An Interview with Raven Software

We fly over the Raven's nest...

Everyone who's had his/her share of PC gaming has played Soldier of Fortune once in their life. Unleashed upon unsuspecting gamers way back in 2000, this was one of the first hyper violent games I’ve had the pleasure of playing and even in today’s day and age it’s still a tremendous stress buster (right up there with Burnout Revenge). With the advent of the HD era and next gen technology I always hoped and prayed (and still do) that Raven would one day make a sequel to this most excellent game; unfortunately we haven’t got any sort of confirmation about that till now, but we did get a chance to speak to Brian Raffel, the co-founder of Raven Software who gives us the lowdown on all things Raven.

Raven’s done pretty well for itself in the FPS genre with stuff like Quake IV, SoF, Hexen, Heretic and more. What made you guys switch to an isometric view for Marvel Ultimate Alliance; or rather, what made you guys make a Marvel Ultimate Alliance in the first place?

An Interview with Raven Software

As much as we enjoy working on an FPS like Soldier of Fortune, Raven wants to branch out and explore other styles of gaming. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, like X-Men Legends I & II, gave us a chance to create a game that involved a team of up to 4 players. Besides, how could we pass up a chance to work with some of the greatest super heroes the world has ever known, like Spider-man, Wolverine and Captain America?
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Even though SoF II was graphically a lot more advanced than it’s predecessor and packed in more gore, people still preferred SoF; why do you think that is so?

The biggest factor in that is probably that Soldier of Fortune was the introduction to the series; everything was brand new –the game play, the characters and the locations. It’s impossible to recreate that newness with a sequel, but in SOF II we did make it a better experience, with a more immersive world, more action and more realistic combat.

Nintendo has sacrificed graphics for innovation with the Wii. Do you think that was the right way to go? Are you guys planning on releasing anything for the Wii?

It was definitely a smart move; Nintendo has always tried to innovate and think outside the box. With the Wii they’re opening up whole new possibilities for the gaming experience and in the long run, it’s going to pay off. And to take advantage of that, we released Marvel: Ultimate Alliance for the Wii.

How did the merger with Activision take place?

There came a point where my brother Steve and I realized we had taken Raven as far as we could on our own. We knew that in order to keep creating great games, we needed the resources and experience of a much larger company – so we talked to a number of different organizations. Then we met Activision and realized that merging with them would be a perfect fit. Just like Raven, they are a forward thinking company that is constantly pushing to make video games a bigger and better experience.

Episodic gaming seems to be the trend these days. What’s your take on this; can we expect any episodic content from you guys in the near future?

For years now my brother Steve has wanted to do episodic games, but until recently it just wasn’t technologically feasible. Unfortunately, now that we can do it, we just don’t have the resources because of all the other games we’re currently working on. But who’s to say what one of our next projects will be?
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Can you tell us anything about the new Wolfenstein game?

Sorry, but we can’t reveal any details about Wolfenstein.

Have any of you been to India? What’s your take on the gaming industry in India?

Unfortunately, I’ve never been to India, but I have worked with the Bala Brothers at Vicarious Visions and they’ve told me a great deal about it. I’ve heard it’s absolutely beautiful there. The gaming industry in India is really beginning to take off – it’s an emerging market that is presenting lots of good business opportunities.

What’s next on the cards for Raven?

As far games are concerned, all I can say is that we have 3 very exciting projects in the works – announcements will be made later this year, so keep an eye open for them. As a company, Raven will continue to grow by seeking out top notch talent from around the world. We recently moved to a new building to accommodate our increasing numbers; the really cool thing is that it contains a huge motion capture studio, a 3d scanning studio, a sound studio, and even a work out facility.

And finally… I just have to get this off my chest once and for all; is there any hope of us ever getting a Soldier of Fortune III? If not, can we expect a sequel to Hexen or Heretic?

Raven Software would love to revisit all three of those titles, they’re big favorites of ours; but right now we’re so busy with other projects that there just isn’t enough time. That’s not to say we’ll never do sequels to those games – the video game business is quickly becoming like the movie industry; you never know exactly what the future has in store.

Thank you for your time.

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