There were six other games we have worked on before Zeno Clash. Here is a brief history of what we have done as ACE Team, and we have made some videos so you can see what those games are like.
Alien Objective (199X-1997)
This Marathon mod was lost forever!!! Always remember to make backup copies of all your important stuff in case your computer melts.
Batman Doom (1998-1999)
Batman Doom is a total conversion for Doom 2. We were huge fans of Doom 2, and we were reading the "Knightfall" Batman comics at the time. A total conversion is like a mod, only that all graphics, levels, etc. have been modified to a point where little is left from the original game you were modifying. At first Batman Doom was going to be a Macintosh-only two level mod, but we just kept on adding stuff until we had a complete game.
I didn’t make a trailer for the game, so I guess that if you are super-curious about the game you can check some YouTube Batman Doom Videos.
We tried to create more detailed textures for the enemies and the world and we intended to make Batman bigger tweaking the engine, but this proved to be very difficult and at the end the player is very small compared to the enemies!
This is the only mod were I worked without Carlos and Andres, whom I think were working on other projects. ZanZan is also a Doom2 mod, only that this one uses an enhanced engine (ZDoomGL) which allowed the use of 3d models and some new scripting and effects.
ZanZan is a short 3 level game, where you are “The ZanZan”, a god-like ruler from an alien planet who was stripped of his powers. In the game you fight other alien creatures and find out about a plot against your rule.
In ZanZan I mixed a lot of what I thought were my best monster designs at the time, and tried to put them together in a consistent universe.
You can see a video of ZanZan here:
The Dark Conjunction (2001-2002)
The Dark Conjunction is Q3 Single-Player Total Conversion. It is an action/supense first person shooter, where the real world is starting to blend with an apocalyptic universe with ancient alien gods and demons.
I would say the gameplay inspirations were Doom and Half-life, while the world was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft stories and the movie “The thing”.
Ahead you can see the trailer, and if you have Quake 3 you can download and play the 6 level demo.
I found a boneclub!
This was the first SP mod for Q3 and it wasn't as popular as we hoped, the mod scene for Q3 was not as big as the mod community of Doom at that time, and most people were interested in multiplayer mods, as a result of this, not many people played this mod (compared to Batman Doom). Pro tip, make your mods based on well known games with a strong modding community, this will help you to show your mod to more people, and you will learn a lot from other modders!
“Zenozoik: Shattered Land” was never finished. We made a prototype of the game, which we described in our design documents as: “An adventure that merges the action of shooters with the immersion of role-playing games. The game is set in a hostile and primitive world filled with fantastic creatures, medieval clans armed with bizarre firearms and powerful gods.”
...You can see it has some similarities with Zeno Clash.
Since the demo was never released, I would like to talk a bit more about some of it’s less conventional features....
-Mostly neutral NPCs, who get to like you/hate you depending on your actions. There were guards, townspeople, thugs... only if you did something bad to them they became your enemies. Actually, just aiming your gun at them was enough to make them respond, so you needed to keep your gun holstered when walking around the city. Testers (more used to traditional FPSs where you never holster your gun) just walked around looking/aiming their gun at everyone and they just couldn’t understand why all the NPC’s got so scared.
-The possibility to pray to a godess who would help you in any situation, but she would help you only one time in the entire game.
-One of the very difficult to implement features we were working on was the possibility to always solve problems non-violently. In one case for example, you could either kill a guard, or you could talk to him, go hunt a bird for him and then he would let you in. That doesn’t sound too complicated, but when you need to create alternative objectives and solutions to every situation in the game it gets really complicated. In one case, I remember that if the player had already killed a character who was important for one of these ‘mini-quests’ we needed yet another solution... in the end this just made us spend too much time designing unintuitive game objectives.
-RPGish shooter with different character classes. Actually the main character we made for the Zenozoik prototype was the “hunter” class. He has a cameo appearance in Zeno Clash; he is a guy sitting alone at the Northern Gate Bar. We thought he looked too “normal” for the new game so we made him wear a teapot with a chain as a helmet.
-Zenozoik was supposed to have a melee combat system, but really we didn’t dedicate much time to it.
I think that what we did wrong in this game was not focusing enough in one or two strong innovative features, and instead trying to make a huge game with a little bit of everything. When we started development of Zeno Clash we realized the melee combat could be the most fun feature, and decided to focus on it above all else.
Well, that’s our history in games! ...After “Zenozoik” some years passed where members of ACE Team worked for other companies or we worked on other things that were not games, and just in 2007 we reinstated ACE Team as a company to create Zeno Clash.