"A long time ago in a galaxy much bigger than my calves... There was this game called 'Heavy Metal' and life was good. But then life turned bad so we changed the name to 'Metal Tek' ...and once again, life was good. Real good. Okay, life was still bad so we changed the name to 'Riot'. Now life was good, for real this time. But, as always happens, something just had to screw things up and we needed to change name again. Okay, we just couldn't control ourselves and we changed it for no real reason. The name would be... [ SHOGO ], [ SHOGO ], [ SHOGO ], [ SHOGO ], [ SHOGO ], [ SHOGO ]. Did I mention the huge email threads about all of these names? Never mind..." — Shogo closing credits
This article outlines the development process for Shogo: Mobile Armour Division.
"Well, Riot (the actual name is Riot: Mobile Armor, but I'll refer to it here as Riot for the sake of convenience) has a long, convoluted history, but suffice to say we're getting toward the end of the main development cycle, which will be followed by a period of extensive testing, tweaking, and bug fixes. We're shooting for an early to mid 1998 release. Riot has its roots in anime and manga titles like Macross Plus, Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion: Neon Genesis, Akira, Venus Wars, and countless others. You'll see the influence throughout the game--in the levels, the characters, the weapons, the story, and even the interface. Essentially, you play Sanjuro Takeshi, a lieutenant in the UCASF (United Corporate Authority Security Force) who has been brought in to assassinate a rebel leader known only as Gabriel. The game is composed of goal-oriented sequences that lead toward a decision point that will affect the outcome of the game." — Craig Hubbard
Monolith Productions was founded in October 1994 in Redmond, Washington among employees of Edmark. This placed them right beside the headquarters of software juggernaut Microsoft, at a critical point in the history of PC gaming. MS DOS was aging but still very popular among game developers, but Microsoft was hoping to finally move developers onto its newer Windows platform, especially in light of their ultimately exceeded expectations for the release of Windows 95. Their previous attempt with WinG proved a mixed success at best, and they were determined to make their follow up DirectX framework the definitive offering. A partnership with the new developer was quickly formed, seeing Monolith work out the Microsoft compound before later leasing an office park in nearby Kirkland, with Monolith producing the Windows 95 Game Sampler and its follow-up Sampler 2. These featured interactive first-person menus in true 3D allowing players to see what Windows gaming offered in style.
As development winded down on their first full release, the self-published platformer Claw, interest grew in using this technology to position both Monolith and Microsoft in the blooming world of hardware accelerated 3D gaming. This lead to the commencement of work on the Direct Engine and Heavy Metal, later Metal Tek, a first-person shooter inspired by mecha anime such as the cult series Robotech as pitched by CEO Jason Hall. Monolith had already entered the FPS market through their acquisition of Q Studios and its game Blood, which was published by GT Interactive in May 1997. Competition was to be fierce, with id Software's Quake engine revolutionizing 3D graphics, and rival engines being developed by Epic Games (Unreal engine), LucasArts (Sith engine), Looking Glass Studios (Dark Engine) and Q Studios' former patron 3D Realms (the ultimately abandoned portal engine for Prey). These developments were also leading to a flourishing multitude of rival games as well.
"I just read the Wired article about all the Doom spawn. I was quoted as saying "like I'm supposed to be scared of Monolith", which is much more derogatory sounding than I would like. I haven't followed Monolith's development, and I don't know any of their technical credentials, so I am not in any position to evaluate them. The topic of 'is Microsoft going to crush you now that they are in the game biz', made me a bit sarcastic. I honestly wish the best to everyone pursuing new engine development." — John Carmack, February 1998
"When we started it, there weren't any engines that were that usable. Unreal wasn't out at the time, and Quake actually wasn't even out then. At this point, we feel we're really going to distinguish ourselves with our terrain -- we're spending a lot of time with it and it's getting really easy to make terrains in the game. You just go into soft image and you can make a grid and pull all the points around and set up your terrain however you want, and it just goes straight into the engine. It's just something you can't do with any other engines. The other thing we've been focusing on is making as many things as we can reusable. Internally, we're building more than one game off of this engine, which forces us to separate the engine from the game code as much as possible, so there is a really well-defined interface. From what I've heard, it's been really easy to make modifications to the engine, just because of the way it's been structured. We've put a lot of effort into making it easy to add new code and new modes and things like that into the games, making it extensible. " — Mike Dussault, August 1999
Development of the engine was headed by Mike Dussault (previous author of the WolfDoom engine demo) with help from Scott H. Pultz, with further tools engineering by Brad Pendleton. Game engineering was headed by Kevin Stephens with help from Bill Brooks; additional engineering by "Loki" Blackman. Design for the game was initially done by committee under the direction of producer John L. Jack with contributions by Nathan Hendrickson and Todd Clineschmidt, before Craig Hubbard was brought in as lead designer in 1996. Art was headed by Charles Wes Saulsberry III, with animation by Matt Allen and mecha designs by Steve Lee. Audio was handled by James Ackley with music by Guy Whitmore with help from Daniel Bernstein and Cassano Thruston; alongside Blood II, the game premiered the concept of adaptive music, meaning music that adapts to circumstance and location.
Despite the lofty ambitions of the partnership, ultimately Monolith and Microsoft decided to go their separate ways. Monolith bought back the rights to both the Direct Engine and the game now known as Riot. These quickly became known as LithTech and Shogo, with the intention to self-publish as they were planning for their upcoming Get Medieval. At the same time, these constraints kept the project from meeting all of its original aspirations, with Hubbard deciding to pair down the design and focus instead on enjoyable gameplay. The earlier design phases had left over a rather labourious amount of backstory, which the fledgling Hubbard was reluctant to revise for fear of alienating his team. The strain of jointly developing both the engine and game simultaneously, as well as the Blood II project for GT Interactive, also applied pressure.
"Different vision for the product, ultimately. We agreed that it would be mutually beneficial for us to continue developing the game and the engine on our own. It was an amicable split." — Craig Hubbard
"The whole project was characterized by challenges. We had issues with planning, prioritization, ambition, scope, staffing, inexperience (including my own), and just about everything that can go wrong on a project. I think what saved the game was that we realized about six months before our ship date that there was no way we could make the game great, so we just focused on making it fun." — Craig Hubbard
"During the LithTech/SHOGO development cycle, we constantly struggled to develop an accurate schedule for both the game and the engine. When we originally signed the deal, we signed up to create a game engine and game in 18 months — an aggressive schedule to say the least. Unfortunately, we grossly underestimated just how long it would take to produce both entities. The really frustrating thing was that even with our extensive background in creating games and engines, we were still way off on our estimates. — John L. Jack
The game did however launch to positive reviews, as opposed to the mixed reaction to the similarly challenging to produce Blood II, although the final product has acquired a retrospective reputation of being charming but unpolished, with particular comment towards the game's artificial intelligence and networking code. The plot, while still praised by many, was also ultimately implemented in an uneven fashion, with most of the backstory only present as audio or textual expository dumps. Regardless, the game proved to be a commercial disappointment, partly due to the constraints of self-publishing but also due to the aforementioned competition such as SiN and Thief: The Dark Project, but particularly Half-Life which ironically was developed by ex-members of the DirectX initiative. The Shogo team's next project, the spy shooter No One Lives Forever, was done under the patronage of Fox Interactive, and eventually the company was bought outright by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2004. Despite much affection for the game, and numerous nods and homages in later releases, the title has never been properly revisited.
"I always felt SHOGO ended up as more of a promising prototype than a full-featured product, so there's probably not a lot I would keep the same if I had it to do all over again. The biggest change, as I mentioned above, would be to rethink the scale of the MCAs, ideally so that we could have let players transition in and out of them at any time. I'd also aim for a more relatable setting, since I think the power fantasy of being in a giant robot works best when the environment you're crashing through feels familiar. And I think we should've gone with a story premise that required less exposition, but I was reluctant to throw away the work that had already been done before I joined the team. I'm a lot more pragmatic nowadays." — Craig Hubbard, October 4, 2016
"There's a strange tradition with first-person shooters to reveal everything ahead of time, which, in my opinion, undermines the joy of discovery when you stumble across something new" — Craig Hubbard
- Development Update #1 - The Shogo Art Team
- Development Update #2 - The Shogo Programming Team
- Development Update #3 - The Shogo Level Design Team (four pages)
"Monolith focused a lot of attention on the online gaming community because we believe it has a tremendous impact on the success of a product. I think a number of things happened to make the online hype machine work in our favor. There are now more people (and specifically more gamers) online than ever before. So to a certain extent, we benefitted from that fact that more people were listening to what we had to say. Also, sites like Blues and VoodooExtreme have done a lot to promote the fps genre (and hardware acclerated titles in general), and we were fortunate in that they took an early liking to Shogo. Everyone in the company has made a concerted effort to be helpful to the online press (no matter how big or small), which also helped. We also had the "underdog" factor going for us, which helped us out with a number of key sites. Small developer, small publisher, we're struggling against the odds, you can make a difference, etc. The PlanetQuake network helped us a ton near the launch of the product, and went a long way towards legitimizing Shogo in the eyes of a lot of gamers. Of course a lot of it was just plain hard work coupled with luck." — John L. Jack
Note: This article shall heavily refer to the Blues News archives for rough dates tracking, noting that they may be just be when reported there, which often took a day, and not when first available or occurring. If a mentioned article or interview lacks a link, it is because it was not retrievable from the live web or Internet Archive.
"We've got a couple of things in the pipeline, we're currently working with Microsoft on a title called Riot which should be released in Spring. It will be up to microsoft or not whether it will go DVD but I would guess it would probably will because we'll be including a couple of cinematic sequences and after seeing the differences between the CD and DVD cut scenes, the quality is just not comparable. We're working on another title for GT and we're also working on another game internally which will likely be DVD as well. Initially we plan to release both CD and DVD versions but within a few years we will probably be doing DVD only." — John L. Jack, January 1998
One of the first mentions by Monolith was declaring Craig Hubbard as project lead on "Metal Tek" during the final entry of the Blood weekly updates on May 14, 1997. One of the earliest third-party mentions of what would become Shogo is Jodo Kast's Riot Page from August 17, 1997, which went live just a few months after Blood became the first release by Monolith Productions and over a month before the release of Claw, which included an overview of the game and quotations made by designer Craig Hubbard on the official Riot forum. Blues News first mentions the game project in an off-hand manner on August 13, 1997 in reference to a once proposed Quake deathmatch between Hubbard and professional player Dennis "Thresh" Fong mused upon by Jason Hall that never took place due to Hubbard's insistence to keep working on actual projects.
On September 9th Blues News announced the existence of a web page (accessible on the Internet Archive from May 1997) meant to advertise development of Monolith's Direct Engine project that they were collaborating on with Microsoft, announcing that its launch game would be Riot: Mobile Armor with a planned release in 1998. Hot Games soon followed with the game's first known preview, which is now inaccessible. September 16th had Hubbard interviewed by PCGaming.Com, once again on September 29th by Voodoo Extreme and yet again alongside engine engineer Mike Dussault on October 1st by PC Gamer, and finally by Operation 3Dfx on October 9th (now irretrievable). September 20th also saw the release of a video of the motion capture process for the game.
Weekly updates for the game were launched on the official website on September 30, 1997. The first one covered Craig Hubbard's life as a Monolith designer in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner. An MP3 file containing the game music track "Kumo Blade" was put out on October 14th. October 16th featured the latest in a now weekly screenshot release on the official site. A page dedicated to covering the game, entitled Riot Control, was launched on October 17th by GameSync. Operation 3Dfx continued their interview series with the Riot team, with another entry posted on October 24th. October 27th saw the game previewed by The Adrenaline Vault, the earliest recoverable preview on the web. Blues News posted an IRC chat log with the Riot team by Undernet #idsoftware on November 7th.
On November 15th the official Riot website was redesigned alongside the launch of a half dozen new screenshots. November 19th had Hubbard interviewed by the Revolt, the Riot Information Center page on Planet Quake, followed by an interview with Mike Dussault on December 2nd. That same day also featured an interesting weekly update describing the wrangling required to get Microsoft's consent to show a version of Riot using the Glide API on a Voodoo 2 at Comdex due to Direct3D not presently supporting dual TMUs. December 6th saw Monolith launch a daily game give-away on their online store. December 13th saw Mike Dussault give a weekly update about the development of the Direct Engine. Hubbard was interviewed by Microsoft's Gaming Site about Riot multiplayer on December 24, 1997, following screenshots released by Revolt on December 22nd and first ever confirmation of Riot deathmatching by level designer Todd Clineschmidt.
Split with Microsoft
"An article on PC Gamer News describes a split between Microsoft, who funded the development of DirectEngine, and Monolith, in the midst of a couple of DirectEngine projects. The article describes Monolith paying MS an 'undisclosed sum' for the rights to both DirectEngine, and Riot: Mobile Armor, one of their DirectEngine games (no word on how this affects Blood 2, also being developed by Monlith using D.E.). The agreement leaves Monolith without a publisher for Riot, and they are said to be considering self-publishing among their future options." — Blues News, April 3, 1998
The Revolt page was updated with new information on January 3, 1998. January 8th featured the release of a new screenshot showing the coloured lighting capability of the Direct Engine, as well as another MP3 file from the game. January 15th featured a weekly update containing a detailed rundown on character design, and a walk-through of the art asset creation of a starship. PC Gamer released a preview of the game on January 19th, and Revolt, the Riot Infromation Center released an interview with lead 3D artist Peter Arisman. Voodoo Extreme released an interview with project manager John L. Jack on January 22nd, as did Gaming Unleashed on the 21st. Revolt released a Q&A with Craig Hubbard on January 28th discussing the game's storyline, following releases of snatches of the game's plot being posted on the game's website starting on January 27th and following through to February 6th at part seven and finally concluding on Feburary 10th.
A Quicktime movie showing the development of the game's conceptual artwork was released by Hubbard on January 29th. The game was also previewed on riot.com.au. A weekly update by 3D artist Rick Winter on February 23rd featured five AVI files showing enemy character animations, two death animations each for a pair of enemies, and an idle animation. New screenshots were released throughout February, most notably eight in one batch on Feburary 26th, as well as a shot of an Ordog MCA firing rockets. The March 3rd weekly update featured profiles about the Direct Engine team. April 1st saw the release of a developer demo version of the Direct Engine, meant to exhibit most of the engine's features save for networking. Soon after this however on April 3, 1998 it was announced that Microsoft and Monolith had split on the project, with Monolith purchasing the rights to the engine back and considering self-publishing for Riot.
The Riot forum was brought back online on April 9th, featuring discussions of the Direct Engine technology. April 15th saw the release of a demonstration video ("in both huge 16 MB and ridiculous 45 MB sizes") to herald the launch of the new LithTech website, formally announcing the name change following the divorce from Microsoft. This period also saw the launch of the website for Monolith's Get Medieval, and on April 17th it was announced by James Wilson III that Zombie Studios had licensed LithTech for use in a joint venture with Wildstorm Comics titled EXFOR Omega. April 23rd had Jason Hall interviewed by Daily Dementia using RealAudio about LithTech, Riot and other topics.
On May 15, 1998 it was announced by Jason Hall that the project was officially renamed to Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, stating that "now that we are publishing Shogo ourselves, we wanted the name to emphasize the spirit of the game and our vision for it." An IRC chat log with the developers from May 13th was also released by Gamers-Zone. The 15th of May also saw the release of an interview with the LithTech engine team. The 16th had the release of a promotional video of the game in AVI format sent out, with new movies planned every two weeks. May 19th saw the release of five high resolution wallpapers. OGR released a preview of the game under its new title on May 22nd, and also gathered snatches from Jason Hall at the E3 convention floor.
May 21st had Monolith announce a Shogo level design contest, with winning levels to be shipped in the final game and prizes such as a signed copy of the game and a 12 MB Voodoo 2 video card. The level design contest was tweaked a bit in order to make it easier, including by the release of a scale model of an MCA, on May 25th. A further chat log from Gamers-Zone was also released, conducted on May 20th. May 31st saw the release of several new promotional items, most notably the "kickass" Shogo painting, a new weekly screenshot, and a two minute MP3 music teaser from "Akuma". An audio interview was also released with Jason Hall.
Two new exclusive screenshots were released on the newly renamed Revolt: Shogo Intelligence Division on June 3, 1998, and word on that site's ongoing restructuring. Monolith also began the release of the weekly updates for Shogo, with the second released on June 12th and the third on June 28th. The first featured an introduction to the Shogo art team, the second was about the programming team, while the final one featured the game's level designers. June 18th saw the release of an audio interview with project manager John L. Jack by Shooters. On June 25th it was announced by Daniel Bernstein that Shogo would be the first game to feature Interactive Music Architecture created by Microsoft, followed by LithTech engine sibling Blood II: The Chosen.
"So, despite all the warnings, disclaimers, stare-downs, and bodyslams, I secretly spent 2 hours last night putting together a 1 minute SHOGO preview AVI at home, and tried to not include anything that whould get me in trouble with the team. (yeah right, I'm dead meat now).. I would have loved to show you much more than what is in this video, and trust me when I say that this footage barely scratches the surface of the ANIME inspired experience that is SHOGO, but hey, I think that we gotta show you a little something more right NOW. I mean, others are stepping up to the plate and showing their goods...I guess underneath it all, I must be some kind of marketing type. :) ...NOTE: The team does not yet know I'm putting this up. It is entirely possible that when they read this and look at the video that they will make me take it down. I'm taking a gamble here, so GET IT FAST! (if you are interested) Side notes - The music I used for the background is actually one of the IMA (interactive music) tracks that is played during the game. It is not CD audio. It's pretty cool. It's basically the new DirectMusic technology from MS. I think that it's neat that the LithTech team got that stuff in there." — Jason Hall, July 14, 1998
July 20th saw the release of various screenshots from the entries of the level design contest, as well as official publication of Hall's "bootleg" video. July 21st saw the announcement that work had begun by Instant Access on a Shogo expansion pack due for release in December 1998, featuring two new MCAs, twenty new levels, as well as new enemies and weapons and an original storyline. This news was also carried by GameSpot. July 23rd saw the release of a preview of Shogo by Next Generation. July 30th saw the announcement of a pre-release giveaway contest for Shogo. PVR-NET released new screenshots on August 5th.
OGR released a visit with the Monolith staff on August 12, 1998, which was described as showing the game as more of a first-person shooter at heart than a mecha simulator. This followed the release of interface graphics by Monolith and four new screenshots by Gamer's Alliance on the 11th. Another live IRC chat with the Shogo developers occurred on August 18th, with a log posted on 19th. The release of Shogo screenshots increased to a sizable degree with releases by Processed News (promising more on a daily basis), Voodoo Extreme, 3Dfx World and finally by OGR all reported on August 19th. The 3Dfx World post also featured a full on preview of the game. Further shots were released by Voodoo and Sharky Extreme, and a preview of the game was released by 3D Unlimited on August 22nd, as well as screenshots by OGR on the 24th.
"Loki" Blackman released the lyrics for "Negai", the game's theme song, via a plan file on August 26th, including in karaoke format. A new movie showing the game was also released showing off gameplay and weaopns effects, plus the game's credits. Pursuant to 1990s bandwidth requirements, the film was released as both large and small AVIs (78.4 MB and 22.1 MB) as well as the smaller QuickTime format (49.5 MB and 14.2 MB). Following the release of the movie, Blackman uploaded mirrors of the released MP3 tracks. Get Medieval also made its way to store shelves, while Voodoo Extreme released a Q&A with John L. Jack. On August 27th Jason Hall stated on the Shooters pod-cast that Shogo would be released in October 1998 and that Blood II would be released that fall, the first time the interviewer recalled getting a straight answer regarding a release date. Voodoo Extreme also released two hi-res Shogo screenshots at 1024x768 resolution on the 26th, 27th and 30th, despite Jason Hall announcing a moratorium on released shots.
Mike Dussault described the game as nearing completion on August 30th, and gave out recommendation on video cards for the game. Revolt also posted on new screenshots posted on the Botaku's Realm site on GeoCities. OGR released new screenshots on September 4, 1998, while Voodoo Extreme posted some as well as the Shogo poster, and 3DNews.Net posted more on September 8th. On September 10th Jason Hall covered several topics on his plan file, including the imminent release of demo and level editor for Get Medieval, but also mused upon the possibility of a Shogo 2. LithTimes also released four new screenshots, promising to post more daily. Previews then came fast, with new one published by Computer Games Online and then another by GameSpot on September 9th. Shogo was exhibited at ECTS, with coverage provided by Planet Quake on September 11th. A sneak peak and audio interview with Jason Hall was released by the CNET Game Center on September 12th. Much speculation ensued as to when the game would be production ready.
"There are many differing reports on when Shogo: Mobile Armor Division will go Gold (all programming completed and off to manufacturing), including a report on OGR that it will definitely go Gold today. I buzzed Jason Hall at Monolith to ask his assistance in cutting through the fog, and he told me was that it is not Gold as of now, but that the game is feature complete, and they are in the midst of furiously play-testing to polish off any bugs that remain. The game may go Gold as soon as today, and no later than Wednesday, putting the game on store shelves no later than October 19, and possibly sooner. Jason warns that if you are hopped up to get Shogo right away, you should pre-order it, as the early shipments to stores will be pretty limited." — Blues News, September 14, 1998
Voodoo Extreme released a preview on September 16th , the same day that Jason Hall announced the game had gone gold in his plan file. Mike Dussualt also released the following remarks.
"Shogo is done! After almost 2.5 years, I can say with confidence that it was well worth it. It's an awesome game I'm proud to have been a part of. I think people will be very impressed by all the cool shit in there. We almost have too much to fill the CD (we're at 98% capacity!) There's a huge article in this month's Game Developer that John Jack wrote that gives some pretty gory details on all the things we went through. By all reason, we should all just be rotted shells of human beings but everyone is pretty ecstatic and dying to work on the next title. It's great to know that we couldn't have learned everything a harder way and that we won't make the same mistakes ever again. I can't even imagine what our next game will be like. The game and the engine totally exceeded any expectations I had for them when we started. We have some hefty plans for Lithtech 2 and I can't wait to get started on it, but for the next few months I'm kind of in limbo, helping out with Blood 2, doing patches for Shogo, and researching stuff for Lithtech 2." — Mike Dussualt's plan file, September 16, 1998
GameSpy updated its service to version 2.03 with fixes for both Shogo and Unreal on September 18th. Both Planet Shogo and LithTimes also released new screenshots, with the former showcasing the game in software rendering mode; they also released an interview with Mike Dussualt pertaining to modding. The LithTech engine was oddly absent in a Game Center article about the rising competition among game engines released on September 23rd. LithTimes released more screenshots on September 19th. September 26th brought word of the imminent release of the demo version.
"Monolith and the PlanetQuake Network have teamed up to bring you the exclusive release of a playable Shogo demo, this Friday, Oct. 2nd at 12:01 AM, right here at PlanetShogo. Fans all across the Net will be able to download it here first. A couple of details about the demo: Size will be about 50 megs. Two levels will be included, one on foot, one in a mech. The demo will not include multiplayer. Loading and saving will be disabled. People are advised to have the latest video drivers available and 3Dfx owners should download the new reference drivers from 3Dfx.com." — Announcement
The Shogo demo was finally unveiled on October 2nd at the stroke of midnight. Blues News released their own preview of the game the previous day. On October 3rd, Craig Hubbard announced the launch of the Shogo FAQ. On October 5th, the Open Gaming Network Foundation announced support for Shogo was pending, Gamer's Digest interviewed Jace Hall and the Matrox 3D Gaming Club announced that Shogo was their Game of the Month and offered five entrants the chance to win a free copy once available. A letter was also released by Gaming Insider from Mike Dussault comparing the design of the LithTech engine in contrast to a previous letter from Tim Sweeney on the Unreal enigne. OGR reviewed the game on October 6th giving it 8.5/10.
October 15th saw the first reports to Blue's News of the game appearing in stores in New York City. Further retail sightings followed in the succeeding days, with a release from Monolith acknowledging this early drop on October 16th.
October 9th featured word on fixes to AI bugs in the game.
"You've probably noticed situations in which you shoot one guy and the guy standing next to him just stands there with his thumb up his butt. AIs actually alert other allied AIs within a certain range when they've been damaged, but because of this bug, you wouldn't have observed a reaction in many cases. Now you will. :) The second issue was that enemies who were targeting the player sometimes failed to SEE the player. You'd be likely to notice this problem in a long hallway or large outdoor area where you shoot a guy and he stands there like he wants to shoot but doesn't actually do so. Well, now he shoots. Another issue had to do with bullets hitting near a bad guy. Enemies actually hear weapon firing and impact sounds within a given radius (based on the weapon) and turn to target the player. Previously, it would only work if they had a direct line of sight to the impact point, which would cause problems if the bullet or explosion hit right around a corner. These few minor fixes will make a big difference and will definitely be in the first patch. Of course, the game is gonna get a little tougher as a result, but that's what difficulty settings are for! We owe special thanks to those of you who posted specific examples of AI problems. Those examples made it simple to track down the bugs. :) As for complaints about our enemies' defensive tendencies, put yourself in their position and ask yourself if you'd go charging around a corner after some guy with a shotgun. Didn't think so. ;)" — Craig Hubbard
The same day also saw a review from AGN giving it a 9/10, another from the Adrenaline Vault giving it five stars, and finally one from GameGirlz also giving a 9/10. Mike Dussault also spread word on networking improvements.
On October 10th, it was announced by Jason Hall's plan file that there would be a multiplayer point release update for Shogo.
"Monolith CEO Jason Hall made a huge .plan update outlining a few things about Shogo: Mobile Armor Division: Here's my best Reader's Digest version: 1) Due to the demand generated by the demo, there is a good likelihood that the initial run of the game will sell out immediately (he suggests pre-ordering). 2) There are plans to deal with concerns about Internet play with a "Shogo Multiplayer Point Release (SMPR) which is designed to address most of the various lag issues associated with internet multiplay." Jason is so bold as to give a date for the point release as November 15, as well as offering an explanation of why the game is shipping with multiplayer glitches (Monolith Programmer Mike Dussault also updated his .plan with some detail about the fixes going into Internet play). 3) Jason also mentions the previously mentioned AI bugs that are being addressed, and caps off with some enthusiasm for Blood2." — Blues News, October 10, 1998
A multiplayer review focused on LAN play was released by LANparty.com on October 12th. 3DGaming.Net released an A-grade the next day, followed the next by another by GameSpot that gave it an 8.1/10. October 14th also saw an intervie with project manager John Jack by PC Gamer online. Kevin Stephens released a plan file update about the upcoming patch, particularly the AI fixes. Planet Shogo also released a log from a conversation with John Jack, Craig Hubbard, and Brian Goble on a Adrenaline Vault chat session. Games Domain Reviews also released a preview. Planet Shogo released a page which delineated the game's cheat codes. Mike Dussault released an update on the patch.
"Time for another update. The Shogo patch is almost done, but we're going to continue to put it through extensive testing as a lot of stuff has changed. Some cool tweaks have gotten in recently: - Time of day.. very cool when it turns to night on a server. - Variables to scale damage, tweak missile speeds, tweak respawn rates, etc. TCP/IP modem games feel great! You get into the game quickly and you can barely tell you're playing over 28.8. If there's time, we're going to reenable the 3rd person camera in multiplayer which makes for some cool screenshots. At this point we're mainly fixing rare crash bugs and video card glitches. If you're from a video card company and want us to implement a fix, if you could email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), that would be great. Even if you have already sent it, send it again with something that'll catch my eye like SWF 18, LIKES ENGINE PROGRAMMERS.. there's a flood of email coming in so requests might have gotten lost. If the fix requires something I can't detect with caps bits, it would _really_ help if you could tell me what to look for in GetDeviceIdentifier." — Mike Dussualt, October 16, 1998
Games Unleashed released on interview with Guy Whitmore about the game's use of adaptive music onto their Shogo page. The next day bug fixes were mentioned by Mike Dussualt for a fog issue on RIVA TNT and potentially RIVA 128 video cards, he also directed players to tips to getting the game working with a PowerVR PCX2 accelerator. Jace Hall also enthused about the multiplayer patch. October 20th saw the release of an unofficial FAQ by Voodoo Extreme, and a write-up about the multiplayer patch by Planet Shogo. A Linux dedicated server was announced by Dussault on October 21st, as well as potentially other ports. An alpha version of the multiplayer patch was announced for Friday. Sharky Extreme released a review on October 22nd, while Planet Shogo released a Quicktime movie showcasing the multiplayer patch. The alpha patch was finally released at 10:00 Pacific time on October 23rd.
"Dying to play a really hot Shogo deathmatch? The waiting is over! Get your hands on the Alpha version of the Shogo: Mobile Armor Division multiplayer point release. The Alpha patch will be available for download tonight starting at 10 p.m... Multiplayer servers can be located by using GameSpy, the multiplayer gaming and server support service which is included on your Shogo CD. If you think Shogo rocks in Single-player, you ain’t seen nothin yet! The Alpha patch will IMMEDIATELY improve the performance of your Shogo multiplayer games. Be warned, however. This patch is only an Alpha, which means it remains incomplete and may destabilize single-player games. The complete, finallized patch will still be released, as promised, on November 15th. 'The Alpha patch will allow die-hard fans to begin playing Shogo multiplayer NOW with no more waiting.' says Monolith CEO Jason Hall. 'Releasing this patch is also Monolith’s way of proving to everyone that great multiplay is our number one priority right now. We want gamers to know that we are the kind of company that delivers on the promise of excellent multiplayer.' If at any point you wish to un-install the alpha patch and bring your copy of Shogo back down to the original v1.0 (for example, the alpha patch disrupts single-player stability) you can do so easily with the simple patch un-installer, also available at the locations above. Once you’ve played a new multiplayer game, send your feedback on the patch directly to the Shogo team" — Announcement
ShogoServ - The Alternative Shogo Master Server List also launched. Kevin Stephens elaborated on the changes in the alpha multiplayer update on October 24th.
"First off I just want to make one thing about the Alpha patch perfectly clear. It CAN mess up your single player game. Shogo v1.0 saved games WILL NOT work with Shogo v1.1 (Alpha). Period. Jace was smoking crack when he wrote his plan file ;) Also, here are some other things that have been fixed in the patch: Fixed frag screen being displayed between multiplayer levels. Fixed MCA vehicle to on-foot level weapons bug (fun bug that allowed you to have MCA weapons in on-foot levels ;) Fixed a bug that caused player to be stuck in first frame of an animation. Picked up weapons don't get automatically switched to in Multiplayer. Added "picked up" messages for all pick up items (that didn't already have messages) Fixed AI shooting through walls/doors bug. Enhanced AI scent biscuit technology(tm) (They don't get caught on corners as much). Picked up item sounds now play in client's head. Added screen flashes for when items are picked up. Removed explosion when killing MCA's with melee weapons (due to popular demand). Moved 3rd-person camera intersect segments to client (allows for 3rd person view in multiplayer - which is now enabled). AIs now are pushed down slopes. Fixed ammo icon not always displayed correctly after reloading a saved game." — Kevin Stephens
Mike Dussualt also released a plan update with some performance tips, while Jace Hall put out the call for more feedback to go into the next alpha release prior to the final scheduled for November 15th. The next day Dussault posted the following update alongside Blood II news.
"If you don't have Shogo or the Shogo demo, grab it now so that you can make sure your 3D card's driver is working properly with DirectX6. LithTech uses all the new 3D features in DirectX6, so a driver update is usually required (gee, I feel like I've typed that before) We are learning tons from the alpha of the Shogo patch we released! I played in a bunch of big games last night and it was a blast! There were also some server issues (hey, that's why it's an alpha :) and I am going to have to make some tweaks to ShogoSrv. Mike and I talked about some network code changes we can make that will help fix a bunch of the current issues. I will be helping out as much as I can but my number one priority right now is Blood2. :) I've seen mostly positive feedback regarding the alpha patch's affect on Shogo single-player. The AI tends to kick your butt during cinematics on the harder difficulty settings...but other than that, I haven't heard anything too major. If you've been playing Shogo single-player with the alpha version of the patch, please send us some feedback! :)" — Mike Dussualt, October 25, 1998
On October 26th, Version 2.3 Beta 3 of PingTool was released adding Shogo support. Issue 10 of online magazine loonygames was announced to feature a positive Shogo review. Next Generation released a mixed review of Shogo on October 27th. The Qtracker tool was also updated to version 2.2 beta 7 adding support for Shogo. Game Center released a review the next day. On October 28th, CPR Extreme launched a contest with a copy of Shogo as the prize for the "most creative reason why you should win" as posted on forum. GameSpot TV released a RealPlayer video review of the game on October 30th, while a mixed review was also posted by GameStats. A sound fix for the alpha patch was released on October 31st, as well as plans to port the multiplayer fixes for Shogo into the soon to be released Blood II.
On November 3rd, Planet Shogo released its "Introduction to the LithTech engine" article for aspiring modders. On November 4th, Craig Hubbard owned up to rumours about the powers of the Squeaky Toy in deathmatch games.
"Okay, time to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. In case you haven't noticed yet, the squeaky toy does a special kind of emotional damage in multiplayer games. Peg somebody enough times and you'll hurt their feelings and make them cry. When somebody's crying, they're vulnerable. Cheer them up with a nice toasty TOW missile. :)" — Craig Hubbard, November 4, 1998
This has been previously hinted at in a March 30th plan file entry by Hubbard.
"Finally, Mike had an idea that led to Stephens making a joke that caused a flash of inspiration that resulted in a multiplayer feature (on foot only) that is both an awesome Monolith in-joke and a killer followup to our humiliation death in Blood. Oh, the tears that will flow... ;)" — Craig Hubbard, March 30, 1998
John Jack was also interviewed by Gamer's Alliance about Shogo and Monolith Productions role as a game's publisher. Jace Hall provided an update on the point release on November 6th alongside announcing that Blood II had now gone gold.
"The Shogo Multiplayer Point Release (SMPR) is right on track for the Nov. 15th deadline! It is looking fantastic and we are really excited about it. The final 1.1 patch will bring you some "client-side-goodness" for sure. Interestly enough, I've noticed a couple of things that are really cool with the upcoming patch... 1.) There is current "uncomfirmed and secret" plan to release some awesome custom made deathmatch only levels with the patch! Kick Ass! I hope that those levels make it in! 2.) There seems to have been quite a few options added to the ShogoServer stuff. One option in particular comes to mind... ramming damage ...No ROACHES in the HOUSE, for those that can't stand "roaching"...heh The shogo tools are being worked on / documented as we speak. We could just release them *as is* but we want to make them as useful as possible before we let them out. Yes, we are still going to give the world the game tools and source so not to worry. With the release of this stuff you are going to be able to MOD the hell out of Shogo. Also, GT has green lighted the release of Blood 2's source and tools as well, so when both games have all their stuff out there you are seriously going to be in "CONTENT CITY". It is hard for me to actually communicate how much MOD/TC power you are going to have in your hands. I can't wait to see what the community does with this stuff! Anyway, right after we release the SMPR, we will be finalizing the STSR (Shogo Tools and Source Release), and should be able to get it to you VERY SOON thereafter. And when Monolith says VERY SOON, it is a real VERY SOON! :)" — Jason Hall, November 6, 1998
He also discussed user Shogo art, and asked "what in your opinion can Monolith do to help Shogo continue to sell well and gain more and more strong product interest that is capable of going well outside of the core-gaming market?" November 10th saw 3DGN's Weekly Contest offer up a copy of Shogo as a prize. Planet Shogo also published a letter from Jace Hall discussing the plans for LithTech 2.0 as well as the capabilities of the original engine. Version 2.05 of GameSpy 3D launched with support for Shogo and Blood II on November 11th, while Shogo was also mentioned in Newsweek in its CyberScope section. Hall released more hype for the point release on November 12.
"4 more days until the Shogo Multiplayer Point Release!! I saw them testing it today with the NEW deathmatch levels...my god...the FUN! Man, they have added a TON of new options to the server! The client-side Weapon stuff is awesome... You gotta get this patch! Guess what?... SHOGO MULTIPLAYER ENABLED DEMO SOON! I'll keep you posted...Whoo hoo!" — Jace Hall, November 12, 1998
Games.Net group reviewed Shogo on November 13, 1998 giving an average score of 7.5/10 between three reviewers, while Planet Shogo interviewed Craig Hubbard, Nathan Hendrickson and Wes Saulsberry to discuss level design. Programmer "Loki" Blackman announced an intention to port LithTech and games to Linux, subsequent to a transfer from the Blood II team onto the engine team following the game going gold:
"I finally got the ok to go ahead with putting together a Linux version of Lithtech and the LT games, beginning first with creating a server. Sometime in the near future, I'll be trying to put together a team to handle the Linux port - stay tuned for more info! I'm also open to porting to Solaris and other UNIX boxen; the port will be as clean as possible so as to work on as many architectures as possible. :)" — "Loki" Blackman
"I'm now the point of contact for people wanting to do mods for the Lithtech games (Blood 2 and Shogo). Of course, the source code to neither has been released yet, but Shogo's source and tools are impending pretty soon! If you'd spoken to me before about doing a large mod for Shogo or Blood 2, now might be a good time to re-establish contact. :) And as a little 'starter' for this, I've created two mailing lists for Lithtech game mod authors! One is for Shogo mods, the other for Blood 2 mods." — "Loki" Blackman
Planet RIVA released an interview with Jace Hall on November 14th. He also released an update on the point release.
"Talk about riding it close!!! So far things look good. The multiplayer patch is just about done and will be released tomorrow as promised! I will say this though...I just got a message from John Jack regarding the patch and I wanted to share it with you- 'Jace, -I want QA to be able to test the build that gets done tonight all day tomorrow, and we need the rest of tomorrow afternoon for any bug fixes that get done. The plan right now is to be ready with the patch early tomorrow night (6pm or so).' 'If I'm not convinced that the patch is relatively bug free by late tomorrow night (eg, it causes more issues than it fixes), then we will push back the release til Monday. This is a worst-case scenario, but I'm letting you know that there are still issues 1 day from release.' Whew! Well let's hope the team can pull it off and Monolith can retain its perfect record for predicting a release date and then releasing ON TIME!! I think they can do it! Stay tuned!!!" — Jace Hall
Planet Shogo ran an contest surrounding the point release, but the patch itself was then delayed.
"Here's the status of the patch: The multiplayer side of things is looking really good. Mike and Kevin have made quite a few bug fixes, and testing on the new multiplayer maps is going well. There are still a few single player bugs that we're trying to work out--we're still testing, but a release tonight isn't going to happen. We're shooting for tomorrow night at this point--I'll give you a status update tomorrow." — John L Jack, November 15, 1998
"This totally sucks I know, but the fact of the matter is that the team has been busting ASS on this! It is very important to us that when you get the patch it resolves as many issues as possible. We want to make sure that the patch is well worth the wait, and lives up to expectations. Sadly, it looks like we are going to be about a day off of our initial prediction (that we made 25 days ago) of Nov. 15th. I'll own up to that. I assure you though, hitting exact dates is very tough. Although we have successfully hit all our dates in the past, this is our first miss (and hopefully the last), and hopefully you will cut us some slack...you know we want this patch in your hands BAD. I'll keep you posted on the situation as it develops." — Jace Hall, November 15, 1998
On November 16th, Mike Dussault also mentioned that planned optimisations for 3Dnow! cards would not be included due to lack of testing. Voodoo Extreme also released their review of Shogo. Further drama unfolded on the patch.
"The patch is undergoing heavy testing, and a release is imminent--hopefully late tonight or early tomorrow morning." — John L Jack, November 16, 1998
"Monolith's head-honcho Jason Hall updated his .plan saying all his mea culpas for failing to produce the Shogo patch by his own deadline. In the update we learn that the new version of Shogo will be version 2.0, the patch will be about 7 MB (zipped), and the current ETA is 8:00 PM (presumably Pacific time) tonight. Jason ends the update by offering his email address for flames. I'd suggest laying off, because I think they've been doing a strong job with after-release support on Shogo, and because Jason is a really big guy (call it a word to the wise)." — Blues News, November 17, 1998
The patch finally landed on November 18, 1998.
"The Shogo Multiplayer Point Release is DONE. It has all kinds of new stuff in it, including new awesome Deathmatch maps! It is going to the mirror sites as I speak. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you ALL for your support and patience in this matter. BTW - I will be playing Shogo on many different servers all week! Put up a server, and you may find me on it!" — Jace Hall, November 18, 1998
"The anime conventions are so over the top -- and so pitch perfect -- that they throw computer game conventions into high relief. They set off the cartoonishness of first-person shooters, with their hyperbolic explosions, surreal lighting effects, landscapes littered with gigantic firearms and cairns of conveniently placed ammunition. Dressed up as anime, the first-person shooter becomes high camp as well. Shogo plays the genre for laughs." — GAME THEORY; Angst and Anger Japanese-Style, With Wink, J. C. Herz, November 19, 1998 (New York Times)
Daily Dementia released a RealAudio interview with Craig Hubbard, and LithTimes released a 9.2/10 review of the game. On November 21st, a review of Shogo running on a PowerVR PCX2 chipset was released by PVR-NET. On November 23rd, Mike Dussualt mentioned a fix is in the works for TCP/IP issues that inflated pings introduced with the patch.
Source Code and Tools
With the point release out, focus shifted to the imminent release of the game code and tools (such as DEdit and ModelEdit) that would enable Shogo modding. On November 23rd, "Loki" Blackman described the prospect.
"The Shogo source code and editing tools will be released on Wednesday, November 25th. :) Cool, huh? Marketing swore me to secrecy on what the contents are, other than that it's everything we promised to include AND a couple extras we hadn't promised before." — "Loki" Blackman, November 23, 1998
On a similar note, Planet Shogo released the second part of its look at the LithTech engine, a Q&A with Mike Dussualt. On November 24th, version 1.58 of Kali95 was released with TCP Launch support for Shogo. On the 25th, Brian Goble mentioned that the multiplayer fixes were also on their way into a patch for Blood II.
"Armed with these resources, gamers can design their own level maps, edit in-game models, and more. In addition, users can swap models, levels and textures between Shogo, and Blood 2 : The Chosen, the recently released supernatural first-person shooter developed by Monolith using the LithTech engine and published by GT Interactive. However, Blood 2 source code will not be released until later. The LithTech engine, Monolith's proprietary game-creation software, was used in the development of both Shogo and Blood 2. All games using the LithTech engine can be modified using these tools. Further projects utilizing LithTech will be announced shortly. In addition to the source code and development tools, users will need a full retail version of the game Shogo in order to modify the game. The Monolith LithTech engine tools released over the Internet today are: DEdit, the LithTech world editor (also contains texture and sprite utilities). LITHREZ, a command-line program for packing and unpacking .REZ (Resource) files. ModelEdit, the tool to tweak LithTech .ABC models and animations. A 3DS to ABC converter that takes a series of .3DS files and turns them into a mesh-deformed LithTech .ABC file. A 3DSMAX exporter, to export .ABC files from in MAX. A 3DSMAX texture plug-in, to allow the use of LithTech .DTX texture files as textures in 3DSMAX. A Photoshop plugin that allows you to load/save .DTX files. Documentation (list of all placeable Shogo objects and how to use them, LithTech documentation, etc.) Monolith's Shogo source code release today includes: Client-side game source (HUD, player input, special effects, etc.). Server-side game source (AI, world objects, etc.). Game headers shared between client and server (message types, etc.). LithTech engine API headers. GameSpy communication library binary. (Needed for listen server.) Source code to the stand-alone server." — Announcement
Blackman released some further notes on the tools and how to use them with Shogo the next day. On November 29th, Blue from Blue's News released his final impressions of Shogo after previously going into detail about Half-Life.
"Here's part two of yesterday's Half-Life/Shogo impressions, covering the Shogo half of the equation. This is my single-player experience prior to installing the point release, since multiplayer didn't really work on the pre-patched game (I'm eager to check out deathmatch now that the patch is out: I haven't heard much about how well it works over the 'net). I got to play a bit of Shogo before its release, and I knew how cool much of it was, with some of the most over-the-top weapons effects and explosions I can recall in any game. But I've also found it surprisingly engaging as I continue to play through the game, and I'm impressed by the effort that went into the single player game. I estimate I'm at about the half-way mark, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't caught up in the goofy soap opera plot here, and so far I seem right on course to actually maintain enthusiasm throughout. There are a couple of downsides: the graphics are generally great, but some of them are not up to that same level (the hand on the weapon when you're on foot, for instance is pretty awful), the enemy AI (prior to the patch, at least) is pretty lackluster, and the slight "stiffness" of the mecha controls is a little frustrating (but it is a giant robot, and damn nimble in that context). But the upsides are many, including a plot, a sense of humor, good level design, a nifty engine (that renders nice large outdoor areas well), and the above mentioned weapons and explosions. Though I'm not finished with either game yet, both Shogo and Half-Life have carried my interest with the single player play farther into the game than any of my favorite shooters, including Doom and Quake. While I haven't really tweaked around Half-Life for the 'net, or tried the patched Shogo for Internet play, I've deathmatched both games on a LAN, and they're both quite fun (though quite different, Half-Life being a bit skulkier, and Shogo being in-your-face action). As I said up top, these are first impressions, but they have been formed after enough time with the games that I'm comfortable that they're pretty solid based on what I've seen of the games. It doesn't really seem right to do this without following up on it, so I'll post my final impressions when I'm done with both games as well (I imagine I'll push this all onto another page by then)." — Out of the Blue, November 29, 1998
Games Domain reviewed Shogo on November 30th. On December 1st, Monolith launched its Get Gaming Contest with PC Gamer featuring a copy of Shogo signed by the development team as the prize. Shogo also received a mixed review in the December 1998 volume of Maximum PC. On December 4th, Planet Shogo launched several guides to faciliate modelling, with its Shogo Tech section and Editing sections. A skybox tutorial was released on the 5th. On December 6th, version 2.2 of the Qtracker server browser was released with the ability to launch Shogo games. December 8th saw an interview with Brian Goble by Project9 about the engineering of Blood II and Shogo.
News on further patches were mentioned by Brian Goble December 9th, with version 2.1 patch aimed for that Friday, and the version 2.1 playable demo (featuring multiplayer play) almost ready for the Monday. Game Pen also released a review of Shogo and Planet Shogo released a Q&A with John L. Jack. The 2.1 patch was released on December 12th. The update added support for launching from The Zone, fixed a several bugs including some memory leaks), added a client-side console command "AutoWeaponSwitch", and improved net performance on some modems experiencing high pings. It did however break save compatibility. A fix for the server DLL was sent out on December 13th to PlanetShogo (later released in official channels with the patch on the 15th), while the updated source and tools was released on the 14th.
Brian Goble sent word on the multiplayer demo, which had been delayed from the previous day, that it was to arrive in the coming days. He did however recommend that those impatient should just pick up a retail copy. The multiplayer demo was finally released on the 15th, featuring two new multiplayer levels alongside the two single-player levels from the earlier demo release. The release of the source code and tools bore fruit with the first release of Sticks & Stones CTF.
A press release was sent out by publisher Aztech Media on December 15, 1998 announcing work by Anarchy Arts on the expansion pack, Legacy of the Fallen planned for April 1999.
"The Aztech expansion package, entitled Shogo: Legacy of the Fallen, is expected to reach the market by April, 1999. The Aztech expansion package will be developed for Aztech by Utah-based developers, Anarchy Arts, a talented young development team. Other new Aztech features for Shogo: Legacy of the Fallen include: 6 new characters, 8 new monsters and alien killers, 8 new weapons, 8 Mobile Combat Armor (MCA) mechs. In addition to preserving the LithTech 3D engine, Aztech's Shogo: Legacy of the Fallen enhancement package will also introduce a new approach to level play. Instead of proceeding through a level in a linear way, most of the levels in a zone will be accessible to a player. The goals are completed using items in these levels. ``The way you play the game can really affect the outcome of the story line, even determining which levels are played, Seepe said. Legacy of the Fallen will also incorporate the LithTech engine's multi-player abilities, with its client-server architecture supporting TCP/IP, IPX and modem play." — Press release
Brian Goble released another 2.1 patch notice on December 18th focusing on lag fixes, and word of a 2.2 patch focusing on joystick fixes. Planet Shogo continued its level editing tutorials with one about lighting on the 19th. An update for the Sticks & Stones CTF to version 1.05 was sent out by the modding team on December 20th. The modding scene continued expanding, such as with the release of the Squishie mod. January 4, 1999 saw the release of a custom single player map entitled Hangar. On January 11th, Hercules Computer Technology released new Windows 95/98 Terminator BEAST Drivers that fixed issues with Shogo
The excitement for official expansions continued growing, with the release on January 8, 1999 of a screenshot from the in-development Shugotenshi which was planned for July 1999 by Instant Access and Nevolution. The expansion had previously been covered by GameSpot as early as July 21, 1998. On January 10th, the the House Of Quake is announced a Shogo LAN tournament in the Netherlands for February. On January 18th, the Lilith & Eve Show released a RealAudio interview with Jason Hall. On the 21st a Q&A was released by Planet Shogo with Paull Butterfield about the state of multiplayer support in Shogo, the status of the mission packs, and other developments. Screenshots of Shogo were used to showcase the upcoming Voodoo3 by 3Dfx.
On January 28, Blackman released updates on the LithTech for Linux porting efforts.
"Most of my time of late has been going to the Blood 2 v2.0 patch... trying to fix AI quirks and generally make things smoother for the patch release. This has, unfortunately, meant a delay in the Linux porting efforts. However, I do have the Linux port ALMOST finished on the engine 25.5 build (I fell behind one internal build again), and will hopefully be able to sit down with Mike next week to merge the Linux stuff back in. As a side effect, this would mean that there would be not only a Linux server for Shogo (which will be moving to the same engine version for v2.2) but also one for Blood 2... and it should really only take a couple days after the patch stuff is done. I'm going to really try to allocate a couple days to finish that - since I know many people REALLY want it - before moving on to the Blood 2 mission pack add-on AI. Additionally, if I get the ok from PR/marketing, I'm going to put up a mailing list for the Linux port, to answer questions and give status reports on how it's going. :)" — "Loki" Blackman
3DGaming.Net ran a contest called the 3DGN's Anime Giveaway, with prizes including releases from ADV Films (most famous as the initial North American license holder for Neon Genesis Evangelion), Shogo: MAD and later also Blood II starting on February 2, 1999.
A new screenshot was also released by Instant Access of Shugotenshi. GA-Source released new screenshots of Legacy of the Fallen on the 3rd of February. The 8th saw another Q&A with John L. Jack covering the 2.2 patch and the potential of console ports, of which as Sega Dreamcast version was said to be most likely. Voodoo Extreme launched "Tweak3D's guide to Tweaking Shogo" on February 28th. On March 3rd, the Clan World Tournament Site announced a one-on-one Shogo MCA Tourney for March 14th. Planet Shogo brought ten new game walkthroughs online on March 5, 1999. The 2.2 patch was released on March 11, 1999, followed by the updated source and tools; the Shogo team had by then moved on to development of No One Lives Forever for Fox Interactive using LithTech 2.0.. On March 18th Logitech announced that a full copy of Shogo would ship with their new Gamer's Mouse.
The official page for Legacy of the Fallen was brought online onto the Anarchy Arts website on March 23rd. Issue #30 of loonygames also launched with a "Chillin' With Jason Hall" feature. April 2nd saw the release of the TOW Arena mod; the Xtreme Gaming Network released two maps from the mod's developer on April 3rd. April 9th saw the release of an interview with David Gallay of Nevolution, who were working with Instant Access on Shugotenshi, which described the expansion's story and contained several screenshots. Version 2.0 of TOW Arena was released on the 15th of April. It was announced on April 20th, that Aztech Media, the company funding Legacy of the Fallen, was restructuring, though no word was made on if this impacted the Shogo project. Mike Dussault also described the developments for LithTech 2 in a plan update. Further editing tutorials were posted to Planet Shogo on the 21st. April 29th featured word on Shogo Paint, the bullet art oriented mod for Shogo, with version 1.0 released on May 3rd. The Bloodbath mod was released on May 4th, followed by Shogo Switch on May 9th alongside 4.0 of Bloodbath. "Loki" Blackman also released a plan update on the subject of supporting the mod community. A map pack for TOW Arena was updated on May 10th, containing 16 maps.
More LithTech 2 hype came out on May 17th, which lead to some rumours being posted on Alienware's The Hive website later clarified by Monolith. This also confirmed the death of the Legacy of the Fallen expansion.
"Monolith is NOT currently working on Shogo2. We have been fairly open in discussing this with magazines and online sites. The Shogo team has moved on to No One Lives Forever (NOLF) using the LithTech2 engine. Before we announced the development of NOLF and showed the early demo at E3, many people believed that we where working on Shogo2. As you can see this is not the case. Since the NOLF demo we showed at E3 was using [the] LithTech 1.5 engine and we were separately showing LlithTech2 behind closed doors this added to the confusion. Monolith is interested in continuing the Shogo world and is very happy to see the interest from the community on this. However the earliest we *could* start Shogo2 would be next summer/fall when the teams are done with their current projects. We will make that decision at that time. Next topic is Aztech New Media (GameAgents does some of the deals for Aztech) and the Shogo add-on pack. Aztech was scheduled to develop the official Shogo add-on pack but will not be able to do so. There are no plans for a full product using the Shogo world and LithTech engine developed by Aztech." — Paul Butterfield, May 21, 1999
Word came shortly after on May 25th that Shugotenshi had also been cancelled, though word was mentioned of releasing the efforts made thus far as an online release. This was followed up swiftly with the release of the Shogo Six Pack featuring six deathmatch levels. IGN also covered the story, citing poor sales for the base game as a contributing factor. A postmortem of the development of Legacy of the Fallen was released on July 9th. They also released three sets of assets for modders to use, the last coming out on August 16, 1999. On January 13, 2000 a texture pack was released from an unnamed former Shogo add-on project.
Ports and Rumours
On May 26th, it was announced that LithTech was being ported to classic macOS and the AmigaOS by Hyperion Entertainment, who also eventually took over Blackman's Linux porting efforts. These bore fruit in 2001. Screenshots were first released on July 18, 2000 and the port reached beta on August 20, 2000, with the goldmaster sent to Monolith on September 13, 2000. A publishing agreement with Titan Computer was entered by Hyperion on May 16, 2000. A demo for Linux was released on October 31, 2000.
Planet Shogo released an anti-cheat fix for the game on August 3rd, which would find and instantly kill cheaters. On August 5th, Planet Shogo released a source code hirearchy chart for the released game code. A separate anti-cheat system was released on the 10th of August by Satan's Shogo Validation Page using a validation REZ file. Planet Shogo also released a new version of its Servfixr tool on August 12th.
On September 6th, Tom's Hardware Guide posted part two of their 32 Graphic Card Meltdown, which pitted 32 cards against each other using Shogo, Q3Test, and Descent 3 as benchmarks. Version 2.02 of the Server Watch was released on September 7th with support for Shogo.
On September 8th, PlanetShogo hosted version 1.0 of Wraithadmin, the first ever Shogo remote administration tool. An interview with Hyperion Entertainment about their upcoming ports of Shogo and Heretic II was released on September 23rd. On October 22nd, Monolith updated the FAQs for both Blood II and Shogo. The Shogo FAQ was again updated on February 4, 2000 with notes for Windows 2000, alongside the original Blood FAQ.
On January 19, 2000 it was announced that Hyperion was now also working on Linux versions of Shogo and LithTech. Inside Mac Games provided an update on the state of the macOS port on February 8th. The Haus of Shogo released an interview with Thomas Frieden of Hyperion on March 27th. Hyperion released a fresh progress report on June 25th. Jason Hall was interviewed by 3D Action Planet on August 20th about Sanity: Aiken's Artefact but also legacy projects such as Shogo. Word of a mech game being made by Monolith again raised the spectre of Shogo 2, but Jace Hall confirmed this not to be the case on August 22nd. This later turned into Tex Atomic's Big Bot Battles for RealNetworks.
Fifteen screenshots of the Mac version of Shogo were released onto Inside Mac Games on August 28th. The demo version for Mac was released on September 13th. The Linux demo followed on November 2nd. An x86 version for Linux was approved by Monolith on November 17th with a release expected by Christmas.
Further updates to the FAQs for Blood, Blood II and Shogo were made on January 4, 2001. An updated demo for the Mac version was released on January 8th, with Hyperion announcing that the worldwide shipment of the game had begun. They released a status report for the Amiga version on January 27th. On February 9th it as announced that the Linux version was now shipping, with pre-orders available from Tux Games.
On March 21, 2001 the release of press materials for LithTech 3 brought renewed speculation about a Shogo 2, with renders including a remake of the Ordog MCA with Shogo 2 watermarking. Jason Hall later confirmed that these had been made internally by the new LithTech engine producer LithTech Inc (later Touchdown Entertainment) without involvement from Monolith. An interview with Jason Hall clarified these rumours on March 22nd.
"If Shogo 2 were underway, it could likely be an Xbox title, but the fact is that the images on the net that are creating that perception are just LithTech Inc. supplied images that are using some art assets to demonstrate RenderStyles. Those images happen to partially contain some Shogo 2 concept stuff. The shots do not come from Monolith, actually they are coming from LithTech Inc. I cannot confirm or deny a Shogo 2." — Jason Hall
GamesMania reviewed the Macintosh version of the game on March 29th giving it 65/100 while criticising the actual port. April 9th saw the release of the Amiga demo, as well as word that this version had now shipped. The Haus of Shogo reviewed the Linux version on April 28th giving it 9/10, while Evil3D.Net also reviewed it on May 5th; Haus also released an interview with Ben Hermans from Hyperion on August 20th. A Quake III version of the Bloodbath modification for Shogo was released as beta on September 7th. Finally on February 22, 2003 a Q&A was reported for the Greased With Lovin mod, at which point contemporary coverage for the game on Blue's News concludes.
"It'll be THE 3D shooter to have in 1998. Action, drama, HUGE weapons, 2 modes of play (in-mecha and on foot), spectacular special effects, and a great storyline to boot... 30-ft tall transforming mecha, the weapons, the fact that the enemies in the game are actually FUN to kill (not just challenging), the anime influence of the game design and storyline. When people see Shogo, they won't compare it to anything else." — John L. Jack
"Since we've renamed the game [from Riot], I'll refer to it by its new name, which is Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. Shogo is a goal-based first person action game with some adventure elements and a complex storyline." — Craig Hubbard
The initial pitch for the game was from Monolith Productions chief executive Jason Hall as first-person shooter adaption of Robotech, but other team members brought broader anime influences into the game.
"I wasn't around at the inception, but Jason Hall told me he originally pitched the project as a Robotech FPS. That's not really what it was shaping up to be when he asked me to take over as lead designer, so I watched a ton of anime and dove right in... For me it was definitely Patlabor, but for others it was Robotech or Gundam. Patlabor was the first mecha-oriented series I watched that felt grounded and plausible. I also liked that the labors weren't gigantic. I wish we'd settled on a similar scale for our MCAs." — Craig Hubbard
"We had an exchange student and she had given us some Gundam magazines, Dancouga and other things that I'd draw inspiration from for Shogo, the concept artists just blew that out and made it amazing." — Garrett Price
"Before Riot, I worked as a level designer on Blood along with Jay Wilson, who is leading Blood 2 now. Riot was already in development when I came aboard as lead designer, but it was still pretty much in the conceptual stage while Mike and Brad Pendleton brought the engine and tools up to speed. As a result, we had some time to rethink the overall design and tighten it up quite a bit. I think we're all a lot happier with the course we're on now." — Craig Hubbard
Rather than the slower paced gameplay of mech simulators like MechWarrior or the contemporary Heavy Gear, Shogo would emulate the fast-paced gameplay of other shooters like Quake. This would be framed with an involved story woven into the game structure.
"Riot will play more like a first person shooter than a mech sim, so there will be armor and energy powerups that act like armor and health in other games... Riot is definitely mission- and story-based. There won't be any exit switches. We're going for cinematic gameplay that makes you feel like you're in a continuous world and part of a gripping story. And rather than relying on lots of non-interactive cutscenes to tell the story for us, we're putting all the story elements into the game and letting your actions shape the outcome. All you have to do is play the game and be ready to deal with the consequences of your actions." — Craig Hubbard
The game was outlined to follow the three act structure of a motion picture, but with two branching paths leading to separate endings.
"We're really emphasizing story, for one thing. The game has a three act structure like a movie, complete with reversals and epiphanies. Many of your actions will have consequences in the game. Certain key characters can live or die depending on what you do--and you can keep playing. There are two completely separate third acts consisting of between five and seven levels apiece--which one you play in a given session depends on a decision point at the end of the second act. Adding this kind of depth to the singleplayer game enhances the experience for people who want more than simple mayhem, but it doesn't get in the way of people who just want to run around blowing stuff up real good. You can kill everything and everyone in sight and still beat the game--it'll just be tougher" — Craig Hubbard
The campaign was pegged at the forty level mark. In the final game, the Gabriel ending has 37 levels while the Leviathan ending features 36. The previous 32 are shared before the point of divergence.
"The game is made up of over 40 levels, which break down into 3 acts. There are 2 different third acts, which one you get is dependent on some of the choices you make during the game. The levels are mission and goal based." — John L. Jack
The project experienced numerous title changes throughout development. "MetalTek" was rejected due to copyright issues, while "Riot" was dropped following Monolith buying out the game from Microsoft.
"The name Riot has lots of trademark issues that we weren't prepared to deal with, so changing it seemed like a better option. Plus, we were never all that happy with Riot anyway, since it really has nothing to do with the game. It's a cool name, but it never sat comfortably." — Craig Hubbard
"The corporation called Shogo Industries plays a major role in the game. That translation is also fairly relevant in ways that will become apparent when you play the game. Plus, it was easy to trademark." — Craig Hubbard
"Most of our retail multiplayer maps are being designed for about 8 players, but we'll have a few 16-player maps. Total number of players is highly dependent on too many factors to be precise, but we're shooting for 16. We haven't clocked over all gametime yet, but it's comparable to other 3D shooters." — John L. Jack
The development of Shogo was inextricably linked to the development of the LithTech engine it premiered. Its feature set enabled the game to take shape.
"LithTech has a number of things going for it. For starters, it supports Direct3D, which means our games will work on more 3D cards than most of the competition. LithTech was also designed from the ground up to make Shogo and Blood II, which gives us a big advantage; the game can push the engine, and the engine can push the game. LT's modeling and animation system is pretty flexible. We can support both skeletal-based as well as mesh-deformed models, which basically gives us the best of both worlds. All of our bipedal characters have motion-captured animation (which the engine supports), which gives the enemies and friendlies very lifelike movement. Since the engine also supports interpolation between key frames, we get smooth transitions between animations." — Jason Hall
"Colored lighting, light mapping, directional lighting, colored dynamic lighting, textured particles (this is something the engine does really, really well), cloud mapping (which lets us cast shadows from the clouds above onto terrain below), terrain mapping (which lets us have indoor and outdoor areas), level of detail (LOD) on models, node-accessible model attachments (which lets us put actual weapon models in the hands of our enemies). The list goes on. Basically, we stack up against the other engines out there. One thing that doesn't get mentioned often is our use of IMA (interactive music architecture), which is the precursor to Microsoft's DirectMusic. The tempo, style, and mood of the music can all change based on what's happening in the level, and the music can be triggered by any game event. So, if you open a door that will ten seconds later spawn in three bad guys behind you, we can change the music to feel ominous right after you open the door." — Jason Hall
The developers were keenly aware of how the differences in engines can carry over into the games that use them.
"The major engines out there are all incredible. Developing a 3D engine these days is a MASSIVE undertaking and requires a lot of time, dedication, and research. It's pretty much impossible to do everything, so you pick the features that mean the most to you and do them the best you can. That said, we've got features other engines lack and vice versa. Visually, some of our strengths are our lighting (especially directional lights), the best looking particle system I've seen in a game, gouraud-shaded models with UV-mapped textures (more detail than skinned models), combination of mesh deformation and rigid envelope models, and motion-captured animation with real-time level of detail (LOD) and interpolation. We're also using Interactive Music Architecture (IMA), which is being replaced by DirectMusic in DX6. It allows us to have music that changes based on what's going on in the game. But rather than just switching between two different CD tracks or music file, it transitions perfectly and has a lot of built-in randomness that keeps it from sounding repetitive. It really enhances the cinematic feel of our games." — Craig Hubbard
The massive changes in scale of the game were partially enabled through the ability of LithTech to dynamically scale its needed level of detail.
"For every model in Shogo we use a model editing tool to precalculate levels of detail. The process is practically instant for each model--just click a button and wait two seconds for it to generate the LODs. (There's also a command line utility for batch processing of models.) You can define LOD based on polygon size or triangle edge length; and then we can define in the game the fall-off rate for triangle drop out. A typical Shogo model might have 600 polys at the highest LOD and 50 at the lowest LOD, with 200 gradual LODs in between. The engine/game simply cuts down the LOD as you get farther and farther away from it. This makes the game really scaleable, because we can make our models high poly up front and adjust, per model, the fall-off rate. My guess is that most games don't do it because it's complicated. It was probably the most difficult code that Mike Dussault ever wrote (and he's written a lot). I'm sure we'll see a lot of engines start to do this soon, though." — Jason Hall
Despite this, Craig Hubbard stressed the importance of design over technology.
"My feeling about technology in general is that it's a tool, not a goal. I like games that are immersive and fun, which requires that the technology basically be invisible to the player. If the average gamer is paying more attention to your renderer than to what's going on in the game, you haven't done your job as a game designer. Even worse, if your awesome technology simply underscores how incredibly crappy your conceptual designs are--a certain candy-colored, over-hyped portal engine game comes to mind--you could end up fucked. The market is getting too competitive for developers to cruise on their flashy feature sets. Technology ages fast, but good games stick around for years. I still get a lot of joy out of playing Joust or Tempest, whereas I've deleted a lot of glitzy demos after only a few minutes of playing them because they just aren't fun. A good game makes you forget about everything except for what's going on in front of you. You should be wrapped up in overcoming the next obstacle and striving to attain the next goal, not in the rendering tricks or the overzealous architecture. Look at Goldeneye--the technology isn't especially groundbreaking and the architecture is pretty simple, but it's a great, innovative game." — Craig Hubbard
Meanwhile, LithTech was designed with far more than just Shogo in mind.
"The most important aspect of LithTech is that Monolith has controlled the development of the engine. As a result, LithTech is designed to make lots of different kinds of 3D action games, rather than just one single type of game. In fact, we're currently working on 3 LithTech products: Shogo and Blood 2 (both of which are first person shooters) and a 'secret game to be named later.' The latter is still in the early stages of development, but because it's so different than Shogo or Blood 2, it's a testament to the overall design of LithTech that Monolith can use the existing version of LithTech to make a game that's completely different than a first-person shooter." — John L. Jack
The engine also continued evolving subsequent to Shogo going gold.
"The LithTech engine is nowhere near fully tapped. It is constantly improving. Just in the 30 some odd day difference in release times between Shogo and Blood 2 you should be able to see some of the improvements that are continuously being made to the technology. We are focused on having superior tools, state of the art graphics, etc. There is a strong team of people working on making sure that as technology moves forward so does the engine. Mike Dussault (the Lead on the engine) is nothing short of incredible! We are not going to expose everything that we are doing to the world yet, but of course we are looking at adding things like Bump Mapping, Curved Surfaces, etc." — Jason Hall
Early builds were built with both Direct3D and Glide as options, but this was later paired down to just Direct3D to enable specialised optimizations. Software rendering was also provided, although it lacks many visual features.
"The decision to go with Direct3D as our only supported 3D API turned out to be one of the best decisions we made during the development of LithTech. When we began pitching the idea of LithTech and SHOGO, one of the selling points for Microsoft was that both the engine and the game would focus on Direct3D. Monolith had quite a bit of experience working with early versions of Direct3D (we wrote a few of the Direct3D test applications, including the ultimate space-bar test, ROCKEM), and it was this experience, combined with our knowledge of DirectX in general (we also did the first two DirectX game sampler CDs for Microsoft) that helped us land the deal. Although the idea to go with Direct3D was great on paper, it didn’t work out so well in practice. When we began working on LithTech and SHOGO, Direct3D was in its earliest stages, which proved frustrating. Many features that were available under Glide weren’t available under Direct3D, and because the only 3D hardware worth anything at that time was 3Dfx-based, we questioned the logic of supporting both Direct3D and Glide. So we decided to pursue separate Direct3D and Glide versions simultaneously. Pursuing an independent Direct3D version let us support any new cards that were in development from other manufacturers, and supporting Glide meant that we could get the most out of the 3Dfx card." — John L. Jack
Ironically, an additional OpenGL renderer was later plugged in for the Hyperion Entertainment ports.
"Well, the basic premise behind Riot is that you're a once-respected lieutenant in the UCASF (United Corporate Authority Security Force) who's been assigned to assassinate a rebel leader known only as Gabriel. Cronus, the planet upon which the game takes place, is rich in an organic material that is essential to contemporary space travel--imagine the difference between walking from New York to San Diego and flying there in a Concorde. The outcome of your mission will affect all of humanity. Needless to say, there are a lot of opposing factions jumping into the fray, some with admirable causes, many who are just plain greedy. The game is inspired by some of our favorite anime films--Patlabor, Macross Plus, Venus Wars, Ghost in the Shell, etc. You'll get to run around in a giant suit of transforming combat armor with insanely powerful weapons. You'll also spend a good deal of time on foot with a completely separate arsenal. Riot is goal-oriented, which means that instead of looking for exit switches, you'll be trying to complete certain objectives in the face of tremendous odds. The in-game story is based very much on the core group of characters. The thing that distinguishes good anime is that no matter how epic the struggle may be, it always comes down to the people involved. There's a lot of humor and emotion mixed in with all the huge explosions and balletic violence." — Craig Hubbard
"Riot has buit-in multiplayer support with up to 32 players and possibly more. It's server-based, so you can play over the Internet like Quake. We're definitely devoting a lot of attention to the singleplayer aspect of the game, though. The anime influence in Riot isn't limited to character and vehicle designs--it's also very evident in the game story, the level design, and the overall feel of the game. We wanted to make a game that would play like an anime film rather than a Doom clone with mecha. With that in mind, our main goal with the single player game is to make you feel like you're in a living, breathing environment. We want the enemies to behave like people with lives and families they care about, not like automatons that sit around in closets waiting for the good guys to show up. They'll use cover, conserve ammo, and do their jobs--unless they panic or go psycho, that is." — Craig Hubbard
"I think the key to satisfying otaku is basing our MCA and character designs on the precedent set by the genre, creating a story that is simultaneously epic and personal, mixing high drama with goofy comedy, and delivering hyperkinetic, stylized gameplay that captures the feel of great anime. I think the key to winning over mainstream gamers is making sure that the game is fun, full of surprises, and extremely visceral. All of these things are high priorities." — Craig Hubbard
"We've also certainly gotten some press because of the animé influence, and I think that animé will definitely be more of an influence in action games produced by American companies. U.S. gamers are beginning to identify with animé, and I think that will carry over into game development--and it already has in a number of titles being released this winter and next spring. The biggest thing I hope people borrow from Shogo is the fact that the game doesn't take itself too seriously. So many of the "big" games that are coming out seem to be very serious in their approach to designing the game universe. We've tried to inject humor into Shogo wherever possible, and hopefully people will enjoy the combination of ultraviolence and character-driven melodrama." — Jason Hall
"Shogo is heavily influenced by anime-Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion, Patlabor-as well as Hong Kong action flicks (John Woo films in particular). Both of these genres feature ultra violence mixed with moments of light melodrama and humor, which the team took to heart when designing Shogo." — John L. Jack
"Nathan Hendrickson (writer, level designer, cutscene director, etc.) and I came up with the names. Sanjuro is a tribute to the Akira Kurosawa film of the same name, which is one of my favorite movies. The rest are names you'd find in the real world. Once we had worked out profiles for all the major characters, naming them was pretty easy. Over the course of the game, you'll spend time both on foot and in your MCA. When you're on foot, you'll have access to various extrapolated conventional weapons, including dual Colt 45s, an assault rifle with underslung grenade launcher, a combat shotgun, and so on. You'll be able to choose between four different MCAs, each with its own special powers and attributes. We haven't finalized the special powers yet, but we're almost there. The Andra Predator is a huge, lumbering beast of a mecha that has a devasting powered-lunge attack. The Shogo Akuma, which is a small, fleet-footed MCA, has a stealth system." — Craig Hubbard
"Our goal at Monolith, from the very beginning, was to make FUN GAMES. Sure, technology and "cutting edge" is important, and 3D hardware is really cool, but fun is more important to us than anything else. And so is humor. When we decided to make Get Medieval, we wanted to recapture the feeling we got when we played arcade games of the past. And we wanted to make a funny game. It wasn't about cutting edge technology or the latest and greatest wiz-bang--it was all about gameplay and a fun experience. Same thing holds true for Shogo. We love fps's. We play them all the time. But we took a slightly different slant on the genre and tried to make it something that people would have fun playing. Something they could say 'yeah, that was a fun game'. On top of that, how many recent games have actually made you laugh while you were playing them? How many have made you actually care what happened to the characters in the game? Unfortunately, not many. Many games are very serious in mood and approach, and it comes through in the gameplay experience. This isn't very difficult to understand, because as the industry has grown, games have also become a very serious business. When lots of $$$ are on the line, things get a little more somber. But everyone needs to remember that we're not making nuclear weapons. No one is going to lose an arm because of Get Medieval. Shogo isn't going to renew the conflict in the middle east. In the end, we make toys. For big kids. The goal is to provide a fun experience. So we try to have fun making them." — John L. Jack
"Well, first off it is the first FPS done with an ANIME flavor! People finally get to experience the serious but kooky world that an anime influence brings to a storyline... Also, you get to choose from four ultra powerful transforming Mobile Combat Armor suits, each with its own advantages and strengths. There are also essentially 2 modes of play because, in addition to piloting your MCA through deadly outdoor, underground, and city missions, you will be able to dock in certain areas and strike out on foot to complete objectives. There may even be a surprise or two in store..." — Jason Hall
"The story unfolds through use of transmissions, in-game cinematics, and conversations between characters. The in-game cinematics progress the story, set up conflicts, and provide information for the player. The cinematics are along the lines of Resident Evil 2 or FFVII -- they set mood and communicate important information. You'll also have a mission log that stores your objectives, so you'll always know pretty much exactly what's happening, and what you're supposed to do. I can't go into details in terms of multiple endings, but there are major decision points that affect the outcome of the game. Two people could play the game and have very different experiences." — John L. Jack
"Story is always important, but the story doesn't have to be complex or complicated to be enjoyable. In The Empire Strikes Back, when you found out that Darth Vader was Luke's father it was totally cheesy and predictable. But you bought into it because it was a believable part of a great but simple story. We've tried to take the same approach with Shogo--a relatively simple story that's interspersed with amusing and compelling characters. Sure, they take part in a huge, epic battle. But they also are in the midst of personal struggle." — Jason Hall
"We're really emphasizing story, for one thing. The game has a three act structure like a movie, complete with reversals and epiphanies. Many of your actions will have consequences in the game. Certain key characters can live or die depending on what you do--and you can keep playing. There are two completely separate third acts consisting of between five and seven levels apiece--which one you play in a given session depends on a decision point at the end of the second act. Adding this kind of depth to the single player game enhances the experience for people who want more than simple mayhem, but it doesn't get in the way of people who just want to run around blowing stuff up real good. You can kill everything and everyone in sight and still beat the game--it'll just be tougher." — Craig Hubbard
"Instead of putting the camera in a standard Hollywood place, we might stick it way under their chin, creating this huge angle, or like, a lot of times in anime, before a character destroys another character, they always hit this pose, and there's a sound, and a little gleam off their sword or something. So even though it doesn't make sense, we wanted to put in the poses. And -- this is a perfect example -- when things are about to explode, the bigger the explosion, the longer they just sit there and glisten." — Jason Hall
"The thing about anime mechs -- mecha is a more proper term -- is that they're incredibly anthropomorphic. The MechWarrior series is awesome, but it doesn't capture the spirit of Patlabor or Macross Plus, where mecha are almost organic in their movement and combat. Mecha use hand-held weapons instead of having them mounted as in MechWarrior or Earthsiege. They crouch, jump, dive behind buildings for cover, and so on. Therefore, the main difference between being on foot or in your MCA (Mobile Combat Armor) is scale, weaponry, and special movement or attacks. The four player MCAs are generally around 30' to 35' tall, transform into hover vehicles, and have unique special moves. They're also capable of kicking over buses, stomping on pedestrians, and being upgraded through various enhancements and power-ups. You'll have to dock your MCA to access certain areas, such as administrative offices, communications centers, security buildings, and so on. You'll probably feel vulnerable outside your MCA, of course, but that's part of the point." — Craig Hubbard
"It's an unwritten law of Anime that the larger a vehicle is, the less impeded it is by gravity. Our action will be gloriously hyperkinetic in true Anime fashion. You'll feel incredibly powerful whether you're in an MCA or on foot, which is arguably ideal for a first-person shooter. The weapon balance will be sublime, deciding which weapon to use will be a matter of artistic expression. There won't be any one weapon that is better than all the others, since each will have advantages and disadvantages. Rather, certain weapons will be better suited to certain situations, or MCAs, than others. The bottom line is that a good player will be able to stand up to another good player no matter which weapons they have. If every enemy you face is tough and smart, you spend all your time fighting for survival without ever having an opportunity to take out your frustrations, we'll certainly pit you against terrifying odds, but also give you some opportunities to mow down a few punks in the process." — Craig Hubbard
"Two modes of play is certainly a big feature. You start the game piloting a 30-foot mech with insanely powerful weapons, and three levels later you need to make your way on foot through a heavily fortified military installation. At times, Shogo can feel like two separate--but closely linked--games. Mecha is all action, special effects, big weapons. On foot is a little slower paced; you're more vulnerable and the objectives are more complex. I think that this is a trend in the genre and in the gaming market in general. By the end of 1999, there'll be more and more games released that can't be easily categorized as this or that type of game." — Jason Hall
"We've got a host of different enemy types--MCAs, on-foot enemies, vehicles, tanks. Some of the coolest encounters happen when you're in MCA mode, and you're fighting other MCAs, and you've got tanks and little troopers (human-scale enemies) firing rocket launchers at you. It totally adds to the Godzilla effect of being in MCA mode. One of the coolest MCA-scale enemies we've got is a spider tank. It fires missiles and vector-based weapons at you, and looks imposing as hell, even when you're in an MCA. Our on-foot enemies are awesome--they're a blast to kill.I should note that all of our enemies are human on some level. You're either fighting humans in on-foot mode, or you're fighting against a human piloting an MCA or driving a tank when in MCA mode. Having human enemies was important to us because of the nature of the story." — Jason Hall
"You know, I've lost track of the number of enemies we have, not only because we've got a ton of different MCA (Mobile Combat Armor) and human models (plus some surprises), but also because we aren't really thinking about them as MONSTERS in the traditional sense. Most of the 3D action games we've seen to date have been built around specific enemies that always behave in a certain set way. While that's great for a game that has a variety of monster types, it doesn't really suit a game in which you're primarily facing human opponents, whether on foot or piloting an MCA. Therefore, you may run into two Cronian Militia Andra 5 MCAs that behave in very different ways. You'll be able to get a sense of how tough or deadly they are by the type of MCA, but even that might be subject to some randomness. For example, what if one of those Andras has upgraded armor or is wielding a Bullgut missile launcher? You could be in big trouble. Likewise, you could run into an Armacham Ordog, typically a bad-ass MCA, that is battle-damaged, low on ammo, and piloted by an incompetent officer. That said, we've got well over 20 different enemy models (the number of actual enemies is a lot higher) at this point and still have a couple more to do." — Craig Hubbard
"It's really more goal-based than mission-based. Essentially, each sequence of the game has its own objectives and obstacles. In one sequence, for example, you'll have to find a way inside CMC (Cronian Mining Consortium) Security Headquarters in order to do various things. You'll be presented with this huge, well-defended building with security soldiers milling around outside and a massive tank parked in the middle of the street. If you're incredibly brash and preternaturally lucky, you might be able to walk right in the front door. More cautious players will probably opt to seek out some alternative route, such as sneaking in through the parking garage. There's another, more daring path you can take as well that will reward your quick thinking. We're striving for a cinematic experience--we want you to feel like a character in a movie facing tough challenges and daunting opposition, not like a walking cannon looking for the next monster to mow down on your way to the exit switch. I loved Dark Forces and Outlaws because they made me feel like I was doing something meaningful. I'm hoping we can take that experience even further." — Craig Hubbard
"Because we're not really constructing the game in traditional levels, we're navigating more by the amount of gameplay, which will be comparable to other games of this genre. We've got 18 sequences in the works, each consisting of anywhere from one to three specific 'levels.' We definitely plan to have multi-player specific levels. The exact number depends on time." — Craig Hubbard
"It's important to note that you won't simply be killing everything that moves; rather, it's sometimes in your best interest to make a stealthy entrance, check out the scene, and uncover the details before you shoot anyone. Many of the civilians and minor characters in the game can provide valuable info, if you have the patience not to cap 'em. Of course, you can also just blow everyone away on sight, but things become a little more hectic if you pursue this method of fulfilling your objectives!" — John L. Jack
"Well, if you played Blood multiplayer, you know that we like powerful weapons. Turok was definitely an influence, of course. It's hard to see that game and not be forever changed when it comes to weapon models and special effects. But anime in general is so packed with cool explosions and weapons that it was mostly a matter of deciding what we wanted to do MOST. Also, we've got bulletholes, blood stains, scorch marks, and plenty of other signs of collateral damage." — Craig Hubbard
"Because the singleplayer game is every bit as important to us as multiplayer, AI will receive LOTS of attention. Our primary goal is to create AIs that behave like real people--not like deathmatch opponents, who have nothing at stake but a press of the spacebar if they die, but like actual soldiers and workers who have families to go home to. Of course, actual humans are incredibly varied in their behavior, so we're making sure you run into various personality types in the game. Some enemies will be cautious and cunning--they'll conserve ammo, seek cover, and call for backup or set off alarms. Others will be overzealous, charging in with guns blazing, howling warcries and cursing your ancestors. Also, because our AI has been conceived as a system, you won't be able to predict a specific enemy's behavior just by looking at him." — Craig Hubbard
"All I can say is that we just played multiplayer Shogo for about two hours tonight, and it's a blast. I'm not sure if it's revolutionary, but it is fun. We've gone to a lot of effort to make our special effects on the client side, which allows us to have lots and lots of giblets flying around. We're client-server based, and the game should be highly modifiable by end users, so we hope that there will be a few mods out there that add to the experience." — Jason Hall
"Ambition undermined Shogo. The intended scope of the project was so grand, particularly for such a tiny team, that we were overwhelmed just trying to get everything into the game. As a result, we didn't have time to polish any of it. The final product is barely more than a prototype of the game we were trying to make, even after we cut characters, settings, story elements, and whatever else we could jettison without breaking the game. It was simply too late to shore up all the deficiencies by the time we realized how many there were. I'm certainly proud of Shogo as an accomplishment, but as a game it is a grim reminder of the perils of wild optimism and unchecked ambition... the only thing that saved Shogo from complete disaster was the realization, some six months before we were supposed to ship, that there was no way to make the game great in that amount of time. So, we concentrated on making it fun." — Craig Hubbard, Postmortem: Monolith's No One Lives Forever
"To that extent, and at the risk of pissing everyone off, I am a firm believer in this concept: 'There is no perfect game.' I don't think that a perfect game has ever been released. Nor is it likely that a perfect game will be released in the future. From any developer or publisher. There are always features, fixes, changes and alterations that you want to make to a game. But you need to draw the line somewhere. Because if you don't, you'll never finish. And then you'll end up in the "if we don't release this game soon, we'll never be able to release it, because it's stale." As a developer, you never want to be in that position. At the same time, I'm also a believer in this concept: 'A late game is only late once. A bad game is a bad game forever.' The whole thing is a big balancing act. But our #1 goal is to release bug-free, quality products so we can sell copies." — John L. Jack
As in most games, content was deleted to make sure that Shogo would ship. Some of this content is easy to find on the Internet and some of it is buried inside of the resource files of the game. Some sources claim that these trims were partly motivated by making the game fit on a single CD-ROM.
The obvious content that was taken out can be seen in some of the various movies on the official site. The shotgun was originally going to have a shoulder stock that was flipped up and out of the way of the handle. A weapon that was dropped, the "pinpunchers", were the mecha equivalent of the two pistols that are the default weapon of on-foot game play. The game was to have different static pictures in the background during level change. These pictures would give you a preview of the action of the next level or just give you a glimpse at some of the enemies you would have to fight. There is also a file named "leviathan.mov" that gives a moving image of the ship Sanjuro is on in the second level. It is possible that Monolith Productions was thinking about having movies play between levels to move the story along instead of static pictures or static text.
The semi-obvious content is buried in the test resources. There are sound files and even fully animated characters that depict what would have happened during the levels. There were at least two levels that were taken out. The first one would have been after the level where Hank drives a truck into a garage and yells "Get your ass in the back." There was supposed to be a level where Hank drives the truck and tells you how he met Kura and why he is helping you. He would have given a speech about how he found Kura underground and why he wants to be a hero even though he never passed the physical tests to be in the UCA military. The level would have ended with enemy soldiers attacking and Sanjuro needing to clear them out.
The other level would have happened once Kura was rescued. This would have brought a flashback to Sanjuro's kindergarten days with Kura, Kathryn, Baku and Toshiro at the UCA military academy. A glimpse of what part of the level would have looked like is in the intro movie where you can see kiddie Sanjuro walking towards a basketball goal. The game would have had Toshiro in danger of falling off a roof and Sanjuro finding a flower for Kura while also attempting to save his brother. What you did and how you did it would affect how characters dealt with you and also would have affected Kura as well as what she said when she found out that you and her sister were dating. Sanjuro's child model is still in the game's data files, and typing in the cheat code "Mecha", which is designed to change your MCA into a different model in mecha mode, turns Sanjuro into the child model when playing in on-foot mode.
It is sometimes possible that, upon loading a saved game or using the all-weapons cheat code, the player will very rarely find himself in an on-foot level with mecha weapons. Gameplay is still possible in this "hybrid" mode, and the mecha weapons deal much higher damage to human targets than those the player is supposed to be using. However, the player cannot pick up "on foot" weapons dropped by the enemies, and so is forced to make do with whatever ammunition he already has (or cheat). It is also possible to play mecha levels as though on foot; in the third person view the avatar is a mecha-scaled Sanjuro, using the on-foot weapons (which are much less powerful than the mecha weapons).
The game also has some trouble with some versions of Voodoo video card drivers, which cause the menus to be invisible (and consequently the game to be unstartable), or can cause textures to load improperly or not at all (resulting in a totally gray world). Updating the drivers generally cures the problem.
There was also a multiplayer bug. This allowed you to install the multiplayer-only part of the game, and then be able to access the single-player from the multiplayer menu.
During cutscenes hitting escape to access the main menu and then return to the game gives the player control of Sanjuro. This is most notable at the end of the game where you can actually kill Kathryn and Kura as they chase each other around the during the credits. You can spin Sanjuro around in circles and fire around, but you can not move. It should be noted that not all these bugs affect the Hyperion Entertainment ports. Another bug that is more of a continuity error than anything else happens if you kill Kathryn just before you are supposed to free her from your quarters; she drops a shotgun even though she is not armed otherwise. This contradicts the plot point that states that Kathryn swore off violence and guns.
- Development Update #1 - The Shogo Art Team
- Development Update #2 - The Shogo Programming Team
- Development Update #3 - The Shogo Level Design Team (four pages)
- Hyperion Entertainment Port Progress Report #1
- Hyperion Entertainment Port Progress Report #2
- Hyperion Entertainment Port Progress Report #3
- Hyperion Entertainment Port Progress Report #4
- Hyperion Entertainment Port Progress Report #5
- Hyperion Entertainment Port Progress Report #6
- Titan Computer Press Releases
- Development draft of the backstory
- Postmortem - Monolith's Shogo: Mobile Armor Division by John Jack (October 1998)
- Shogo Development Screenshots (as Metal Tek)
- Interview With Craig Hubbard and Mike Dussault - PC Gamer Online
- Interview With Craig Hubbard of Monolith - Voodoo Extreme
- Craigh Hubbard Interview - PCGaming.com
- Interview with Craig Hubbard - Lead Designer - Planet Quake (1997)
- Interview with Mike Dussualt - Lead Engineer - Planet Quake (1997)
- Interview with Peter Arisman - Lead 3D Moddler - Planet Quake (1997)
- LithTech Engine Interview - PVR-NET
- Jason Hall Interview - Planet RIVA
- Interview with John Jack, Producer Monolith Productions (November 4, 1998)
- Interview with John L. Jack, Project Manager on Shogo: Mobile Armor Division from Monolith Productions (August 27, 1998)
- David Gallay Interview - Tweak3D
- Thomas Frieden Interview - Haus of Shogo
- Ben Hermans Interview - Haus of Shogo
- Hyperion Software Interview - Amiga Extreme (2000)
- Craig Hubbard Talks SHOGO (October 4, 2016) - TechRaptor
- Early article on "Riot" (August 17, 1997)
- Riot: Mobile Armor Preview - The Adrenaline Vault (December 12, 1997)
- Riot: Mobile Armor Preview - PC Gamer (1998)
- OGR's Coverage of E3 - Monolith's Shogo: Hands On (May 29, 1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armour Division Preview - Next-Generation Online (July 23, 1998)
- Sneak Peaks - Shogo: Mobile Armor Division - GameCenter (September 11, 1998)
- VE's Sweet-Ass Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Preview - Voodoo Extreme (September 16, 1998)
- Blue's New Shogo: Mobile Armour Division Preview (October 1, 1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Preview - The Adrenaline Vault (1998)
- Riot: Mobile Armor Preview - MeccaWorld (1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Preview - Games Plant (1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Preview - OGR (1998)
- Shogo Visit - OGR (1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Preview - 3D Gaming World (1998)
- Planet Quake: ECTS Coverage - Shogo: MAD (1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armour Division preview - Gamespot (1998)
- Shogo Expansion Planned - Gamespot (July 21, 1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Preview - Next Generation (July 23, 1998)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Shoots Into Retail Stores Early, Business Wire, October 16, 1998 (partial archive)
- Hold On!, Newsweek, November 16, 1998 (partial archive)
- GAME THEORY; Angst and Anger Japanese-Style, With Wink, New York Times (November 19, 1998)
- "`Shogo' Delivers Explosive Story", Paul Rosano, December 24, 1998 (partial archive)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Computer Shopper, James K. Willcox, March 1, 1999 (partial archive)
- Stylized Combat, PC Magazine, T. Liam McDonald, January 19, 1999 (partial archive)
- Shogo Goes Linux, GameSpot (January 20, 2000)
- Shogo: MAD Now Shipping, Inside Mac Games, January 9, 2001
- Shogo M.A.D Demo Updated, Inside Mac Games, January 8, 2001
- Re:mote Introduction: Shogo: Mobile Armour Division
- The top 25 game downloads of 1998 - CNN (January 4, 1999)
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Computer Shopper, James K. Willcox, March 1, 1999 (partial archive)
- Shogo: MAD Tweak Guide (March 15, 1999)
- Shogo Goes Linux, GameSpot (January 20, 2000)
- Shogo: MAD Now Shipping, Inside Mac Games, January 9, 2001
- Shogo M.A.D Demo Updated, Inside Mac Games, January 8, 2001
- Hyperion Entertainment - Shogo Progress Report (January 26, 2001)
- Is Linux Gaming here to stay? (March 1, 2001) - GameSpy
- Re:mote Introduction: Shogo: Mobile Armour Division
- Missing in Action: Sequels We'd Love to See - Voodoo Extreme (March 16, 2007)
- Move over Halo 3, these 9 games may have been better!!! - JonesPC (2007)
- SHOGO: Mobile Armor Division (PC) - Super Adventures in Gaming (October 7, 2011)
- Crossing Over: Shogo Mobile Armor Division - Inside Mac Games, October 8, 2012
- Guilty Pleasures : Shogo Mobile Armour Division - Voxel Arcade April 29, 2013)
- Why anime first-person shooters can be a match made in (gaming) heaven (August 8, 2015; part two)
- 5 underrated FPS games that need to make a comeback (June 15, 2015)
- Effort Upon Effort: Japanese Influences in Western First-Person Shooters By Michel Sabbagh (December 17, 2015)
- Becoming the Robot: how Shogo MAD immaculately captures mecha anime's essence by watfen64 (January 6, 2016)
- The videogame that helped popularize Japanese mecha in the west by Michel Sabbagh (July 25, 2016) - Kill Screen
- Have You Played… Shogo: Mobile Armor Division by Adam Smith - Rock, Paper, Shotgun (July 14, 2016)
- The Forgotten First-Person Shooters You Need to Play - 1UP.com
- 5 underrated FPS games that need to make a comeback - Shoal of Words (August 15, 2015)