The Story of Danny Evanger
Hacx 1.2 and Hacx 2.0
Hacx 2 - The original sequel to Hacx
Hacx was originally released - as an add-on for Doom II - by Banjo Software as a commercial release in the late 90's. It later become a free downloadable product. Since Banjo was trying to rush the game out to the market prior to the release of Quake, it was released as a faulty and rather ill-refined game - some of the maps are rather amateurish and incomplete, a whole lot of texture bugs, etc. Banjo and crew were able to fix many of the texture bugs and released version 1.1, which had its own set of problems. Despite the problems of the original releases, Hacx remains quite popular within the Doom community today - over 10 years later.
“Banjo Software closed its doors in 1999 when it could not secure a publisher for Hacx 2 3D. I volunteered to be the official caretaker of all the files, everybody else went away, and it looked like Hacx may fade away into obscurity as an interesting Doom novelty.”
The Story of Danny Evanger
Okay. So you're going along, minding your own business, which just happens to be hacking into other people's databases, when your latest hack, some hi-tech company, catches you on-line and sends over some government jerk to arrest you. Mother said there'd be days like this. You broke a few national and international laws. So what's the big deal?! Hacking is what hackers do! But seems like you hacked into the wrong database this time. Ultra-secret and all that. Genemp Corporation. Some biotech something or other. Database called itself GENIE. Something peculiar in that. Awfully sophisticated database. Especially if it caught you in the middle of hacking, and you're the best, it's eerily sophisticated. Like it can actually think, or something.
So they send you packing… to the federal pen. For the rest of your natural life. No computer, no gear, nothing. Total drag. Cement and bars, and the other guys inside aren't exactly your average beefcakes. They catch a glance at your cyber-jockey derrière and get a wet gleam in their eye. So what you do for the next twelve months is hit the weight room--hard and fast! You pump iron like your life depended on it--and it does. You learn to sleep with one eye open. Punching the heavy bag becomes your breakfast; tae-kwon-do your lunch, and for dinner… well, you gotta eat sometime. And practice? Plenty. 'Cause these boys got a gleam in their eyes that won't go away. But how you've changed! Over once scarecrow arms, muscles wrap tight and heavy, and you've got a fu-kick that makes the boys call you "Sir". Before you were just an average pencil-necked geek, now you could grace the front of Muscle and Guns Magazine. And just in time, too.
Because one day you return to your cell to find a tight-lipped, little man in a black suit with a bad haircut. Won't give his name, but says he's a Government Agent with the Subcommittee. Which subcommittee? The Subcommittee. The guy's a regular riot; just one clown shy of a circus. But you listen, 'cause heck, you've got all the time in the world.
And so he tells a tale… of world-wide communication blackouts, computer network shutdowns at governmental and military installations, international stock market crashes, and what might seem unbelievable… armies of cannibal zombies roaming the globe, laying waste to everything in their path! Nothing fancy, just your everyday global chaos. The President has declared martial law, but they've lost contact with parts of the armed forces, and some of these rogue military units are assaulting urban centers. The country is being decimated!
And you thought you had it rough! So, why tell you? Because you're the best Hacker in the business. And they think they know who's behind this weirdness--a consortium of powerful, international hi-tech conglomerates, but they can't get close enough to be certain. So far every government agent they've sent in has yet to return. They need you to infiltrate these corporate databases and find out what's going on. What's more, they want to surgically install a military-grade Genemp Microtel into your frontal cerebral lobe. A what, where? A new, experimental cyber device that allows you to cyberleap from one terminal to another using cyberspace as if it were a taxicab.
So what's in it for you? You get to keep the Microtel and have lunch with the President. You laugh, 'cause you've heard better offers from the guys with the gleam in their eyes. Oh, he adds, there's $20 million in gold. Suddenly you feel patriotic. Ah, why not?
There's only one hitch to getting the gold, the Agent says. What? You gotta stay alive.
- Written by Holt Satterfield
Hacx 1.2 and Hacx 2.0
“In 2009, I was contacted by Xaser who showed a real interest in putting a team together and rebuilding Hacx into a full fledged computer game the way it was supposed to be in the first place. And now, version 1.2 has been released. This version is a stand alone product that no longer requires Doom II to play. Xaser and company have released this as an interim version on their way to creating version 2.0. In short, HACX refuses to die!”
The 1.2 update was released on October 9, 2010. It includes several minor map fixes since v1.1 like making levels fully compatible with cooperative play and other miscellaneous tweaks. It also works as an IWAD (Does not require DOOM II to run) and is compatible with many modern Doom source ports.
“Don't expect anything super-new in this version. Most of the gameplay is identical to HacX v1.1, and while a few improvements are present - maps work in co-op, a couple of the weapons animate better, etc. - it is largely the same game. The primary purpose behind this release is not to provide new content but to get a stable, standalone version of HacX out there. There was some version discrepancies between previous HacX releases (1.0 had screwy textures and 1.1 introduced a couple of DeHackEd bugs) and neither one of them was a standalone IWAD.”
The 1.2 release serves as a platform for the Hacx 2.0 project, an attempt to create what HACX was originally intended to be. It's being redeveloped with replaced maps, sprites, music, heavily based on the original design documents. Its progress can be monitored on the news
page and screenshots can be seen in the media
page. Stay tuned!
Hacx 2 - The original sequel to Hacx
Hacx was released in September of 1997. It was released as an incomplete game for 2 main reasons: Quake was going to be released shortly, which would have rendered any game with the Doom engine as dead meat from a marketable standpoint, and secondly, we knew that the Computer Game Developer's Convention would be coming up the following May and it would be our best opportunity to get interest from prospective publishers.
Within 30 days of Hacx's release, Hacx2 3D began in earnest. Due to my talents and work on Hacx, John Herndon appointed me as Project Leader for Hacx2. I remember posting my first letter to the entire group on Columbus day, 1997. Thus began hell week!
I mentioned in my opening introduction that, unlike the way Hacx was done, I wanted this project to be an "open forum" style project. In other words, everyone should express their ideas to everyone else via E-mail and then we could pool all the best ideas together and develop something big. Within one day of posting that statement, I came down with a respiratory infection and was completely useless as a moderator to this massive flood of E-mail from roughly 30 enthusiastic game designers. It was horribly overwhelming (more than 150 E-mails in 3 days) and, as what happens when one is sick, I suddenly felt wholly inadequate and had visions of being the demise of Banjo Software. I finally had to tell them to stop sending mail!
Once I got well, things got much better. All the ideas that were expressed slowly came together to create a story line and concept that we felt was the best we've seen for any 3D shooter thus far containing many elements that have not been done before. A script was hashed out and we began work.
We started with the Quake engine as that was the newest engine at the time. The amount of work being produced by this group of individuals was amazing considering that we all had full time jobs, families to support and/or went to school and no one was getting paid for this. As soon as Quake 2 came out, we switched engines. We knew we could do that fairly easily and we wanted to make sure that we had something worth showing at the convention using the latest technology.
In only a few months, we, as a group, had produced over 60 megs of material to take with us to the convention. In May of 1998, off we went to Long Beach with a dream and a prayer. We did get a lot of attention and even talked about the game with representatives of Activision and GT as well as some others. Unfortunately, even though we had some pretty impressive stuff for the short time we worked on it, we never really had the time to produce something "new" and that's what they kept asking us - "What about this game is different?" We had plenty that was going to be different but we really didn't have anything different to show them.
We left the convention somewhat disappointed but not deterred. John continued to maintain a correspondence with GT and kept them interested enough to follow what we were doing. Some of our crew had dropped out as the let down of not getting a contract at the convention was too much - you have to realize that some of these people had been with Banjo for years and this was like the last gasp for them, not to mention real life taking its toll over time.
A couple months later, Roger Staines sent in 3 maps for the Mars group. Some truly fabulous work and many of the screenshots you see here are from those levels. We showed them to GT and suddenly they were very interested. The representatives of GT who saw them said that a contract may possibly be in the works once they talk to their superiors. This really raised our spirits. This is when the real chaos began.
A while later, they got back to us and said the powers-that-be will no longer support a game using the Quake2 engine as GT just released Unreal. But, could we produce a demo for Unreal in 30 days? I thought that such a task was impossible but I met a level designer who could pump out Unreal maps at a phenomenal rate - or at least he gave that impression. So, once again, we switched engines.
The Unreal engine is a horrible contraption to work with and we lost a lot of people on this switch but we still had a crew that was willing to keep up the battle. Since the Hacx2 story line depended too much on being able to freely move between levels and Unreal is linear, we decided to come up with a new story idea. That is how Crushed was born, a game set on a "thought-to-be" deserted island. We quickly came up with a story line with 11 levels planned and got to work.
During that 30 days, we saw some amazing work. Matt Joiner produced a very cool island level and Ron Allen built the best, most realistic derelict pirate ship I've ever seen in a game. But, the one guy who I relied on to get most of the maps done, and who kept promising me, "I'll have them done tomorrow", never came through. With that our correspondence with GT came to an end.
So, essentially we were back at square one with a tough decision to make - do we go back to the Quake2 engine or look for something new. After considering that new engines were coming out and Quake3 had been announced, we decided that we must use a new engine that gives us capabilities that will allow our game to be up-to-date by the time it's released. We did some looking around and went with the Genesis 3D engine, mostly because it was new and open source.
But it was already too late. The great exodus had begun and almost all the guys on the team had left including one of the Banjo owners. Those that were left continued to struggle as best we could. Matt Joiner created a nifty little program that allowed us to build Q2 levels and then, by using this new program and the Genesis editor, convert Q2 maps to Genesis maps in a few seconds, fully textured and scaled. This made the Worldcraft people among us, like myself, extremely happy.
Then real life struck me down. My wife became disabled and could no longer work. That meant that in order for us to survive, I would need to get a second income. Reluctantly, I left Banjo to start my computer tech business. When I left, I believe there were less than half a dozen people still on the project and I've been told that after I left, it just sort of disintegrated for lack of leadership.
So, in the end, it simply came down to not being able to get anyone to believe in us as much as we believed in ourselves. We really had a game that would have surpassed Half-Life (not to take anything away from the Valve crew - they did a stupendous job), be as fun and exciting as Doom (that was a paramount concern) and be as much an adventure as a 3D shooter. But, it didn't happen.
I know I didn't have a chance to adequately thank all the people who worked on Hacx2. Your support was wonderful, you talents quite enviable and I wish you all the best in the future. It was a wonderful dream but, unfortunately, that's all it was - a dream…
John Herndon, Perry Bowman, Randy Lee, Marc Pullen, Ron Allen, Steve Clarke, Francois Xavier Delmotte, Randy Fugate, Torben Giesselmann, Erick Gravel, Ellsworth Hall, Chris Holden, Matt Joiner, Jim Lynch, Thomas Moeller, Brian Morgan, Ryan Rapsys, Holt Satterfield, Stefan Scandizzo, Mike Sharan, Roger Staines, Gerry Swanson, Steve Watson, Noel Weer, Tim Lobes, Steve Massey, Paul Sandler, Chris Martin, Jeremy Wagner, Jeremy Dale, Andrew Serong, Alex Wright and anyone else I may have missed.
- Written by Nostromo