Friday, 27 February 2015

The anticlimactic end to the series or how Dead Sun wanted to be the next Soul Reaver *UPDATE*



The latest situation with the leaked Dead Sun footage thanks to the diligent work of Divine Shadow and those who provided the material brought a considerable shock and disbelief, both positive and negative. A certain disparity can be observed between the LOK fans on the various forum and Facebook discussions as some people deeply regret its cancellation (even going so far as to make a petition to make the game finished) or on the other side, rejoice in its demise (and making an anti-petition to keep it dead). This article was written at the behest of my own conscience as the series' loyal fan for over a decade and prompted mostly by the new information sprouting on various sources, which have brought us a bit closer to uncovering the truth regarding Dead Sun's development and subsequent cancellation, which might be omitted by many people if not analyzed and brought into light. I do not claim that everything in this article is absolutely truthful, as it all depends on the sources. However, I wanted to bring as much information about this situation as I could, so you yourself can be the judge.

Firstly, let's go back into early 2009, the year when the preproduction work on Dead Sun began. Square Enix decided it was time to bring Legacy of Kain back from the dead (ever since the cancellation of The Dark Prophecy) and asked several game companies, including Climax, to make a pitch for a new LOK game concept. Apparently, Climax's pitch focusing on a human possessing a vampire was the one, which caught SE's eye and was given a green light to start working on. Later that year, a survey took place and a handful of people had been contacted regarding the next LOK game and their preferences in the direction of the story and artwork. The game was in preproduction for three years and in 2012, there was a playable vertical slice demo build and a teaser trailer reveal ready for E3, which was prepared by Square Enix's own CG department. However, something went wrong as the only gothic looking game announced was Dark Souls 2 instead and there was nothing mentioned regarding Dead Sun. It appears, that it must have been prior to E3, when the executives at SE decided the game was not good enough to be showcased and thus pulled the plug on the entire project, after spending possibly millions on its production. What led them to such a decision?

While SE does not comment on specific reasons on Dead Sun's cancellation, the former community manager George Kelion touched on the subject on NeoGAF and Eidos Forums saying that „LOK: Dead Sun just wasn’t the right game, at the right time…“ Other information, that we have is from the original post by Divine Shadow, where he uncovered the game's existence. The situation with the cancellation of the project appears to be less than ideal, as Divine Shadow's thread elaborates upon: „One source recalled that staff came in at weekends to continue working on the game, while higher ups already knew it was cancelled.“ Other sources also say, that the game was not good enough, it had questionable story background, and that the studio could not deliver what they promised, as the scope of the game was too much for their team.

 
This leads us to the overall reaction of Climax and several supposed employees about this discovery. The anonymous employees posted in response to Divine Shadow's findings on NeoGAF. One of them stated, that the game was very much like Legend of Zelda, with open fields and hub worlds to explore: „The thing to remember is that this bit is a small chunk of what was essentially Hyrule field - an expanse designed to lead from place to place. The person playing this is really taking their time with a bit of the game that has zero missions - the actual structure was far more Zelda/Soul Reaver than this might appear.“ 


The other developer claims that the game would have pushed Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to their limits and that it was even considered for release as a PlayStation 4 launch title instead to get around the technical limitations of the old consoles. He compares the game to Shadow of Mordor, which was very successful, but warns that Dead Sun was just too ambitious and had nowhere near the budget or manpower needed to successfully pull such a game off. The third source sheds a somewhat less optimistic light on the subject, however. His coworker's account of the game's more or less troubled development:


1) The game had been in development for almost 3 years when squeenix shut it down
2) The project lead had no interest in Legacy of Kain and was quoted as saying "Soul Reaver was garbage". My coworker went on to say that the guy had terrible ideas and what they had at the end was a mish mash of poorly put together half ideas.
3) It was hot trash and needed a bullet put in it.“

Another post from this source to confirm his identity:

Climax's video game director Sam Barlow and narrative designer/writer James Smythe also provided their thoughts on Dead Sun's reception by the fans. It is understandable that they would be upset about their game's being cancelled while the multiplayer component survives with their assets still being used, but these tweets make me question their integrity. Here are the most interesting exchanges:

I have a major issue with this comment. Firstly, the aforementioned timeline is wrong and incorrect in many places, as it was pointed out later by Aradiel, and it also does not account for any of the events which occured in Defiance. Being a developer of a possible future LOK game and relying on incomplete fan source material is very unprofessional, to say the least. It shows that Climax's knowledge of the source material was very limited. They also used that timeline example as a very poor reason to convince the higher-ups in SE not to continue Kain's story.

A brief overview of why that timeline is wrong:
  • Vorador was always executed (his revival being part only on the fourth timeline, carried it by Raziel in Defiance, but it got scrapped from the game),
  • Kain always refuses the sacrifice, history is not rewritten,
  • Moebius got his Soul Reaver from the elder Kain (Kain sends it indirectly to Moebius after he is done with his main quest)


A long-term Realmer, Aradiel, called Barlow out on this timeline issue, however, and the only response he received is that it is not Barlow's problem to resolve the series' story issues. This begs the question: why would he then even decide to make a game bearing the LOK name in the first place if he is afraid of its complexities? The story of the LOK games is certainly not that easy to grasp at first, but it's that depth that has an irresistable appeal to many of the fans and the reason why we are still here after more than 10 years without any game. Instead, we have a company which does not trust itself and this brings us to the following:


They resorted to creating a wannabe Soul Reaver clone in a relatively "safe" area in the distant future after the events of SR1, further evincing that they had no confidence in the notion of actually continuing Kain's legacy. That is even further exaggerated by the uncovered teaser trailer, in which Gein boldly claims he is a "soul reaver“ after being burned to death by submerging into water.


Upon pointing out the problem with Dead Sun's dialogue, Barlow's and Smythe's responses are yet again on the edge of being mocking:


Further, Smythe claims that the footage has zero story in it, yet several cutscenes were leaked as well as a story entry found in the inventory from which we can deduce more than enough (the sun worship, humans being sterile, vampire hunters, vampires becoming wraiths, etc.). Another thing he sarcastically points out is that he should have used the words "forsooth“ and "verily“ to make the dialogue better, yet none of those words ever appeared in the series. 

In conclusion, yet another chance of a possible LOK singleplayer sequel got buried and who knows if there will be more. One cannot but help to make a similar parallels as with the DmC reboot and its rejection by the DMC fans because of its different portrayal of the story and the characters despite not being a bad game. In the end, it was probably for the best that Dead Sun did not see the light of day and remained unfinished. It is certainly not an easy task to make a proper LOK game and it never will be, so let us hope, that in the future we will get a more competent developer who will not be afraid of the grand task of continuing Kain's legacy. There is limitless potential to expand this universe, so many interesting settings to explore (such as the Ancients vs Hylden war, the Sarafan era, Kain's empire, etc.), so here's hoping that they will listen to us and avoid wasting everybody's time and money next time.

Vae Victis!

Special thanks to Divine Shadow/Mama Robotnik for his excellent detective work and Aevum and Hash'ak'gik888 for proofreading and overall help with the text.


UPDATE: Apparently, this article (a mobile version of it for some reason) got the attention of James Smythe and Sam Barlow and they seemingly do not deny any of it. At least we can all agre that the universe was in LOK favour indeed, when DS got cancelled.

Sources:
 

Original post:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=153305912&postcount=1

Petition:
https://www.change.org/p/square-enix-bring-back-legacy-of-kain-dead-sun?just_created=true


Anti-Petition:
https://www.change.org/p/square-enix-keep-dead-sun-dead-son?just_created_and_shared=true


Developer no.1:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=153310271&postcount=68

Developer no2:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=153384707&postcount=265

Developer no.3:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=153692348&postcount=347









RT on twitter:
https://twitter.com/RichardTeph/status/570632095908941824


Monday, 23 February 2015

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun video leak *UPDATE*



Divine Shadow unearthed yet another fantastic lost footage - an introductory demo part, which was presented to SE by Climax Studios. You can read more about the find on NeoGaf. The gameplay is very reminiscent of Prince of Persia/Shadow of Mordor with combat from the new Batman games. However, despite being claimed to be an actual LOK sequel, this game´s backstory supposedly would have erased all of what happened during the LOK series and instead, rebooted it similarly to what DmC did. It appears to be very loosely based on the fragments on the existing lore (mentioning Willendorf, even the Soul Reaver is present, albeit in a bastardized form, almost resembling a dagger). Somehow the vampires were all blue soul eaters in the future and could shift just like Raziel ("My body exists by the force of will"), thus completely cheapening his unique mechanic. Inexplicably, the main character vampire Asher got a human soul (Gein) overtake his body, as he tried to devour him, which does not really make sense. Also, for some strange reason, the humans became infertile all of a sudden and the story involved a very old vampiric child and even Elder God came to join the party. Spectral realm makes an appearence as well, but is portrayed like nothing we remember from previous games and resembles more of a time shift than actually shifting into a ghostly realm. Many of the mechanics and assets seen in the video came to be used in the multiplayer part of the game, Nosgoth. The dialogue is also rather crude in comparison to the delicate writing we were accustomed to in previous titles.

Personally, I believe this could have worked as a standalone game much better, without the complexities of the LOK franchise tagged on to it, as what it appears from the scraps of information we have from the game, Climax did a really bad job at trying to preserve the continuity of the franchise. It is a very big shame, because it shows some potential. However, in my opinion, given the fact the story ignores almost everything, which was setup by the previous games, it was for the best that it was cancelled. If anything, Dead Sun resembles much more the weird style of Akuji the Heartless than the vampire series. This post by the Hylden points out other things, which I wholeheartilly agree on as well.

UPDATE: More information leaked and now there is an E3 2012 trailer and a pre-boss cutscene on Youtube as well. All thanks to Divine Shadow´s work! If you have any doubts about Asher/Gein being a replacement for Raziel, do not look further. He basically shamelessly quotes Raziel:
"I am Destroyed. I am reborn. I am a soul Reaver." 

 To quote the words of my friend, Aevum:
"Yes, got to agree it comes off truly cynical to me, either ignorantly or malevolently using a long-outdated fan timeline as a weapon to bury the LoK sequel people actually desire in favour of your own IP. Square wants a new Kain game, so of course let's strip out every single aspect of the LoK series' identity, bar the minimum possible lip service, and hijack it as a vehicle for our own purposes. That's bound to go well.

I do think the bare bones of the Dead Sun concept were ideal in principle: a whole new character, distant era, etc, all brimming with potential to revitalise the series. It's just a real shame Square and Climax could botch the execution in almost every way; even the aspects which do pander to fans completely miss the mark. "I am a Soul Reaver!" Yeah, cheers for that, Gein. But I guess this is the kind of steep price one must pay for ignorance of the little things; specifically, millions upon millions of British sterling..."




Paradox pointed out that there is actual Raziel found in the footage! Skip to 1:24 of the video and you can see him lying on the ground. Here is a pic highlighting him:




Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from TAD!

Hey there!

I hope you all had a good year and spend your holidays in a peaceful manner! For myself, I hope that Soul Revenant gets along further after New Year and we can post new updates soon. Currently we are testing the movement codes and doing concepts for the Zephonim vampire.

Anyway, it´s been an interesting year overall and here´s to hoping it will be even better in 2015!


Friday, 12 September 2014

Soul Reaver Alpha Screenshots

Recently, a rare footage from a supposed Alpha version of Soul Reaver has sprung up on YouTube. The video showed the first portion of the game and is different in many regards than what he have seen so far. Raziel has a white aura around him, just like the sluagh, and disappears once he switches to material realm, where the health coil appears instead. There is even the early "ying yang" shift symbol in the Glyph menu and the Glyph menu has 8 slots. However, the video was taken down not long after it was put up. The uploader said he had sold the alpha build. However, it is strange and unfortunate as to why the video had to be taken down as well. That footage has a huge historical value for all LOK fans, so I documented it in several screenshots below with short commentary. If anybody has more info about any alpha build of Soul Reaver which is out there somewhere, please contact me, I´d be eternally grateful. It supposedly has the Undercity still built in and hopefully the Turelim clan territory as well. Thanks goes to Thiago, who saved the video from being lost to the abyss.

EDIT: It seems that the video has been put back online again. Watch here.


 Raziel has white aura as soon as the cutscene starts





 The footage is very dark

 The vortex of souls looks different


The placeholder pillars symbol is seen through the warp gate

 Soul as seen in the Lighthouse demo

 There are blue particles spawned as Raziel devours souls

 The soul spawner is blue as well, unlike the green colour it has in the final version


 There is also a wondering sluagh in this area

Sluagh training room

 This cutscene starts earlier


 Walking on air is present

 The planar portal looks like from SR2/Defiance


 The debug menu in a normal font, unlike in Beta



The ying yang symbol seen before in early magazine reviews
and 7 additional slots for glyphs





 Material health coil only appears in the material realm


 The underworld entrance is left open when in the material realm

The footage ends here unfortunately

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Soul Revenant - New team and switching to Unity


Greetings to all the fans supporting this project!

I got some news to share with you regarding what is new with Soul Revenant. After my old programmer left the project, I was alone and had to rethink how to complete the project. After posting the ad about looking for a programmer, I got a few replies and I can announce that the search was successful indeed. Now we have a team of five people (a programmer, two 3D animators/modelers, 3D environmental artist and me as the director/designer). We talked over what would be the best course of action for the project and after days of considering how to proceed, we decided we have to switch engines in order to fully unleash the game´s and team´s potential, as 3DGS was holding us back in many regards – be it the archaic programming language, lack of screen post-processing effects, high-end graphics, particle effects, etc. I believe that switching to Unity has many advantages and in the long run is a better choice for making this game.

Initially there were many problems to solve and one of them was the environmental shifting which was very problematic and in the old build it only swapped two models around. The combo of Unity and Blender with new talented artists will enable us to make a true HD remake in every sense – all of the environments will be fully remodeled in higher polygon count and more detailed architecture. Also, the Hylden gave us permission to use his amazingly detailed models of Kain and Raziel for the game. Unfortunately, all the code has to be written from scratch as well, as the language of the current scripts is nothing like what Unity uses. However, the new programmer is very skilled should be able to fully replicate all the needed systems for the game and I will try to help out with the basic functions as well. More so, we are all dedicated LOK fans on the team now, so remaking the game should be easier in this regard as well.

We will work in the scope of monthly goals to achieve, so there is always some progress done but it gives the team enough time to work but not become overwhelming. Please always bear in mind that we are all volunteers and have other responsiblities like work, studies, etc., so meeting a deadline might not be always possible. Developing a free game is very flexible process and depends mostly on the availability of the team. Currently, we started working on remaking the Drowned Abbey, so even though the updates will be less frequent, they will be worth the wait I hope. I might update this post with a little sneak peek of what we made so far. Thank you all again for your support and remember – as long as one of us stands, we are legion!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Looking for a programmer *CLOSED*

Since my current programmer, who has programmed most of the current code of my Soul Revenant project is busy and further unavailable, I am looking for somebody who could finish the coding. This is an unpaid, volunteer position and it is required for you to know C-Script/Lite-C programming language from 3D Gamestudio in order to be able to help. If you want to apply, please email me at ancientvampire(at)centrum.sk. Without a programmer, I can´t continue with the project, so if anybody can help, it would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Position has been filled.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Soul Reaver 15th Anniversary

Today we celebrate the 15th anniversary of a game which changed my life, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Soul Reaver first grabbed my attention in a preview listed in one of the OPSM issues in 1998. Its revolutionary mechanic of no-loading times and shifting between two realms made it a real hit in 16th of August, 1999. Highly anticipated, it was often compared to its competitors, mainly Tomb Raider 3. I was previously used to the box-like structure of Tomb Raider games but Soul Reaver totally surpassed any ps1 game at that time with its complicated architecture, stunning visuals, expertly crafted models and professional voice over. Even to this day, the game remains highly playable and enjoyable. It will always remain on top of my favourite games of all time.

It is hard to imagine it has been already 15 years since Soul Reaver was published and in order to commemorate its release, I am giving away Legacy of Kain collection on Steam and 10 Nosgoth keys (which were all graciously contributed by a fellow LOK fan and friend, Chance, thanks a lot!).

In order to win the LOK collection, write me an email at ancientvampire(at)centrum.sk with a description of why do you like Soul Reaver and what is your favourite moment from it. I´ll choose one winner and post their answer in this article.

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to EzioAs! Hope you will enjoy the collection.

"Why I like it

While I did play it 3-4 years after it was released, I got into it very quickly. Even though it was released during the PS1 era, it still has graphics that were very good for it's time. The environment was also very well done and the character design was very different from any game I use to play (which is mostly RPG).
There's shifting from different world, difficult puzzles, swimming, multiple spells, places to explore, there's tons to love about the game.

However, the biggest thing that remains to me why the Soul Reaver (and the entire Legacy of Kain games) is the story, dialogue and voice acting. No game came even close up to this day (well, some do but still doesn't beat it).

My Favorite Moment

Hmm, quite difficult to choose but I'll say the ending, the one where Kain goes into the portal, Raziel follows and meets Moebius. I know most people hate it but I do love cliffhangers. They give you the sense that next game already has the storyline and most of the time, it doesn't clash with previous games. That's my favorite moment.
"


For anybody else who does not have Nosgoth yet, grab a key from below and redeem it here. 
(You need a SE account and link it with your Steam account in ordert to play).

BEWUDE-225-JOWAVA-011
DECOLE-205-BOBODE-031
NEBODE-227-JALANE-016
NECOLA-227-JALAVA-001
PEWOLA-225-JADABE-221
PAJOFA-325-COYAVA-225
BEJUFA-227-JAWADA-201
NEPUFE-777-COTOVE-015
DAGODE-375-BANATA-236
VAWOFA-257-BADABA-211

Update: All keys have been used!

I hope you will enjoy the game and looking forward to your emails!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Nosgoth Sound Bytes *UPDATE*

There has been a demand for character´s lines from Nosgoth, so I decided to record some for you. It is currently not possible to extract them from the game, so I have to record them while playing (which is not that easy, as you have to turn off everything except the character´s voices and play). Some are not perfect yet as you can hear other characters speak but better than nothing, at least for now. I´ll update the list of files later as I record more of them (I laughed at the game´s own accidental attempt to censor one of the words from Hunter´s lines...).The file also includes death cries.


UPDATE: I have included several more lines and battle music (thanks to Count Eyokir and Marmite666 for providing them!).


Sound bytes current list:

Alchemist:  
The flames find my enemies.
You´re going to die, you bastards.
Now burn them all.
I will find you vampires.
Leave none alive! 
Search this town for this damned leeches!

Dumahim: 
I give you death.
One less rebel.
Should have stayed a slave.
There is prey to be killed.
They must die.
The hunt continues. 

Hunter:
Come on!
Till every leech is dead.
Death to the vampires.
Come on you leeches.
Rot you f...., rot!

Razielim:
Come out, come out, wherever you are!
I shall find you.
Now, I teach them terror.
To battle, find those humans.
To the fight!
Victory awaits!

Prophet:
Cease!
Today we will kill the spawn of Kain!
There can be no doubt that victory will come!
I speak with the voice of many and I call this day your last!
Your fate is at hand! 
From the darkness, light.

Scout:  
The battle goes on until all their kind are gone.
Till every leech is dead.

Turelim:  
For Nosgoth.