Game

The making of Realms of the Haunting: “By the end I was completing the game in two hours and 30 minutes”

In the winter of 1996, publisher Gremlin Interactive presented an action-horror classic to an unsuspecting gaming audience. Retro Gamer gathers around the corner to chat with producer Paul Green about the ideas and developments that have sparked the fight between good and evil.

“I started as a game designer in Gremlin, but I’ve done quite a bit of work as an artist as well.” It starts with Paul, who boasts the same flowing Romero-style locks as 15 years ago. He was open to the playground. One day Tony Crowther came to us with a great game engine and idea: a horror game.”

Crowther is best known for Gremlin founder Ian Stewart, who he worked with on the 8-bit stage of the company 10 years ago. Gremlin liked the words of an experienced programmer, and Paul soon joined. “The original idea for a horror game came from Tony, thinking of the setting, myth, characters and storyline,” he explains.

haunted realm

Also, in addition to the main game, the production team was also working hard on full-motion video, another often malicious add-on that Gremlin believed was key to setting the right mood in The Realms of the Haunting.

“There was a huge amount of work in the cutscenes,” Paul proudly says. “We hired a company called Bright Light Studios to do the shooting, prosthetics, makeup, props and costumes.” Director Alan Coltman oversaw the production. Most of them were shot against a blue screen. Paul continued, “We felt it was important to develop the storyline and Alan worked very closely with the actors and Bright Light to make sure he got what he wanted. He did a first-class job.”

horror story

haunted realm

We now go back to the early days of development and continue to ask Paul about Realms’ complex background and inspiration for the storyline. Surprisingly, the game’s story and atmosphere were shaped by a variety of influences, he explains. “First, I’ve been an avid tabletop RPG player since my early teens, playing games like Call Of Cthulhu and Runequest. This experience helped me because I love creating the world and everything that makes the world work.”

Paul mentions Cthulhu, but HP Lovecraft’s work doesn’t seem to have had an impact on its own. “I’m obviously familiar with his work and the games that come out of it, but the inspiration for Realms comes from the religions and theories surrounding them, both orthodox and unorthodox.”

Thus, Paul constructed the story using most of the Hebrew texts about the kingdoms of heaven, earth, and hell, and the roles of angels and devils. He soon created actionable myths based on these ancient works, as well as other sources such as Dan Brown’s 2003 bestselling book The Holy Blood and Holy Grail, based on the Da Vinci Code. For the game’s dark and gloomy mood, Paul recalled a few of his favorites from the film. “One movie in particular inspired me more than another: Keep. I just loved the creepy fate and horror it created. The other was John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is clearly visible in the game’s title sequence.”

haunted realm

Paul Green

With Tony Crowther’s technical design, Paul’s storyline, setting and characters, and Alan Coltman-led FMV lenses, Realms of the Haunting moved at devilish speed. Surely there were complications?

“Tony was and still is a genius programmer.” There were many days when he shrugged and told us that something could not be done or would take too long. Then he came back the next day with an encrypted or repaired device, and quite often – even better.”

As a result, development of Realms went relatively smoothly, despite the rough cuts needed for the footage. “We had to cut about an hour due to time, cost and storage constraints. We had to keep the disk count, so we had to cut costs.”

With the game nearing completion, Paul was responsible for testing the puzzles and gameplay as well as ensuring that the atmosphere and feel were appropriately rough. “I ended up winning the game in two and a half hours,” he laughs.

haunted realm

Long before the final scene of The Realms of the Haunting was filmed, Paul was already working on a sequel. Unfortunately, the disappointing sale eliminated that possibility.

“It was sad for everyone who worked on Realms, especially because the critics loved it and the people who actually bought it loved it.” But despite the lack of public interest, Paul is still looking at me all the time. He likes to return to the haunted realm. “We all really enjoyed the game. It belonged to all of us and everyone who worked on it played a key role in its success. It’s an honor to be part of this team.”


This feature was first implemented in Retro Gamer 108. Subscribe to Retro Gamer Magazine More features like this here, delivered directly to your home.


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The making of Realms of the Haunting: “By the end I was completing the game in two hours and 30 minutes”

In the winter of 1996, publisher Gremlin Interactive unleashed an action-horror classic onto an unsuspecting gaming public. Cowering in a corner is Retro Gamer as we talk to producer Paul Green about the ideas and development that spawned this battle between good and evil…
“I started at Gremlin as a game designer although I also did a fair amount of work as an artist,” begins Paul, boasting the same Romero-esque flowing locks of fifteen years ago, “and we were always open to game pitches. One day Tony Crowther approached us with a cool game engine and an idea – a horror-themed game.” 
Crowther was well known to Gremlin founder Ian Stewart as they had worked together during the company’s 8-bit phase over ten years earlier; Gremlin liked what the veteran programmer had to say and Paul was soon on board as well. “The original idea of a horror game was Tony’s,” he explains, “while I conjured up the setting, mythology, characters and plot.”

What’s more, in addition to the main game, the production team were enthusiastically working on another, oft-maligned addition that Gremlin considered key to generating the right atmosphere in Realms of the Haunting: full-motion video. 
“A tremendous amount of effort went into the cut-scenes,” says Paul proudly, “and we hired a company, Bright Light Studios, to do the shooting, prosthetics, make-up, props and costumes.” Director Alan Coltman oversaw the production, most of which was filmed in front of blue screens. “We felt it was vital to developing the plot,” continues Paul, “and Alan worked very closely with the actors and Bright Light to make sure we got what he wanted. He did a first class job.”
Horror stories

We run screaming back to the start of development now and quiz Paul further on his inspiration for the intricate background and storyline to Realms. Surprisingly the game’s plot and ambience took its cue from different influences, as he explains. “Firstly, I was an avid table-top RPG player and from my early teens played games such as Call Of Cthulhu and Runequest. I love creating worlds and all the stuff that makes them work, so this experience was helpful.” 
Although Paul mentions Cthulhu, the works of HP Lovecraft were apparently not an influence in themselves. “I’m obviously familiar with his work and the games that have spawned from it, yet the inspiration for Realms came from religion, both orthodox and unorthodox, and the theories that go with them.” 
Consequently, Paul built a story using mainly Hebrew texts on the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell and the roles of angels and demons. Soon he was creating a workable mythology based on these ancient writings as well as other sources such as the book The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail, upon which Dan Brown based his 2003 bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. For the sombre, oppressive mood of the game, Paul recalled some cinematic favourites. “One film in particular was more inspirational than others: The Keep. I just loved the creeping sense of doom and horror it created. Another was John Carpenter’s The Thing, which you can clearly see in the title sequence to the game.” 

Paul Green

With a technical design in place from Tony Crowther, plot, background and characters from Paul, and the FMV lensing with Alan Coltman at the helm, Realms of the Haunting was moving along at a demonic pace. Surely there were complications? 
“Tony was and still is an ace programmer,” beams Paul, “and there were many days when he would shrug and say to us that something couldn’t be done or that it would take too long. Then, the next day he’d come back with it coded or fixed, and quite often – better.” 
As a result, the development of Realms ran relatively smoothly, despite some harsh cuts required for the film footage. “An hour or so needed to be cut because of time, cost and memory restrictions. We had to keep the number of discs and therefore the costs down.” 
With the game nearing completion, Paul became responsible for playtesting not only the puzzles and gameplay but also ensuring that the mood and feel was fittingly lugubrious. “By the end I was completing the game in two hours and 30 minutes,” he laughs, “and I’d be delighted to know if anyone has beaten that!”

Long before the final scene of Realms of the Haunting had been shot, Paul was already working on its sequel. Unfortunately, disappointing sales saw this possibility fade. 
“That was sad for everyone that worked on Realms,” he says gloomily, “especially as the critics loved it and that the people who actually did buy it loved it too.” Yet, despite the less-than-stellar public interest, Paul still looks back very fondly on Realms of the Haunting. “We all had a great time on the game. It belonged to all of us and everyone that worked on it was instrumental to its success. I feel honoured to have been part of that team.”
This feature first ran in Retro Gamer 108. You can subscribe to Retro Gamer Magazine here and get more features just like this one delivered straight to your doorstep. 

#making #Realms #Haunting #completing #game #hours #minutes

The making of Realms of the Haunting: “By the end I was completing the game in two hours and 30 minutes”

In the winter of 1996, publisher Gremlin Interactive unleashed an action-horror classic onto an unsuspecting gaming public. Cowering in a corner is Retro Gamer as we talk to producer Paul Green about the ideas and development that spawned this battle between good and evil…
“I started at Gremlin as a game designer although I also did a fair amount of work as an artist,” begins Paul, boasting the same Romero-esque flowing locks of fifteen years ago, “and we were always open to game pitches. One day Tony Crowther approached us with a cool game engine and an idea – a horror-themed game.” 
Crowther was well known to Gremlin founder Ian Stewart as they had worked together during the company’s 8-bit phase over ten years earlier; Gremlin liked what the veteran programmer had to say and Paul was soon on board as well. “The original idea of a horror game was Tony’s,” he explains, “while I conjured up the setting, mythology, characters and plot.”

What’s more, in addition to the main game, the production team were enthusiastically working on another, oft-maligned addition that Gremlin considered key to generating the right atmosphere in Realms of the Haunting: full-motion video. 
“A tremendous amount of effort went into the cut-scenes,” says Paul proudly, “and we hired a company, Bright Light Studios, to do the shooting, prosthetics, make-up, props and costumes.” Director Alan Coltman oversaw the production, most of which was filmed in front of blue screens. “We felt it was vital to developing the plot,” continues Paul, “and Alan worked very closely with the actors and Bright Light to make sure we got what he wanted. He did a first class job.”
Horror stories

We run screaming back to the start of development now and quiz Paul further on his inspiration for the intricate background and storyline to Realms. Surprisingly the game’s plot and ambience took its cue from different influences, as he explains. “Firstly, I was an avid table-top RPG player and from my early teens played games such as Call Of Cthulhu and Runequest. I love creating worlds and all the stuff that makes them work, so this experience was helpful.” 
Although Paul mentions Cthulhu, the works of HP Lovecraft were apparently not an influence in themselves. “I’m obviously familiar with his work and the games that have spawned from it, yet the inspiration for Realms came from religion, both orthodox and unorthodox, and the theories that go with them.” 
Consequently, Paul built a story using mainly Hebrew texts on the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell and the roles of angels and demons. Soon he was creating a workable mythology based on these ancient writings as well as other sources such as the book The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail, upon which Dan Brown based his 2003 bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. For the sombre, oppressive mood of the game, Paul recalled some cinematic favourites. “One film in particular was more inspirational than others: The Keep. I just loved the creeping sense of doom and horror it created. Another was John Carpenter’s The Thing, which you can clearly see in the title sequence to the game.” 

Paul Green

With a technical design in place from Tony Crowther, plot, background and characters from Paul, and the FMV lensing with Alan Coltman at the helm, Realms of the Haunting was moving along at a demonic pace. Surely there were complications? 
“Tony was and still is an ace programmer,” beams Paul, “and there were many days when he would shrug and say to us that something couldn’t be done or that it would take too long. Then, the next day he’d come back with it coded or fixed, and quite often – better.” 
As a result, the development of Realms ran relatively smoothly, despite some harsh cuts required for the film footage. “An hour or so needed to be cut because of time, cost and memory restrictions. We had to keep the number of discs and therefore the costs down.” 
With the game nearing completion, Paul became responsible for playtesting not only the puzzles and gameplay but also ensuring that the mood and feel was fittingly lugubrious. “By the end I was completing the game in two hours and 30 minutes,” he laughs, “and I’d be delighted to know if anyone has beaten that!”

Long before the final scene of Realms of the Haunting had been shot, Paul was already working on its sequel. Unfortunately, disappointing sales saw this possibility fade. 
“That was sad for everyone that worked on Realms,” he says gloomily, “especially as the critics loved it and that the people who actually did buy it loved it too.” Yet, despite the less-than-stellar public interest, Paul still looks back very fondly on Realms of the Haunting. “We all had a great time on the game. It belonged to all of us and everyone that worked on it was instrumental to its success. I feel honoured to have been part of that team.”
This feature first ran in Retro Gamer 108. You can subscribe to Retro Gamer Magazine here and get more features just like this one delivered straight to your doorstep. 

#making #Realms #Haunting #completing #game #hours #minutes


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