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Snarboo

Need help IDing Mystery Doom Engine Game

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Crossposting this from the ZDoom forums, but I need help identifying a mystery Doom engine game!

So I was linked this post on the Trenches to see if I knew what game was being talked about in the article. My initial thought was Strife, since it uses the Doom engine, but the article doesn't seem to match Strife's development at all. It's also not consistent with Heretic, Hexen, Amulets & Armor, neither episode of Final Doom, nor HacX.

Then I started to think about the article a bit. The writer notes that they were using an early alpha version of the Doom engine that was secured by the publisher. It also mentions a long, protracted development period caused by a hardass publisher that ended up with them releasing right around when Duke 3D did. The game ended up dying in obscurity.

Then I remembered something: what if it's In Pursuit of Greed? The timeline is about right, and the number of people working on it is about right. Not only that, but IPoG seems to use a slightly modified version of Doom's .wad format, and it even uses Doom's palette! Softdisk was also known to be a bit of a bastard to work with, and they did have a working relationship with id. And wouldn't you know it, IPoG died in relative obscurity. :p

However, the engine tech doesn't quite match up. It's more comparable to Shadow Caster than Doom, being limited to orthogonal walls. It is slightly more sophisticated than Shadow Caster, featuring varied floor and ceiling heights, as well as slopes (IIRC) and vertically moving sectors.

Is it possible that IPoG is the game being talked about here? If so, does that mean it used a transitional version of the Doom engine that was being worked on after Shadow Caster? I'm willing to accept that the developer who posted this is embellishing things or possibly confused about which engine was used, but something about this fits IPoG a little too well.

Update:
Blzut3 poked at IPoG's executable, and it is in fact related to Shadow Caster and CyClones!

Update 2:
Blzut3 has done further poking, and we may have access to the source code for id's Raven Engine, which was used in ShadowCaster! Not sure how similar IPoG's engine is to ShadowCaster's, but this could mean a potential ShadowCaster port in the future. :)

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Bumping the thread since I don't think the edits do so.

The developer of In Pursuit of Greed, a game which used the Raven Engine (yes, that's the name of the engine) that Shadowcaster also used, uploaded the source code for the game and the engine as was given to id: http://www.redshadowsoftware.com/projects/greed

As Snarboo's edit indicates, the license of the Raven Engine is up in the air at the moment. I'm working to figure out who owns the engine (turns out that the Raven Engine was developed to resolve legal compensation with softdisk). The source also includes the resources for the game, but it probably need to be clarified what that means for the resources exactly.

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Familiar with Shadowcaster, but never heard of IPoG. Interesting stuff and information. So, is this saying that Raven Engine was a spin off of the early Doom engine?

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Clonehunter said:

Familiar with Shadowcaster, but never heard of IPoG. Interesting stuff and information. So, is this saying that Raven Engine was a spin off of the early Doom engine?


IPOG received a sequel of sorts called Assassinators.

I personally have Assassinators, but not IPOG.

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I played a demo of ipog many years ago. Iirc, the first level is pretty much entirely orthogonal if you don't count the sloped floors and ceilings, so it could have been a mistake by memory to say it wasn't capable of having nonorthogonal angles.

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Vermil said:

I personally have Assassinators, but not IPOG.

With what tiny information is out there are you sure this is not an reissue name? The back scan that was on the ebay auction you linked on DHW describes exactly IPoG including screenshots of IPoG.

40oz said:

I played a demo of ipog many years ago. Iirc, the first level is pretty much entirely orthogonal if you don't count the sloped floors and ceilings, so it could have been a mistake by memory to say it wasn't capable of having nonorthogonal angles.

This is correct. While it supports height variation, it's still tile based. That said the raycasting is gone in this engine and is replaced with projections like Doom. The algorithm for determining what walls to draw seems to be similar to the algorithm used in Doom pre-BSP as it had a tendency to infinite loop.

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Certainly yes, comparing to videos of IPOG on Yutube, they look the same; same intro cut scene with the removal of the game name section right before the looping character bios, same menu, same first level with the same music. etc.

The main data file is still named Greed.blo.

So I guess it may be some sort of re-issue, rather than a sequel. Good to solve that mystery :)

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Sorry for bumping this, but maybe someone will be interested in the early demo versions of the game. These not only play rather differently from the final release, but also have almost entirely different monsters, as well as sprites and textures.

Demo releases up to v2.0 contain three levels from the city-temple episode, which was apparently planned as the first episode of the game at that stage of development. All the levels have counterparts in the final version, but they have some layout differences and are arranged in a different order.

The earliest known version is v1.016, dating back to late August 1995. The monsters in this version include the archer ("Veek Warrior"), the priest and a monster that is apparently not present in later versions (screenshot), possibly called a "Veek Lord". Another notable difference is the order of musical tracks, which was changed in subsequent releases.

The episode introduction text makes a reference to another game by Channel 7 Software, Iron Seed. This reference was removed in later demo versions.

As most demo versions, this one includes an introductory sequence in the form of pre-rendered stills with captions. The stills come from the game's actual intro cinematic (although the shape of the ship was changed for the final release). In later demo releases, several frames from the intro were replaced with different pre-rendered art, which are not featured in the cinematic. For example, the scene where Mooman takes the cup from the vault is replaced by an image of him dragging a large pile of stuff to his ship.

Some features still don't work properly in this version. The player clone item, when activated, creates a clone that will attack the player but ignores the monsters. That was fixed in later releases. This version also tends to crash randomly.

I've made some screenshots of this version and uploaded them here.

This demo might have been distributed with a Channel 7 installer but I've only found plain files on a gaming magazine coverdisk. The zipped files can be downloaded here: greed.zip

The second demo is v1.020, released in early September. Monster sprites have been updated, and the "Big Head" monster is now present in the game. The "Veek Lord" seems to have been removed. This version also adds a multiplayer-only level with no monsters, which uses space station textures.

This release was found on the Interactive Entertainment Episode 18 CD, with the IE's installer (a Win3.x programme). The zipped plain files can be downloaded here: greed102.zip

The next release is v2.0, with date stamps from late September 1995. It is quite close to v1.020 overall, but some of the textures have been updated, and the level files have standardised names now. The level format also seems to have been changed between the versions. The level warp cheat code seems not to work in this version, while it does in the previous demo releases.

For this version, the original Channel 7 installer is available. This version can be downloaded here.

Subsequent demo releases already feature the first three levels of the prison station episode, with graphics, textures, sounds and level layouts largely the same as in the final game.

The early demo versions are not only interesting because of removed or changed graphics and monsters. They also play rather differently compared to the final game. The monsters are quite a lot tougher, and unlike the full game there are no close-range and/or low health enemies at all. You have to conserve ammo and often have to resort to items such as mines and grenades as well. With the need to frequently revisit item spawn locations this creates a quite an intense playing experience. Because the ammo is pretty limited, the player also depends on the randomness of spawned items.

While gameplay is far from perfect in these early versions, I think the developers toned down the difficulty too much in the final game. As a result, almost the entire first episode for example consists of fights with weak monsters, with abundant ammo, weapons and items that aren't really needed expect maybe during the boss battle.

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I can't really tell from the screenshots if it has non-orthogonal walls or not. Most of the time it seems like it doesn't, but in some cases there are "skewed" floor structures or ceiling textures, though this could be just an artifact caused by some sort of "fish eye" effect applied to the player's view.

So, is it really based on the idTech1 engine, or just a souped-up Wolfenstein engine, kinda like ROTT taken into a different direction? That would explain why slopes could be hacked in, but not something as radical as non-orthogonal walls.

If what the OP posted is true (that it's more related to Cyclones) then I think that settles it: "Doom like", "Doom clone", but not "Doom-Doom" ;-)

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The top of this thread says it's based on the Raven engine used for Shadowcaster. Orthogonal walls and slopes is kind of an interesting mix.

The screens from the game itself look poor. The textures and flat lighting don't contrast very well at 320x200. Muddy pixel soup. That's disappointing because the architecture of some of the maps looks rather good for what it is.

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The Raven Engine was based primarily on Wolf3D but contained features that John Carmack was researching for Doom and some of the same code can be found in the early Doom alphas. The largest technological difference is obviously that Raven Engine games are still based on grid cells and not on freely constructed linedefs that form sectors.

Colormap-based distance fading, varying light levels, and floor and ceiling textures are just a few of the Doom tech features that are in there. Sloped floors and ceilings were researched for the purpose of being in Doom, but never made it in and I presume that's because the complexity of drawing them for arbitrary sectors is much higher than in a grid-cell-based engine where you can restrict the number of geometric cases handled.

I would say sky textures, but the programmer of "In Pursuit of Greed" claims to have added those himself to the code he received from SoftDisk. This is odd because other Raven Engine games (mainly Shadowcaster) also have sky textures. Possibly parallel development?

If you want to know more, visit Raven engine.

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This would have been a cool game in 1993 or 1994. It has a lot of nice touches and ok map design for that time. As a game from 1996 the mouse control is just awful, even for a demo. Just really broken.

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A while ago I have played through the entire first episode of the freeware version (I wanted to compare the city-temple episode to its early demo counterparts, and did not figure out I could just use the level warp cheat :P). Gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of Hexen: you often have to flip a switch, which opens up a new area of the level, explore it, flip another switch which will open up yet another area, or give you access to a switch that opens up a new area etc. Monsters frequently respawn, but they are pretty weak in the full version (or, at least, weaker than in the demo) and do not pose much of a threat. Some parts of the city-temple episode are even more like Hexen, with castle-like structures and open courtyards. One level in the first episode does not have any objectives to collect, just to score a certain amount of points by picking bonus items and defeating enemies. While the idea itself is quite interesting, especially for a 1995/1996 game, it gets boring pretty soon because of weak monsters.

Bonus items are spawned entirely randomly and only remain in the level for a limited amount of time (you have a countdown timer on the HUD). This is probably more interesting in a multiplayer game. It might be that items are spawned within a certain radius of the player, but this does not take the actual level topography into account, and as a result sometimes it is not possible to reach the item in time. It seems that picking items (or reaching a certain amount of score points) also heals up the player and/or recharges the shield.

The HUD is pretty clunky and not very user-friendly. There's a separate counter for ammo units and for actual shots that can be made with the currently selected weapon (some weapons use more than one ammo unit per shot). The least convenient thing is the shield meter. It's the blue ring surrounding the health meter. When he shield is up, it absorbs 100% damage taken by the player. The brightness of the blue ring is supposed to reflect the shield status, and there seems to be no other way to check it. The shield meter very quickly goes from very bright to some indeterminate shade of blue, after which it's hard to tell how much shield you have remaining. The only way to know it's entirely depleted is when your character starts taking damage. I'm not sure if the shield recharges slowly on its own or not.

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