According to Raven Software co-founder Brian Raffel, the original code name for Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast was, incredibly, “Rocky’s Pizza.”
IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey sat down with Raffel to discuss Raven Software’s broad history in the latest episode of IGN Unfiltered, along with discussions on Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Hexen, Heretic, Soldier of Fortune, and more.
When asked for behind-the-scenes stories, Raffel recounted the sudden way the project was brought up to him. “There was really a weird way that this unfolded. We were with Activision, and we were working on Soldier of Fortune and stuff, and then I get a call from my boss, ‘Hey! Would you wanna work on Star Wars?’ and we were like, ‘What?!'”
Code names for secret projects are incredibly common, from consoles like the Xbox One’s “Durango,” to Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi’s “Blue Harvest.” These are usually vague phrases or words, but the code name for Jedi Outcast ranks high on our list of all-time bests. “We had to call it ‘Rocky’s Pizza’ as a code name until we could tell everybody in the company. We had to keep it on the down-low until it got solidified.”
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Raffel went on to discuss the team’s perception of their own work, as well as the first time Raven showed the game to LucasArts. “The id tech was very important to us… the Quake tech… We knew we had something special when we did our first prototype and everyone poured their heart and soul into it…”
“We had to show it to [LucasArts]… we had to impress them, of course. So… you landed in on a ship, an Empire ship, and there’s reflections with all of the Stormtroopers walking, and everything, and it just had the vibe of Star Wars. And they were just… we had them hooked…”
It’s always an immense challenge for development teams to create something great. We certainly feel Jedi Outcast hits that mark, as our updated review awarded it a 9 with the “Editor’s Choice” distinction. The creation of Jedi Outcast is even more impressive, however, when one considers the relatively short amount of time the team had to make it. “We knew it was special… at the time, though, we only had 11 months to do it,” Raffel said, “We feel pretty good about the time we had, and what we got done.”
For more interviews with the best, brightest, most fascinating minds in the games industry, check out be sure to check out every episode of IGN Unfiltered, which includes talks with The Game Awards creator Geoff Keighley, Master Chief co-creator Marcus Lehto, 343’s Bonnie Ross, Valve’s Robin Walker & Chris Remo, Respawn’s Stig Asmussen, and so many more.