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XCom - Alliance


Terry Greer

Ghosts of Games that never were



Unreal PSX

River Raid


Blitz Pitches


River Raid

In September 2003 I moved to Adelaide to become lead designer on a game for Ratbag games.

The game was going to be an open-world mission-based 3rd person action title. The final name of the game wasn’t really defined, it began as a total reboot of the old River Raid game – and the name sort of stuck. It was intended as I remember that it would be part of the Soldier of Fortune franchise reboot.  In it the player could run about on foot (using a rage of guns and other ranged weapons) along with driving and flying a wide range of military and civilian aircraft in an adventure that would span Siberia, the Ukraine and Cuba.


I enjoyed my time there a huge amount, the people at Ratbag were friendly and incredibly skilled. Great designers, outstanding artists and amazing programmers who squeezed an awesome amount into a small space on the PS2 creating a large open world in the process.


In retrospect and with hindsight the problems with the game are more apparent now than they were then. Though even then the designers would have liked to have cut it back but we really had our hands tied by what had been promised and what Activision wanted.

The game was really too ambitious for the time frame and for that I have to take some blame as I didn’t kick up the fuss I should have done, and there are certainly many things I could have done a lot better.

The major problems from my perspective was that the maps could only be worked on by one individual at a time, that and and the AII system broke constantly. This led to intense bottlenecks that put the work well behind schedule. But its something I should have tackled earlier than I did.


I can remember also how, despite setting out to have a more ethnic character hero we were gradually forced by Activision to change them into something else.

Originally we were planning to make the hero Hispanic, as the game was originally set in South America.

But we were told by Activision that 'Hispanics don’t buy games' – so it was suggested that we made him black instead.

So we made him black, then we were told he was 'too black'. So we made him a little less black – and then Activision marketing wanted him to be turned white – for marketing reasons.

Then he had to become ex-military.

So from starting out with  adifferent character we ended up with exactly the same stereotype as all the other games out there. Why did we go along with it – well Activision held the cheque book – and that’s how all discussions with large publishers go.


The project was eventually canceled - one reason given was that it was too similar to Mercenaries - there's some truth in that as Activision had actually pushed it in that direction.


Originally the artists on the project created some fantastic stylized characters and we discussed not going the photo-real look. Sadly again Activision didn't want this so that as also dropped.

I actually have very little of River Raid Left – mainly old design docs and a demo that only runs on a PS2 devkit!

Video of the Demo

One of the only bits of game video still available on youtube. This video shows some of the initial demo we did when trying to land the deal in the first place.


 Game Design Doc

Design Docs

These are a couple few of the Game design documents - I might add some level and mission docs at a later time.


 High level game flow