April 28, 2006

Prey Weekly Development Update #16

Hey all,

Welcome to the 16th edition of the Prey Weekly Update. Today, we're covering many of those great Ask Prey questions that people send to us. A huge thanks to everyone for writing in with your questions. A few things to mention first:

  • We received our shipment of the pewter figurines that will be included in the collector's edition of Prey. They're pretty kick-ass little figurines. Very nicely detailed. They look great sitting on my desk :)
  • We're gearing up for E3. It's coming at a really weird time, though, as we're deep in crunch. On a positive note, there isn't a special E3 crunch going on like last year. This year, it's as easy as making a special copy of the game to take along for demoing.
  • We're planning on releasing regular videos of Prey, as we count down to release. The videos will be anywhere from a minute to three minutes long, each showing off some cool sections of gameplay. The first one (which was released an hour ago) showcases a number of things, including wallwalking, portals and planetoid gravity. You definitely have to check it out.
  • Hey, VoodooExtreme has had a Prey poll going on this whole week. Quick swing over there and vote!

Anyway, on to the questions:


Hi, may you can tell us what inside the collectors edition?

Markus Beier (Germany)
PS.: good luck - for a fast release!!!

Answer From Chris:

Hi Markus,

It just so happens we announced the contents of the collectors edition yesterday. The quick version is that the collectors edition is in a kick-ass metal box, comes on DVD, contains two pewter figurines (Tommy and the Hunter) and also had an "Art of Prey" book which contains some of the concept art from the game.

Check out http://legacy.3drealms.com/prey/preorder.html for more details and the longer version. :)


just wanted to ask the simple question:

Do dead bodies stay forever in the level or does they soon disappear? Is there a Cheat Code or can i modify a file to let them stay on ground forever?

Thank you very much!

Greetings from Germany!
Roman Masic

Answe From Chris:

This is something we experimented with for a while throughout Prey's development. We originally wanted the bodies to stay around forever, but realized that we would run into framerate issues (especially in combat heavy areas where the player is assaulted by waves of enemies).

In the early parts of the game, the bodies stay around forever. In later level (after the player has obtained the ability to SpiritWalk) the body will dissolve after the player retrieves the creature's lifeforce.

Amusing story about this -- a couple of years ago, a few of us were having an impromptu design meeting over dinner. Just discussing the game and some lingering issues that hadn't been resolved. One of them was the body dissolving. We knew we needed it, but we wanted a rational explanation for it.

We came up with all sorts of ideas, things like: alien tentacles that came up from the ground and sucked the body down, little creatures that would scurry out and consume the bodies, dark spirits that would come out and pull the body away (much like the unfortunate end of the bad guy Carl in the movie Ghost). But, all of those ideas had reasons why we couldn't use them (plus, I really wanted something that could be easily explained).

Someone suggested simply dissolving the body -- but only when the spirit was picked up. Simple, elegant, and easily done. Forgetting that we were in a crowded restaurant, I loudly exclaimed "Finally, a way to get rid of the bodies!" Which of course, caused the neighboring tables to give us some pretty freaky looks. :)

Such is the world of game development.


Dear Madam/Sir,

I have quick question regarding spirit-walking in Prey. I havent been able to find much information on it, but can spirit-walking be done anywhere in the game (like in Soul Reaver for example when you shift to the spectral realm) or can it only be done in specific places?

I hope you get time to answer my question, and I look forward to finally (!) getting to play this game. I remember reading the cover feature of it on an old Ultra Game Players mag in 1997!

And I'm still looking forward to it.


Answer From Chris:

Hi Patrick,

SpiritWalking is one of the key features of the game -- so you can do it anywhere you want (well, after you've actually obtained the ability to SpiritWalk, of course).

We experimented with a lot of different ideas for the SpiritWalk mechanic, but finally ended at making it something the player can do all the time for as long as they want. There's no time limit to SpiritWalking, as there are some puzzles you have to solve while only in Spirit mode. It was confusing and frustrating for testers to be almost about to solve a puzzle when the time runs out and they are kicked back to their body.

Because of this, it sets up an interesting mechanic, where you can explore for quite a distance in Spirit mode I've seen some testers go into Spirit mode before every single room of the game. They drop their body in a safe location, and scout ahead -- trying to dispatch any enemies they encounter using the Cherokee Bow.

This doesn't mean that you can just run thorough the whole game in Spirit, though. The player is limited in other ways -- doors won't open for Spirit players (because the proximity detection for opening doors is based upon the proximity of a living entity).

Similarly, the Cherokee Bow is limited -- the Bow is only available if the player has Spirit power (obtained from the lifeforces of fallen enemies). Spirit power is depleted by using the Bow, or by taking damage from enemies.


Christopher Wilson writes:

Will Prey be able to make full use of the Creative SoundBlasterX-Fi? I mean, will it be able to utilise both the on-board RAM and EAX 5?

Answer From Chris:

Hi Christopher,

Yes, definitely. We support the X-Fi through OpenAL, so we have pretty cool EAX support in the game. Interestingly enough, Liam Byrne from Creative Labs is here at Human Head today, working with us on level-specific EAX implementation issues.


Is there going to be a pre-release demo of Prey? If so, when will it be released?


Answer From Chris:

Hi Meharry,

There will definitely be a demo for Prey. The timing of it has yet to be fully determined, as it may be shortly before the game is released or it might be shortly after. Regardless, it will definitely be around the time the game is released.

I've never understood the idea of releasing a demo so much later than the game -- by that I mean like two months later. Seems that you should get the demo out at least around the time that the game comes out. I can understand that a lot of people might be on the fence about a given game, and a kick-ass demo might be just the thing to convince them to buy that game.

That said, as a developer I can understand how difficult it is to try to create a demo at the same time that you are crunching to finish the game in the first place.


Hi again

Thanks for answering my questions.

I got a bit old PC, like over 3 years old: 2000+ cpu, 512 mb ram and a geforce ti 4200 128 mb ram graphic card. I've played DOOM 3 to the end with this PC, so I'm hoping that I can play Prey on it too.

I'll admit that I did experience some lag with DOOM 3, but I managed it anyways.

So my question is: Will Prey run on my pc ?

I'm thinking about buying more ram and a better graphic card. As a real 3D Realms fan, I don't care that much for the graphics, as long as the game has some cool gameplay. And it sure sounds like Prey has some fun gameplay!

Keep up the good work.


uhm...yeah...hoping to see duke on E3 or a trailer of duke nukem forever on the Prey dvd.

Answer From Chris:

Hey Kreg,

Your PC should be able to handle the game, although parts of it are getting outdated. If Doom 3 was a bit laggy on your system, then Prey will be even more so. Our system requirements are higher than Doom 3's were.

What you identified there are too good places to target: More RAM is always a good thing, and getting a better video card will definitely help, too.

I certainly hope you like the gameplay in Prey. We've spent a lot of time developing it, and tuning it to be unique and fun. But, you'll have to be the final judge of that yourself!

DNF at E3: Not this year -- 3DR wants to concentrate on hyping Prey at this point.



I'm webmaster from czech web site about pc games and I made game section Prey. I like your game very match, becouse has someting different, then other. I have a few questions to next weekly update.


- You said. We can meet creatures, who won't be always enemys and helps us in game. How it will be make? How we can recognize on the first meet up who is enemy and who isnt(?

- Doom 3 was disapproved to small arenas in Multipaer Maps with small variability to play and have a fun. In Quake 4 it was be better, but not incomplete. You promise fights in arenas with changing gravitation and teleports. But, do you thing about Quake 3 Arena(Q3A)? It is steel one of the best multiplayer game, and fans stay playing Q3A although Qauke 4 more modern and have newes technical processing. Are you shure, you will not do same mistake?

- When do you publish official hardware requirements?

- How long will game takes in hours for a play?

- When do you make new screenshots for fans? Because there are only few places of whole game which we can in screens saw.

- And last qauestion. Are you preparing some mapeditor, or modding material for community?

Thaks you for answers.


Answer From Chris:

Hi Vokr,

Whoa...quite a few questions here. Let's see if I can answer all these decently:

- Friendly characters in the game: We haven't really been talking about these friendly NPCs, primarily because we don't want to give away too much of the story. Suffice it to say that you will most definitely know which characters are friendly or not. Mainly because the friendly characters actually help you through the game. :)

- Prey's Multiplayer: I'm a huge fan of Q3A's MP. That was damn fun and highly polished and balanced. It still has some of my all-time favorite MP maps. I can understand why it is still the favorite of so many people out there.

But, we didn't try to model Prey's MP after Q3A, so you really can't compare them. They're both DM and Team DM based, but they definitely have a different feel to them while playing. We've taken all of the single-player core elements and carried them over to MP: SpiritWalk, WallWalk, Gravity Flipping, Portals, etc. All of these show up in DM, so it really gives the game a different feel and gives us a lot of opportunities for unique situations.

- Hardware requirements: We'll be putting this out very soon. Up until now we've essentially said that if you can run Doom 3 or Quake 4 decently, you should be able to run Prey. Our requirements are slightly higher than theirs. Of course, you could also get the 360 version (which is running very smoothly -- Venom is doing a kick-ass job).

- Gameplay hours? Depends upon the player. I think the average player will be in the 12-15 hour range. Some people who crank through the game will get through in less than that. Other people who really take their time will go over that.

- Screenshots: Man, we have something much cooler coming -- we're planning to release regular gameplay videos of Prey. So many things in the game just have to be seen in motion. A single screenshot just doesn't convey the experience of walking around on a mini-asteroid while sniping enemies.

- Map editor/mod stuff: Yes, absolutely. We plan to release all of our tools with the PC version of the game. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what people do with portals and gravity. There'll be some pretty wild mods out there!


Hey Chris,

First time writer, long time reader (sorry had to write that hah). Just a quick question.. when you guys first started Prey in late 2001 did you expect the end result (or near end result of course) to look like what Prey currently looks like now? Are there things that you guys have had to drop because current tech wouldn't allow?

If so any that you can mention?


Answer From Chris:

Hey ADM,

Great question. The game looks better and plays better than we originally conceived. There was a long learning curve to the tech, and a lot of experimenting. In fact, I recently looked at a build of the game from late 2002. It's remarkable how much it has changed (maybe someday we'll release some screenshots from that old version for a laugh).

As far as things that were cut along the way -- many of the ideas cut were due to overreaching and inappropriate planning. We tried to do too much too soon right away (the original plan called for some 40 levels or so). We quickly realized that was way too much for the scope of this game.

One of the big things we dropped that I really wished could have been in the game is multiplayer co-op. The original design called for it -- and in fact, we have most of the puzzles and battles planned around what would happen with multiple players in them. But, there were some tech issues we ran into -- issues that would have required some significant changes to the code. At that point, we decided to shelve co-op in favor of putting our resources towards making stronger single-player and competitive multiplayer experiences.


Shival Sheran Sooknanan writes:

Really excited about the game, but is there going to be a "making of" video documentary as an unlocakbale or feature??

Answer From Chris:

Great question -- but, no, there will not be a making of video included in the game. There will be the "Art of Prey" book included in the collectors edition, though.


Alexander writes:

Since Prey has lot's of dialogs and oneliners, will there be an option to turn on english subtitles? To lighten the understanding of the speech itself for non-english speaking gamers.

Answer From Chris:

Yes, there definitely will be this ability. The game doesn't actually have foreign language voices, it's always English, but with the option for subtitles for each language. And, of course, English subtitles will be available.

On a similar note, one of the people who tested the game for us is deaf, so we received some invaluable feedback from him on the subtitles about ways to make them less confusing for someone who is deaf or who doesn't speak English.


Adam Konrad writes:

Can you tell us a little more about the multiplayer component? How many player models will the game contain? Is there an autodownload (from http or game server) and punkbuster support? What about server scripts and configuration? Do you plan to make some guide for these things?

Answer From Chris:

This answer is actually from Rich Whitehouse, network programmer on Prey:

We have a total of 13 multiplayer models to choose from. We have retained the autodownload functionality from Doom 3, which allows downloading via HTTP and directly from the game server. We've also worked with Even Balance in getting PunkBuster fully integrated, and it will be right there and ready out-of-the-box. As for scripts and configuration, we still have the custom map cycle script (among other things), so all of those surprisingly robust things that were in Doom 3 will be ready for tinkering. :) Generally, Doom 3 and Quake 4 server guides will answer all of your questions about setting up a Prey server, but we'll certainly be making sure we get info out there on anything that is Prey-specific.

Again, a huge thanks to everyone who wrote in with questions. I very much enjoy reading these and talking to people interested Prey. It so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day issues with game development, so it's nice to be reminded what this is all about: You, the game player.

Next week, we'll have something new and interesting, I'm sure. Scott Miller had a few ideas for a weekly update, so we'll see if next week is a good time to unveil those.

Make sure you watch GameSpot tonight, too! :)

Until then, stay out of trouble....

Chris Rhinehart - Prey Project Lead
Human Head Studios

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Posted by Joe Siegler on April 28, 2006 at 5:17 PM | Permalink | Discuss this story on our forums
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