Saturday, January 3, 2009

Weekly Update

Apologies for not doing this sooner, I've been busier then busy. Plus, the holidays.

I am still debating weather to make this a bi-monthly update, or not, let me know what you think, or want, via the forum or comments down below. This week I will interview John-Robert La Porta, who is one of the forum moderators, and the author of the Mini vMac guide.

Jon God: Hi La Porta, welcome to the Weekly Update.

La Porta: Hi Jon, how are you?

Jon God: A bit worn out, but ready to serve the ever-watching readers.

La Porta: Hah, fair enough man, it's a good thing you are doing here for the forums.

Jon God: Speaking of the forums, I would like to thank you now for all the work you've done as a moderator.

La Porta: Well thank you, I wish I could be there more often to help out. My trek through med school has made it difficult to keep up. But I have been honored to do it. It's great to be part of something so crucial to the continuation of my favorite game as a kid

Jon God: What was your reaction to being selected as a moderator for the Dark Castle Forum?

La Porta: I really was happy about it. The whole community is terrific. I remember that you wanted some extra staff because of the anticipated flood of forum users from the release of DC3. In a good way, it came. Now we have a ton of people...and more keep coming.

Jon God: Yup, and between the whole Dark Castle Forum staff, we've been pretty good about stopping spam, and keeping things organized. Before we move on, you got anything to say about the rest of the staff?

La Porta: Sure. I think that the people I know best are you, Izdale, Gruz, and in a way, Richard. Izdale and Gruz have been great, I can talk to them about almost anything. Richard and I usually elbow each other with words now and then, all in fun. It is great to toss around conflicting ideas and views with him. All in all, I can't think of anyone who isn't a team player. It really has been going great.

Jon God: So, Return to Dark Castle finally did come out, what is your opinion on it?

La Porta: That is a huge question. I don't think one person's interpretation of it can be the same as anyone else's. I have been happy with in the most part. Me, I'm a stickler for consistency and originality, and I have to say that the game is pretty true to the originals. One thing I haven't been happy with is that there are so many secrets and so much to do that sometimes it becomes too much to handle. I realize that the game was designed to be either quick and dirty, or played to beat 100%, but I liked how the originals had a clear-cut path and objectives more.

Jon God: So, more or less pleased. Anything you would have done differently, besides what you just listed?

La Porta: Well, I think anyone would agree having the level editor released concurrently with the game would have been a major plus. We would have had content coming out of our ears by now. Otherwise, I think that the original "Heroes of Merit" music from the betas was better and more suited to the game. I also would have liked to see some of the sound effects more like the original (I liked the use of the "chain pull" sound for opening doors in the originals). Short of that, I can't criticize the game seeing as what the Zacks had to go through!

Jon God: Heh, I brought up some of the same things to Zack Black. Now, speaking of the Level Editor, do you have any plans for Level sets?

La Porta: Well, there are two specific level types that I have planned. One will be an "Incredible Machine" type of thing, where Bryant has to turn of conveyor belts, fire arrows, etc, to activate parts of the level, just like in TIM. The other is an idea that I had that I call "probability." In the Boston Science Museum, they have a set up with falling balls to test the bell curve hypothesis (where most balls will fall in the middle, and less outlying that point). I want to have two rock henchmen at the top of a vertical scrolling level, and have the walls set up in a pattern so the rock henchmen throw the rocks in towards the middle, and the balls funnel down vertically placed walls in a random pattern to potentially hit Bryant on his way up. I think it will be pretty neat.

Jon God: After hearing some of the fan ideas for Level sets, I am pretty excited for the editor, how long do you imagine people will continue creating content for DC3?

La Porta: Well, I can base what I know on other games. The Marathon series lives on in it's Aleph One incarnation. My brother has been working on level sets for it since the late 90's, and he still works on them. He is far from the only one. Every once and a while, I get into it as well. I think that as long as the game has a popular following, we can continue to expect seeing content for years to come.

Jon God: A bit of a drastic change of subjects, you wrote the Mini vMac guide, which can be found on the Dark Castle Forum, what was your incentive for that?

La Porta: I think what started it was the fact that we as a community didn't have a unified guide for how to get Mini vMac and DC up and running. I figured that since I had been using Mini vMac for years before the forum started, and had spoken with it's developer Paul Pratt, that I would be in a pretty good position to write it. It was more difficult than I thought. The first version was decent, but I thought it was too cluttered. That is why I made version 2.0. I am always looking for feedback on it as well, but I am pretty satisfied with it. Many people have been able to use it to get DC/BDC up and running, and I don't think that I could ask for a better result than that.

Jon God: I know it's taught me a thing or two. :) How did you first get to know Paul Pratt?

La Porta: My involvement with Mini vMac started before there even was Mini vMac. I started using the original vMac way back when that was all that was around. It was far less refined than it is now: DC wouldn't even work correctly - if you pressed the movement keys in any direction, they would stay "stuck" going that way until you hit a wall!. Once vMac stopped being developed, I discovered that Paul was creating his own version which was much smaller in size. I was pretty excited about it, and he seemed pretty open to feedback. Also, I have real Mac Plusses at my disposal, so I could test if problems were present on the actual hardware, or were genuine bugs of his program. So, I reported more to him, and requested features, etc. He also made suggestions to the guide as well.

Jon God: Is he a Dark Castle fan as well?

La Porta: You know, I never actually asked him specifically. I think we should get him to join the forum though!

Jon God: Was it surprising to find this community initially?

La Porta: Well, honestly, I can't remember how I found it. I probably was looking randomly for Dark Castle-related stuff (as it was always on and off my mind). When I got there, I think there were about 5 of you guys on there regularly. It was wonderful: such excitement - in those days, we didn't even know the game would ever be done for sure! It was much more focused on DC/BDC. I had always assumed that there weren't that many fans, but apparently there were.

Jon God: Any closing comments for our readers?

La Porta: Sure. I think that it is wonderful that you are doing these interviews, and I think that we will continue to have an active forum, especially when the editor comes out. Otherwise, just a thank you to all the members of the forum, helping us grow from the less than 10 real members when I joined, to over 100 now. Thank you!

Jon God: Thank you for your time, and Goodnight!

La Porta: You are welcome!


Each week, I hope to have a puzzle for you to solve, which will somehow relate to Dark Castle. This week's puzzle is in the form of a description without the word it belongs to, relating to castles.

Description: I am an arrow for a crossbow. What am I called?

Answer for last week's puzzle: Pillory


Feel free to send in feedback, what you did/didn't like, what you'd like to see, ect, as I would love to hear it.

1 comment:

Bellix Z. Backstory said...

Ooh! I know! I know!

Don't read down if you want to guess for yourself.