As some of you might remember, just recently I made a gameplay video and a PC preview for 3D Relams and Voidpoint’s retro-like FPS gameIon Maiden“. Well, guess what? Just recently I got a chance to do an interview about “Ion Maiden” with 3D Realms Frederik Schreiber (Frederik is the vice President and Executive Producer at 3D Realms).

So we talked about retro memories, 3D Relams plans for the future and Ion Maiden’s past, present and future. Well, I think you get the idea. So with that said, please enjoy our interview with Frederik Schreiber =)

frederik schreiber 3d realms

Frederik Schreiber (Vice President and Executive Producer at 3D Realms) took his time and answered all of our questions about “Ion Maiden” (thank you Frederik for your time!).

Robin TGG
Right off the bat, I want to thank you for taking your time doing this interview with us. Furthermore, on a personal level I’m really thankful to have been given this chance to interview you. You see, I’ve been a fan of 3D Realms since the early 90s =) And with that said, let’s kick-off the interview shall? And I’m going to do so by letting you introduce yourself to our readers. 

Fred 3DR
The pleasure is all mine! Thank you for the opportunity! I was a big fan of 3D Realms myself, all through my childhood and teenage years. Helming the studio these days has absolutely been a dream come true.

A short intro, I’m Frederik Schreiber, and I currently serve as the Vice President and Executive Producer at 3D Realms. I’m also the managing director at Slipgate Studios, and directed games like Rise of the Triad, Bombshell and Rad Rodgers.

ion maiden logo

“Ion Maiden” has been out via Steam Early Access since February of this year (2018).

Robin TGG
As some people might not know what from “Ion Maiden” is all about. So could you perhaps give us a short briefing what the game is all about?

Fred 3DR
Sure! So Ion Maiden is actually a prequel to Bombshell from 2016. The game takes place in Neo DC (in the future, of course), where you take on the role as Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison (Before she got her nickname), working for the GDF (Global Defense Forces). Madman scientist, Dr. Jadus Heskel, has taken over the city with an army of cyborgs, and it’s your job to stop him at all cost. A classic ‘90s plot of good vs. evil!

ion maiden deadly spiders

“Ion Maiden” is what happens when you mix “Blood”, “Shadow Warrior”, “Duke Nukem 3D”, “Oni” and “System Shock”.

Robin TGG
You know, even though I read and seen a lot from “Ion Maiden”. I don’t ever recall hearing or reading anything about how the game came to be. So perhaps you could tell us a bit about how “Ion Maiden” went from an idea to an actual real game production?

Fred 3DR
It’s quite an interesting story. Back in early 2015, we wanted to tackle one of two ideas for our next game. I really wanted to make a new shooter, using older technology (having done Rise of the Triad 2013. We were definitely hungry for more!), and placing it within the Bombshell universe was one of those ideas.

Another idea was to make a new side-scroller, but taking the opposite approach. Creating something that was old-school purely in gameplay, but looked like a real-time Pixar movie aesthetically. We ended up doing the side-scroller first (Rad Rodgers), but just couldn’t put the other idea to rest.

We initially thought about making a new shooter on original hardware, as if we were working at 3D Realms anno 1996, just for the challenge of it, but quickly realized that it wasn’t financially feasible. And we were probably the only ones who thought it would be cool to torture ourselves using computers from the mid-nineties, to make a modern game.

Regardless, we wanted to explore the idea some more. So I reached out to the core BUILD engine community (the Duke Nukem 3D Engine), and got a hold of what I would consider the most talented level designers, artists and programmers, who still worked with this ancient technology, creating user maps and mods for Duke3D en masse.

We quickly assembled a team alongside Voidpoint, (A group of developers who worked on the very popular Duke3D Sourceport called eDuke32).

I presented them with the idea of Ion Maiden. A shooter taking place before Bombshell during “The Washington Incident”, made in the original BUILD engine. They were instantly on board, and Ion Maiden started to take shape! These guys are truly hardcore BUILD enthusiasts, so I couldn’t have wished for a better team to tackle this game.

bombshell logo

Slipgate Studios and 3D Realms action shooter “Bombshell” did not do well when the game launched back in January of 2016 (the reviews were very mixed on release).

Robin TGG
How did the transformation from “Bombshell” to “Ion Maiden” happen? Because sadly enough, “Bombshell” received quite a lot of mixed reviews on its release day back in January of 2016. My point would be that I thought that I would never ever get to see Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison (the main character of “Bombshell” and “Ion Maiden”) in a new game, since “Bombshell” got mixed reviews on launch.

Fred 3DR
Bombshell was supposed to be this very large (and very expensive to produce) game. It had incredible visuals and very high production values, but ultimately we got buried under out own ambitions (and a lawsuit). We essentially had to create an AAA-quality title, with half the budget.

The game was originally a Duke Nukem title, which we ended up scrapping during a settlement with Gearbox Software. Having spent a lot of resources, we had to finish a new game, with whatever we had left. This game became Bombshell. A game we’re proud of today (It’s much less bug-filled than on release), and with a somewhat troubled development history, it’s a miracle the game turned out as good as it did (IMO).

Even though Bombshell was not the heat we had hoped for, we established a character and story we really liked, and that’s something we would rather not give up on. We always knew we wanted to re-visit Bombshell sooner than later, and Ion Maiden became that opportunity.

ion maiden voidpoint

Voidpoint is the developers of “Ion Maiden”, and quite a few people over at Voidpoint are more than familiar with the BUILD Engine (the engine that “Ion Maiden” and classic FPS games like “Blood” and “Duke Nukem 3D” uses).

Robin TGG
What has the development process of “Ion Maiden” been like for you? And how and why did 3D Realms end up picking Voidpoint as the developer of “Ion Maiden”? (is there any special reason behind that pick?).

Fred 3DR
Originally, Ion Maiden started development as a very small internal project, but we quickly realized two things. We had way too much on our plate internally (Both Bombshell and Rad Rodgers were in development), and the team we established for Ion Maiden (Voidpoint and core BUILD community members), were more than capable of bringing it across the finishing line.

Voidpoint was an obvious first choice. Richard and Evan (eDuke32 creators) created the most up-to-date source port of the BUILD Engine, so if we were ever going to make a new shooter based on the BUILD Engine, they would have to be involved, in one way or another – No doubt!

duke nukem 3d the duke

“Duke Nukem 3D” is still counted as the best “Duke Nukem” game according to many. So it’s no wonder why a lot of 3D Realms fans are hoping for yet another Duke Nukem game (DNF is far from perfect…).

Robin TGG
Have 3D Realms had this great urge to go back to its old-school FPS roots for a long time? Because I just get this feeling that you want to prove that you still got what it takes to make awesome FPS games which both old and new fans will enjoy. 

Fred 3DR
For me personally, it’s been an urge for almost a decade. The first game I directed was Rise of the Triad 2013, which definitely scratched that itch. But creating a truly old-school shooter, using original tech from the mid-nineties, was an idea we couldn’t possibly realize before we’d made a name for ourselves.

Acquiring 3D Realms in 2014 brought us much closer to this, as we now became the caretakers of the company we grew up with, known for the types of games we were so hungry for. So it all suddenly started making sense.

blood 1 logo

You can really tell that “Ion Maiden” has been inspired by classic FPS games like “Blood”, “Shadow Warrior” and “Duke Nukem 3D”.

Robin TGG
Which games have inspired “Ion Maiden” the most? (“Duke Nukem 3D”, “Shadow Warrior” and “Blood” is a given, but besides those three) And what could you tell us about the game’s weapons, enemies, bosses and levels? For example. How many weapons, enemies, bosses and levels will there be in the final game? And do you have an idea of how many hours of gameplay the game will offer? 

Fred 3DR
Duke 3D, Shadow Warrior and Blood are absolutely the biggest inspirations in terms of games. The game is also heavily inspired by movies, such as Bladerunner. However, Ion Maiden is a cyberpunk-ish game, which makes it stand out quite a lot from its distant cousins.

The game includes everything you’d expect. Shelly’s Signature Loverboy pistol, the insanely satisfying Bowling bombs and the SMG-9000’s. Furthermore, we also have a few surprises up our sleeves + some serious firepower such as a minigun, ripped off a giant mech and a laser crossbow (The Ion Bow). The game also includes a ton of enemies you haven’t seen yet, but we’d like to keep that a surprise for now.

We’re aiming for roughly eight hours of gameplay for a casual player. You can probably double that if you want to go for every secret in the game.

ion maiden bombs away

“Ion Maiden” is a pretty brutal game. So it’s not a title for those who can’t stand blood and gore.

Robin TGG
What’s the story behind how you ended up picking the legendary Build Engine for “Ion Maiden”? (games like “Shadow Warrior”, “Duke Nukem 3D” and “Blood” was created with the Build Engine) And was there ever any thoughts on using a different engine for “Ion Maiden”?

Fred 3DR
We always knew we wanted to use BUILD for this. Since Ion Maiden takes place before Bombshell, it would only make sense to us, to use the same tech as Duke 3D. We thought it would be cool to back into this time-bubble, where our last game was Shadow Warrior, and we never released Max Payne, Prey etc. So we’re currently in our own little time bubble, and our next game is Ion Maiden. Who knows what 1998 will bring!

Robin TGG
What thoughts went through your mind when you saw all the positive reviews and feedback once the Early Access version of “Ion Maiden” launched back in March of this year? And did you ever expect to get such a positive response from both players and the games media?

Fred 3DR
We were completely blown away by the reception of the game. We didn’t expect that what we loved so dearly (authentic, great ‘90s shooters, built on original tech), would receive such a positive response from fans.

It’s been a fantastic experience so far, and speaking on behalf of Voidpoint. I know it only fueled their motivation even more, to create the best possible experience. We had a hunch that we were on to something, but we never expected such a fantastic reception.

ion maiden console release

Yep, “Ion Maiden” is coming to Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One in Q2 2019.

Robin TGG
Just recently it became publicly known that 1C Entertainment is to bring “Ion Maiden” to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Q2 2019. So, do you have any special plans in mind for the console release?(collector’s editions and whatnot) And are you excited to see what the console players will think of “Ion Maiden”?

Fred 3DR
We always wanted to work on the console versions of Ion Maiden, and with 1C on board, we’re actually developing these versions in-house alongside the main development team. About collector’s editions or anything unique for the console versions, we can’t announce much yet. Even so, be sure to keep an eye out for the different trade shows next year! We’ll definitely have more news for you then!

ion maiden soundtrack

I find Ion Maiden’s soundtrack to be really good. So I’m having serious thoughts of picking up the soundtrack as soon as possible.

Robin TGG
I’ve had a blast with the early access version of “Ion Maiden” so far, and I while I’ve been playing the game. I couldn’t help to notice that “Ion Maiden” has a really nice midi soundtrack (“Ghost in the shell”, is that you?). So, what could you tell us about the soundtrack? And will the game’s soundtrack be released for one to buy as well? 

Fred 3DR
The soundtrack is very unique. Part of that is due to the fact that we use actual tracker-music for Ion Maiden. So it’s something very similar to how music was made for games like Duke3D and Doom. It again boils down to authenticity. The soundtrack is also going to be available as a physical release as part of the Big Box Founders Edition of the game.

Robin TGG
I’m curious to know what your spontaneous reaction was when you heard or saw the following words from John Romero about “Ion Maiden”: 

“I can’t wait to play ION MAIDEN – what a great idea. Make a Duke Nukem 3D-like 90’s build-engine shooter that looks pixel-perfect.”

Fred 3DR
The jaws of the entire team dropped to the floor. Not only is John a good friend – He’s also the un-crowned king of shooters. Getting a recommendation from him has definitely been a highlight for all of us.

ion maiden founders edition

Ion Maiden Founders Edition sold out so fast that I didn’t even get a chance to hear about it before it was too late (500 units went up in smoke just like that).

Robin TGG
I’m more than aware that the Ion Maiden Founders Edition is all sold out, but did you ever expect it to sell out as fast as it did? (there were only 500 copies for it) And do you have any plans for more “Ion Maiden” merchandise in the future? 

Fred 3DR
We honestly didn’t (hence the reason we only produced 500 copies). Had we known how quickly they would have sold out, we would have produced more. However, we have something else planned for those who missed out the first time around. We’ll have some official announcements about this soon!

Robin TGG
If “Ion Maiden” does really well on the sales side, do you then think that we could get to see an “Ion Maiden 2” in the future?

Fred 3DR
Yes, expect more adventures from Shelly for sure. Bombshell is the key IP at 3D Realms these days, and we have many plans for adventures to come!

3d realms

3D Realms has been making games since 1996, and they are still making games. So I’m very curious to see what they (and Voidpoint) will work on next after the release of “Ion Maiden”.

Robin TGG
What’s your hopes, plans and expectations for the rest of the year? And is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers?

Fred 3DR
If you liked what we did with Ion Maiden and the BUILD Engine together with Voidpoint, you’ll love what we have cooking up next. And we’ll be revealing it soon…So stay tuned!

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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