June 1998

June 29, 1998

The Adrenaline Vault has written the best article on the back room showing of Prey at E3 I have seen so far!  It goes into detail about the storyline approach of the game, plus some new facts on the engine and Preditor.  One interesting feature pointed out was the ability for more than one user to work on a map in Preditor at a time.   This is a very recommended read.


June 12, 1998

3D Realms released the original floor demo of Prey.   This is not just a video captured from a video camera.  It shows the demo in good quality in its entirety.  Probably one of the best looks at the game so far!   It is a 16MB download in mpeg format.

 


June 5, 1998

E3 is now over and Prey did get a lot of attention.  Many gaming sites did previews of the game and we now have more information on the game.  Even  videos and audio of the Prey demo shown are available!  Below is all the Prey coverage wrapped up into one page. Enjoy!

PC Gamer (5-28-98):  

When we first heard about Prey’s portal technology, it sound much like any of the other 1,000 useless marketing phrases we hear every year. But after seeing the game in action, it has become apparent that Portal technology is the real deal. Take, for instance, Prey, a title that uses the technology as an integral part of its gameplay. One weapon in particular lets players set up a portal in a high traffic area and put the other end in a secluded, safe place. From that vantage point, players can hide in one area and shoot unsuspecting passers-by in another crowded section. While Prey uses this technology, it has many other great features that make it one of the best, if not the best, PC game at the show. The graphics engine is absolutely amazing, and the special effects rival those found in any game. One weapon has a blast radius big enough to wipe out an entire screen, and another sends blood flying against the nearest wall. Prey also has strong story elements. It's the tale of Talon Brave, a young Indian who is dragged on an adventure that spans the reaches of the universe. All cinematic scenes are created with the game's engine and provide seamless entry from the story to the game. The title should be ready by the fourth quarter of 1998.

OGR (5-30-98):   + 1 Screenshot showing a good example of a portal in a gyro.

We were among the few and privileged invited in to see 3D Realms' upcoming everything-killer, Prey. Paul Schuytema, the project leader for the game, walked us through a small technology demo for the game, as well as some of the early levels (they claim to be about 90-95% done with the engine and about 35% done with the levels -- shooting for a Q1/Q2 '99 release).  Well, needless to say, we were blown away by what all of us were saying was easily the best-looking 3D shooter at the show. First off, we were treated to a demo of the "interactive" environments in the game. Paul shot out some free-standing objects which exploded, which has been seen before. Then he blew out an entire wall (at least 40 feet tall). But then, and most impressively, he blew out the poles that supported the ceiling, which collapsed onto the floor! Extremely impressive interactive environments. He noted that every environment will be interactive by default; the level designers just need to "turn on the switch" so to speak.

The second portion of the technology engine was the what Paul referred to as "hyper-dense" environments. Essentially incredibly detailed environments where you could zoom in on small objects (like a electrical outlet, or the words in a magazine) and get incredible resolution. They plan on using this super-realism to draw people into the game early (the first 25% of the game takes place on Earth, the other 3/4 take place on an alien spaceship), and then when people are sucked in, throwing them a lot of curveballs. 

Next up from the technology point of view was the "portal" system that is being used to program the game. We watched the main character of the game, Talon Brave, from an external camera. Paul zoomed out, and all of a sudden, we were watching, from a totally exterior environment, the same scene, suspended in air. Essentially, we were watching a television point of view that was attached to a six-degrees-of-freedom device. So what came next was that Paul started to spin the device (with the scene with Talon Brave in the device) and you could see through this "portal" into the other environment. Truly impressive stuff.  The portals are obviously the main driving force behind the engine in the game. We then saw Paul lay down two devices that created these portals in midair, and basically one portal was a view through the other one, so our character could see the back of himself in the portal he was looking in. Shoot through that portal, and you can shoot yourself. Shoot in one portal and it will come out the other, and even go back out of the second portal, if you aim correctly. He also showed portals being used to model mirroring effects. A well-polished marble floor was a scene we saw, and when we looked at the ground, we could see a totally clear reflection of Talon Brave, and since this is all part of the engine, it isn't just some hack added on for mirroring effects later on. You've seen this before, like in Unreal, but the detail in the reflection was unsurpassed. You could see the ridges on the ceiling and other cool stuff.

But aside from the technology, some of the game environments we saw were incredibly impressive. We saw pools of water from above, and then went below the surface, and looked up through glass that held the pools of water, and then up to the sky. Buildings in the alien environment were dozens of stories tall, and were complete objects that you could shoot at and do damage to.  Paul said that they won't be revealing much about the game before release. Only 2 weapons were shown and even those might not make the final release. First was the "Drunk Missile Launcher", a triple missile shooter that fires three random-trajectory missiles. Paul said the launcher might be in the game, but probably with heat seeking missiles. Next up was "X5", just a code name for the particular weapon. It fired plasma gun-like bolts; it also had a secondary fire mode which fired a huge plasma bolt that shook the world when it crashed into a distant wall. 

In all, Prey was an incredibly impressive title. Running through different scenes in the game, we saw some of the coolest effects ever. We saw it running on a P2-266 with a Voodoo 2 accelerator card, and it was absolutely flawless, even in the hyper-dense environments, there was absolutely no slowdown. It really had a true air of "reality" about it, and we think this will really be a game to watch in the coming year as it gets closer to release. PreyTech, what Paul called the engine, will be utilized in a series of games, including Duke 5. He also stated they would be licensing it out to other developers. We will definitely be following this game closely and may even have some more E3 coverage about it. Stay tuned!

Prey also made OGR's 1998 "Best of E3 Awards!"  Prey made the big "Most Promising First Person Shooter" category and was a runner up in "Most Promising Software Technology"   Here is what OGR said about Prey winning the 1st Person Shooter:

With amazingly detailed 3D graphics, cool special effects, and fantastically interactive environments, Prey is sure to change the FPS landscape. To make a huge splash in the 3D action genre, you need a hot engine and quality design, and Prey looks like it's shaping up to have both in spades. This is one of those games that makes even jaded game editors' jaws drop.

 

The Adrenaline Vault  + 1 Screenshots (1, 2, 3, 4)   + 1 Movie of the floor demo (15MB, 1:41)

AVault didn't write up any previews of the game, but did post a video of the actual running demo on the floor of E3.  If you couldn't make it to Atlanta, this is your chance to see the demo.

 

Meccaworld + Daily Dementia (100K Speed) with Paul Schuytema

Meccaworld's TC did a great interview with Paul of the Prey team after E3.   The show starts off with the Demo Audio and we hear the voice of Talon Brave! Then we hear some music (KMFDM?) and a description of the game.  Then we hear the back room session with Paul talking about the game and running through the game.  Great information on the game here!  Maybe I'll type in some of what Talon/Paul said in the show later.

Just about 10 minutes removed from Prey with Paul Schuytema, the Project Leader, and the engine for the game is fantastic. The UNREAL engine will be king until a id Software engine is released, or until Prey is released, something in the late spring of 1999, probably.

The portal technology is amazing, and you can setup portals yourself (keep in mind, the game runs portals constantly, yet you just don't noticed them -- It's a design factor), and fire through the portals and shoot yourself. We'll let Paul explain it, coming up next week on the Daily Dementia. Damn well right, we bring you inside the backrooms, and let you hear what Paul and other developers are telling everyone. I think that's cool... :)

Also, Prey has some other impressive features. Shoot and blow up a barrel, okay.   Shoot and make a table fall down, okay. Yet, shoot and destroy an entire wall, and then take our the support bars, and the ceiling comes down. It's a hard game to explain, yet let us say it's going to raise the level again, in engine technology like UNREAL has done at this moment.

 

GameSpot

Prey could be the most impressive 3D game in development. It features both cutting-edge technology and an interesting story with well-developed characters. In development for more than two years, the game is finally coming together and is now expected to ship by early 1999.

Players follow the adventures of Talon Brave, a modern-era Apache Indian who lives on a small reservation in northeastern Arizona. 3D Realms wanted Talon to be realistic, so the team researched Native American and Apache culture, mythology, language, and traditions to imbue Talon with appropriate attributes.

Talon is abducted by extra-terrestrials and ends up on a spaceship known as the Trocaran mothership. His first goal is survival, but other motivations and situations develop throughout the course of the game. The Trocara are three diverse alien species who use the same "mothership" as their respective homeworlds. The ship is gigantic in scale and has some design similarities to Larry Niven's Ringworld. It's not nearly as large as the Ringworld (the ring isn't the size of a planetary orbit) - it's about four times the diameter of Earth.

 

Blues News (5-31-98):

Prey's engine looks ready for prime-time: running fast and smooth with insane levels of texture detail and amazing flexibility to create interactive environments. The game is not going to be released until 1999, and technology advantages have a way of disappearing as time passes, but the passion for making a great gaming experience that oozes from project leader Paul Schuytema's every pore is infectious (he showed an example of the kind of awesome firepower that will be at your disposal, showing great promise for fun gameplay), and I think I caught the fever. The portal stuff is cool too, but it's almost over-focused on, like that's all there is to Prey (though besides some bizarre five dimensional level creation opportunities, it also allows a nice seamless transitions between levels-to the point where the term level becomes moot). If I've got you a little antsy to see Prey knowing it is so far off, then you are in the same boat as I am, because now I can't wait for Prey.

And from Jason "loonyboi" Bergman:

What can I say...I was blown out of my chair. What amazed me the most was just how little I understood the concept of portals before Paul Schuytema's demonstration. If you're totally clueless, let me fill you in.

Portals are not the same as just walking through a teleporter, or even the concept of being able to look through one and seeing the other side. In Prey, everything is a portal.

In the demonstration, we were shown our hero Talon Brave, standing still, looking totally kickass with his gi-normous gun. Nicely rendered yadda-yadda. Then the camera pulled back. It didn't just pull back to show us more of the room, mind you...it pulled back...to reveal that we were actually zoomed in on a ring. The ring then began to spin around on its
axis, circling several others, and all the while we could still see Talon Brave standing there...breathing. This isn't a big deal in FMV...but it was all rendered in real-time. Prey uses portals literally everywhere. At one point, Paul showed us a standard level, and he ran through it. As he passed through each doorway, I asked, "was that a portal?". And of course...they all were. As was every window. And any place there was water. Hell, in one part, the floor, a reflective surface, was a portal.

And damn, are these some detailed levels. That 360 degree screenshot that was released didn't begin to show off the detail in these things. An example: we were shown one level in an underwater base type dealie...outside, there was a (beautifully animated) whale-like creature (a Whaleboy?) and if you looked closely, you could actually see waaaaay off in the distance, through the window, another building, that showed a guard pacing back and forth. This wasn't a skybox...it was an actual room, being rendered in real-time. Also in the same level, Paul looked up to the ceiling and we saw through the glass window the water, and through the water the sky, and through the sky the side of a spaceship waaaaay up there. Absolutely amazing.

What else? Way too much to put in here...but I'll give you one more jaw-dropping example: Paul threw this little circle thingie out into a room, which ripped open a portal where he dropped it (think Roger Rabbit). He turned around, and threw another one out, and by looking through that one, we could see our player's back. Just to prove it was real, he fired a shot through the portal...and nailed himself in the back.

I've said that I've never seen anything like it...and that's the honest truth. The Prey group at 3DRealms have seriously been doing their best to break new ground with this engine...and it looks to be paying off big time. Of course, before you get all hot and bothered, remember a few things: first, the thing ain't coming out until '99. It was great to hear that...sure this means we're going to have to wait much longer to see this, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's all going to be worth it in the end.

Second, I can't claim to have seen any enemies in action, or really any actual game levels. All I saw was a technology demo. For all I know, the game could be a total dud, with the coolest engine ever to grace a 3DFX card.  But I seriously doubt it. :)

Infinite MHz

The cable TV show Infinite MHz has interviewed Paul Schuytema as I promised a few weeks ago.  The five minute movie is a 11MB download.  (Not as bad as last year's 50MB). This is not to be missed!

 

QuestGate:

Prey is the advanced game and technology which is designed to "leap frog" the current first-person shooters on the market. From what we have seen, it will definitely do that. 3D Realms has put a lot of time and talent into this engine, and it shows. It may well be the only FPS title this year that can stand up to Unreal.

You start the game as Talon Brave, a 27-year-old full-blooded Apache who works at the motor pool of his Northeast Arizona reservation. He is abducted by aliens in a strange way (that way not being revealed to us) and placed on the alien mothership that is three times the size of Earth. The mothership contains the Troaca, a trinity of alien species who all have their own look, music, etc. They all have their own area of the mothership and don't really associate with each other. The mothership is a ring with an artificial sun in the middle. There are 3 towers which contain cities and 3 cups which contain oceans. About 1/3 of the game will take place on Earth while 2/3 will take place on the mothership.

Rather than being based on pre-calculated BSP trees, Prey uses dynamic Portal technology to produce the world. Just how dynamic is it? In a closed-door demonstration, Project Leader Paul Schuytema took out a weapon and blew away a wooden structure in the middle of a large open room. He then proceeded to blow out the wall behind it. He then moved to the right and blew out another wall. Suddenly a loud banging sound was heard and the entire ceiling collapsed, leaving a triangle-shaped room about 4 feet high. Elements have to be specifically tagged to be destructible. As Paul said, "What if they blew out a wall and there was nothing behind it? Or there is a bridge to the exit and they accidentally blow it away in a fire fight". In another demonstration, the player walked through a bathroom wall into a rotating gyroscope. As we looked back, we could see the bathroom rotating back and forth. Yet in another demonstration, a portal was opened in the middle of a room and was pointed back to us. We could look through the portal and see ourselves. When he shot a weapon, it came through the other portal and hit us. He opened up another one and we could see us looking at the portal looking at us looking at the portal. But the best thing about portals is their "behind-the-scenes" work. After walking down a hall, Paul said "You don't realize it, but we just went through about 12 portals". Even better, mirrors and reflective surfaces can be done by creating a portal and pointing it back to the room. The effect is incredible. We walked into a room and looked at the floor -- it looked like polished marble. And what was even better is that it had absolutely no impact on performance. Portals throw all physics out the window. We looked down and saw water, then went down a level, and went below the water. The water was less than 1 millimeter thick, suspended in midair. Looking up through it, we could see the city, realistically distorted by the water, and the sun shining overhead. And if that was not enough to throw realism into the fold, the water itself looked real, with the waves and lighting of real water.

Prey uses realistic lighting throughout the game. The lighting is not as noticeable as "spot beams" in other first-person shooters. Designers can choose dynamic radiosity lighting, or raytraced lighting. In addition, shadows and lens flares are present. Paul was quick to point out the difference in Prey and PreyTech/PreyOS. Prey is a game which uses the PreyOS engine. Duke Nukem 5 will also use this engine, as well as other titles licensed by various developers. Every aspect of the engine is advanced, even down to the damage meter. A green picture of the human body appears with a scanning beam going up and down it. Damage is shown exactly where it occurred and the severity of it.

The levels are not even 1/4 of the way done, but what we saw impressed us. On Earth, a house was designed with incredible detail. Paul zoomed in on a cola can and it could be read easily. He zoomed in on the wall and there was no pixelation - in fact, it looked better close-up. Even the wall sockets were done with perfect clarity. The graphic detail is unreal...er..amazing. A ceiling fan produced realistic shadows on the ceiling. Everything from a refrigerator to a sofa, table and chairs could be seen in this level. Moving on, we were taken to the mothership. Paul looked up at the enormous buildings and fired a shot. It continued for a good way before hitting the building. We went to another level with huge water areas on both sides, and whales swimming nearby. Paul pointed to a sub and said "The player will be able to pilot that around."

Prey also hopes to capture the hearts of the multi-player generation. With the new Portal Technology, on-line warriors may never know what hit them... literally!  Prey will most likely be released the first half of 1999, but 3D Realms is sticking to "when it's done".

 

PC Gaming

PC Gaming's preview is so long and detailed I cannot post it here!  Lots of details about the backroom showing of Prey listed here.

 

Preyground

Another indepth description of the backroom showing, this one done by Lithium.   This is a must read that goes into great detail.

 

GT Interactive Press Release:

During the E3 show, GT posted this Press Release which included eight new screenshots of the game!

Showing its proprietary 3D Portal Technology game engine to select media behind closed doors, GT Interactive Software Corp. (NASDAQ: GTIS) and 3D Realms are demonstrating the first-ever multiplayer levels for Prey, the highly anticipated game is poised to forever change the way interactive games are programmed and played. 

“The paradigm for this game genre will be forever altered as we believe Prey sets a new technological and game play standard,” said Holly Newman, vice president of Marketing for GT Interactive. “Prey has the rare opportunity to supersede the current standards of a hit game with its Portal Technology which seemingly “bends space,” resulting in a fourth dimension, gripping and fully developed story line, advanced artificial intelligence that allows computer-controlled enemies to think as if they are human and a fantastic array of multiplayer options.”

A first-person action game, Prey follows the saga of Talon Brave, a down-on-his-luck Apache abducted by the Trocara, a triad of higher life forms responsible for seeding life on Earth and who have a broader agenda to accomplish as they pass through Earth’s solar system. Talon Brave is forced to fight a consortium of enemies, as well as discover the motivations that drive a mysterious fourth species, known only as “The Keepers.”

“With Prey, we feel that we are advancing the action game genre on three fronts,” said Paul Schuytema, project leader of Prey. “Our Portal Technology engine is pushing first-person technology forward, our game play will set new standards in interactivity and our story will deliver a powerful and moving fictional experience.”

The following features set Prey light years ahead of the competition:

Next Generation Engine - the 3D Realms-developed Prey engine is unlike anything created, capable of stunning colored lighting effects and on-the-fly rendering. A 3D engine offering six degrees of freedom (players can turn their head without changing direction), 3D Realms’ Prey engine employs next-generation Portal Technology which breaks the barriers of room geometry, resulting in an almost disbelieving new 4D look. In addition, since the Prey engine handles all geometry in real-time without the need for preprocessing, the potential for truly interactive environments is nearly limitless;

Multiple-Pass Radiosity Lighting - the Prey engine allows light to behave realistically as rays emanating from a light source reflect, refract and blend with other surfaces and colors in the environment exactly as the human eye would see it. The greater the reflection quotient (radiosity), the more realistic the lighting effect; 

Hardware-Only Game - Prey requires a 3D accelerator card. The card enables the game to achieve a basic resolution of 640x480 with 16-bit textures and lighting; no pixelization and it frees up additional CPU cycles for more robust game play and increased enemy AI;

Game Editor - dubbed the “Preditor,” the content-creation tool that comes included in the game is a highly intuitive ‘point and click’ editor, allowing even novice gamers to develop intricate and visually stunning levels with the ease of a pro;

Strong Character Development - having set industry standards for plausible and identifiable characters with Duke Nukem, 3D Realms has taken Talon Brave, the lead character in Prey, one step further, by providing him with everyday worries and an emotional history that impacts his actions as an auto mechanic-turned-reluctant-hero; -

Story Line - tied into the game experience, the story line logically sets the stage for the game. Featuring a trinity of alien species called “The Trocara,” and a mysterious fourth species called “The Keepers,” players will need to learn and adopt different play styles to deal with each of the alien species. In all, Prey delivers a rich and dramatically cohesive story that boasts a cast of memorable and disturbing characters;

Music - KMFDM, a leading alternative band whose music is a unique blend of energy, intensity and attitude, is composing all-new in-game music. 

Prey is being previewed exclusively at E3. GT Interactive’s complete line of software is being showcased at the GT Interactive booth #5626

3D Realms Entertainment, a division of the long-standing Apogee Software, Ltd., founded in 1987 and headquartered in Garland, TX, is 100 percent focused on creating highly innovative real-time 3D action games. Apogee is the pioneer of multi-episode shareware marketing for games and has won numerous industry marketing and game awards. On the web, visit http://www.3drealms.com for more information.

Screenshots (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)


Copyright 1998 Lon Matero. All Rights Reserved.
_ Prey is copyrighted by 3D Realms Entertainment.