Summer '94. Obviously, we were unable to learn from mistakes being made in the past: After THB we started doing two projects at the same time - again.... The basic idea was to use the existing graphic routines, improve them and create new games.
Adrian Maleska started redesigning his and Björn Heußners' concept for PROJECT PARADISE in a more 3d-like fashion. Back then he didn't realize the huge amount of work he had gotten himself into and decided to do all artwork for the game on his own. In-game programming had been picked up by Klaus Stenzel who - after having had his creative break (he wasn't working on THB) - started to work like crazy.
Michael Kolkau and Bjoern Heussner began to develop a new racing game. It was planned to be a mix between "F-Zero" and "Rock'n'Roll Racing" (both from the Super Nintendo). The new idea was to do the whole thing in 3D. BATTLE RACE was born.
Nicolai Beganer and Yvonne Rinnert wanted to do some kind of Super Mario Kart-like game on the PC in 3d called WHACKY WHEELZ.
Martin Hoffesommer was working on all three games at the same time developing his 3D graphics routines (GAMELIB). He was also doing the in-game-programming for BATTLE RACE and WHACKY WHEELZ.
During October/November '94 everybody put his/her work aside for a couple of weeks in order to develop a promotional game born out of a sick idea: XMAS CARNAGE. During the development of this small game Dirk Petri joined us who showed off his fantastic sprites.
To this day, this game is among the favorite of most employees at Soft Enterprises and even one or the two gaming magazine editors have been known to have a copy at home.
Unfortunately the game was never officially released. The name of the program was the game in a nutshell - playing a nutty easter bunny who was hunting Santa, dwarves, elves, christmas presents and other stuff. The best weapon was a huge axe one could use to show all those christmas fans what they could do ...
During the 'Computer 94' show in Cologne the game provoked all kinds off different reactions: Outright indignation, plain astonishment and straight-up applause. For the first time Soft Enterprises was the center of attention.
5. Two at a time
After that everybody resumed working on their projects, until during summer '95 Yvonne Rinnert and Nicolai Beganer decided to leave the company.
From that time on only two projects remained. Realizing that we had to come to an end with those projects we pushed harder and were able to show playable versions of PROJECT PARADISE and BATTLE RACE during fall ECTS '95.
Having experienced the massive positive response on the show we were highly motivated to finish both products in a reasonable time.
Adrian Maleska got supported by Ikarion (now our publisher) in order to finish his PROJECT PARADISE. He moved to Aachen for a couple of months in order to work together with some artists from Ikarion.
Time being against us we decided to do a face lift on both games. Here Ikarion was helping us too. Finally we finished BATTLE RACE in the summer of '96.
During fall '96 Björn Heußner helped on PROJECT PARADISE on level design together with Michael Kolkau who was adding more sprites. Thanks to excessive testing and a lot of fine tuning PROJECT PARADISE was finished in January 1997 and was our best product so far.
Even critics and magazine editors praised PROJECT PARADISE (as can be seen from the magazine reviews back then)!
To be continued...
Editor's note: Unfortunately the story after this is not so pleasant. After the success of Project Paradise in 1997, Soft Enterprises decided it was time to make the difficult shift from DOS to Windows, and from pseudo-3D to hardware-accelerated true 3D. They began producing games much more frequently, but of a much lower quality, churning out a lot of cheap ad-games like Oktoberfest-Zapfer and budget games like Mah Jongg. In 1999 they released their second (and last) full FPS, Skout, which had "better" true 3D graphics but was a huge drop in quality compared to THB. The last Soft Enterprises production was an ambitious real-time strategy game called Highland Warriors, released in January 2003. It was a critical and commercial flop, and the publisher canceled the planned sequel, causing Soft Enterprises to permanently close its doors in February 2003. Despite being an active game developer for 12 years, they are virtually unknown today.
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