of Soldier of Fortune was rife with questions and uncertainties
right from the very beginning. Fresh from finishing up Portal of
Praevus, the Hexen 2 mission pack, Raven was ready to dig
in to a full-fledged stand-alone product. Unfortunately, no one at Raven
had a solid idea for our next project and we found ourselves floating
in a sea of ideas without a solid direction. With a full team ready
and willing to go, we needed a project and we needed one fast. It was
then that Activision handed us the Soldier of Fortune license.
the beginning, what was to become the SoF team was focusing on several
different story lines and game ideas. One of these was a somewhat real-world,
military-style shooter based in a World War II setting. When we decided
not to pursue that game, we began looking for new game ideas. We knew
that we still wanted to do a real-world military game, but beyond that
we didn't have much of an idea. As soon as we got the Soldier of
Fortune license, though, the groundwork for the game immediately
began to fall into place.
the license name itself was met with mixed reactions from the SoF team,
at its core was everything that we wanted from the game. Action, intrigue,
political turmoil, and firepower were key elements of the design from
the very beginning. Now we needed to find a story that would complement
the license and turn it into a great game.
Soldier of Fortune evokes different images for different people. One
thing that we could all agree on was that the title reflected the mercenary
life; making money at the risk of death. This was something that we
wanted to highlight and focus on dramatically throughout the game. However,
focusing on this one aspect tended to blind us to the bigger picture
of what we were trying to accomplish, and our first few story attempts
failed miserably. We focused too much of the gameplay on making money
and not enough on finding something that would truly compel the player
throughout the game. Nevertheless, even without a story set in stone
we began the production of the game. This was a decision that we would
come to regret many times throughout the rest of the development cycle.
side to spending a large portion of development time working on a game
without a solid story was that most of it was spent on technology creation.
The bad part was that many of the levels that were originally planned
and created had to be reworked or removed from the game entirely. On
top of that, Activision was getting a little nervous that they had not
seen any solid gameplay from us yet after almost a year of development.
This uneasiness itself caused major turmoil in the development and it
took a while for us to settle into the game that we would eventually
during this time, all of the core technology was implemented and functioning
smoothly. Because of this, once we nailed the story down, we were able
to jump head-first into the production and quickly create a solid product.
In order to achieve a strong sense of realism, we decided to talk to
a published author about the script and also to a real-life "military
consultant" about how a soldier of fortune truly lives his life.
This was one of the major turning points in the development and we were
finally able to focus the game into its final product.
settled on an action-movie feel, SoF finally began to take form.
We were able to tie together an appealing story line quickly with several
twists to keep the player enthralled. Combining this with the extensive
amount of information that our military consultant provided us, everyone
on the team was excited about the project again and the true development
of the game got underway. In less than ten months, the core of SoF
was assembled into a fun, viable product. After the game was released
this past March, the rest, as they say, is history.