Monday, September 10, 2012

Halls of Stonehenge: Looking Back

While I was brainstorming a topic to write about this evening, I found myself browsing the old (and by old, I mean OLD) Wolf3D Dome News archives, and to my amazement, I realized that it's been over nine years since I first began working on my very first mod, "Halls of Stonehenge". Now, I'm a rather private person by nature, and I hesitate to write anything on this blog about myself specifically, but HOS represents a lot more effort than just what I put into it, indeed, it's creation is the story of a very fortunate noob (myself) being guided through a very arduous process, with the aid of a very helpful, talented community.

As I mentioned, HOS was my very first mod, and while I was aware of the existence of Wolfenstein mods and editing tools for some time before I decided to make it, I didn't decide to try my hand at modding until my computer, already famous for being a piece of crap, refused to run the FPS "Blood" without crashing. Wolfenstein 3D ran fine for me (no surprise, seeing as how it was designed for older computers), and out of frustration with Blood, I decided I could create a mod utilizing its sprites, textures and sounds, and have at least a somewhat similar experience.

Well, I downloaded a few editing tools that were popular at the time, and without any idea what I was doing, I announced the project to Brian Lowe, and began hyping the mod before there was even anything to really hype (something I've since learned NOT to do). Something about the project appealed to the community at the time, though, because I received offers of assistance from such talents as ack (who did almost all the maps), MCS (who offered his coding talents), BrotherTank (who further assisted with coding), Adam Biser (who assisted with music conversions), and Chris Chokan (who finished out the coding end of the project), just to name a few. And then there was me, struggling to not make a mess of all the top notch work being given to me.

Anyway, we all know how the end result turned out (if you don't, you can always download it, or read Dean's review from a few months ago, and all I can say is, without the help of the community, it could have (and would have) been a disaster. Rather than discuss the creation process any further, though, I'm going to end this post with some factoids about HOS and it's development...
>> HOS was originally imagined as a "beat the Nazis to the artifact" type adventure, similar to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or some of the similarly themed Wolf mods of the time (ie. Quest for the Amulet)

>> The final villain, "Sarron", was named after the similarly named character from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (with a different spelling, of course)

>> Death Breath and Draven do not appear as bosses in Blood. Death Breath is modeled after a common enemy type, the Gill Beast, and Draven is a cross between Caleb, the anti-hero in Blood and Death Knight from SOD

>> With the exception of Draven and some textures in the final level, all of the sprites and textures in HOS are taken directly from Blood with minimal editing

>> While tools existed to extract sprites from Blood, each frame used in HOS was taken by taking a screenshot of the Blood WAD contents, and tediously shrinking and cleaning up the sprites in MS Paint, resulting in several hours of work for each enemy sprite set

>> HOS was created (on my end) using FloEdit, which had a tendency to overheat my PC, and crashed several times per hour (frequent saving after changes was a must)

>> The files for HOS became corrupted half way through development, requiring a large amount of work to be redone (and almost resulted in me quitting the project)

>> While almost all of the music in HOS comes from Blood, Blood actually has an eerie CD soundtrack that plays during the game, the tunes used in HOS are what Blood players hear if they opt not to use the CD soundtrack

>> ack, who was responsible for all but five of the maps, actually did an entire "challenge map" set of 21 levels, which was intended to be released with the original HOS files. It was instead used as the maps for HOS: Special Edition

>> The intended sequel to HOS, "Countdown to Chaos", was never completed, and HOS has never received a proper sequel (Special Edition doesn't count!)

>> Despite the work involved in putting HOS together, I never felt satisfied with it due to the lack of changes made to the sprites and textures

>> The final boss, Sarron, is featured as an incomplete upper torso. This is due to the lack of decent resizing technology at the time, and my being unhappy with the way the sprites used for Sarron looked when shrunken with the legs still attached.

>> More than one player has complained that the black floor and ceiling in the "Funhouse" secret level gave them migraines while playing

>> The "Stubble BJ" face used in HOS is based on the similarly stubbly face of Ben from "Full Throttle" (by Lucasarts)

>> HOS features a secret screen with a strange message from the developers if you complete the mod and meet certain requirements while doing it

>> The events of Halls of Stonehenge take place during the same time frame as Operation: Mutant Strike 3 (no coincidence, since OMS3 came out years after HOS!)

I could go on, but I think that's enough said about HOS for one post! Thanks for reading, until next time, make mine Wolfenstein!


  1. Wow. I have wanted a wolf-bood TC to be made, and now it has been!