In 1995, the first incarnation of the game was announced. Prey was envisioned by 3D Realms as the first of a number of games to be running on unique, cutting edge game engine technology, developed in house. In this sense the project played the same role as Unreal did for Epic Games, and it would retain this role in the company’s strategy throughout its development time in the 3D Realms studios.
Prey as a game was to go through many different forms during this first development period. A rapid succession of different designs were outlined by Tom Hall (previously of id software and later of Ion Storm), who was at that time fresh off the Rise of the Triad team at Apogee Software. After about a year’s worth of work, however, Tom Hall abandoned the project and left the company to form Ion Storm with ex-Id compatriot John Romero. At this point 3D Realms brought on Paul Schuytema to begin the next phase in the game’s development.
For more screens: www.apogeegames.com/prey/files/files.htm
The new team would go on to create the most coherent design the game ever had. The alien abduction theme from Hall’s work was retained, but now the game was to be set on a massive, living alien space ship inhabited by a number of different alien races (three of them collectively known as the “Trocara” and a fourth called the “Keepers”), the player himself would take the role of a Native American hero, called Talon Brave.
The game was the first in the genre to make use of portal technology, a feature that allowed rips in space to be created, moved and reshaped in real time. This was to be a core feature of the gameplay, along with heavily destructible environments. It was also thought at the time this engine would be used for Duke Nukem 5 (the game after Duke Nukem Forever). Demonstrations of these features drew widespread acclaim at the 1997 and 1998 E³ exhibitions – the television program Infinite MHz was able to capture exclusive footage of the game’s private behind-closed-doors demo at the games both E³ showings.
However, despite the best of starts, Prey’s development was troubled. Seemingly insurmountable technical problems ground development to a near-halt, and this version of Prey too fell apart. Later, on an internet discussion board head engineer William Scarboro would comment that “In hindsight, portal tricks such as these should be used as tricks, not as an engine paradigm.”
Shortly after the Schuytema variant of Prey disbanded, 3D Realms attempted again to revive the project by bringing on tech programmer Corrinne Yu in November of 1998. Development of the game itself was not part of this effort, Yu was working by herself on the game engine exclusively. However, after a time, this iteration of Prey fell apart as well. 3D Realms and Corrinne Yu parted ways, and Prey began its long period of inactivity in 1999. The title was put on indefinite hold (although never formally cancelled, contrary to popular opinion).
On March 8, 2000, Prey.net (an early Prey site with a section about KMFDM) released a Real Audio file of a third KMFDM song: “Missing Time”, which was going to be part of the Prey soundtrack but was featured in the movie Heavy Metal 2000 instead (under the name MDFMK which is a side project of KMFDM members during their temporary break-up).
In 2001, 3D Realms began development on a new version of the title. This time, with the advantage of the necessary portal technology already being a stable and functional component of all modern game engines, 3D Realms was able to license the necessary technology instead of having to develop it. 3D Realms chose the id Tech 4 game engine from id Software, and Rune developer Human Head Studios was commissioned to develop the game using the previous designs as a base.
Rumors of this new project leaked out to the public in 2002, through the website Evil Avatar, but were at that time neither confirmed nor denied. It wasn’t until 2005, when the cryptic clue “Keep your eyes open for the unveiling of our next game very soon. ;)” appeared on the 3D Realms website that the previous rumors were confirmed in any way. This was followed by a CNN article by Chris Morris, claiming that Prey was not only in development, but that it would be shown at E³.
Soon afterwards, the official Prey teaser site was launched, confirming the game’s existence, and hinting that more would be revealed in the June issue of PC Gamer, which indeed featured a seven page article on Prey. On April 26, 2005 Prey was officially announced in a press release by 2K Games. On June 28, 2006 it was announced that Prey had officially gone gold for PC and XBOX 360.
[Info from Wikipedia]