Refraction Games was a video gamer developer headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden that developed the Refractor Engine and Codename Eagle, the spiritual and technological precursor to the Battlefield Series. The company was purchased by DICE shortly after Codename Eagle's release, and the team would go on to finish developing Battlefield 1942 at DICE.
Refraction Games was founded in 1998 by Johan Persson and Patrick Söderlund, who had been working on developing the Refractor Engine since 1993. Refraction specialized in creating outdoor virtual environments, with an emphasis on the player's "freedom of actions and the feedback and response he receives, [to immerse] him in the virtual environment." At its peak in 2000, Refraction was made up of 18 employees.
Early on, Refraction primarily produced small racing games, including Volvo V70 Racing, which was a 3D racing game created to promote Volvo's V70 line. V70 Racing was developed in under a month, and featured a full 3D environment built in the Refractor Engine. The game sold 250,000 copies worldwide after heavy distribution by Volvo, and was considered a significant success for the small team. The team then contributed to the development of Horse and Pony II in late 1998, which was a children's 3D horseback riding game produced by Take-Two Interactive. The game did fairly well, being nominated for a Europrix award and became a best seller in Scandinavia.
After their early successes, Refraction then began to work on their own IPs, the first of which was Codename Eagle, an action-adventure game set in an alternate timeline of World War I. Codename Eagle was designed to take advantage of Refractor's capabilities with expansive environments and vehicle usage, and featured both first-person gameplay where players could use any vehicles on the level at will, which was not often seen during the time of Eagle's creation. Codename Eagle received mixed reviews on release, with its gameplay receiving praise but its storyline being viewed as lacking and contrived. The game did, however, develop a small cult following around its multiplayer aspect, which Refraction actively supported.
After the completion of Codename Eagle, Refraction began working on another horse racing game, Legacy of Rosemond Hill, and an early version of what was to become Battlefield 1942. The company was later purchased by fellow Swedish developer DICE shortly after Codename Eagle's release in 2000 and the team was absorbed into the company, where they went on to complete both Legacy of Rosemond Hill and Battlefield 1942. Codename Eagle continued to be supported by DICE up to the release of Battlefield 1942, receiving new maps, weapons, and vehicles through several patches released in 2000.
Refraction is primarily notable for the creation of the both the Refactor Engine and Codename Eagle, which had a significant impact on the Battlefield series. The Refractor Engine was used for all Battlefield games up to the creation of the Frostbite Engine, and its abilities to support large levels and large player sizes in multiplayer made the gameplay of Battlefield and Codename Eagle possible.
Refraction were actually the original developers of Battlefield 1942, and DICE picked up the project after the companies merged. Codename Eagle's gameplay was the main inspiration for the combined arms combat seen in the Battlefield series, with the main changes being a smaller inventory of weapons and equipment per player, the removal of a singleplayer campaign, and the removal of blood and gore. The later two features did eventually return to the series with later entries, however.