Devoted to the cause

Blood Transfusion to save aging game

Although some games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City get the largest share of the game industry's revenue, there are many quality programs of note as well that don't get very much press. Then there is the Blood Transfusion project, which in all likelihood, you have never even heard about.

The Blood Transfusion project is made up of a group of talented programmers who are devoted to a classic game: Blood. When Blood first came out for the PC, it was a masterpiece of visual programming. Lots of people were turned off by the blood and gore factor, and the satanic undertones of the game, but few could argue with the visual feast that awaited gamers.

Today however, the Blood engine has been outstripped by modern computers. Trying to run the game today on modern equipment is an exercise in futility. That is what Tim Hale, the producer of the Blood Transfusion project, and his volunteer staff are trying to combat. They are working hard to resurrect Blood from the computer dead, giving it new life with a new engine.

GiN associate Gareth Von Kallenbach caught up with Hale to chat about the status of their project, and why they are spending so much time updating a game from the past.

GiN: What was the inspiration behind the project?

Hale: Mathieu Oliver and myself had been tinkering with making utilities to export the blood media to a more generic format for about a year before things got really started. We got to the point where we had all the sounds, art, and resource files figured out. The time came where we were going work on making a program to convert blood’s encrypted non-standard map format back to build’s stock map format.

At that same time, the "blood source" community was getting bored waiting for the source to come out. The idea was suggested to make a mod on some game engine that represented most of the items in blood. We did a vote, and Quake 1 came out on top. Eventually one thing led to another, and we got permission to recreate our favorite game.

GiN: What is your gaming background?

Hale: I started with an Atari 7800 with two games: Pole Position II and Joust. Eventually I did the whole Nintendo and Super Nintendo thing. Beat Ganon, saved the princess on numerous occasions. The first computer game I ended up playing was probably some lame shareware titles that my dad got me. Robomaze 2 or 3 was the one I liked the best. Of course I ended up getting a copy of Wolf3D shareware.

Yeah, that changed everything. Sadly though I never played Doom until late 1997. I first stumbled across blood when I was in Maine, and that’s where I got hooked. I was bored out of my wits, but I played the heck out of blood to occupy my time.

GiN: How did you go about getting approval from Jason Hall, and how tough of a sell was it?

Hale: It was actually not too bad. He knew we couldn’t really ever get the source code for blood. When we asked if we could re-use the media in a quake project, he simply said, "feel free too." The toughest sell was infrogrammes. We were calling the game bloodbath until we checked with them about the legality of distributing "bloodbath" in a Linux release. Their response was, only one project and no use of the word "blood" in the title.

GiN: Why did you pick the Quake 1 engine rather than the Q2 or Q3 engine?

Hale: This wasn’t me at all really. I figured if you can’t beat them, join ’em. Quake 1 was 100% open source when we started, and if you made a game based off of it you could distribute it freely. Quake 1 offered the freedom to distribute an entire game without a gamer having to have any other game to run it. We wanted as many people as possible to play our game!

GiN: What have been the greatest problems and success stories in doing this project?

Hale: I’ll have to be biased on this one. I’m in charge of map conversions since I’m working on a map converter. Build, as you already may know, was not true 3d. Quake, as everyone knows, is very much 3d. There are a lot of little things that still may never happen in the maps because of that difference. It’s not so noticeable now, but wait until we move into the single player arena. Huge maps and complex scenes are going to kill frame rate.

As for success, still being together is a large success to me. A lot of projects like this die pretty quickly. There are a couple of pretty devoted guys on this project.

GiN: How is the project being funded?

Hale: It’s free so the only cost is time.

GiN: Will you be expanding upon the game at all or converting the add on levels?

Hale: The plasma pack and cryptic passage are slated for inclusion in 2.0 at this point. The reality is what comes first: the code and models or the maps. I believe all the mappers have expressed interest in doing a new episode. We’ve already added a ton of new bloodbath maps.

GiN: Will Blood 2 be getting a makeover from you at all?

Hale: I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d like to tie the two projects together at the hip. If we can get the textures and maps from blood 2 then it is very possible.

GiN: For people that would ask "why" in regards to your project, how would you answer them?

Hale: Play old school blood. Now, try to get blood to work on today’s systems. It can be done, but it’s no fun when you have to work to play a game.

GiN: How accurate are you being to the original and have you taken any liberties with the content?

Hale: At this point we do what Quake lets us do. It’s very lame at times, but compatibility across all the Quake 1 clients was one our biggest goals. That meant a couple of things had to be postponed. The auto door open was possibly one of the most annoying things to me to get used to. With the shift to Quake 2, we can go a lot further in detail without breaking compatibility.

GiN: What would you consider to be a success when you have finished the project?

Hale: All weapons with their respective akimbo/ alt-fire modes. All models, including monsters, world objects, ammo, weapons, etc. All enemies AI play tested and agreed that it resembles blood. At a minimum, Episodes 1-4. As much stuff as we can pack into the game when all the above is done.

GiN:  How many people are working on the project and when do you anticipate its completion?

Hale: At this moment about six guys are working on the project with consistency. A lot of folks have helped do little stuff here and there, and more folks are always welcome.

GiN: Anticipated completion date…

Hale: If we were Blizzard we’d say Halloween 2003 and disappoint you when reality sunk in and the Quake 2 full version didn’t come out until around April 2004. My honest projection is April 2004, unless we get more mappers. Playable releases will be available way before then, but we really want to do a faithful recreation.

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