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Randy Pitchford
Rebel Boat Rocker | Lead Level Designer | Jan 29 1999, 03:03:06 (ET) |
Login: randy Name: Randy Pitchford

The game formerly known as Prax War


I suppose that as 'the PR guy' at RBR I need to be the one to respond
to the recent rumours about Prax War being cancelled.

I think I've said it before here, but there is usually some truth to
all rumours. Especially in the case where senior publicists at EA are
supporting those rumours :)

So, here's the quote of the day for the news pages:

Prax War has, in fact, been cancelled.

The word from EA that's out there about why Prax War was cancelled just
about sums it up. "EA's reasons were that they missed their technology
window on this product and that things were not progressing as quickly
as they would have liked."

I need to mention, however, that the RBR content team was working
closely with the on-site EA director of development on tight content
schedules and milestones right up to the end. This includes all game
art, models, levels, animation, artist objects, sound effects, etc.

While I am ashamed that Prax War was cancelled because RBR "missed
their technology window" and because "things were not progressing as
quickly as they would have liked" (as reported) I am very proud to
say that the RBR content team never missed a milestone and always
delivered high quality and respected work. No one who has seen
Prax War's content has left thinking anything but that a lot of
work and talent went into its creation. My hats off to the entire
RBR content team who continued to put up with my undaunted optimism
and produced the best looking work I have ever seen in a 3d game.

Unfortunately, content alone does not a game make.

I am truly sorry that the gaming public will never get to play Prax
War, for it was truly becoming something remarkable.

However, I have to give my highest respect to our publisher, EA.

I have heard some pokes at EA from the community over the past few
months and I have to take exception to that. Consider that I still
have great respect for EA - and I was the lead designer on the
project they felt the need to cancel.

So, here's my award speech...minus the award:

I have to give my thanks to Richard Hilleman for putting up with
RBR even after technology milestones weren't delivered.

I have to also give my thanks to Gary Gettys and Jon Horsely who
always acted in the best interest of the project and the developers.
I know these guys had to put themselves out in order to get us the
added temporary programming help.

I must thank the PR and marketing team at EA including Kristin
McEntire, Jon Harris and Patrick O'loughlin who spent many sleepless
nights trying to help us come up with a better name than "Prax War".

I'd like to specially thank Kerry Wilkenson, who moved in with us
down in Dallas to try to get our tech development on track. If any
director could have pulled it off without actually doing the code
himself, Kerry could have. I believe if Kerry had been with us six
months sooner than he joined us, we'd probably be on the shelf
by now.

The sound guys, Laurent Betbeder and David O'Neil just cooked.
Thank you for the awesome sounds. I'm sorry you never got to
hear your work in the game.

And, thank you to Gary, Charlie, Jack and Co. You guys rock.
I wish we could've worked together more closely and longer. I wish
them the best luck in their coming endevours.

Finally, I'd like to thank the RBR content team. We were strong.
We held together and always nailed our marks. It was an honor
working with each of you and I do hope we all get the chance to work
with each other again.

Last Words:

All of the Prax War *content* developers will be leaving RBR. If
you're a developer interested in grabbing some of the most
experienced, hard working and talented designers, artists and
animators I've had the pleasure of working with, you can find
their e-mail addresses on 'TEAM' page. If
you have difficulty contacting any of them, I have direct contact.

Some of the content team may be working with EA in the future. We
all respect their ability to manage and their vast resources and
business sense. But, naturally, we are in the business of passion.
If you are a developer, don't hesitate to let any RBR developer
know what sort of project you're looking to add talent to.

Yes, I'm looking too. So, at the risk of blatent self promotion,
here's the scoop with me. Contact me at
or if you'd like the URL to my on-line portfolio
and resume - prospective employers only, please.

It was with sad but optimistic fever I cleaned my office yesterday.
I am proud of my work on Prax War and am rewarded by the respect it
had received from those who had the almost unique pleasure of being
exposed to what we were creating. It should've been revolutionary
for single player gaming.

But, alas, "our game is but a dream".

I'll keep in touch...



I've been getting a lot of mail lately about DuvalMagic's Quake 2
Weapons and Combat FAQ:

I haven't updated it in quite some time and it deserves some attention
to stay up to date with the latest versions of Q2. If anyone is
interested in helping update the thing, e-mail me. I don't want to
completely give it away yet, but I don't have the time right now
to make sure it's always as up-to-date and accurate as I planned for
it to be.

Other stuff... Stephen Bahl came up with a neat trick to enhance
our character's faces. The new demolitions chick (Jeane) is just
awesome... Brian is going to go back over all of the other guys
in the game and maybe we'll release a new shot of the player's
team in Prax War.



I know I've already shared this in more detail here, but it came up again
at RBR in our regular impromptu game theory discussions and I feel it's an
axiom that should be burned into the mind of every game designer.

The challenge of a puzzle or skill in a game is the sum of the
difficulty of the skill that's tested and the penalty for failing that
skill test. This sum is how reward for success over the challenge is
determined. The general rule is that the difficulty of the test should
be inverserly proportional to the penalty for failure. Also, as the
game progresses, challenge (the sum of skill difficulty and penalty) is
gradually increased.

The 'rules' (there are tons more) are always a pretty solid place to
objectively evaluate what you're doing. But, it's important for us to
not forget that game design is more often than not the opposite of

Oh, and if the moon was made of cheese, would you eat it? It's a simple
question...Would you eat the moon?

I would.



Happy Birthday to Kerry Wilkinson.

Other stuff:
Since we've got two ex-Microprose kids in the house, we tried out
European Air War last night. Brian was pleasantly surprised to see
some of his art in the game. Some of the cool maps he did for "Across
The Rhine" about a zillion years ago appear in the mission briefing

If anyone actually plays EAW, you may think that the Luftwaffe jet planes
can pretty much smoke anything else, but my P-51d ruled the skies when we
tried it out. Yeah, the jets move like a fish, but they steer like a cow.

Oh, and don't get all twisted thinking I'm a converted sim guy... I went
home last night and played Expert CTF for a couple of hours to recoup :)
But, if you dig sims go get EAW. But if you're like me, you'd rather
spend your time with one of the five new 1st person action games.



Happy Birthday to Charlie Brown.


Special thanks to the Ion Storm dudes for being great hosts for the
finals of the DooM][ All Star tourney we carried over from The Frag2.

I'll send the details of the results to that Doom2 all star tourney
page on over the weekend.

I think the most fun, though, was playing on Squirrel's deathtag map
after the tourney - even though me and Squirrel got stomped by Natas
and Rob 5-3 (or was it 2?).

Anyway, In case you're wondering how the actual tourney went down, it
played out like this:

1. Mark "Natas" Fletcher [ION]
2. Rob "Psychology" Heironimus [RBR]
3. Randy "DuvalMagic" Pitchford [RBR]
4. Sverre "Sverre" Kvernmo [ION]

I'll make sure the brackets for the whole tourney are posted somewhere.
I had a blast playing and look forward to more competitions like these.
It's been literally two years since I've played deathmatch in a real
competition and all the feelings of nerves and excitement coming back
during the event were awesome. Sorry if my cockyness rubbed anyone the
wrong way, but it makes games more fun for me to get a little worked up
and talk a little trash. It's all in fun. I completely respected the
skills of everyone in the tourney...Especially Paradox who's insane
warm-up is friggin' cool to watch. I also particularly enjoyed Romero's
match with Blue. Great fun.

I want to give special congrats to my homeboy, Rob, for defeating me in
the double elim. finals allowing him to face the incredible BFG pimping
Natas. Natas really knows how to keep his cool in tournament conditions.
But, Rob truly came out of the booth against me when it counted. I
didn't give that one to him...he earned it. I wanted to win!

And finally, Brian "Astro Chimp" Martel and I are going to get
hype on Squirrel's deathtag against our practice partners Rob and
Reichert, so in a couple of weeks you all better beware!

Oh, and don't worry... Dispite all of this DooM action we're still
working 10+ hours a day on making the game :)



Rob, Stephen Palmer and myself will be giving a talk at the Frag2 on
Saturday at around 2:30pm.

We'll be discussing the future of level design in first person 3d ganes.
We're bringing some visual materials (screen shots and stuff) to help
present some of the innovations everyone should expect in next generation
engines like RBR1. The purpose of the talk isn't to show off the game,
but to explain and demonstrate the techniques developers are evolving
towards in world creation.

Arbitrary polygons are cool. Multipass rendering is cool. Alpha blending
is cool. This should be the first real public glimpse of what future 3d
shooter game terrain meshes will look like. You'll get to see what life
is like after the limits of brush geometry, 2d editing and csg construction
have gone away.

The talk should be good for game fans who want to know what's coming up
next, for amateur designers to start getting prepared for the next
generation and for developers who like to steal things (that's not a
dig... we all do it to some extent. Learning from each other makes the
whole industry more powerful.)

Anyway, come on by. There will be time for Q&A. And, stick around
later to watch us win the DooM2 All-Star Deathmatch Tourney. : )

Here's the official talk description:


2:30 PM "Level Design for the Next Generation"

Rebel Boat Rocker
Rob Heironimus
Randy Pitchford
Stephen Palmer

The level design team from Rebel Boat Rocker will be
sharing level design techniques and trends for the future
of game technology. The discussion will include talk of
arbitrary polygon construction, curves, multipass lighting,
shading and bump mapping, population, animation, LOD
and tesselation, and visibility set generation and will
compare and contrast with current brush editing
paradigms. This discussion will be interactive and
questions are encouraged.



Happy Birthday to Dirk Jones


DooM Wisdom:

In DooM ][ Old Deathmatch set at Skill 5, it is possible to kill a marine
who has 100% health and zero armor with a single shot from the single
barrel shotgun.

I have a demo to proove it.

Other Stuff:

Greg C., if you're reading, e-mail me. I miss you, man. I played Out of
This World again the other day and it brought back cool memories.
Remember 'Wachenga, Cahuenga'. Heh.

Rebel Boat Rocker...
Landon Montgomery 01/29
Randy Pitchford 01/29
Rob Heironimus 01/29
Jason Zelsnack 12/2
Billy Zelsnack 11/5
John Faulkenbury 10/22
Stephen Palmer 10/22
Brian Martel 10/22
James Storey 10/22
Dave Hindler 10/22
Dirk Jones 10/22

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