

    The original game was ugly. Blessed with 16-bit looks, this vast, sprawling action RPG struggled to grab your attention. The curious vampiric subject matter helped things along, with the player cast as Kain, an evil dead bloke out for blood-sucking revenge on his killers. After huge worldwide success, a sequel was inevitable. Far less inevitable was Crystal taking the ideas and themes from the original game and transforming the hit RPG into a vast 3D action adventure. Hence the new Soul Reaver name – this is so much more than Legacy of Kain 2.

    What we have is a kind of super Tomb Raider, with all the usual third-person perspective camera tricks, lots of exploration, combat, swimming and climbing, plus a host of radical new elements made possible by the spooky other-worldly subject matter. Rosaura Sandoval, producer of the game, takes up the tale. "Soul Reaver tells the story of Ralzeil – one of six lieutenants to Kain, the evil main character of the first game, who rules the world at its end. [The vampires] force human slaves to build vast power stations to make smog that blocks out the sun. They've begun to evolve, but Ralzeil takes a step too far. He develops wings, enabling him to fly, before Kain does. Kain banishes Ralzeil to the spectral world and, after countless millennia, Ralzeil is released by The Elder. Things have changed since he was banished. The humans and mutants are quietly co-existing with the vampires and Kain and his lieutenants have evolved beyond all recognition, slipping out of the picture."

    And so begins a mammoth trek through 3D space, searching, killing, and generally being very evil. Soul Reaver has some incredible secrets up its tattered sleeve.

    First of all there's the fact that there are no levels. The world of Soul Reaver is one vast landscape, taking in huge valleys and rivers, mountains and plains, and a bizarre assortment of gothic architecture. This is served up via the greatest piece of gameplay trickery PSM has yet witnessed. "As you play the game it holds the two adjacent areas in memory, along with the one you are currently playing," Rosaura Sandoval explains. "Enter an area and others are loaded ready for you to step into, so there's only 'Loading' once at the beginning of the game. This enables us to use a lot more textures than any other game too. Each area can have its own set of textures so we don't have to keep re-using them, as in other third-person games," Other third-person games? You mean Tomb Raider don't you? "Err... (chuckles) yes," she admits.

    The result is that Ralzeil has a seemingly limitless and diverse world ahead of him. It's possible to run, climb and swim for miles in any direction without the game repeating scenery or pausing for breath. The total square footage of land is said to be on a par with Tomb Raider, so it's going to take you days to get from one side to the other. Quite a task, and one made all the more curious by the fact that you can't die. What!?

    Twice as nice
    Soul Reaver dwells on two spiritual planes: the material world and the spectral world – the second being a hellish version of the first. Gameplay takes place primarily in the material plane, but death (resulting from the eventual sapping of your life meter) will beam you through to the other-worldly spectral variation. Here you must amass sufficient souls (which can be reaped as they escape demised bad guys), to provide the energy to switch back to reality. "Alternatively, you could just play the game in the spectral world as it's essentially a whole game to explore in itself," concedes Ms Sandoval. Here, formerly straight walkways and towers are twisted horribly in the spectral world and openings which were too small, or platforms that didn't quite reach, may be passable this time. Best of all, the transition between planes involves the scenery morphing from one guise to the next before your very eyes. Astounding.

    The 'dual scenario' trickery crops up time and time again. Should you fail to absorb a dead creature's soul (done with a simple button tap while in its vicinity), its spirit moves to the spectral plane where it appears exactly where you killed it, but in a nastier, more twisted form. Weirdest of all are the various puzzles which feature the plane-shifting at their core. In the spectral plane, time stands still, so rocks dropped from cliffs can be frozen in mid air via a sneaky switch from material to spectral, enabling you to use them as stepping stones.

    With all this freedom of movement and potentially baffling plane-shifting action, it's a good job that The Elder (an omnipresent God-figure) is on hand giving you general directions to what the wisest next move would be. Action and plot drives the player into showdowns with Ralzeil's 'brothers' – the other five lieutenants who have become huge gore-spattered nasties. In addition to this fearsome five are three clashes with Kain himself, making eight bosses to take on.

    Never ending story
    Wandering around the game world is like gradually unwrapping a fabulous present. Rewards are frequent, but often the game only offers you tiny glimmers of the treats yet to come. An area will remain unexplored as its entrance is underwater and impassable to vampires. Or a platform extends invitingly above, but how on earth do you get up there? The answer is via the five skills Ralzeil learns after each of the bosses' demise. "Each boss gives a reward FMA [full-motion animation] using the game engine. This shows Ralzeil being given a new skill as well as furthering the plot and hinting at what he should do next," Rosaura explains. An early boss can glide through walls and locked gates and only careful timing with a vast bloody-mallet-come-juice-extractor can sap him of energy. Once pulped, Ralzeil earns the walking-through-walls skill. "The other four tricks to learn are wall climbing, swimming, constriction (where running around an object or enemy binds it with a force field), and the ability to warp between the material and spectral planes at will (vital for later time and space-related puzzles)," tempts Rosaura. "Each is won by beating the boss expert at that particular skill and so different and cunning methods must be used on each."

    The result is that after each new skill is learnt you remember that weird bit earlier and run back there to try out your new abilities. Suddenly, by being able to swim or climb, a whole new area may become accessible and slowly and steadily the world gives up its secrets to an ever-more-powerful Ralzeil.

    Travelling light
    Another amazing Soul Reaver curio is the absence of any weapons or a goods and chattels inventory. Ralzeil carries nothing with him, relying on handily-placed pointed sticks and crockery to aid him in mortal combat. Stakes may be pulled from the ground, railings ripped apart and urns and rocks hoisted aloft and flung at the assorted zombie-like baddies and scaredy-cat humans. A switch to an 'aiming view' shows us exactly where Ralzeil will fling his new spear, enabling you to take out nasties remotely. "The ultimate weapon in the game is once more the Soul Reaver sword. You get this after your first battle with Kain. It can be used in various ways by powering it up with different elements. Dipping the Soul Reaver into fire, water, ice and so on gives it different abilities which certain bad guys or obstacles are vulnerable to," offers Rosaura.

    The combat is pleasingly satisfying even without such weaponry however, with successive 'attack' button presses firing off punches and kicks. "Each of the 30 or so enemies will attack you in different ways. We've tried to make them all unique. The enemy AI is something else too, we have smaller, weaker bad guys who'll run away and lure you into battles with bigger bosses," warns Ms Sandoval. "Also, humans can be either your enemies or worshippers, depending on how you treat them," she explains. "Kill humans and they'll remember and attack you the next time you come across some. Alternatively, treat them well and they'll worship you, perhaps offering themselves as sacrifices like this [she mimes going into a limp-bodied trance], so you can easily fill your health meter."

    In addition to the spear and vase chucking, there's more heavyweight artillery available in the form of spells or 'glyphs' which are earned by solving various, usually temple-based, puzzles. These temples are dotted about the landscape and will soon become familiar to you. "There'll be all kinds of visual and aural cues so you know that something special is there and you ought to stick around," hints the cunning producer. The glyphs come in various forms, being special screen-clearing attacks fuelled by your life meter. Pressing Select brings up a glyph selector. They're not essential to finishing the game, but will make later devilish battles a tad easier.

    With such a sizable quest ahead of any would-be vampires, saving your game (to allow for the consumption of 'tea' or for toilet visits) is a must. So, save crystals or save anywhere, Ms Sandoval? "The game will enable you to save your position anywhere. I don't like save points. With a game as complex as this we want the player to explore and take risks. You won't dare try certain jumps or do other cool things if you think you're going to die if you fail." Very wise.

    PSM suggests that you meet us back here next month when we shall be exclusively reviewing this epic (dishing out more tasty titbits in the process), and you can try out the game yourself via an exclusive playable demo on the disc.

    Flip-top box
    One of the most eye-popping (and yet really obvious) improvements over the likes of (whisper) Tomb Raider is in the field of block moving. Once again you can grab and slide blocks, but the amazing free-flowing character animation and ability to slide, push, pull, flip and stack blocks means that Ralzeil makes Lara look like a glove puppet.

    Turn the other cheek
    Much of the combat in Soul Reaver is close-up, fist-and-foot based action, so the game is in mortal danger of falling foul of what we call Fighting Force syndrome. This is where blows are impossible to aim, thanks to the 3D screen depth. In order to give pleasing Tekken-like action, Ralzeil's attention can be locked to a target by holding R1. Once pressed he will always face his nearest foe, enabling you to bob and weave around them with the D-pad, while every thump, kick and sword stab makes contact. Clever.

    A whole new world
    Transferring between material and spectral planes is not only an exciting proposition in itself, but a treat for the eyes too. The game morphs between the two worlds as you watch. "Every vertex of every polygon has an 'alternative position' and every surface has an 'alternative texture'. When we move between planes everything moves to its alternative," explains Rosaura Sandoval, the game's associate producer.

    Image captions
    The balance between open-air exploring and dungeon bashing is just about perfect.
    An ex-architect designed the lavish buildings.
    As opposed to the familiar 'box' structure of Tomb Raider worlds, Soul Reaver's many dungeons and caverns are frighteningly irregular.
    Real-time lighting illuminates scenery and character.
    Each area is a vast labyrinth of spooky chambers.
    The camera swings around to give the best view.

    1999 – [SR1] [PSM / N/A] – Hot as Hell (multiple features)

    (return to full articles)
    Published: March 1999
    Credit to: Chris Slate, Joe Madureira, Liquid!, unknown interviewers, Raina Audron (archivist), Whitney C. (archivist), Kevin (archivist), The Ancient's Den (host), Silent Hill Historical Society (host)
    Personnel: Unspecified

    "Kain 2 has finally arrived, and with it comes the first mega-hit of 1999!"

    Quote Originally Posted by PSM (This Month's Cover)
    Every issue, we match exciting new games with today's hottest illustrators to create the PSM cover. We take pride in creating quality original artwork, to present our magazine at the highest possible level.

    When artist Joe Madureira isn't working on his top-selling comic creation "Battle Chasers" or tracking down arcade machines, he finds time to grace our covers. Check the Back Issues section for the two legendary MK4 covers and the awesome RE2 cover. Joe loves gaming on the PlayStation, and his covers show it.

    Image captions
    Joe's first sketch depicts a savage Raziel from Legacy of Kain 2 in a striking pose. We loved it close up, but needed to see a bit more of the figure and his unique characteristics.
    Joe obliges with more Raziel. After inking, the drawing then goes to ace comic colorist, (and another hardcore gamer) Liquid! He does a rough initial coloring, then he really gets busy!
    Effects are added to give Raziel more dimension. Notice the rendering on the muscles and glow effects on his claws. Liquid! has really outdone himself! Together with Joe, they are quite a team!

    "Here it is... the final preview!"

    Quote Originally Posted by PSM (Legacy of Kain)
    Every once in a while, a game comes through our office that everybody can't wait to play. We've known about Kain 2 since early last year, when even the early screenshots blew us away. Now, as the game approaches its March release date, we are getting even more excited to get our hands on the finished version.

    This newest version that we've gotten finally has all of the disparate pieces coming together into a more final form and, as usual, we were floored by the new additions that we could play. Besides the insane level geometry, we now can solve many of the puzzles that will be in the final game, as well as fight against some of the bosses. Quite frankly, the game still looks amazing.

    The sheer size of the world in which you play is awe-inspiring, and each area you go to is unique and eerie. The dark mood is further enhanced by the brooding music which plays in the background. You can't help but be drawn into the game. There are plenty of puzzles that are now seamlessly blended into the environment and each grants Raziel new abilities which will help him progress farther into the game. While many of the puzzles are "move the block" and "pull the switch" types, they are all done within the context of the game, so they never stand out. Even fighting has been enhanced and now you can pull off "finishing" moves with the spear and lift your quivering, bloody opponent off the ground with your weapon.

    Overall, there's not much new we can add that hasn't already been said, other than this game looks hot! Look for a full review in the next issue.

    The bosses Raziel must face are the seven "generals" who rule under Kain. Over the years, their dark powers have twisted their bodies into objects of horror.

    Raziel must seek out mystic shrines to gain the spells he needs. Each shrine has its own puzzles and enemies that must be defeated before Raziel earns its prize.

    Image captions
    We have no idea what this clock does, but we'll bet you need to be here at certain times to witness certain events.
    Raziel is the "hero" of Legacy of Kain. His mission is to exterminate all the vampires in Nosgoth.
    This boss is a mass of flesh constructed from dozens of different bodies. Now he wants to add Raziel to the mix.
    Beat a boss and you gain its special ability. This Aluka boss grants Kain the ability to breathe underwater.
    The city dwellers will react to your presence by either giving you information or attacking you, depending on how you've treated them in the past.
    After a few slashes, you can impale your opponent and pick them off the ground with a dramatic finishing move.
    Souls give Raziel his power, and with each opponent he defeats, he gets just a little stronger.
    The shrines are all beautiful to behold and they house the secrets Raziel needs to beat the game.
    Raziel must successfully solve a puzzle completing the wall mural around this shrine to earn its reward.
    One of the powers Raziel earns in the game is called Constrict and it allows him to kill opponents by circling them with this blue trail.
    The Soul Reaver is Raziel's weapon of choice and it can be enchanted with magical powers at the various forges found throughout Nosgoth.

    "The world of Nosgoth is a large and dangerous place. In the first part of our Kain 2 strategy coverage, we blow out all of the different abilities, spells and Soul Forges and tell you exactly what they do for you in your quest for vengeance."

    Quote Originally Posted by PSM (Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver strategy guide, part one)
    Raziel will earn a wide variety of new abilities as he works his way towards exterminating the vampire clans from Nosgoth. The following is a list of all the special abilities, where to find them, and who you'll have to beat to get them.

    • Pass Through Gates
    Raziel's first acquired move is the ability to pass through gates in the spectral plane. Raziel can now phase through otherwise impassable barriers like fences, gates and grates by going into the spectral plane and pushing against them. After a moment, Raziel will "dematerialize" a bit and phase through to the other side. To get this ability, Raziel must defeat the leader of the Skinner clan, named Melchiah. He can be found deep in the area known as Melchahim.

    • Scale Walls
    Next, Raziel acquires the ability to scale otherwise impassable walls. Now, when he jumps onto a wall surface, he grabs on with his claws. Because his hands are otherwise engaged, Raziel can't engage in combat while scaling a wall - he has to avoid enemies, or dispatch them before climbing the wall. Only certain wall types are scalable - generally rough, organic, crumbly or mortared stone walls are impossible to climb (Raziel can't get good enough purchase with his claws). Only smooth walls are scalable. This ability is earned by defeating Zephon, the clan leader of the Zephonim. These wall crawlers can be found in the Silenced Cathedral.

    • Telekinetic Force Projectile
    About one third of the way into the game, Raziel will need to seek out the secret area which will give him a new projectile ability. Raziel can gather a ball of telekinetic energy and shoot the sphere out at enemies or other objects. On impact, the bad guys (and other pushable objects) are shoved backward. Fragile or breakable elements (e.g., windows, wooden barriers) are shattered by the impact of the force projectile as well. The projectile itself does no damage, but enemies can be forced into damaging or fatal environmental elements (e.g., slammed into a wall, pushed off an edge into water, pushed into fire, spikes, etc.).

    • Swimming
    In the first third to half of the game, Raziel is unable to swim. Immersion in water (in the material plane) immediately causes him to shift into the spectral plane. While in spectral, he can walk on lakebeds, canal floors, etc., but he can't reach higher areas. Once he earns the ability to swim, however, the world opens way up. Previously unreachable tunnels and platforms are now attainable and the world of Nosgoth becomes that much more accessible. The boss of the Aluka clan, Rahab, holds this ability and to find him, you must go to the Drowned Abbey.

    • Constrict
    About one half to two thirds of the way through the game, Raziel will find his way into the ruined city of the Dumahim and defeat the clan leader Dumah for this ability. Constrict allows Raziel to encircle enemies and objects with different effects. This ability works both in material and spectral, though objects can't be constricted in spectral, only enemies. After making one complete revolution (by running) around a constrictable object or enemy, Raziel begins to trail a constricting band of energy. When Raziel has made a second successful revolution around the target object/enemy, the band squeezes down, constricting the victim (or target object). Constricted enemies are immediately reduced to a stunned/damaged state (low-level humans are killed). Constrictable objects can be turned using the constrict ability 0 e.g., a gear can be turned, a sundial rotated; a lens turned to point a specific direction. Constrictable objects can be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise, depending on the direction Raziel runs when he constricts them.

    • Shift At Will
    About two thirds of the way through the game, Raziel will discover (in a secret area) the ability to shift between spectral and material at will; he no longer needs to find a planar portal to shift into the material plane. He still needs to be at full health, however. With the ability to shift at will, the game opens way up for the player. Raziel can now access the Sound Forge, the Sound Glyph Altar, and the Force Glyph Altar, as well as now being able to get inside the mysterious Undercity lair of the vampire worshippers. Other secrets and bonus areas are also now open.

    • Possess
    After Raziel finds his way into the dark undercity complex of the vampire worshippers and defeats their high priestess, he gets the ability to project his soul energy out (as a projectile), and possess another creature. Once in the host creature's body, Raziel can perform rudimentary operations - he can move around the area, attack other creatures, and do other simple actions, like pushing blocks/objects or hitting switches. While occupying the host creature's body, Raziel's physical body goes into a protected stasis state (with an energy shield around it). Raziel can occupy the host's body indefinitely, but can only stray so far from his own body. If he wanders too far away, his soul energy will start to pull out of the host creature's body. If the player continues to wander away, the tenuous link is broken, and Raziel's soul returns to his body. The creature then recovers and comes back to its senses. The player can also return to Raziel's body at any time.

    • Amplified Force Projectile
    The last ability Raziel will earn can be found in the lair of the Turelim. After defeating Turel, their leader, Raziel acquires an amplification of his existing Telekinetic Force projectile. The projectile now pushes enemies further, and the impact reduces them to a stunned/damaged state. More substantial objects can be pushed or broken with the amplified projectile.

    The Soul Reaver is the only weapon in the game (other than the "found" weapons, like spears and torches). Rather than having Raziel collect a varied arsenal of weapon types, the Soul Reaver itself evolves over the course of the game, acquiring different (and more powerful) attributes.

    Raziel acquires the Soul Reaver at the Pillars of Nosgoth. Raziel's first confrontation with Kain occurs at The Pillars. Kain wields the Soul Reaver blade, as he did at the end of the first game. In the course of their battle, the blade is destroyed in the material plane, transforming it into a wraith blade. In this form, the blade is useless to Kain (since he is a material being), but Raziel, being a creature of the spirit plane, adopts the Soul Reaver in its spectral form. From the moment Raziel grasps it, the Soul Reaver becomes his symbiotic weapon and constant companion. Raziel now will always carry the Soul Reaver while in the spectral plane.

    When in the material plane, Raziel remains in his "unequipped" state, except when he's at full health. When Raziel's energy is full, the Soul Reaver becomes manifest in the material plane as a writhing energy blade. As long as Raziel stays at full health, the blade remains (and it sustains Raziel's energy, which would normally be draining constantly due to the strain of maintaining physical form). As long as Raziel doesn't get damaged, the blade remains active.

    Over the course of the game, Raziel can find various elemental forges hidden throughout Nosgoth. By baptizing the Soul Reaver in an elemental forge, the blade becomes forged with that element. Once forged, the blade can be re-imbued with that element, if found in the environment. For example: if Raziel has visited the Sunlight Forge, the Soul Reaver is now baptized with sunlight. When the Soul Reaver becomes activated in the material plane, it always manifests in its default form (generic spectral energy), but if Raziel can find a source of sunlight (i.e., a shaft of sunlight), he can pass the blade through it and re-imbue the Soul Reaver with the power of sunlight. The blade will then stay imbued as long as it remains active.

    • Default Soul Reaver
    A single hit with the default Soul Reaver blade or projectile immediately puts vampires and high-level humans into a stunned state, after which they go into a standard damaged state (for a period of time until they heal/recover). Low-level humans are destroyed.

    • Sunlight Reaver
    Once Raziel has visited the Sunlight Forge and baptized the Reaver in the elemental altar, the blade has the potential to be imbued with sunlight whenever it appears in the environment. Once manifest in the material plane, the blade can be imbued with sunlight by passing it through a shaft of light.

    A single hit with the Sunlight Reaver blade stuns the enemy; a second blow kills (burning the enemy, as though by conventional sunlight). An enemy struck only once will advance to a damaged state, then eventually recover. On the second (killing) blow, the impact of the blade causes a bright flash, with a small radius effect. Adjacent enemies are temporarily blinded (effectively stunned).

    • Water Reaver
    Once Raziel has visited the Water Forge and baptized the Reaver in the elemental altar, the blade has the potential to be imbued with water. When manifest in the material plane, the blade can be imbued with water by passing it through running water (e.g., fountains, spouts, waterfalls).

    A single blow with the Water Reaver blade stuns the enemy; a second blow kills (as though the enemy were burned by immersing it in water). An enemy struck only once will advance to a damaged state, then eventually recover. The Water Reaver projectile does water (e.g., burning acid) damage to a single enemy, stunning/damaging it.

    There are seven Glyph Altars hidden throughout Nosgoth. Each ancient altar is associated with an elemental "glyph" (or spell). Once Raziel has solved the puzzle of the Glyph Altar, he is awarded that elemental glyph - he essentially memorizes it, and it goes permanently into his glyph spell menu.

    The Glyph spells invoke powerful elemental energies, and cause damage to multiple enemies with varying radius - or area - effects. To cast the different spells, Raziel must expend energy in the form of glyph "points" - collectibles which are scattered throughout the game environments. A low-level spell might only cost one glyph point; a high-level spell could cost 6 or more.

    The Glyph spells are listed below in the order that Raziel will most likely discover the various Glyph Altars.

    • Plane Shift
    This spell allows Raziel to shift between the Spectral Plane and Material Plane. For most of the game (Until the Shift at Will ability is earned), Raziel can only change Planes at designated planar portals. Also, Raziel can only go to the Material plane when he is at full health. Being able to shift between the planes at will is far better than looking for the portals.

    • Sunlight Glyph
    When Raziel casts this glyph spell, the room is filled with a flash of blindingly bright sunlight. All enemies in the area are temporarily blinded (essentially stunned). Having blinded his enemies, Raziel can either escape the area, or can easily inflict fatal blows on them (since they are effectively in a stunned/damaged state). This is the weakest of the glyphs.

    • Stone Glyph
    Raziel slams his fist into the floor, causing a localized earthquake effect. All enemies in the affected area are reduced to a damaged state by the violence of the spell's effect. Raziel can now easily inflict fatal blows on any damaged vampires. While technically weaker than some of the later glyph spells (since it only damages enemies, but doesn't kill them), it has a larger range of effect

    • Water Glyph
    The glyph's magic explodes into the room, creating a watery downpour that causes acid-type damage to all vampire enemies within a radius of the spell's epicenter. The water glyph spell doesn't kill enemies, but reduces all water-vulnerable vampires within the spell's radius to a damaged state. As with any other damaged state, the enemies will recover to full health after a prescribed amount of time. Until then, they're vulnerable to fatal attacks.

    • Fire Glyph
    The spell emanates outward in rings of fire, igniting all enemies in its wake (killing both vampires and humans).

    • Sound Glyph
    Deadly (to vampires) waves of sound emanate out from the spell's epicenter. Vampires that are struck by the expanding waves of sound are disrupted, shattering them like crystal. Humans are unaffected.

    • Force Glyph
    Waves of telekinetic force rush out from the spell's epicenter, knocking all affected enemies backward as they're impacted. Telekinetically flung enemies may end up damaged or destroyed, depending on what they're flung into. An enemy may be slammed into a wall (stunning/damaging it), or onto spikes, into water, through a window, etc. (killing it).

    • Spirit Glyph
    The glyph spell creates a localized vortex of soul-sucking energy, tearing the souls out of any enemies within a prescribed radius. The souls are magnetized directly into Raziel, replenishing his health energy.

    Image captions

    1999 – [SR1] [GameSpot / Hennig] – Soul Reaver Response

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 5 September 1999
    Credit to: Chris Johnston
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "Amy Hennig, producer/director of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, responds to recent reports about the game's edits."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Hennig
    We spoke this afternoon with Amy Hennig, producer/director of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver at Crystal Dynamics, to set the record straight about recent reports that the game was released unfinished or missing up to 1/3 of the levels originally planned. These reports are largely based on early interviews conducted almost a year ago that ran in magazines while the game was still in development.

    Hennig told us, “The decision to split it into two games was actually made several months ago, it's not something we decided at the very last minute, just to rush the product to the shelves. We realized a while back that we had essentially over-designed the game, and that the epic story we wanted to convey was too ambitious for a single product. Once we came to terms with this realization, we had a difficult decision to make — should we further delay the game's release, or should we bite the bullet and leave Soul Reaver with a cliffhanger ending, to be resolved in the (already-planned) sequel?

    "Realistically, the former really wasn't an option — there were both internal and external pressures to get the game out, without any further delays. And so, somewhat reluctantly, we decided to make it a two-parter — and despite our own disappointment, we realized that this decision was really a blessing in disguise. Because of schedule pressures, we felt we had already compromised the latter portion of the game, squeezing characters and story events into too small a space, and too short a time. We had abandoned cool ideas and mechanics, because there wasn't time to do everything we wanted to do. Saving these ideas for the sequel meant that we could give them the breadth and care that they deserved."

    Contrary to speculations on the net, there will not be a director's cut or an expanded version with these “missing” elements from the first game. These ideas will instead be included and expanded on for the sequel, tentatively scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2000. She told us that Soul Reaver is only one episode in the continuing saga of Kain, and that there's much more to be told — likening it to seeing The Empire Strikes Back knowing something about (yet not having seen) Return of the Jedi.

    “It's important to remember that the interview with EGM was done 10 months ago, and things have changed and evolved since then. All games go through this process, and there are always elements that end up altered or eliminated that the developers would've liked to have seen in the final product. The difference with Soul Reaver is that people were aware of the ideas and concepts we had planned, and therefore noticed their absence."

    Most of the extra sound files on the disc are merely alternate takes or "protection" material, as well as some dialogue originally planned but later removed from the game. The reason they remain on the disk is because Crystal thought that removing them might actually do more harm than good, creating unforeseen bugs in the game. For example, if a player reached a position in the game where it would try to access a sound file that didn't exist anymore, or if they had removed a wrong sound file by mistake.

    Hennig told us that areas excised from the final product amount to only a small fraction of what appears in the final game — speculations that a half or a third of the game was deleted are simply inaccurate. (For those familiar with the game, the deleted terrain is the equivalent of the Silenced Cathedral level). And, most were areas that the team wasn't that happy with or felt that spending time on them rather than areas that were going in the right direction wouldn't be the most effective use of time.

    "Those gamers who have avowedly completed and enjoyed Soul Reaver (even with the cliffhanger ending) should not feel differently about the game after hearing about the edits," she said. "For someone who took 40 hours to complete Soul Reaver, the deleted material would have only accounted for another 4-5 hours of gameplay.

    "The main thing I want to convey to fans of the Kain series is that the team and I are 110% committed to this franchise, and care deeply about it," she said. "There's no corporate conspiracy to cheat the consumer, to get two games out of one game's worth of material. We simply just felt that we were compromising Kain's epic story by trying to cram too many major events into the last 10% of Soul Reaver. I agree that Soul Reaver's ending was abrupt, and I would have loved the time to make it more elegant. But I'm confident we made the right decision in saving these events for a full-fledged, follow-up title; for fans of the Kain story, this was the best possible decision we could have made."

    1999 – [SR1] [Game Informer / Hennig] – Face To Face: Demon Meet Your Maker

    (return to full articles)
    Published: September 1999
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer, Raziel Fan (archivist), Nosgothic Realm (host)
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "From the September 1999 Game Informer. Originally posted at"

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Hennig
    Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain garnered a cult-like following of hard-core fanatics, frieks, and ghostly goths. When Crystal Dynamics announced the continuation of the Kain universe, this congregation of gamers scurried out of hiding and demanded information. For years, Game Informer tried to feed the demand and sedate the blood lust, but never once were successful in tracking down the development beast. The Soul Reaver team moved about the industry like an apparition, surfacing periodically to dispense little tidbits here and there. At the last minute, after learning a few tricks from the Ghost Busters, Game Informer finally cornered the leader of the Soul Reaver pack, Amy Hennig, for an in-depth interview on Soul Reaver and the future of the Legacy of Kain universe.

    Game Informer: A few months ago, we didn't dare ask. But now that the game is finished, why was Soul Reaver delayed so many times?

    Amy Hennig: It's always hard to nail down a ship date when you're working with brand new technology - you do your best to schedule conservatively, and adjust the scope of the project as necessary, as you go along. The enthusiasm generated by our early demos was both a blessing and a curse - because people were anxious for the game's release, there was a lot of pressure to set dates before the game engine was even fully established.

    GI: Gamers have been hearing about this game for quite some time. Do you think the numerous delays and the constant hype from the press has turned gamers away from the product?

    Amy: I hope not - that would be a shame. Like I said, the hype is a double-edged sword - it's flattering to have people so enthusiastic about your project, but at the same time you just want to be left alone to finish it! There's something to be said for working in complete anonymity, then unveiling the game when it's ready - premature hype tends to generate too much pressure and distraction.

    GI: What happened between Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics? We heard blood was spilled over the Kain license.

    Amy: I really can't comment in detail on that. The issue was resolved, with Crystal Dynamics retaining the right to the Kain franchise (for this and any future products).

    GI: Exactly how long was this project in the pipeline?

    Amy: We started early conceptualization around February of '97 (with a very small team), and began prototype work that April. We filled out the team and began full production in October. So it's been about 2 years from the first concepts, and about a year and a half of actual production.

    GI: Raziel is certainly a cool new character, and the concept of turning the hero into the villain is definitely interesting, but why abandon Kain as the lead?

    Amy: At the end of Blood Omen, Kain was presented with a decision: he could sacrifice himself and thereby save the world; or, in choosing to preserve his own life, he could damn the world. For the sequel, we assumed the latter - Kain embraces his vampire nature, and establishes himself as a "dark god", subjugating Nosgoth to his rule. We thought it would be interesting to fast foward a millennia or two, to see what Kain's decision engendered.

    Given this ending, it seemed appropriate to introduce a new protagonist, and set Kain up as the nemesis. Kain is by no means a monster or mustache-twirling villain, though - in many ways, he's a more complex and sympathetic character than Raziel himself.

    GI: How does Raziel talk without a lower jaw?

    Amy: Very supple throat muscles.

    GI: It appears as though many of the voice actors in Soul Reaver were the same voice actors from in Blood Omen. Is this true? And if so, did the voice actor for Raziel do anything in the first game?

    Amy: Most of the original voice actors from Blood Omen are reprising their roles (or voiceing new characters) in Soul Reaver - Simon Templeman returns as the voice of Kain, and Tony Jay, Anna Gunn, Neil Ross and Richard Doyle are all back as well. Veteran voice actor Michael Bell plays Raziel - he wasn't in the original game.

    GI: Is there any connection between the Necromancer in Blood Omen and the Elder God in Soul Reaver?

    Amy: Other than the fact that Tony Jay does both their voices? Maybe...

    GI: Was there any material that remained on the cutting room floor and didn't make the game?

    Amy: Sure, that always happens. We decided to cut a couple areas out, to eliminate some problematic gameplay, and shave some time off the schedule. There were also a couple of mechanics that we felt were cool, but ended up underutilized in the levels, so we decided to scrap them for now, and invest more design time in them for the sequel.

    GI: Was there anything that you would have changed?

    Amy: Of course - developers are always their own worst critics. In hindsight, for example, I would have liked the spell system to be more integrally woven into the game, and I think we could have explored some of Raziel's mechanics in more depth. It's always difficult to design gameplay and the game engine simultaneously. But any minor disappointments are far outweighed by what we've managed to accomplish.

    GI: What next? Rumor has it that Crystal Dynamics is working on two new Legacy of Kain titles. Obviously, a sequel to Soul Reaver is in the works.

    Amy: Crystal and Eidos are totally committed to the Kain world, and plan to expand the franchise with multiple future titles.

    GI: We hear that Kain might return to the slaughter fields.

    Amy: Specific sequel plans are still under wraps - but players can expect to see more of both Kain and Raziel in the future.

    GI: In Soul Reaver, Raziel inherited many amazing powers. What can we look forward to in the next game?

    Amy: We plan to explore some of the established mechanics in even more depth, and expand their functionality - especially plane shifting, gliding, projectile use, and Raziel's underwater mechanics. There's a lot of richness there that we didn't have time to exploit. In terms of additional mechanics, we still need to sort these out - but we've always planned to explore shape-shifting and possession of creatures.

    GI: Is there a possibility that Raziel may evolve again?

    Amy: Potentially, but not as a vampire - the transformation into his current form effectively halted his vampiric evolution. As Nosgoth's first reaper of souls, he's on a completely different evolutionary path.

    GI: How about Kain? Will he evolve like Raziel?

    Amy: Kain continues to evolve, like all vampires. But if you mean will he grow wings, no - that's an evolutionary development unique to Raziel and his descendants.

    GI: Any chance that you may bring metamorphosis back into play?

    Amy: Like I mentioned above, we're talking about it for the sequel - we considered a shape-shifting mechanic early in Soul Reaver's development, but decided that we had enough technical challenges with the data-streaming and world-morphing technologies. We decided that when we tackled shape-shifting, we wanted to do it right, and spend the time to make it as cool as possible.

    GI: Is Soul Reaver the last incarnation of the Gex engine?

    Amy: That's hard to answer - there's not a discrete game engine that gets reused. Each game leverages off technologies developed in previous titles, evolving and improving the engine with successive generations. The animation engine, for instance, has its roots in the 3D Baseball game Crystal developed a while back. We plan to keep expanding the existing technology, adding features, rewriting modules that don't work well, and bolstering the ones that do. After all the effort and wisdom that went into our existing technology, it wouldn't make sense to scrap it and start a new game engine from the ground up.

    GI: Is there a lucky lady in Raziel's future?

    Amy: I don't know how lucky she'd be - Raziel's jaw isn't the only thing that got burned off in the vortex.

    1999 – [SR1] [Soul Reaver official website / Crystal Dynamics] – Soul Reaver Designer Diary

    (return to full articles)
    Published: circa 1999
    Credit to: Ardeth Silvereni (archivist), Dark Chronicle (host)
    Personnel: Unknown Crystal Dynamics author

    "This is a 'designer diary' that used to be available on official Soul Reaver site (US) at Eidos. As that website is no longer active, it has been archived here for the time being. The original author is unknown."

    Quote Originally Posted by Soul Reaver official website / Crystal Dynamics
    Well, it's getting close to the end, but it only seems like a day or two has passed since we began our odyssey. In reality, I've spent a little over 2 years of my life dedicated to cultivating the vampire clans of Nosgoth. It's been an arduous process that is finally paying dividends for the long hours and infrequent meals.

    Some people think working on video games consists of playing any game you want for hours at a time. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's a labor of love that can be all consuming. It is also extremely rewarding when you are part of a team creating an epic game such as Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. I've never worked with such a talented and cohesive group of individuals in my life. After spending most of my waking hours for the past 2 years with these folks, we've become more of a family than a team. Sometimes you find out more about a person than you really need to know.

    Anyway, enough of the heartfelt retrospective. Time to get on with the game. T-minus 2 weeks and counting. We're currently riding the bug fixing rollercoaster and it's an exhilarating experience. Some might even say it's an "E" ticket ride. This is the pressure packed time in game development when you are so close to the end of a project that you can taste it. You see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you can't quite reach it soon enough.

    Our programmers, artists, and designers are trying to cram 30 hours of work into a 24-hour day. This makes for a harrowing experience for everyone involved. We are working to reach milestones so that the gamers may enjoy this game as much as we have for the past 2 years.

    We just finished debugging the Skinner boss and he looks great. If I were playing this boss in a dark room in the dead of night, I might be a bit frightened. His skin is made up of patches of skin from his victims including their tortured faces. A little inside information, the faces on the Skinner boss' body are composites of the team members' faces. They really DO look tortured. Better than his appearance is his voice. Jeez, it's creepy. It has that resonance of terror that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. His patchwork body scared me enough, but when combined with the voice, he becomes truly terrifying. One of our funniest bugs in this area so far is this menacing beast sometimes takes on the colors of the rainbow rendering him as scary as an episode of Teletubbies. Well, maybe Sesame Street.

    This is also the time of some serious play balancing. This balancing act will continue until the very day that we submit to Sony. You don't want to make the game so easy that someone can finish it in a couple of hours. However, you also don't want to make it so difficult that a player loses interest. Of course, we can't add anything to the game as code is frozen, however, we can add or remove enemies or objects if the area is too difficult to pass through. To increase the difficulty, we can also adjust the hit point system accordingly.

    We've run the game through some additional play testing and the biggest surprise has been the depth of the puzzles and the sheer amount of puzzle solving that is in the game. In earlier versions, the action oriented areas were more playable and therefore received more attention from the online and magazine editors. In reality, the game is uniquely balanced with a ton of puzzles. Our testing group have been playing some of the puzzles that appear earlier in the game, many of which require over 30 minutes to execute. This has caused us to really hone in on testing the intuitiveness of the puzzle's clues to ensure that players know 'what to do' and 'when'. A specific example of this happened when we built a puzzle that required the careful manipulation of burning concrete urns to enable the destruction of an overhead wooden structure which gives the player access to one of Kain's lieutenants - Raziel's first boss encounter. Our first layout did not have the concrete urn tracks that lead the player to burn the different wooden timbers. We found that consumers did not understand that the urns could be moved without introducing a track that lead each urn to a specific timber. Once introduced, the puzzle transitioned from impossible to a engaging brainteaser.

    The best game scheduler in the world can't predict the "X" factor. For the Soul Reaver project, the "X" factor was the release of Episode 1. Several members of the team are fanatical about Star Wars. The release of the movie and the heaps of collectible merchandise have both buoyed the team's spirits in crunch-time, but also have become a little bit of a distraction. Whether it's contributing to the "kill jar jar" web sites, or getting on ebay and buying action figures, Star Wars had a definite impact to the schedule.

    To combat 'the force', we imported some fantastic Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver energy drinks from our German office. This was a promotion that partnered Eidos Germany with Red Bull Energy Drinks and branded a Soul Reaver version of caffeine laden beverage. Working in 17 and 18 hour shifts, the team busted through 3 cases in one week. The marketing guys have promised to airship another couple of cases from Germany to Menlo Park. I hope they hurry. Right now we've got several programmers willing to sell their souls for a couple of cans.

    1999 – [SR1] [IASIG / Hedges, Harland, Hennig] – The Eidos Interview

    (return to full articles)
    Published: circa 1999
    Credit to: Alexander Brandon
    Personnel: Jim Hedges, Kurt Harland, Amy Hennig

    "Interactive Composition Column 1.2. The Eidos Interview by Alexander Brandon."

    Quote Originally Posted by IASIG / Hedges, Harland, Hennig

    In our last issue we introduced the topic of Interactive Composition through an examination of DirectMusic several key issues surrounding its introduction. Notably, the questions were asked "is DirectMusic too late?", and "just how can it differ from streamed audio?", The discussion focused mostly on theoretical issues surrounding the concepts of linear vs. non-linear audio.

    In this issue we transition from the theoretical to the practical for an interview of members of the Eidos USA 'Soul Reaver' sound team by Alex Brandon (AB). Soul Reaver is the anxiously awaited sequel to the popular Blood Omen, Legacy of Kain. The team members interviewed include Jim Hedges (JH), Kurt Harland (KH), (of Information Society fame), and Amy Hennig (AH). <Ed Note: In the following text "Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver" will be referred to simply as SR.>

    Afterwards, we also asked Jim some additional questions about other Eidos projects which use their in-house Adaptive Audio system.

    An Interview With The 'Soul Reaver' Sound Team

    AB Please describe the roles that the various team member playing in realizing the sound design for Soul Reaver and any other Eidos products that you want to talk about.

    JH For "Soul Reaver", the music was composed by Kurt Harland, while I did the adaptive audio programming, as well as being the "technical/creative liaison" between him and Amy Henig, the project's producer/director. For "Akuji", I wrote the music and did the adaptive audio programming.

    AB First, could you describe the first game in the series briefly and mention a few details such as what kind of response "Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen" received, and what building blocks you had to use for its sequel, such as the extensive use of voice in the original.

    AH Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (the first game) was an action/adventure game in the Zelda tradition (not a hardcore RPG), with an overhead camera perspective and 2D graphics. The game was well received by critics and consumers, primarily for its unique theme and story line, which revolved around a "lone wolf" type hero afflicted with vampirism, and bent on revenge.

    When we set about to design the sequel, we knew we wanted to take the franchise into 3D, with a third-person camera, but retain the spirit of the gameplay-in the same way that Zelda64 was an evolutionary step beyond Zelda on the SNES. We also determined from the beginning to establish a new central character. Since Kain had essentially established himself as a dark god, ruling over Nosgoth, at the end of the first game, we thought it would be interesting to turn the tables, and make him the nemesis for a new protagonist.

    The quality of the story line, writing and the voice acting are distinctive elements of the Kain franchise-as opposed to similar action/adventure games, where plot is less important, and either text or second-rate voice acting is used to convey the story. It was important to us to retain the best voice talent (most of the actors are reprising their roles from the first game) and directors-Gordon Hunt directed the sessions, and Kris Zimmerman (who directed Metal Gear Solid) is our casting director. There's roughly an hour of voice-over in the game, and about 100 in-game cinematic events.

    AB Describe, using technical as well as layman terms, the system you used for music in SR. Give a brief example of a part of the game where the music is used to enhance gameplay.

    JH We used an in-house developed adaptive audio MIDI driver, which replaces the Sony driver entirely. Signals from the game, based on location, proximity and game-state set special music variables, which are read by the driver and used to effect changes in the MIDI data. How these signals are interpreted is controlled by an extensive scripting language with standard branching, logic and arithmetic functions. This scripting language is written using MIDI text 'meta' events. These text commands can be written in a standard text file, or interspersed with other MIDI data in the MIDI bytestream. Some of the changes to MIDI data available are: muting/unmuting, transposition, pitch mapping, sequence start/stop, volume/tempo/pan changes etc.

    As an example, in Soul Reaver, every piece of music in the game has several arrangements which correspond to different game states. The default arrangement, or "ambient" mode, is used when no signals from the game are present. When the player comes within range of an enemy (weather seen or not), a signal is sent to the driver which sets a designated "danger" variable. The script sees this change in the variable and mutes/unmutes tracks to produce a more intense "danger" arrangement. When the player engages in combat, another variable signifying combat is sent, and the same process ensues, this time with a tempo increase. If the player stops fighting or kills the enemy, the combat variable changes again, and this time certain tracks from the "combat" arrangement begin to fade out. If the player resumes combat, they fade back in. If no combat resumes, the combat tracks fade out entirely and the music changes back to either "ambient" or "danger" mode.

    AB What kind of leverage did you have in creating the soundtrack for SR? Did you control or at least coordinate the style of music? Were you able to recommend sound systems or request new features?

    JH The director of the game had some fairly well developed ideas regarding the music, however she chose the composer, Kurt Harland, specifically because she liked his style of music and thought it would be within his stylistic range. Since the arrangement of the music was so dependent on the interactivity, and the abilities of the driver, I had a lot of input into how the music was put together, since I would ultimately be responsible for making it "work" in the game.

    I'm always able to request new features because the guy who wrote the driver, Fred Mack, works next door to me. I'm a constant pest.

    AB Did you collaborate cooperatively with the sound effects person(s) on SR, or did the two teams work mostly separated?

    JH We did all the SFX in-house, so it was very collaborative. Sometimes we used the adaptive audio tools to create MIDI sound effect sequences which could not be created otherwise.

    AB Did you collaborate cooperatively with the level designers?

    JH Sound effects: yes, music: no. The music interactivity in Soul Reaver was specified on a very global basis. Most of the signals being sent were from the game code, as opposed to the level description files, so I worked mainly with the programmers. In the cases where signals needed to be sent from specific levels, I went in an edited the files myself.

    AB What kind of preparation did you do on planning the soundtrack, and what tools did you use to create it?

    KH I spoke with the producer, Amy Hennig, quite a bit and got her ideas on what sort of feel to give the game through the soundtrack. She not only described the interactive structure she had in mind, but also the ideas of the environments and characters in the game. For any given area, we took the history and nature of the creatures living there as the first inspiration for the soundtrack. For example, one of the regions of the game was inhabited by a race of mechanical-engineering-oriented vampires. Based on their goals and behaviors and on the intended smoky, mechanical environment in which they lived, I composed sounds and music which were thick, slow, and thumping, like big machines far away.

    Amy also gave me a lot of architectural drawings and photos to get a feel for the look of the environments.

    I used my very old computer sequencer: Voyetra Sequencer Plus Gold for composing, and Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge for designing sounds, mainly. Other than that, I primarily had to use the Sony tools for developing on the PlayStation.

    AB Was there anything particularly satisfying (or dissatisfying) about composing music for SR?

    KH The best thing was finally working on a game in which the music could be quiet, unobtrusive (except during combat) and filled with environmental sounds. I used rain, birds, screams, etc. This came at the request of the producer, and it's also always been the way I thought game scores could be more often. As has been said so many times, a fully-structured pop song can sound great to listen to once, but become a blood-sucking leech with teeth in your ear after the 47th repetition. This music is much less structured and "in-your-face". I loved getting a chance to do that after thinking about it for so long.

    Also, to combat this problem, Amy described a structure for the music tracks which would allow for the music to change a lot depending on what was going on. In this game, as you enter areas where enemies are known to be, the music gets a little more suspenseful. As you get within visual range of enemies, it sounds dangerous. And when you actually start to fight them, it becomes quite intense. The music also changes when you're underwater, outdoors vs. indoors, etc. This was a lot of fun artistically, even though it was a bit trying technically. It produced a lot of problems for composition, since it doesn't fit well with many aspects of music that people are used to and expect to hear. But it worked out quite well in the end.

    This interactivity was made possible not only by the creative vision of the producer, but also by some of the past and present audio department at Crystal Dynamics/Eidos USA: Fred Mack, Mark Miller and Jim Hedges. They developed their own interactive audio driver which makes all this possible.

    Dissatisfying? Well, the details would be a little boring, but in general, the biggest thorn in my side was making separate versions of all the music for use when the player is in the spirit (spectral) world instead of the physical (material) world. It caused numerous niggling problems that were hard to work out for everyone. But we did.

    More With Jim Hedges

    AB Describe, using technical as well as layman terms, the system you used for music in "Akuji the Heartless" (ATK, for short)

    JH The system was basically the same one that we used for SR. The music in Akuji was arranged in sections which corresponded to different sections of a given level. In this way the music progressed and developed on a large scale in accordance with the development and action of the game. To achieve this, signals would be placed at key points throughout the levels (entering a new room, fighting a battle, solving a puzzle etc.) These signals would trigger new sections of the piece to play, so that the music would follow the level. These large scale sections were then broken down into subsections, which consisted of various tracks which could be muted and unmuted based on various game states.

    For example: The player begins the level. The first part of the piece starts, playing the theme and setting the tone for the level. This section repeats until the player enters the second room, which contains enemies. Upon entering the room, a signal is sent to the driver, unmuting tracks which play the battle music for that section. The door closes behind the player, so they must defeat all enemies in order to go on. The battle music plays until the last enemy is defeated, at which point a signal is sent, the battle tracks stop, and the music goes into a new "post battle" section, which also serves as a musical transition to the next section. The door opens, allowing the player to leave the room and continue through the level. When the player leaves the room, a signal is triggered and the music moves on to the next section.

    AB What kind of leverage did you have in creating the soundtrack for AH? Did you control or at least coordinate the style of music?

    JH I had pretty much complete authority in writing the music. Once some basic styles were established (tribal, voodoo, heavy ambiance), I just ran with it.

    AB In working with the ATH team, how interested was the team as a whole in an adaptive audio system? Did you call most of the shots or did you work cooperatively in suggesting ideas? Did you use any techniques from your previous games such as the "Gex" series?

    JH Initially, the team wasn't very interested simply because they weren't aware of what an adaptive audio system could do. I had to sell the idea to the producer and lead designer. Once I started writing the music and implementing it, however, the whole team really liked it and were very supportive. I ended up calling most of the shots, but was helped greatly by the cooperation from the designers. I was constantly asking them to add new signals to their levels.

    Gex II was the first game to use the adaptive audio driver, and used it in a limited way. Akuji was the first game to use the capabilities of the driver as a starting point for composing the music, so all of the music was written specifically for the driver.

    AB Did you collaborate cooperatively with the level designers?

    JH Yes, very much so.

    AB What kind of preparation did you do on planning the soundtrack, and what tools did you use to create it?

    JH Instead of sitting down and writing a self contained, complete piece of music, I started by writing in fragments. For example, a rhythm chart with different parts which could be muted and unmuted to produce different densities. Or an ambient bed which could support many different parts. In general, I composed different parts which could be combined in many ways. All of this was done using Studio Vision Pro along with various samplers and synthesizers. I then got together with the lead designer and went through the material with him, showing the various combinations possible. He would give me feedback on what combinations might work in certain areas of the game.

    Then I would get together with the level designer and have them show me their level from beginning to end, so that I could get a sense of the structure of the level, including all important battles, puzzles etc. This structure would largely dictate the form the final composition would take. After the designer put in the signals for the level, I would go about scoring it, writing the script which would control the behavior of the music.

    AB Was there anything particularly satisfying (or dissatisfying) about composing music for ATH?

    JH The most satisfying thing was creating a complete adaptive soundtrack for a game from beginning to end, instead of slapping some interactivity on after the fact. The feeling I got when I first started implementing the music, and having it react to the gameplay, was the same as when I scored my first film.

    AB What games in the past that you have written music for have used adaptive/interactive audio?

    JH Gex II, Gex III (PSX), Mr. Bones (Sega Saturn), Tazmania, Taz II: Escape From Mars (Sega Genesis)

    AB Has there been a steady trend from your perspective either towards or away from the use of adaptive audio in games?

    JH I think it's growing, but it's not steady. Producers still need to be educated as to it's benefits. It will take a breakthrough title with great adaptive audio for the rest of the world to really notice.

    AB What techniques have you used, with what engines, for older title soundtracks, whether it be adaptive or not.

    JH Back in the day, I used the GEMS driver for the Genesis. That was a great driver for it's time, and had some adaptive audio features as well. When I moved on to the Saturn, I had to use the standard Saturn driver from Japan. Glad those days are over.

    AB How much control have you had in the past over your soundtracks?

    JH I've pretty much done what I want, weather people liked it or not In the past when I was a contractor, I would often not have control over the final mix. Now I make sure I always do.

    AB What kind of relationship do you have with the manufacturers and developers of the tools you use? For example, have you been able to suggest modifications to audio engines on the consoles you have worked on as well as PC based titles?

    JH I'm really fortunate to be working in a company with an audio programmer. He's the same guy who writes the tools, and I'm the guy who uses them, so I have a lot of input.

    AB What new techniques do you see being used in interactive audio? Is there a game or are there games in particular that you have seen use interactive audio in a new and effective way?

    JH I think the whole thing is still in it's infancy. I think the games coming out of Sony's 989 studios are doing great things with adaptive audio. Buzz Burrowes has a great driver there.

    AB Do you feel the average gamer can get more out of a game with an interactive score as opposed to looped or single shot playback?

    JH Absolutely. In the best case they will get an experience that is better than some movies. In the worst case they'll get music they won't be compelled to turn off.

    AB Do you feel that producers and lead programmers are considering interactive audio more important in games you have worked on? If not, what do the team leaders on games you have worked on prefer, and why?

    JH I don't think they consider it more important, they just agree to it because I bug them about it and promise them that I'll take most of the burden. With some exceptions, in my experience most producers and programmers prefer to not think about music until they absolutely have to, and then it's a little late for adaptive audio.

    2000 – [SR1] [SegaWeb / Hennig] – Interview: Soul Reaver's Amy Hennig

    (return to full articles)
    Published: January 2000
    Credit to: Craig Hansen
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "As time of Soul Reaver's DC release approaches, we sit down for a good, long chat with the game's director and designer."

    Quote Originally Posted by SegaWeb / Hennig
    This past fall, around the time the Dreamcast was released, Eidos and Crystal Dynamics unleashed the long-awaited PSX game, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, upon the gaming world. It was a huge sales hit, and has become something of a cultural phenomenon, joining Tomb Raider's Lara Croft in the Eidos stable of recognizable franchise characters.

    Rumors of a Dreamcast version had been swirling almost from the time Sega announced it's next-gen platform, and mostly it was wishful thinking. Then, in early November, Eidos finally granted those wishes and confirmed Soul Reaver for Dreamcast.

    Our man inside Eidos recently confirmed that the conversation team working on the Dreamcast port of Soul Reaver had finished their job and the adaptation was ready more than a month ahead of schedule. The expected release date of Soul Reaver for Dreamcast has now been moved up three weeks to the end of January.

    So, we at Sega Web thought this would be an ideal time to snag an interview with one of the brilliant minds behind the game. Amy Hennig is the director and designer of the Kain/Soul Reaver franchise. Not only is she creative, but in the interview she proved to be thoughtful, intelligent, open, and candid.

    We figured those who read about or played the PSX version of the game already knew the obvious: the game rocks, the ending was cut short to allow for Soul Reaver 2 to be released sooner---perhaps as soon as Fall 2000, and the plane shifting and no load times technologies are huge achievements. Rather than submit the same questions that had been asked everywhere else, we decided to focus on some less obvious topics. In response, Ms. Hennig provided some deep, thought-provoking answers.

    If you think all developer interviews are alike, think again. Read on, and gain some real insight into Soul Reaver, the mindset of a developer, the challenges of working in a high-profile, highly-anticipated title, and much, much more.

    Sega Web: Thanks for speaking with us. Let's start off with the basics. Blood Omen was a mildly successful PSX title, but certainly not a runaway hit. It's easy now to say that Soul Reaver is a slam-dunk, but what about early on, in the proposal stage? Was the idea of a Blood Omen sequel a hard sell?

    Amy Hennig: No, not at all---in fact, it was the company that proposed the idea of a Blood Omen sequel to the team (rather than the other way around). While not a blockbuster by today's standards, Blood Omen sold remarkably well for its time, and inspired a significant fan following. So it was natural to start thinking about a sequel.

    Like all games, Blood Omen had its share of technical shortcomings - what made it memorable (and what inspired such a loyal fan following) were its original storyline, complex characters, high-quality writing and voice acting, and its fresh approach to vampire mythology. These are the aspects we want to perpetuate as we carry the Kain franchise into the future.

    Sega Web: Now, Blood Omen was more of an action RPG, whereas Soul Reaver is closer to a Tomb Raider-style adventure title, although Soul Reaver tells a deeper story than a typical Tomb Raider clone. Who came up with the idea to shift from an RPG to more of an adventure game, and how long did it take to sell the decision makers on the new approach?

    Amy Hennig: We hear the Tomb Raider comparison a lot, and I guess I can see why---since both games use a third-person viewpoint in a 3D world, and involve lots of exploration and problem solving (including hitting switches and dragging blocks around). But beyond that, I think calling Soul Reaver a Tomb Raider clone is like calling Goldeneye a Doom clone. Soul Reaver definitely still shows its RPG roots, with elements like character development, ability acquisition, storyline and dialogue.

    Still, having said all that---Soul Reaver obviously has fewer "traditional" RPG elements than Blood Omen did. We had so many technical challenges in front of us, with the development of the game engine alone, that we had to simplify some of the gameplay out of necessity. Now that our underlying technologies are more established, we hope to reintroduce more RPG elements into the sequels.

    It's interesting, though---all the technological advances we're seeing with the hardware and game engines really require us, as game developers, to reexamine our traditional perceptions of genre. So many of our preconceptions of what defines a game genre are based on things like camera viewpoint, 2D vs. 3D, text vs. voice---i.e., they're rigidly defined according to the previous limitations of hardware and game engines.

    The arrival of these next-generation game systems---and most importantly, the transition from 2D to 3D---demands a reassessment of the medium. Zelda64 and Mario64, for example, are very different games from their predecessors. I think we're seeing a trend where many games are converging into an amorphous "adventure" category---loosely defined as free roaming, 3D, character-based games providing an immersive, cinematic experience.

    Sega Web: Soul Reaver's been lurking around in development for a long time. I think it was first shown a couple of E3's ago. I'm sure you've heard the complaint that it's one of the most-delayed games of recent years. Gamers and the gaming media always complain about delays in development, but with Soul Reaver, it's apparent that the wait was worth it...the final product is very impressive, especially what you were able to wring out of the aging PSX platform. Did you and your team ever feel pressured to finish up sooner than you wanted to?

    Amy Hennig: Actually, Soul Reaver wasn't in development that long (considering the genre and technical challenges)---it was about 2.5 years from concept to shelf, with only a year and a half of full production. (By way of comparison, Blood Omen was in development for about 3.5 years, and Zelda64 for something like 4.5). The real problem, I think, is that we previewed the game to the press too early, which created premature pressure (both internally and externally) to set a release date. When you're working with brand new technology (in our case, for example, the data-streaming and morphing elements of our game engine), it's almost impossible to forecast reliable dates until all the risks and unknowns are resolved. Until then, it's all educated guesswork.

    Sega Web: This opens up another topic. Do you think it's good that publishers preview games to the media and the public so early in the development process? Are you in favor of this, or do you wish publishers would wait until development is closer to completion?

    Amy Hennig: You can probably tell from my response to the previous question! After our experience on Soul Reaver, I'd probably say no, it's not a good idea. It's a double-edged sword, though---on the one hand, it's invigorating for team-members to see enthusiasm for their work, it's great to get early feedback from the gaming press, and all the media attention builds anticipation for the product. On the other hand, early previews create premature pressure---not only for release dates, but for spec sheets, demos, interviews, asset-creation for articles, etc. All of which intrude into the team's concentration, and divert our attention from the production tasks at hand. So all in all, I'd say it's better for a company to keep a title under wraps until it's near completion.

    Sega Web: Now, midway through development of Soul Reaver, Crystal Dynamics was acquired by Eidos. How did that change your job and work environment day-to-day? Was there more or less pressure to get the title out the door?

    Amy Hennig: Surprisingly, our day-to-day reality didn't change much at all---it was just about the smoothest transition you could hope for. Eidos has been incredibly supportive of Crystal's development teams; they understand and encourage the creative process.

    Sega Web: I think everyone is aware, by now, of the plane shifting and the lack of loading times, which are really huge technological accomplishments. What else are you proud of on Soul Reaver?

    Amy Hennig: We're really proud of the voice work in the game---I think the writing is intelligent, and the voice acting and direction are top-notch. We didn't cut any corners in this regard---we hired a voice director and casting director with years of professional experience, and classically-trained actors for the major roles.

    I think the overall art direction of the game is impressive---the fluid animation, the cinematic events, the architectural design, the painting and lighting of the environments. All of these things are made possible through close collaboration between the artists who push the envelope, and the programmers who enable them to do so.

    Sega Web: I invited a friend over recently and showed him the PSX version of the game. I was only going to show him the first few minutes, but he kept insisting I continue playing. I finally stopped over an hour later, after finishing off the first of Raziel's "brothers." He was disappointed I stopped because, he said, "It's like a movie, I want to know what happens next." Is that the effect you were going for?

    Amy Hennig: Absolutely---creating that sense of cinematic immersion was always our #1 goal. To achieve this, the experience has to be seamless and convincing---no elements can break the player's willing suspension of disbelief. So, just like a film, the environments (the "sets" and lighting) must be realistic and believable; the writing, acting and voice direction must be compelling; the soundtrack should provide the appropriate ambience; the special effects have to be credible. This goal was probably the main catalyst for establishing the data-streaming technology---nothing breaks the mood more than a "loading" message.

    I think we were mostly successful in maintaining this sense of immersion, though we could have done better in some aspects. The quality of the cinematic experience continues to be our primary goal, so Soul Reaver 2 should be even better in this regard than its predecessor.

    Sega Web: Was there anything out there that served as inspiration? Certainly the WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer's popularity has made it a good time to bring out a vampire game...

    Amy Hennig: Sure, we drew from all kinds of sources for inspiration---but less from the popular media, and more from traditional resources. We familiarized ourselves with all the contemporary vampire references---novels, films and other vampire-related games---so that we would have the information necessary to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the pack, and not accidentally replicate something that had already been done.

    We relied more on mythology and theology for inspiration---things like Joseph Campbell's books, biblical lore, ancient vampire mythology, eastern myth and mysticism. I think the best games (and books, movies, etc.) strike a chord with their audience because there are ancient and familiar themes being replayed in a contemporary context.

    Sega Web: I have to ask this or our readership will kill me: Is there any chance of Crystal Dynamics doing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer videogame? And, how do you think Buffy and Raziel would react to each other, if they met. (It's cheesy, I know.)

    Amy Hennig: There are no plans at this point for Crystal or Eidos to do a Buffy game. I imagine Buffy would be pretty confounded by Raziel if they bumped into each other---I don't think she's ever had to deal with a soul-sucking ex-vampire who won't stay dead.

    Sega Web: Soul Reaver is really taking off! In addition to the Dreamcast port, I understand that through the Eidos/Top Cow connection, Raziel now has his own comic book. It took Lara Croft three videogames to achieve that! Will you or any of your team be involved in that?

    Amy Hennig: With all the advance work done by Core, Eidos and Top Cow, producing a Soul Reaver comic is no great feat! The development of the Tomb Raider comics has really paved the way for future licenses to follow in their footsteps. The Soul Reaver comic that debuted last October is a one-shot deal---but if interest in the game continues to be strong, it's not unreasonable to think that there may be more comics in the series. If so, the team and I would definitely love to collaborate with Top Cow on any future developments.

    Sega Web: Is there any talk of a Soul Reaver movie? If one was made, who would you like to see write in it, star in it, and direct it, ideally?

    Amy Hennig: There are currently no plans to do a Soul Reaver film, but if the franchise continues to be strong, who knows? Adapting Soul Reaver for the screen would be really difficult, though---the characters, effects and architecture would almost demand a full CGI treatment (where are you going to find a jawless, wasp-waisted actor to play Raziel)? If it was economically feasible to do a full CGI movie, I'd want to see the same voice actors that we used in the game reprise their roles for the film---I think they all did a brilliant job. As far as directors go, I'd love to see an interpretation by someone like Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, or David Lynch---they're all so adept at creating an atmosphere that's simultaneously surreal and completely convincing (plus they're my heroes).

    Sega Web: Obviously, there's already talk of Soul Reaver 2. Where does the series go from here? Will Raziel become an annual tradition, like Lara Croft?

    Amy Hennig: That's the hope---we're discussing development strategies to be able to produce sequels in a roughly annual cycle. As gamers ourselves, we know how hard it is to wait years for the next installment of your favorite game to come out!

    It's a tricky thing, though---these days (with advances in technology and increased consumer expectations) doing any genre of game on an annual cycle is nearly impossible. And trying to build an epic, story-based action/adventure title in that period of time is even more difficult (which is why it takes years to develop each installment in a series like Zelda).

    Sega Web: What would you like to fit in to the next title, that you didn't do this time out?

    Amy Hennig: So many things come to mind... Soul Reaver 2 (and its sequels) should be far more story-driven than SR1, with more dialogue and character interaction. There will be a greater variety of acquirable mechanics (including spells and weapon power-ups) that will be required to progress throughout the game (rather than being optional subquests). And the importance of the spectral plane will be blown out even more---we weren't able to take as much advantage of it in SR1 as we had hoped.

    Sega Web: So far, your publicity campaign had been closely intertwined with Sony. Will you be able to use the same commercials to promote the Dreamcast version, or will there be a new campaign?

    Amy Hennig: I'm actually not sure what sort of marketing campaign is planned for the Dreamcast version---that's handled independently by the Eidos marketing group.

    Sega Web: As long as Dreamcast sales remain strong, do you foresee supporting the platform? What platforms do you plan to put Soul Reaver 2 on?

    Amy Hennig: Crystal and Eidos will absolutely continue to develop for the Dreamcast, and any other platforms that have strong consumer support. Soul Reaver 2 will most likely be simultaneously developed for the Playstation and Dreamcast consoles, and probably PC.

    Sega Web: What can our viewers expect from the Dreamcast version of Soul Reaver that will distinguish it from the Playstation and PC versions? It is just graphic improvements, or will you make some use of the VMU and the like?

    Amy Hennig: Our main focus in developing the Dreamcast version was to do all the graphic enhancements we could (within schedule limitations). The main characters (and some of the enemies) have been remodeled to show much more detail---we pretty much doubled the polygon count on Raziel and Kain, for instance. And all the game's characters have been updated with higher-resolution textures. The Dreamcast hardware also allowed us to push the fogging way out, so the environments are more detailed and less claustrophobic.

    Mostly we just took advantage of the Dreamcast hardware's strengths to improve the look and feel of the game---the improved resolution and filtered textures make the entire game look sharper and more realistic. And the DC's increased horsepower means the game runs at an amazingly fluid 60 frames-per-second.

    Sega Web: There's a real move toward online gaming in the console market. Sega's really leading the way in that regard, with Sony trying to follow suit and such. Do you see a game like Soul Reaver working as an online multiplayer environment? What would have to change to make it work? What kind of games do you see as being the best fit for network gaming?

    Amy Hennig: Honestly, I don't ever see a game like Soul Reaver (or Zelda, or Tomb Raider for that matter) being developed for the online multiplayer market. A lone-hero-based adventure game just doesn't lend itself to a multiplayer environment---the experience of the hero's journey would be compromised or diluted by trying to shoehorn multiplayer elements into the design. I think the online possibilities are still exciting, though---like enabling players to download updates and enhancements, access FAQs and strategy guides, communicate with other fans, etc.

    The best candidates for networked multiplayer gaming are still going to be arena-style competitions and party-based adventure games. Adventure/RPG games like Baldur's Gate, where a group of online gamers can cooperate in a quest, are a more natural fit than something like Soul Reaver.

    Sega Web: So are Soul Reaver games now your future? What other kinds of games would you like to try your hand at? Any spicy licenses you'd like to get hold of, if you could have anything you wished for?

    Amy Hennig: For the next project or two, at least, the team and I are completely dedicated to the Legacy of Kain / Soul Reaver franchise. We're excited about taking the characters and game world onto the next-generation hardware, and feel that there's a lot more in the franchise to explore---in terms of technology, game design, plot and character development.

    Story-based action/adventure games are my favorite genre, both to play and to develop---I could quite happy spend my entire career developing a series of cinematic adventure games. Long-term, I'd like the opportunity to explore some different worlds, mythologies and characters---for now, though, Raziel and the Soul Reaver franchise are the focus.

    Although we all have some licenses and properties we lust after, it's really much more fulfilling (and less restrictive) to develop original material. The benefit of a license is that it's easier to get a project green-lighted---it's a known quantity, so a company is much more likely to invest their faith in it. The downside, from a development standpoint, is that any license is bound to be creatively confining, since the characters and mythos are predefined.

    Sega Web: Raziel is basically a Crystal Dynamics/Eidos creation, which means you have total freedom with your characters. Lots of gamers and the gaming press always salivate over licensed properties, but the games are almost always disappointing. The only exception of late that comes to mind is Goldeneye. Do licensed properties have to suck as videogames? What are the roadblocks that prevent them from being great? Can you imagine a scenario in which you (or someone else) could take a licensed property and make a kickin' videogame?

    Amy Hennig: No, games based on licensed properties aren't always destined to suck. But unfortunately, a license generally brings a lot of baggage with it that can impede the quality of a game's development. I think that poor game engines and unqualified development teams sometimes get green-lighted, solely on the merit of an attached license. Companies will continue to fund poorly-conceived game designs because they have faith in the license---and sometimes games that should be killed aren't, because a company already has too much invested in a license they've purchased.

    Even when a talented, experienced team is developing a licensed product, external influences can influence or dilute the game design. Because the publisher and the company controlling the license have so much invested in it, games often fall victim to the design-by-committee problem---the creative team has to defer to the licensor, or they're hindered because supporting materials for the license are delayed or unavailable (for bureaucratic or other reasons). Finally, timeliness is so critical with licensed products that developers are often forced to rush games that really aren't ready to be released.

    Sega Web: Character design is so often overlooked, but it's apparent that with Raziel, you took a great deal of care in how he looks. He's a striking, memorable figure. Who worked on Raziel? Was he an internal creation, or did you bring in a big name storyboarder or comic book artist, like some companies now tend to do?

    Amy Hennig: Raziel evolved through a close internal collaboration between me, Seth Carus (a fellow designer), and Arnold Ayala (the concept artist). We went through many, many iterations of character design before we were able to collectively stand back and say, "yep, that's him." Mythological associations determined some of his features (like his blue skin, borrowed from Vishnu; and his broken, "fallen angel" wings)---and his backstory established others (his missing jaw and cadaverous appearance, for instance).

    Sega Web: We're at the edge of the next generation with Dreamcast, PS2, Dolphin, X-Box, whatever. Look five years ahead as this new generation is running down and the next next-generation is on the horizon. Where do you think videogames will be by then? Who will still be around and who will be either gone, or a minor player? What would you like to see THOSE consoles offer that Dreamcast, PS2, and Dolphin can't do?

    Amy Hennig: As the hardware becomes more and more capable of supporting a cinematic experience, I think that the lines between interactive and "passive" media are going to blur. And I think we'll see a blurring of the distinctions between game categories, so that the consoles will be more about providing an immersive, interactive experience within a genre (i.e., horror, science fiction, sports sim, etc.), rather than some rigidly-defined set of categories. We can already see how the old jargon is becoming less and less useful---what does it mean anymore to be a platform game, or even an RPG for that matter? Which is why I think folks have resorted to calling games Doom or Tomb Raider clones---the comparisons are rarely valid, but we lack any more useful terminology.

    I think the foreseeable hardware advances are going to be more about improving the quality of the virtual experience, so that games can become more and more a simulacrum of reality. The changes are more likely to be evolutionary at this point (e.g., higher resolution, amazing framerate, increased memory and storage, improved real-time routines for things like particle effects, reflection mapping, etc.) than revolutionary---the jump from 2D to 3D was really the big revolutionary step for the medium.

    Sega Web: In that same time frame---five years from now---where would you like to see the Soul Reaver franchise, Crystal Dynamics, Eidos, and yourself personally?

    Amy Hennig: I would hope that the Soul Reaver / Kain franchise is still going strong, with epic titles to rival games like Final Fantasy and Zelda. I'd like to see Crystal and Eidos having successfully made the leap to the next-generation hardware, with games that offer a jaw-droppingly cinematic experience. And I'd like to see myself still here in the trenches, still working with the same awesome team, tackling the daily challenge together of being pioneers in this infant medium.

    Sega Web: Thanks again for your time. I'll let you get back to work!

    2000 – [SR2] [IGN / Hennig] – Soul Reaver 2: Director's Interview

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 10 May 2000
    Credit to: Douglass C. Perry
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "Crystal Dynamics' Amy Hennig gives us an inside look at how Kain and his brethren will take to PS2."

    Quote Originally Posted by IGN / Hennig
    In the third chapter of the Legacy of Kain series, the world of Nosgoth is not what it seems. Raziel travels back in time, Kain is not necessarily the devil he once seemed, and the Elder and the crumbling world itself hide secrets Raziel would never have dreamed before.

    In this exclusive interview with Amy Hennig, the director of Crystal Dynamics' Soul Reaver team, we give you the straight facts on how Raziel's world unfolds, how the game takes advantage of the powerful PS2, and exactly how it has improved over its predecessor.

    IGNPS2: I always thought that Soul Reaver was such a phenomenal looking game, the engine for it on PlayStation was so robust, it was really a gorgeous, well thought out world. What do you think will differ, and how will it improve over the first one?

    Amy Hennig: The fact that it's on PS2, you mean?

    IGNPS2: Yes.

    Amy: The thing you have to remember is that we were already pushing the envelope with the PlayStation 1, and the first things that we made sure that we were going to be able to do over on the PlayStation 2 were the morphing and the data streaming off the disk -- you know, the foundations of our game. And so what's cool about that is that the same kind of comparative improvement over your standard game will also apply to PlayStation 2. We can take the DRAM and the VRAM and condense it down to a much smaller area than everybody else can. And so the same things we said about the game on the PlayStation 1 still holds true against our competitors on the PlayStation 2, I hope. So the main things you're going to see will be 60 frames per second, always, never dropping below that.

    The increased DRAM will allow us more architectural detail than we had before, the increased VRAM allows us more texture detail, more variety, more richness, more color, higher resolution. We just have a wealth of memory now, given what we were up against last time. More and better special effects, more detailed characters and enemies -- basically, at the minimum, each of the characters will double in polygon count. Our current Raziel model is about 1,000 polys. We'll probably go up; we're just trying to be conservative right now. And of course all the characters will have higher resolution, more color depth, textures. So a lot of it is incremental improvements that you'd expect from the hardware. We can do what we did before, but we can do more of it, and do it better, we can do it with more detail.

    That's really what we're focusing on. There's nothing specific about the hardware that's like "oh, well now we can do this." Now we can have the immersive environments that we really wanted, we can have the texture variety that we really wanted. Plus we can do the things that we did before like the morphing and the streaming. What we're going to be up against this time is that we have all the memory that we could possibly want, it's just going to come down to framerate, I think that's going to be the new theme for developers on these platforms. That's just in terms of technical stuff, in terms of gameplay stuff, just game design things, there's more there.

    IGNPS2: You mean changes in the gameplay?

    Amy: I think what we're trying do is make incremental improvements in a lot of areas, where I think we had a lot of systems that worked well, but we're making them even more robust. We're going to have more variety of enemies and more combat events in the game. That was one of our problems on the PSX1, is we couldn't have the density of enemy interaction that we wanted just because of framerate issues.

    IGNPS2: Do you mean that there will be more characters on the screen at the same time, or that there will be more characters in general fighting?

    Amy: There will be more variety, so its not just all vampires, and there will be more on screen, and there will be more frequent interactions than in the first game. And also we're going to make sure that we kind of plan out some of the enemy interactions, the enemy setups, kind of more up front so that we have more force interactions, not as simple as something like a Zelda example, but the idea that you can't get past this room until you defeat the enemies who are the guardians, and they are the lock for the door that you have to get through. We'll do more of that.

    We're going to have even more story, dialogue, and cinematics. Throughout the game I think that was a little patchy. I mean, obviously we're our own worst critics, but I think that could have been more consistent throughout Soul Reaver 1. And there's actually even more acquired abilities. So in the last game we gave away physical abilities that you got from the boss characters, and in this game he starts with all the physical abilities he got, but we're revamping the whole Reaver system and the whole spell system. One of the criticisms, which were completely valid, of the first game, was that some of the enhancements that you got (like power-ups and the weapons and stuff like that), weren't really necessary to complete the game, I mean they absolutely weren't. That was kind of intentional, but it didn't come out the way we wanted, and we didn't have time to make it come out the way we wanted.

    IGNPS2: So in this game you're going to start off with all the physical abilities that you acquired in the last game.

    Amy: Right, like swimming and scaling walls. And you're going to start out with the Reaver. So the kind of acquired abilities you get in Soul Reaver 2 will revolve more around weapon enhancements and spell-type abilities and some physical abilities. But they're all absolutely required to finish the game. There's nothing that's just "yeah, get this if you want it." And we'll do that in a way that doesn't break the nonlinearity of the game. There's still a linear story, and there's still sort of a linear path, but we always want the player to have two or three places they could go at any time, kind of using Zelda as a model there. But eventually you'll need everything, some of it you can get in the order that you want to get, but that was definitely a problem. We'll have very, very few block puzzles; everyone will cheer.

    IGNPS2: That's funny I liked the block puzzles. There were just a lot of them.

    Amy: Yeah, there were just too many of them. There are still blocks, and there's still dragging stuff, I think that's sort of a key behavior that you need in the game, but we just used them as a fallback way too many times. There are a few reasons for that: Part of it was different people working on different levels and suddenly you look at how it comes together and oh, wow, we all used blocks. But the other part was just trying to come up with more in-depth puzzles and not having enough tools in the toolbox. So that's something we addressed right away, well how can we get more tools in the toolbox? The engine already had a lot of capabilities -- the whole goal all along with the engine was to make sure that the designers and artists really had the autonomous power to do cool stuff on their own and not have to put a request in to the programmers. You can key up cinematics, which you can key up puzzle events, all based on this contextual scripting system. We're doing a lot more of that.

    In a way, without confusing anyone, I don't want to use the wrong term, but in a way it's kind of more of like a graphic adventure-action game. What you can do...pretty much there are infinite permutations of what the designers can do based on time and schedule. If they come up with a puzzle where they need Raziel to interact with some unique object, and that's the only time he interacts with it in the game, and they can get the animations done and write the script to do it, then that's great. So it becomes I think for the player, a much more exploration and problem-solving game than just run, run, fight a guy, run, run, push a block, hit a switch kind of stuff. We're using all that as a good foundation, but we're adding all the stuff we really wanted to do last time.

    IGNPS2: So you feel like it'll be a more balanced game?

    Amy: Oh, absolutely. I think that people will feel like everything is layered up better.

    IGNPS2: Yeah, I get it.

    Amy: We're going to use Spectral a lot more, it was a little incidental last time. It's going to be a lot more necessary visiting Spectral to solve puzzles.

    IGNPS2: You mean the Elder or the Spectral World?

    Amy: The Spectral plane, the whole material-Spectral shifting. Sometimes you know, Spectral in some places turned into more of a punishment than part of the game flow, and now it's more part of the game flow. More use of symbolic puzzles, so that you really have to study the writing on the walls, the murals, what the markings mean...

    IGNPS2: Oh, boy, that's going to be fun...

    Amy: That's what I mean by "kind of." I mean, there's a lot of mystiness and graphic-adventureness in there, but I don't want to overstress that because I don't want to confuse people. But it's that sense that you're using your brain, not just your thumbs. And as I said, more context-appropriate object interaction, not just classes of objects like blocks. And then the one thing that I think is really cool, and I think we'll really be able to blow out, is we've added the ability... you know how you could pick up weapons in the last game?

    IGNPS2: And it was really sort of magical, it just drifted into your hands.

    Amy: Yeah, a little telekinetic action to explain why we don't have a million animations for picking up every object. The thing is, we expanded that system. Last time it was good for weapons, we could have him contextually pick them up, how he could rip them off the walls sometimes, but after that it was just a weapon, there wasn't really much purpose to it. A lot of people have said that they really want more RPG-ish puzzles... I don't want to turn Soul Reaver into a traditional RPG by any means, I don't think that would be appropriate, but I think in terms of people miss having an inventory... The thing is, fictionally, we can't really give him that, it does break the fiction, he can't carry anything between Spectral and material and that's sort of one of the core aspects of the gameplay.

    IGNPS2: Right.

    Amy: But we wanted to have the kind of puzzles where you need to get an object from point A to point B, that makes the gameplay much cooler. So, like, one of the things in the level that you'll see at E3, we just have one instance in there because it's an early level of this, he has to bounce light around the level using these dish reflectors, but there's one reflector that's missing, so he can't finish the puzzle, he can't do what he needs to do, because the little holder for it is empty. So what the player has to do is find this reflector, which is pickup-able at one end of the level and physically carry it all the way to the other end and place it. So you have not only a contextual pickup action, but also a contextual placement action.

    IGNPS2: Does that fit into the logic of the game, or is it just "Ha-Ha!" you've got a reflector on the other side of the world? In Resident Evil you've got to walk all over the place to solve these puzzles...

    Amy: We're trying to be really careful about how we're designing our levels, we're really being methodical about it, and I think you'll see that when I say "at the other end of the level," these aren't linear levels. Everything is recursive, so you might have to go down one spoke of the level and it brings you right back to the beginning, it's not as if you go A-B-C-D and again down the line. So when I say "beginning of the level" to "end of the level," it may only be two or three rooms, but because of the way it kind of loops back on itself, in terms of the actions you take, it's the end of the level, do you see what I mean? So don't worry about that -- believe me, I hate that kind of thing. I like things to be easy and obvious and fun, and once it gets tedious I get really annoyed.

    IGNPS2: I mean, I loved Resident Evil, I've played those games, but there were some puzzles that were clearly made so that you just walked all over the place.

    Amy: No, it's more like... I think an analogy I would make, although he has an inventory, is that in Zelda, you have to find the silver key. You walk into a courtyard and you see three closed doors, and you know that you're going to be able to open them, and it's not like when you find a key that you 're like "now I gotta run thirty miles back to that door," those levels all kind of turn back onto themselves. Essentially we can do the same thing, it's simple as we say here's a "key" object, and I can find it and bring it to point B and then make an action happen. It could be something as simple as a literal key, if we wanted it to be, but it can be anything we can think of, the way then engine works. So if it's an idol that you have to bring back, or a gem, or a piece of a missing mural, anything we wanted to do, whatever feels contextually appropriate for the level. It's up to the designers.

    IGNPS2: I see.

    Amy: So I think it'll be pretty cool. And that's why I was saying, you know, kind of graphical-adventure-ey, in the sense that you're thinking, "I've found this object, I'm going to need it, now where do I need to take it?" Or you see something that has the absence of a part, so you think, "Oh, I need that, I wonder where I'm going to find that?" I think people will dig it.

    IGNPS2: Cool. Now, I've got a couple more questions for you. How have you envisioned the long term story of Kain?

    Amy: For the franchise?

    IGNPS2: Yeah, how does this fit into the whole thing -- what chapter is this?

    Amy: Well, I guess it would be chapter 3 [laughs]. But we're jumping all over the timeline, which I hope people will enjoy. One of the things that we're doing in this game, which I think was fairly obvious from the end of the last one, is that we're going back in time, and the whole game will take place in the past Nosgoth. For anybody that played Blood Omen, there's going to be all kinds of locations and characters that they're going to be familiar with and will get to visit again.

    IGNPS2: Now that's cool.

    Amy: I think it will be really cool. For anybody that didn't play it, the other reason that we want to do this is that... we're very dedicated to this world and this franchise, and we want people who didn't play Blood Omen to be familiarized with all these parts, because it's going to be important. So yeah, our intention as a company is to keep making Kain games as long as the public wants them.

    IGNPS2: So this isn't a prequel per se, but it allows you to go back in time?

    Amy: Yeah, we'll be visiting time periods that are before Blood Omen, during Blood Omen, after Blood Omen.

    IGNPS2: So will you...I mean, I'll be honest with you, I didn't play that much of Blood Omen, I and don't remember Raziel in that game.

    Amy: He's a new character.

    IGNPS2: How will that work? Will he be restored to his full vampire self? Will he be human?

    Amy: The idea is that there are all these events in Nosgoth's history, only a short span of which you actually get to see in Blood Omen. So what we're trying to show is some of the other intrigues, some of the other mysterious things that are going on in Nosgoth before and after what we see in that short time span in Kain, in Blood Omen. And to show that he did have, that he will have some impact on the events in Blood Omen. But not in a way that a player, having played Blood Omen, would have been aware of at the time.

    IGNPS2: So Raziel's going to go back in time. And you play as Raziel the whole time; you're going to see or take part in these events, but not in order to change time?

    Amy: Well one of the themes... I mean I don't want to give away too much of the story...

    IGNPS2: I understand, I was just like, wait, if Raziel wasn't there, then who are you going to play as?

    Amy: No, he's there, but if you think about his nature, he's kind of this angel of death, spirit creature, so he's not just a mundane guy. That gives us an ability to play with what he witnesses, and what his role in things is.

    IGNPS2: And that will mean that he'll still remain decrepit and decayed?

    Amy: Yeah, he's wrecked -- he is what he is. But I think there are a lot of themes that we want to play with, and a some of the things that were evident in Blood Omen and Soul Reaver were some of the themes of free will, versus destiny, and what that means, and the nature of good and evil, and one of the things that was definitely a text or a subtext, depending on how much you were paying attention, in Blood Omen was that some of the worst evils are committed in the name of righteousness. We're not trying to make a black and white game, in some ways I think Kain isn't the villain, and Raziel isn't necessarily that much of a hero.

    IGNPS2: They're ambiguous.

    Amy: Right. They're both tragic, flawed heroes. Crystal has a huge investment in Kain as a character, we're not writing him off as some sort of villain, a nasty villain guy. Hopefully we'll get to this in Soul Reaver 2 and people will understand, but I mean there's a lot more to this story than would meet the eye.

    IGNPS2: How are you coming to grips with the PlayStation 2, how do you like the hardware?

    Amy: Obviously the programmers could speak better to that than I could, but they jumped right on it. I mean, obviously we have weeks and weeks of optimizations to do, but they got the game running in no time, I haven't heard them complain about it. They're really enjoying it, and finding it, I think, relatively familiar and easy. It hasn't seemed to be too much of a challenge, actually. They're real smart, though.

    IGNPS2: They created a great engine for the PlayStation, so they're probably, like, wow, look at this giant room we have, look at all this great power we have.

    Amy: Well, it is a whole different beast in the sense that the way we had to do our rendering on the PS1 is completely different, as far as I understand it, than on the PlayStation 2. There's a lot of stuff that we kind of had to kludge around, that didn't... I mean, there's obviously no z-buffering, so we had to come up with ways of kind of faking z-buffering, subdivision of textures and all this kind of stuff.

    So a lot of the things that we struggled with for so long, and actually worked so hard to solve, well, that's out the window, because the hardware self-solves it. So they're really excited about it, they're really energized by the opportunity and the challenge. It's something that we've wanted to do for a while now.

    IGNPS2: How long has the team been working on Soul Reaver 2 for PlayStation 2?

    Amy: Very short time. Like a month.

    IGNPS2: So you started in April?

    Amy: We started talking about it long before that, but in terms of saying we've got the dev stations, and we're going to really figure this out now, yeah, it's been since the beginning of April. That sounds about right.

    IGNPS2: When is the ideal time that it's going to come out?

    Amy: We're shooting for spring 2001.

    We spent a lot of the time since we started Soul Reaver 2 optimizing the code, cleaning up stuff that got kind of put together as we went and wasn't necessarily thought through from the beginning, aspects of the code like our event system, scripting system that got kind of built as we went, and we went back and cleaned it all up. We just rewrote the tools from scratch because it was a nightmare last time, losing work and stuff. But I think we're much better at using the geography that we've got in terms of layering it, making it dense and making it interesting, so that you don't spend three months making a level that somebody can run through in twenty minutes.

    IGNPS2: That actually brings me to another question which was one of my criticisms as a player, which was that I never knew which way east, north, west, south was...

    Amy: I know, that was sort of unfortunate.

    IGNPS2: And I'm curious as to how... I think a lot of people had hard times...not getting from one place to another, but knowing where to go.

    Amy: Even our testers did, and we knew it was a problem, and it was just one of those things that just in the rush, we really have to get it out, we just said that's unfortunate, but there's nothing we can do about it. It's too big of a problem.

    IGNPS2: So for this one, how are you going to approach that, directional systems?

    Amy: Well, what we're going to do is, we haven't done it yet, but we're going to put a compass on the screen. We've talked a lot about having a map at this point, an in-game map, a living map that shows your progress and stuff. At this point, though, I think we won't do that. Just because it's a lot of work for the programmers and the artists to do that, keep it up and make sure that it's right and I'd rather spend that time on the game itself and not a map that you open sometimes.

    IGNPS2: So a simple compass and people know where they're going?

    Amy: Yeah, I think so. We're going to make sure that it makes sense, and then what we'll probably do, I would say definitely do, although it's not my decision ultimately is that we'll have a paper map in the package, in the manual.

    IGNPS2: That's kind of cool. People like that.

    Amy: I think that'll be enough. And I mean, it comes down to saying if it would take weeks and weeks to get that right, to have an in game map, versus spending those weeks and weeks on the actual game content, then that's an easy decision for me.

    IGNPS2: Well, I think that it helps with a lot of different ways in which people think. They visualize things, or they can think really logically, some people have really good memories. But if you give them a map, and you give them a compass, they can see it top-down and they can go oh, that's where everything is, and they just sort of memorize that and then it's so much easier. The more you can do to make complex things simple, the better the game will be.

    Amy: We're really going to keep our eye on that, because the testers were telling us that last time, and we absolutely believed them, it was just sort of a dilemma in terms of how much time we had left and how much time it would take to fix. But the testers are very close to the team, and will tell us honestly how they're responding to these things from the get-go. And that applies to everything in terms of balancing the power of the weapons in combat and stuff like that. It's just some of that stuff I would have loved to spend much more time on and we just didn't have it.

    IGNPS2: In Soul Reaver 2, we're going to be visiting some of the geographical areas that were in Blood Omen. Will we be also visiting brand-new ones, and areas that we were able to explore in the first Soul Reaver?

    Amy: Yeah. It's really more about the Blood Omen world than the Soul Reaver world, but they were already connected. It was a little bit tenuous in Soul Reaver but we're trying to make that less tenuous now. Yes, there are absolutely new areas; we're not just going to make 3D versions the Mansion or Kain's Mausoleum. We're using the locations that make sense with the story. It's probably going to be about half and half.

    IGNPS2: So for instance, if I've played Soul Reaver, am I going to see levels that I've seen before?

    Amy: Not the levels themselves, no.

    IGNPS2: Not the levels themselves, I mean, but when you walk out on that bridge and you look out over this huge eternal swirling section and you look at all the different areas you can go...

    Amy: Key landmarks, I think you'll find. We still have to do some adjustment as far as figuring out how many levels we'll have, which ones we might have to abridge a little bit. So I'm being careful this time; when early previews went out last time people came out with a lot of expectations about features and things. Basically, everything I say right now is subject to change, because until we're finished I can tell you absolutely what's in it. But I want people who played either or both games to have a lot of "a-ha" moments and say that's really cool, how they tied that in. And for people that didn't play either game, it shouldn't be any impediment, it's just it'll be that much cooler for people who played Blood Omen, who are fans of it. I think they're really going to be satisfied.

    IGNPS2: But you're not going to be required to have played that game.

    Amy: No, absolutely not. It'll just be another layer. I would think that naturally you'd enjoy it more if you got every single reference, knew whom everyone was, and if there were sort of oblique references to things you would get them, it's kind of a cool extra, but no, it wouldn't be required at all.

    IGNPS2: Given the size of Soul Reaver, which was enormous, how big would you say this game is in comparison?

    Amy: I think it's going to be comparable. There's two ways to look at that. There's flat-out floor space, geometry, how much actual geography there is there, and then there's gameplay time. I think it's possible that Soul Reaver 2 will be geographically a little bit smaller, because I think we had some wasted space in the last game. I think there's stuff that we could have used better, and made denser. We spent a lot of time on these large areas that really didn't have much to do in them. In this game we're really layering it up and making it dense. I think it'll be although it sounds contradictory; it'll be geographically smaller and actually be a longer game.

    IGNPS2: That makes sense. Next, I was going to ask, how are you able to change the landscapes?

    Amy: The morphing.

    IGNPS2: How are you able to morph them, and is that process the same on PlayStation 2?

    Amy: It'll remain the same, and be enhanced. It's one of the cornerstones of the game, and it's critical to the fiction and the character. It's already working; it's already functioning on the PlayStation 2.

    IGNPS2: How does that work? In a short explanation, I mean, are those all built, and you do interpolation between the two?

    Amy: No, that would be pretty much impossible, in terms of maintenance. We could do it, I mean, in traditional 3D if you wanted to morph something you would actually have two objects, you'd have your base object and a morph target. But you could see, I mean, how many hundreds of times do we go into each of those Max files, to change things and push things around, if you had to maintain two you'd lose your mind. So what we store is the differences between the vertex values, so it's something that we can tweak and maintain the whole way through. We just deform it, and deform it by hand. It's not like there's any process, some button you push that says, "Spectralize this." It's an artist process, and we just store both values for the vertices.

    IGNPS2: So you designed where there was morphing, I mean throughout the whole game you designed two geographical worlds.

    Amy: Yeah. Sometimes it's just aesthetic, but a lot of times it's critical to the gameplay, and we're even going to do more than that - as you can't make a jump because the terrain doesn't allow it, but then in Spectral everything's so twisted that you can, that kind of thing. And we've also got one more layer that I think we don't have in our E3 level, just because we had done this stuff for the PS1 and we need to fix it for the PlayStation 2. In addition to the environment morphing, we also have texture morphing, which I think adds that one more layer. We wanted to do it in the last game, but it was just more bite and we already had a mouthful. The idea is that you have a mural that may be significant, and you shift to Spectral and the mural changes and gives you information that you wouldn't have had otherwise.

    IGNPS2: That's so cool.

    Amy: Yeah, it's very cool. And like I said, it's already working; they just need to convert it over.

    IGNPS2: So what about load times? There's still going to be load times, right?

    Amy: Uh-uh. It's all streamed off the disk, so you'll never be aware of it, and actually it's even faster on the new system. Everything's give-and-take, you think great, we'll never fall below sixty, but if you start slapping a bunch of geometry out there, you're threatening your framerate all over again. Same thing with the streaming, you could say oh, well, it loads faster so no problem, but you're also loading more. More textures and everything But no, we have to be careful and conservative so we don't end up with problems and stuff that doesn't load, but that's the other hallmark of the game engine is that you'll never be aware of it loading at all.

    IGNPS2: You mentioned weapons and glyphs in Soul Reaver and you didn't really go too far into it in this one, but are there going to be brand-new weapons?

    Amy: The Soul Reaver itself is your sole carried weapon. In terms of weapons that you can find and use, yeah, we'll have more variety of those, and because we have more variety of enemies that have different vulnerabilities and thing like that there are going to be more ways to destroy them and fatalize them and whatever word you want to use. More than just impaling and burning, we'll play with more ways to do it because I think that's one of the things people really enjoyed.

    IGNPS2: Oh, yeah, I agree.

    Amy: In terms of stuff that you earn, that becomes kind of innate, right now, with the caveat being that everything's subject to change based on our schedule and what we're going to have to adjust as we go, right now there's seven elemental Reaver enhancements that you can find, that you have to find. This is stuff that we wanted to have in the first game, but there was just too much, we couldn't do it all. So things like Earth Reaver, Air Reaver, Water Reaver, Fire Reaver, that kind of thing. There's seven of those, and then seven enhancements of those enhancements. There's going to be a lot of side quests, that's where the elemental forge levels come in, and that's the level that we're going to be showing at E3, the first one of those that you find.

    IGNPS2: Are you going to show a playable at E3?

    Amy: Yeah, it's all playable, it's a whole level that you can play from start to finish. I mean, obviously there's a lot more stuff that we want to do to tweak and tune it, but it's good to go.

    IGNPS2: Nice going, after one month.

    Amy: Yeah, I mean, we've been working on the game longer than that. We had to do a lot of stuff after Soul Reaver 1, Dreamcast and localizations and ports and things like that, but we've been going pretty much full tilt since about January or February, I guess, design work and stuff like that. So obviously I think the intention is that on the show floor it's all Dreamcast, and then behind closed doors it's PS2, both playable.

    IGNPS2: Cool.

    Amy: So yeah, should be good. On top of the weapon enhancements, there's also nine, again, could change, nine additional spell-type things. It's not really spells; it's all kinds of things. Instead of having a spell menu, he just has the ring menu, and he there's things he can do from that, he can summon the Reaver from that, he can shift, he can influence the environment in other ways. Some of these things are more physical abilities, some of them are more mystical, but there are nine more of those. So there's actually more things to earn in this game than there were in the last. Less physical abilities, I mean it's not like now I can fly, or now I can burrow underground, it's more like new ways to interact with the environment that you couldn't do before.

    What's cool, I think, is the whole kind of layering philosophy. When you get a new Reaver, each of the elemental Reavers has several things that it permits the player to do now. There's sort of a carried function, it may affect whether Raziel can see in an area that he couldn't see in before, whether he's lighter weight or heavier, that kind of thing. Some of them have aimed functions, so just aiming it allows you to do something. The Light Reaver, for instance, allows you to use it like a flashlight so you can look into dark areas and illuminate places that you couldn't see otherwise. Then they have a projectile function, the projectile may do something that nothing else does in the game. It has a blade function, and then what we call a key function, the idea that you can use the Reaver of that elemental type as a key with other objects and make things happen. For instance, the Dark Reaver allows you to create shadow bridges in places and get across chasms that you couldn't cross before. Things like that.

    And then on top of that there's the enhanced move, which is generally a charged-up kind of move that allows you to do something else again. So even when you get this one ability, you actually do about six things with it. It's very cool, and it's all leveraging all the work that we did on the last game, in terms of the systems, being able to trigger events based on your state -- I'm carrying this, therefore I can do this, and I can't do it otherwise -- so it's kind of fun. There's a lot of system that ended up getting created in Soul Reaver 1 and we were never able to take full advantage of just because they came in so late, but we could see the potential of them, and now we're able to take advantage of all that potential. It's pretty neat as a designer; the toolbox is so full that we don't even know what to do with half of it. I think people will really enjoy it.

    IGNPS2: The last question I had been one you sort of answered, which was "How has Raziel changed?" But you pretty much said he's wrecked.

    Amy: Yeah, well, he is what he is now. He's this undead guy. Undead, undead undead guy. There's no coming back from that. And he's got a role to fulfill. He's sort of born again into this new form, and there's a reason for it. I think when we say, well, how will he change, how will he grow, hopefully that's what comes through the story, is that it's internal, it has more to do with self-realization, and that we'll convey that to the player, and they'll kind of go through that as Raziel does, having these epiphanies about himself and the history of Nosgoth and the machinations behind the machinations... I think it'll be interesting for people. It's not just there are some set pieces and some set characters, and you fight them and go on to the next one. I think it'll be a pretty interesting story for folks.

    IGNPS2: I know you don't want to really give too much away, because that's a big part of the game, the story, but can you give us an abbreviated version of the story that doesn't give too much away, so we know what we're starting with?

    Amy: Well, certainly what you're starting with. I'll probably be so vague that it won't do you any good. Obviously the last game left off with Raziel pursuing Kain through the portal and coming face to face with Moebius, which was one of the main characters from the first game. Hopefully we did enough backstory on him in Soul Reaver for people who didn't play Blood Omen, but he's a sneaky character, and he was never up to any good in the first game. Definitely a manipulator and the implication is that you find yourself back in Nosgoth's past. You're sort of single-mindedly pursuing Kain, but some of the revelations that we want the player to go through along with Raziel are that he's being pretty simple-minded, he's sort of being very black-and-white in his interpretation of things, and being kind of petulant. He's really not...I hope it came across in the way they talked, but he's not really as heroic as Kain is, and he has a lot of stuff to figure out, basically, about what's going on. That's going to take him through familiar locations, familiar characters, and familiar events...

    IGNPS2: I always thought that Raziel was a pawn in a much more powerful player's game...

    Amy: Yeah, and the question is, who's the player? There's about three of them, and he has to untangle all of that. Is it Kain, is it the Elder God, is it Moebius, is it something else? He's going to have to have a series of revelations before the end of the game. Part of what we want to have come across is a change in his character, not necessarily his physical form but in his character, because he's kind of a self-righteous little twit, in a way, and he's got a lot of stuff to learn.

    IGNPS2: You just said "self-righteous little twit." [laughs]

    Amy: Don't you think so?

    IGNPS2: Oh, yeah. But I'm not creating the game.

    Amy: [Laughs] No, I mean, that was intentional. Usually you don't do that to your game characters, I guess, but I hope it came across. I mean, it's funny, everybody has different reactions depending on how hard they listen to the voiceover I guess, but Kain's a little bit more mature than Raziel is, and he's definitely an interesting character with an interesting history, and that's something that we want to continue exploring.

    IGNPS2: Cool. Well, that kind of covers everything...You've been on since day one, really?

    Amy: Yeah, I started in 1995, and my first job was to work with Silicon Knights on Blood Omen.

    IGNPS2: So you're originally with Crystal [Dynamics], then?

    Amy: Yeah, I joined in July of 1995 and worked on and off with SK and the rest of the Crystal staff that was working on Blood Omen for I guess a year plus on the game. For anybody that's worried about... I mean, there's a lot of fans that are worried about, kind of, the changing of the guard, I understand that, and I just want them to understand that obviously I'm a fan of the first game, I worked on the first game, I'm committed to it, I'm committed to honoring the franchise, and I don't want them to think we're a bunch of sellouts or something.

    IGNPS2: The conspiracy theorists will always think you are.

    Amy: Yeah, I know. We can't actually be good-intentioned creative people, we have to be a bunch of scheming sellouts. Oh, well. I guess that's more interesting...

    IGNPS2: You're really just an executive trying to increase your corporate profits.

    Amy: [laughs] That's right. You know, you wouldn't say that if you could see me.

    IGNPS2: Well, thanks for everything. I can't wait to play the game at E3. See you there.

    Amy: OK, thanks. Bye.

    2000 – [SR2] [Electronic Gaming Monthly / Hennig] – To Be Kaintinued...

    (return to full articles)

    NO LINK (print only)
    Published: August 2000
    Credit to: Crispin Boyer, Mitaphane (archivist)
    Personnel: Amy Hennig, James Guilford, Marc David, Jason Bell, Scott Krotz, Matt Mocarski, Brian Morrisroe, Mike Ellis, Andrew Bennett

    "Raziel's cliffhanger concludes next March, when Soul Reaver 2 descends on the Dreamcast and—surprise!—PlayStation 2."

    Quote Originally Posted by Electronic Gaming Monthly / Crystal Dynamics boxes litter Crystal Dynamics offices in Menlo Park, Calif., just south of San Francisco. They’re piled in corners. They jut from trash cans. And you’ll find the books that came in them—glossy paperbacks about architecture, philosophy, art, religion—stacked to near tumbling on every desk and work table. The Soul Reaver 2 team, which is comprised of nearly all the same folks who worked on the last game, is neck deep in research again, expanding on one of the richest universes in gaming. Both 1996’s Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and last year’s Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver spun gothic stories steeped in philosophy and mythology (betcha didn’t know Raziel’s name means “secret of god,” according to angelology).

    But there’s one myth Amy Hennig, director of both SR and SR2, would like to see did a quick, nasty death. “People assume that this sequel is just the stuff we cut from Soul Reaver, and it’s not,” said Hennig, whose first task when she started at Crystal in ’95 was to work with developer Silicon Knights on the original Blood Omen. “I guess the comparison here would be between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, in that we had a cliffhanger, and now we have a new story that’s not just another 20 minutes. It’s like a whole other movie.”

    Players who beat SR remember—and probably even griped about—its abrupt to-be-continued finale, which saw Raziel stalk after Kain into a star-swirling time vortex. Some gamers even cried conspiracy. After uncovering dialog sequences on the game's CD that they never heard during Raziel's adventure, cynics figured publisher Eidos and Crystal slapped an ending onto the already late SR and shipped it half finished. Lack of story development for the vampire lieutenant Turel supported that theory.

    The truth isn't so sinister. "The stuff we cut was the equivalent of the Silenced Cathedral level from Soul Reaver," Hennig said. "It would have been nice to keep that in, and all the denouement and character resolution, but there was just no time....We couldn't spend five years making that game. It was just as well to do it in two parts. I just wish we had planned that from the start and had a more elegant cliffhanger. That's the only thing I regret. But for all those people who like to pick apart all the game's audio files and try to deduce what we were trying to do with the story, they'll be disappointed, because it's not gonna be like that at all."

    Instead, SR2 - which hits the PlayStation2 and Dreamcast in March 2001 - takes a few of the gameplay elements originally planned for the prequel and drops them into a time-tripping story that picks up right where that game left off. Players start the game as Raziel, with all the abilities he earned last time, including phasing, swimming, scaling walls and constricting. He wields the Soul Reaver at the game's outset, except now he doesn't need a full health coil to whip out the blade in the Material Plane. The reaver is much more crucial to the gameplay this time around - by tracking down and dipping his blade into the seven elemental reaver forges, Raziel will gain the new abilities he needs to reach every area in the game (see the Reaver Rack sidebar for more details). The Glyphs, on the other hand, have been removed from SR2 entirely. In their place are spells Raziel must find to open certain portals and figure out puzzles.

    Players spend SR2 chasing Kain through three time periods: one set before Blood Omen, during the prehistory of Nosgoth; a period right around the time of that game; and a period soon after. "We're not revisiting the destroyed wasteland world of Soul Reaver in this game," Hennig told us. "We're kinda going back to say, 'Well, the wasteland is unredeemable, but what can we do about the past to change that?'" The pillar area Kain used as his headquarters in SR serves as the central hub of all three time periods, which offer new types of terrain and locations such as swamps, forests and cities (a new on-screen compass will help save you from getting lost).

    According to lead animator James Guilford, SR2 will pack many new vampire types, as well as much greater variety of human NPCs and enemies. You'll encounter catlike vampires, hunters clad in stylized swash-buckling attire, the Sarafan warrior priests, vampire- and demon- worshiping sects of humans and other creatures similar to the undead minions and extra-dimensional demons that plagued Nosgoth in Blood Omen. Combat will work pretty much the same as before; Raziel needs to pummel enemy vampires into submission, then do 'em in with a fatal feat such as impaling or hurling them into water—except now he'll encounter hardier vampire types invulnerable to those old-school finishing moves. The skeletal Thralls you face near the start of SR2, for example, don't go down when you run them through with a spear. Fortunately, the designers are expanding the combat system to include more types of fatal moves. Some enemies can only be dispatched by decapitation, some are only vulnerable to weapons made from certain materials, etc.

    Hennig is still keeping SR2's story a guarded secret, but you can expect key characters from Blood Omen and SR to appear in the game. You'll see Kain and the Elder, of course, as well as Moebius, Ariel and missing-in-action SR2 lieutenant Turel. Raziel will also run into characters from Nosgoth's past, including Vorador and the Sarafan. "What we're doing is reinvesting in the mythology of the original Blood Omen, as well as how it all ties into Soul Reaver," Hennig explained. "Our last game was more peripheral for all sorts of reasons, but now we can really get in there and roll up our sleeves and get back to the mythology, and it's going to be really important for this game and future games that people get familiar with it."

    Of course, you're gonna need the newest hardware to follow along. Crystal recently announced that SR2 will only be available for Dreamcast and PS2. Although the game was originally supposed to be a PS1 title, the team's now ramping up the engine to take advantage of the slicker—and, they believe, more lucrative—new machines. "The impression we're all getting is the PlayStation1 market is dying a quicker death than anybody thought," Hennig said, "and whether that has to do with the readily available CD burners and the fact that people are just renting games rather than buying them, who knows. It just doesn't seem like it would be as financially sound as we'd hoped. And obviously, for what we wanted to convey with story and architectural richness and character detail, this new hardware gives us so much more creative freedom."

    Not a single member of the SR2 team regrets the decision to move on to the newer hardware. "When we were making Soul Reaver for the PlayStation, it got to the point where we were afraid to add code," lead programmer Marc David told us. "We would add code to support some feature, and then we would have to spend some time removing code from other places and shrinking it. Our memory was so tight. But now we have more memory and can push more polys. The game experience will be much richer."

    "And the other really important thing is the frame-rate," chimed in programmer Jason Bell. "The PS2 and Dreamcast versions will run at 60 frames per second. That's one of the reasons the DC version of Soul Reaver looked so much nicer than the PlayStation1 game. It played so smoothly."

    Programmer Scott Krotz added, "Plus, we're going to get into the PlayStation2's vector units. We'll have anti-aliasing. We're going to push the hardware. We have a lot of experience with that."

    But while the programmers tweak SR2's engine for the Dreamcast and PS2, it's ultimately up to the texture artists, animators and mesh builders to make the game shine on the new hardware. "When we worked on the first game for the PlayStation, it was like, OK, here are all your restrictions," texture artist Matt Mocarski told us. "Now we can do whatever we have time for." Every member of the game's art team stressed to us again and again that SR2 will look much better than the screens you see here (these shots were taken from a version the team started building back when the game was going to be a PS title). The programmers are now in the process of revamping the game engine to take advantage of the new systems' boosted horsepower. We're told to expect a 150 to 200 percent increase in detail in the final Dreamcast and PS2 versions. Monsters will be built from at least twice as many polygons as before. Raziel's character model will be beefed up by about 1,000 polys. Textures will be higher-res and in 16-Bit color. The environments will teem with ambient critters, little animals like dogs, rats, snakes and birds. And all structures in the game will look more curved, realistic and organic; pillars in the DC and PS2 version will be rendered with 18 sides, for example, while pillars in PS Soul Reaver only had six sides. Put simply, SR2's gonna give you a lot more to look at. "The first game was gothic throughout," texture artist Brian Morrisroe said. "But for this game you'll see more architectural differences." Hennig added, "Because Raziel travels between different time periods and explores areas built by different races at different periods in history, we can have a lot of architectural variety. The seven elemental reaver forges, for example, were all constructed by an ancient race of weapon masters, but each has its own architectural style."

    In the end, though, it's not SR2's visuals that the team is most proud of—it's the puzzle system. "We fell back on the block puzzles too often in Soul Reaver just because we didn't have enough tools to make more creative puzzles," Hennig explained. "But the cool thing about this game engine is it's been more and more generalized so the creative power is in the designers' and artists' hands now, as opposed to relying on the programmers. The designers can think up a puzzle and just make it, because the pieces are all there. We don't have to make special-case requests for the programmers to hardwire anything anymore." You'll find puzzles in SR2 that require a lot more exploration and attention to your surroundings. You'll need to examine murals on the walls for clues. In an early level, for example, you'll see a painting of an obelisk blocking the sun. Look nearby and you'll find an obelisk and a giant reflector, which you must rotate to catch sunlight. Pulling the obelisk in front of the reflector creates a magical shadow bridge you can traipse across to reach a new area.

    Raziel can haul around more than just spears and torches in SR2; he'll often need to carry items from one area to another, thus completing lock-and-key type puzzles. And since Raziel can't carry physical options in the Spectral Plane, many of these puzzles require you to invent novel ways of carrying something from point A to point B. "We want players to look around, remember stuff, think about what they're doing and deduce the relationship things have with each other rather than just plowing through the game," Hennig told us. "You're gonna have to use your brain."

    Ultimately, though, SR2 is still early in development, and Hennig emphasised that some of the gameplay elements covered in this feature may be modified when the game hits next March. But Crystal still has plenty of time. The team has already learned the hard way what happens when you try to cram too much into a single game. And they plan to make SR2 much more than just the conclusion to the first game's cliffhanger. Crystal Dynamics wants Kain and Raziel's universe to fuel an ambitious franchise; this game—more so than its two prequels—will set the stage for all things to come. "This isn't sloppy storytelling," Hennig said. "We're spending a lot of time making sure we're paying attention to the consistency, and I think fans of the series will appreciate that."

    The Reaver Rack
    They may have been sliced from the last game, but the reaver forges are back in a big way in Soul Reaver 2. These wishing-well shaped structures come in seven elemental flavors—Dark, Spirit, Light, Fire, Air, Earth and Water—and each imbues Raziel's reaver with more uses than a mystical Ginsu. You'll find the forges scattered throughout the game's time zones—usually after figuring out a particular area's puzzles. Once Raziel dips the Soul Reaver into these pits (a feat conveyed via a nifty in-game cinema) the blade is granted between four and six new abilities, many of which you'll need to reach new areas in the game. "We want players to have that 'ah ha!' moment every time they get the new abilities," Hennig said. "You'll say, 'Oh great—there's all these places I can go now that I couldn't go before.'"

    Take the Light Reaver, for instance. It glows in the dark once equipped, and you can aim it like a flashlight to inspect murals in the gloom—and see clues you'd otherwise miss. This reaver launches projectiles that turn on lanterns, while you can also strike special elementally attuned symbols to open sealed doors and trigger other events. Reaver types you'll find later in the game bestow more dramatic abilities. You'll use the Spirit Reaver kinda like a hookshot; aim it at special distant tiles in the spectral realm and you'll teleport to that location. In addition to the reaver forges, you'll also find seven reaver augmentations that bestow special charge-up moves. Find the Fire Reaver augmentation and you can cast a ring of fire by holding the attack button. The Dark Reaver augmentation gives you temporary invisibility, the Light Reaver power-up will illuminate an entire room and blind light-sensitive enemies, etc. OK, so Crystal Dynamics' current game plan has it that you'll find seven reaver forges, and each imbues your blade with four to six new abilities. On top of that, you'll find seven additional reaver augmentations. A quick check of the math shows you'll wind up with more than 40 skills by the end of SR2. "You're not limited to just climbing, swimming and constricting things this time," Hennig said. "The player ends up with a whole bunch more abilities than they had in the first game."

    World Builders
    Research, research, research: SR2's designers and mesh artists consult architecture books for ideas, sketch out each level, then map it out in Adobe Illustrator. They walk through the level several times on paper and meet with everyone on the team for feedback. Meanwhile, the texture artists visualize and research what each area should look like. Then the meshers build the level in 3DStudio MAX, the artists add the textures and lighting and—voil*—a world is born. "We end up with something that looks intentional," Hennig said, "as opposed to something extemporaneous, which I think a lot of games feel like."

    Smart Answers to Stoopid Questions
    The staff at EGM is a nitpicky bunch, and we found a few minor head-scratching contradictions while playing through Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. So, since we have way too much time on our hands, we thought we'd clear up four little conundrums while we had the ear of the game's director, Amy Hennig. Sorry, Amy, but we just had to ask...

    EGM: Raziel's skin and jaw burn away when he's tossed into the Lake of the Dead at the beginning of Soul Reaver, so why does his hair stay intact?

    AMY HENNIG: Because he'd look silly if he was bald. I dunno. It's magical hair, or maybe he just has a deep follicle.

    EGM: How come Raziel can stand on blocks in the Spectral Realm, but he can't pull or push them?

    AH: Because if he fell through the world, that would be an A bug. (Editor's note: An "A bug" is a critical flaw that would prevent a game from shipping until it's fixed.) But the real answer is that time stops in the Spectral Plane. So he can stand on a block—it has physical presence—but he can't move or manipulate it because the Spectral Plane is timeless and changeless. That's our story, anyway, and we're sticking to it.

    EGM: Why didn't Kain ever sprout wings like Raziel did? We thought those Dark God vampires followed each other's evolutionary footsteps by about a decade or so.

    AH: Everyone's on a different evolutionary path, but there's something deeper going on. Without giving anything away, I'll say Kain knew exactly what he was doing when he had Raziel thrown into the vortex. Raziel's wings were a sign, and Kain had him tossed on purpose. He's not a compulsive, jealous creep. Soul Reaver 2 will reveal more of that.

    EGM: Why does Raziel's cowl and boots pass to the Spectral Realm with him, but he can't carry other solid items like spears or torches from the Material World?

    AH: The tattered remains of his clothing aren't literally material objects anymore; they're more like "organic" manifestations of their former states, now melded into Raziel's being just like his flesh and bones. From a philosophical point of view, Raziel doesn't really literally have a physical body anymore anyway—his appearance is just an illusion, a spiritual manifestation. Therefore all his accouterments are just a projection of his spiritual state. Is that convoluted enough?

    What's Next?
    Just downstairs from the Soul Reaver 2 team, another cadre of coders, artists and designers—half of them veterans of the Gex and Akuji projects, the other half new to Crystal Dynamics—is working on a separate Kain PlayStation2 game not due for release until Christmas 2001. Tentatively titled Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen II, it's the direct hush-hush sequel to the 1996 PlayStation original, and it's being built from the ground up to take advantage of the PS2 hardware.

    The game kicks off about 200 years after the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain—way before the blood-sucking star turned the world into the wasteland seen in Soul Reaver. As Kain, you spend the game prowling through Meridian, a bustling human city caught in an age of renaissance thanks to the harvesting of Glyph Magic. Gameplay is similar to Tenchu and Metal Gear Solid; you control Kain from a third-person view and must often hide in shadows, creep through alleys and leap across rooftops to hide from humans and the vampire-hunting Sarafan. Of course, since Kain's gotta eat just like any other hard-working vampire, human contact is inevitable. "The nice thing about this game is you get to play a guy with an evil side to him," said lead designer Mike Ellis, who previously designed Colony Wars and CW: Vengeance for Psygnosis. "And every character in the game is a potential food source." Feeding time's handled just as it was in the PS original: You suck blood from victims in a flowing stream that shoots across the screen—except now the extra power of the PS2 means you'll see plasma spatter Kain's clothes. Speaking of detail, Meridian will teem with an unwashed mass of shopkeepers, peasants, even mangy dogs and rats. Crowds will react intelligently to your actions. Folks will eye you when you pass by and call the guards if you draw a sword or perform supernatural feats. "A lot of the game evolves around how you feed on people," Ellis said. "If you discreetly pull someone into an alley and feed, you won't get caught. But if you snack on humans in the middle of the street, you'll have a lot of problems with the guards."

    BO2 is broken into consecutive levels with goals rather than hubs that let you revisit areas as in SR. Kain starts with the basic vampire tricks (he can suck blood and become nearly invisible in shadows), but as he beats bosses he'll gain "Dark Glyph" skills, including super leaps and a charm trick that'll have weak willed humans doing his bidding.

    BO2 is the first of several planned spinoffs that will take the Kain mythology in new directions. Many of the characters covered in SR2 will be further developed in this game. "It's kind of like the Star Trek TV spinoffs," executive producer Andrew Bennett told us. "Next Generation and Deep Space Nine have their own characters, themes and settings, but they're set in the same universe. We want the Blood Omen and Soul Reaver fans to really feel as though they're playing characters in a totally consistent world."

    Image captions
    Concept art roll call (clockwise from top): Blood Omen's Vorador returns to the spotlight; one of the new, hard-to-kill Thrall warriors; the limp-winged hero himself, Raziel; and a nightmarish demon.
    While you check out SR2's screenshots (taken from the Dreamcast version) keep in mind that the finished game will look much better. The team is still stripping out all the original PlayStation code and tweaking it for the new hardware.
    Then and now: Wanna know what a difference thousands and thousands of polygons can make? Take a gander at these mock-up shots of a pillar-lined hallway on the PlayStation (left) versus a hall on the Dreamcast/PS2 (right). The largest rooms in the original PS Soul Reaver were made of about 10,000 polygons. For the Dreamcast and PS2 versions, most rooms will be between 20,000 and 30,000 polys.
    SR2 carries on the series' legacy of excellent voice acting. The same actors return, including Michael Bell (pictured) as Raziel, Simon Templeman as Kain and Tony Jay as the Elder God. Gordon Hunt and Kris Zimmerman (who was in charge of Metal Gear Solid's cast directing) return as the voice directors.
    The SR2 team isn't overhauling the gameplay so much as tweaking it. You can impale vampires with burned-out torches now, for example and you get a handier sight for aiming projectiles in look-around mode.

    2000 – [SR2] [Gaming Age / Bennett, Lemarchand, David] – LoK: Soul Reaver II Interview

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 6 September 2000
    Credit to: Patrick Klepek
    Personnel: Andrew Bennett, Richard Lemarchand, Marc David

    "GA talks to Crystal Dynamics about their much anticipated sequel to LoK: SR."

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaming Age / Bennett, Lemarchand, David
    It took longer than originally anticipated for the original Legacy of Kain: Sour Reaver, follow-up to the critically acclaimed Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, to arrive on store shelves, but when it did, it was oh-so-worth it. Living up to nearly all expectations and most times shattering them, the game was given an A- on both the PC and PlayStation here at Gaming Age, and the later released Dreamcast conversion earned a whopping A, the best grade that our site can give out to any game.

    Now the sequel, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, is just around the corner (current release is set for March 2001) for the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast, and we thought we’d shoot over some questions to Crystal Dynamics, and the following is what transpired. For more information on the game, make sure to check out our full, in-depth preview here. Enjoy!

    Answering the questions are Andrew Bennett, Executive Producer, Soul Reaver 2, Richard Lemarchand, Lead Designer, Soul Reaver 2 and Marc David, Lead Programmer, Soul Reaver 2.

    Gaming Age: How quickly after development was completed on the original LoK: Soul Reaver did creation for the sequel begin?

    Andrew: After we finished up all the different versions of Soul Reaver 1 (PSX, PC and International), the team were given a much deserved rest. Work on Soul Reaver 2 started in earnest in October ’99 on two fronts. The programmers worked on improving the game engine and tools. At the same time, the Designers led again by Director Amy Hennig started work on all the elements of the game itself including: storyline; enemy and NPC concepts and the toolbox of puzzle ideas which could be used in the game.

    Gaming Age: There were more than a couple gamers who felt a bit disappointed by LoK: Soul Reaver’s ending. Will LoK: Soul Reaver 2 patch up what was unfinished in the original, as well as introduce a new plot and characters, or simply forget the cliffhanger and move on?

    Richard: There were more than a couple of team members who were more than a bit disappointed with Soul Reaver’s ending, too! However, we had to get the game finished, and it’s important to us to behave professionally. We did the best we could to amputate the end of story in a way that would provide some closure, but would allow us to pick up the threads in Soul Reaver 2. We most definitely won’t be ignoring the cliff-hanger ending. Quite the contrary, in fact: what happens next answers questions that have thus far gone unanswered, and provides the basis for a whole new chapter in the tortured existence of both Raziel, and the whole of Nosgoth…

    Gaming Age: What’s up with Raziel this time around? Is he up to some new opposition with Kain, or another force entirely?

    Richard: Kain continues to play a very instrumental role in Raziel’s unfolding fates in Soul Reaver 2. Rather than a new opposition between Raziel and Kain, what we’re going to see is the cancerous growth of an opposition that stretches back many hundreds, if not thousands, of years… In Soul Reaver Kain appeared to be something of a deranged tyrant, and Raziel a rebellious hero. There are some shocks in store, though. People should be paying very close attention to what Kain says in Soul Reaver, and should dwell on the advisedness of forging alliances without being in full possession of all the facts…

    Gaming Age: Why the decision to axe the PlayStation version and bring it to the PlayStation 2, instead?

    Andrew: It was partially business related, the PlayStation 1 market for games which appeal to an older audience is growing smaller and smaller as the console matures and gets cheaper. Mainly the reason was creative. The Soul Reaver team is one of the most technically experienced and creative in the industry today and we wanted to give them a chance to really make Soul Reaver 2 the game that they wanted.

    Gaming Age: How will using two next-generation consoles benefit LoK: Soul Reaver 2 in terms of not only visuals, but also gameplay wise?

    Marc: Soul Reaver 1 pushed every one of the PlayStation’s limits. This meant that our memory was full and we had the CPU and GPU running at near capacity. Throughout we fought to achieve 30 frames per second, but on PS2 we will always have 60 frames per second. On PS2 the limits that were making it difficult to expand the game disappear, and we’re able to add content and features, which really opens things up creatively. So, this is not only on the obvious graphics front, but it allows us to make the world much more complete with the addition of more classes of interactive objects. Enemy and Boss interactions will be more intelligent with the use of AI algorithms we couldn’t afford before, making the whole experience more engaging and fun. We’re also making the Boss encounters more spectacular through the use of our vastly improved particle effects system. Sound and music will have similar improvements to the graphical systems, with more resources at their disposal. SR2 will offer an overall better gaming experience, not just a prettier one.

    Gaming Age: Is Raziel going to have any kinds of new special powers at his fingertips?

    Richard: Raziel is getting lots of new special powers, not just at his fingertips but embedded in his right arm up to the elbow. In Soul Reaver we touched on the idea of imbuing the energetic maelstrom that is the Soul Reaver weapon with the element of fire. We’ve expanded that idea for Soul Reaver 2 to a large number of elemental classes, each of which give the Reaver unique abilities. From thawing frozen lakes to creating bridges of shadow, illuminating pitch-black areas or awakening ancient earth powers, these abilities will ‘gate’ the world, and allow the game to open up very naturally as Raziel develops and gains these new abilities.

    Gaming Age: How much interaction will Raziel have with NPCs? Will anyone help fight along with him at anytime during his quest?

    Richard: There is a host of characters, from both Soul Reaver and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain that will play a significant role in Raziel’s new journeys across the blighted lands of Nosgoth, and we’re working on lip-syncing technologies and other techniques that will allow these agents of fate to act more expressively. Raziel does have allies (some old, some new) although they are probably not who either he or the players of Soul Reaver expect them to be. The hour of treachery and revelation is at hand…

    Gaming Age: Will the time traveling aspect affect anything other than merely the appearance of the surrounding environments?

    Richard: History… geography… players new to Nosgoth might currently not know too much about either, but those intertwined dimensions form a dense manifold of incrimination, destiny, and shocking coincidence.

    Gaming Age: If you could nail down the coolest addition that has been made to LoK: Soul Reaver 2, what would it be?

    Richard: Soul Reaver 2 is such a hyperleap in so many directions of advancement that it’s simply impossible to nail down a single coolest addition. The textures, the mesh, the sound, the AI, the models, the animation, the game design, the plot…

    Gaming Age: How far along is LoK: Soul Reaver 2, and when can we expect it to hit stores?

    Andrew: We’re slated to have Soul Reaver 2 in the stores in March ’01.

    Gaming Age: Has there been any talk of a PC conversion of LoK: Soul Reaver 2, or has that been ruled out for the time being?

    Andrew:: Currently we’re planning to release Soul Reaver 2 on Dreamcast and PS2. There are no plans for a PC version at the moment.

    Gaming Age: Concerning the recently confirmed LoK: Blood Omen II -- what can you tell us about it?

    Andrew: Crystal ideally wants to give the LoK fans a game every year, but these type of games take a long time to make – typically 2 years. We looked at this problem and decided to have 2 teams working simultaneously, but about a year out of step with each other. All the LoK fans who played the original Blood Omen have wanted to see more of Kain and his adventures, so we decided to work on another Blood Omen game. Blood Omen II is it’s working title and it’ll be out on PS2 around the end of 2001.

    Gaming Age: What kinds of directions can we see the Legacy of Kain franchise heading toward in the future? Might we see a movie or animated cartoon starring Raziel someday?

    Andrew: There has already been a comic book and Crystal is working with BlueBox on creating a set of Soul Reaver toys which will be out later this year. We’re really excited about these and we know that the fans will really like them. A movie is a possibility, but nothing’s even remotely concrete.

    Gaming Age: If you met Raziel in a dark alley and all you had in your pocket was a Crystal Dynamics pen, a lighter filled to the brim with ready-to-ignite fluid, an open ketchup packet from Burger King and a copy of Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M. for the PlayStation, what would you do?

    Team:Run like hell.

    2000 – [SR2] [Official PlayStation Magazine / Hennig, Bell, Harland] – Legacy of Kain: Funk Soul Brother

    (return to full articles)
    Published: September 2000
    Credit to: John Davison, Joe Rybicki, Raziel Fan (archivist), Spirit Kalika (archivist), Nosgothic Realm (host), A Gathering of Reaved Souls (host)
    Personnel: Amy Hennig, Michael Bell, Kurt Harland


    Quote Originally Posted by Official PlayStation Magazine / Hennig, Bell, Harland
    Those of you who played the original Soul Reaver through to the last moment will no doubt be itching to find out what heppened next. Despite being met with a certain amount of criticism, the cliffhanger ending has caused gamers to desperately seek out any information they can get on the sequel.

    Arguably one of the best-looking Playstation games ever made, Soul Reaver has now sold over one million copies worldwide. A visual feast of gothic architecture, vampires, monsters and spectacular effects, the sequel, which will be appearing on PlayStation2 early in 2001, certainly has a hard act to follow. Has it really been worth the wait? Is it really worth upgrading to a PS2 just to be able to find out what happens? Is there really any excuse for that abrupt ending to the first game? Amy Hennig, director of the game, sets the record straight from her book-cluttered office at Crystal Dynamics' headquarters in Menlo Park, California. "Obviously, for reasons that seem to be infamous, that was not the originally intended ending for the first game," she sighs. This is clearly something she's explained many times. "I would've liked to have ended it more elegantly than we did. I really wanted to end the game with a final confrontation between Raziel and Kain. As I've said before in other interviews, the excised material was only the equivalent of one largish level. Basically we just ended up cutting elements because the game would've suffered if we didn't," she shrugs. "Because of the time constraints we were under, if we were to have put that material in, the levels and the encounters would've been much shorter than we wanted them to be. We would've lost some of the drama in the game's climacx, and I felt it would have come across as overly rushed, so we ultimately decided to cut things down." Those of you who reached the climax of Soul Reaver will no doubt agree that while the "to be continued..." ending was somewhat abrupt, the experience leading to that point was by no means flawed. "Ultimately I think it turned out to be a very good thing for the series," Amy concludes. But enough of the first game... what happens next?


    "There wasn't a master plan for what the next game would be. Just that there would be one," she begins. "Soul Reaver 2 picks up where we left off. Raziel, against the Elder God's admonition, has jumped through the portal after Kain. The portal itself is part of the Chronoplast, a giant time machine that was constructed by Moebius - remember him from Blood Omen?" Hennig asks. "Moebius was a member of the 'Circle of Nine,' the guardian of Time - Kain met him posing as a soothsayer in the first game. By the end of the game, we realize that Moebius has actually been behind a lot of the events that happened to Kain from the very beginning." Are you following this? From now on things get a bit complicated. "He's been of the of the key puppeteers in the Nosgoth universe. By sending Kain back in time, he orchestrates an alteration in history, which makes Kain inadvertently responsible for a revived genocidal hatred of vampires. This means that Kain ends up coming back to the future just as Vorador [his vampire mentor] is being executed and it turns out that Kain is now the very last of the vampires. So Moebius was orchestrating the whole vampire-genocide thing right from the start." Got that? Good. Those of you familiar with the series will be understanding this a little more clearly than others, but what's basically going on is that everything that happens in the previous games is ultimately Kain's fault. And this is Moebius' intention.

    The time travel concept is very much at the heart of the new game. While Soul Reaver 2 is a true sequel, all of the action actually takes place in the past. "It spans time periods well before Blood Omen, as well as just before, during, and just after," Amy explains. "The initial impetus for going back in time [as Raziel] is that you're pursuing Kain. It's not like Kain ran away at the end of Soul Reaver - he lured Raziel into the portal. Kain has a purpose in mind which he needs Raziel to fulfill. Raziel, meanwhile, still believes that he's on this single-minded crusade." When pressed for more detail on this element of the story, Hennig won't be bullied. We assume Kain needs Raziel's soul-sucking abilities through that dainty little hole in his face, but we let her continue. "Silicon Knights' original title for Blood Omen was actually 'The Pillars of Nosgoth' - the Pillars were the main focus of that game, as they are in Soul Reaver 2. They're the mythological and geographical hub of the whole thing. They'll be visited in every time period - and you'll see them in each progressive state - pristine, crumbling, and completely destroyed - and their significance will begin to be revealed." Soul Reaver 2 will definitely open up the tapestry of the story. "I want to take people back to the characters and mythology from Blood Omen - to help make people familiar with the history of the previous game. Since Blood Omen came out back in 1996, we have to assume that there are a lot of people who haven't played it - the majority of players will probably come to the story only knowing about the events of Soul Reaver.

    "For me, philosphically, the whole story must be wrapped around the idea [borrowed from Joseph Campbell] that the only way a hero can ever succeed is by following his own path. As long as he's following a path laid out by someone else, ultimately he's going to fail. He's not going to reach the 'grail', so to speak. That's one way I've chosen to interpret the first game. Kain, because of his decisions, was doomed to failure. Even if inadvertently, he was always carrying out other people's wishes and failed to forge his own path - even when he thought he was. This raises some interesting issues - particularly the question of destiny versus free will, which was so pivotal in the first game. Is it ipossible to escape preordained fate? And it's interesting to layer this quesiton into a time travel story. This is really the whole crux of the time travel concept - can you change history or not? And if so, what does it mean to change history - in terms of being responsible for the repercussions? I did some research into time travel fiction, in preparation for Soul Reaver 2. For me, the most interesting approach in time travel stories is summed up with the statement: 'you can't go back in time and change history because you didn't'. That's my favorite way of looking at it. If you do go back - then you did go back. Which means that time travel is ultimately a journey of epiphanies, where the protagonist realizes the role that he already played in history. Of course, Blood Omen established that history can in fact be changed - and we'll be respecting this precedent in Soul Reaver 2."


    Leaving the mind-boggling complications of time travel behind for a moment, Amy continues to explore the relationship between Kain and Raziel and the discussion moves onto theology, the concept of good versus evil and redemption. Ahh, a much lighter load. No one could ever say that video game design isn't deep.

    The original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain cast Kain as an anti-hero, whereas Soul Reaver definitely saw him evolve into a malevolent demi-god. "My personal perception of Kain himself has actually changed over the years," Amy ponders. "in some ways I find him an even more attractive and interesting character than Raziel because there's more complexity to him. Raziel, ironically, is more two-dimensional than Kain at this point - partly, I guess, because less of his back-story has been revealed. Raziel is flawed, too, though. He's going to make mistakes - and already has." Growing wings, pissing off his boss and being thrown into a vortex that burns all of his skin off being just a few of them. "There's villainy in Raziel, and there's heroism in Kain - and I hope that's fairly evident through the dialog in the first two games," Amy continues. "Kain is very much the focus of the series, though. If you remove the melodrama and just look at the human elements of his character, you can see that he's flawed. Depending on how you look at things you could call him a tragic hero or an anti-hero. In my opinion, characters painted as 'true villains' just aren't interesting. They're too two-dimensional; no one is ever really so uncomplicated. Everyone always has their motives for what they're doing - everybody believes they're doing the right thing within their belief system. Kain is basically screwed by his own character flaws - which is more interesting than the idealized hero figure." Kain's been a pretty nasty sonofabiatch though hasn't he? "No bad buy ever thinks he's a bad buy," smiles Amy. "Basically Kain is just pissed off because he was wronged. He realizes that he was really screwed over again and again. Everything that happened to him was the result of someone else's machinations. That's why he's such a fatalist. That's why he believes there is no such thing as free will."

    "I've also been reading a lot of theology," she explains, pointing to a huge pile of books that are bending the shelves on a bookcase near her door. "There's a branch of pre- and early-Christian religious thought called 'Gnosticism' which has some bearing on the philosophy behind Soul Reaver. The fundamental idea is that the physical world is inherently corrupt, a tyranny of lies ruled by a false creator god." She pulls out a book, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism, by Kurt Rudolph.

    "Gnostics viewed the endless wheel of fate, the cycle of death and rebirth, as an inescapable prison from which the 'divine spark' in man yearns to be liberated," she explains as the book hits the desk with a thump. "The word 'gnosis' means knowledge. To live in the material world and not perceive the lie is to live in ignorance, essentially in slavery. The divine spark is man's yearning for knowledge, which brings transcendence. This theological concept is percolating under the whole game. Redemption is inextricably linked with knowledge - that's the key. Raziel's redemption is ultimately dependent on learning the truth behind everything."

    "Kain comes to the story from a position of knowledge and Raziel comes from a position of ignorance," she continues. "As in any conflict-driven story, the crisis that develops is that ultimately someone is going to have to change, to reach an epiphany. So we need to look at who is the steadfast character that's going to alter the protagonist's perception of reality. When you look at it this way - when you make the 'villain' the steadfast character and the 'hero' the character who has to have the epiphany, it exposes the inadequacy of these terms. Which is why I prefer 'protagonist' and 'antagonist'. It's going to be interesting to see how players intpret 'good' and 'evil' within the context of Soul Reaver 2's story."


    Having walked the halls and dark corridors of Crystal Dynamics' office, peering into the action figure crammed cubes of numerous animators, designers and designers, one thing becomes clear: Soul Reaver 2 is considerably more impressive than it's predecessor. "The new hardware gives us better opportunities to tell stories," Amy explains when we enthuse about the quality of some of the environments we've seen. "In a way the limitations of the old hardware were comforting because they imposed constraints and limited the places we could go. You could hold back from pushing yourself creatively - absolving yourself of having created an inauthentic experience - and blame it on the limitations of the hardware. But as these constraints are lifted, we ame developers are beginning to have complete freedom to tell the stories and provide the experiences that we envision - which means the onus of responsibility now falls on us to tell a good story."

    Although still very early in development, the levels that the designers show us are breathtaking. The gothic architecture has a more solid, "real" feel to it. The environments feel larger and more substantial than those in the original and there's a much greater level of detail throughout. "Environmentally we can have four or five times the detail of Soul Reaver," Amy explains as we enthuse about a particularly impressive level filled with crumbling pillars and almost Mediterranean-looking architecture. When we see Raziel moving within the environment it's certainly pretty convincing - there there don't appear to be any problems with frame-reate or any of the graphical touches that are coming under fire from some areas of the PS2 development community. "I don't want to sound vicariously cocky, since I'm not a programmer, but we haven't had many problems with the PS2 hardware so far. Our guys are very clever."

    While it doesn't sound like very much, one of the biggest changes this time is that everything is rendered in its entirety this time. Dig out your old copy of Soul Reaver and check out any area where there's a door or a window. It always looks impressive on the outside, doesn't it? But you can never see inside the buildings. Check out the entrance to a cave, and the tunnel always twists to the side so you can't see inside. These are all tricks the designers use to hide the limitations of the hardware. You won't see that kind of thing in Soul Reaver 2. Smash a window and you can see into the room beyond... peer into the mouth of a cavern and you can see into the depths. Everything's in plain sight. "Because of the new technology we, as developers, are losing all of our excuses for not providing the best experience possible," Amy laughs. Fog isn't used as a way of obscuring your view either... the ugly pea-soupers that have obscured so much detail in so many PlayStation games, including Soul Reaver, are no longer necessary. "We just use fog as a way of creating an eerie atmosphere now," Amy explains. "We don't need to use it to hide inadequacies anymore. It's exciting to be able to create these environments with the level of detail that we always imagined."


    So, is Soul Reaver more of the same, only with much better graphics? Although much of the gameplay isn't yet ready to see - all of the mechanics are planned out and sitting on a huge Soul Reaver encyclopedia that resides on the Crystal Dynamics intranet.

    Much of the player's motivation throughout the first game was to help Raziel develop his abilities in order to performs certain tasks. Kicking ass inevitably helped Raziel's cause. This time though, the blue boy is pretty bad-ass right from the start. So, dah-ling... what's my motivation? "Rather than modifying Raziel's 'physical' abilities this time, we're building a lot of the mechanics around the Reaver itself," Amy explains. "The elemental Reaver enhancements are central to this game. There are seven elemental forges hidden throughout Nosgoth [dark, spirit, light, fire, earth, air and water], which provide a secondary, parallel quest. The story occupies Raziel's primary quest, but to progress you'll have to find all of the elemental forges," she enthuses. "Fictionally, the forges were purpose-built to test the bearer of the Reaver. You must discover the location of the forge and solve the central puzzle which activates it - once this is accomplished, you can 'baptize' the Reaver in the forge. The elementally enhanced Reaver provides new abilities which enable the player to access new areas of the game and interact with the environment in new ways." So how does this work? "Say you forge the Reaver in the Light Forge - it will remain imbued with light, as long as Raziel stays in material and the Reaver remains active. Every time the Reaver is deactivated, it returns to its basic form - but once forged, the elemental potential of the Reaver remains. At the moment of forging, 'satellite' elemental fonts throughout the game are simultaneously activated. These fonts allow the player to re-imbue the Reaver with the associated element. This is hard to explain - the best analogy is in Mario 64, where you see all the inactive 'cap blocks' and you know you'll be able to return to that location later, with a new ability. These are like the inactive elemental fonts in Soul Reaver 2. Just as hitting the large 'cap switches' in Mario activates all the cap blocks of the same color, activating an elemental forge turns on all the related elemental fonts throughout the world. This replaces the whole glyph spell system from SR1. We've decided to eliminate the glyph spells this time, as they didn't really work the way we wanted them to in the last game. Because the glyphs only had offensive purpose, you didn't actually need them to get through the game, which was unfortunate. All the acquired mechanics in Soul Reaver 2 will be necessary to complete the game."

    In terms of gameplay mechanics, if there was one thing that the original pushed a little far it was the whole block-moving thing. Are the puzzles still going to be worked this way? "Blocks were our fall-back puzzle element and we ended up overusing them somewhat. For Soul Reaver 2 we've generalized the object-interaction system so that Raziel can contextually manipulate just about any object in the world - including being able to carry and place puzzle objects. The designers and animators can autonomously create any object-interaction scenario they can dream up. Which means that we're only limited now by our creativity and our schedule, because Raziel can interact with the environment in a basically infinite variety of ways. It's much more of a graphic adventure in that respect now."


    Although Soul Reaver 2 is still a way off from completion, we have to discuss the possibilities of further games. With such a rich backdrop established now, it would be such a shame to leave everything behind after this game. "The game will have a proper ending this time," Amy says with a smile. "It has a conclusion. It's the end of a chapter. There won't be a cliffhanger. Since this is an ongoing franchise, we have to be careful about how much closure we actually provide. The idea is to bring the story full-circle, but it won't be like some tragic play where everyone drops dead by the end and that's that." Obviously there's the Blood Omen game in the works [see sidebar], but are there other story opportunities? "The plan is that in the future we can continue to explore different aspects of Nosgoth's history, with different characters. This is such a rich universe with so much mythology and backstory, and so many interesting players. The analogy we use internally is that we want to establish something like they did with Star Trek or Star Wars - where you have a consistent universe and 'mythology' which can be explored from many different perspectives."

    Sidebar #1
    From Smurf to Vampire

    Crystal Dynamics is serious about their voice work. Just check out the expansive resume of Michael Bell, the voice of Raziel. Here's a guy who's gone head to head with opponents ranging from Jean-Luc Picard (as Groppler Zorn in ST:TNG's premiere episode) to the evil wizard Gargamel (as Grouchy, Lazy, and Handy Smurf in The Smurfs) and has had roles in everything from The Monkees to G.I. Joe.

    "Soul Reaver is a class act," boasts Bell. "A professional director [Gordon Hunt, Mad About You] is a luxury, and the project fares better for the input."

    And how does it compare, we wonder, to animation work? "Acting for a video game brings with it a different set of rules. For all intents and purposes, an animated show is equivalent to performing for radio. Sometimes you work with a full cast and other times by yourself, but you always work in real time. By that I mean, you are performing as the character in a situation and at a speed not unlike that of an on-camera gig. With a video game script, you need to be clear enough that the players understand their roles in the action. You try not to go over the top. No room for the method here."

    But while Crystal may be serious about Bell, Bell is far from serious himself, tossing out comments about how he "slept with everyone on Star Trek including the caterers... especially the caterers!" (We're pretty sure he's kidding.) And when we ask what he thinks of Soul Reaver, Bell's response is characteristically outlandish: "One evening, I decided to play Soul Reaver and only stopped when my wife announced that our daughter had graduated college. She was 12 when I sat down."

    Sidebar #2
    Making the Perfect Noise

    Crystal Dynamics' experienced sound department isn't content to rely on prefabricated sound effects to convey the proper atmosphere of this moody game. So one sunny afternoon in Menlo Park, the whole Soul Reaver team gathered on the back patio of the Crystal offices to smash watermelons, pound on raw meat, break paving tiles and crush soda cans amidst a ring of microphones - all in an attempt to make a perfect noise.

    "This may not sound like much," says sound designer and composer Kurt Harland (you may recognize him from the new wave band Information Society) as he plays a recording of a crunching Coke can, "but if we drop it a few octaves we get this." The unmistakable sound of a sliding stone block fils the studio. "It's a long, tedious process," says Harland, "but it's worth it."

    Sidebar #3
    "Vae Victis!"

    It may surprise you to hear that Soul Reaver 2 isn't the only Legacy of Kain game in the works. Due around Christmas of 2001 is an alternate sequel to the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. This as-yet untitled project is set 200 years after the first game, and follows the further adventures of the vampire Kain as he prowls the streets of a human city called Meridian. As in the original Blood Omen, you'll need to feed on human blood in order to keep your strength up - but in the bustling city, you're well outnumbered, so you'll need to rely on stealth and cunning to survive. If it comes to outright battle, you'll find a much more varied combat system than in the origina game. Kain will engage in proper guard-parry-thrust sword battle with his human enemies, and will also have a number of spectacularly gory special moves at his disposal - as well as certain magic learned in the original game. Even at this early stage, the game looks phenomenal; we can't wait to see more.

    Sidebar #4
    A Brief History of Nosgoth

    Before Recorded History

    • The genesis of the Pillars of Nosgoth - the nine Pillars that reach high into the skies, and deep into the earth (representing Mind, Dimension, Conflict, Nature, Energy, Time, States, Death, and - at the center of all of them binding them together - Balance) which are intrinsically and supernaturally tied to the spiritual and physical "health" of the Land.
    • The formation of the Circle of Nine - a body of sorcerers entrusted with the safekeeping of the Pillars, each sorcerer serving one of the Pillars and representing the principle that it embodies. Just as the origin of the Pillars is seemingly lost to history, the genesis of the Circle of Nine is also unknown. As long as the Pillars have existed, there has been a body of sorcerers sworn to protect them. When a member dies, the supernatural force behind the Pillars cals a worthy successor, who is destined from birth to fulfill that role.
    • The mystical sword known as the Soul Reaver is forged. Later to have more significance.
    • The era of Janos Audron - a creature reputed to have been the greatest vampire that ever lived.
    • The human Vorador is born
    • Vorador is turned; he becomes a vampire

    Nosgoth's Early History

    • The human Raziel is born
    • The formation of the Sarafan (a monastic order of warrior-priests, charged with the eradication of the vampires) by the Circle and the crusade to counter the "vampire menace." Raziel, Malek, Turel, Dumah, Rahab, Zephon and Melchiah command the armies.
    • The Vampire Purges. Thousands of vampires killed.
    • The Sarafan hunt down and destroy the vampires
    • The death of Janos Audron. He is murdered, his heart torn "throbbing and bleeding" from his body.
    • Vorador takes his revenge upon the Circle. He infiltrates their stronghold and murders six of the sorcerers, before humiliating the Sarafan general Malek (the Pillar of Conflict) in combat.
    • The necromancer Mortanius (one of the surviving Circle members, and the Pillar of Death) punishes Malek for his failure to protect the Circle, by fusing his soul into a magical suit of armor.
    • The death of the Sarafan commanders
    • The Pillars cull new successors
    • Vorador retreats from the world of human affairs, ensconcing himself in his remote mansion.

    Pre-Blood Omen History

    • The necromancer Mortanius is possessed by a dark entity known as Hash'ak'gik. Their two wills struggle for dominance of Mortanius' body - at times Mortanius maintains a modicum of control; at other times Hash'ak'gik manipulates him to do evil like a sinister puppeteer.
    • Ariel - the Pillar of Balance - is murdered, apparently at Mortanius' hands. It is actually (surprise!) Hash'ak'gik - in the guise of Mortanius - who assassinates Ariel.
    • Ariel's murder drives her beloved, Nupraptor (the Pillar of the Mind), insane with grief. In his agony, he unleashes a telepathic assault which ripples across the Land of Nosgoth, infecting the other members of the Circle (who are all symbiotically connected) with his madness.
    • With the infection of Nupraptor's madness, the Circle - who, as the "Protectors of Hope" are sworn to preserve the Land - are now poisoning the Land with the deranged sorcery.
    • The human Kain is born - the son of one of Nosgoth's most noble families. He is (unknowingly to him) marked from birth as Ariel's successor; it is his destiny to take her place as the Pillar of Balance.
    • The Pillars reflect their patrons' corruption, growing gray and corroded. For Nosgoth to be preserved, the infection must be completely eliminated. How to do this? The entire Circle of Nine, now wholly corrupted, must die so that the Pillars may cull new successors from the populace, and the Land may be healed with their purity.
    • The Nobleman Kain departs from his home city of Coorhagen on a journey across Nosgoth.

    The Events of Blood Omen

    • Mortanius orchestrates Kain's assassination - Mortanius is in control, for now; not Hash'ak'gik. In the village of Ziegsturhl, Kain is amubshed by brigands who murder him by impaling him with a sword.
    • Kain's body is interred in a crypt west of Ziegsturhl.
    • Kain awakens in the underworld, where Mortanius offers to revive him, so that Kain may take revenge upon his assassins. Kain, heedless of the cost, accepts the necromancer's offer. The catch: in order to rejoin the world of the living, Kain is reborn as a vampire.
    • Kain awakens, and begins his "unlife" as a vampire.
    • Kain finds his assassins and kills them, getting his revenge - but Mortanius drives him on to the Pillars, saying that the brigands were only the instruments of his murder, not the cause.
    • Kain visits the decaying Pillars for the first time, meets the spectre Ariel, and learns the nature of his quest. The Circle - the sorcerers poisoning Nosgoth - must be destroyed for the Land to be healed and the Pillars righted. Ariel promises him release (and peace) when the Balance is restored.
    • Following Ariel's direction, Kain hunts down and kills the Circle members one by one, returning the "tokens" of their service in order to heal each Pillar in turn. The mentalist Nuprator is Kain's first victim.
    • Kain confronts the immortal warrior Malek in his frozen, bleak stronghold, but Malek eludes him.
    • Kain meets the Oracle of Nosgoth, a reclusive soothsayer who holds court in the arctic caves.
    • The Oracle warns Kain of the legions of the Nemesis attacking from the north, of the bereaved King Ottmar of Willendorf, helpless to withstand their attack. He gives Kain some of Malek's history, including his defeat centuries ago at the hands of the vampire Vorador. Kain, intrigued, asks for more information about Vorador - the Oracle directs him to Vorador's mansion. The Oracle is in fact Moebius the Time Streamer, member of the Circle of Nine (representing the Pillar of Time). He uses the guise of the Oracle to influence pilgrims and orchestrate events.
    • Kain meets Vorador, Nosgoth's oldest vampire.
    • Vorador recounts the stories of the Sarafan purges, and his revenge upon the Circle and Malek.
    • Kain discovers a mysterious Time Streaming Device, planted by Moebius (the Pillar of Time).
    • Kain cleanses each of the pillars, leaving only Balance at the end.
    • Ariel appears and reveals to Kain that he is the Pillar of Balance, and that the only way the Pillars can be healed is for him to sacrifice himself to the Pillar. She presents him with the final, climactic decision - sacrifice himself to heal the world, or refuse the sacrifice and ensure the world's corruption. Kain chooses the latter path, deciding to rule the world in its damnation rather than commit himself to oblivion.

    After Blood Omen

    • Kain, appreciating the irony of his decision, sets the ruined Pillars as the seat of his fledgling empire, with the unrestored Balance Pillar as the base of his throne. Kain establishes his empire by recruiting six lieutenants. Kain, raised by necromancy, cannot "turn" a vampire via the traditional blood gift. By breathing a small portion of his vampire soul into a corpse, he draws the corpse's sould back into the body - the corpse is then revived as a fledgling vampire. In an act of calculated blasphemy, Kain raids the tomb of the six martyred Sarafan commanders. Their well-entombed corpses - though long dead - have been spared the corruption of the grave. Going from crypt to crypt, he breathes his reviviging gift into each of the Sarafan corpses in turn. Thus he raises his six first-born "sons" as the lieutenants of his fledgling empire.
    • Raziel is raised first, and thus receives the greatest portion of Kain's gift. The six lieutenants have been too long dead to remember much of their human lives; they are ignorant of their Sarafan roots, or of Kain's blasphemous private joke.
    • Kain's empire grows. The six lieutenants recruit clans of their own, "turning" the corpses of their human victims to do their bidding.
    • Over the centuries, each of the vampires undergoes a series of evolutionary adaptations. These evolutionary "growth spurts" are preceded by a near-hibernatory period of retreat, from which the vampire emerges transformed.
    • Raziel emerges from one of these evolutionary hibernations having grown wings. He returns to the Sanctuary of the Clans to present himself to Kain, and reveal his latest gift...

    Image captions
    Soul Reaver's cliffhanger becomes its sequel
    That sinister smirk...
    The Pillars of Nosgoth
    The destined paradox
    Kain, the anti-hero
    Protagonist and antagonist
    Beautiful architecture
    The great outdoors
    The Fire Reaver Forge
    Creeping through the swamp
    Folklore immortalized

    2001 – [SR2] [IGN / Bennett] – IGNDC Interviews Crystal Dynamic's Andrew Bennett

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 10 January 2001
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer
    Personnel: Andrew Bennett

    "An interview with the vampire maker. Sounds spooky, don't it?"

    Quote Originally Posted by IGN / Bennett
    Under any ordinary circumstances, having the life sucked out of you would be a bad thing, a certain vampire named Kain came along and changed all that. In an effort to capitalize on their success, Crystal Dynamics followed up their initial entry into vampy vengeance with Soul Reaver on PlayStation and Dreamcast.

    The game took flight like so many blood-thirsty bats and Eidos has wisely decided to do a little secondary soul sucking in the form of Soul Reaver 2 this Spring. We were lucky enough to sit down with Andrew Bennett, Executive Producer, Legacy Of Kain series over at Crystal Dynamics to find out why this title will suck even more than the last one...we mean that in a good way, of course.

    IGN DC: When the original Soul Reaver hit the Dreamcast, you guys really managed to surprise a lot of people with the job you did on the conversion. This time, however, you're building the game from the ground up with next generation consoles in mind. What sort of changes will this bring about for Soul Reaver 2?

    Andrew Bennett: Our Soul Reaver PS1 engine streamed nearly all content straight from the CD as the player explored the world. This meant that on average we were only holding an average of 3 or 4 rooms' worth of geometry, textures, objects, music, sound effects and animations in memory, compared with a normal engine which would have had to use the same memory for an entire level of the game. Streaming therefore meant that we already had content which was essentially of Dreamcast standards. However, we still looked at what needed to be upgraded and did more work, especially on Raziel, Kain and the special effects. We then used the extra power of the Dreamcast to give us a near-constant 60fps compared with the average of around 25fps which we were getting on PS1. We got great reviews throughout the press because our Dreamcast version wasn't the traditional port – it looked and played like a Dreamcast original title.
    On Soul Reaver 2 we've already cleared a lot of our technical hurdles (memory issues, streaming, frame rate) and the extra power of the next generation systems allows us to really concentrate on making a great game, with great content and a deep story. For example, the extra power allows us to have many more bones to articulate the faces of our main characters (for instance, there are about 30 bones in Kain's face alone vs. 40 for his entire body last time) to be used for lip and gesture-syncing, giving much more life to our in-game cinematics and broadening the player's enjoyment of the storyline.

    IGN DC: Speaking of hardware performance, you guys are on your second go 'round with the Dreamcast. Is this experience helping you squeeze more power out of the system? What can we expect in terms of poly counts, frame rate, and the like?

    AB: For Soul Reaver 2, we're not held back by PS1 and so we're able to upgrade all our content constraints without sacrificing 60fps. For example, Raziel is now around 3,000 polygons vs. 500 last time on PS1 and 800 on DC. The environments are roughly 8-10 times denser in terms of polys with around the same increase in the number of textures.

    IGN DC: Soul Reaver 2 is currently slated to simultaneously hit the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, and we've been told that the port will be limited by the strengths and weaknesses of both systems. What sort of advantages has the Dreamcast brought to the table, and conversely, have you had to hold back anything the Ps2 could have done because of the DC's less powerful hardware?

    AB: We're keeping a pretty good balance between the two consoles. Early on, we were concerned that we'd have to adopt a "lowest common denominator" approach to stay within the constraints of both platforms, but that hasn't been the case at all. The Dreamcast programmers have really managed to push the DC engine to the limits and in just about every way it's keeping up with the PS2.

    IGN DC: While all those bells and whistles are neat, what about the meat of the game? We know Raziel is sporting some new moves. Can you tell us a bit about what's different from a control standpoint? What's all this about new reavers?

    AB: In Soul Reaver 2, Raziel starts out with the Soul Reaver blade and all of the physical abilities that he gained in SR1, such as swimming and scaling walls. The new mechanics in Soul Reaver 2 are based on a number of elemental Reaver "forgings" or enhancements acquired over the course of the game. For example, equipping the Air Reaver makes Raziel lightweight and enables him to glide farther, activate updraft plinths, and blast through corroded elements. An important difference in SR2 is that all the new abilities are required to finish the game.

    IGN DC: The bosses in the original were truly something to behold. Can we expect the same type of madness with Soul Reaver 2? What about their henchmen? Will there be more variety this time around? Even gamers get bored cutting up the same 'ole bad guys...

    AB: We decided early on that Soul Reaver 2 wouldn't be a traditional 'complete a level, fight a boss' type of game. This time around the game progresses more like a novel or a film, with Raziel's quest punctuated by crucial events and encounters which could be called 'epic sequences' -- some of these are gameplay-based and some are story-based.
    The enemies themselves are more varied in SR2 than the standard devolved vampires in SR1. Over the course of his journey, Raziel encounters human, demonic and undead foes, in addition to vampires and spectral creatures.

    IGN DC: And puzzles? Though we loved the first game, we couldn't help but feel like an undead stock-boy after a while? Will we see new sub-quests and puzzle types to keep the action fresh?

    AB: One of the major complaints of Soul Reaver was that Raziel seemed to really love moving blocks around all day. For Soul Reaver 2, the programmers have spent a lot of time generalizing the puzzle and object-interaction systems into more of a 'lock & key' paradigm, and have given this to the Designers as part of their layout "toolbox".
    A 'key' can be something as simple as a key which opens a door, but usually it's more complex -- for example, a reflecting mirror that has to be found, carried across the level and placed in a receptacle (the 'lock') to enable light to be bounced through a room as part of another puzzle.
    This generalized system means that we've really opened up the range of puzzles that our Designers can include, which means the player is stretched further and enjoys the experience more, rather than just seeing a block and thinking 'OK, where do I need to slide this into'.

    IGN DC: Speaking of things about Soul Reaver that bugged the snot out of most gamers, the cliff-hanger ending didn't sit too well with those who were really getting sucked in to the story. Where will Soul Reaver 2's plot take us? Will the ending make us pull out our hair yet again?

    AB: Having to have such a sudden ending to Soul Reaver was far from ideal and something which bothered the team as much as the fans of the game. It's a pity that players remember the ending so strongly – hopefully it doesn't detract too much from their overall enjoyment of the fantastic storyline that was woven in with the gameplay throughout the rest of the game.
    Those outside the team who have been told the story for Soul Reaver 2 think it's awesome. There are a number of 'Oh My Gosh' moments in there where things fall into place and your understanding of Nosgoth's history expands exponentially. The ending of the Soul Reaver 2 is one of those moments.
    Soul Reaver finished with Raziel meeting Moebius, an ancient, powerful sorcerer who has the power to manipulate time. Soul Reaver 2 starts with Raziel pursuing Kain back in time, through Nosgoth's history. Raziel will visit many eras and locations, which are familiar to fans of the Legacy of Kain series, and he will play a role in key moments of Nosgoth's history.

    IGN DC: What about the delivery? Will the same voice acting crew reprise their roles? Can we expect as many scripted events and in-game cinemas to help carry the plot?

    AB: The Legacy of Kain series, especially Soul Reaver, has always received great reviews for its voice acting. Soul Reaver 2 will continue this tradition with the same voice actors reprising their earlier roles.
    Soul Reaver 2 will heavily feature in-game cinematics to tell the story and these will drive the player on his quest. In addition, this time around, we're using more visual indications of the story background such as murals and incidental objects which support the fiction.

    IGN DC: Is anything we're forgetting? Any programmers developing weird blood-sucking habits? Want to tell us all about Blood Omen 2? What about your favorite spooky story? Tips for bites from rabid bats?

    AB: Blood Omen II (working title) is our other Legacy of Kain game, which another team at Crystal Dynamics is working on. It features Kain as the main character and follows his adventures about 200 years after the original game Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. It's due out for Christmas 2001 on PS2.

    IGN Dreamcast would like to thank Andrew Bennett very much for his valuable time and wish him and the Soul Reaver 2 team the best of luck.

    2001 – [SR2] [Official PlayStation Magazine / Hennig] – When Worlds Collide

    (return to full articles)
    Published: January 2001
    Credit to: Lee Hall
    Personnel: Amy Hennig


    Quote Originally Posted by Official PlayStation Magazine / Hennig

    At last, a PS2 game for grown ups. The third Legacy Of Kain game is promising to be a dark and moody adventure with a plot thicker than clotted monkey's blood.

    Developer Crystal Dynamics is harnessing the power of the PS2 to create an unnerving landscape and spectacular special effects. Best of all, anti-hero Raziel is back with his almighty sword, The Reaver. This time his weapon is super-charged with powers crucial to the gameplay. Once again, you're thrust into a third-person adventure in the Tomb Raider style, but with a twist. The dark atmosphere and chilling, undead enemies add a welcome touch of ghoulish horror.

    The series started with Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain (OPM17 7/10) where we played Kain, a Nosgoth nobleman turned vampire out to kill all that moved. Kain was deified as a powerful demon king. In the sequel, Soul Reaver: Legacy Of Kain (OPM43 9/10) Raziel was introduced. Formerly Kain's lieutenant, Raziel surpassed his lord when he grew wings and gained awesome powers. Fuelled by jealousy, Kain bumped off Raziel, casting him into the Lake of the Dead. Rescued by the mysterious 'Elder', Raziel set off to destroy Kain, now a creature lurking between the real and spiritual worlds. Only Kain won't go quietly, so Raziel's back for another go. Sound twisted? That's because each game is a rich tapestry of dark revelations that draw you deeper into the Legacy universe.

    In Soul Reaver 2, Raziel travels back to Nosgoth to pursue Kain. On the way, he uncovers clues which transform his quest for revenge. It seems things in Nosgoth are far from black and white.


    No self-respecting horror adventure is worthy of the Legacy Of Kain without a ghoulish parade of foes and a slop-bucket full of gruesome action. So OPM tracked down Soul Reaver's director, Amy Hennig to find out how the emergence of PS2 would increase the chill factor.

    Crystal Dynamics is promising environments brimming with ghastly baddies ripe for the smiting. Hennig explains that 'Since SR2 takes place in Nosgoth long before Kain's failed empire and long before the degeneration of the vampire clans, Raziel (as played by your good self) encounters fanatical vampire hunters and Sarafan warrior-priests, as well as demonic entities, undead minions, vampires and some new, closely guarded spectral enemies." All the special effects and atmospheric touches will make for a truly impressive game, she promises.

    Raziels' fatality moves are a hugely important part of proceedings, requiring gamers to deduce and exploit enemies' weaknesses in order to finish them off. For SR2, Crystal Dynamics has added a class of bladed weapon in addition to the spears and torches of SR1, which enable Raziel to dismember and decapitate enemies that would otherwise have been unstoppable - "That's probably the most gruesome element of the game," Hennig explains, shuddering at the thought of it.

    The Legacy games have always been more than strict action games, instead the emphasis is on storyline and puzzles. Because of this a lot depends on getting the backgrounds right. "The finest planning has gone into creating every room so that the challenges Raziel faces are relevant to the skills he learns in each segment of the game," Hennig says, adding that each level has a central 'problem' which relates to the overall quest. It is solved by completing sub-puzzles and using the Reaver itself. Raziel's ability to manipulate, carry and place objects takes Soul Reaver 2 puzzles far beyond the previous Kain episode.

    "The character models now have intricately modelled and expressive animated faces too, which makes them look more realistic and ensures their lips are in synchronisation when they utter sounds," Hennig says. It's clear that Crystal Dynamics has strived to enhance the realism of the FMV sequences by using smooth physics to make the character animations more fluid and lifelike. The company has also added incredible details such as cloth simulation and improved reflective surfaces.

    Even at this stage some elements of the game are incomplete. "Yes," Hennig nods, continuing, "one aspect of the game that is still to be finalised is the warp gates. They preclude running around environments once you've done everything."

    The look of these environments is crucial, of course. Because they only build one 'room' at a time, like a hallway, canyon or valley, the developers have reduced loading times. More importantly, this technique has allowed them to create neatly detailed areas to make Nosgoth a more tangible setting.


    We pick up where Soul Reaver: Legacy Of Kain left off with Raziel having just leapt blindly through the Chronoplast time portal in his pursuit of Kain. He arrives in an era a few decades before the events of Blood Omen, the first game in the Legacy series. Throughout Soul Reaver 2, Raziel discovers a series of time-streaming devices he uses to travel to various periods in Nosgoth's history.

    With such a rich plot to work with, Crystal Dynamics has concentrated on creating the most disturbing and dark atmosphere on PS2, replete with gory events. "But we've steered clear of gratuitous gut-spilling," Hennig confides. Raziel travels through three major eras of Nosgoth's history - centuries before, just before and a century after the original Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain.

    "Once again Raziel will have the ability to tread between the ethereal world inhabited by souls and the physical world," reckons Hennig. Games such as Silent Hill and Shadow Man have both made use of parallel dimensions, but Soul Reaver 2 has taken the idea and given it a visual twist. The development team has used 'dual plane technology', which allows the scenery to morph before your eyes as you switch between a mystical spirit world and the material realm. Raziel can create this shift, forcing the terrain to melt and twist.

    When you shift to the spectral realm time effectively stops, which can be used to Raziel's advantage in solving puzzles. In the material world we will experience a new set of challenges, the water is too insubstantial to swim in, for example, or Raziel cannot pick up physical objects.

    So, as in the movie The Matrix, physics have been all but thrown out of the window with the earth contorting to open up new areas for exploration and Raziel making impossible jumps across vast chasms. "Even the process of texture morphing will reveal shapes that could prove helpful on his quest," Hennig says.

    This plane-shifting is crucial to the game. As a newly-arisen reaper of souls, Raziel's natural habitat is the spirit world. After focusing his energy and mental powers, he can transform himself into a fragile human form, but quickly weakens in the real world, a process exacerbated if he is injured. To keep his energy up, he needs to devour souls.

    This dark undertone looks set to give Soul Reaver 2 an edge in depth over twee rivals like Tomb Raider. The fact that Soul Reaver: Legacy Of Kain was told through the eyes of Raziel means the portrayal of Kain was somewhat skewed. Expect to learn more about the true personality behind the twisted undead face. In fact, if you follow Kain's development, you'll notice that all is not as it seems. Clearly there are more complex machinations afoot.


    SR2 is set at the same time as the last game, so Kain has not grown much in power. His only real advantage over Raziel is knowledge, and his actions are calculated towards an endgame that Raziel has not yet fathomed.

    Hennig won't spill on what that endgame is, saying instead, "We've made full use of PS2's power to produce far better looking and more detailed graphics." Indeed the areas are more expansive, with visibility stretched to the horizon. Where fog exists, it is used for effect and not to disguise any distance issues or glitches. And just to make things even more stimulating, Hennig's team has used up to six times more polygons on the characters too.

    The new Raziel is constructed of roughly 3,000 polygons, as opposed to the PS1's 500 polygons. This means he looks far more realistic (and far less angular). The team has also overhauled the special effects system to capitalise on the PS2 hardware.

    In fact Sony's new pup seems to have plenty of new tricks to perform. At the moment, particle effects seem to be the big thing on PS2 - Gran Turismo 3 does it with motes of dust, Metal Gear Solid 2 drops of rain and now Soul Reaver 2 will feature particle-based glows and trails. They have deliberately empowered the artists over the programmers to end up with deep visual richness.


    Crystal Dynamics has countered jaggies by rendering each frame slightly oversized, then scaling it down to screen resolution to get a very subtle blurring anti-aliasing effect. The game environments have roughly ten times the level of polygonal detail as the last game. Crystal Dynamics reckons it can now do all the things it wanted to do on PS1, but couldn't.


    Blood Omen, was a top-down shooter with pretty basic visuals. It revolved around the nobleman vampire Kain. With the arrival of Soul Reaver came a new protagonist and a Tomb Raider-style third-person perspective. The game was very well-received, but the series' two big egos, Kain and Raziel, demanded a game each.

    Now there are two strains of the series. Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 is a puzzle-based affair starring Kain's prodigy, as we know him. Blood Omen 2, also being developed by Crystal Dynamics for PS2, is shaping up as an all together darker and gorier affair than its sister game. There's a lot of close combat and detailed swordplay, with parrying and a range of attacks. It's definitely more action-oriented and features a string of big boss fights.

    You'll play Kain and wander the streets menacingly. When you pull your sword out the locals will flee in terror, screaming. Better still, you can butt the townsfolk and kick them when they're down as well as ripping their heart out. There's a lot to look forward to and OPM can't wait to start devouring souls and finding out what exactly is going on in Nosgoth.


    The Reaver, Raziel's magnificent sword, is central to the story and the skill progression element of SR2. Raziel can already swim, climb walls and slip into the spectral dimension. The progression of Raziel's ability is based on the Reaver, both in terms of practical uses for his sword and elemental enhancements.

    There are seven ancient elemental forges hidden throughout Nosgoth, themed around the principles of Darkness, Light, Fire, Air, Water, Earth and Spirit. By solving a forge level Raziel activates the forge and can imbue the sword with a new elementally themed power. The Light Reaver, for example, casts a radius of light around Raziel, allowing him to travel through dark areas. By swooshing the blade it can also light lanterns.

    Each sword can be used as a kind of elemental key to open certain locked doors. They will also come in handy to activate elements crucial to solving puzzles, such as illuminating light-projecting obelisks. Oh yes.

    Image captions
    With this sword I do thee smite. The Soul Reaver not only looks boss with its eight elemental glows, but they'll also help you solve puzzles and guzzle baddies' souls
    Hack 'n' puzzle. The Soul Reaver strain of Legacy Of Kain involves plenty of slashing, but it is founded on a strong puzzle element, backed up by a meaty plot
    Dark clouds gather. The Soul Reaver world is a dark and corrupt place. Raziel's battle with Kain is not simply good fighting evil, but a clash of two dark figures
    That's the spirit. Raziel's natural habitat is a mystical, incorporeal world

    2001 – [SR2] [GameSpot / Bennett] – Legacy of KainSoul Reaver 2 Feature Preview

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 3 May 2001
    Credit to: Miguel Lopez
    Personnel: Andrew Bennett

    "Eidos recently allowed us an exclusive first-hand look at Soul Reaver 2. We present you with all the pertinent information."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Bennett
    The original Soul Reaver's ending left no doubt in anyone's mind that a sequel was forthcoming. Indeed, the game was a mere fraction of the grand tale envisioned by its developer. Consequently, Eidos and Crystal Dynamics were quick to announce the game's sequel--a game that would tie up the loose ends presented by the original and weave a twisted tale all its own. That game is nearly upon us.

    Eidos Interactive recently brought a playable version of Soul Reaver 2 to our offices and allowed us to take a deep look at the game's progress. The build we got to examine had nearly all the game's elements in place, and it allowed us to truly appreciate both the game's thick, intense mood and its rich gameplay. Even at this point, it's easy to see that Soul Reaver 2 is a definite evolution for the series in every conceivable way. From a technical standpoint, the game is obviously much more sophisticated than its predecessor--the move to a much more powerful platform has enabled the team to realize many of the things impossible on the PlayStation and Dreamcast, due to time constraints, technical limitations, or a mixture of the two. The difference is plain to see--Soul Reaver 2's environments are grand, daunting, and meticulously detailed; its puzzles are significantly wider in scope and much more inspired than its predecessors; and its gameplay mechanics are deeper, more robust, and infinitely more engaging.

    Crystal Dynamics has definitely taken a good, long look at the design of the original and strengthened many of its weaker points. "The power of a next-generation console such as the PS2 gives us the ability to make numerous incremental gameplay changes," Andrew Bennet, Soul Reaver 2's executive producer, explained in an interview about the game. "The 'lock and key' puzzle system is going to make Soul Reaver 2's puzzles much more engaging than those in Soul Reaver. Secondly, the ability to have more enemies--both in number and variety--in a particular area will make combat much more interesting. And lastly, the entire game now runs at a constant 60fps, making the gameplay feel much smoother and more fluid."

    Bennet may be understating the overall effect of these enhancements by solely alluding to their technical properties, however--when seen in motion, all these factors create a loaded atmosphere that breathes a dreary, unreal life into the game's grand environments and perfectly sets the tone for its dark, surreal tale and rich, fluid gameplay. Gamers have long been yearning for an extension to the twisted dream presented by the Legacy of Kain series. The wait has been long indeed, but Bennet assured us that his team will make it worth the while in many ways: "Story-based action-adventure games are in many ways the most difficult to make, and that's why they take so long, but we think that everyone who's anticipating Soul Reaver 2 will be very happy that they waited."

    Nosgothian Dreams
    While it perhaps wasn't the team's initial intention, the original Soul Reaver's ending was quite a cliffhanger. After a climatic battle, Raziel chases Kain through a Chronoplast--a temporal portal--and emerges in a seemingly unknown realm. There, he meets Moebius, a character from Blood Omen, who Bennet described as "...a devious character, an ancient human sorcerer who has the ability to manipulate time." From Moebius, players learn that Kain discovered his devised means of time travel long ago and has intentionally lured Raziel into Nosgoth's past in order to realize his own mysterious ambitions. The story takes the requisite twists and turns and ends up spanning a good deal of Nosgothian history and toying with the ideas of time and reality. "Initially, Raziel naively believes that history is fragile and may be altered easily," Bennet explained. "He gradually comes to understand, however, that there's a 'conservation of reality' at work, and that history is essentially immutable--that it requires a kind of 'temporal wildcard' to change its course. Raziel ultimately realizes that his comprehension of Nosgoth's multilayered, twisted past is much more limited than he initially believed. He also discovers that he continues to be manipulated by others who understand Nosgoth's history--and the nature of time--better than he does."

    Players faithful to the series will find many treats in store for them, in the form of allusions to past installments. As he travels through periods both peaceful and tragic, Raziel will be exposed to the people who influenced the history of Nosgoth, and he'll witness the events that continue to shape the land. All throughout, however, there will be a set of constants. "Throughout his journey, Raziel encounters characters and explores locations that will be familiar to fans of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver," Bennet continued. "The pillars, of course, are the geographical and spiritual hub of the entire game, and they are present (albeit changed) in all the time periods Raziel visits. We're sure that fans of the series will really enjoy the exploration of and allusions to key events in Nosgoth's past."

    Those who played through Blood Omen--the first game in the series--will be familiar with its unique ending. At its conclusion, Kain--then a relatively young vampire--was forced to make a choice: either sacrifice himself for the sake of mortal balance or preserve himself and rule a wasted, hellish Nosgoth. For the sake of a grim narrative, Crystal Dynamics supposed that Kain chose the latter path when designing the future installments. As the first Soul Reaver made evident, the Nosgoth that Kain ruled was indeed an altogether grim place--vampires, twisted in form and soul, ruled over mortals, who they both domesticated and hunted for the purposes of satisfying their infernal hunger. The landscape of the world was blasted and razed, and humankind was but a shade of its former self. Soul Reaver 2, though, will give players a look at the world of Nosgoth before its inevitable descent as it ties the narratives of all three games into a tale than spans time. "Our goal with Soul Reaver 2 is to give the player the feeling of being swept up in historical events," Bennet revealed. "As the story unfolds, we present the player with revelatory moments when story elements from all three Legacy of Kain games suddenly come together. We look forward to seeing how fans react to these."

    A Reaper of Souls
    Of course, at the forefront of this twisted tale is Raziel--the reaper of souls, a cursed soul twice undead. This wasn't always the case, however. He was once a "perfect and noble vampire lieutenant who was cast into the Abyss by Kain in the opening cinematic of the game," as Bennet put it. Because of his vampiric heritage, though, the waters of the Abyss mangled his form and nearly brought him to his end. But due to the intervention of the mysterious Elder God, Raziel was resurrected and granted a host of supernatural abilities. The waters of the Abyss did grossly deteriorate his body, though, making him quite a horror to behold. He did look cool, despite this, and the humble 500 polygons used to model his form in-game were put to very good use.

    It should come as no surprise that Soul Reaver 2 will give Raziel a significant face-lift. First, his poly count will increase dramatically-- roughly 3,000 have been used to model his onscreen persona in Soul Reaver 2. This results in a more robust and solid-looking character whose appearance, according to Bennet, is "a lot closer to the Raziel that we've previously only seen in high-resolution marketing images." A host of graphical niceties designed to truly set Raziel in his world have also been implemented. Inverse kinematics has been applied to his skeletal structure, resulting in more realistic movement and animation. Our time spent playing the game illustrated this rather well. On many occasions, we had to walk upstairs, but rather than superficially scaling the inclines, Raziel would actually take every step with a pronounced and realistic animation. And if we stopped between steps, Raziel would convincingly rest with a leg on each step, with both his knees realistically bent. The effect, however subtle, is quite impressive, and it does much to meld the character with the environments. Raziel's wings reacted realistically to wind sources, drifting and swaying as appropriate. Raziel's model will also be dynamically lit in the final game. Though this feature hadn't been implemented into the build we played, the effect should be quite impressive, once in place--lights and shadows will dance on his surfaces, as the environments dictate.

    The powers that Raziel had at the end of the original Soul Reaver will still be available to him at the beginning of the sequel. The optional glyphs that players could collect will be gone, though. In their place, Raziel will have access to a slew of new abilities, all centered on the powerful Soul Reaver. "Over the course of the game, Raziel explores the mystery surrounding the Reaver's origin and expands the Reaver's mechanics by discovering and solving a series of ancient elemental forges attuned to the Reaver's power. This quest plays a major role in the storyline," Bennet explained. "After solving each of the forges, Raziel is able to imbue the Reaver with a new elemental power. Each type of reaver enables a new set of mechanics which Raziel will need to progress." The reavers will have a host of abilities, inside and outside of combat, and most will be elemental in nature--there will be fire, water, earth, and air reavers, for example. While the combat abilities of these are implicit, we can assume that they'll have a host of practical uses as well. The dark reaver, for instance, is used to weave bridges of shadow that will allow you to cross chasms. You will only be able to use the special powers on the material plane, however--once your shift into the spectral realm, the Soul Reaver will revert to its original form. Upon returning to the material plane, you'll have to use the appropriate fonts scattered around the vast world to reintroduce the elemental powers into the Reaver, as you'll need them to overcome the obstacles requiring the use of specific reavers.

    Inhuman Scale
    If our early look is any indication, Nosgoth will be an ultradetailed world, rife with areas to explore and all manner of obstacles to overcome. While the significant jump in power brought by the PS2 definitely has a lot to do with this, our look at the game revealed that much of it was also due to a more enlightened design philosophy. "When we started work on Soul Reaver 2, Amy Hennig (the game's director and creative lead) and the designers established a philosophy for the design of the whole game, which is in many ways inspired by deconstructing and following the examples of long-admired designers like Miyamoto," Bennet confirmed.

    The environments we were able to see were very diverse, ranging from vast indoor temples of inhuman scale to sprawling swamps teeming with all manner of natural life. Visually, everything was simply stunning. Indoor environments were brought to life by superb color and vivid, detailed textures, and the architecture was eclectic and inspired. While many of the areas weren't populated, simply moving through them was exhilarating, as they made use of all of Raziel's abilities--many opportunities existed for wall-crawling, gliding, and tried-and-true platform jumping. "The power of the PS2 has allowed us to do many things environment-wise that we wanted to do in Soul Reaver, but were too constrained by the hardware," Bennet said. "For example, we now only use fogging for atmosphere and ambience, whereas on the PlayStation we fogged mostly to help with the frame rate. The PS2 also allows us to have bigger vistas and more expansive indoor and outdoor environments. Overall, we've been able to create much more detailed, architecturally realistic environments than we could have previously."

    Players of the original Soul Reaver will fondly remember the neat geographical deformation that would occur when Raziel shifted from the material plane to the spectral. Allowed to shift to the spectral world at will, players were able to explore the world of Nosgoth from two distinct perspectives, with an accompanying visual transformation. The game would be directly impacted by the transformation--uncrossable chasms would become manageable, towering platforms would shrink to reachable sizes, and deadly water would turn to harmless mist. An aesthetic change would likewise occur. The world would turn a washed-out bluish green and surfaces would expand or contract. Soul Reaver 2 will turn this all up a notch. "On the PS2, we've added texture-morphing to the engine, which enables us, in certain cases, to reveal different textures in each plane of existence," Bennet revealed. "A mural on a wall might morph when the player moves to the spectral plane, providing extra clues to the story or a current puzzle. This is often just used for aesthetic effect--as in outdoor areas, where the sky and horizon morph into a twisted version of their material counterparts."

    Sadly, we weren't able to experience any of this for ourselves--the spectral versions of the environments we got to see weren't included in the build. The dichotomy between the spectral and material realms will be more pronounced in this sequel, according to Crystal Dynamics, and it will factor into the game's puzzles more than in its predecessor.

    The original Soul Reaver was quite heavy on puzzles, without a doubt. Similarly doubtless is the fact that Soul Reaver's puzzles are a touchy subject among the game's fans. It all came down to blocks, and the fact that there were too many of them--even Bennet agreed: "The redundant block-based puzzles were one of our major gripes, too!" While one could argue that the designers did as much as they could to make the block puzzles as interesting as possible, it's hard to deny that, after a full game's worth of them, the activity became a bit old. Fans will find much relief in the fact that Soul Reaver 2 will feature a thoroughly redesigned puzzle engine. The enigmas players will encounter will be much more varied and logical and less arbitrary, as Bennet explained: "When we started Soul Reaver 2, we set out to create a richer puzzle system, based primarily on the mechanics earned with the elemental Reavers and an expanded use of puzzle objects. One of the most useful enhancements has been the establishment of the lock and key puzzle system, which allows the designers to implement unique and context-appropriate object interactions. This may be as simple (and literal) as Raziel acquiring a key object and carrying it to lock object in the level in order to progress. Or it can be more complex--Raziel may need to kill an enemy bearing a reflective shield in order to place the disk in a receptacle and bounce light onto a crystal in a darkened room."

    We actually got to see something similar to the above example in action. Taking place in one of the large indoor environments, the puzzle in question spanned two large chambers and required the use of various environmental objects to complete. Essentially, we had to reflect light from one room to another so we could use it in the second room to create a shadow bridge that would allow us to traverse a wide gap. This involved pivoting a pillar with an attached reflector in the first room so the light bounced into the next. We followed the beam into the next room, and once there, we examined the walls and saw a bas-relief depicting a pillar casting a long shadow. Seeing a similar pillar on the edge of the chasm, we deduced that it had to be moved into a position where it would obstruct the light. Once we moved the pillar, a shadow bridge indeed materialized, and we were able to safely cross the chasm. Each of the puzzle's steps were soundly designed--its effect on the gameworld was logical, suitable clues for its solving were provided, and it involved absolutely no blocks.

    "In most game engines, this would require a great deal of time for a programmer to implement on a one-off basis (this desire to avoid hard-coding events is partly what led to the proliferation of blocks in Soul Reaver)," Bennet explained. "With our new system, designers, animators, and artists can work independently to implement complex puzzles without a programmer's intervention, thus opening up the palette of puzzles that we now have in Soul Reaver 2." We sincerely hope that all of Soul Reaver 2's puzzles are similarly well conceived. Given the tools in place, it's certainly likely.

    A Reaver of Bodies and Souls
    Given Nosgoth's brutal nature, it's safe to assume that Raziel will get into a fair number of scrapes, with beings both living and undead. While combat in the original Soul Reaver was certainly engaging, one often got the feeling that it was altogether possible avoid most enemies entirely. There certainly were many situations where combat was inevitable, to be sure--who can forget the tight, claustrophobic chambers littered with vampires who would continually respawn as you frantically pieced together a puzzle? But enemies encountered on the field, for the most part, were unfortunately largely avoidable--unfortunate because the game's combat system was both dynamic and twistedly satisfying.

    Rectifying this, needless to say, has been at the top of the developer's list. "Our main focus this time has been to force combat and then also to use the power of the PS2 to make it more interesting and challenging for the player," Bennet revealed. "We're forcing the player to engage in more combat in a variety of ways. Firstly we're going to have more situations where the player has to defeat the enemies in an area before a door or other obstacle can be cleared so Raziel can progress. The programmers, animators, and designers have also worked closely together so we can give enemies puzzle-solving pieces that Raziel has to acquire in combat in order to solve a puzzle. This can be as simple as taking a 'key' object from a guard, or it can be more complex--such as taking a unique weapon or shield from one enemy that will be useful to pass a more powerful enemy later on." Even if they aren't holding some puzzle-specific item, however, many enemies won't be easy to dodge. "We're also overcoming the jump over/run around problem by making the enemies smarter," Bennet explained. "There are various enemy types in Soul Reaver 2 that have the ability to snatch Raziel out of the air or otherwise impede his passage through the level--by pursuing him rapidly and relentlessly, for example."

    This is certainly good news for players eager to make use of Raziel's wicked set of abilities. Certain core mechanics have changed quite a bit from the original game, however. Most notable is the fact that the Soul Reaver will "heat up," so to speak, after prolonged use. A meter to gauge this exists alongside the life meter--once it's full, Raziel will begin to lose life. This will result, the developer hopes, in shorter, more focused battles. It'll also add a significant amount of strategy to the proceedings.

    Also notable is the fact that the Soul Reaver is now capable of firing projectiles. When performing this, the camera shifts to a closer over-the-shoulder perspective and an aiming-reticule appears onscreen, allowing you to aim your shot. The actual projectiles take the form of the Reaver's essence and bear the characteristics of its current elemental composition. The dark reaver, for instance, will shoot dark, shadowy bolts, while the fire reaver will emit small bursts of flame. As previously stated, the Reaver's current elemental makeup will also come into play in hand-to-hand combat. Some enemies will be less susceptible--or totally immune--to certain types of attacks. Conversely, some will have definite weaknesses. "This requires the player to 'learn' the different enemies' vulnerabilities and make sure they're properly armed before engaging in combat," Bennet explained.

    Combat in the final product should prove brutally satisfying for all involved. "Overall, we've made the combat system more intuitive and responsive, and we've expanded Raziel's moves to include more blocking and evasive maneuvers and a more varied suite of attacks, including a greater variety of finishing moves," Bennet revealed. "Last time, we had such visual treats as setting enemies on fire and impaling them. This time, we've added the ability to dismember and decapitate enemies, among other things."

    Darkest Works
    The development of Soul Reaver 2 has definitely been arduous, but these last few months are definitely the final stretch in the game's cycle. From what we've seen, most of the essentials are in place. The game we saw last week was marvelously playable and aesthetically grand, so we can only assume that these final months will be used to ensure that the product will be tight, polished, and seamless.

    Crystal Dynamics has a rather ambitious design philosophy, as it doesn't focus as much on designing single games as it does on weaving an entire mythology. Given the scope of the studio's projects, it's hard to imagine how it manages to contain its ideas in the form of a single game, produced in the span of a standard product cycle. "There are always trade-offs which have to be made when any product is created, whether due to schedule, budgetary, or technical constraints," Bennet admitted. "There are many, many features originally conceived that don't make the final cut. Most of the time, these features are eliminated or slimmed down, either because they don't work as originally anticipated or because completing them as originally specified would mean that large parts of the rest of the game won't be properly polished. These kind of edits are always difficult and regrettable, but they are also an inevitable part of the process."

    Some compromises have indeed been made. It's no secret that Soul Reaver 2 began its cycle in concurrent development for both the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast platforms. When the latter version was cancelled, fans of both Sega and the Legacy of Kain series were very distraught. According to Bennet, so was the development team: "We understand that Dreamcast fans of Soul Reaver were looking forward to Soul Reaver 2. The team was also disappointed--we'd been able to really push the limits of the DC. Unfortunately, when the manufacturer of a console stops manufacturing it, it signals a large decrease in the possible sales of games for that console. It's therefore regrettably very much outside of our control." So it goes. On the bright side, it can be argued that single-platform development will ultimately help the game. "It's always easier to make a game for one platform at a time," Bennet said. "You don't have to keep constantly checking to make sure that everything works on both all the time. And, of course, you can also make sure that the game really pushes the platform when you only have one to worry about."

    Fans of the Legacy of Kain series seem more than willing to wait the allotted time for the further installments in the series, regardless of what platform they'll eventually grace. And with Blood Omen 2 tangibly on the horizon, it seems as if the wait for the next chapter will perhaps not be so long. In any case, Soul Reaver 2 has us very excited, and we can't wait to get out hands on the next build of the game at this year's E3. Keep your eyes on this space till then. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 is due to ship this fall.

    2001 – [BO2] [IGN / Ellis, Newman] – Interview With a Vampire: Blood Omen 2

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 26 September 2001
    Credit to: Douglass C. Perry
    Personnel: Mike Ellis, Sam Newman

    "We sit down with the producers behind Blood Omen 2 to get this bloody vampire thing off our chest."

    Quote Originally Posted by IGN / Ellis, Newman
    In a serendipitous kind of way, Eidos and Crystal Dynamics' Blood Omen 2 has taken a back seat to the more heavily promoted, more instantly recognizable Soul Reaver 2. It makes a certain sort of sense, in that A) Soul Reaver is slated first, thus it gets first dibs, and B) it's the direct sequel to Soul Reaver, the successful PS/PC/DC game that sold more than 1.5 million units internationally in the last couple years. Plus, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain hit PlayStation in 1996 -- almost five years ago -- and only us knuckleheaded hard-core gamers remember that amazingly old (but good) game. Well, that all makes sense, but it all started with Kain. I mean, after all, it's HIS legacy (Legacy of KAIN), not Raziel's. It seems like he's getting the short end of the Reaver, if you will.

    Always eager to delve into all things sharp, heaving and bloody (just for the record, we're talking about vampires, here...), we were able to trek on down to Menlo Park, Ca., to speak with the good folks at Crystal Dynamics in the quest to find out just what makes Blood Omen 2 so bloody good. The two dudes who were so kind to answer questions as dumb as "What are Sarafan Knights?" were gentle on us. Producer Mike Ellis and Associate Producer Sam Newman explained who Kain is, where he came from, what makes this game different than all the others, and what it's like to develop for each system.

    IGN: When you sat down to create Blood Omen 2, what were some of the principles that were set up right away? Like did you want to add certain powers, or make Kain more powerful, or how did you plan to differentiate Blood Omen 2 from Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2?

    Sam: Right from the very start the creative team decided that it was important to try to take and enhance the cool factor that Kain had from the original Blood Omen and his appearances in Soul Reaver. Kain is a very unique character. He doesn't fit to the generic character molds you find in many other games, books and movies. He's not good, he's not necessarily evil -- Kain does as Kain believes. If that happens to help or hinder others as a side effect is of no concern to him.

    IGN: So really, he's kind of a bad ass. The environments and architecture of the home city, Meridian, are unique and varied. How did you go about creating the environments and locales?

    Sam: To start we didn't want to have the same old medieval architecture that we saw in the first Blood Omen. So we took one of our new game mechanics, Glyph magic, and developed a new twist on the medieval theme of Nosgoth. We created an industrial revolution in Meridian, but one that followed different lines than one based on fossil fuels. This allowed us to basically stack newer or more fantastical elements onto real-world medieval architecture. Once we had this, then it was a matter of coming up with some varied cityscapes based on the common them as well as some outdoor area's that also contained elements of that theme.

    Our story also called for some environments that were very different from most of the others and we made an effort to make these radically unique while maintaining the feel that they properly belong in Nosgoth.

    IGN: How does Kain, the vampire, differ know, the standard blood-sucking, Bella Lugosi Dracula-style vampire?

    Sam: I think it's fair to say that none of the vampires in the Legacy of Kain universe are like those of other popular fiction. They're not monsters trapped in the ordinary cycle of sleeping in coffins by day and hunting down virgins at night. Like all good characters they have goals, relationships, strengths and flaws.

    Mike: An infamous trait of Kain's from Blood Omen that will be appearing in Blood Omen 2 is that Kain need not bite his victim and drink from them to feed. Once he has claimed his victim he simply wills the blood from them, through the air and into his mouth.

    IGN: So what is the core gameplay aspect of Blood Omen 2? I mean, is the game a straight-out beat-'em-up, or is it more complex then that? Does it venture into RPG areas, does it push players into exploration? Please explain.

    Mike: Blood Omen 2 is probably best described using the old fashioned term 'arcade adventure.' RPG is an overused term. Even now, there are very few real RPGs out there.

    Blood Omen 2's gameplay is made up of combat, exploration and puzzle solving. Within these broad categories there's many smaller activities, and a lot of things can be tackled the bloodthirsty way, or in more of a 'cool guy' style.

    Take combat, for instance. Kain could leap in amongst a group of Sarafan, and fight them hand to hand. Or, take more of a calculated approach. Hide in the mist and kill a nearby peasant, and as the guard discovers the body he'll venture over to investigate. Then as he inspects the corpse, Kain can sneak up and punch out his heart.

    IGN: Can you tell us about the Dark Gifts? I mean, are the same as the gifts in the previous Blood Omen game? Or are they different?

    Sam: When Blood Omen begins, Kain not only finds that the Soul Reaver has been taken, but also that he's lost many of his former powers.

    Mike: The Dark Gifts manifest differently in each of the vampires, giving them special attributes not always shared by their brothers. Throughout the course of the game Kain will come into contact with others with Dark Gifts, and only by drinking from them can he develop more Dark Gifts.

    IGN: What's the difference like between developing Blood Omen 2 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox? Huge? Not much at all? What does one system do better than the other? I mean, you know, give us some ridiculously large metaphor or parable, like, "it's as big as preparing a Stouffer's frozen pizza versus cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey."

    Sam: Personally, I think that we've reached a stage where all of the new machines are of similar power, although each has its own particular strengths. The differences aren't as apparent as they where in the 16-bit days where the Super NES had mode 7 and the Mega Drive didn't. Therefore the biggest consideration to me as a designer is how to use the unique facets, such as the controller.

    IGN: On that subject, how are you dealing with the control scheme on two different controllers? Does one system's controller work better than the other? Do you have a preference?

    Sam: Each version of the game will have a slightly different control layout as the controllers themselves are laid out differently. Personally, I find the PS2 controller the most practical of the two as everything is within reach, but spaced out well, and I'm a big fan of the four shoulder buttons.

    IGN: What are some of the bosses like in Blood Omen 2? And what kinds of obstacles must Kain overcome to get deep into the game? Obviously, you won't want to give away too much of the story, but can you give us some examples?

    Sam: As in Soul Reaver each of the bosses will have had a former relationship with Kain, which will be revealed when they meet. Also, as mentioned before each will have its own particular Dark Gift, which Kain must overcome before he may claim it as his own.

    Mike: On a high level the game will be steered by the storyline as Kain learns new things, or is motivated to achieve a goal. The actual progression through any particular level will be dictated both by this and necessity. Form instance, early in the game Kain must find a way into Meridian, as he can't just stroll through the main gates. Therefore he must find a way underneath the city walls.

    IGN: The civilians in Meridian are quite varied and interesting in the way they respond to Kain. Can you give us some examples of how different people respond to Kain? Also, are there any crucial bits of information that Kain must retain from these conversations?

    Sam: One thing that we've spent a lot of effort on is getting reactive characters that change behavior according to how they perceive Kain and the world. Walking along a street Kain may explore and possibly overhear a conversation between two aristocrats. However, should Kain threaten them they'll back away from him, and possibly even shout for the guards. Characters can also flee, cower, trip over trying to escape, run away, investigate bodies, etc.

    IGN: So, who are the Sarafan Knights, and more specifically, who is the Sarafan Lord?

    Sam: The Sarafan is an army of warrior priests devoted to purging Nosgoth of all vampires. These humans, once led by Malek, believe that they have righteousness on their side, and will not rest until every last vampire has been eradicated.

    Mike: Unfortunately, the only way for you to find the answer to the question of the Sarafan Lord is to play the game.

    IGN: The Xbox is capable of using user-ripped music in games now. Are there any plans to implement the hard drive in either of the games? If so, how?

    Sam: At this stage we're still investigating how best to take advantage of the Xbox's hardware.

    IGN: Will Blood Omen 2 work like Soul Reaver 2 in that once the world is initially loaded, there is never any loading any more in the game? Can you explain how the streaming technology works in Blood Omen 2?

    Sam: While the actual code is different, Blood Omen 2 will be like Soul Reaver in that the player will never see a pause for loading during the actual gameplay. There will however be transitions between the levels themselves.

    Mike: The process (known as streaming) requires a large amount of work and thoughtful level design, but the pay-off is certainly worth it as there's nothing as annoying as sitting though yet another load mid-game.

    Basically, we divide the level up into sections we call regions and constantly trigger the game to load and dump regions invisibly in front and behind the player, so that they can never get ahead or behind the currently loaded section.

    IGN: The version of the game we saw didn't have any music in it. What kind of music is planned?

    Sam: The plan is for Blood Omen 2 to have very ambient music that is reactive to both location and the status of the world. It is our desire to have music that enhances the atmosphere of the environment, rather than just having a looping tune.

    IGN: Are there any future Kain games that might be played online?

    Sam: At the moment it's crunch time and so it's hard for us to see past the sleep-eat-work regimen that this project requires. However, there are always plenty of ideas as to what we could do, and where we could go with the Legacy of Kain universe. It's just that right now we need to ensure that we don't get too far ahead of ourselves.

    2001 – [LoK] [GamePro / Bennett] – As the Blood Churns

    (return to full articles)
    Published: September 2001
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer, Spirit Kalika (archivist), A Gathering of Reaved Souls (host)
    Personnel: Andrew Bennett

    "The bad boys of Eidos's Legacy of Kain series are back - and they're still feuding like bloodsucking soap-opera stars in Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2."

    Quote Originally Posted by GamePro / Bennett
    It ain't easy being dead - or having no jaw or stomach. But it sure is fun. Just ask Raziel. He was a nobody vampire until Kain (his jealous master and star of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain) chucked him like a rotten apple into a watery abyss at the beginning of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. That toss left Raziel a mangled corpse with no lower cuspids or lower intestine, but it launched a career as a homely video-game star that promises to grow with the September release of Soul Reaver 2 for the PS2. After a few hours of hands-on with Reaver 2, it's clear our soul-sucking antihero is here to stay, rotting flesh and all, in a game that is setting new standards for beautiful scenery.


    The third title in the Legacy of Kain series will have more of what most intrigued gamers in the previous title: a foreboding atmosphere and intricate level design that hints at the deep, dark history of Nosgoth. The levels are already some of the most wonderfully designed and textured yet on the PS2, with architectural influences ranging from Gothic to Aztec. If Raziel had a jaw, it would drop repeatedly as he scampered about.

    In the eerie swamp level - unlike anything seen in the previous game - huge trees loom over buzzing fireflies, glowing lanterns, and impaled corpses. Intricate ornamentation adorns every surface of a towering Gothic cathedral on another level. You can almost feel the rough stone on the walls and floors of other environments. SR2's developer, Crystal Dynamics, is using a programming trick called "streaming" to enable this standard of detail. With it, only the immediate surroundings - not the whole level - are loaded into the PS2's limited memory, leaving more memory available for textures and eliminating load times.


    Gameplay will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has played Soul Reaver, as well as being simple for newcomers. The excellent auto-face command will still enable you to switch instantly from exploring to fighting, and you'll have plenty of new moves with which to cleave, hack, spike, or bash your enemies. Luckily, you'll retain the Soul Reaver sword, plus all your abilities from the first game: climbing, swimming, projectile shooting, and so on.

    To keep the game challenging, however, a Reaver meter will let you swing the all-powerful saber only so many times before you lose health and are banished to the Spectral Realm. By beating boss vampires, on the other hand, you'll acquire a whole slew of powerful new Reavers - which you'll need to beat the ramped-up puzzles (no more box pushing). Specific Reavers - Dark Reaver, Light Reaver, Air Reaver, and so on - will break down specific obstacles, but you can only have one Reaver at a time and most puzzles will require several.


    Perhaps best of all for fans of the series, Soul Reaver 2 will reveal more story line than the previous game. You'll learn more about Raziel's relationship with Kain and the Elder God, the mysterious force that revived Raziel after he was killed. You'll also meet Moebius the Time Streamer (who appeared in Blood Omen), whose portals will allow you to travel to different times in Nosgoth's past - before and after Kain condemned the world to ruin. Time travel will work similarly to the ingenious shifting between Spectral and Material Realms and it will have as dramatic an effect on the surroundings: A once-bustling town will be ruined and infested with vampires when you travel several hundred years into the future, but those pesky guards won't be there, either. Hmm... the possibilities.

    It's clear that fans of the original Soul Reaver should find only more to like when they revisit Nosgoth this fall, while newcomers should ready their souls for consumption.

    Blood Brothers

    So if Soul Reaver 2 is the third game in the Legacy of Kain series, and Blood Omen 2 the fourth, why are they both labeled number two? Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain started it all in 1996 as a topdown vampire RPG for the PlayStation. Kain fights guards and ravages villagers, and at the end of the game, chooses to let the world of Nosgoth decay rather than save it. The second game, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999), was a 3D action/adventure, more spin-off than sequel. Kain appears, but the main character is Raziel, Kain's former underling. At the end of Soul Reaver, Raziel and Kain face off, but Kain escapes through a time portal and Raziel follows. That's where Soul Reaver 2 will begin. Meanwhile, Blood Omen 2 is being worked on by a separate production team, and will be the sequel to the first Blood Omen, focusing again on Kain rather than on upstart Raziel. "Because these games take so long to make - three or four years - we decided to use more than one team so we can make more of them," says Crystal Dynamics' Andrew Bennett, executive producer for both upcoming games. "The easiest way to describe it is to say it's like the Star Trek universe. You have one production crew doing Deep Space Nine, another doing Voyager, and another doing Next Generation. All three have Klingons, but the Klingons look slightly different in each series because each show has its own costume designer who wants to show what they can do."

    Image captions
    Unique Resurrection
    Bloody Fun
    Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain

    2001 – [SR2] [GameSpot / Hennig] – Soul Reaver 2 Q&A

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 29 October 2001
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "We talk with Crystal Dynamics' Amy Hennig about the last phases of this much-anticipated game's development."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Hennig
    Few sequels have been more anticipated than the original Soul Reaver's. Similarly, few games have endured as many changes during their development than its eventual sequel. With not only a platform change, but also a Dreamcast-cancellation under its belt, the developers found themselves on square one more than once during the game's cycle. All of these hurdles contributed to a long wait indeed for the series' fans. And they've been quite vocal about it.

    Much of this has to do, no doubt, with the original's cliffhanger ending. However, the fact that its fans invested so much into the series' unfolding narrative in the first place is evidence that there is some good stuff going on at Crystal Dynamics. The wait, in any event, will soon be over--Eidos surprised us all with an October 31 release date, recently, which brought Raziel into our minds sooner than we had anticipated. In light of this, we sought out Amy Hennig, the Crystal D's Director on Soul Reaver 2, and talked to her at length about the project's final phases. What she said will definitely shed some light on this exciting project's long awaited result.

    GameSpot: First of all, how does it feel to have finished this enormous and anticipated project?

    Amy Hennig: Very odd. I don't think the team can quite believe it yet. It's like running a marathon and then suddenly you've crossed the finish line--you're done, but reflexively you feel like you're still supposed to be sprinting. It'll take a little while for it to settle in.

    Finishing the game has been very satisfying, much more so than last time. We've all been so focused on the tasks at hand that there were times we not only lost the forest for the trees, but also lost the trees for the bark. When you're working insane hours just trying to get through all the discrete tasks that need to get done, you sometimes forget to look up and see how the whole thing is coming together.

    It becomes a matter of faith, like working on a jigsaw puzzle upside down--you can see that the individual pieces fit together, but not necessarily the picture that is forming. For most of us, I think, it was a revelatory moment to stop, get a little distance, and finally see the "gestalt" of the game as the final pieces came together.

    GS: The game has definitely been in the works for a long time. What can you say to fans of the game who felt they were perhaps forced to wait too long?

    AH: I'm glad to address this. Soul Reaver 2 hasn't been in development as long as people think--it's basically been two years since we finished up Soul Reaver (including the PC and Dreamcast ports, and all the foreign versions that had to be completed following the US release of Soul Reaver on the PlayStation). A two-year development cycle is pretty normal or even aggressive by today's standards--if you look at some of the other big sequels coming out this season, for most, it's been almost three years since the previous installment.

    But the Soul Reaver 2 team also had an extra handicap, which I don't think most people realize--the game was originally slated to be a PlayStation title, and we didn't get the go-ahead to switch to the PS2 until May of '00. This was after a three-week effort where we put together a proof-of-concept/technology demo for E3. Based on this demo, we got Eidos' approval to drop the PlayStation development and move to the PS2.

    So here we were, with our little cobbled-together, behind-the-scenes demo, at the same E3 where MGS2 stole the show with its video premiere, and not only did we feel like Soul Reaver 2 needed to compete with MGS2, but we were expected to be out months earlier.

    We came back from E3 2000 full of enthusiasm, but wondering how in hell we were going to pull this off. We had to scrap all the work we had done on the PlayStation version and start from square one. And with only a four-man programming team, we had to write a PS2 game engine basically from scratch, while still incorporating the more ambitious technical elements at the core of the Soul Reaver engine's design--most specifically, the continuous-data-streaming and terrain-morphing technologies that made Soul Reaver so unique.

    To make a long story short(er), we created Soul Reaver 2, from the ground up, in just 17 months. This required a heroic effort, remarkable dedication, and sickening hours from the team. I am so proud of my teammates, and I'm blown away by what they've been able to accomplish in this short amount of time. I believe we've succeeded at creating a deep, compelling, technologically ambitious product, more than capable of competing with the big-budget multiyear titles coming out at the same time.

    Now, this doesn't mean I'm writing off the complaints and frustrations of the fans. I believe it's the responsibility of the developer and publisher to not announce release dates until they're solid--otherwise you're just toying with the hopes and expectations of your fan base. For this, I think we owe our fans an apology and gratitude for their loyalty and patience.

    GS: How do you feel the game competes with what's currently out there in the action-adventure category?

    AH: Honestly, I believe Soul Reaver 2 easily holds its own among the current crop of amazing action-adventure titles out there. Which is a huge coup for the team, given our comparatively short production schedule. If anything, we tend to be overcritical of our own work, so I can tell you that I wouldn't even be doing this interview if I didn't feel pride and enthusiasm for the final product.

    We knew the competition we'd be up against, so we deliberately set the bar very high. For instance, we decided early on that it would be unacceptable for the game to run at less than 60 frames per second, so we tailored the game content to meet this requirement. We knew that we had to revamp the combat system, design a greater variety of enemies, construct larger and more ornate environments, and provide more-unique and more-elaborate puzzles. There are games that are glitzier, or that surpass Soul Reaver 2 in one aspect or another, but I believe we've succeeded at creating an overall experience that rivals the best of our competition.

    What really sets Soul Reaver 2 apart from its competitors, I think, is its substance--the story, characters, cinematics, and voice acting. We knew from the beginning that we were going to have to pick our battles, that we couldn't necessarily compete in all aspects with some of these other blockbuster projects that had been in development for years. The real substance of the Legacy of Kain series has always been its story, and everything else must proceed from this core.

    There are a lot of games out there that are superficially beautiful but have no depth--they're all surface and no heart. My greatest hope is that we have provided an immersive, thoughtful, complex experience that respects the player's intelligence. To my mind, games are as legitimate a medium as film, television, or literature. We sell ourselves and our audience short if we write our own medium off as nothing more than a trivial diversion.

    GS: Were any of the game's features cut out in order for it to meet its scheduled release?

    AH: Yes, this always happens over the course of a game's development, particularly when a project has had as many twists and turns as this one. When we first switched to the PS2, we had to cut the feature list way down just to give our small programming team time to write the game engine.

    And as production progressed, we realized that we had vastly underestimated how long it took to create PS2-level content--especially the creation, texturing, and lighting of the levels--compared with the PlayStation. Soul Reaver 2's terrain has at least 10 times more polygonal detail, and we discovered that it was taking us three to five times longer to build, texture, and light these environments. By the end of the project, we developed many strategies to speed the process up, but there was definitely a large and unanticipated learning curve.

    So yes, we had to simplify or eliminate many of the mechanics we had originally spec'd and delete some of the levels we really had our hearts set on. The shift to the PS2 definitely came with a cost, but we felt that it was worth it--as long as we made the cuts early enough and retained the elements we felt were fundamental to the franchise (for example, story and dialogue, character development, and fluidity of gameplay).

    GS: Conversely, were there any last-minute additions that you didn't think would make it?

    AH: Absolutely. The team went through some collective bleak periods over the course of development, when it seemed that the game might become terribly compromised because of our aggressive schedule. We were determined to create a compelling game experience that would surpass Soul Reaver and rival our competitors on the PS2, but sometimes it felt as though the odds were just too stacked against us.

    As I mentioned earlier, I think it was a bit of a revelation for the team to step back and finally see the pieces all coming together. We were able to do some final polish work on the environmental lighting, and the texturing and lighting of the character models, which made a huge difference in the overall aesthetic quality of the game. We also kept tuning the combat mechanics and the enemies right up to the end, so the game improved by leaps and bounds in this regard as well.

    I would say, though, that the game made its greatest strides in the areas of dialogue and cinematics. We recorded the dialogue fairly late in development, and therefore got a late start on the cinematics. Despite this setback, our small team of four very talented animators, with implementation help from a few dedicated scripters, created over two hours' worth of compelling, richly animated cinematic sequences in just a handful of months.

    Finally, in terms of last-minute additions, we decided very late in the game to make this a special-edition disc, since we had the room on the DVD. We had this huge accumulation of artwork, stills, back story documents, and so on, and we had photos and more than 10 hours of video footage from the voice sessions. So we decided that while the team was tackling the final bug fixing, we'd take the time to put these bonus materials together and include them on the disc--it's sort of an added-value "thank you" to the fans who have waited so patiently for Soul Reaver 2.

    GS: Looking back, did the game turn out as you guys thought it would? Which concepts evolved in favorable ways? Any that you wish you had time to elaborate on?

    AH: Well, I'd say we initially set off to create a fairly different game. The early design was overambitious and, in hindsight, would have been far too broad and shallow. The move to the PS2 and our limited schedule forced us to concentrate on the game's core elements--story, characters, combat, and environmental immersion--which in the end, I think, yielded a tighter and more focused game.

    Because we had to think strategically about our limited production schedule, many of the game's core elements developed in ways that we wouldn't have foreseen, but ultimately turned out to be favorable. We were worried, for instance, about how to pull off the whole time-travel aspect of the game, which was central to the story but seemed overambitious. Out of necessity, our programmers and technical artists came up with clever strategies to address the problem, and because of this focused effort, the idea ended up being more efficient and effective--both technically and conceptually--than we had initially envisioned.

    Also, as certain features fell by the wayside, other aspects of the game became more crucial. We knew, for example, that the combat mechanics and AI in Soul Reaver 2 had to be more complex and satisfying than in Soul Reaver. After a combined effort from animation, programming, and design--and with tons of feedback from our awesome test department-- Soul Reaver 2's combat system turned out to be very fun and satisfying. It's accessible for players who just want to button-mash, but it also incorporates a "deep" system of dodges, blocks, combos, and counterattacks and rewards tactical gameplay.

    Finally, as we focused down onto the game's core elements, it became increasingly clear that the story, dialogue, and cinematic sweep of the game had to carry the game even more than we originally imagined. It took months to weave all the disparate historical and mythological threads together, but I think it all came together in a way that will be compelling and unexpected. And in this regard, I can't praise our voice directors, actors, and animators enough--while I'm proud of the game's story and dialogue, they deserve all the credit for bringing Soul Reaver 2's story to life.

    Of course, there are dozens of features we would have liked to include or improve upon, but again, we felt compelled to pick our battles. Most of these elements are slated to be included in Soul Reaver 3--now that our game engine is in place, we can really concentrate on the features and mechanics that would have been luxuries this time around.

    GS: Does finishing this project give you any perspective as to the future happenings of Nosgoth? Care to clue us in?

    AH: Sure, but it'd be silly of me to divulge anything at this point. Let's just say that Soul Reaver 2 ties up a lot of long-standing questions and loose ends, but it introduces many more to be addressed in Soul Reaver 3.

    And honestly, I don't have every little thing worked out yet. This is going to sound hokey, but to some degree you just have to let go, let the story tell itself, and follow the characters where they take you. There are scenes that I set out to write one way, and by the time I was finished, the interaction between the characters had gone in a completely different direction. If you try to nail everything down and dissect it, I think you kill it--you have to leave room for inspiration.

    GS: Any chance of seeing Soul Reaver 2 on other platforms?

    AH: We've just completed the PC version of the game, which will be out shortly (it will be available in both the US and Europe). As far as consoles go, though, Soul Reaver 2 is available exclusively on PlayStation 2.

    GS: Finally, do you have any words for the fans of this long-awaited game?

    AH: Throughout development, one of the constant challenges has been how to make a game that appeals to the die-hard Legacy of Kain fans and satisfies their desire for story consistency and depth, yet doesn't alienate players who are new to the series.

    Based on early feedback, I think we may have successfully straddled that fence. I want to assure our loyal fans that Soul Reaver 2 is thoroughly steeped in Nosgoth's history and mythology, even down to the smallest details. The game is deeply story-based, with as much dialogue as both Soul Reaver and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain combined. And while the game's plot doesn't require an in-depth familiarity with the Legacy of Kain mythos, I would say it definitely provides a deeper story experience for those who have been following Kain's story from the very beginning.

    Image captions
    A host of demons will attack Raziel throughout his quest...
    ...each corresponding to a specific color.
    Meet the shadowy purple demon.
    The bulky red demon prepares to pound Raziel.
    Ruthless Sarafan warriors seek to punish the creatures of the night.
    Sarafan warriors in formation.
    Charging Raziel, no doubt.

    2001 – [SR2] [Electronic Gaming Monthly / Bennett] – Nosgoth for the Thinking Man

    (return to full articles)
    Published: October 2001
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer, Spirit Kalika (archivist), A Gathering of Reaved Souls (host)
    Personnel: Andrew Bennett

    "Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2."

    Quote Originally Posted by Electronic Gaming Monthly / Bennett
    People were P.O.'ed when Soul Reaver 2 on Dreamcast was cancelled. We're talking petitioning, angry letters and just all around being vocally pissed. While the ranting and raving haven't resurrected Raziel on the DC, it's certainly shown just how important this title is to gamers everywhere. Now that PlayStation 2 is the sole means of conveyance for SR2, we may find DC owners begrudgingly purchasing PS2s when the game hits in September to fill the void that Soul Reaver's craptacular ending left behind. "I think the one big feature that fans are waiting for is the story," says Andrew Bennett, executive producer of the Legacy of Kain series. "Soul Reaver 2's storyline has a couple of those 'oh wow' moments where the story elements from all the previous Legacy of Kain games will fall into place for the player." Really? Well, sign us up - Nosgoth's back story thus holds water like a sieve, and we're eager to find out what's patching the holes.

    The story wasn't the only thing that left folks hanging in the original Soul Reaver, though. Halfway through the game, players grew tired of shoving blocks around to solve redundant puzzles. Sensitive to SR's gameplay shortcomings, the team promises to try a little harder this time to make Raziel more fun to work with. "The programming team has spent a great deal of time improving Raziel's object-interaction behaviors, allowing us to create unique contextual, lock-and-key-type puzzles," Bennett continues. "Any object can be flagged as a 'lock' and any other object as a 'key.' In its simplest form, the key may be an object won from an enemy which allows Raziel to open a door... or as unique as a heartstone which must be returned to the chest cavity of a sacrificial victim, thus awakening a nearby stone idol."

    Bennett and the team plan to plant some of these key items on enemies along the way, thereby forcing Raziel to defeat them before he can move along to a new area. So does this mean Crystal Dynamics is revamping the combat model? Hell's yeah. Remember all those times you just didn't feel like fighting one of Nosgoth's periodic demon sentries, worried that taking one hit would make you lose your precious Soul Reaver? You just jumped over them, didn't you? Well, big man, you'll have a lot more incentive to fight during Soul Reaver 2. "We're making the combat itself more enjoyable with many more attacks, defenses, weapons and fatalities," says Bennett. "We're also adding more areas where the player has to clear all the enemies before a door or other blockage is lifted."

    Earning new abilities by defeating your Sarafan brethren not only let you progress through the original Soul Reaver's world, it also gave you access to cool, non-essential areas and new ways to off baddies. The personal upgrades you receive in SR2 are inspired by the same ideas, but they're mostly channeled through elemental upgrades to your Soul Reaver sword. Certain earned elemental attributes are required for gameplay progression, but they'll also assist you in combat, so you'll have to choose which ability to use for every situation.

    Just as in Blood Omen 2, the Soul Reaver weapon has become the focal point of the sequel. Crystal Dynamics plans to continue the series for as long as gamers stay interested, so maybe we will see some crossing plot lines within both of these games by way of this significant sword. Let's just hope for a proper ending this time.

    Image captions
    Let the bloody fun begin!
    EGM's Soul Reaver 2 cover
    Our Blue Hero, Raziel

    2001 – [BO2] [GameSpot / Newman] – Blood Omen 2 Q&A

    (return to full articles)
    Published: 4 December 2001
    Credit to: Unknown interviewer
    Personnel: Sam Newman

    "We talk to Crystal Dynamics about the return of Kain. Exclusive screens inside."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Newman
    Crystal Dynamics' latest entry in the Legacy of Kain series, Blood Omen 2, aims to be an interactive history lesson that fills us in on Kain's rise to power. The game features a compelling story and a robust combat engine and is shaping up to be a strong entry in the series. We talked to Sam Newman, producer at Crystal Dynamics, about the game's development.

    GameSpot: How did you approach developing Blood Omen 2?

    Sam Newman: We took all the cool story elements from BO1 and extended them. We asked questions like "We know Kain takes over and rules Nosgoth, but how did he do that?" We borrowed some good design ideas from Soul Reaver and added our own combat and puzzle mechanics. The end result is something that Kain and Raziel fans can have fun with.

    GS: How large is the team working on it?

    SN: There are 20 to 24 core team members.

    GS: What experience do the members have?

    SN: Many, many titles. This is a very experienced team. Most notable titles include, but are not limited to, Gex 2, Gex 3, Slave Zero, Soul Reaver, Akuji, and Colony Wars 1 and 2.

    GS: Is there any sharing of resources with the Soul Reaver team?

    SN: Not really. Some of the same characters appear in the Soul Reaver series, so we try to maintain consistency with their art, but since BO2 and SR1 and 2 take place in drastically different time periods, there are significant differences in them.

    GS: Did the fact that the game was going to be on the PS2 and the Xbox affect development at all?

    SN: No. Not really.

    GS: The emphasis on combat departs a bit from the gameplay of the original. What elements did you feel it was essential to keep in Blood Omen 2 when developing the gameplay?

    SN: A departure from BO1 or Soul Reaver? Blood Omen 1, if you remember, was a very combat-intensive game. The puzzle solving was secondary to the story and the combat. Also, Kain is still rather young in BO2 as opposed to the aged, chitinous Kain in Soul Reaver, so we maintained his regal and arrogant style but still kept one foot in humanity.

    GS: In terms of the graphics engine, was this built from the ground up for the game?

    SN: Yes, BO2 is built with a new engine that has been developed internally at Crystal Dynamics.

    GS: What do you feel is the game's coolest feature?

    SN: Hmm, the coolest thing that isn't a spoiler...OK, when Kain is in stealth mode and has an ax, sneak up behind someone and do a stealth kill. Hot decapitation action!

    GS: How does the Blood Omen 2 storyline relate to the events of Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2? Does BO2 pick up from the original Legacy of Kain?

    SN: The nobleman Kain is slain by a band of brigands. He is resurrected by the necromancer Mortanius. The events of LOK: Blood Omen take place 200 years later. Kain's conquesting vampire army is stopped in its tracks by the Sarafan army. Kain himself is bested in single combat by the Sarafan lord. The Reaver is taken, Kain left for dead. Kain spends the next 200 hundred years in a hibernation-like state, recovering from his near-fatal wounds. He awakens in the city of Meridian to find the world has changed around him. The Sarafan rule, and glyph magic is everywhere. Still some 1600 years before Raziel emerges from the void to begin LOK:SR, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 begins.

    Thanks to Sam for his time.

    Image captions
    Who needs a straw?
    What an inviting place.
    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 00:01.

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    2.2) Full articles (2002-2006)

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    2002 – [BO2] [GameSpot / Ross, Robbins, Ellis] – Blood Omen 2 Designer Diary #1

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    Published: 8 March, 2002
    Credit to: N/A
    Personnel: Steve Ross, Bret Robbins, Mike Ellis

    "Check out the first installment in our Blood Omen 2 designer diaries, straight from the team at Crystal Dynamics."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Ross, Robbins, Ellis
    Entry #1 - 3/8/02

    Steve Ross
    Lead Artist, Crystal Dynamics

    In approaching the look for Blood Omen 2, the first thing we did was look at the original Blood Omen and its sequel Soul Reaver. Our design called for two things that would also influence the look. Most of the game took place in the city of Meridian, and we had this new technology that had been introduced to Nosgoth by the Sarafan Lord--glyph magic, whose markings influence the environment quite significantly. So, while the original Blood Omen had a lot of medieval Germanic-type architecture, Soul Reaver had a much more fantastical look. We chose to start from the original's look and then extrapolated what that style would look like in 200 years under the influence of this new technology. What this meant in effect was that we would start with medieval-type shapes and building materials and then overlay this with newer (although still crude) metal structures. We also wanted to really show that things in Nosgoth had changed, but since it was a vampire game, we still wanted it to be dark and weatherworn. For inspiration, we looked at movies like Bram Stoker's Dracula (Dracula's' castle, specifically), the Batman movies, and City of Lost Children. In designing the game, we imagined Kain moving through a dark city, killing humans and drinking their blood. Because we were developing an engine that would use light maps, we really wanted to push this technology with lots of shapes that would make cool shadows that the player could lurk in--sort of like Jack the Ripper in 1880s London. Another thing that influenced the look of our urban environments was a trip to Paris by a few of us in the art department. We took literally hundreds of pictures!

    Our next challenge was to make several environments that had very different looks, while maintaining our baseline "look." This led to creating some really messed-up-looking, practically abandoned areas of the city of Meridian, as well as some more upscale-looking areas. At one point, we even ended up debating how much we wanted each area to have its own unique look and palette. Would it all end up looking like it was one place, or would it look like a bunch of mismatched environments? Remember, it was all basically taking place in one city. In the end, we were pretty happy with the variety we got and how well it all meshed together.

    Mostly the locations themselves came from the needs of the design team. To create some fairly new locations that fit better with our needs in Blood Omen 2, we elected to move down the map of Nosgoth into some unexplored areas in the southern regions of Nosgoth.

    One thing we did that ended up causing lots of problems is that we created environments that had a good bit of spatial variety, and with that came lots of different-sized areas and elevation changes. What we wanted were large, open plazas offset by tight, twisting alleyways. The elevation changes caused havoc for our path-planning system, and the variety of spaces that Kain could fight in caused hell for the combat system and the camera. It cost us a lot of time because we ended up either rebuilding a lot of the geometry or putting in lots of collision-only geometry. Even though it was painful to get all this stuff to work out, we really like how interesting the areas ended up in the final game.

    Making the environments look "lived in" was another goal we had set ourselves. In most of the games we looked at, the environments looked very sterile: Cities had no trash, stains, or other points of interest. We wanted our environments to look gritty and heavy with detail--things like broken walls and fallen masonry. This was one of the things we think we did really well. One of the tools we used that helped us achieve this end was simply creating a library of items that we could sprinkle through the levels. These items even included torn newsprint, rocks, and simple lumps of random garbage. Again, even though we succeeded here, it did cause problems. Every single crate, barrel, piece of garbage, or piece of debris was something that Kain could get stuck on. And he did. We ended up having to go through and check the collision on every single one. Our test department was a huge help in this. If it weren't for them, the game would probably have lost that richness of detail.

    Character design was a fairly simple task. After all, we had the original game to look at and then some of the really cool-looking designs from Soul Reaver. The only real challenge was in not going too overboard in following SR's lead. Since the Sarafan Lord had such a strong ruthless dictatorial rule, the basic peasants ended up wearing torn and dirty rags wrapped around them. For the nobility, we came up with something almost looking like Victorian finery. Knights and guards had heavy steal armor. For the vampires, we wanted something that looked a little otherworldly yet elegant and not too far from the styles of the old nobility of Nosgoth (dictated by Kain during his reign). Kain himself starts out in a costume that is a cross between what he wore in the original and the styles worn in Soul Reaver. We saw him as a fallen lord, still wearing what he wore when he fell, but aged and worn around the edges.

    Bret Robbins
    Writer/Designer, Crystal Dynamics

    We wanted the look of Meridian, the city around which Blood Omen 2 takes place, to be significantly different from the typical appearance of other medieval games. Since we were making a game revolving around the culture of the vampire, we thought that a more Victorian feel would be appropriate, with some gothic and steam punk-style thrown in. Soul Reaver was set in Nosgoth's distant future, where the world had decayed due to Kain's decision to destroy the mighty Pillars of Balance. It had the feel of a barren wasteland, but there were also remnants of old technology. Since our game was set centuries before Soul Reaver, it seemed appropriate to show some of this technology in the days of its full operation. Part of our storyline involved the addition of glyph magic to the world, which is a magical energy that essentially acts like electricity flowing throughout the land. The inhabitants of the city were able to build more-advanced machines to better utilize this magic, while other parts of the city were kept much more primitive and dark. In this way we could also justify the addition of a variety of gameplay elements where we saw fit.

    In terms of story, we had an interesting challenge. We were part of a larger franchise (the Legacy of Kain series), but we also wanted to separate from that franchise and possibly start a new series. So we wanted the previous games to serve as a backdrop to our game, to provide texture and a common history, but we needed to establish our own story as well. If we were to explain to the player everything that had happened in Blood Omen or in Soul Reaver, it would have taken hours. So we only included some vital bits of history and then moved forward from there, setting up our own back story. Several events take place before the start of our game that did not happen in Blood Omen but that are vital to our story. For example, in the intervening 400 years since Blood Omen, Kain had raised a vampire army to conquer Nosgoth. During this time, the Sarafan, who were an ancient religious order that hunted vampires, had suddenly returned and had begun to gain power throughout the land. Kain fights against the Sarafan and is defeated by their leader, the Sarafan Lord. All of this needed to be explained to the player before the story really starts. We decided to give Kain some slight amnesia so that we could slowly introduce past events to both him and the player. So whenever Kain encounters another vampire from his past, he is told more of the back story. In this way, we didn't have to overload the player with story information right up front. We could dole it out in smaller pieces.

    Mike Ellis
    Lead Designer, Crystal Dynamics

    What makes Nosgoth such an intriguing land is that nothing is ever as simple as black and white. Rarely can things be as clearly definite as good or evil, and nothing can be taken at face value. The general populace is forever mere pawns to be used and abused, as ruthless would-be rulers play out their grand schemes and intricate machinations.

    Take, for instance, Kain. In Blood Omen he was tasked to seek out and destroy the guardians of the pillars, who had been driven mad by Nupraptor (the guardian of the Pillar of the Mind). However, in the game's final scene, Kain is given the choice either to sacrifice himself and restore balance to the land or to allow Nosgoth to be corrupted. Kain chooses to rule in hell, so to speak. His course may have been controlled throughout Blood Omen, but as we know, by the time of Soul Reaver, Kain is himself a power player.

    By contrast, the Sarafan are an order of warrior priests sworn to purge Nosgoth of the vampire plague and all that is evil. They are holy warriors that represent the humans in what they see as a war for survival. However, in a world that balances on a knife-edge it is easy to intentionally or mistakenly interpret the actions of those they are sworn to protect as evil.Actions that seem brutal and sacrilegious might be for the good of the masses or merely necessary for survival, while those that seem to have good intentions may be the most evil of all.

    Actions that seem as brutal and sacrilegious by be for the good of the masses, or merely necessary for survival. Whilst those that seems to have good intentions may be the most evil of all.

    2002 – [BO2] [GameSpot / Ellis] – Blood Omen 2 Designer Diary #2

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    Published: 13 March, 2002
    Credit to: N/A
    Personnel: Mike Ellis

    "Find out about implementing Kain's game mechanics in our exclusive developer diary."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Ellis
    Entry #2 - 3/13/02

    By Mike Ellis
    Lead Designer, Crystal Dynamics

    Looking back through the history of computer and video games, there have been many cool characters. There are characters who are fun and instantly lovable, like Yoshi, who, if we ever perfect genetics in our lifetime, is our pet of choice. Then there are characters like Maximo. Always ready to hack through a legion of monsters and save the world or grab the girl. Also, let's not forget the charms of characters such as Chun Li, Lara, and Yuna (FFX).

    However, just how many bad guys or "gray" characters really stand out? Kefka from Final Fantasy? Or how about Revolver Ocelot? There are good examples and great characters in what may be an underdeveloped aspect of games--characters who aren't good guys but still have depth. But even they lack one thing: player control! This is one of many aspects that make Kain such a great character. He's powerful, arrogant, calculating, and ruthless, not to mention a megalomaniac. And we, the players, get to play as him! This instantly presents an interesting dilemma to the development team. How do we take a character already as powerful as Kain is from LOK: Blood Omen and let him grow? Which mechanics would successfully cross over from a 2D game (LOK: BO) played from an overhead viewpoint to a fully realized 3D world? We also had to examine the style and pacing of the gameplay that we wanted. This raised questions such as "How many people have played and remember LOK: Blood Omen?" and "To just how many people does Legacy of Kain mean Soul Reaver?" What would each of these audiences expect?

    With the creation of the Sarafan Lord and the concept of him having lead the reformed Sarafan armies to victory over Kain's vampire hordes, we could address the balance of the world a little and create a foe worthy of Kain. However, it was the idea of the Sarafan Lord leaving Kain for dead and claiming the Soul Reaver as his own that solved many design problems. The most powerful weapon in the LOK universe wasn't freely available, and Kain now had a very personal and driving purpose--retrieve the Reaver and settle his score with the Sarafan Lord!

    Kain's near-death experience and a 200-year hibernationlike period also provided us with a reason why Kain didn't retain all of his original powers--and it helped with issues such as the look and feel of the world, as well as player training. However, throughout this process of setting up the state of the Nosgoth at the opening of play, it was essential that we remembered that people wanted to play Kain, since he was powerful and ruthless. Thus, he still needed to retain these character traits. This is where the unfortunate population of the city of Meridian came in. It had already been decided that we wanted to portray a busy fantasy-world city at night, and these poor wretches were the perfect tool to demonstrate just how frightening and powerful Kain was. They would run, trip, cower, and scream! Back away from Kain in fear and beg for their worthless lives! Kain would manipulate the humans as if they weighted nothing to him, as well as stalk his prey like the most cunning of lion. We would see if their Sarafan could protect them from this creature of the night!

    Beyond Kain's physical abilities, it was obvious that he would need more to defeat those who had overcome his hordes. The Soul Reaver games had established that vampirish powers could be taken from the fallen by the victor. Thus the concept of "dark gifts" was born. Dark gifts would be those extra-special powers that let Kain perform amazing feats--but these powers had to be gained first.

    At the beginning of the game, we attempted to lay down guideline and rule sets for each of the dark gifts. However, changing prototyping platform from PS to PC, as well as the strains of constructing a new engine along with a game, meant that we couldn't always stick to the ideal of prototyping a mechanic, tuning and playing with it, and then building the levels to take maximum advantage of it. Because of this, we ended up having to change some of the level geometry multiple times as mechanics were proven, evolved, or tuned. Looking back, the mechanics that worked the best where those that were implemented earliest, as we had the most time to play with them.

    Developing mechanics is never an easy task. Sometimes the best ideas turn out to be unusable, as they break the world's mechanics or stylistics. Sometimes they just don't turn out the way you expect. Other times, something unexpected turns out to be far cooler than previously thought--all thanks to the talent of a particular team member or two.

    A good example of how mechanics were implemented would be the dark gift "jump." The concept was to let Kain bound from rooftop to rooftop with ease. First we began to prototype, producing basic animation and implementing the controls, all based upon estimated specifications. We quickly discovered that given the enormous distance that Kain could cover with this gift, it was very difficult to tell where he would be landing. Therefore, to prevent frustration, we let Kain jump only if we knew he could land safely. We also found that we needed to develop a player aid that at a glance would inform the player of the distance and height of the landing zone relative to Kain's current position. The creation of a 3D cursor that showed both the arc of the jump and the point of landing meant that the player could make much more informed decisions.

    At this point, the mechanics of the gift worked, but everything looked crude. So, given we had much more solid specifications (thanks to the prototyping), we could produce better-tailored and more-stylish animation and swap out the arc we were drawing for the "ghosts" of Kain's flight path, which you see in the finished product. Lastly, a member of the team had the great idea that Kain could also use this gift to attack victims. This was implemented, and we had the mechanic you see in the finished game. This cycle of prototyping, evolving, and tweaking then continues until all the mechanics are implemented. The tuning is a constant process that never stops until the product ships.

    2002 – [BO2] [GameSpot / Cazarez, Siefert] – Blood Omen 2 Designer Diary #3

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    Published: 21 March, 2002
    Credit to: N/A
    Personnel: Paul Cazarez, Dellekamp Siefert

    "Check out the final installment in our exclusive designer dairies."

    Quote Originally Posted by GameSpot / Cazarez, Siefert
    Entry #3 - 3/21/02

    By Paul Cazarez and Dellekamp Siefert

    Paul Cazarez
    Designer, Crystal Dynamics

    When I first started on the Blood Omen project, I was assigned to the design--or redesign--of the Smuggler's Den. At the time, the level was sort of a mess; the player could see from the start of the level to the end, which was a terror on the frame rate, and the level had to be "cut" up into smaller regions so that it could stream from the disk and fit into memory. It was a challenge to find the right areas to cut so that the player would never be able to notice when the region loaded or unloaded. In the end of the process, I thought we did a great job in masking these background tasks--that way, the player never felt that the game was loading in awkward places.

    In designing the Smuggler's Den, we had a quite a few restrictions because it was the second level of the game. For one, Kain had only two dark gifts, mist and fury. We wanted to teach the player to use these two gifts, since they were frequently used in the rest of the game. Another restriction was that the level was the smallest of all the levels, so we wanted the player to backtrack a little bit in a few places in the level--that way, he or she did not just blast through the level not enjoy the great scenery that Kain travels through. After the first establishing shot of the level, that first puzzle of the area is a good example of having to backtrack a bit so that the player is not running past everything and not seeing that part of the level. After passing through that puzzle, we thought the next area would be great for a small fight arena or another place to use stealth. The player has two choices here, to either come in with guns blaring or to use the stealth approach and kill both thieves without having to encounter either in battle. So having these restrictions was a good rule set for designing parts of a level.

    Once all the puzzles were ideally fleshed out and once we had a good idea where and when to put them, it was time to script them and place them in the level for the player to interact with. Some of the puzzles needed a lengthy time to complete in some areas so that the next region had sufficient time to load, and the player would not reach the next area without "breaking" the level. When I was scripting puzzles, for instance, for the most part I always had a keen eye as to when a tester might be able to break the puzzle. But there was always someone who was able to break it! The test department was vital, and we used them as much as we could for insight, as well as help when we needed "fresh eyes" to see the level.

    Dellekamp Siefert
    Designer, Crystal Dynamics

    My name is Dellekamp Siefert, and I was one of the designers who worked on Blood Omen 2. I actually came on the project fairly late and was picked up specifically to help flesh out the boss fights. It is always interesting to see a project in mid-development, and I was challenged to see how I could help them improve an already intriguing game.

    With the boss fights, I had the opportunity to focus on a small part of the game. We knew that we had to use these fights as testing grounds for skills that the player has learned. Throughout the game, Kain acquires dark gifts by defeating each boss. These gifts are enhancements of Kain's already formidable skills. Some gifts manifest as puzzle or manipulation skills--charm and telekinesis qualify as these types of skills. Others are more combat skills--berserk, fury, and immolate. The last couple has aspects of both--superjump and mist form.

    While I won't go into too much detail about what they do, it was important for us to emphasize these skills during the boss fights since we would be ramping the player's challenges using these abilities. Boss fights were a good choke point for creating challenges associated with these skills. One example of this happens during the first boss fight. In mist form, Kain is invisible and able to perform brutal sneak attacks on his victims. While this in itself is fun, we wanted to create gameplay that also benefited from this gift rather than it just being a gratuitous exhibition of Kain's power. So the first boss, a skittish guy named Faustus, attempts to keep his distance and attack with bombs. The player must use Kain's mist form to close in on the boss and deliver devastating attacks that he would be unable to achieve otherwise.

    The personality of the bosses was also an important aspect we wished to convey through the boss fights. It turns out that Kain has a history with each of the bosses he encounters. As revealed through the story, betrayal and revenge run rampant in the world of Nosgoth. Kain's confrontations with these bosses reveal much about his self-serving nature and the villainy of his rivals. Hey, in Kain's defense, you'd be aggro too if you found that your closest advisors and confidants betrayed you. Et tu...

    Boss fights allowed us to control the environment and create unique stages that were compatible with these skills tests. We were able to create the giant turbines, grandiose cathedrals, and swirling vortexes that give a grand scale to these fights. The artists and programmers who contributed to this were great. They worked hand in hand with the new guy to create environments and situations well-deserving of a vampire epic. I am impressed with how much we were able to achieve in the relatively short time that I was on the project.

    While it was a challenge learning a new tool, I think the power of it allowed me to create some pretty unique situations. I have never had so much control of the AI--with time, it felt that we could have achieved almost anything. I can say that it has been a crash course in intensive scripting, but I think the results are thrilling.
    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 00:00.

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    2012 – [SR1] [PlayStation Blog / Hennig] – Behind the Classics: Amy Hennig Talks Soul Reaver Secrets

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    Published: 12 October, 2012
    Credit to: Sid Shuman
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "Every fortnight (well, that’s the plan at least), we’ll be talking to the creative force behind a vintage PS One or PlayStation 2 title."

    Quote Originally Posted by PlayStation Blog / Hennig
    Ah, Soul Reaver. I remember it well! This gruesome little gem made quite the splash when it landed on PSone in 1999. As the wounded, ostracized vampire Raziel, your goal was to avenge yourself against the corrupt vampire lord Kain and restore balance to the decaying world of Nosgoth. I particularly remember the game’s inspired approach to combat; your vampiric foes couldn’t be killed by ordinary means, so after weakening them with hand-to-hand combat you had to hurl their broken bodies onto a sharp stake or into a patch of sunlight to finish them off. The level design was also a knockout, as Raziel was able to phase-shift into a spectral realm in order to bypass obstacles or solve puzzles.

    But above all else, Soul Reaver is remembered for its story and characters. And we have the game’s director Amy Hennig to thank for that! As you’re probably well aware, Hennig later joined celebrated PlayStation developer Naughty Dog, serving as creative director and writer for Jak and Daxter and all three UNCHARTED titles.

    Hennig graciously took the time to share her memories of Soul Reaver’s development, including some never-before-revealed insight into the game’s origins. Read on for the full story straight from Hennig, and be sure to leave your favorite Soul Reaver moments in the comments.

    PlayStation Blog: What was the original concept for the game?

    Amy Hennig, Director and Writer of Soul Reaver: I don’t know how many people know this, but initially, it wasn’t actually a sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain at all – our original proposal was a concept for a new IP we named “Shifter,” loosely inspired by Paradise Lost. The protagonist was essentially a fallen angel of death, a reaper of souls hunted by his former brethren, and now driven to expose and destroy the false god they all served.

    The Shifter concept was the genesis of the game that would become Soul Reaver; the core ideas were all there. The hero was an undead creature, able to shift between the spectral and material realms, and glide on the tattered remains of his wing-like coattails. We conceived the spirit realm as a twisted, expressionistic version of the physical world. The hero was bent on revenge after being betrayed and cast down by his creator – like Raziel, he was a dark savior figure, chosen to restore balance to a blighted, dystopian world.

    When we were asked to adapt this concept into a sequel to Blood Omen, our challenge was to take all these ideas and merge them creatively into the Legacy of Kain mythos.

    PSB: Did you know you were working on something special? What were your creative conditions as you worked on it – uncertainty, confidence, terror?

    AH: You’re never really sure when you’re in the middle of a project. Because we were initially such a small team, we were able to work under the radar for a while, and this allowed us to tinker with some unusual ideas that might not have survived premature scrutiny or skepticism.

    When we first shared the concept with our colleagues in the company, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea but also justifiable concern that we might be taking on an unrealistic number of technical risks. We pared back on some secondary features – we had originally planned to include shape-shifting (morphing) as well as plane-shifting, for instance – so we could focus on elements that were more critical to our core concept. By the time we unveiled the game to the press, we were starting to get the feeling that we might be onto something special.

    As far as the creative conditions went – we were very invested in our original Shifter idea, so it naturally caused a bit of consternation when we were first asked to adapt the concept to be a Blood Omen sequel. But creative constraints can be inspiring and invigorating, and once we dug into the challenge, the concept evolved in all kinds of exciting ways.

    We definitely had set ourselves a lot of ambitious technical goals, though – so, yes, there was a fair amount of uncertainty and terror about what we were undertaking!

    PSB: Did you draw inspiration from anywhere in particular for the game’s thematic elements, characters, or dialog?

    AH: There were so many different inspirations, it’s hard to just name a few…
    As I mentioned earlier, the original idea was very loosely inspired by the rebellious angels of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The spiritual structure of the world was based on the philosophy of Gnosticism, the belief that the cosmos is ruled by a malevolent “pretender” god, that humans are prisoners in a spiritual lie, and that mankind’s struggle is a fight for free will in the face of seemingly insurmountable Fate.

    We wanted to give Nosgoth’s dystopian future a decaying 19th-century industrial aesthetic, while the look of the spectral realm was inspired by the twisted architecture and disorienting angles of 1920s German Expressionist cinema.

    Regarding the dialogue, we obviously took a cue from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, with its florid language and ornate monologues. We wanted to carry a similar style into the sequels. I also drew inspiration from the dense, literate dialogue of historical dramas like A Man for All Seasons, Becket, and A Lion in Winter.

    PSB: It was an ambitious title for its time. What were the biggest challenges in realizing your original vision?

    AH: Our biggest challenge, hands-down, was getting the data-streaming working, to allow us to have a seamless, interconnected world with no load events. I think we were one of the first developers to tackle this problem (along with Naughty Dog, on Crash Bandicoot). It proved to be way more difficult than we had initially anticipated – if I recall, we were still struggling to get the textures to dynamically pack correctly, just a couple months before release. We ultimately got it working by the skin of our teeth, but I wonder if we would’ve embarked on such an ambitious plan if we’d known how difficult it was going to be!

    Our second challenge, of course, was figuring out how to store two sets of data for the spectral and material realms, and how to implement the real-time morph between the two environments. Our initial plan was over-ambitious, involving texture-morphing as well as geometry-morphing, but we realized pretty early on that our texture memory (and time) was too limited to achieve this. We came up with the idea of leveraging the 3DS Max animation timeline to attach spectral values to the vertices in the geometry – i.e., frame 0 was the material world, and frame 1 was the spectral realm (or vice versa; I can’t remember for sure). This way we could alter the x,y,z coordinates of each vertex, as well as its RGB lighting values, to create a twisted, more eerily lit version of the physical realm.

    Our ultimate challenge, though, was schedule and scope. Conceived as an open-world, Zelda-esque 3D adventure game, Soul Reaver was incredibly ambitious. Crystal Dynamics’ Gex engine gave us a leg-up on the 3D technology, but in essence we were writing a game engine from scratch, while developing a new IP. These days, a developer wouldn’t think of attempting such a thing in less than three years (minimum), but Eidos wanted the game in less than two. In the end, we shipped Soul Reaver in under 2.5 years, but not without some unfortunate eleventh-hour cuts which still pain me today. The scope of the game was definitely too ambitious, but if we had shipped the game that Fall, instead of that Summer, I think we could have reduced the scope of the game more elegantly.

    PSB: How close to your original concept was the finished game?

    AH: Pretty close, considering all the changes we went through over the course of development. We had to cut content, but the core concept of the game remained unchanged (even going back to the original Shifter proposal).

    To hit the August ’99 release date, we had to cut the last few levels of the game, and end on a cliffhanger that set up Soul Reaver 2. Originally, Raziel was going to hunt down and destroy all of his former brothers as well as Kain – and then, using his newly-acquired abilities, he would’ve activated the long-dormant pipes of the Silenced Cathedral to wipe out the remaining vampires of Nosgoth with a sonic blast. Only then would he realize that he’d been the Elder God’s pawn all along, that the purging of the vampires had devastating consequences, and that the only way to set things right would be to use Moebius’ time-streaming device to go back in time and alter history (in the sequel).

    So the story would have arrived at a similar place, just by a different route. In the end, as much as I hated its bluntness, Soul Reaver’s “To Be Continued” ending probably turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I think it opened up more interesting story options for the sequels.

    PSB: Which element of the game are you most proud of?

    AH: I’m extremely proud of how our relatively small team managed to pull off all those groundbreaking technical challenges. And as a designer, I still take pride in the originality of Soul Reaver’s vision, and the unified way we were able to mesh the game mechanics with the fiction – e.g., devouring souls for sustenance, and the way the spectral plane was integrated into the health system; how the combat mechanics were designed around defeating immortal vampires; the ability to glide on broken wings; and the balance between Raziel’s mechanics in the spirit and material realms, especially the ability to use the morphing terrain to your advantage. In many ways, I think it’s still the most well-designed game I’ve worked on.

    PSB: How would you like Soul Reaver to be remembered? What did it bring to the video game medium?

    AH: Fondly, I hope! Even thirteen years later, I’m humbled and gratified to have fans and colleagues come up to me and say how memorable the game was for them, or how it influenced them as young game designers. The series still has an enthusiastic fan base, and is remembered affectionately in ways we couldn’t have foreseen all those years ago.

    I hope it’s remembered as a well-constructed game with an original vision and an engaging story, and as groundbreaking in terms of what we were able to achieve on the PlayStation at the time. Our approach to voice acting and performance was also innovative for the time, the way we brought the actors in to record their dialogue together rather than in isolation. The performance capture process we use on Uncharted today – where we involve the actors as collaborators, and have them play the scenes together on the stage – owes its origins to the techniques we established for Soul Reaver fifteen years ago.

    PSB: Which of the Soul Reaver characters is closest to your heart?

    AH: It’s impossible for me to choose between Raziel and Kain – they’re two inseparable sides of the same coin (so to speak). As a character, I probably like Kain more. Although ostensibly a villain, he’s really a classic hero, fighting for free will in a world shackled by Fate. Raziel is a more tragic figure, a pawn, and that makes him sympathetic – but he’s also a deeply flawed character, blinded by self-righteousness and vengeance. I loved writing for both of them.

    2013 – [LoK] [The Ancient's Den / Wolf] – Interview with Carol Wolf

    (return to top of page)
    Published: 23 September, 2013
    Credit to: Raina Audron
    Personnel: Carol Wolf

    "Since there has been a lot of confusion about Carol Wolf´s involvement in the series, I have decided to contact her about this issue and she was kind enough to explain to me. Her website and IMDB profile both mention Blood Omen and Defiance and I wanted to know more about her work for the series. The following is what she told me when contacting her through email."

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ancient's Den / Wolf
    Raina: I have read on your website that you have written scripts for Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Legacy of Kain: Defiance, but only Defiance mentions you as the writer, together with Amy Henning. Could you elaborate on how much have you contributed to these scripts, if possible?

    Carol Wolf: I was hired to make the script for Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (Blood Omen 2 – Raina´s note) for "archaic." I ended up writing most of the scenes and all of the ambient dialog. For Legacy of Kain: Defiance, I was hired to write the scripts. Amy Hennig very graciously gave me story credit as well, for some things I came up with and she approved.

    Raina: Would you mind if I let other fans know about your involvement in the series? Could you maybe explain which story elements in Defiance were your idea? Have you written scripts for both Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain as well as Blood Omen 2? I apologize for so many questions, but I would like to shed some light on this. The LOK community is confused as to who wrote which game in the series.

    Carol Wolf: It was a great honor to have a small part in the two of these great stories. How splendid that they still live in peoples' minds. I am happy to write a bit about the experience.

    Let's be clear, the creator, conceiver and great storyteller of the Legacy of Kain series, in all its iterations, is Amy Hennig. The first time I was hired to work on Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (Blood Omen 2 – Raina´s note), I got to spend two days in a conference room while Amy "downloaded" the entire 2-4 thousand year history (including the time-traveling backtracks). What ane experience!

    Several of the scenes for this game were already written. I rewrote them to make them more dramatic and archaic-sounding. Since I write really fast, and the game designers had lots of other work to do, they stopped writing a first draft for me, and just told me what happened in the scene, and then I would go write it for them. Since I had time, I also wrote all the ambient and incidental dialogue.

    I didn't realize (till I looked up my credits on IMdB) that there were two games called Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. I worked on the second one; that, and Defiance, are the only ones I worked on.

    For Legacy of Kain: Defiance, I was brought in at the outset, sat down with Amy again to hear the new story, and then went off to write the scenes. She would then review them, and I'd make corrections according to her direction. She was the story-teller. I dramatized the scenes according to her instructions. She corrected me when she thought I'd gotten a voice or an idea wrong. I have an extensive background as a playwright and, to a lesser degree, a screenplay writer, so dramatizing the scenes was work I greatly enjoyed.

    At some point during the process, it was decided to remove a bunch of game levels, for reasons of time and money. At that point, the story had to be redesigned to fit the new game play design. As a playwright I'd had endless experience in rewriting, especially in rewriting to solve certain problems, so this is one contribution I did make to Defiance, in reorganizing the story so no one can tell parts are missing, and so that it wasn't a problem. I had all the scenes noted on a set of file cards. I laid them all out on the conference table, and showed Amy how we could just fold this one section out without losing any important part of the story. So it only took an hour or so to reorganize the whole thing.

    During the process of writing Defiance, I wrote scenes and brought them to Amy for her approval, because she was the boss and it's her story. There was one scene, with a troubling plot point, which, when I wrote it, I had that aha! that makes writing such a joy. I brought that to Amy and said, "This is the way it's going to be." And she read it, and she agreed. So, yes, Amy was still the boss, but that bit I did work out, and I'm very proud of it. Amy gave me story credit, which was very generous of her.

    Raina: Thank you for clarifying and sharing your experience, Mrs. Wolf. Just reading about it makes me really excited and I can only imagine how great it must have been to be part of the development process. Thank you so much for all the answers! It´s been a pleasure and honour talking to you, Mrs. Wolf.

    2013 – [LoK] [The Lost Worlds / Miller] – A Discussion With Jon Miller

    (return to top of page)
    Published: 13 October, 2013
    Credit to: Ben Lincoln
    Personnel: Jon Miller

    "The result of an interview with the executive producer of numerous Crystal Dynamics games in the 1990s."

    Quote Originally Posted by The Lost Worlds / Miller
    In May of 2012, I received a most unexpected email. Jon Miller, game industry veteran — including time as the executive producer for numerous Crystal Dynamics titles — had come across the article I had written years earlier regarding the similarities between the concept art for the unfinished Chakan title for the Sega Dreamcast, an unreleased PC title called Sirens, and Blood Omen 2 [...].

    He offered to talk on the phone, and we had a very interesting discussion, during which I took pages and pages of notes, not knowing when I might have another chance to learn so much about the history of my favourite series and some of the people who had been involved in making it. I then made the unfortunate mistake of putting the notes somewhere that was safe. So safe, in fact, that I didn't find them for well over a year. However, at long last in the late summer of 2013 I unearthed them, and now present what I learned.

    Jon Miller's Time in the Games Industry

    Jon's first exposure to programming when he was 12 when he stumbled across the Logo lab at MIT. He describes Logo as "basically Lisp with a simpler syntax and a turtle".

    He got his start as a game developer in the early 90s, building Sega Genesis titles. He is generally (though not always) credited as Jonathan Miller [...].

    He moved to San Francisco in 1991, and met Steve and Mira Ross in 1992. The two Rosses had already developed the concept for Sirens when Jon Miller met them. All three of them would go on to work together on Chakan: the Forever Man for the Sega Genesis. According to Jon, the art for the Genesis Chakan game was very faithful to the original comic-book art by Robert A. Kraus.

    Jon and Steve would team up again in 1993 — along with Dan Rosenfeld — to found HeadGames, where they would develop further Genesis titles including X-Men 2: Clone Wars. Around the time that HeadGames was being founded, Mira Ross joined Crystal Dynamics.

    In 1996, Jon moved to Crystal as well, and began trying to convince Steve to move there as well, although this would take some time. He served as executive producer on Blood Omen, where he worked with Amy Hennig (who was the design manager for that title).

    By 1997, Steve Ross was working at Crystal Dynamics. His first title for them was Gex 3D: Enter the Gecko, followed up shortly by Akuji: The Heartless. Jon thinks very highly of Steve's art, which he says he "loved bringing to life", and describes as having a signature feel — that there is always a common "look" running through it, much like how nearly any work by H.R. Giger is instantly identifiable as having been produced by Giger. He wouldn't be surprised if Steve Ross' art influenced Soul Reaver and future Kain games, but he also believes it's hard to avoid similarities in games about undead warriors, even if there are no intentional references to other works in the genre. Much like Steve Ross himself, Jon attributes any similarity between the Dreamcast Chakan concept art and Blood Omen 2 to that common "look", as opposed to intentional reuse.

    Jon and Amy Hennig would continue to work together, with Jon continuing as executive producer for Soul Reaver, Amy Hennig's first chance to direct a game of her own. He remembers that early on in that game's life, the transition between the Material and Spectral realms was even more pronounced, with dramatically-changing colours and shape-shifting of the surroundings.


    Jon Miller left the games industry in 1999. Looking back, he remembers the shift to 3D as being a sea change, because it required so much more time to create the in-game models as well as debug the games.

    He is, however, tempted by the "back to basics" aspect of mobile games, as it makes possible a return to the smaller, tight-knit teams of the 16-bit console era: one programmer, a couple of artists, and one person to handle music and sound effects.

    He is also very interested in Scratch, an MIT project which he considers the spiritual successor to Logo, and hopes that it achieves a similar goal of introducing programming concepts to a wider audience.

    Jon's line of work since 2003 has been high-end modern lighting. [...]
    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 00:03.

  5. #5
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    3. Excerpted articles

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    2001 – [BO1] [IGN / Dyack] – The Art of Making Games

    (return to excerpted articles)
    Published: 19 October 2000
    Credit to: Matt Casamassina
    Personnel: Denis Dyack

    "Second-party Silicon Knights shares its design philosophies and more in this site developer profile."

    Quote Originally Posted by IGN / Dyack
    [...] It wasn't until 1996, however, that the name Silicon Knights would be recognized by mainstream gamers and it was all due to a huge PlayStation hit called Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The brainchild of Dyack and company art director and writer Ken McCulloch, Kain was an isometric RPG published by Crystal Dynamics that stood out thanks to some beautifully crafted visuals and a very westernized storyline. In a period when nearly all RPGs came from Japan, the title proved that a North American take on the genre could be executed with exactly the right balance of content and gameplay.

    With Kain a franchise was born, but unfortunately for Silicon Knights it was a franchise fraught with outside politics and a fight for ownership. In 1997 the relationship between Silicon Knights and publisher Crystal Dynamics dissolved and one year later reports surfaced that the Canadian development house had filed a lawsuit against its former partner. The suit alleged that Crystal Dynamics, then at work on its own sequel in the Kain franchise, had stolen the concept for Kain 2 from a secret project that Silicon Knights had been working on, and it also proposed an injunction to keep Crystal Dynamics from marketing its follow-up.

    The suit was privately settled, enabling Crystal Dynamics the rights to use the franchise and its characters for future sequels, so long as it was noted that developer Silicon Knights was the series' original creator. Rather than dwell on the subject, Silicon Knights reluctantly made a company decision to leave its beloved franchise in the hands of its former partner and press forward with a new franchise of its own. That's exactly what it did and In 1998 Too Human, a massive, four-disc, futuristic PlayStation RPG was born to life. [...]

    ca. 2001 – [SR2] [Information Society Brasil / Harland] – interview

    (return to excerpted articles)
    Published: circa 2001
    Credit to: Jynx23
    Personnel: Kurt Harland

    Quote Originally Posted by Information Society Brasil / Harland
    Jynx23: What music have you been listening to lately? What's floating around in your CD player?

    Kurt Harland: Vidna Obmana, This Mortal Coil, Xymox, Roger Eno, Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Sisters Of Mercy, Foetus' "Nail" album, Vangelis' "Bladerunner" soundtrack, O.M.D.'s first two albums: "Organization" and "Architecture and Morality", Death In June: "What Ends When The Symbols Shatter", KMFDM, Cocteau Twins, Die Form, Peter Murphy, [and the] Soundtrack to Soul Reaver.


    Jynx23: How did you get started in making video game music?

    Kurt Harland: I was thinking of getting into it, so I took a class at a local community college in audio design for "new media", because I noticed it was being taught by the then-current head of sound at SeGa. He introduced me to a few more people, one of whom, Mark Miller, started giving me some work. He had his own audio production co., and later, when he was working for Crystal Dynamics, he played Ozar Midrashim for the Soul Reaver team.

    Jynx23: Do you think Soul Reaver 2 will be well-recieved by gamers and InSoc fans alike?

    Kurt Harland: No, I think it will be well-receieved by gamers and largely ignored by InSoc fans.

    Jynx23: What equipment/software are you currently using in your quest for world domination? I mean, to do music with?

    Kurt Harland: Well, since I'm working for a game using rendered, real-time in-game music (not pre-recorded and played back during the game) I can only use a very small soundset. So... I'm using Logic Audio to drive a small set of sounds and currently using Vienna (comes with an SBlive!) to hold the sounds. I'm looking for a better sample-holding program, though. Thing is, Vienna outputs soundfonts, which my people can parse out directly which preserves my pitching and envelope info. My sound editor is Sound Forge, of course. I also use an MS Access database I made myself for handling my sounds. I programmed it to cll sounds directly up in Sound Forge and also to send them to my Akai samplers via SCSI.

    Jynx23: Finally, what is the future of Information Society? Any plans for more InSoc music? More game music from "The Master"?

    Kurt Harland: I'm currently working on Soul Reaver 2. There are no "plans" for Information Society. If something happens, I'm sure I'll be enthusiastic about it, but I'm unlikely to sacrifice all for it, like I did for Don't Be Afraid.
    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 00:07.

  6. #6
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    4. Staff forum posts

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    2002 – [SR2] [Eidos Forums / Hennig] – [REPOST] Warp's answers from Amy

    (return to top of page)
    Published: 28 June, 2002
    Credit to: Warpsavant, Blincoln (archivist)
    Personnel: Amy Hennig

    "Reposted from the old SR2 forum, original post by Warpsavant."

    Quote Originally Posted by Eidos Forums / Hennig
    I got these answers from Amy and she said some other cool stuff, and she said I could share the answers with everyone at the forum, so I can post it here so you can all see. I included the intro too, as I thought it was really good.

    Another side note -- I do read all the LoK message boards and forums as regularly as possible, so people should understand that we do see and consider all of their feedback, even if we don't participate openly on the boards. They should know that the forums are a "direct line" to us, and we consider everyone's questions, concerns, frustrations, etc. as we develop the SR games.

    I see on some boards (particularly the GameFAQs board) some longtime fans noting perceived inconsistencies in the LoK fiction, and questioning our research and familiarity with BO:LoK's story.
    I don't know if you've encountered this, but I'd want to assure those people that I do in fact know the LoK history/mythology inside and out, having worked on it since mid-'95. I also have a lot of unique information that none of the fans are privy to -- including a year of collaboration with SK on BO:LoK, and all the original BO:LoK design documents that were created over that game's 3.5-year development (including a lot of cut or altered material).
    So many things were left vague and open to interpretation in BO:LoK, that generally these "inconsistencies" are simply a matter of my interpretation of the material not matching a fan's interpretation. And of course there are those elements which are inconsistent or illogical within the BO:LoK story itself (or between the various LoK sources, including the FAQ and the strategy guide), which I've done my best to re-frame or clarify within the sequels.

    And a final note -- we do in fact make mistakes sometimes. Or more often there are times when an artist might misinterpret or misrepresent something, and we have no time to go back and fix it, because it's considered a minor ("C") bug and there are more important things to address before the game is released. With all our care and desire for depth and consistency, in the end this is a business and we're constantly under pressure from the publisher. As a result, certain things that we -- as artists -- think are important still get left on the cutting room floor, or go unfixed, because there's simply no time.

    Okay, after that long-winded introduction, on to the questions --


    Q: What was Voradoor before Janos made him a vampire?

    A: Vorador was a human being. In the eras depicted in BO:LoK, Vorador was already an ancient, highly-evolved vampire (which is why his appearance is so "inhuman"). So the human Vorador was born in a much earlier, more "primitive" period within Nosgoth's history.

    Q: How did Janos make Voradoor-like Kain made Raziel and his sons, or like Mortanius made Kain? Was the way Kain made and the way Kain created his brethren the same? How'd Voradoor make his children?

    A: Without going into too much detail, there are various ways a vampire can be born/created. The ancient/original Vampires (like Janos) had one method, by which Vorador was raised, and by which Vorador would also raise his vampire offspring. This would be a more "traditional" method, where the vampiric curse is passed from one vampire to a human. Mortanius raised Kain by necromancy -- this gives Kain a unique vampiric heritage. Because of this unique heritage, Kain's method of creating his vampire "sons" is also unique -- rather than using the traditional "blood" gift to create a vampire, Kain must donate a portion of his spirit. By breathing a portion of his soul into a corpse, that creature's soul is drawn back into the body and the creature is resurrected as a vampire. This is how Kain raised his six lieutenants in the Tomb of Sarafan.

    Q: The blue ancients, reproduce like humans, until they get the Blood Curse,then they are infertile for whatever reason, thus they die out. This is why they are extinct right? Except for Janos and maybe Raz.

    A: That's partially right. Before the blood curse, the ancient Vampires could reproduce; following the curse, they became immortal but could no longer reproduce offspring. They could only pass on their vampiric gift/curse to human "offspring" (as Janos did to Vorador). But this isn't necessarily why they were extinct.

    Q: Why was the Circle defenseless? Their magic fails in the cut scene, Moebius even says they are defensless in Sr2. Is it becasue Malek was not there, or their magic failed? What were they doing in there? And where was Mortanius all this time? Off getting possessed?

    A: This has not yet been revealed. At the time (as represented in BO:LoK's FMA), certain members of the Circle were watching and guiding the movements of the Sarafan via the "viewing basin" in the chamber. Mortanius' whereabouts have not been revealed.

    Q: Did Voradoor follow raziel to the Stronghold, or the Sarafan, or is just a giant coincedence that V shows up, when the Circles magic fails, and Moebius and Raziel are distractng Malek?

    A: This is intentionally unexplained. It's not exactly a giant coincidence, when you consider the event which precipitated both Raziel's and Vorador's infiltration of the Stronghold...

    Q: What exactly is the meaning of the Lost City? I know its just a place for secrets, but who made it? The fact that this city appears to be UNDER the
    Lake of the Dead, and the Lake of the Dead is where the Abyss is, always made me think there was some connection. I know this oe may be a gameplay issue, but thats why I asked like who made the place? Like who lived there?

    A: This has not been revealed. There is a connection, though.

    Q: Did Kain ever get a token (binding item) When he finally made his way to the pillars they were corrupt and incapable of giving him a binding item I would think. But this was interesting question I had to put it down. =)

    A: This is an important question (and brings up the major "inconsistency" complaint of the fans on the GameFAQs board). The Balance Guardian is different from the other Guardians -- he/she is the hub, the still point around which all the other Pillars principles turn. As such, the Balance Guardian does not have a traditional binding item. The Balance Guardian's very soul is the thing which binds him/her to the Pillar.

    Q: When did Malek gets fused? Right after the circle was killed, or shortly after? When Morty fuses him he says serve US for eternity. But its only him and Moebius left. Or are the other circle members allready choosen at this point?

    A: Malek gets fused to his armor not long after the slaughter of the Circle (though it hasn't been explicitly mentioned yet exactly how much time passed). When Mortanius says "US" he means the Circle as an entity. Remember that following the murder of the six Guardians, six new Guardians would born already destined to take their place -- they may not have been discovered or adopted into the Circle yet, but their destinies would already be unfolding.

    Q: Same with Anacrothe, he says serve us Morti or die. Morti then kills him. When Anacrothe said this, he had just called Kain a monster, and everyone else in the Circle is dead. So who is the US Anacrothe means?

    A: Actually, Anarcrothe says "Stand with us, Mortanius, or die" (which is a little different than "serve us"). When he says "us," Anarcrothe also means the Circle as an entity -- but there's a deeper meaning, too, which hasn't been revealed.

    Q: THEN LOL the Dark Entity emerges, and is like my silencing of Ariel...I was like that means murder, but in Sr2 Raz says the gaurdians invited the dark Forces themselves, and Ariel knew! She was like Kain handed them their
    victory. So did Ariel know something? Alot of people say they want more
    Ariel, too. I thought her scene was very important, but other people wanted
    more Ariel.

    A: Ariel knows more than she's ever let on. There's a lot more to the Circle's corruption than was revealed in BO:LoK. Ariel is a significant character, and plays a pivotal role in Nosgoth's destiny (which is why she was included in SR2, even though she only got one scene).

    Q: And now, is Hash the demon at the end!? It says no where that he is or isnt. In fact, only time Hash is mentioned is under Avernus. But nothing directly states that demon is in fact Hashakgik, its only the Dark Entity. Thats why he is the Unspoken, everyone fears his wrath if they say his name.

    A: hehe, I just wrote Chris a response to this question, so he could post it on the forum. Here's what I told him: The entity who confronts and speaks to Kain at the end of BO:LoK is indeed the being alternately known as "the Unspoken," the "Dark Entity" and "Hash'ak'gik". But does the deformation of Mortanius' flesh that it uses to manifest represent its true form ? ... that question is still open to speculation...

    I also included the following info:
    To clarify, the being referred to as the "Dark Entity", the "Unspoken" and "Hash'ak'gik" are all the same entity. This was left very vague in BO:LoK, but clarified in SK's FAQ and in the dialogue scripts themselves.

    Just so you know -- the being is never called "the Dark Entity" in the game; this is just what the being is called in the stage directions of the dialogue scripts, and this is what SK calls it in their FAQ.
    When Ariel tells Kain to "beware the Unspoken", she's talking about the Dark Entity. (The "Unspoken" name is also referenced in SK's FAQ).

    The name "Hash'ak'gik" is only used once in the game -- when Kain finds the secret, bloody altar in the depths of the catacombs beneath Avernus Cathedral. There's passage of "scripture" found here, which reads:

    And Hash’ak’gik spoke unto the world, and all who heard trembled. “Bring me your first born, and shed their blood upon the altar of the world, so I might take nourishment from them. Do this without question, or suffer my wrath for eternity.” And its will was done.

    Thus the game sort of left it open to interpretation whether the Dark Entity Kain confronts at the end of BO:LoK was this Hash'ak'gik character...
    but it was clarified in SK's FAQ, where they did state that the Dark Entity possessing Mortanius is, in fact, Hash'ak'gik.

    Q: Is Moebius staff the same? This is now another reason Voradoor was helpless at his execution. as Moebius had the staff. And the new and improved vampire hunters as well as noted on SK FAq's. (not the staff just the hunters, thats why we want to know if the staff is the same).

    A: I'm not sure what you mean by this question... the same as what?
    The staff you see Moebius carrying is always the same staff (there's not more than one). When the Sarafan ambush Janos in the Retreat, they are carrying Moebius' staff. And yes, this helps explain why Vorador was helpless during his capture and execution.

    Q: Can Moebius shift thru time at will? Or does he use device? And Kain? How does he move around thru time? Is Turel manning the Chronoplast or something? Can the time devices/chambers be used only once? The chronoplast?

    A: None of this has been revealed yet.

    Q: What happend to Elzevir and Ottmar and the Princess? LOL Did they get lost in the time shuffle? Keep in mind not all these are my questions I picked some ones I thought otther people had were good too. LOL Elzevir trpas souls in effigys he is scary. LOL!

    A: hehe -- they're not lost in the time shuffle, they just don't have much to do with Raziel's and Kain's journeys in SR.

    Okay! Thats all from SR2/BO1, there were some others but I was like she cant answer what is the binding thats not good to ask, so questions like what are the Binding will be on the list I post at the forum as we cant know about that yet!

    A: Yeah, I won't explicitly answer what "the Binding" is, but I think you can figure it out from SR2's dialogue...

    Here is SR1

    Q: Is that Turels concept picture on page 27 of the PSX manual? I know this is gameplay but I had to ask, Ive been wondering who that guy is. LOL!

    A: Yes, that was the original concept sketch for Turel. But that doesn't mean much anymore; it was drawn so long ago, that it's not really relevant anymore.

    Q: People want Turel, they think becasue SR2 says "eluded" or escaped my vengeance, I forget, that Raz actually met him. I was like no, he wasnt
    there. But alot of people want a Vampire Turel and more Malek.

    A: No, Raziel never met Turel -- he means that Turel eluded him by his absence. I know people are anxious to (finally) meet Turel, and hope he's in SR3. Let's put it this way... we absolutely have not forgotten about Turel; he's a critical piece of the puzzle.

    Q: Did raziel just fall into the Elders Lair? And like adapt somehow to his

    A: Do you mean was Raziel correct in his accusations in his final confrontation with the Elder God? When people hear the dialogue, it's important to remember that just because a character says something, it isn't necessarily correct. What you're hearing is that character's opinion and subjective interpretation. So if you mean: "did Raziel just drop into the EG's lap by coincidence, or did the EG have something to do with his resurrection?" Let's just say Raziel doesn't know everything yet, and neither do we.

    Q: Why is the Underworld not in the Spectral Realm? Does it not exist? Is it another plane/dimension? Is it just the "deep spectral" realm and doesnt
    come in contact with the material plane? I dont know what this one falls

    A: The Underworld is in the spectral realm... I'm not sure what this question means.

    Q: Kain says he destoryed what he created. Did he destory Raziels clan, or did they die out like the ancients, being they are similiar?

    A: This is currently unrevealed.

    Q: Why did he break the wings??

    A: Also unrevealed at this point. Your answers below are all partially correct. Like many things in LoK, there isn't one simple answer. On the basic level -- yes, he broke his wings so he couldn't escape being thrown into the Abyss. But there's more to it than that.

    Okay thats it!

    2002 – [LoK] [Eidos Forums / Bruno] – Chris@Crystal's Greatest Hits

    (return to top of page)
    Published: 28 June, 2002
    Credit to: Divine Shadow (archivist)
    Personnel: Chris Bruno

    "Since all the old posts and threads are going to be deleted, I felt the need to chronicle some of the questions and answers that have, over the years, been divulged by everyone's favourite undead Lead-Playtester. I do this to preserve the information before it is deleted forever, and to create something that newer members can consult before asking already-asked questions to the Butterfly Lord. Without further ado, here are Chris@Crystal's Greatest Hits...."

    Quote Originally Posted by Eidos Forums / Bruno
    Regarding the Statue near the Elder in SR2

    Warpsavant asked...

    For quite some time Ive been wondering what exactly the large structure is in the Ruins that is in the giant room down there where the air and dark fonts are located. There is also a fire font in this room very high up on a ledge. SOmetimes the room is filled with water, sometimes its not.

    So what exactly is the thing in the middle of the room? With the air vent in front of it you use to fly on top of it?

    Is it some type of coffin, or crypt?

    Is it the elder ones armor or something?

    Is it some kind of altar?

    Let me know what it is, please! Its drivin me crazy!

    Chris Bruno responded:

    I always thought it was a statue of the Elder also, but I'll check with the team. I'll get back to you soon.
    Crystal Dynamics


    Hi again,
    Amy told me it's simply a statue, a symbolic representation of the Elder God fashioned by an ancient, primitive cult.
    Crystal Dynamics

    LOK Merchandise

    Blincoln asked...

    Hi Chris.
    I believe this has been asked before, but are there any plans to release more LoK merch when - for example - BO2 is released? Obviously something like a life-sized Reaver is a little unrealistic, but I'd totally be interested in buying posters, or like a patch with the Kain symbol on it, and other people here have mentioned being interested in LoK t-shirts so we can basically like advertise the series as we go about our business during the day =).

    Chris Bruno responded:

    More LOK and SR merchandise sounds like a great thing to me, I will pass on your requests. As far as the list:
    - T-shirts
    Only SR2 t-shirts were made special for the team.
    - Patches (game logos? clan symbol patches? If I could get patches of all the clan symbols I'd totally cover my backpack with them)
    I've never seen any patches. Sounds like a good idea though.
    - Posters
    I've got a few SR1 posters, but they were promotional only for retail stores. We also have some SR2 banners hanging up here at Crystal.
    - "a 6ft. robotic Raziel that actually eats your soul."
    We actually have a 6 ft. Raziel here in the building and his eyes light up. Haven't seen him consume any souls yet. I do not believe these will ever be for sale.
    - a life-sized Reaver replica (bonus if it actually makes you invincible and/or able to alter the course of history)
    This sounds really neat, but I have yet to see one.
    There also have been SR watches in the past, statues, and of course figures. If I hear of anything going up for sale, I'll post the info here.
    Crystal Dynamics

    A Soul Reaver 1 Remake?

    keepittru asked...

    please could you talk to your team and see if they can make a remake of soul reaver1 on ps2 with better graphics more enemies more secret glyph magic and energy power ups, more secret locations, and ariel reaver but keep same fighting engine as on sr1 and also make turel the vampire also so we can fight him and also keep the same great music on sr1, pleeeeaaase consider this, and also if kain was supposed to be killed by raz why wasnt the pillars restored in the future,( not meaning in sr2)

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hey there,
    I understand why many of you long for another version of SR1, but we need to move forwards not backwards. I will pass on your requests to the team, but I do not think we will be going back to re-do SR1. The team is starting work on SR3 and that should keep them pretty busy for a while.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Who were the three Circle members who survived? When did Malek become Circle-ised?

    Non-existent asked...

    Chris, is it at all possible for you to clear up some information about Malek? First, there happens to be conflicting numbers of Guardians that fell to Vorador's attack, is the number given in SR2 the one we are to consider accurate (that being six)?

    Second, in SR2 when Moebius tells Raziel that only three Guardians survived, himself and two others, and given the nature of the ending, is Malek supposed to be the third, or are we to take the information given for BO that says Malek was not a Guardian until after he was fused to his armor?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hello there,
    Yes, Vorador slaughtered six of the Guardians in his ambush (just as he told Kain in BO:LoK). Some people were confused by the cinematic in BO:LoK, which only shows Vorador killing four of the Guardians -- but the cinematic should be interpreted as an edited "montage" of his attack. He did in fact kill six of the Guardians.

    In BO:LoK, it does not say that Malek became a Guardian after he was fused to his armor. This is a common misconception, but in fact the text of BO:LoK never explicitly states when Malek became a Guardian. The dialogue only says that he is the defender of the Nine, last of the Sarafan sorcerer-priests, and the Guardian of Conflict.

    So the three Guardians that survived Vorador's attack are Moebius, Mortanius and Malek.
    Hopefully this answers a few questions.
    Crystal Dynamics


    Hello again,
    I see there's still a little confusion regarding Malek and his role as a Guardian in BO:LoK. It was admittedly pretty vague in BO:LoK's dialogue, but Kain clearly identifies Malek as the Guardian of Conflict when he returns Nupraptor's Head (the first token) to the Pillars.
    He says:
    I placed Nupraptor’s head before the Pillar of the Mind, and watched on as it dissolved into the stone.
    The pillar accepted its offering, thus it was restored. Nupraptor was but the genesis – forever tainted by his madness, the Circle was beyond redemption. For them absolution lay only in death. In me, they would find their deliverance.
    But first I had to defeat their shepherd – Malek, defender of the Nine, lay in a keep far to the north, past Vasserbünde. It was time for me to test the wrath of the Pillar of Conflict.
    In the Silicon Knights FAQ, it says that Malek was originally recruited to protect the Circle, but came to embody the spirit of Conflict and became that Pillar's Guardian. It doesn't specifically say when this happens.
    Hope this helps out.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Soul Reaver 1 Beta Version: Can we have it please?

    Blincoln asked...

    Hi Chris =).
    A lot of us have been discussing this on the Eidos forums as well as the site, so I thought I'd ask and get the official word.
    Is there any chance *ever* that CrystalD and/or Eidos would allow the release of the unfinished PSX version of the original Soul Reaver with whatever parts were finished of the material that ended up not making it in? I realize that a significant portion of it was not finished, but a lot of the hard-core fans would love to see what is there, especially in light of the dialogue in SR2 that implies that those events will no longer take place (I mean, I was totally happy just to find the giant room and hallway in the middle of the Citadel that aren't supposed to be there. Who cares if you end up falling into nothingness sometimes if you get to see some MORE areas that the SR team designed?). A 650MB ISO download would be kind of taxing on the Eidos servers, but I'm sure at least one of us would be willing to host it in some form, *or* it would be really cool to see it as one of the DVD bonuses for SR3 - "Insert this disc into your PC, copy srbeta.iso to your hard drive, burn it to disc, and insert the CDR into your PSX." =).
    No worries if not, like I said I just wanted to get the official answer, and make it clear to CrystalD that LoK has its fan-equivalent of the people that REALLY wanted to see the "Captain Dallas cocooned" segment of Alien, even if they had to wait a few decades for the DVD.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    I will pass on your requests to the team regarding an alternate version of SR1. Unfortunately there is not too much completed stuff that was held out of the game that I am aware of. As a game is created sometimes the story can change in the process and some parts might get cut. If you have other questions, let me know.

    Makin' a Soul Reaver game: How long does it take then?

    Serafan asked...

    how long does it normally take to make one of the SR games.... Do you have an estimate of when the project will be completed??????
    Thanks a lot

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Completing a SR game is not a "normal" process, so there is really no set time period that it takes to complete a game. There are deadlines that get set, but as many of you know the games have been bigger projects than originally thought. Work is just being started on SR3, so it would be hard to say how long it will take for the game to be completed. Hopefully sometime soon, but give us some time to make sure the game is everything the fans would hope it can be.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Flower Chris and Malek's Damnation

    warpsavant asked...

    Hey man, are you the Flower Chris mentioned in the Credits in the Manual? Or the other Chris?
    Now my question!

    When was Malek fused to his armor, before or after Mortanious was possessed? It never clearly states this anywhere either, all we have is cutscene that should be taken as "abridged versions of what happened"

    So let me know when Morti fused Malek. Before or after his posession by the Dark Entity. It appears this happened before he was possessed but it isnt in the timeline on Sr2 disc so LMK, please. Thank you Chris.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hey Warp,
    Am I the Flower Chris you ask? I went back and checked out the manual. I am listed as Christopher Butterfly in the manual if that is what you mean. That's also my schoolbus in the picture of the Company in the Bonus Materials. I am checking about when Malek was fused to his armor. I'll let you know what I find out soon.
    Crystal Dynamics


    Hi again Warp,
    There's no evidence in BO:LoK as to precisely when Mortanius was possessed by the Dark Entity. It's clear that Mortanius was under the control of the Dark Entity when he assassinated Ariel, but it's open to speculation whether he was possessed when he punished Malek.
    Also note that even if he was possessed, he might not have been under the Dark Entity's control at the time. Remember that during much of Kain's journey, Mortanius still maintained control even though he was possessed.
    Perhaps more information will be uncovered in Soul Reaver 3. I guess we'll have to wait and see!
    Crystal Dynamics

    One-Hundred-Percent Pure Hash'ak'gik.

    Link21 asked...

    At the end of Blood Omen was the demon that you fight actually Hash'ak'gik? I don't mean was this demon also possessed by Hash or was a different representation of the true creature...

    I mean was this demon 100% Hash'ak'gik???

    Plus if at the time of Blood Omens release he was meant to be Hash, has that theory changed since the new LOK games to mean that he was not infact Hash???

    Sorry to be so technical but I wanted to cover all bases

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi Link21,
    I spoke with Amy about your questions. Let's put it this way -- the entity who confronts and speaks to Kain at the end of BO:LoK is indeed the being alternately known as "the Unspoken," the "Dark Entity" and "Hash'ak'gik".
    But does the deformation of Mortanius' flesh that it uses to manifest represent its true form? ... that question is still open to speculation... I suppose we will learn more about this in the Legacy of Kain series as it unfolds.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Scripture from the secret, bloody altar in the depths of the catacombs beneath Avernus Cathedral:
    And Hash’ak’gik spoke unto the world, and all who heard trembled. “Bring me your first born, and shed their blood upon the altar of the world, so I might take nourishment from them. Do this without question, or suffer my wrath for eternity.” And its will was done.

    Sarafan and Seraphim. Who can't spell?

    willow ayala asked...

    Okay you'll all have to excuse me if this is painfully obvious but does anyone know why Crystal Dynamics decided to go with the spelling Serafan as oppose to the proper spelling Seraphim?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    The name of the monastic order pledged to the eradication of the vampires is properly spelled "Sarafan" (all "a"s).
    The word Seraphim refers to an order of angels, in Biblical lore.
    The name "Sarafan" is supposed to reminiscent of "seraphim" (because the Sarafan consider themselves a holy order, and are also referred to as "Angels of Light"), but they are meant to be different words. Hope this answers your question.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Pondering the Preistess

    Lieutenant Raziel asked...

    Hi Chris@Crystal!
    I was just listening to some of the cut dialogue featuring the Priestess who was cut from the first Soul Reaver game, and I came up with a couple of questions...

    First, I was wondering what the Priestess's abilities were... Not in the way of the "gift" Raziel obtains after devouring a soul (eg. Pass through barriers, climbing etc), but more in the way of how her character behaved. How she attacked Raziel, for example... Did she use a weapon (such as those possessed by the vampire worshippers) or magic?

    Secondly, I was wondering if there was any possibility, no matter how slight, that the Priestess would make an appearance in another Legacy of Kain game. I think I speak for a fair few people when I say that I'd love to see her in another Legacy of Kain game...

    Anyway, I don't know if you'll be able to answer these questions, but I thought I'd at least try to get an answer...

    Thanks for your time.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hey there,
    I believe the Priestess character was dropped pretty early in the development of SR. Although I do remember seeing the boss room for her, I do not remember seeing her animated. I'll look into this, but with most ideas that are not included in a game, there is not much to them except concept ideas.
    Crystal Dynamics

    So Chris, What Do You Do Then?

    RAZKAIN asked...

    besides the obvious 'moderator' position, what else does chris do in terms of the legacy of kain series?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hey RazKain,
    I tested BO1, was Lead Tester on BO1 PC, tested SR1, SR2, and am Lead Tester on BO2. I also have written walkthoughs for the hint line for many of the LOK games and helped with instruction manuals. Other games I have tested for Crystal Dynamics and Eidos include Pandemonium!, Pandemonium 2, Unholy War, Akuji, Gex, Gex: Enter the Gecko, Gex: Deep Cover Gecko, Magical Racing Tour, 102 Dalmations, Tomb Raider 4, Slam N Jam, 3D Baseball, Fear Effect, Omnicron, and Anachronox. I've also done work with Crash N Burn, Total Eclipse, Solar Eclipse, the Horde, Off World Interceptor Extreme, Star Control 2, Samurai Showdown, and Blazing Dragons. That's all I can think of right now. Hope this more then answers your question!
    Crystal Dynamics

    Can I make a Soul Reaver please?

    Serafan asked...

    hey chris... i just had a question... has CD copywritten the "soul reaver" in every way? because i wanted to get a custom forged sword of the soul reaver to put in my room lol, and i was wonderin if it was legal... thanks a lot

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Someone asked me this before. You can have a sword made with the likeness of the Soul Reaver, but I do not believe you can sell them for profit using the name "Soul Reaver". If you get one made make sure to post a picture of it here for all to see.
    Crystal Dynamics

    That Vampire Woman Cut From Soul Reaver 2. Who Was She Then?

    Divine Shadow (ie, Yours Truly) asked...

    Chris, I was summoning various character models in the PC version of Soul Reaver 2, and I found a woman called BVAMP_F. Pictures provided:

    <images of the female vampire>

    She is a very ornately detailed vampire woman, who is in the game, and yet not in the game. She seems as detailed as any of the main characters...

    So, was she cut out? Who is she? Does she have a name, other than the rather uncatchy BVAMP_F?

    I understand completely if you cannot tell us, due to possible SR3 spoilers. But I am very curious as to who this forgotten character was...

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hello all,
    I'm not sure why the cinematic with this vampire was removed from the game, but I believe it originally occured right before the double doors to the Pilars in the first time zone. Raziel watched her get staked by a few Sarafan and then he went after her killers. She did not have a name that I am aware of. Just so you all know, with any game many things are changed or removed throughout the development of a game. This is one of the things that was removed for one reason or another.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Font Fun.

    Serul asked...

    ...what typefonts they used for the "History abhors a paradox" line at the end of SR2, also for the names of the people in the credits (of SR2).
    If you can help me I would appreciate it.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi Serul,
    For "History Abhors a Paradox" they used a font named Valdemar.
    For the credits, I think they used a font named Scurlock.
    Hope this helps.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Soul Reaver III

    GatesofNosgoth asked...

    Does anyone know anything about when SR3 will be released? Chris is there any news?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    At this time a date for Soul Reaver 3 has yet to be announced. Patience my friends, the game is still in the beginning stages of development.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Qualifications Question

    Turelhim Vampire asked...

    what qualifications would i need to become a consept artist/games designer for crystal dynamics (or any other games company for that matter)?

    i hope you can help me, and please reply soon, as i just found out i only have two weeks from today to get my university applications sent off.

    cheers chris,

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hello Turel,
    Becoming a game designer/concept artist should not require too much schooling. this is our current wants for hireing a designer: This position requires technical as well as creative talent. You would be involved in scripting enemies and bosses. You would also assist in the design of the bosses and then implement them in our proprietary scripting language. We will train in our scripting format but previous scripting experience is necessary. Knowledge of 3D Max required.
    Hope this helps out.
    Crystal Dynamics

    BO1: Werewolves or Vampires in Wolf-Form?

    Unknown asked...

    I have been wondering about an enemy that appears in BO, this creature can change into a wolf. Now at first I thought it was a warewolf but I remember Kain and V can change into a wolf aswell, so to be blunt what are they, vampires or warewolfs? Thanks for your help.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    You are wondering about a wolf creature that appears in BO1? I remember this creature, if you kill it it turns to a human form right? I remember one for sure in Vorador's mansion that I always thought was a werewolf. The only other vampires in Vorador's mansion were his Brides. Hope this helps.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Who writes what scripts?

    willow ayala asked...

    Hello Chris (or shall I say Lord Butterfly... *dum dum dummmmm*) I have a quick question if you have a sec.
    I was just inquiring if Amy Hennig at least gave a look over on the script. The reason for this is the appearance of Vorador... He did kind of have his head chopped off. I don't see how anyone could have missed this.... so I'm assuming that this is a plot piece or it shows Kain finding a way to resurrect Vorador or it’s a dark entity or something else... And I know you can't tell us anything about the plot (well I wouldn't want to know anyway...I'd rather just play the game) But the main question is did she look over the story to make sure it's not a complete continuity error? Thanks for your time.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hey Willow,
    The SR and BO2 games have been developed by two separate teams within Crystal Dynamics, both working independently from each other.
    I believe that the teams have discussed how the stories might cross over (and I know that Amy has read BO2's dialogue and played the game to see how it should tie in to SR3), but no, Amy was not involved in the writing of BO2's story or scripts. Hope this answers your questions.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Three Varied Questions

    Glucolisis asked...

    1. I want to know how you test a game. It is after it is "done" or you start testing right after it is playable?
    2. When you say that Sr3 is in progress, what do you mean? Is there something done, or it is just the story and concept art? Or the programers are working on it?

    3. What is your favorite game? and wich LOK you enjoy the most?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hello Glucolisis,
    Here are some answers for you:
    1. The test department starts working on a game when it is almost playable. Sometimes we will start working on demos for E3 before we get the entire game. When a game is just starting out in test, it is very rough and has lots of problems. It is very frustrating at first, but as things start to get fixed and added, it is very rewarding.
    2. I do not know how far along SR3 is. Be patient, let the team do its thing. Creating games is an art.
    3. What is my favorite game...dificult question. Pandemonium 2, that was really fun. I like BO1 for the story, SR2 for the graphics and streaming, and BO2 for bringing Kain back as a controlable character. Honestly, I like all the LOK games, thats why I work here at Crystal Dynamics.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Altered Timeline or not? After SR2 or BO1?

    Sarafan Lord asked...

    I am very confused on when this game takes place. Is it direct events after Blood Omen 1 or is it the aftermath of what Kain did at the end of Soul Reaver 2? This is very confusing and nobody can give me a straight answer. I was told you could help me. Thanks

    Chris Bruno responded:

    The Soul Reaver and Blood Omen games are all a part of the Legacy of Kain series. As these games get created certain things are not fully explained as to give the player things to ponder. I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but many things are still to be revealed in the land of Nosgoth.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Resurrecting Blood Omen 1?

    DarkMessiah asked...

    Hey Chris, I know I'm still a newbie to the Forum but thanks for taking interest in what we say.
    I wanted to know if CD is planning to do anything about BO1? I think there is a bunch of people out there who just never had the chance to play BO1, and therefore are missing an enormous part of the whole Legacy of Kain.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi there,
    At this time we are not planning to go back and remake Blood Omen 1, although it does sound fun. The game was originally published by Activision on both the Playstation and the PC. Not sure if they are still producing copies of it or not. I will pass on your requests.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Blood Omen 1 and Blood Omen 2

    KbH Sephiroth asked...

    Why did you make it with CHapters and not like you did with BO1?It would've been sooooo much better if you could have more player freedom and go back to early areas in the game when you're stronger.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hello there,
    Blood Omen 2 was created by an entirely different team and was made to be Blood Omen 2, not Blood Omen 1. Where as I understand where you are coming from wanting a larger world and more freedom, that was achieved in BO1 because of the level of graphics and the kind of game that it was, 2-D overhead view. The BO2 team decided to make something new and that is their creation you have been playing. We'll see what happens if a Blood Omen 3 game is announced in the future.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Human Raziel's Age When He Got What Was Coming To Him?

    Evelin The Winged asked...

    When he got murdered by himself as a human, how old was he? 30? 20, 26?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi there,
    I do not know for sure, but I would guess that Raziel was in his 30's when he was defeated by the Soul Reaver Raziel. Even though he was a great Sarafan Warrior, I'm sure they would not normally live too far past 40. But of course this is just my opinion.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Seer: Hylden Or Something Else?

    TheElderGodofNosgoth asked...

    There has been a lot of talk about this subject. I beleave that she is a vampire. Is this true. Can you put this question to rest (or is one of those uncertain things).I beleave when Kain says "What manner of creature are you? You are like no vampire that I have seen" in replience to the Seer telling Kian to drink her blood. She the Seer vampire?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi there,
    In Blood Omen 2 it was not revealed exactly what kind of creature the Seer is. Since this is the Legacy of Kain series and more games are in the future, I can not give you an answer to your question. I can tell you that everything will be revealed in time.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Legacy of Kain: The Movie?

    Mallinger asked...

    This is referring to one of my other posts entitled, LOK Movie?. I was just wondering if you know anything about a possibility of a LOK movie in the near or not so distant future.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    There are no plans to make a LOK movie at this time. It sounds like a great idea to me! If I hear of anything I will post it in the forums here.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Moebius and his Shotgun?

    Blincoln asked...

    Hi Chris =).
    I just realized this morning that you were the perfect person to ask this question of. A lot of people who play through the first game see what looks like a shotgun on the floor of the Oracle's Cave. I have never seen it (maybe the graphic is not there in the PC version?), but some other people seem to think it's a piece of armour or something.
    Do you have an opinion either way?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hey there,
    Honestly I have no idea what that is, although it does look like a shotgun. I'm going to go with the theory that Moebius might have brought it from another time period, but I do not know for sure.
    Crystal Dynamics

    What do YOU want to happen then Chris?

    123up123down123up asked...

    what do YOU want to happen in the future legacy of kain games
    not what is going to happen i wanna know what u would like to happen
    and who is your favorite character and why

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Sorry, I was out most of last week, but now I am back. Hmmm, what do I want to happen in the future LOK games? I want us to sell lots and lots of games I suppose. The thing is I already know what is going to happen, so it is a little tricky to say what I might have wanted to happen. My favorite characters are Vorador and Elzevir. But of course Kain and Raziel are great characters too. Umah is also one of my favorites. Since I have been here at Crystal Dynamics since before the fist LOK game, I feel very connected to the series, and hope everyone will continue to enjoy plaing the games we create.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Bo1 Vorador and Bo2 Vorador differences

    Glucolisis asked...

    Hi Chris!!

    You just said above that one of your favorite characters is Vorador(mine too). Here goes my question:

    How do you feel that in Bo2, Vorador was SO weak?
    Almost everybody said that Bo2 vorador feels "weak" like the Bo2 team took something out of him. He doesn`t give the impression of been BIG, BAD POWERFUL vampire who destroyed Malek and the circle of 9.

    Thanks a lot for your answer.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi Glucolisis,
    I understand what you are saying about Vorador in BO2. Have you played BO1? Do you know what happened to Vorador? There are reasons for how Vorador is in BO2, but I can not yet reveal them to you. I know everyone is tired of me saying that, but it's true! Almost everything in the LOK universe happens for a reason. You'll see.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Blood Omen 3 on the cards?

    Diakinos asked...

    Is there actually going to be another Blood Omen game? I personally think that that would be too much of a good thing. In all honesty, I would have been happy with just the first Blood Omen, but that is just me. So, is there or is there not going to be a BO3? Thanks a lot in advance.

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Hi Diakinos,
    Blincoln is somewhat right, but there is not a BO3 game in development right now. I personally hope there will be one in the future, and I will post here in the forums if I get any information on it.
    Crystal Dynamics

    SR1: "What ARE these creatures?"

    Sayel asked...

    One question, I hope the team will allow you to answer this.
    We all know that Soul Reaver 1 was "cut". And now I saw a creature that was supposed to be in there...

    This is it:

    <image of the creature>

    here a pic where Raziel is fighting them:

    <image of the creature>

    Can you please tell me what that was supposed to be?

    Chris Bruno responded:

    This creature that you have a picture of were not Turelim that were cut -- this is a good guess, but inaccurate! These creatures were actually an early version of the Dumahim vampires -- they were in the game like this for a while, but ultimately we decided to redesign them. If you look at the pictures, you can see that these guys had the distinctive Dumahim needle-tongues -- that was the only feature we carried over when we remodeled them. Also on this website [...] they have screenshots from a couple of stages of the Dumahim remodeling -- both the human-looking creatures and the long-necked green creatures were early (but ultimately scrapped) versions of the Dumahim.
    Also on that same website where the screenshots are posted, the authors speculate that the bluish concept sketch in the credits is Kain's castle. This is actually a conceptual rendering of the Silenced Cathedral. Hope this answers your questions.
    Crystal Dynamics

    Silenced Cathedral in SR1 Intro Sequence?

    Nosgoth's Ruler asked...

    Silenced Catherdral?
    It is in the Intro FMV, but:
    A) The ingame cathedral (although can't really be seen from that far away) looks NOTHING like that
    B) I thought it was the Chronoplast tower or seems too be in the right spot in the SR doesn't seem to be in the right spot to be the Silenced Catherdral...
    Besides, if it is the Silenced did it amplify the sound outwards? since it is a spiraly-coneshape going down, the sound would be blasted into the ground and would not likely reach vampires that ar far away...
    Anyway...just a better explaination of this Spiral tower
    would be great

    Chris Bruno responded:

    Nosgoth's Ruler,
    Like I mentioned, that screenshot is just a conceptual rendering of the Silenced Cathedral. Which means it is an original drawing of what the Cathedral was going to look like, but the concept changed and became what it is now in Soul Reaver 1. Hope this answers your question.
    Crystal Dynamics

    More SR1 Cut Questions

    Sayel asked...

    You mean this here?

    <image of the Silenced Cathedral>

    The Position of the Silenced Cathedral is correct, it was always east from the Abyss, Raziels Clan area is west from the abyss and the Chronoplast is in the north.

    But I want to know what that was supposed to be:

    <image of the Smokestack>

    to me it looks like the home of the Priestress.]

    Chris Bruno responded:

    (1) The sepia-toned piece of concept art you posted was actually an early concept for the Sanctuary of the Clans (the "mosque" built around the Pillars). We toyed with the idea of having the Sanctuary perched on a plateau, but abandoned that idea early on.

    (2) In the GlyphX rendering of the Abyss, that is the Silenced Cathedral off in the distance, in the right-hand side of the frame. The other tower is just a smokestack (nothing to do with the Oracle's Cave area). The smokestack actually was part of a level we eventually cut (sadly).
    Hope this answers your questions.
    Crystal Dynamics


    And there we go.
    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 00:02.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    5. Staff portfolios

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    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 9th Jan 2015 at 00:03.

  8. #8
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    7. Other notable media

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    1997 – [BO1/LoK] [Silicon Knights, Crystal Dynamics] – Silicon Knights, Inc. v. Crystal Dynamics, Inc.

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    Published: October 23, 1997
    Credit to: Divine Shadow (archivist), Leagle (host)
    Personnel: Silicon Knights, Crystal Dynamics

    Quote Originally Posted by Silicon Knights, Crystal Dynamics
    [...] The complaint alleges that Silicon Knights conceived, created, and developed an innovative new interactive video game entitled "Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain" ("Kain"). ¶ 13. Because Silicon Knights was not well funded and needed financial assistance to complete Kain, Plaintiff entered into negotiations with Crystal Dynamics in late 1993 to fund the development of Kain in exchange for publication rights to the game. ¶ 28. On or about January 3, 1994, the two companies signed a Letter of Intent pertaining to Kain, and signed a "Development Agreement" on February 16, 1994. Id. Under "financial duress" of which Crystal Dynamics was aware, Silicon Knights agreed to assign all of Silicon Knights' intellectual property rights in Kain, including the rights to any derivative works, to Crystal Dynamics. In return, Crystal Dynamics made two critical promises to Silicon Knights: (1) the potential of substantial later royalties from Silicon Knights' development of Kain derivative works, including Silicon Knights' right to make the first bid on any derivative works, and (2) publication credits identifying Silicon Knights as developer and originator of Kain and prominent credit as originator in connection with any and all Kain derivative works and Kain products, irrespective of who developed these works. ¶ 29, 39. Defendants Crystal Dynamics, Dorosin, and Ardell repeatedly promised Silicon Knights that Defendant would comply with these terms, and memorialized its promises of Silicon Knights' right of first bid in writing in Paragraph 5.2 of the Kain Development Agreement. ¶ 29. Additionally, Silicon Knights accepted a lower percentage of Crystal Dynamics' net revenues as its sales royalty than was standard in the industry since Defendant Crystal Dynamics was acting as both a distributer and publisher of Kain. ¶ 32.

    The complaint alleges that Crystal Dynamics made these promises without intent to perform, and breached the development agreement by: (1) adding increasingly stringent requirements to Silicon Knights' duties under the Kain Development Agreement while refusing to cooperate and respond to Silicon Knights' requests for assistance, resulting in several months of delay; (2) hindering Silicon Knights' ability to meet its deadlines under the agreement; (3) withholding royalty advances at critical stages of the Kain development and refusing to account for royalties in 45-day intervals as required by the Development Agreement; (4) secretly soliciting and employing third party contractors to "shadow" Silicon Knights' efforts in producing various versions of Kain and supplying these third parties with Silicon Knights' confidential, proprietary and trade secret information in an effort to eventually supplant Plaintiff as developer of Kain; and (5) making numerous other efforts and attempts to prevent Silicon Knights from performing and/or meeting its purported deadlines and duties under the Agreement. ¶ 40, 44, 45.

    The complaint also alleges that Crystal Dynamics further breached its agreement with Silicon Knights in the Fall of 1996 by selling certain rights to Kain and all Kain derivative works to Activision for approximately $2 million dollars. ¶ 61. By entering into this agreement with Activision, Defendant abdicated its agreed role as publisher on the Kain project, which decreased the revenues payable to Silicon Knights to as little as 1/4 of the originally promised amount. ¶ 64. Defendant did grant Plaintiff a higher royalty percentage to compensate for the fact that Crystal Dynamics would not distribute Kain in a November 20, 1996 modification of the Kain Development Agreement. However, Crystal Dynamics failed to advise Silicon Knights of several aspects of the CD-Activision deal, including, but not limited to the fact that Activision would be taking over both the publication and distribution of Kain, and that Crystal Dynamics had fraudulently substituted itself as "developer" for Kain in the CD-Activision deal, which eliminated the potential for derivative work revenues to Silicon Knights as developer of any future Kain works. ¶ 67. Although Crystal Dynamics intended to exit the software publishing business [983 F.Supp. 1307] at this time, the complaint alleges that Crystal Dynamics, Dorosin, and Ardell did not inform Silicon Knights of this intention, but represented to Plaintiff both orally and in writing that; (a) Crystal Dynamics intended to remain a publisher; (b) that the CD-Activision Deal would transfer only the Kain "distribution rights" to Activision; and (c) that the CD-Activision Deal would not affect Crystal Dynamics' obligations under Section 5.2 of the Development Agreement concerning Silicon Knights' right of first bid to develop derivative works. ¶ 69. At the time Crystal Dynamics made these representations, it had fired most, if not all, of its publishing personnel as a part of its plan to leave the publishing business. ¶ 70.

    Although Crystal Dynamics represented itself as developer of Kain and the derivative Kain II, Activision was allegedly displeased with Crystal Dynamics' work and approached other developers, including Silicon Knights, for potential assistance on the artwork for Kain II. Activision and Silicon Knights apparently entered into an agreement whereby Plaintiff would provide artwork for the game. Upon learning of this potential re-entry of Silicon Knights into Kain development, Defendants made false, misleading, and commercially disparaging statements about Silicon Knights' technical abilities and Silicon Knights' involvement in the creation and development of Kain to Activision and others in the video game industry. ¶ 76.

    Crystal Dynamics also directly and indirectly solicited Silicon Knights' employees to leave and either join Crystal Dynamics or start one or more companies in competition with Silicon Knights to cripple and prevent Silicon Knights from performing its obligations under the SK-Activision Contract, to enable Crystal Dynamics to meet Activision's standards, and to develop derivative works on terms more favorable to Crystal Dynamics than the Kain Development Agreement. ¶ 80. These actions also induced Silicon Knights' employees to breach their non-disclosure and non-competition agreements with Plaintiff. ¶ 78, 81.


    The complaint sufficiently alleges facts necessary to establish a claim for tortious interference with Silicon Knights' contracts with its former employees. The complaint alleges that Plaintiff had a non-disclosure agreement with a former employee, Cranford, with respect to any confidential information Cranford received during his employment with Silicon Knights, as well as non-competition agreements with former employees Green, Ryan, and Cranford with respect to work performed on behalf of Silicon Knights on Kain. Complaint ¶ 78. Additionally, "Ryan had been designated in a `Keyman Clause' as part of [a] recent development agreement which Silicon Knights had itself made with Activision for artwork on a game called `Zork Grand Inquisitor.'" Complaint ¶ 79. The complaint alleges that Defendants Crystal Dynamics, Ardell, Dyer, Miller, and Horsely knew of the employees' agreements with Silicon Knights (Complaint ¶ 122), and that "Crystal Dynamics and one or more of the other individual Defendants began soliciting Silicon Knights' employees ... to leave Silicon Knights, for the purposes of: (1) crippling Silicon Knights; (2) preventing Silicon Knights from performing its obligations under [983 F.Supp. 1310] the SK-Activision Contract; (3) interfering with Silicon Knights' non-disclosure and non-competition agreements with its employees; (4) interfering with Silicon Knights' other contracts and potential commercial dealings; and (5) enabling Crystal Dynamics to negotiate with those former Silicon Knights employees to develop Kain derivative works on terms more favorable to Crystal Dynamics that the Kain Development Agreement ..." Complaint ¶ 80. The complaint alleges specific acts undertaken by Crystal Dynamics to induce its employees' breach of their non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, such as "soliciting and financially assisting Cranford, Green, and Ryan to leave Silicon Knights' employment and start a competing business with Silicon Knights under the name Keyframe Digital Productions ("Keyframe") in breach of their respective non-competition and non-disclosure agreements with Silicon Knights" along with promises of future business, such as derivative works for Kain. Id. ¶ 81.


    The affirmative defense of "competitive privilege" is not apparent on the face of the complaint. The complaint does not merely allege that Crystal Dynamics' business relationship with Plaintiffs' former employees was wrongful. Instead, the complaint alleges that Crystal Dynamics intentionally interfered with Silicon Knights' contractual relations with its former employees, including non-competition and non-disclosure agreements, by inducing them to form a company that directly competed with Silicon Knights on the Kain project, for the purposes of improving its competitive position at the expense of the Silicon Knights. It is the act of inducing or interfering with the contract with an improper motive, and not the later act of dealing with the party who breached the contract, that underlies the tort. DeVoto v. Pacific Fid. Life Ins., 618 F.2d 1340, 1348 (9th Cir., 1980). The complaint satisfies Rule 8(a) requirements of setting forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" with respect to the Fifth Cause of Action for Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations: Contracts with Cranford, Green, and Ryan.


    Plaintiff asserts that the complaint alleges interference with Silicon Knights' work on Kain II with Activision (seventh claim) and that the "[c]omplaint again lays out (among other injuries) three specific Silicon Knights business relationships which the Individual Defendants have injured: Microsoft, Activision, and 3DO." Opposition, p. 13:10-14. Plaintiff further contends that "any sensible reading of the Complaint in this action demonstrates abundant independently `wrongful' conduct by the Individual Defendants within the meaning of Della Penna" including misappropriation of trade secrets2 and fraud and misrepresentation. Plaintiff also contends that the mere "potential" of an economic relationship is sufficient to assert the tort.


    With respect to the eighth claim for intentional interference with prospective economic relationship, the complaint fails to allege an economic relationship with any third party containing the probability of future economic benefit to the plaintiff. The complaint alleges that "Defendants have knowingly, intentionally, wrongfully, and maliciously, expressly and impliedly, misrepresented [983 F.Supp. 1312] to Silicon Knights' customers, potential customers, industry and associates and the public (i) that Crystal Dynamics, not Silicon Knights, was and is the developer of Kain, and (ii) that Silicon Knights was technically incompetent and unable to provide creative software products in a timely fashion." Complaint ¶ 143. As a result of these "malicious" and "fraudulent assertion[s]," Defendants "induced and/or caused customers and potential customers not to purchase video game software and related products from Silicon Knights, and induced and/or caused other software publishers and distributors not to deal with Silicon Knights regarding video game software development packages and otherwise." Id, at ¶ 144. The complaint asserts that Defendants did "wrongfully interfere[] with Silicon Knights' reasonable expectation of trade and business relationships with customers, prospective customers, industry associates and the public," which includes, but is not limited to "Silicon Knights prospective economic advantage with Microsoft, Activision, and 3DO." Id. at ¶ 146; (alleging that misrepresentations were made to Microsoft personnel, Activision personnel, and 3DO personnel).

    There are no allegations in the complaint from which the court or defendants could infer the probable disruption of an actual economic relationship by means of alleged defamatory statements of the individual defendants or by means of Crystal Dynamics' statement that it developed Kain. The complaint does not allege that Silicon Knights was in the midst of negotiations with 3DO, Microsoft, or any other publisher, and that the third party pulled out of the negotiations or awarded business to another because of these alleged acts by Defendants. Moreover, allegations that Defendants' undisclosed statements caused potential customers not to buy Silicon Knights' video game software asserts the type of speculative economic relationship disapproved of in Westgate. Even if interference with potential customers is a legitimate basis for tortious interference with economic relations, the complaint alleges only conclusory statements and no facts in support of its contention that it lost potential customers. For example, there is no allegation that sales of a particular software product identified with Silicon Knights decreased after these alleged statements were made by Crystal Dynamics.


    In its opposition, Silicon Knights does not contend that statements contained in the exhibits to the complaint are defamatory. Instead, Plaintiff contends that the complaint "identifies a number of other specific defamatory and disparaging statements made by the Individual Defendants, including false statements about Silicon Knights' original development of Kain (Complaint ¶ 21), similar false statements about Silicon Knights' technical capabilities and ability to deliver products in a timely fashion (Complaint ¶ 76), and specific statements by at least Defendant Dyer to employees of Microsoft concerning similar issues (Complaint ¶ 91)." Opp., p. 16. Plaintiff also asserts that allegations of special damages are not necessary since the statements are defamatory on their face.

    The statements in the complaint identified as defamatory by Plaintiff include the allegation that Crystal Dynamics has refused to give proper originator and developer credit for Kain (¶ 21); that Defendants engaged in wrongful conduct by "making false, misleading, and commercially disparaging statements about Silicon Knights' involvement in the creation and development of Kain to Activision (and others in the video game industry)" (¶ 76); and by making "false and defamatory statements to several of Silicon Knights' customers, prospective customers, industry associates and the public regarding: (a) the quality and reliability of Silicon [983 F.Supp. 1314] Knights' products, (b) the competence and ability of Silicon Knights' employees, and (c) Silicon Knights' cooperation and ability to work with customers, suppliers, or other persons in the software industry." Some or all of these statements were allegedly made by Dyer to Microsoft personnel, and by other defendants to Activision and 3DO personnel. (Complaint ¶ 91.)


    Individual Defendants contend that Silicon Knights' allegations of fraud and negligent misrepresentation are refuted by the express terms of the Kain Development Contract and written amendments. Defendants contend that Plaintiff's failure to attach copies of the relevant agreements at issue, while omitting material terms, renders the complaint subject to dismissal. Defendants contend that the Development Agreement does not prohibit or restrict Crystal Dynamics from entering into any agreement with Activision or any third party concerning the distribution, marketing, or sales of Kain. Even if there were such an agreement, Defendants contend that the Amendment to the Development Agreement, dated November 20, 1996, expressly released any possible liability for Crystal Dynamics' transfer of Kain distribution rights to Activision, in exchange for an increase in Silicon Knights' royalty percentage to 42.8%. Defendants also contend that the allegations of fraud are not stated with particularity, as required by Rule 9(b), F.R.Civ.P.


    Among the fraudulent statements and/or omissions made by Crystal Dynamics and Individual Defendants that form the basis for the fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims are that Crystal Dynamics induced Silicon Knights to enter into the Development Agreement by promising potential substantial later royalties from Silicon Knights' development of Kain derivative works and publication credits identifying Silicon Knights as developer of Kain. The complaint alleges that Defendants Crystal Dynamics, Dorosin, and Ardell repeatedly promised Silicon Knights that Crystal Dynamics would comply with both of these terms, but that "it now appears that Crystal Dynamics never had any intention of keeping those promises ..." Complaint ¶ 29, 30. The complaint also alleges that Silicon Knights entered the agreement which gave it a smaller percentage of royalties since Crystal Dynamics represented to Silicon Knights that Crystal Dynamics would be both publisher and distributor of Kain, and that Plaintiff would stand to make a greater profit from Kain. Complaint ¶ 32. To induce Silicon Knights to enter into the [983 F.Supp. 1315] November 1996 amendments, the complaint alleges that Crystal Dynamics failed to advise Silicon Knights of numerous aspects of the CD-Activision Deal, including, but not limited to the fact that Activision would be taking over both publication and distribution of Kain, that Silicon Knights' royalties would be "dramatically" reduced as a result, and the fact that Crystal Dynamics substituted itself as developer for Kain in the CD-Activision deal, which "de facto" eliminated any potential for derivative work revenues to Silicon Knights as developer of any future Kain works. Complaint ¶ 67.

    Individual Defendants contend that Plaintiff has failed to state any facts to support its claim for statutory unfair competition or common law unfair competition, Claims HI and IV, asserting that the claims consist of "nothing but conclusory allegations of fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, and equally vague claims of interference with business relations." Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion to Dismiss Individual Defendants, p. 6:7-14. Defendants also assert that the complaint fails to identify any trade secrets proprietary to Silicon Knights that Crystal Dynamics misappropriated, and that all intellectual property rights in Kain were transferred to Crystal Dynamics, pursuant to agreement between the parties. Defendants also contend that the unfair competition claim cannot rest upon the Crystal Dynamics-Activision Deal since [983 F.Supp. 1316] the Development Contract provides that "Crystal [Dynamics] will make, in its sole discretion, all decisions concerning the production, distribution, and marketing of the Work." Likewise, the November 1996 Amendments discharged Crystal Dynamics from "any and all claims, actions, or causes of action which the Developer might have ... based upon the claim or contention that Crystal was not authorized under the [Kain Development] Agreement or otherwise to enter the arrangement with Activision." Moving, p. 6.


    1. The complaint states in conclusory terms that Defendants' acts of support, assistance, promises to, and dealings with Keyframe constitute material breaches of the Kain Development agreements and other claims, and that "those acts have damaged and will continue to damage, Silicon Knights unless enjoined by the Court." Complaint ¶ 84.

    2. The alleged misappropriation of trade secrets does not appear to be a basis for Plaintiff's claim for intentional or negligent interference with economic and/or contractual relations. Rather, Defendants' alleged defamatory remarks, Crystal Dynamics' claim that it developed Kain, and Defendants' inducement to Plaintiff's employees to break their non-disclosure and non-compete agreements are the alleged wrongful acts set forth in the Eighth and Ninth claims.


    4. Plaintiff asserts in its opposition: "As shown throughout the Complaint, the Individual Defendants' course of dealings with Silicon Knights established just such a fiduciary relationship. Perhaps the most prominent example of the relationship, and its breach, is the Defendants' misappropriation and wrongful disclosure of Silicon Knights' confidential and trade secret information as it pertained to the development of Kain.... Similarly, unlike the Complaint in this case, the complaint in contained no allegations of `any contractual or statutory duty owed by [defendant],' nor any allegation of a `special relationship that might give rise to a duty.'" Such allegations are clearly present here, particularly since such a "relationship" can be assessed by "the foreseeability of harm suffered by plaintiff." Opp., p. 15.

    5. In their Reply, Individual Defendants also contend that any claims based upon an alleged oral agreement to give Silicon Knights prominent credit as originator and developer of the Sony PlayStation version of Kain, and prominent credit as originator in connection with any and all Kain derivative works would be barred by the statute of frauds as an agreement that by its terms cannot be performed within one year. Without any authority, Defendants conclude that Silicon Knights cannot base any of its non-contractual tort actions (i.e., fraud, interference, unfair competition, or defamation) against Individual Defendants based upon this alleged oral statement. The challenged claims do not attempt to enforce this agreement under contract, but state that these promises were fraudulently made with the intent to induce Plaintiff to enter into a development agreement with Crystal Dynamics. [...]

    2007 – [LoK] [SCi] – SCi Entertainment Group Plc Annual Report & Accounts 2007

    (return to other media)
    Published: 2007
    Credit to: Paradoks (archivist), (host)
    Personnel: Tim Ryan, Jane Cavanagh, Phil Rogers, Nigel Wayne

    Quote Originally Posted by SCi
    [...] Fully-owned IP to sell 1 million + units
    Tomb Raider 31m
    Hitman 7m
    Championship Manager 5m
    Conflict series 6m
    Carmageddon 1.5m
    Thief 1.5m
    Deus Ex 2.5m
    Gangsters 1m
    Legacy of Kain 3.5m
    Urban Chaos 1m
    Shellshock 1m
    Championship Rally 3m
    Just Cause 1m


    The brands valued in the balance sheet include seven titles with lifetime sales of 1 million units or more. These are Tomb Raider, Hitman, Championship Manager, Thief, Deus Ex, Legacy of Kain and Shellshock. In addition the Conflict series and Carmageddon have also each sold over 1 million units. However their values are excluded from intangible assets as they have been internally developed. [...]

    2011 – [BO1] [Silicon Knights] – Silicon Knights, Inc. v. Epic Games, Inc.

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    Published: 22 December 2011
    Credit to: Shiggy (archivist), Justia (host)
    Personnel: Silicon Knights

    Quote Originally Posted by Silicon Knights
    [...] 6 Lloyd says that he indirectly considered SK's historical sales as a subjective factor in his analysis, but that he did not directly consider SK's prior games because Too Human was "a different product," offered on"a different platform," at a "different date and time." Lloyd Dep. 11315. SK's prior games resulted in total sales as follows: Blood Omen, Legacy of Kain, 320,082 units; Eternal Darkness, 403,757 units; Metal Gear Solid, Twin Snakes, 350,539 units. See Lloyd Report 22 n.34. At oral argument, SK's counsel asserted that Blood Omen, Legacy of Kain sold over 2 million units. SK's counsel, however, cited nothing in the record to support this assertion. [...]
    Last edited by Lord_Aevum; 10th Jan 2015 at 01:06.

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