We recently got a chance to talk to the James Wilson and Nick Newhard, members of the Blood Development Team. Here's what they had to say about their wonderfully successful new game!
What is the history of Blood? And how did you all become involved with Blood?
[Nick Newhard] I had just finished a product for Edmark in late 1993 when I
decided to seek out greener pastures to start my own game development team. I
connected with Scott Miller at Apogee through a mutual acquaintance. I
started working on a fantasy concept to be based on the Build engine with
Jason Hall. Apogee was into the idea of starting a development group on the
west coast, but the money initially involved was not enough to endorse two
people, let alone an entire development team. I decided to continue the concept
development alone, and Jason remained at Edmark. Ironically, Jason later left
Edmark to start Monolith Productions with a group of ex-Edmark employees.
Blood has an interesting and intruiging storyline, how important was a
good story and good characters to the Blood team?
Another Apogee team in Dallas was also working on a fantasy concept. We
proposed working on a horror game instead, and went back to the drawing board
-- this time with enough money to hire an artist. After a rough beginning and
a few bumps and bruises, Blood was off to a fair start. By the beginning of
1995 Q Studios had three full-time people working on Blood, and five by 1996.
Broad strides were made in advancing the technology in Ken Silverman's Build
engine, when we added stacked sectors and Ken added 3D sprites. We knew that
adding cut scenes to Blood would be cool and would really polish it off as a
quality retail product. Q Studios didn't have the equipment, time or team
resources to do that and finish the game in a reasonable time frame. We knew
we needed to expand the team to really flesh out the game. We sought out our
friends at Monolith, discussed the idea of merging Q Studios with them, and
then made it happen. The rest is history.
[James Wilson] VERY important! We feel that story goes hand-in-hand with
gameplay in giving players that immersive feel that they want in a 3D first
person game. We spent a lot of time talking about and refining the story and
character so that they weren't just tacked on, or side jokes. The story in
Blood doesn't take over the action, but every episode has a goal, and the
cutscenes relate to the entire story. Their is even a revelation before
taking on the final boss.
With all the Doom, Duke, Quake-style games coming on to the market, for
instance, myself, I'm real bored with these first-person shooters, many are
just the same games with new packaging and some new elements. What did the
Blood dev. team, from the VERY beginning, want to include that would make it
different? what did you want to include?
[Nick Newhard] Two things have prevented most 3D action games from becoming
hits. First, most of them do not have the right feel for an action game. Most
devout Doom deathmatch fans will tell you that the greatest thing about Doom
and Doom II was the feel of the game during a deathmatch. We approached Blood
not wanting to make a clone, but to make Blood's gameplay superior to the
rest of the market. Part of it is in the solid, almost organic feel of the
controls, but our arsenal also plays a big role. Not only are our weapons
well-balanced, they're also very distinct and versatile. In a typical
BloodBath, players will end up using most if not all of the weapons, because
each has a different tactical advantage. That sort of intricacy is missing
from a lot of other games, where you tend to stick to the most powerful gun.
Blood has been delayed for a while, and has gone through many legal
changes, from the shifting of hands from 3D Realms to Monolith, has any of
this affected Blood or the development team?
On top of that, Blood's physics, graphics, levels, and interactivity are
unmatched. We had a tough standard to measure up to, so we put lots of effort
into creating an atmospheric, absorbing world full of tricks and traps and
even a dose of macabre humor.
[James Wilson] Things have only gotten better.
Was working with the Build engine difficult? Did it limit you in any
aspect? With the Quake engine being TRUE 3D, and people saying that the Build
Engine is 2.5D, how do you compare the two. (I know, it's like comparing
apples and oranges). Also, how has the use of stacked sectors improved the
[James Wilson] The main comparison is in speed. While our requirements are
equivalent to Quake, we used a much higher framerate benchmark than Quake
when we defined those requirements. Simply said, Blood runs faster. Working
with Build hasn't been difficult, because for the majority of the project
Build was the best thing out there. At the end of the day, though, all the
true 3D in the world doesn't save Quake from the fact that it is hollow as a
game, and merely a shell supported by its technology. Gameplay and content
are king, and that's why Duke outsold Quake by a hefty margin.
How does Blood improve upon the gameplay elements of Duke Nukem 3D?
The stacked sectors have allowed us to do a lot of things we couldn't have
otherwise, and they are nice, but they haven't drastically changed the game.
When it gets right down to it, most people don't notice true 3D when they are
playing the game, they only notice whether they are having fun. If a game
isn't fun all the true 3D and stacked sectors in the world won't make a
[James Wilson] In several ways. I'll go through them one by one:
Blood has some of the most unique weapons ever created in a game, where
did the ideas for the weapons such as the flare gun and the voodoo doll come
Movement: Doom players who miss the feel of Doom's movement will LOVE Blood.
The feel is lot more solid and controllable than Duke's spastic, no-physics
feel. We didn't much care for the stiff feel and lack of control that Duke
Weapons: Blood's weapons are what all weapons should be: POWERFUL! No
extended 20-round, 2-minute shotgun battles, and no weapons that dominate the
game. You can kill with pretty much any weapon, and every weapon has it's
Enemies: While Duke's enemies were amusing, they were pretty generic. Our
monsters are recognizable entities within a genre, that being horror.
zombies that cry out for your brains, cultist's that scream for death in a
mystic language, Hellhounds that breathe fire, Disembodied Hands. Our
monsters are more intriguing, and more dangerous.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. :)
[Nick Newhard] Inspiration for Blood's weapons came from a number of places.
flare guns have been used in several movies. For Blood, we wanted a similar
weapon felt and looked realistic while not compromising game play. The flare
gun itself went through several incarnations. First we bought a modern marine
flare pistol; one you would commonly find on a boat. Here is where complete
ealism would have compromised the weapon. Marine flare pistols are tiny,
orange and look exactly like toys. We considered renting a conventional
military flare/grenade launcher. We researched several models, but none of
them fit Blood's theme or character. We found the answer to our flare gun
dilemna among more historical weapons, just as we had for Blood's Tommy Gun
and sawed-off shotgun. There were several antique brass flare pistols used by
the Army that looked and felt adequate for Blood. We used these as a model
for Blood's flare pistol. The result is something no one would pinpoint as a
military weapon, and yet is still based heavily in reality. We added our own
ouches to the weapon to increase the carnage level caused by the various
firing modes. While there is no real life equivalent to the startburst flare
pattern, it ensures that Blood's flare pistol is unique, balanced, and
noteworthy in both solo and network play. There are plenty of games where you
ignore the "special" weapons because they suck. There is not one weapon in
Blood that that can be said about. The thrown TNT is probably the weakest
BloodBath weapon, but I have seen scores of "good" players being reamed by
Monolith's best players using TNT. To enhance TNT as a weapon, we added TNT
Proximity Bombs and TNT Remote Bombs to the retail and registered versions of
Blood. These weapons are excellent tools for BloodBath destruction. I suppose
I can take credit for the Voodoo Doll concept, but it was Kevin Kilstrom's
artwork and the team's suggestions that made the Voodoo Doll a truly great
Well, with the Blood shareware version now released and gamers everywhere
are getting their first view on what Blood is, what do you think of the Blood
[Nick Newhard] The highlight of releasing Blood into shareware has been
reading all the messages from fans who enjoy Blood, especially those with
praise for BloodBath. A lot of people missed the feel of a Doom II deathmatch
in recent games. From user comments we know that we have reached our goal.
Blood is the only game to date that matches the deathmatch feel, and even
surpasses it with unique firepower and high level of interactivity.
Is it a true representation of your work?
[Nick Newhard] Well, it is our work so the answer has to be yes. Is it our
best work? That can be answered most effectively by looking at the lives of
renowned artists and athletes. None of them were ever satisfied with their
first canvas or their first jump. Neither are we. And like them, we intend to
surpass this first game Blood many times over.
Some gamers have complained that the Blood SW shows nothing new, how are you
going to fix that?
[Nick Newhard] Technology mongers will never be satisfied with good game
play. There will always be people who want to jump to the next game engine
without savoring the game play. Fortunately they are few and far between or
we'd never see great games like Blood, Diablo, Warcraft, or C&C.; Chasing
after the latest technology is always a dangerous business. Ultimately,
gameplay is what matters, and we are extremely confident in Blood's design.
We're sure that people will have a lot of fun playing it, especially when
they get their hands on the full version.
Is there anything that gamers are missing from the shareware version?
What will the retail version hold that are different from the shareware
version? new weapons? enemies? gameplay elements?
[James Wilson] Of course we held back a lot of things!
Blood features MORE options than Duke3D, was this intended? What options
will the full version include?
Their are 6 new weapons including two variations of the TNT (remote and
proximity) which emulate and expand on the trip-wires and pipe bombs of Duke.
Other weapons include the flamethrower, tesla cannon (high-speed electrical
projectile weapon), life leech (the name says it all), and the infamous
Their are several monsters including spiders, the aforementioned disembodied
hands and hellhounds, the phantasm, three new bosses, etc. We have more
monsters than any other 3D game!
We've also made several improvements on the AI, as well as many other options
as they have been requested by the gaming public. And, of course, LOTS of
levels. The final version has 34 EXTRA levels on top of the 8 shareware.
[James Wilson] Yes. We feel that the player is king, and they should have
control over as many different aspects of the game as possible. We also
strived to make sure that while Blood allowed for a lot of diversity, that
this wasn't in sacrifice of gameplay. I think we striked a great balance.
The full version has equivalent options expanded to fit the new weaponry and
features that the full version offers.
Name, in your mind, the best feature of Blood, compared to ALL the other
first-person shooters around. Also, name the worst feature. =)
[James Wilson] Many people will say many different things, but I say the
weapons. Blood's weapons are extremely powerful, and very balanced. No
rocket launcher dominating like in Duke and Quake, and no weak weapons like
in Quake. It is hard to define the worst feature since from my viewpoint
we've done everything we've wanted to do with Blood. I'm sure techno-mongers
will state the engine, and those that prefer Duke-style movement to
Doom-style might quote that, but the majority of the people out there like
it, and that's all that counts.
How was multiplayer emphasized during development? Will Blood feature
all the multiplayer capabilities (internet, ipx, modem) that Quake does?
[James Wilson] Multi-player has been a large focus. Level-wise we set up
the first and last levels of each of the four episodes to be primed for
two-player bloodbath, and the rest of the levels got a lot of attention for
how they played for a greater number of players. We intentionally made these
first and last levels smaller so that they would be good for BB, and added
more levels to the entire list so that the single player game wouldn't get
short-changed (we have 34 levels in our regular four episodes, as opposed to
27-30 in most of 3D action games). We've also included an 8 levels Bloodbath
episode with the registered version.
Also, why keep with the DOS platform, when so many games are coming out
for Windows 95?
Blood has the same networking options as Duke did, but we are working on
optimizing it for every major on-line service that wants it, and so far they
all seem to. At Monolith we are dedicated to getting Blood into every
possible venue that players might want to use.
[James Wilson] Basically, the idea of starting Blood development from scratch for Windows95
did not appeal to the team, to Monolith, or to our publisher. There are
plenty of great DOS games that function under Windows95. We realize the
future is in game development on non-DOS platforms, but in the case of Blood,
chose not to throw out years of work to redesign for one platform. We are
looking into the feasibility of supporting hardware acceleration at some
point after Blood's retail release - this may or may not occur.
Are there any plans for an official Blood map editor? A Blood 2? What
are your next projects?
[Nick Newhard] We will release Blood's tools with the retail version of
[James Wilson] We've kicked around ideas for Blood 2, and they are exciting
ideas, but we have no plans of pursuing them in the immediate future. Most
of the Blood team will be turning our efforts towards Monolith's next big
cutting edge 3D game. We are still seeking a title for it, but it will use
DirectEngine, a true 3D engine with all the bells and whistles of Unreal and
twice those of Quake. Oh, and Blood was just a warmup compared to what we
intend to do to the gaming scene with this one. Consider this first project
as clearing our throats before we truly sing and you'll get the idea! :)