TerraQuest Game Offers Mystery, Intrigue and Big Bucks

LARS Console, the unique TerraQuest interface

Yeah, it's great that you've created something that isn't a big application to download, and that it doesn't have firewall issues. Folks seem to be happy that they can log on from work, although I don't think they're bosses are quite as appreciative!

We wanted to be able to give them the opportunity to have a non-specific computer from which they could play. If they have corporate policies, of course they need to adhere to those!

Of course!

But we wanted to make that available to them if that's something they wanted to work out and do, perhaps on their lunch hour.

Exactly. Now, who is writing the actual storyline for TerraQuest?

The story was created primarily by me. As we've created this game, we've had other input from part of our creative team and we've got a very talented group of creative people who have modified and approved the direction of the storyline. This whole game is, if you will, but one chapter in what we believe is going to be a very full and rich story for many games to come.

How many are on your production team?

We've got 22 or 23 people involved in our team in different capacities and functions.

You said that you'd looked at previous games. Obviously, Majestic was the highest profile but were you also familiar with other games such at the AI Promotional game? What was there to learn from them?

Yeah, we followed a lot of different types of games. You have to understand that from my perspective, I grew up on the old Infocom games: Zork I, II and III, and that's where I cut my teeth in playing computer games. So, I looked at all of those things and said, "What works well?" There were parts of each of those that I got highly frustrated with, and said, "Gee, if we're going to do it, how can we do it differently?"

One of things that I think was a challenge for us is that we wanted to create a game that had truly rich media, but was still a game that could be played on a dialup connection. Because we sat down and decided we didn't want to restrict TerraQuest to only broadband users, as that's such a small segment of the market. There are lots of people who would not be able to participate, expecially on a global scale. So we developed some fairly unique and innovative ways to present information and data in such a way that you can still enjoy this game even if you're dealing with a 56k dialup connection.

Let's turn to the gameplay itself. Any new features to look forward to?

One of the things that I think you'll notice if you've been playing the game, is that we've now got a new clue announcement system when you have a report that's come back to you. In fact, there's a new announcement on our website that explains the specifics of how that works.

We've been listening to some of our players who have said "Gee, it'd be really great to know when we have a clue coming back that we've requested." So we made a modification and improved the game for them, which took us about a week and a half to make the changes in the code. The result is a more enriched gaming experience for our players.

I know there's been a little confusion as far as the Game Periods go. How will folks know when each Game Period is over and how will the winners of each period be announced?

Great question! What we will do is we will notify them through a variety of methods through our website and through the LARS console, telling them that Game Period II is going to launch on this date, and then we'll have an announcement of the winner for that game period. We're even working on some creative ways to involve them as a winner, so that they can get their just fame!

There are some who have claimed to have solved Game Period One. Do you have a winner, yet?

We've made no formal or informal announcement about the fact that there's a winner and who that winner would be. I'm sure that there are lots of people who would claim a variety of things but that person, when we have a winner to announce, will be announced in the way that our rules dictate. We'll make an announcement to everybody at the end of that game period and the start of the next. That’s about all I can tell you there. I've seen a lot of the speculation and we follow a lot of the chatrooms and the things that are involved with it, so we know what's said. But those are unofficial comments.

Will all the Game Periods be the same length or will things get successively longer or more difficult towards the end?

No, they will not become longer but they will become different. There will be different types of clues. That's one of the fun things about the way this game is structured. Had we put this game on a CD-ROM, then it would have been completely out of our hands. The game is gone, it's out there and whoever solves it, solves it. The beauty of this is that we can actually have some fun with the play and we get to monitor what goes on with it. We've created the game periods so that not every type of skill level will be overwhelming to everyone else. For example, if you're analytical, you might do very well in Game Period I but if you're more visual, you might do much better in Game Period II. So as you begin to look at the different aspects of it, we've created the storyline with those individual monthly challenges and the final end of the game to where it becomes multifaceted for people with different skill sets.

So each Game Period will have its own unique personality?

Yeah, it will. It'll have its own personality but it's still part of the whole evolving storyline, which makes it rich. If you think you have a pretty good handle on where the story is now, wait until Month two! We'll start to throw some additional curves at you and as you start to get into it, some of the things you may wonder about right now, like why a report says something odd, will start to become clear. That's the beauty of where this story becomes more of a reality, because we take not just a static game where you know you have to blow up these aliens on this level, to where you have to figure out what's really going on.

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