[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]
A few long-overdue updates

It's been almost four years since I had a chance to post new content here, but I'm pretty excited about some things that we have in the works. There will be more to come over the next two years.

Among other things, I've been working with Andrew Fradley and Eoghan Driver on additional functionality for Soul Spiral, and version 1.8 of that tool has been released today. Here are the highlights:

  • Andrew spent a bunch of time adding support for the .bgx / .big files used in Blood Omen 2 and Mad Dash Racing, so it's now possible to extract most of the content from those games (except for the GameCube version of Blood Omen 2).
  • I spent a bunch of time reverse-engineering the compression algorithm used in Akuji: The Heartless, Gex: Enter the Gecko, Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, The Lighthouse Demo / proto1 early demo versions of Soul Reaver, and Walt Disney World Magical Racing Tour. It should now be possible to successfully unpack all content from the data files for these games.
  • Complete hashed-name lookup tables for Akuji: The Heartless, Gex: Enter the Gecko, Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, and Walt Disney World Magical Racing Tour.
  • Nearly-complete hashed-name lookup tables for The Lighthouse Demo early demo versions of Soul Reaver.
  • Most of the remaining hashed-name lookup table data for all known versions of Blood Omen, Soul Reaver (except Dreamcast versions), and Defiance has been added.
  • The fingerprinting mechanism is now much more reliable, and recognizes an enormous variety of files which previous versions did not.

I discovered Walt Disney World Magical Racing Tour while looking through old PlayStation demo discs, and did not realize until that time that it was made using the Gex engine. It appears to be a fork of the version from either Akuji: The Heartless, or Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, and does not appear to incorporate any of the extensive changes made to the engine for Soul Reaver and later games. I was very surprised to look in the credits and find that it was directed by Glen A. Schofield, who would later go on to direct Blood Omen 2 and serve as executive producer for Dead Space (one of my favourite series for that generation of consoles).

We're hoping to add support for additional titles and versions in the months ahead.

If you're interested in helping us out (not just with Soul Spiral, but with other tools and content), and are in possession of prototype/prerelease versions of any of the following games that you don't mind selling (or donating/lending/etc.) to us, please get in touch with me using the Contact form. Versions for any platform would be extremely helpful. We've managed to collect a number of them already, but know that there are others out there.

  • Soul Reaver is obviously the big one, because it was the original inspiration for the project. We know that there are at least two alpha builds of this game in the hands of collectors, from January and February 1999.
  • Any of the other Legacy of Kain games would of course be of interest
  • Akuji: The Heartless
  • Any of the Gex series
  • Mad Dash Racing
  • Pandemonium and Pandemonium 2
  • Walt Disney World Magical Racing Tour
  • Whiplash
  • Any other titles based on the Gex or Mad Dash Racing engines, except for Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider series. Fans of Tomb Raider have that area covered very well, and we don't want to get in their way.
Proper credit

In my last update, I unintentionally left out credit for the work that John Doom had done in reverse-engineering the data files for Blood Omen 2. His information was a critical resource when Andrew added support for that game to Soul Spiral. I've released an updated version of that tool which includes the proper credit, and apologize for my oversight. It also does a better job of recognizing files in most versions of Defiance thanks to Andrew. I've got support for additional Crystal Dynamics games in the works, but it's going to take awhile longer to get that implemented because of some bad decisions I made when I wrote the original version of the software.

We're still looking for prerelease versions of the games, as mentioned previously, and are willing to pay for them if necessary. In particular, while donations would be greatly appreciated, we're currently willing to pay US$1000 each for original discs (i.e. sent to reviewers) containing versions of Soul Reaver from April 1999 or earlier, as long as we don't already have them. I know there are at least a few of them out there, and given the age of the discs, it's critical to preserve them properly so that the contents aren't lost. I have the equipment and software to do this.

Soul Reaver on the Dreamcast, part 1

I've been revisiting the Dreamcast versions of Soul Reaver, and finally figured out how the filename hashing works in them. It's different from every other version of the game, as well as the sequels. As a result, I was able to add full filename support for all Dreamcast versions of the game that I know of (including the demos, and the German beta build) to the newest release of Soul Spiral. It also adds some additional hashes for Defiance, courtesy of Andrew Fradley, and hashes for the PC demo version of Soul Reaver 2, and it will do a better job of identifying a number of uncommon versions of various games.

As part of the process of determining the filenames, I discovered that the Dreamcast version includes four pieces of music which don't appear to be present on other platforms. They appear to be specific to the Stone Glyph and Sound Glyph areas, and (like the music for the other areas) have both Spectral Realm and Material Realm versions.

More Soul Spiral updates

One more update to Soul Spiral. This one includes a large volume of filename-lookup data related to Soul Reaver 2:

  • I realized I'd never added any data for the Japanese PlayStation 2 release of Soul Reaver 2, or the PC demo of the same game. This has been corrected, with a nearly-complete set of filename-lookup data for both.
  • In the process of figuring out those filenames, I was able to discover quite a few for the NTSC and PAL releases of that game which were previously unknown, and added those.
  • I also corrected some bad data which had been introduced in version 1.8. This caused a lot of the dialogue files for that game to not be named correctly on export.
  • I made some addition progress on the filename-lookup data for Defiance.
  • I added additional filename-lookup data for some less-common versions of several games.

This is probably going to be the last Soul Spiral update for at least a few weeks. My next big goal with it is to rewrite some of the low-level code which is making it difficult to support games based on engines other than Gex.

Extensive New Material

I'm very happy to announce the addition of a huge amount of new information to the site, as well as several other key fan sites.

This year, a small group of fans (including myself) were able to obtain multiple prerelease builds of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, some with significant differences versus the released versions of those games. Many of these builds were acquired from Gh0stBlade, who you may know from his posting of videos of alpha builds of Soul Reaver on YouTube some years ago. Others were obtained from multiple sources who would rather remain anonymous, but we are all extremely grateful to everyone involved. This was a truly worldwide effort, and hopefully it's not over yet. If you are in possession of a prerelease build of a game in the series which you are interested in selling or donating, please get in touch with me using the Contact form. In particular, we are still offering US$1000 each for the alpha builds of Soul Reaver from January and February 1999, or for alpha builds of Blood Omen from early June 1996 or prior.

The Ancient's Den and The Legacy of Kain Wiki have extensive additional coverage of this newly-uncovered material, so please check out those sites as well.

Blood Omen reached the 21st anniversary of its release last month. Appropriately enough, the prerelease versions of that game contain so much deleted material that it will be weeks or months before I've fully detailed it. I was genuinely surprised to discover how significantly that game had changed even in the five months before it was released.

For Blood Omen, the new coverage begins at a high level with Alternate World Maps, and Alpha and Beta Versions, including evidence of the original Open-World Design.

One of the most exciting initial discoveries was a playable version of The Chess Match, which is now documented in video form in that article. This is probably the most well-known example of material which was removed from the game before release. However, it is now also known that this was one of the smallest changes to the game.

  • The total number of map sections in the game in early June, 1996 was 942. By the time the game was released, there were only 585 - over 1/3 fewer. While some of this reduction took place across the game as a whole, at least three five major areas were deleted. Three of these areas appear to each have been larger than any one area in the final version of the game, and the other two were roughly the size of major areas such as Malek's bastion and Vorador's mansion. These broad changes are discussed in Alternate World Maps, and Alpha and Beta Versions.
  • Extensive partial and complete deleted areas have been discovered, as well as early versions of known areas. I have documented these so far:
  • Two previously-unknown deleted spells (Force Shield and Magic Absorb) have been revealed.
  • Earlier versions of the game featured a Five-Tier Magic Meter.
  • The dialogue originally discussed in A Traitor in The Circle has been recovered in its original form, and is now included in that article.
  • An Alternate Malek Boss Battle has been documented in video form.
  • Fourteen cinematics with temporary/placeholder music have been obtained, and are available in the Placeholder Cinematic Music article.
  • A surprising amount of evidence suggests that William the Just and King Ottmar may have originally been the same character, which would have significant implications as to the later parts of the game.
  • A variety of less-conclusive information has been obtained:
    • Lupo the Butcher appears to have been located in or near Nupraptor's keep.
    • Several homes in Stahlberg have dead Nemesis soldiers inside, as discussed in The Stahlberg Resistance.
    • At least one additional cave had a demon statue over the entrance, similar to the Flay Spirit Forge in the final version of the game. This is discussed in Mysterious Statues.

Even though I don't have as much information about Soul Reaver to disclose today, I'm at least as excited about presenting the following newly-discovered content as I am for the Blood Omen material:

Finally, I've added artwork and screenshots for Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2 from the Eidos E3 2001 Digital Press Kit, which I obtained earlier this year.

Again, please keep an eye on this space. I'm already aware of numerous additional material from these versions of both games, and just need to document it properly. There is a lot more to come.

New Material, Part 2

Today, I'm happy to present part 2 of the ongoing series of updates focusing on content recently recovered from the prerelease builds of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver.

There is still much more to come :). At this point, I'd estimate that perhaps 25% of the deleted material from the alpha and beta versions of Blood Omen has been covered, and I have some additional material for Soul Reaver.

New Material, Part 3

Here is another batch of content related to the ongoing series of updates covering material from prerelease versions of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver.

There are fewer additions by number in this update, but only because I'm trying to get them posted more frequently than once per month. I still have an enomrous amount of material to share.

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