The Games That Never Were: Castle Helvete

Written by Profile picture for user Zombie Zombie. Published Wednesday, March 1, 2023 - 02:00

Also known as -Helvete- or simply Helvete, Castle Helvete was to be an ambitious game by ChiefRebelAngel that teetered on the edge of completion before as is often the case, real life obligations intervene.

Originally announced in July of 2004, ChiefRebelAngel came in strong for his first game announcement, showing off his artistic skills in an unofficial sequel story to Wolfenstein 3D, taking place after the third episode of the game, "Die, Führer, Die!".

Helvete Early

His initial proof of concept and progress shots were well received thanks to all the unique art present, made by ChiefRebelAngel himself. However, his ambitions for Helvete exceeded the typical mapset with sprite changes, with plans to implement many extra features including extra enemies, floors and ceilings, sky effects, additional weapons, and more.

Reaching out to the community in the early days of development, fellow DieHard Wolfers member Sentenced joined the project as a programmer to help add features and expand the array of textures and objects available, as well as implement a lot of major features into the game.

While they were a team, the two suffered from working "blind"; ChiefRebelAngel would email with things that he desired to see in the game engine, which Sentenced would work on while Chief continued creating and refining the art. However, neither actually sent their efforts to each other, leaving much of it to faith and hoping that things will fit together in the end.

A couple of months into that relationship, Sentenced allegedly reported his departure from Wolfenstein 3D modding, leaving Helvete without not just a programmer, but as he and ChiefRebelAngel never exchanged the product of their work with each other, the game was also without an engine.
Luckily this didn't slow things down too much though, with offers by other coders to adapt their engines for the game coming in almost immediately. One of these included BrotherTank offering the use of his upcoming project Wolfenstein Plus for the game.

Helvete Fully Featured

After some time, TexZK was announced as joining development on the 21st of October 2004, offering the use of his modified Wolf3D engine he had dubbed WFF (Wolf Fully Featured).

This engine was built with the idea that TexZK would use WFF as a base for all of his future games. It included features and changes put forward as tutorials on the message board by other members such as Ripper and Adam Biser as well as his own adaptions and ideas. Among these were things like his own interpretation of ingame messages, stamina bars and weapon firing modes.

Helvete, Feb 2005

Between TexZK and ChiefRebelAngel, progress sped up considerably. Into 2005, ChiefRebelAngel was constantly creating new graphics and was effectively teasing the community with a steady stream of WIP screenshots using the new engine. The two of them expected to have a public beta release available by the middle of 2005.

However as development continued, larger changes were being worked on which pushed the release back. The game was to reportedly contain up to 30 enemies, drastic changes to the menu and statusbar, as well as additional playable characters (depending on the episode being played). All of these things would considerable work to get to the quality the two creators sought.

Helvete in Aug 2005

New features were constantly being added, with TexZK adding what he called "Quake-style Water Effects" to the game among other visual effects. There was a brief period where the game was to be completely redone with sprites 128x128 in size, but that was scrapped when it was considered how daunting it would be to redo the vast amount of art already created since the beginning.

What happened?

PosterAs both ChiefRebelAngel and TexZK were attending animation and computer development school respectively, time to dedicate to Castle Helvete would become sparse. Attempts to reconnect on the project were sporadically made over 2006, but these didn't appear to go anywhere, as in 2007 ChiefRebelAngel reported picking up employment as a pixel artist on top of his schooling.

This was followed by a couple of years of silence and uncertainty, before ChiefRebelAngel appeared again at the start of 2010. They explained that they had been pursuing their schooling, and working consistently with the same game company over those three years, and that unfortunately Castle Helvete would not be released.

While Helvete was never specifically "cancelled", ChiefRebelAngel announced that he would only be releasing the game as a graphics package for use by the community. This never came about though, as they never logged back into the Message Board after that day.

For many people, developing for Wolf3D is a hobby that parallels their passions, whether it be art, programming or level design. Many people move on naturally, and due to a lack of spare time projects are often left incomplete. Unfortunately, Helvete falls into that category of projects.

ChiefRebelAngel's game was set to be a very impressive project, even spurring suggestions from people in the community that some further changes be made and the game actually be sold as a commercial product! While it has never been released as a final product in any capacity, it remains a fond memory for many in the community and was an inspiration for others of what the Wolf3D engine was capable of.

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