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> What IF..._ - A Conversation with Robert Steggles (page
What “lessons” did you learn from writing The Pawn and how did that affect the writing of Guild?
I learned a lot about writing with handcuffs on. Writing adventure games then was a very restrictive form. You had to pare things down to the absolute essentials: location descriptions are little more than postcards, descriptions are usually no more than one line and you have to try and second guess everything the player will try. So Guild was much tighter and more polished.
The goodies for Guild were mainly written by Michael Bywater – did you have any kind of input on, for example, the “What Burglar” magazine?
Yes, a few of us did some stuff for the "What Burglar" magazine, but mostly it was Michael.
The game did extremely well and went on to win numerous awards. Did you actually expect that kind of success?
The awards, (and the award dinners!), were a great by-product of what we were doing and got us a lot of attention for which I’m very grateful
"Guild was much
- Rob Steggles
'The Guild of Thieves' - winner of the British Microcomputing
Game of the Year award in 1987
Before we move on to your next writing job for Magnetic Scrolls, let us briefly talk about Jinxter which was, again, written by Michael Bywater. What can you tell us about that?
Not a lot except that having Michael around was really helpful for me in terms of learning about writing. So well read, so professional and the 2000 word articles in the style of Dryden just tumbled out of him while I would still be scrabbling down the back of the sofa trying to grasp a phrase to describe some mundane thing like a carrot. He was very generous with his advice, so I asked questions and I listened.
So, on to Corruption then. How did that come about?
I’d met Dave Lebling and liked the Infocom murder mysteries. Even when we did Guild I wanted to do something different from standard fantasy and sci-fi adventure settings. I was looking at all sorts of genres and finally settled on doing a thriller and, as it was in the Thatcher era, setting it in London amongst the financial sharks seemed like a good idea at the time as it was a world I could get access to.
Corruption was a very different game
for a more adult target group
Corruption's gameplay was a refreshing and radical departure from your typical text adventure puzzles and really took the genre to a completely different level. Was that a very conscious decision or did that evolve due to the nature of the setting?
Yes, it was definitely an attempt to get away from standard adventure settings and try to address an older audience. We’d noticed that a small but noticeable part of people that played our games were older (than us - we were 20 at the time don’t forget!) folks with time on their hands and we wanted to write a game that they would play.
At this point I feel like making a confession - Corruption was a game I just couldn't finish in one go. I'd end up following one specific person per gaming session, going to different locations at different times, restarting and building upon the information gathered in the previous tries, slowly piecing together the information needed to solve the game in the final, perfect playthrough ... I suppose the game wasn't meant to be played that way, was it?
Believe it or not, it wasn’t a deliberate choice to do it that way and I think that if someone had made that comment about it during development we’d have stopped it because it wasn’t really ‘fair’ on the player. The impetus was that we wanted the player slowly to get the idea that people were conspiring against him and that he was alone. In fact, that’s a common thread with The Pawn – probably says quite a lot about me/us at that time ;-)
Anyway, enough of my lousy IF-gaming-skills ... you seem to have done a lot of research for this project - did you have an advisor or a consultant?
No single individual. Friends worked in banks and I quizzed them a lot. I got material for the end game from jury service. And my dad helped a lot too - he was a telephone engineer with BT and had access to a lot of those types of buildings and people. He got me in to a few offices and then I followed my nose and started talking to the traders and such like. I also remember going through the Insider Trading Act to get all the wording correct for the end game.
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