The monster that would not be

I know this has been a long time in coming but here it is ...the history of Hacx2 3D.

I'll intermix the history of what happened with Hacx2 along with some screenshots so you can get an idea of what you will never see as a finished product.  Just click the shots for a bigger picture.

Guided missile launcher taking out Cyborgs on Mars and an inside shot of the Mars Mining Colony
Level by Roger Staines

The History of Hacx2 3D

Hacx was released in September of 1997.  It was released as an incomplete game for 2 main reasons: Quake was going to be released shortly, which would have rendered any game with the Doom engine as dead meat from a marketable standpoint, and secondly, we knew that the Computer Game Developer's Convention would be coming up the following May and it would be our best opportunity to get interest from prospective publishers.

The last version of the Phage by Randy Fugate

Within 30 days of Hacx's release, Hacx2 3D began in earnest.  Due to my talents and work on Hacx, John Herndon appointed me as Project Leader for Hacx2.  I remember posting my first letter to the entire group on Columbus day, 1997.  Thus began HELL WEEK!!

Facing a Thug in downtown Washington DC in flames
Level by Gerry Swanson

I mentioned in my opening introduction that, unlike the way Hacx was done, I wanted this project to be an "open forum" style project.  In other words, everyone should express their ideas to everyone else via E-mail and then we could pool all the best ideas together and develop something big. Within one day of posting that statement, I came down with a respiratory infection and was completely useless as a moderator to this massive flood of E-mail from roughly 30 enthusiastic game designers.  It was horribly overwhelming (more than 150 E-mails in 3 days) and, as what happens when one is sick, I suddenly felt wholly inadequate and had visions of being the demise of Banjo Software.  I finally had to tell them to STOP SENDING MAIL!!

Billboard textures created by Mike Sharan

Once I got well, things got much better.  All the ideas that were expressed slowly came together to create a story line and concept that we felt was the best we've seen for any 3D shooter thus far containing many elements that have not been done before.  A script was hashed out and we began work.

Blasting atoms in Cyberspace
Level by Ryan Rapsys

We started with the Quake engine as that was the newest engine at the time.  The amount of work being produced by this group of individuals was amazing considering that we all had full time jobs, families to support and/or went to school and no one was getting paid for this.  As soon as Quake 2 came out, we switched engines.  We knew we could do that fairly easily and we wanted to make sure that we had something worth showing at the convention using the latest technology.

The ice caves of Status Frigidus - Arctic Research Center
Level by Noel Weer

In only a few months, we, as a group, had produced over 60 megs of material to take with us to the convention.  In May of 1998, off we went to Long Beach with a dream and a prayer.  We did get a lot of attention and even talked about the game with representatives of Activision and GT as well as some others.  Unfortunately, even though we had some pretty impressive stuff for the short time we worked on it, we never really had the time to produce something "new" and that's what they kept asking us - "What about this game is different?"  We had plenty that was going to be different but we really didn't have anything different to show them.

Blasting a chopper in Downtown DC
Level by Gerry Swanson

We left the convention somewhat disappointed but not deterred.  John continued to maintain a correspondence with GT and kept them interested enough to follow what we were doing.  Some of our crew had dropped out as the let down of not getting a contract at the convention was too much have to realize that some of these people had been with Banjo for years and this was like the last gasp for them ...not to mention real life taking it's toll over time.

Battling a chopper in Stratosfear - the cloud city
Level by Steve Watson

A couple months later, Roger Staines sent in 3 maps for the Mars group.  Some truly fabulous work and many of the screenshots you see here are from those levels.  We showed them to GT and suddenly they were very interested.  The representatives of GT who saw them said that a contract may possibly be in the works once they talk to their superiors.  This really raised our spirits.  This is when the real chaos began.

Cyborg chaos and confronting a Genie Spawn in the Mars mining colony
Level by Roger Staines

A while later, they got back to us and said the powers-that-be will no longer support a game using the Quake2 engine as GT just released Unreal ...hrmph.  But, could we produce a demo for Unreal in 30 days?  I thought that such a task was impossible but I met a level designer who could pump out Unreal maps at a phenomenal rate ...or at least he gave that impression.  So, once again, we switched engines.

Danny fighting his way to the Cyberspace Access Terminal in the Space Station
Level by Brian Morgan

The Unreal engine is a horrible contraption to work with and we lost a lot of people on this switch but we still had a crew that was willing to keep up the battle.  Since the Hacx2 story line depended too much on being able to freely move between levels and Unreal is linear, we decided to come up with a new story idea.  That is how Crushed was born, a game set on a "thought-to-be" deserted island.  We quickly came up with a story line with 11 levels planned and got to work.

Big trouble in the Red Square, Russia
Level by Steve Clarke

During that 30 days, we saw some amazing work.  Matt Joiner produced a very cool island level and Ron Allen built the best, most realistic derelict pirate ship I've ever seen in a game.  But, the one guy who I relied on to get most of the maps done ...and who kept promising me, "I'll have them done tomorrow" never came through.  With that our correspondence with GT came to an end.

Space Station Command Center
Level by Brian Morgan

So, essentially we were back at square one with a tough decision to make we go back to the Quake2 engine or look for something new.  After considering that new engines were coming out and Quake3 had been announced, we decided that we must use a new engine that gives us capabilities that will allow our game to be up-to-date by the time it's released.  We did some looking around and went with the Genesis 3D engine ...mostly because it was new and open source.

The bizarre reality of Cyberspace
Level by John Herndon

But it was already too late.  The great exodus had begun and almost all the guys on the team had left including one of the Banjo owners.  Those that were left continued to struggle as best we could.  Matt Joiner created a nifty little program that allowed us to build Q2 levels and then, by using this new program and the Genesis editor, convert Q2 maps to Genesis maps in a few seconds, fully textured and scaled.  This made the Worldcraft people among us, like myself, extremely happy.

The 3D chaos of Infrastructure
Level by Ron Allen

Then real life struck me down.  My wife became disabled and could no longer work.  That meant that in order for us to survive, I would need to get a second income.  Reluctantly, I left Banjo to start my computer tech business.  When I left, I believe there were less than half a dozen people still on the project and I've been told that after I left, it just sort of disintegrated for lack of leadership.

The Cyberlink Core
Level by Paul Sandler

So, in the end, it simply came down to not being able to get anyone to believe in us as much as we believed in ourselves.  We really had a game that would have surpassed Half-Life (not to take anything away from the Valve crew - they did a stupendous job), be as fun and exciting as Doom (that was a paramount concern) and be as much an adventure as a 3D shooter. But, it didn't happen.

Welcome to the Thug party - Stratosfear
Level by Steve Watson

I know I didn't have a chance to adequately thank all the people who worked on Hacx2.  Your support was wonderful, you talents quite enviable and I wish you all the best in the future.  It was a wonderful dream but, unfortunately, that's all it was ...a dream.

John Herndon, Perry Bowman, Randy Lee, Marc Pullen, Ron Allen, Steve Clarke, Francois Xavier Delmotte, Randy Fugate, Torben Giesselmann, Erick Gravel, Ellsworth Hall, Chris Holden, Matt Joiner, Jim Lynch, Thomas Moeller, Brian Morgan, Ryan Rapsys, Holt Satterfield, Stefan Scandizzo, Mike Sharan, Roger Staines, Gerry Swanson, Steve Watson, Noel Weer, Tim Lobes, Steve Massey, Paul Sandler, Chris Martin, Jeremy Wagner, Jeremy Dale, Andrew Serong, Alex Wright and anyone else I may have missed.
Thank you!

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