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ChrisC3PO and ZeroXcape got the chance to ask Kenn Hoekstra some questions regarding Raven Softare. Kenn is the Project Administrator at Raven Software and has been part of the Raven team since 1997. These questions range from past, to present, and even a little future. Here you go:

ChrisC3PO: How many of the original people are around after eleven years?

Hoekstra: Ah, a tricky one right off the bat! Brian and Steve Raffel, the founding brothers, are still here and have worked here continuously since the company's inception. Rick Johnson and Kevin Schilder also worked on Black Crypt from the beginning. Each left the company for a time, but both work here today. So I guess you could say four out of the five are still at Raven. But only two of the five have been here the whole time.

ZeroXcape: How exactly did Raven get its name?

Hoekstra: Raven was the name of a Dungeons and Dragons character in one of Brian and Steve Raffel's 1980's D&D campaigns. Obviously, it was one of their favorites. =)

ChrisC3PO: What are your favorite Raven games?

Hoekstra: My personal favorites are Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders, Heretic II, Soldier of Fortune and Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force. I have a soft spot for Take No Prisoners since it was the first game I worked on as a part of the Raven team. I really should re-install that on my machine one of these days...

ChrisC3PO: With gaming companies locating themselves in southern California, how did Raven pick Madison, Wisconsin? I'm still wondering why I'm living in the frozen tundra!

Hoekstra: Brian and Steve grew up here in Wisconsin and most of their family lives here. They started the company in their hometown and I guess they liked it too much to leave. (There have been offers to relocate us, by the way.) A goodly percentage of Raven's staff is from Wisconsin or has lived here a good portion of their lives. I'd say about 65 - 70% of the staff, total.

When that many employees have lived and worked in the same town for a number of years, it's hard to get them all to pick up and move to Texas or California.

As a side note, Id Software was also located in Wisconsin for a time. They were not fans of the weather, or so I'm told, so they (wisely?) opted to relocate in greener and warmer pastures. Raven stayed put.

ChrisC3PO: Who did you vote for on the latest LucasArts poll: "Which fansite do you visit most often?" ;)

Hoekstra: Who do you think? =)

ZeroXcape: In past interviews, we know the LucasArts building has monkies hanging from the ceiling, random chickens with pulleys in the middle, and multiple light sabers in every room. What is a typical day at the Raven offices like?

Hoekstra: Well, the staff generally filters in here from 7:30am - 10:30am a few at a time. Some of us are early risers and some of us...well...aren't. We're all required to be here by 10:30am. We have a good number of meetings for the various projects and people freely move about the office to talk about various subjects, both work-related and not. There are several groups (cliques?) who choose to go to lunch together sometime between 11:30am and 1:30pm, while others of us choose to stay in and play a game over our lunch hour. Then it's back to work, meetings, work, fun and more work. It's kind of hard to describe, now that I'm actually trying to do it. Things are very laid-back here. It's all casual dress and casual conversation. We joke and laugh a lot and we like to pick on one another. It's all good, clean fun...in a grade school kinda way.

ChrisC3PO: Do you prefer working in your own universes or others (Star Wars and Star Trek?)

Hoekstra: I don't think we really have a preference. The Fantasy stuff we've done was nice because the only restrictions we had on the game universe were self-imposed. Having that much creative freedom can be a very cool thing when it comes to game design. Then again, who wouldn't jump at the chance to work on a big-name licensed property like the ones you mentioned?

Either/Or, makes little difference to us. We're just happy to be making games.

ZeroXcape: Where do you see Raven Software eleven years from now?

Hoekstra: Still making games. By then the PlayStation XII(tm) should be out along with the Nintendo GameSphere(tm) and who knows what else? Opportunities will abound for us. =)

In all seriousness, I would be extremely happy to still be working for Raven and Activision ten or eleven years from now. It's a great company to work for and you couldn't ask for a nicer bunch of people to work with. I think we'll still be here...and still making great games.

Mad thanks go out to Kenn for helping us get these answers, especially on such short notice!

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