The Developer's level select was a cut location included in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Originally intended to aid the development process, the area comprised of a set of corridors with labelled doorways leading into different sub-areas and ultimately onto discreet sections of the game world, providing quick access to some of the most significant areas within the game. Direct access to the developer's level select area was removed from the retail version of Blood Omen but remains in game files and can be accessed with the aid of trainers or cheat device codes.
Arguably the first discovered cut content in the Legacy of Kain series, the developer's level select area was uncovered shortly after the release of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain by code creators developing codes for cheat devices.
The Level Select area appears to be the remains of a mechanism used by developers during the production of Blood Omen to provide quick access to a variety of important locations. Access to the area was removed in the retail version, but remains in the game files and can be accessed through codes or trainers.
Activating the level select area caused the game to start as normal, requiring the player to complete the sequences up to Kain's human death. Once this stage had been reached, Kain was placed in the initial corridor of the level select area, free to choose the next location encountered through its doors.[Blood Omen]
Design and Layout
The Developer's Level Select was broken up into two main map areas and a number of smaller chambers containing relevant ability cards. The main areas both comprised of straight corridors with a number of doors labelled with abbreviations, which led off of the main corridor; each doorway led to one of the small chambers where the relevant items and abilities could be collected from a number of 'ability' cards and passing through these led further corridors with abbreviated doorways leading onto sections of the main game world (or in some cases, onto further sub-sections before reaching the game world). Effectively the corridors and doorways made up a physical 'menu' of sorts, comprised of in-game assets, which enabled the user to navigate to specific areas by identifying the relevant door abbreviations. Though consisting of only two areas bigger than a single room, the arrangement and organisation of the areas made it somewhat of a complicated area to navigate.[Blood Omen]
The initial corridor section consisted of 16 abbreviated doorways, each leading onto game-areas or onto further sub-sections. The doorway at the bottom marked "OUT" exited the area, whilst the unmarked doorway next to it returned Kain to the game, continuing from Kain's grave inside his mausoleum. whilst the (yellow) doorway at the top marked "BREN" continued the game, returning Kain to the outdoor Cemetery area. The remaining doorways in the initial corridor all led to subdivision corridors covering each of the game 'levels' (labelled as "OL1" to "OL8"), bosses ("BOSS"), Spirit forges ("SPFG"), Blood fountains ("BLFT"), Secrets ("SECR") and the Battle of the Last Stand ("LSTBAT").[Blood Omen]
- The "OL" level doorways each led to a small room in a separate sector containing cards which assigned the appropriate items, equipment and abilities for that stage of the game. Pressing on beyond these led to a different corridor on the main area, specific to each level, which contained doors leading to areas of the game world.[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL1" the entries led to the Wolf Form Dungeon ("VVLF"), Kain's grave inside his mausoleum ("MAUS"), inside the second mausoleum complex ("CRT"), the Light Dungeon ("LGHT"), the Energy Bolt Dungeon ("ENBT") and the initial overland region at the Cemetery ("OL").[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL2" the entries led to the Gypsy camp south of Vasserbünde ("GYPY"), the start of Nupraptor's Retreat ("NUPY") and the area outside Steinchencröe ("OL"). An additional entry "LUPO" is present before the Vasserbunde door, but is inaccessible - its position perhaps suggesting that it may have originally led to Nachtholm.[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL3" the entries led to the Bone Armor dungeon beneath Coorhagen ("BONE"), the Repel dungeon beneath Coorhagen ("SH"), the Inspire Hate dungeon beneath Coorhagen ("HATE"), the start of Malek's Bastion ("MALK") and the main overland region leading to Coorhagen ("OL").[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL4" the entries led to the Stun Dungeon ("STUN"), the Mist Form Dungeon ("MIST"), the Oracle's Cave ("ORCL") and the initial overland region between the bastion and the oracle's cave ("OL"). An extra unmarked doorway is inaccessible.[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL5" the entries led to the Control Mind Dungeon in the Termogent Forest ("CNTL"), the Blood Gout Dungeon in the Termogent Forest ("GOUT"), the Flame Sword Dungeon in the Termogent Forest ("FLSD"), the start of Vorador's Mansion ("VORD") and the initial overland area of the Termogent Forest ("OL"). An extra unmarked doorway is inaccessible.[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL6" the entries led to the Lightning Dungeon ("LTNG"), the start of the Dark Eden Castle ("DRKE") and the initial overland region in the 'Ruined Land' ("OL").[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL7" the entries led to the start of Avernus Cathedral ("AVCL"), the initial area of Avernus ("AVCI"), the Heaven dungeon ("HEVN") and the Hell dungeon ("HELL").[Blood Omen]
- Under "OL8" the entries were further subdivided into three subsections covering the present ("PRES"), past ("PAST") and new present ("RENT"). "PRES" contained entries for the Provincial Mines/Beguile dungeon ("BEGL"), the Spirit Wrack Dungeon ("SPTVV"), inside the Stronghold of William the Just in the Land of the Nemesis ("NEMS"), Willendorf ("VVIL") and the Elzevir the Dollmaker ("DOLL"), with an extra unmarked inaccessible doorway, before two further yellow doors leading to overland regions at the rampart south of Stahlberg ("OL8A") and the area between Avernus and Willendorf ("OL8B"). "PAST" contained entries for the Nemesis stronghold in the past ("NEMS") and the rampart south of Stahlberg ("OL"). "RENT" contained entries for the ruins of William's stronghold in the new present ("RUIN") and the overland region in the Land of the Nemesis ("OL").[Blood Omen]
- The "BOSS" designations led to a corridor containing doorways leading to the initial stages of the various boss battles. These were: Nupraptor (boss) ("NUPY"), Malek (boss) ("MALK"), Bane (boss) and DeJoule (boss) ("BNDJ"), Elzevir (boss) ("DOLL"), William the Just (boss) ("VVIL"), Moebius (boss) ("MOE"), Mortanius (boss) ("MORT"), Dark Entity ("MORT"), Azimuth (boss) ("AZ"), Kain's final choice ("LSTPLL") and Kain's final approach to the Pillars before witnessing Anarcrothe's confrontation with Mortanius ("PRMT"). An inaccessible doorway before "PRMT" is labelled as "VOR", suggesting it may have originally led to the cut Chess match with Vorador. All of the doorways in this area were yellow.[Blood Omen]
- The "SPFG" designations led to a corridor containing doorways to the various Spirit forges. These were the spirit forges for: Flay artifacts forge ("FLAY"), Pentaliche of tarot artifacts ("PNTR"), Implode artifacts ("IMP"), Font of putrescence artifacts ("PUTS"), Energy bank artifacts ("ENGY"), Heart of Darkness artifacts ("HART"), Anti-toxin artifacts ("ANTI") and Slow time artifacts ("SLTM"). The remaining two entries ("PNTR2" and "PNTR3") led to the entrance area leading to the Pentaliche of Tarot spirit forge.[Blood Omen]
- The "BLFT" designations led to a corridor containing doorways to the various Blood fountains. These were: the first strength upgrade outside Nachtholm ("STR1"), the second strength upgrade in the Termogent Forest ("STR2"), the third strength upgrade outside Willendorf town ("STR3"), the first Magic energy upgrade south of Coorhagen ("MAG1"), the second magic energy upgrade in the 'Ruined Land' ("MAG2"), the third magic energy upgrade on the trail between Avernus and Willendorf ("MAG3") and the upgrades protecting against Snow ("INVR") and Rain ("INVS").[Blood Omen]
- The "SECR" designations led to a different map area containing an arrangement of corridors ultimately providing passage to each of the 100 Secrets. The initial corridor of the secret area contained doors numbered from "0" to "9", with each number leading to a different corridor each accounting for roughly ten of the secrets (numbered from "1" to "100"); though in certain areas the amount of secrets and doorways present varied between corridors and some doorways were marked as containing more than one secret (such as "1420","4142", "9293" and "99100"). All of the doorways in the area were yellow.[Blood Omen]
- The final entry, the "LSTBAT" designation, led to a small corridor representing the isolated area on the Battle of the Last Stand, which was broken into three subdivisions: "1" represented the initial area of the battlefield at the extreme south of the region, with "2" representing the 'middle', and "3" representing the final area heading towards the tower at the north of the area.[Blood Omen]
- Debug information labels the Developer's Level Select area as "Map0" comprising "Sect 0-8" and "10-12", with "Sect0" representing the initial select corridor and "Sect12" representing the secrets area, those between "Sect1" and "Sect11" relate to the various smaller areas containing hexadecimal ability cards. "Map0 Sect9" is notably absent from the list, suggesting at least one area that was removed.[Blood Omen]
- The abbreviations for areas notably do not use the letter "W", substituting "VV" in its place. Unmarked doorways on lower levels cannot be entered; with the same situation true for the door marked as "VOR" (within the "Boss" directory), which is suspected to correspond to the cut Chess match or another battle with Vorador, and the doorway marked as "LUPO" (within "OL2"), which is suspected to correspond to the "Lupo the Butcher" character mentioned in Blood Omen scripts.[Blood Omen]
- The placing of the level select room after the sequence depicting Kain's death suggests that the level select area had no development work done on it after the original FMV sequence removed in favour of a playable section. Presumably prior to this stage in development, the level select area would have been the first playable section loaded by the game.
- Many of the doorways are highlighted in yellow with black stripes; including all the bosses, all the secrets, the initial"BREN" door, the "OL8A" and "OL8B" doors. the purpose of this coloring is unclear.[Blood Omen]
- The 'levels' listed in the level select area are slightly different to those listed in other sources: under the select area "OL1" represents the sequences roughly corresponding to Chapters 1 and 2, "OL2" corresponds to the areas from Nupraptor (chapter), "OL3" covers The Hunt for Malek, "OL4" covers the Oracle's Cave to the Mist Form Dungeon and Lake of the Dead (roughly corresponding to Find the Oracle with elements of Vorador's Mansion (chapter)), "OL5" covers the Termogent Forest to Vorador's Mansion (the rest of Chapter 6: Vorador's Mansion), "OL6" covers Threaten the Circle and "OL7" covers Defeat Azimuth. The "OL8" 'level' is itself split into three sub-levels covering the present ("PRES") corresponding to Ottmar's Daughter, the past ("PAST") corresponding to Stranded in Time, and the new present ("RENT") roughly corresponding to The Vampire Purges (chapter) and To the End. The isolated area of the Battle of the Last Stand (usually included with Chapter 9: Ottmar's daughter) is listed separately in subdivisions under "LSTBAT" on the initial corridor.[Blood Omen]
- The ability cards featured throughout the level select area are numbered with hexadecimal codes relating to the items, equipment and abilities that Kain should have at that stage of the game, which are gifted when Kain collects each card. The cards are most often seen in the small rooms between the selection tiers of the level corridors, where they are often presented in groups of two cards for each level, with the exception of the first level which presents only the number "1" card (so "OL2" contained the "1" and "2" cards, "OL3" contained "2" and "3" and so on). When they reached the sub-divided "OL8", the cards were also subdivided into "8a1", "8a2", "8a3" and "8b" - two cards of these cards were repeated in the initial corridor and these represented the final cards; "8b" at the end of the corridor gave the complete set of abilities, whilst "8a3" next to the boss doorway skipped to bad ending cinematic. Despite their in-game numbering, all ability cards appeared as "1" when maps are extracted.[Blood Omen]
- The Debug menus which are present in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance are arguably a development of the practices seen in the Developer's Level Select - all were originally intended to aid developer during production and had access removed in the retail games which could be reactivated through various means; all also contained functions to manipulate the game location and abilities, along with many more options in the debug menus. One notable difference however, is that the Debug menus are literal menus, navigated through button presses, making them much quicker to use than moving a character through the corridors of the developer's level select area.[Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver 2][Defiance] The only title which does not have a discernible Debug menu is Blood Omen 2 which instead contains a similar Bonus mode; again allowing accesses to any levels with items, attributes and abilities usually gained later in the story. By contrast, the listing of bonus mode suggests that it was intended as a completion bonus which was ultimately unfinished. The environment of the Bonus mode area (apparently based on the Eternal Prison area in that game) is in many ways similar to that seen in the Developers Level Select and it may be that Bonus mode area was intended as a homage to Developer's Level Select.[Blood Omen 2] Similar rooms intended purely for development purposes are known to exist in other titles in the shape of the Push and Test rooms in Soul Reaver (containing a variety of objects, abilities, enemies and bosses) and the "artifact1a" room in Defiance (which contained all of the quest items).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Blood Omen Developers Level Select Page at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Chess Match at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Blood Omen Scripts at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ The Murdering Kain FMV at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Soul Reaver - The Debug Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- ↑ Soul Reaver 2 - The Debug Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- ↑ Defiance - The Debug Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- ↑ Bonus Mode Page at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- ↑ The Push and Test Rooms at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- ↑ The Artifact 1a Room at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).