Here are the changes to the Phase I Design Doc, as per the "Feedback on Phase I Design" sheets (Design Feedback). These changes will be briefly described/explained in the order that they were listed in the Feedback. Their inclusion into the Design Doc will be more detailed (as will other elements), but at least you’ll be familiar with them and know where they will appear in the doc.
Again, I would like to express the importance of saving the writing of the "detailed story" until Phase II, so that ALL the elements have been approved and included...otherwise, the whole story may have to be rewritten a second/third time. This story text will be written in a special manner to serve two purposes:
(a) To clarify the background history and all the elements in the game (such as people & places).
(b) To create a story which also can be used as a "perfect path" for playing the game. That is, the story will be written in 1st person by a player who makes all the correct moves to succeed in the game.
This is why I feel it wiser to include the story details in Phase II (not to mention the fact that DIALOGUE will play heavily in the story and that is in Phase II) . Okay....let's get at the Feedback questions:
The connections to past ZORKS is minimal because: Who wants to keep getting the "expected" from this series? There are a couple of places already mentioned in Phase I which make small references to ZORK. These will actually be strengthened via dialogue in Phase II. Also (and this wasn't mentioned in the doc), the Cliffs of Depression are directly linked to the Sunken Foundations which are all that remains of a ZORK original place. I will expand these sunken foundations to represent the actual ruins of a dungeon from ZORK. The original dungeon map layout from ANY of the ZORKs you prefer can be used. The Cliffs of Depression (XIII) will still include the "YOBIB" clue, which will be portrayed as rebellious graffiti directed at a past ZORK evil character (will be chosen based on selected ZORK volume for foundations). The then-ruling evil character will have destroyed the area, causing it to fall into the sea. Thus, the Cliffs can be mapped from the breakoff point and be entrances on the sides of the cliffs (like viewing an ant farm). This change should fix the question of ZORK connections and add more underground exploration. (See XIII for more.)
* Again, let me express a personal opinion: Trying to be TOO MUCH like the old ZORKs may appear to the users as a "design crutch". They may be expecting a remake (again) of ZORK...we have the opportunity to implement the Element of Surprise (the unexpected). Food for thought.
* The "Dwarven Mines" (see Valley Map) can also be used for a dungeon/mine underground environment, if memory allows. At the moment, it does not have a function. It was indeed put there for just such a purpose.
Since I made a living for 13 years as a freelance writer (published over 200 times and a member of The Authors League & Authors Guild of America), I am familiar with story-telling techniques. So "keep the faith", mates, and see what the Detailed Story brings. I hope, though, that we keep in touch with our intentions: to make a challenging and fun GAME. Adhering too rigidly to a storyline structure produces a very linear game. Which means you win it once and it's shelf material (or a game to give away...and thus lose a potential customer!). Besides, one never writes the story before it is plotted out and all its elements known, right?
But you are the publishers, so if it's a linear game you want, then we better settle on that right away to save a lot of rewrite time.
Okay...on to the questions/etc.:
A.II.1 Mutant Evil, "ME"
I certainly agree with you here..."ME" and the Wizard do need fleshing out (excuse the expression). This, too, will occur in the coming Story after I know more about what's to stay in the game.
The ME communicating via Orb, too? GREAT IDEA!!! Consider it in! I'm pissed, though, that I didn't think of it first! ;)
A.II.2 Other Characters
Geez, guys, wait for the dialogue, eh? I'm sure you'll have all these story-plot-premise-theme-character worries taken care of. Don't you have faith in me? (Imagine a hurt game designer.) All characters will be woven into the puzzle structure, or they will not be in the game.
Freed Fairy: read again the section XV.1 & XV.2. She apologizes when you attract her with the lantern (dialogue) and gives you "Fairy Dust" to use in the grain at Pugney Ranch to dope the cattle. The 2-way sections of the Forest of the Spirits should be the "darker" areas of the forest, thus ANY of these sections allows the lighting of the Lantern.
School Marm listed twice: oops (+50 FR for Doug). Consider character number XXII.16 now to be Ben Dover (Cliffs of Depression). As with ALL the listed characters, I will go into more detail as the dialogue pans out. I imagine some characters will grow in importance as the dialogue is being written, which is good. Much of the background story will also be revealed through dialogue with characters, but in a fashion as to not bore the pants off the user with lengthy exposition.
True...some characters will have more dialogue than others, but ALL dialogue will serve a purpose, even if it is a minor one.
A.II.3 The Changing Sky
I sure messed up THAT explanation! Sorry about that...must be too much caffeine. What happened was this: I originally toyed with the idea of having the atmosphere change from gloomy to happy (and vice versa) according to the successes/failures of the PC (and the subsequent progress of evil). A fluctuating atmosphere. But I canned that route and felt it best to continually get gloomier in conjunction with the "forming" of ME. So I guess we agree here. Sorry about the confusion.
A.II.4 Lose the Game (XXVIII.29) Whoa! What happened to the rest of the text? My apologies. It seems some of the text has been deleted (notice the absence of a period?). A gremlin must be in my system. Indeed this scene is important and warrants more attention. Adding it immediately. (See revision in file: "ZORK.DOC".)
A.II.5 PC "Returns to Zork"
Sounds like you guys are hooked on the "Return to Zork" title, rather then "Rebirth..." . If SO, just give me a solid "YUP" and the storyline connections to it will be included and the "rebirth" connections severed. The sooner I know for sure, the better, since it saves rewrite time and drastically alters the Story (Phase II).
My personal opinion: "Return to Zork" suggests "Return to the Same Old Stuff". Why can't a NEW evil emerge amongst the ruins of Zork (the "seed" for it's rebirth having been planted from past Zork history)?
One of the joys of a Fantasy game theme is its flexibility. Creating a "hook" to link up games in a fantasy series is a snap. Almost anything is possible, don't you agree? HOWEVER: there is nothing more insulting than to have struggled through a game only to be hit with a "To Be Continued..." and the gut feeling that you've been had by someone's marketing crew. It takes a little away from the feeling of "success"....the quest appears "unfinished" So if a sequel is planned, we must be sure not to leave the user with that knowledge.
The "sword-raising" was hardly an "afterthought". Little, inexpensive animations like this add to a product's word-of-mouth potential. Very much like the Rocket Blastoff & Sheep in LGOP2. This is the last of the 3 scenes that make up the ending of a successful game, which warrants a good reward. It also keeps the "romantic stuff" to a minimum. Now, if you want MORE romance in the game...no problem. Just say the word.
If loose ends still exist at the end of a game, text should be scrolled vertically over the last scene (27) before fading to black. But remember: some loose ends = sequel connections without being obvious!
Again, I stress the disastrous side-effects of obvious sequel endings.
B The Game's Philosophy
I agree that the 1st Person POV is best; Axe the voice, too.
Humorous names & medieval setting: As far as I can see, the old Zorks were NOT entirely medieval settings. Zork I begins at a normal, boarded-up house. And I recall special Gold & Silver "machines", etc. Are you SURE about the medieval thing? Don't the names "Dimwit" and "Flathead" sound humorous? Oh, well...names are easily changed via search/change in my word processor, so...let me know for sure on what names get axed.
Isle of Mist: In Ultima? No problem...let's call it: "Ferryman's Isle".
Shanbar: ....(thinking of new name) .. Okay, I'll rename it for Phase II.
The others that felt these names were "placeholders" were right.
C.I Naming Conventions for Art, Sound & Text. This is programming the data tables. They are confusing conventions, but I understand what they are intended to do. This is a major task to adapt the entire doc lists to these conventions. It's actually doing the MADE engine data base programming. I would feel like someone crossing the union picket line if I did this. Let's talk about it, though.
If you prefer the form of section II, that's fine. And a rough count of screens will indeed be included with Phase II.
C.II Filler screens.
The Bog near the witch's Hut is a trap/mini-maze. Perhaps it needs to be better described (I'll do so). If you could point out other "filler" screens, I can get a better idea of what you mean here. Just throw a couple examples at me.
C.III Too Many view Screens. I agree. I'll go over the entire doc for Phase II and tighten it up in regards to the number of views.
C.IV Diagrams. Some of the maps/diagrams are being redone right now, so I'll keep in mind your concerns as I redo them. But for the moment: No, the unnumbered squares are not views (therefore, they were not described in doc). They were left visible to help show the vertical/horizontal relationships between the numbered squares. I'll get rid of them.
In the Forest of the Spirits, however, the dark squares are those 2-way passages generated via forest parts. These were included for the above mentioned purpose and to make the forest seem more dense (vast). When I do the Cliffs of Depression underground maze, I will keep your concerns in mind.
C.V The Zork Text Room. At first, I didn't get this one. But if you mean that the screen display would change to an EXACT replica of the text-style layout of an early Zork game (requiring typed-in commands), then I think it can easily be added into the Cliffs of Depression tunnel-maze. I take it you are intending to have a LIMITED number of possible typed-in responses. Nice idea.
E User Interface & Input Devices.
* 9 Troll Puzzle - Sword swinging (actually a thrust):
To THRUST the sword left (L), right (R) and to the center (C), use the following 2 methods:
1) Arrow Keys (left, up, right) .
2) CLICK on Trolls (left, center and right figures).
Action/reaction is automatic.
* Ref "N" Keyboard Usages :
I just started the possibilities on page 60. More may become necessary as Phase II is completed and I will include them. These are only suggested keys and I assumed that the play testers would finalize the convenience of each.
I don't think a joystick is needed; just mouse & keyboard.
* Interface Diagram
This is only a general layout, not intended to be finished. Since the art is being done down there, I left the finer adjustments for the artist. I will redo the layout to give approximate areas for the visible interface items. See the new BASIC layout areas in the file named: "INTRFACE.LBM".
* Nectus in Pouch
Putting Nectus in Pouch is fine. I just thought it would make for a nice centerpiece in the interface.
Larger Orbs are fine, especially if you don't like the Frizbee centered and "hovering" (as in diagram). The center should then be occupied by the Pouch of Holding and the spells.
If I remember correctly, Bill said that the "see-through" center area of the interface is not possible. So in this case, the Pouch and Spells should be "encased" in ornamental graphics (as described before) . * Vulture Legs
If you get rid of the legs...you might as well get rid of the topfeathers, as they will appear strange otherwise. This screen design was intended to be very different from what other companies are doing. Most games use the "top row" and "bottom row" layout. If you don't want this kind of radical approach, that's your call.
Perhaps the top feathers could be replaced with an ornamental area for the dialogue?
* Character Interaction
I agree with Bill's "Fear", "Query", etc. approach. I will describe the phrases in Phase II along with greater dialogue details. Unfortunately, the Dialogue List is directly connected to the specific options available to PC during character interaction, so I must do them at the same time.
* Text Display Area
I may be mistaken here, but I thought that printed dialogue was not going to be used and only digitized voices for NPCs implemented. If dialogue is to be displayed as well, then it should appear along the top of the screen just slightly lower than the top corner feathers. They should look like "subtitles" (shadowed text).
* Getting & Using Items
Let's say you spot a KEY at a particular location. To get and use the key, do the following:
CLICK on KEY. KEY icon will appear in the LEFT ORB ("ready to use")
and will also now be the cursor (as in LGOP2).
CLICK KEY onto POUCH to keep it for later, or..
CLICK on DOOR wi th " readied " KEY to unlock door.
CLICK on another POUCH item to combine (make something), or....
RIGHT CLICK to close POUCH and then ...
CLICK on screen graphic to use.
F Scoring Proceedures. Yes, I will get into the scoring system in more detail toward the end of the Phase II doc, as I will need to know the following:
* The MINIMAL number of MOVES to win.
* The exact number of puzzles.
Basically, the system will do a "+1" or "-1" to the HR (Hero Rating).
Some factors that may effect the HR are:
* Number of MOVES to win (+pts below max...-pts above max).
* Perfect game bonus for minimum MOVES (+pts).
* Solve puzzle (+pts per difficulty) .
G.I & II Music, sound effects, etc.
Okay on these. Will cover in Phase II as stated.
G.III Accessing the "Disk Access Menu" .
See page 60- REFERENCE SHEETS - "N". Only 3 keyboard options were listed in phase I doc, but one of them was the ESC key to access this.
G.IV Flowchart. Actually, the Valley Map was intended to be used as a "general" flow-chart of the valley, showing where the main locations link. I am making some changes to this map and will keep in mind your concerns. The other maps & diagrams are meant to detail the main locations shown on the Valley Map. "Clarification" will be my middle name.