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While working on a remake of a portion of Betrayal at Krondor in an attempt to teach himself how to develop with Amazon's Lumberyard engine, original game designer Neal Hallford has found the time to write an increasing number of very interesting blog posts titled Krondor Confidential on the development of the 1993 title. With the two latest posts, number 10 and eleven respectively, Hallford describes the stresses and health problems that came with the last stretch of development and the release of the game.
A couple of excerpts:
Quickly the doctor examined me as I went over my symptoms, and he posed a series of questions. He asked if I was under a lot of stress. I replied that I was working on a million dollar project that was four months late. Check. He asked how much I was sleeping. I told him about two to three hours a night. Check. He asked me what I’d been eating, to which I replied that I’d been living pretty much on company-supplied pizza and Mountain Dew for three months. Check.
He looked down at a pad and started writing a note, then handed it to me.
“You’re not going back to work for a week.”
I blinked. “I…what? I gotta go back to work. I’m…”
“You aren’t going back to work for a week. Your vitals are terrible. I’d hospitalize you, but the hospital is full, and I don’t think that’s necessary in this case providing you get some rest and eat something proper. No pizza. No soft drinks.”
“I can’t miss work!”
“It’s either this or the next time you leave work, it’ll be in a hearse.” He tore off the prescription he’d been writing. “Valium. This might help you sleep. I’ll write you a note for your boss too.”
From the beginning, we knew our first and most important critic was going to be Raymond E. Feist. His name was, after all, sitting above the title of the game, and he’d forever be tied to the success or failure of it despite having only minimal input on its actual development. It had been important to me in particular to get it right because Dynamix had handed me the keys to his universe without his knowing who I was or what I would do with Midkemia. I owed it to Ray and I owed it to his fans, but more than any of that, I owed it to the company to make sure Ray would be on board with whatever we did. If he loved it, he could make a very big difference in our efforts to promote the game. If he hated it, however, the many risks that we had taken during development could end up being disastrous for everyone.
Although we’d kept Ray up to date about what we were doing throughout production, he only saw it for the first time at a trade show shortly before launch. In the author’s afterward of his hardback novel adaptation Krondor the Betrayal, Ray recounts seeing the game for the first time. “When I finally got a look at the finished game, it was at the Drake Hotel in Chicago before my first press interview on the game at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1993. It was a revelation. It was my world, but it wasn’t. These were my characters, but they weren’t. They came alive and ran around and fought and died and started over and fought again. When it came time to give the interview, I didn’t want to stop playing. ”
Ray continues, “The rest, as they say, is history. Betrayal at Krondor won awards, sat atop the Entertainment Weekly CD game best-seller list for six months, and is considered by many to be the best computer fantasy role-playing game ever created. And most of the credit goes to John, Neal, and the team at Dynamix.”