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Transcript of a GEnie conference with Wayne Holder and Andy Jaros (April 12, 1989)

Note: Back at the time when this discussion took place, FTL was still considering Chaos Strikes Back as an expansion set for Dungeon Master. They decided later to release it as a standalone game with some new graphics.

In a recent conference on GEnie (4-12-89) Wayne Holder the president
of FTL Games and Andy Jaros the designer of "Chaos Strikes Back"
answered some questions:

      "Chaos Strikes Back" is designed as an "expansion set" for
Dungeon Master.  This means that CSB will require the original Dungeon
Master game to work. CSB is a more complex and difficult scenario than
the original DM scenario.  While designing it, we assumed that it would
require "master" level characters to start.  The scenario starts
several years after the end of the previous adventure.  The scenario is
currently under Beta Test and we plan to release it in about 1 month
(assuming that there no major problems discovered.)


Q: Do you have to have finished DM to use it?

A: No, but it helps.  You will start CSB with whatever level
characters you have in DM.  The more advanced your characters are,
the better chance you will have to survive CSB. 


Q: How many levels will CSB have?  Difficulty??

A: CSB has fewer levels than DM, but each level is at least twice as
difficult as any level in DM.


Q: What about copy protection?  Will CSB require DM to run?  I loved
the game but the copy protection caused my drives some serious
problems.

A: Yes, it requires DM.  CSB works by using a special utility which
reads a saved game from DM and then creates a new saved game file which
can be loaded by  DM, but which contains a complete new dungeon and
adventure.  The CSB expansion also comes with a hint utility which can
read you game in process and offer hints which are specific to the
problem in front of you.  Also there is another utility which allows
you to edit your Champion pictures to customize them.  We also include
a complete set of new pictures which depict how we think the champions
would have matured in the years since their first adventure in DM. 
Also, you are able to upload or download champion portraits to other
players.


Q: Are there new monster graphics as well as new character graphics
in CSB?

A: There are no new monsters in CSB, but there are a few new objects.
Since CSB was designed as an expansion set it is not able to
change the graphics from the original game.  However, there were a few
objects which we did not use in DM, so we have designed these into the
scenario for CSB.  New graphics will have to wait for DM II.


Q: Are there any changes to spells/level size?

A: There are no new spells, but they are used in new ways.  It's hard
for me to say too much about the level sizes without giving too much
away, but don't expect to use the same mapping tactics you used in DM. 
Some of you advanced players know that in DM there is a lot of
"optional" stuff which only a persistent player will find.  In CSB
we've added a few things which we think only VERY advanced players will
be able to unravel.


Q: ST Action did a mini review. Are they Beta testers?

A: Sorry I can't comment on who our Beta Testers are.


Q: Will master-level characters advance more rapidly than in DM? ga

A: Yes, but there is a catch because as your characters attain
higher levels  it becomes harder to advance.  Also, there is
another catch, which is that the ability to attain higher levels
requires even greater challenges. For example, we have one
challenge which is going to be a real surprise to players.  We
call it the "Diabolical Demon Director."  I takes up almost half
a level by itself.


Q: I've noticed in DM that we could only make potions of some of the
things like the potion potion. Will we be able to now create say, the
fire bomb potion?  And what was the total number of spells in DM?

A: There are a few restrictions in what we can do in an expansion
set.  Before I go on let me explain a little about our plans for
creating new games.  DM is based on a game engine which creates the
game world from a game file and a data library which contains game
graphics and the rules for things like spells, how creatures move, etc.
We will be supplying two types of products 1> new games, such as DM II
which will contain new creatures, spells, or other new features.  or,
2> expansion sets which will build upon existing games using that games
graphics, spells, etc.  Expansion Sets are much easier for us to
design, we hope to do several for each major new game release.


Q: Since you've been talking about DM II and other NEW games.  What
kind of time table have you got for release?

A: Well, every time I've opened my big mouth and guessed, I've been
wrong, but my "goal" is to introduce several new games each year. 
We've been shooting for this goal for some time now, but there are
always disruptions and distractions which seems to push back our
schedules.  However, currently we have several new games under
simultaneous development.  So, the new strategy is to wait and  see
which of these games will be done first. 


Q: I hope I'm not offending you by asking but do the
"distractions" include ports to other machines or is that a separate
staff?

A: Well, actually we don't really "port" our games.  The code for DM
is the same on the ST, Amiga and Apple IIGS.  We have separate staff
which recompiles the code for each machine and is responsible for
testing, but the game is created independent of any particular
computer.  The greatest distraction is the complexity of planning out
how all the games will smoothly advance from scenario to scenario. 
We've been working to not only design the next game, but also design
how that game will flow into the games that follow it.  Sometimes, this
means we discover a potential problem late in the design process and
have to back up on several fronts.  It's a little hard to explain and
I fear I'm rambling.


Q: What about the new games? Any chance of modem hook-ups? 

A: Yes, That's one of those planning "distractions" I was alluding to.


Q: What about sound improvements on DM II or CSB?

A: On the Atari we are a bit limited by RAM space.  Sound chews up a
lot of it. On the Amiga and IIGS we added stereo sound and creature
movement sounds. We'ed like to do this for the Atari too, and we're
looking into ways to do it.  Perhaps with a special accessory.  Also,
we are considering going to double sided disks for future scenarios. 
This would let us expand the the graphic detail enormously.


Q: Are there any non-DM type games lurking in the corridors of FTL,
like OIDS?

A: Well, yes, but not soon.  We will have a new versions of OIDS
soon, but for another computer (no names mentioned.)


Q: Will CSB "require" all four characters, or can it be done with one
all-master, like DM?

A: Any thing is possible, but it will not be easy. Perhaps, 4 times
harder.


Q: How does CSB resolve the fact that as of the last save we have not
yet "defeated" Lord C (while possibly gaining a level doing so)? Or is
that part of the game?

A: Well, we screwed up on that one planning DM.  So, in CSB it only
matters that you have a saved game with characters as advanced as you
want.  You  could make CSB much harder by starting with novice
characters.  But, that  would probably be suicide.


Q: Can you give us a "Teaser" on games that we might be seeing in the
future from FTL using a DM style interface?

A: We know the ST better than any other computer so we are able to
get code working on it faster.  As to new games... well we have a
really interesting "horror" based scenario under development.  We're
trying to create a game which can really scare the pants off of you. 
It will almost certainly be our most advanced game  yet in the use of
sound.  Is that enough of a teaser?


Q: Does it matter what version of DM we own? I still have the one
with lockpicks, will CSB still run OK? 

A: The lockpicks reappear in CSB and are very important to the
scenario, but I can't say more.


Q: Are you currently developing, or considering MSDOS machine DM?

A: Yes, we have an MSDOS version under development.  It will use EGA
or VGA  level graphics.  In fact, that is my particular specialty.  So,
if it's late  you can blame me.


Q: Thanks, and will CSB be available for ST and Amiga at the same
time?

A: I'm not sure at this moment.  We have a small glitch in our Amiga
development  currently.


Q: DM took me about 50 Hrs.  Will CSB take longer? I had complete maps
and spells.

A: Yes. 


Q: Any other types of program being worked on?

A: Yes, several, but if I say too much my marketing director and
secretary (who have to answer all the call which beg for information on
when, when, when... ) will kill me.


Q: Is RVP still under consideration?

A: RPV was quietly killed.


Q: What is the latest version of DM?

A: The latest version of DM is version 1.2.


Q: Will DM II be a fantasy game or is this the space game with the
same interface that we've been hearing about?

A:  No, we have a space scenario under development which is not
related to DM II.


Q: What is the difference between version 1.1 and 1.2? GA

A: Nothing big really.  1.2 fixes a few cosmetic bugs and removed the
lockpicks from the game.  However, they still exist in the graphic
database.


Q: Can you comment on sales comparison for the various
platforms and is the [other machine] for OIDs, in fact the Amiga?

A: Well it is unfair to compare because the ST version of DM has been out
much longer than either the Amiga or IIGS versions,  but we are very
happy with the ST sales.  No, the other machine is the Macintosh.


Q: To date, no one has found a spell using the GOR symbol.  Will it be
used in CSB?  In DM II?

A: The GOR symbol has a particular importance in CSB, but is not
related to a spell.


Q: How do you use magic in a Space Scenario as a Universal
Translator perhaps?

A: The "spell" menu in DM was designed as a type of language
interface.  In fact, the full set of symbols which we normally call the
"spell" symbols is much larger.


Q: Simple clarification: 3 Games: CSB, DM II and Space correct?

A: Oh, right. The only official item I can comment on is CSB.  There
will be a DM II (not called that) but I can't say more until a later
date.


Q: Will you be supporting the 68030 TT?

A: What is the 68030 TT?  It's news to me.  I can't really comment on
stuff on machines I haven't seen.  Sorry?


Q: Does the ST use more memory than the other machines for sounds or
were you comparing say a 1 meg Amiga to the standard 512K ST? As far as
D/S disks I'm all in favor of it as long as you offer a alternative
solution to the S/S users.

A: It has been our number one priority to include all ST users,
especially SS 512K  The ST version of DM just barely fits into 512K and
requires every trick we could think of to work.  On the Amiga we tried
for at least 4 months to work under 512K, but the Amiga's operating
system takes up more RAM than we could spare.  So, we decided to
introduce stereo sound and at least make good use of the extra RAM.  On
the Atari we use 4 bit digitized sound  On the Amiga we went to full 8
bit digitized sounds.  We'd love to support this on the ST as soon as
we can figure out how to do it.  For larger games we've been
considering DS disks with an option to use two SS disks.


Q: Do you plan to release CSB, DM II and the SPACE game for the
Amiga, ST and the IIGS?

A: Yes.


      Thank you! That's it for this evening! Thank you, Wayne and
Andy for joining us.  I can't wait for the new release!  (Purple
worms... I bet it's got purple worms...)

Q: Any final remarks?

A: Sure...I wanted to say thanks to all the people who have supported
us and waited patiently for new releases.  My only regret is that we
can't  work faster.  FTL almost got out of the game business back when
the Atari ST was just a rumor, but we decided to make one last try on
this "new" machine.  Now, it seems like the best decision we ever made.


Thanks again, Andy says thanks too... and good night!

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