Former Director of Production Design at Red Storm Entertainment Brian Upton shed light on the game's development history in a January 2000 postmortem feature on Gamasutra. Of the hundreds of ideas for the game stemmed from a weekend-long brainstorming session in fall 1996, Upton said that "the only one that we unanimously agreed we had to build was HRT - a game based on the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team."
However, the game wasn't a pure adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel of the same name. In fact, Clancy "hadn't yet decided to make [HRT] the subject of his next novel." Since Clancy and the team at Red Storm Entertainment shared information on a regular basis, Upton said that "bringing the game in line with the book didn't involve too much extra work."
One significant part of the book that was lost in translation is the ending, as the team finished development several months before Clancy completed the novel. Upton considered it "one of the pitfalls of parallel development."