Clive Barker's Undying
"...Be ever vigilant or the Undying King will walk the earth again."
Brian Horton [lead artist - Undying] : "My right hand man on the character design team was Jonathan Gregerson, he produced designs for some of the best monsters in the game, and he too comes from and illustration background. Danny Keller, a fantastic animator and draughtsman, helped design all of Ambrose's minions, the Trsanti. Rion Vernon came in towards the end of the process to design the final boss of the game, watch out sucka! Last but not least Jeff Haynie, the leader of the art team and my spiritual compass. With a strong background in illustration and teaching, he helped me design and focus the process from beginning to end.
"With this team, we attacked the characters and in one month we addressed every one of them with pencil or pen drawings. We put all of the characters up on the board of the team room and had a critique. In this meeting Brady (Producer), Jon Galvan (Asst Producer), Dell Siefert (Lead Designer), Jeff Haynie, Jon Gregerson and myself went through each design and made notes for what worked, needed tweaking, or plain out redesign. We were bull's-eye with 70% of them because of the clear communication we had with Dell while in progress, and the remaining 30% took another week to address.
"We would have taken all of the characters to paint, but we were restricted by time so the 7 major players in the story got the full treatment. They included the player character, Keisinger, the rival wizard, Lizbeth, the youngest sibling, Ambrose the black sheep, Aaron the artist, Bethany the earth witch, and Jeremiah the eldest. These were all painted in Photoshop and the addition of color helped describe the mood of the character as well as the environment they would occupy.
"The most pleasant surprise of the character design process was working with Clive. Mr. Barker was introduced to the project with a handmade book designed by Jeff Haynie that included many of the concept paintings and renders of the finished models. With that and a brief description of the game and story, Clive was right in the pocket with what we were trying to do. He insisted we have sketching sessions at his house where we'd discuss the project and work through any holes in the story and character design. Clive would sit at the foot of the table and would listen to Dell weave the story of Undying.
"After a few well-placed questions he identified areas that would strengthen the project on a whole. From these meetings we would isolate what needed rework or tweaking, and we started with our main character. Originally our hero's name was Magnus Wolfram, a stocky barrel chested man with eccentric clothes and a baldhead and tattoos all over his body. We all thought he was cool, but Clive saw that Magnus as unapproachable and seemingly super human.
"The story centered on the fallacies of mankind and how evil manifests and corrupts the human spirit. We needed our hero to have human qualities to empathize with him... So from the ashes of Magnus Wolfram, Patrick Galloway is formed, a human character that is by no means a superhero, but by fate, the only person that can save the world. Patrick will have to fight against all odds, with a singular goal, to help his best friend Jeremiah Covenant defeat the evil that plagues him, his family and ultimately the world. Once again, a simple but powerful statement, but it strikes to the core of our motivation. That is highest level of character design. Thanks again Clive. "
Undying - Development Journal 3
By Brian Horton, Gamespy.com, September 2000
Electronic Arts : "Lizbeth Covenant was the last of the five Covenant children born, and she was the first to die, perhaps accounting for her tragic legacy. Known as the family socialite, Lizbeth briefly thrived in the high society circles of London. But a mysterious wasting disease cut short her social career and she returned to the family home in Ireland where she was often seen roaming the grounds desolately, spending many hours in the family mausoleum, reading the headstones of her ancestors...
"From the outset of the story in Clive Barker's Undying - when Galloway first arrives at the Covenant estate -he begins his investigation of Lizbeth at the family mausoleum, which is located on the manor grounds. When he opens her coffin, he finds it empty. Galloway realizes she has dug her way out of her coffin and can be found leaping around the upper battlements of the Monastery, lurking in the vast catacombs beneath the cathedral and is at home in the vast system of tunnels that connect beneath the estate. It soon becomes all too clear that these same settings are at the core of Lizbeth's realm. Although she may have been seen lurking in the shadows of the manor, the truth is that Lizbeth will not leave her dark and shadowy realm, even if it means allowing Galloway to escape."
Clive Barker's Undying: Lizbeth: The Tormented Socialite
By [ ], Gamespy.com, 11 January 2001
Dellacamp Siefert [designer - Undying] : "[Patrick Galloway is a] sort of mystic traveller, kind of like Indiana Jones with magic.
"We wanted things that allowed us to add more horror elements to the game. For instance, we can have an entire hallway with curtains down each side, and if a ghost moves down the middle of the hallway the curtains flutter even though you can't actually see the ghost."
You Are Not Alone...Clive Barker's Undying
By [ ], PC Gaming World, Issue 45, September 2000
3dAction Planet.com : "Personally, I never found Clive Barker all that frightening. Maybe if I were to find him dead in my closet, but that goes for pretty much any best selling author. Clive Barker's Undying, on the other hand, is a little more creepy and substantially more likely to keep my interest. I got to check out Undying at the 2000 E3, and found it to be very interesting and very different from a lot of the other games on the showroom floor.
"Utilizing the Unreal Tournament engine, Undying is the next entry in the hit parade of horror games to hit the market, but unlike most of the other horror titles (e.g., Nocturne, the Blair Witch games, Alone in the Dark 4) Undying seems to be much more fast paced and focussed on action. The game is played from the first person point of view and features a huge variety of weapons, magical attacks, and enemies. Undying is set in the 1920's and places the player in the role of Magnus, a practitioner of the arcane arts and distant friend to the lord of an Irish estate, Jeremiah Weedhaven. Jeremiah has requested his friend Magnus's help to discover why his brothers and sisters have come back from the dead. The player will uncover clues to the curse of the Undying King and eventually discover the evil that is behind the madness. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds very unpleasant and Magnus is determined not to let it happen.
"Magnus has both spells and more traditional firearms at his disposal, and he can use them together to great effect. There are 16 spells altogether, but each spell can be upgraded up to five times for greater potency or extra effects. One spell, Ectoplasm, becomes cheaper to cast and gains increased range as it is amplified. At its highest amplitude Ectoplasm gains the ability to pass right through walls. Some of the spell effects were very interesting, and all of the ones I saw had very impressive visual effects. The engine's redone particle effects system makes all of the spells visually pleasing.
"In addition to offensive spells, Undying features a lot of passive and defensive spells. There are several points in the game where using spells like haste, shield, or silence would be much more effective than trying to take enemies head on. One particularly cool spell I saw demonstrated was a Firefly spell that outlined so that you could see them hiding in any of the game's many shadows. This was ideal, explained DreamWork's Dellekamp Siefert, for exposing campers during multiplayer. In addition, at higher amplitude levels Firefly would attract magical projectiles, in effect creating homing missiles out of these attacks for a brief period of time.
"While spells are cast by his right hand, Magnus wields conventional (as well as some unconventional) weapons in his left. His trusty revolver is the weakest of the weapons to start, but it can be upgraded with different kinds of ammunition to add extra punch, particularly against certain enemies. In the revolver, if you load it with silver bullets it will do magical damage vesus the conventional physical damage of normal shells. The other weapons I saw at the demo were the shotgun, sticks of dynamite, a scythe, and a bizarre cannon shaped like a dragon's head. The interesting thing about this two-fisted approach to spells and firearms is that it can lead to some interesting combinations, particularly with the defensive and information spells.
"One of the cooler gameplay elements I saw was what was called the 'scrying mode'. This is where Magnus's mystical side takes over and he is able to see into the spirit world. When activating this mode the view gets a little warped, and you are able to see things that were not there before (I'll forgo the nearly obligatory Sixth Sense reference here). This mode of play enables the designers at DreamWorks to do a number of interesting things, such as give players clues about traps, move the storyline along through ghostly apparitions (System Shock 2, anyone?), or give subtle hints about the best way to progress through a level. One great example of this use of scrying during the E3 demo came when Magnus was trying to walk across a floor of rotted and dusty wooden planks above a room where a large group of skeletons waited to chop him to bits. The boards would randomly give way and send the player tumbling to the grasp of the enemies below, but if you went into scrying mode you could see a ghostly set of footprints across the safe and stable boards that would let you bypass fighting the skeletons below.
"Speaking of enemies, Undying promises more than 20 of them, including Di'nen, Howlers, Celestial Chanters, Hounds of Ghelziabahr, Sleads and Monto'-Shonoi. I have no idea what any of those things are, but I'm willing to bet that none of them are cute and willing to let you give them a big hug. Two of the enemies I saw in the demo were small ghoul-like creatures and skeletal warriors that would keep getting back up after being knocked down.
"One of the cool things to point out about the enemies is that all of the animations I saw were very well done and looked realistic (or as realistic as one might expect a giant skeleton to look). DreamWorks has added a rendering system that can show cloth, spiderwebs, and other effects in a very realistic fashion. Cobwebs flutter in the breeze and drapes move around in the wind, suggesting malicious shapes to the overimaginative onlooker. This is a small thing, but a very effective detail that added greatly to the overall effect.
"In terms of gameplay, there will be plenty of action in the game, but Siefert assured me that there would be some places where you have to be much more stealthy and fear for your life if anything sees or hears you. The gameplay, he said, would be reminiscent of Looking Glass's Thief games. The name of this game is horror and suspense, which can't exactly be achieved if you run into every room fully confident that you can blast anything to Kingdom Come.
"Multiplayer will ship with the product, allowing gamers to take part in a deathmatch experience that follows some of the same rules as the Rocket Arena mod for Quake. Players will begin with the full assortment of spells and weapons. Combat will revolve around the intelligent and appropriate use of spells and weapons versus simply picking on the defenseless newbie. Of course spells can still be amplified during the game, allowing for tactics and game play styles to develop over the course of the match. Siefert says that an editor for making custom levels should ship with the game, allowing players to create their own single player missions and deathmatch arenas. This is nice to hear, since these editors usually go a long way towards extending the shelf life and value of a game. While the game will come with ten huge levels, players may want to download additional maps from the internet to play.
"All in all, Clive Barker's Undying looks to be very different from most of the action games coming out in the next few months. Horror and action mixed together in an attractive package should keep a lot of people interested and on the edge of their seats. The game is slated for a Q4, 2000 release."
First Person Frightening
By Thrrrp ptt, 3d Action Planet.com : First Looks, 22 May 2000
Brady Bell [producer - Undying] : "In my opinion, solid balancing & pacing of story is what makes good games, great. DreamWorks Interactive was created to push story and interesting characters into new directions, so while our storyline is very involved, at no point can it become a hindrance. Our lead designer (Dell Siefert) and I don't think there's anything fun about reading twenty pages of back-story to help solve a puzzle. At the same time, however, it is there for players who want to immerse themselves further into the game. It's a delicate balance ... one we're very conscious of.
"We approached Clive with a first pass at our story and environments already in place. He took the story, punched holes in it, taught us how to improve it, and went to work on additional character design with our artists. It's been an ongoing process where the team has benefited far past our expectations. Without question, what attracted us most was Clive's diverse talent. On our team we have a guy who studied literature, one who graduated from film school, and a troop of artists & animators from various professional backgrounds. Clive Barker is the only person we could all honestly say we've been professionally inspired by. That's more rare than people think."
The Well Rounded Interview - Brady Bell
By Matthew Braynard & Chris Morris, well-rounded.com, 2000
PC Gaming World : "Clive Barker's input into Undying is limited to providing advice - and his name, of course. But don't let that put you off - it still looks the business... He's given updates on the game's progress on a weekly basis. In return he provides the development team with an understanding of what makes good horror content and critically analyses the plot development and momentum of the game, as well as advising on creature look and feel.
"When enemies actually hit you your character will literally reel from the effect - for instance, a belt from a Howler's claw-infested fist will send your view-camera spinning 90 degrees. We put it to DreamWorks that this is a bit excessive, and it agreed. In the final version it's more likely to be 5-10 degrees, although DreamWorks is committed to the idea that hits will cost you more than just a little bit of life, they'll also cost you valuable time as you try to re-orientate yourself.
"Of the offensive spells we saw in the game demo, our favourite is Skull Storm, a kind of magical grenade attack. When you select it, a ghostly skull starts dancing in front of your fingertips - cast the spell and your skull will fling itself at an enemy with explosive results. When you amplify this spell you get several skulls - but you've got to use them quickly once you select them, otherwise they'll start arguing among themselves, chattering and clamouring for action. Quite hilarious.
"Most of all it looks like fun. Scary, but fun."
You Are Not Alone...Clive Barker's Undying
By [ ], PC Gaming World, Issue 45, September 2000
Dellacamp Siefert [designer - Undying] : "[Clive] came up with things that really grossed him out. There is a supernatural bloodhound that flies after you and looks like a cross between an eel and a piranha; and a character called Bethany, who has a sack of blood on her back that she dips into with her hands and uses to cast spells - which is really grotesque because you know it's her own blood she's using.
"[Clive] wants to take everything he is involved with and grow it into something bigger. He has been talking about a graphic novel or even a film. Technology is new to him and he is a little taken aback at some of the things we can do. But he comes from a direction where anything is possible."
By David Hancock, The Times, Midland Metro, 2 September 2000
Brady Bell [producer - Undying] : "[On considering Stephen King as consultant] "We looked at our story and realised we are much more about the fantastic, which is Clive Barker. Stephen King's horror is more real."
By David Hancock, The Times, Midland Metro, 2 September 2000
Robert Berger - lead designer : "The first six months of a project aren't very sexy. It takes a programmer months to hammer out an animation system. Then a couple of artists kill themselves modeling and animating and texturing just one creature. Then another programmer has to set up a physics system, and another one maps the input devices, and a hundred other things only a programmer could understand. All this just so one lousy beast can walk around on a chunk of ground. It's not very impressive, even to a seasoned professional, which I'm certainly not. But like I said, we're getting to the gravy now. The stuff that makes every meatball in the company drop by on his smoke break to ooh and ahh over your shoulder. Which is a pain when you have to ALT-TAB away from the Abe Vigoda fan chat every five minutes.
"I guess I should put something relevant in here so the marketing folks don't get too bunched up (don't worry, they'll edit that out). The particle system is in, so there's glowing floaty stuff all over the place. Smoldering lakes of magma, blood fountains, flaming corpses, roiling toxic clouds, collapsing buildings, and glimmering mounds of entrails. You should see it. It's like Detroit or something!
"I must say it's not very often any more that a game really impresses me. This one does. And I'm not just saying that because my bonus depends on it. It does, but that's not why I'm saying it. "
Undying - Development Journal 4
By Robert Berger, Gamespy.com, October 2000