[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]

Alternate World Maps

article by Ben Lincoln


The prerelease build of Blood Omen from 12 July, 1996 uses a completely different version of the world map, both from the select-button menu and the bat-flight screen.

[ Blood Omen Alpha World Map ]

Unlike the map in the final version of the game, this one appears to be rendered from the same 3D models as the cinematic videos. That build of the game also includes a variation of the same map without structures overlaid on top.

[ Blood Omen Alpha World Map ]

This early version of the world map is retained even in the final version of the game, in two locations:

  1. The floor of the room in Avernus Cathedral where Kain obtains the Soul Reaver.
  2. The floor of a room in the castle of William the Just/the Nemesis.
Alpha World Maps and Derivatives
[ Alpha World Map ]
Alpha World Map
[ MAPDONE (Normalized) ]
MAPDONE (Normalized)
[ Soul Reaver Room ]
Soul Reaver Room
[ William the Just's Map ]
William the Just's Map



This map contains several significant differences from the map in the final version of the game:

In 1995 and 1996, when Blood Omen was being produced, rendering 3D imagery and videos (even the relatively simple models) was an extremely lengthy process. It seems likely that this was the original world map, and when the design of the game was altered (as discussed in Open-World Design), there was not time to rebuild an accurate, rendered map, and so this one was replaced with the hand-drawn version in the final version of the game.

This map is certainly consistent with an open-world design. Most areas appear to be easily-reached on foot. In the map below, roads on the map are indicated in bright red. Areas which appear to be reachable by walking are indicated in dark red. Routes and shortcuts accessible using mist form are indicated in purple.

Alpha World Map With Paths
[ Alpha World Map - With Paths ]
Alpha World Map - With Paths



The in-game world in the 12 July, 1996 build is different from both the early map and the final version of the game. In addition to the layout differences, it includes several sections which are entirely missing from later builds, and vice-versa. I am extremely grateful to Paul Vortex for his outstanding Blood Pill utility. It is the only reason these maps were practical to create.

In-Game Overworld Comparison
[ 1996-07-12 ]
[ 1996-09-15 ]
[ Final Version ]
Final Version



The 12 July, 1996 build includes a file listing for the contents of PILL.BIG from 5 June, 1996 - five weeks previously. That earlier build has not been recovered as of this writing, but it is possible to determine the shape of its in-game map simply based on the presence or absence of appropriately-named map/section files. That version of the game included 61 map/section files for the overworld, versus 43 in the 12 July build, and 40 in the 15 September and final versions of the game.

[ 1996-06-05 ]




Based on the contents of the rendered map, and the open-world aspect of the original game design, I believe that until early 1996, the Blood Omen production team had intended for the overworld to consist of most (if not all) of the map/section files making up a 10x10 grid. When the artwork was upgraded and the game was converted into a more linear storyline, about half of the map areas were discarded due to time constraints, with about 39 sections being discarded by the summer of 1996, and an additional 18 being removed by July.

When I began examining the map sections for the prerelease builds, I noticed something curious: in most cases, the shape of certain terrain elements in the map sections line up with terrain in the rendered map, although frequently not in the same place that those locations appear in known builds of the game. I believe that this is due to existing sections being repurposed when the game was redesigned, and that it is possible to approximate some of the original world layout by rearranging the sections.

Some of the terrain types appear to have been altered to fit their new locations, but their outlines frequently match up with shapes on the early map. For example, in this reconstruction, Vorador's mansion appears twice. This is because the map section containing the mansion is entirely different in the 12 July build of the game, and either it or the version in other builds may be a repurposed section which did not originally contain the mansion. I have used it to fill a gap where it appears to fit. The shape of the trees lines up almost exactly with the clearing in the same location on the rendered map. I therefore assume that it was repurposed into a swamp area and Vorador's mansion temporarily placed there in the 12 July build.

As I was creating these hypothetical arrangements, I noticed that one of the largest inconsistencies is the volume of trees surrounding Kain's mausoleum - few trees are present in the southwest corner of the rendered map. The location of the mausoleum makes sense in the layout of the final game, because the U arrangement of the map sections creates the linear progression for the player to follow. However, in an open-world game, there would be no advantage to starting the player off in a corner of the map. The most heavily-forested area of the rendered map is near the middle, and - although it may be a coincidence - the mausoleum section fits there nicely.

Hypothetial Map Arrangement
[ Hypothetical Map Arrangement ]
Hypothetical Map Arrangement
[ Hypothetical Alternate Mausoleum Placement ]
Hypothetical Alternate Mausoleum Placement


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