Sneak through the jungle, plant your sight on the enemy and pull the trigger, for you are about to become the Twilight Warrior.


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Interview by Covaro

Doomworld: How was the original Hostage Rescue 3 team formed?

Black Shadow Software: The original team was just us (Ziggy and Sidearm, calling ourselves Voodoo Nipple Software). We both had similar ideas about creating a new kind of Doom experience - something that didn't have a huge sci-Fi or fantasy theme. When we first started on Hostage Rescue in late 1995, no one in any games community had, to our knowledge, done a special forces TC. Well, there was Marine Doom, but it had a more general military focus, rather than being special forces specific.

Doomworld: What was the inspiration behind the Hostage Rescue/Twilight Warrior TCs?

Black Shadow Software: Ziggy read a book about the British Special Air Service (SAS) called Bravo Two Zero. It was about a special forces patrol which got stuck behind enemy lines in the Gulf War while hunting scud missile launchers. This just sparked a general interest in the Special Forces area - and to this day we continue to casually research all sorts of Spec War and Counter-Terrorist units. But as a result of this interest, one day we just kinda went "special forces...doom...yeah" and started on our first (and in retrospect, most forgettable) doom project. That was Hostage Rescue - it had some good ideas - but the execution was pretty lame.

Overall, we were inspired by the fact that no-one had really attempted a mix of realism and military action in a Doom TC, so we thought we'd try to fill that niche. Later on in development we saw Gooseman's Navy SEALS Quake conversion, and that in itself set us a very high standard to aim for.

Doomworld: Has it been much different working with a larger more globally spaced team on this project compared to previous ones?

Black Shadow Software: In general, it has worked pretty well. Of course, it is much easier to do stuff when you can talk face to face instead of having to write endless e-mails. Of course, a larger team is an advantage - we got new skills, new viewpoints and new ideas - and a whole heap of ultra-talented people. It worked awesomely once we had a solid team structure worked out - which took some time.

Doomworld: Name some of the highpoints of Twilight Warrior that you guys think will set it apart from other Doom TCs that you have played.

Black Shadow Software: Well for one, atmosphere. The combo of realistic weapons and maps makes for a really immersive experience. Gameplay is really dynamic, the enemies look realistic, most of the maps are based upon real training exercises and actual special forces missions that have taken place. When you storm into a darkened room and plug a couple of terrorists with head shots from a Heckler & Koch MP5, it can be a huge rush. It is just a 'balls to the wall' sort of experience. Overall, just because you're good at playing regular Doom doesn't automatically mean that you'll excel at Twilight Warrior. A major thing with the levels is that you never feel really safe in a level due to the presence of a heap of enemies, or else through the strain of the counter-terrorist missions.

This is another key focus - we have many maps that require you to rescue hostages. You have to simultaneously take out terrorists, protect the hostages and then lastly look out for yourself. Basically, it makes the game very multi-dimensional.

Another unique feature is a time-bomb in one particular map - you have to clear a bank and break into a vault in under four minutes or the hostages get toasted - and you fail the mission. That adds an element of pressure and pure adrenalin that you don't find anywhere else. It means that there's no time muck around, you just have to get in there and do your stuff. So overall there is a lot variety in the Twilight Warrior maps - we've got search and destroy, assassination, training and counter-terrorism style levels. Also there's another level of variety, given that you engage in naval, jungle and urban warfare, and then into more specialised areas, such as rescuing hostages from an embassy or staging a counter-hijacking on an airliner.

Doomworld: Have you ever played the game "NAM"? If so how would you compare Twilight Warrior to it? If not, have you heard much about it, and if so what impression have you gotten about it?

Black Shadow Software: Ziggy: I saw it in a game shop the other day. It looked very similar to the Platoon TC for Duke 3D. But I think our computers would probably explode if we tried to play NAM. The screenshots looked alright, but kinda cartoon-like. I just checked a review that said it had a lot of cool stuff like booby traps and air strikes. We toyed with the idea of putting land mines into some of our jungle missions - but without some kind of source hack, we obviously can't compete. However, I actually thought some of our stuff looked more realistic and moody - especially the jungle levels. In that respect Joe Zona's experience from his REAL TC really added a lot to this project. But on the whole, I don't think it is useful to compare a TC with a purpose built game.

Sidearm: I've heard of quite a few recently released Special Forces games (Rangers, Delta Force, Rainbow Six) that apparently shit all over Twilight Warrior. But I think we've done really well within the limitations of Doom. We haven't really taken any notice of what other people (either in other games communities or developers) are doing within the genre. We've just gone about implementing our own ideas and staying focused on that.

Doomworld: What are the plans for Black Shadow Software after Twilight Warrior is released?

Black Shadow Software: In the short-term, we'll probably have a co-op game and try to kick some serious terrorist ass. Give Ziggy a PSG-1 and Sidearm a H&K MP5 and we're hell on wheels. In a broader sense, we'll both probably leave the community, although we'll keep on eye on what's happening. Obviously, the future is an open book, but we've got no firm plans for another project.

Doomworld: The graphics in Twilight Warrior are considerably better than in Hostage Rescue 3. What do you think made the difference?

Black Shadow Software: For a start, we borrowed a lot of graphics for Hostage Rescue 3, and often the stuff we appropriated from various wads didn't fit together too well. The decision to properly do our own graphics probably helped a lot, and made the whole thing a lot more cohesive. We should point out the contribution of Stephen Browning, who churned out a panoply of kick-ass weapons at short notice, drawing them pixel-by-pixel(!) In terms of Ziggy's contribution, he laboriously modelled and rendered weapons such as the Heckler & Koch MP5 and PSG-1 rifle with a 3D drawing program. For both Stephen and Ziggy, it was a question of putting in the time, and lots of trial and error, until professional standard results were achieved.

Doomworld: Before being approached by Doomworld to do a sequel to Hostage Rescue 3 did you ever have plans on doing something similar to Twilight Warrior?

Black Shadow Software: Not particularly. The combination of inducements and (friendly) pressure from Doomworld, combined with the release of the source code eventually convinced us that we could do something a whole lot better than Hostage Rescue 3. We don't really think of Twilight Warrior as being a sequel though - it is a genuine conversion with a wholly different focus. We used Hostage Rescue as a base, but more in the sense of learning from the mistakes that we'd made with earlier attempts.

Doomworld: Did you guys learn alot working with so many other people on this project? Especially people like Kesler, Zona, and Madigan.

Black Shadow Software: Well, yes. It was a two way process (we hope). All our team members were very experienced, and we were (and are) reasonably well versed too. So the whole process was, how can we put it, enriching. The advantage of using a larger team is that you get a blend of styles and ideas, and that's really the strength of the whole process.

I guess you learn by seeing how people approach things in a different manner to yourself. This is true for everyone, and we learned from all our team members - Stephen Browning, Kurt Kesler, Justin Madigan, Mike Mitchell and Joe Zona. While some of the team may not totally agree with us on this point, we gave our members as much design and creative freedom as possible. And we think that this method has paid handsome dividends.

Doomworld: Were there any things that you guys learned during the making (or from feedback about) Hostage Rescue 3 that you carried over into Twilight Warrior?

Black Shadow Software: Once Twilight Warrior got hosted on Doomworld, we were able to raise the profile of Hostage Rescue 3, and we tended to get a lot of encouragement. The feedback showed us that the demand was there, but also that something better could (and should) be created. A review done by Doomshack's Justin Madigan (before he joined the team) really pointed us in the right direction by highlighting the fact that we needed to create a much more immersive experience.

Doomworld: For those that don't know, Twilight Warrior has been developed for use with Doom Legacy. Are there many differences in making a TC for a port compared to the original Doom engine. Also, are there any things that make it harder or easier for you?

Black Shadow Software: Funnily enough, using a source port probably made it easier. There were a few fiddly things obviously, but nothing major. Just having a whole new game engine is really exciting and it keeps you motivated. The fact that Legacy offered a more contemporary gameplay mode (i.e crosshair, mlook, manual aiming, jump) made a lot more things possible. For instance, the usefulness of the PSG - 1 rifle is quadrupled by the use of manual aiming, mlook and a crosshair. Hand grenades are another example of a weapon that works a lot better with the mlook feature. We could go on all day in this vein, but we won't.

The Legacy guys seem to have a very clear and consistent idea of where their port should go, and this design stability has been a big advantage. Had they chopped and changed with each release it would've been a real bugger. But they didn't, so we're happy.

While various people complain about +mlook - it is a huge advantage in this game. In old deathmatch guides people were always advising "use the mouse - learn to do 180 degree spins". In Twilight Warrior, you really have to be aware of the whole environment - what is above and below you, as well as what is around you.

Doomworld: What, if any, problems did you guys encounter while porting your work for DosDoom over to Legacy?

Black Shadow Software: No problems. Except we lost radius scripting and DosDoom's night vision goggles feature.

Doomworld: Is there anything that you originally planned to put into Twilight Warrior but were unable to for one reason or another?

Black Shadow Software: Quite a few things. We'd hoped to get someone to code a custom source mod, but had no joy in that area. We wanted to include weapon reloading, a 'zoom' scope for the sniper's rifle, player crouching, NVG's, flashbang grenades (with proper physics - i.e rolling, bouncing) and a better way of imposing penalties if hostages got killed in the counter-terrorist style levels. Maybe these are things that others might pursue in the future. Ziggy thinks that some sort of Special Forces 'Team Fortress' concept for Doom could be a nice project at some stage - but again, maybe this is something for others to take a look at.

Doomworld: Overall, does Twilight Warrior meet the expectations you had for it?

Black Shadow Software: Well, we think it stacks up pretty well. We started with a heap of illustrious plans (see above) and probably implemented around 70-75% of our overall plan. We've really lost perspective on the project, because we're at a stage where we are tending to discuss what might have been - rather than concentrating on what we've actually achieved, which is probably quite a lot. Neither of us have actually sat down and properly tried out the game yet, since when we play we're doing so with our 'development' hats on - looking for errors, bugs, or ways to improve certain elements. When we actually play it just for fun, we're sure we'll be very pleased with what we've created.

Doomworld: If people could only say one thing about Twilight Warrior what do you hope it would be?

Black Shadow Software: Ziggy: I'd like people to say that they'll keep playing Twilight Warrior over and over again. Personally, I've spent hours tooling around Kurt Keslers urban level taking down bad dudes with my PSG-1 and having an outrageous time. I just hope other people have as much fun with it as I do.

Sidearm: I hope people say that Twilight Warrior is the most dynamic, interesting, fun, exciting and innovative conversion they've ever played.