Saturday, May 03, 2008

[IF] The Baron Revised

I have been spending but little time on interactive fiction--blame the fact that I only have a few more months to complete my PhD-thesis--but I do think it's time for a little update. I've got three projects running, and today, I'll be talking about my revision to The Baron.

The competition release, back in spring 2006, promised that a new version would be released soon. Well, I've finally started working on it, not least because The Baron has been the subject of some critical attention recently, including being used in a University level course on video games. Here is the probable feature list of this revised edition:

  • A complete rewrite of all the prose in the (English) game. That certainly was long overdue. As an example, here's what happens when you try to attack the wolves you hear in the distance as you start walking along the forest path. Old text:
    You would love to, but the wolves are still too far off.
    New text (beta):
    Yes--we define ourselves through action. But the wolves are still too far away, hidden between the trees, invisible to your merely human eyes. You will be ready when and if they come for you.
    That's a relatively radical rewrite; mostly I'm just improving the style a bit. Here's a location description from the forest. Old text:
    Here the path is narrow and winding, and hardly recognisable under the snow. Moonlight penetrates the dense foliage only sporadically. Eastwards lies the baron's castle; to the west, your own footprints lead back to the village.
    New text (beta):
    The path here is narrow and winding, and you have to move forward with care and attention, lest you wander into the forest and lose your way completely. Bleak puddles lie on the snow wherever the moon manages to penetrate the foliage. Going eastwards will bring you to the baron's castle; in the opposite direction, your footprints lead back to the safety of the village.
    And the prose is not just growing longer, either, though these two examples might give that impression. Anyway, I'll go over all the prose a couple of times, and then I'll try to get another whole round of proofreading done. I certainly hope that the result will be a marked improvement.
  • Some minor gameplay tweaks. For instance, a couple of people got stuck in the throne room, which should never happen. There are also some optional things I want to clue better: the dolls, for instance, since I don't think anyone ever got to listen to their (many) conversations.
  • Addition of new material in the menu: more walkthroughs, some information on the piece's subject (only visible after completion), some thoughts on the piece's design (as promised in the competition version).
If you know anything else that ought to change, do let me know.