NEWS - Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Legacy of Kain: Defiance Developer Diary

With only 2 days till Halloween, what better time to share a tale of how two vampires were created. Today I present to you the Legacy of Kain: Defiance Developer Diary #1. Discover the inspiration that lead to the creation of our vampiric duo. Legacy of Kain: Defiance will be shipping to retailers Nationwide on November 11th, and should be in-stores on the 12th. Richard Lemarchand: Senior Game Designer On Halloween in 1996, Crystal Dynamics released Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain upon an unsuspecting world, and the face of gothic gaming was changed forever. One of the first action-RPG’s to be created for the PlayStation One, the original Blood Omen combined isometric combat and exploration with cool, pre-rendered FMV cut scenes. It was very well received by a gaming public thirsty for adventure with mature themes and depth of play. The game was rich in drama and mythology, and cast the player in the role of Kain, an intelligent and cynical medieval nobleman, who is turned to the accursed life of a vampire. His destiny becomes inextricably entangled in a plot to control the fate of a world – Nosgoth - a world that, over the coming years, gamers all around the world would find themselves increasingly drawn to. In 1997, a newly formed development team at Crystal Dynamics was keen to make an action-adventure game. Some core members of the team had worked on Blood Omen, and were eager to combine the very best action mechanics in the areas of combat, exploration and puzzle solving, with storytelling that was deeply integrated into the gameplay. Taking John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost as a jumping-off point, the idea of a fallen vampire who becomes an eater of souls took shape. The world of Nosgoth provided an excellent backdrop and cast of characters for such a game, and with the birth of a new hero in the form of Raziel, the team proceeded to craft their dreams. In 1999 Soul Reaver hit the streets, to widespread critical acclaim, and a new franchise-within-a-franchise was born. While Soul Reaver was still in development, seeing as-yet untapped potential in the character of Kain, another Crystal Dynamics team began work on Blood Omen 2. They sought to create a game focused less on puzzle solving and more on action, and by taking a step back in time from Soul Reaver, Kain was again shown as a ‘younger’ vampire: lithe, devious, and thirsty for blood. Blood Omen 2 was a great hit, and introduced a new oppositional force to the world of Nosgoth in the form of Hylden. It also introduced us to the city of Meridian, and gave us some insight into a more technologically advanced era of the world’s history. In late 1999, work began on Soul Reaver 2. This game gave us a chance to build on our success, and to expand the Nosgoth mythology, while showcasing our commitment to action-oriented gameplay, interesting puzzle solving, and great game storytelling. Kain’s role was brought to the forefront, and fan favorites Vorador and Janos Audron made appearances. The game was a success, but fell short of what the team had wanted to accomplish. In particular, some puzzles were too opaque, the combat was rather one-dimensional, and the story had to be restructured a couple of times before the game was completed, and ended without a decent resolution. Legacy of Kain: Defiance started life as Soul Reaver 3, and the existing Soul Reaver team was joined by many new and supremely gifted people, some of whom had also worked on Blood Omen 2. Very early on in pre-production, we made the decision to include Kain as a player-character. We were all very excited to finally play as the craggy, regal and frankly ass-kicking Soul Reaver incarnation of Kain. However, we didn’t want to abandon our existing fans, and had an earnest desire to draw together all the strands of story that had been left hanging by the previous games. We clearly had our work cut out for us, reconciling these seemingly conflicting goals! Now that we had two player-characters, we were excited by how this could create interesting gameplay. By switching off between Raziel and Kain, we could bring greater variety to the gameplay, without forcing the player to learn a new control scheme. (Kain and Raziel use the same basic control scheme, but have different special abilities.) Games usually just follow one character, and follow them all the time, which makes having anything other than a ‘first person narrator’ difficult. We realized that by switching between characters for different sections of the game, we’d able to start experimenting with some of the cool storytelling tricks that novelists, comic book creators and moviemakers have been using for years. We hope you’ll agree that the technique works nicely when you get to play Defiance! At no time did we just want to make another sequel - we wanted to do something that felt very fresh, and which achieved a lot of what we’d been reaching for with the last few games: a really cool, intriguing, and above all exciting action adventure with a lot of gameplay. Also, we were concerned that our potential audience might think that if they hadn’t played the previous games, they wouldn’t be able to get into our game… So, our goal became to find a new game title that summarized the strands of the universe drawing together into one cool new game. We gathered input from the team, and from all around Eidos, and after much deliberation decided on Legacy of Kain: Defiance. We think this name sums up the collision of foes old and new, as well as the resolution of destinies that have long been in the balance. We’re very pleased with the way that the game has turned out, and now we’re looking forward to seeing the responses from you, the gamers!

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