BBS Door History / Michael Preslar Interview

GB: At what point did Metropolis Gameport actually take over development of Legend of the Red Dragon and its sequel from Robinson Technologies? What has your overall involvement been with the game and its "The New World" sequel since then?

Michael: The way I remember it, Gameport bought all of Seth's stuff in 1997 or so, but then just kind of sat on it for a long time. I remember writing an email to them, June 1999, saying "Please don't let the game die. It still has a lot of potential. At least put out a new version with corrected registration docs.". I knew of several people that had sent the same kind of email without getting a response, but still, Gameport called me the next day.

After the NDAs and other paperwork was signed, Gameport only required that I keep them in the loop about new versions. That eventually changed to me making sure I had the "go ahead" nod from them before releasing a new version. Creatively, Gameport didn't limit or encourage any particular change in the game so I kind of had free reign.

For Lord, the tough part was always finding balance between any new stuff I wanted to do and the way the games had been and the expectations of the game's fans. The first month after signing the paperwork, I got maybe 100 emails - 50 of them saying, "You're not Seth! Leave the games alone!", the other 50 were "Can't wait to see what you can do".

For Lord2, there wasn't much I could do that people would notice. Fix the "100% CPU" bug, sure. But this was about the time that Joel Gathercole was working on his "Lord2: Whole New World". That is: Lord2 with any/every Lord2 addon, map, etc all rolled into one. His work on that kept the game fresh for those that liked it.

For Planets: TEOS, I truely couldn't do much of anything for it. Before selling to Gameport, Seth had a hard drive crash at some point and lost some of the Teos source. The crash left him with the compiled TPUs, but not the pascal files. For me, this meant there were large chunks of code that I couldn't modify, and overall, prevented me from working on the game.

GB: In your opinion, what do you think made Legend of the Red Dragon stand out from the countless other door games available at the time? What made it unique and secure its place in BBS door history?

Michael: There were 2 things, I think.

The first was ease of playability. It was easy for most anyone and everyone to jump in, create a character, and smack around a monster in the forest. Games like Exitilus, Barren Realms Elite and Trade Wars were awesome games (The Arcadian Legends was one of my favs), but they had a learning curve. Lord didn't.

Lord was also easy to customize. Lord had a ton of IGMs, menu sets, monster sets and so on, that allowed for each game to be different and unique. IGMs like LordNet and Interlord added interbbs play, allowing for the different BBS's to compete against each other. Some IGMs were really simple and added to the existing stories and characters (like Violet's Cottage). Other IGMs were so complex, they eventually became door games of their own (like Realm of Kisom).

GB: As the Metropolis Gameport website hasn't been updated in years and they have ceased all communication, can you give us a better idea of what the current state of development is for Legend of the Red Dragon and Legend of the Red Dragon II?

Michael: The current state? The copyrights to Lord, Lord2 and Teos are owned by Gameport, and I can't release a new version without their "go ahead" nod. At one point, I compiled 32bit versions of Lord (one for Win32, and an elf compile for Linux systems). I can't officially release those without Gameport giving me permission. I also created a web version that I can't do anything with. Gameport also handles registrations, and since they're MIA, its unlikely that people would be able to register their copies of the games.

GB: To conclude, is there anything you would like people to know about the work you've done outside of BBS door development, or any projects you are actively working on at the moment? Have you ever considered making a new game of your own inspired by Legend of the Red Dragon?

Michael: There were times in the past when I considered making a new game but I never did. Always felt like a conflict of interests. ("Should this new idea go into Lord or into my game? hrmm") But that was when I had the time to start a new project. These days, I spend my free time with my kids. However, my son asked me something the other day.. "Hey dad, Skyrim and Lord have a lot in common.. Dragons, and collecting gold to upgrade your gear, and even bards in the inns. Think you can make a Skyrim mod?"

I don't know, Aidan. I'm sure the Red Dragon lives on somewhere, just waiting...

GB: Thanks for your time, Michael! Don't forget to check out the GameBanshee BBS!