Two versions of the game exist: the original game was released on eight floppy discs, and an enhanced version on CD-ROM was published on the following year, featuring two additional levels with a few new enemies, remade intro and endgame movies, and cutscenes with voice-acting inserted throughout the game to replace text-box exposition.
The player takes the role of Kirt, a human with powers of shapeshifting. Among other forms, Kirt can become a huge cat-
like animal, a floating tentacle-wielding gazer, and a dragon.
Kirt is a descendent of a magical race which calls itself The People. The People enjoyed a special relationship with both the gods and the dwellers/creatures of the other planes; they were permitted to take the shapes of these distant beings for short durations, as they permitted the others to take on human form.
This exchange worked for the benefit of both The People & the fantastic creatures from the other planes. The People used it to accomplish tasks that were otherwise beyond their powers, while the fantastic creatures used it to do things only the human form permitted and to use one shape's strengths to compensate for another's weaknesses.
The gods gave the gift of shapeshifting/morphing to the most worthy of The People. Enjoying as they did the gods' favor and the special powers this entailed, The People built a magnificent civilization and enjoyed a great and peaceful time under their rulers. Trusting the wisdom of the gods to select the most worthy individuals, those who had the greatest morphing abilities were chosen to lead The People.
Not all of The People appreciated this arrangement. Most notable among these were those whom the gods had declined to give the gift of morphing (Shapeshifting) in any form. These formed a subcaste and were generally regarded (and treated) as less than People.
To these, Malkor, the outcast god, appeared and promised power and riches if they would worship him and follow his ways. Members of the subcaste eagerly followed Malkor, who provided a different and Twisted variation on the gift of morphing.
Followers of Malkor capture animals, People, and the fantastic creatures and slay them in horrific, painful rites, Through these rites, they acquired the power to change into the shape of those they killed/destroyed.
Flaunting their new powers, the most powerful of Malkor's minions were given positions of power over The People. The manner of the god's choosing had always been a private affair --- the fact someone had been deemed worthy as evidenced by the shapes they received and not a divine announcement. As the Evil One's followers grew in number and power, slowly The People came under the control of their least worthy and most evil members.
At a great feast to honor the gods, Riodn, the great holy man, revealed the practice of the evil rites ---and named the ones who were following Malkor. At this feast, Veste, leader of the evil People, killed Riodn, and the Kin Murders began.
In the course of the civil wars that followed, the morphing powers were used to destroy The People, their city and the civilization they had created. In the final battle, the followers of Good drove Veste and his servants into a temple some distance from the city. There Veste mocked them and vowed to return to bring final doom to The People. He then closed the temple doors so that none could enter.
The forces of Good had won, but at what cost? The People were virtually destroyed and their great city turned into a hunted ruin. The gods, appalled by the slaughter, turning their backs on The People. The gift of shapeshifting (morphing) was intended to be used for the benefit of all, but The People had instead used it to establish a class of rulers and servants. In this, they had gone against the will of the gods.
One god, Tovason, did not entirely abandon The People. If they kept watching against evil, he promised, they would eventually return to their former greatness. The People built a village around the temple and kept guard against Veste's return. Through the years they mingled with other tribes and the gift of morphing slowly faded away. Eventually, only two of The People carried this gift. They were wed and bore a child they named Kirt.
At his birth, the old gods gathered. Malkor had been growing in power, and down every path, the gods could see lay their ruin and destruction --- Malkor triumphant and all the lands enslaved. But, down the path Kirt would travel, the gods could see nothing, It was as if he cast a shadow over the future of the worlds.
Kirt was given the name Shadowcaster. In him resided the hope of The People and the ancient gods. But Malkor and his followers learned of this hope. One moonless night the doors of the temple flew open and Veste, somehow alive centuries after he had fled, raided the village. He attacked the house where Kirt lay sleeping and slew his mother and father.
But Tovason had been watching the child. just before Veste and his beasts entered the child's room, Kirt, under the care of the last Holy One, was sent to a faraway land where magic was little known and less respected. There Kirt grew into maturity under the guidance of a man he called Grandfather.
Grandfather kept close watch over Kirt, for he knew the Evil Ones were searching everywhere for him.
One night a storm arose in which Grandfatherrecognized the power of Malkor. On that night, Grandfather told Kirt of his heritage and sent him back to The People, just ahead of the rending claws of Malkor's gargoyle.
Kirt, with little knowledge of this new world, acquires the power to change shape by touching an obelisk that puts him in contact with the gods.
He first was teleported to the ruins of his people, where he found the first of the obelisk containing the power of the Maorin, the cat-warrior race that has the power to see hidden objects in plain sight. Once he gone through the ruins he went under the temple of Zardaz, the four-armed death lord, After the death of Zardaz, Kirt obtains the Caun, the healer than goes to the realm of the Werewolf Lord, where he has transformed The People into werewolves and serve the Lord, where he will
||Humanoid with blond hair and green eyes, wearing a brown jacket, jeans, sneakers, and a red shirt.||Starting point for the first part.|
||An anthropomorphic-cat creature with four arms, brown fur, and wearing a gold belt with a red cloth||Useful for finding hidden objects and a strong and fast fighter.|
||A short, imp-like creature who has long ears, long brown hair, and wears a red undergarment with a brown belt.||Not one of the best fighters, but heals 10 times faster then a human, with defensive abilities as well.|
||A floating brain creature with red tentacles with a large single blue eye and mouth, with two horns under its body.||A poor fighter and slow when flying, but has powerful spells.|
||An Amphibian-like humanoid with green skin with warts (or lumps) and has fins under the arms, a ray fin on its head, webbed hands, and frog legs, wearing a purple underwear with a blue robe.||In underwater regions, this form is best used in this environment and boosts its abilities powers.|
||A dragon-like creature with red scales, horns, and green eyes, it has only two arms and a long tail.||Can be used to fly over obstacles, and can inflict and take damage.|
||A huge humanoid stone man, with an gray coloring all over and with two red eyes.||This form is the strongest of all, it can take damage more as well as dealing it, however slow in movement, it can survive in hazardous areas.|
The Shadowcaster game engine was written by id Software's John Carmack and licensed to Raven Software. Carmack wrote the Shadowcaster 3D engine during his technology research after id completed Wolfenstein 3D. The engine features diminished lighting, texture mapped floors and ceilings, walls with variable heights and sloped floors. The engine was "about half as fast as that of Wolfenstein" but fit the exploration of Shadowcaster rather than the fast paced action of Doom.
The Shadowcaster engine received from Raven Software additional feature such as inventory management, a hub system, and scripted levels. Hexen would benefit from similar features, though Shadowcaster's scripting system is unlikely to be too similar to ACS; and a simpler inventory management system found its way into Heretic before.
After Shadowcaster was completed, Raven Software split its staff in two development teams. One using the Doom 1.2 engine to create "Mage", a fantasy shooter that would become Heretic; and another that was to build upon the Shadowcaster engine to create a sci-fi shooter that would become CyClones. However, the engine could not easily be made to support the new features they wanted to use, such as moving 3D floors, and Raven ended up developing a new engine from scratch. Traces of the Shadowcaster technology remain however in the format used to store game data, so a tool (for instance SLADE3) able to view and extract resources from Shadowcaster's archives can do likewise with CyClones' own.
- ↑ Shadowcaster at Ravensoft.com
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Masters of Doom (paperback edition, released May 11, 2004) p. 119–122
- ↑ Doomworld's 5 Years of Doom: John Romero Interview on Dec 10, 1998