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Hell, A Cyperpunk Thriller

During my time at Take 2, I sculpted, colored and animated one of the two main characters for Hell, A Cyberpunk Thriller, as well as a number of other characters for the same game. This rather dubious puzzle game was not well received. The original script had over 11 hours of dialogue for the lead female character alone. Despite a great deal of cutting (down to 4 hours for Rachel!), and some desperate innovative work on the graphics and animation, the game was nominated for a "Worst CD-ROM of All Time" award in 1994. (When I can remember the name of the magazine, and the month it came out, I'll mention it here.)

"Hell..." was originally conceived as a standard 320 by 200 pixel resolution game. In the middle of creating it, the company decided to change over to the newer method of distributing games on CD-ROM rather than floppies. They changed the image resolution to 640 by 480, a stunningly sharp image for games in 1994. And they did all this without upgrading their machines or changing their deadlines!

To say the least, this stressed the art teams just a little. We managed to do the job, but the old "company sleeping bag" joke ALMOST wasn't a joke...again.

As the painter Robin Wood said, "Never name your baby 'Loki'; you're just asking for trouble." I guess you shouldn't name your game "Hell", either.

The following are four of the many characters I created for the game. I'm missing a good rendering of my favorite character, Beelzebub, who came out looking like a cross between a wasp and a gorilla...yuck. He was great!

Gideon Eshanti was the other main character in the game. I had a lot of fun sculpting his face in the old 3-D Studios (v. 2) program. I could have made him look a bit more lively and intelligent, but as ever when working at a game company, there wasn't time. Nevertheless, he came out pretty good. I still like the figure. Perhaps I'll recreate him in 3-D Studios my copious spare time, of course!

This image was originally rendered in 640x480 resolution on a 486-66 computer with 20 Mb of RAM and a 340 Mb hard drive. And it took less than 10 minutes to render! Man, have things changed since 1994!

Here's my second favorite image from the game...the cyberpanther. I created this figure from scratch. Organic figures are particularly difficult to build and animate in 3-D Studios, which was originally created as an architectural rendering program.

Cyberpanther was affectionately named "Corndog", because when I started the figure, I used a rounded-off cylinder for the body, and stretched a thin cylinder out behind it for the tail....a perfect corndog.

And while I guess he still looks a bit corny today, he could take a heck of a swipe with those claws. You might say he just has a mean right hook.

This monkey-like creature, "Abonides", served as valet to one of the lead demons in the game. I personally think the little demon had it easier than the artists!

Dante was the cyberspace expert in the game. I built him from Gideon's original mesh, and got a bit creative with the character. In this rendering, he looks like he could use a couple of cups of strong coffee!

Hell ended up being a game that looked wonderful and played poorly. I can't really give any specifics because despite the company's promises, I never got a copy of the game.

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This page created December 13, 2000
Contents © 2000 Nancy L. Janda