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> What IF..._ - A Conversation with Robert Steggles (page
Do you happen to know who came up with the actual name 'Magnetic Scrolls'?
I think it was one of Anita’s friends but that doesn’t really help you much; sorry about that.
Why did Ken, Hugh and Anita come to you to write a scenario for their first game? Did you have any writing experience prior to writing The Pawn?
I had no paid experience of writing (and it showed) but I had done lots of games for various folks at school, including Ken and Hugh, which is why, I guess, they and Anita decided to ask me to have a go at it..
Rob Steggles wrote three scenarios that were released by Magnetic Scrolls
Which system did you use for writing the games? Was it difficult to adapt to that system, learning its “language”, so to speak?
Ken and Hugh were the programming geniuses: I knew a bit of 6502 but not enough to go to their level. So I was given a data entry tool called Fred23 (a glorified text editor), a model of the 14 byte data structure and told to get on with defining objects and writing room descriptions and making it all fit together. I wonder if my gravestone will read “noun “Robert Steggles”, adj=”grumpy”, person, size=15, weight=15, container=no, sharpness=dull etc etc ...
How did you tackle the task of designing The Pawn?
The creation process always started with a “What if….” phrase. Hugh was very good at these. In fact, he’d been doing it all through school so we’d been trained by him in lateral thinking from an early age.
Generally speaking, how did the process of designing puzzles work for you back then?
Using the word ‘design’ makes it sound like we had a grand plan thought out over many months of agonizing over analyst presentations and consulting focus groups. If we liked it, it was good. There was no pressure to articulate why but usually if it made us laugh it was good. If we thought it was a bit dull, it got cut.
This is something I've always wanted to know - whose idea was it to condemn poor old Jerry Lee Lewis to hell?
It’s his own fault. It was going to happen sooner or later. You can’t write 'Great Balls of Fire' and not have that happen to you.
Certainly you couldn't have used all of the ideas, characters, puzzles or sub-plots you wanted to put into the game. Were there many things that didn't make it into the finished game?
Many, but don’t ask me to remember what they were. I wanted to make a lot more of the election and King Erik’s palace but political stories and that level of AI (good though it undoubtedly was) don’t really mix too easily.
Did you have anything to do with the writing of the "A Tale of Kerovnia" novella that came with the game?
No, I had nothing to do with that. I’d quite like to have been asked but realistically I wouldn’t have got it done in time as I was at University, and I guess Ken and Anita knew that.
The Killer killing time in hell ... if he only had something to cool things off a little (Amiga/Atari ST)
What were your initial thoughts when you saw Geoff Quilley’s pictures? Do you think they contributed a lot to the success of The Pawn and the later games?
Just “Wow”. And they were hugely significant in my view – what else was a journalist going to put in a magazine. They were, at the very least, responsible for a lot of publicity.
After you completed "The Pawn" you went on to write Guild of Thieves, in my opinion one of the finest text adventure games ever written ...
Thanks for the compliments about Guild. It was certainly a lot more accessible and coherent than The Pawn. While The Pawn definitely put us on the map, I think by most other measures Guild was the most successful game we did. The story itself was nothing particularly original – collect the treasures – but the feeling of joining a club certainly helped its popularity I think.
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