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Old 02-08-2015, 03:56 PM   #1
ATMachine
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New Thoughts on Brian Moriarty's The DIG

Hey guys!

I am really, really sorry for disappearing for several years. I never left the Internet (you can see me on other forums under this same name), but I've had my attention elsewhere. It's weird to hear me saying it, but.... I kind of lost interest in graphic adventure games for several years.

That changed recently.

You see, I've come into possession of some code that appears to have been used for Brian Moriarty's The DIG.

And not just any code.... it appears to have dealt wtih the variables that were used to govern the scripts used in the game's ending.

This in fact suggests several things:

1) If you wanted to, it seems, you could summon extra astronauts from the shuttle to explore the asteroid's core at the beginning of the game. This probably had a bearing on the fact that the game artists drew TWO different versions of the asteroid core--it would change based on your choice of teammates.

Additionally, this means the crew would have been more diverse than was suspected from pre-release press reports and screenshots.

2) When one of your crewmates died, it was possible to keep them alive. Not only via the life crystals--but also perhaps by uploading their minds into a robotic shell. (Think of C-3PO, or the Robot Maria in Metropolis.)

3) Connected with this point, there was likely a body-swap machine, which would allow the crewmembers to switch physical forms--male and female alike.

4) The game was seriously adult. Not only in violence (Toshi's death involved being melted alive in an acid bath!) but also in sexuality. Think of some of the stuff in Arthur C. Clarke's novel Rendezvous with Rama and you'll get the general idea.

5) Low could assert his authority much more than in the final game. For instance, he could try to order the crew to do things they didn't want to do. However, the crew members would resent this, and would rebel in greater or lesser ways.

6) Judging by the screenshots, the life crystals had a counterpart. Let's call them "release crystals." These were sets of three sharp, spiky red crystals--which usually came contained in egg-like shells, one apiece, for ease of transport.

Their purpose was simple. Stab anyone with three of them together, and you would give them a merciful death. This could be used to ease the passing of a mortally injured crewmate.

Additionally, however, if you used BOTH the life crystals and the release crystals on someone, they would be completely healed, in mind and body.

(Think of the magic running boots, powered by green and red crystals, in Brian Moriarty's earlier text adventure Trinity.)

7) You actually had a LOT more control over who lived and who died than in the released version.

You could let your crewmates die, or save them, or bring them back--as long as you knew how to solve the requisite puzzles properly. Some of the puzzles involved dialogue, and these were likely made more challenging by the pictorial interface used for talking to your fellow astronauts.

And, just as in Fate of Atlantis, Boston Low could likely die if you screwed up too badly.

Even the final puzzle, carried over to the released game--the opening of the Eye Between the Worlds--apparently involved a set of choices.

In Sean Clark's version, Maggie sacrifices her own life so that Boston Low can rescue the Cocytans. But in Brian Moriarty's version, Low could, it seems, volunteer to do that himself.

Of course, since in this version the Eye was actually a gateway to Heaven itself, Low ended up in the same place regardless.

There, the godlike aliens whom he met would have given him an additional choice.

He would be able to decide his own fate, and those of his crew. Should they be restored to life on Cocytus; returned to Earth; remain dead; or, perhaps, something else entirely?

8) I think, most likely, this was the best-case scenario for winning the game.

The number of teammates chosen to explore the asteroid at the outset of the game was probably not relevant to the overall ending, so I'll ignore that variable for now.

Boston Low saves as many teammates as he can--before or after their death.

He and his crew try out the body-swap machine and the android bodies, and he lets his crew stay in whatever forms they like best.

Boston chooses to sacrifice himself to open the Eye. And, in Heaven before the aliens, he asks them to let his crewmembers have whatever destinies they would themselves choose. But for himself, he submits to the aliens' judgment... and is therefore rewarded with the choice of his own destiny.

PS: To whoever sent me this code (you know who you are): thanks!


Last finished game: The DIG
Currently playing: The Secret of Monkey Island
To play list: LOOM
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:34 PM   #2
ssdsa
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Welcome back! And wow, really interesting. Was that code written in SCUMM or in C? Did it contain "long" variable names or insighful comments? Did you receive the code in digital form or was it some scanned print-outs?
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Old 02-09-2015, 09:47 PM   #3
ATMachine
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I can't say about the code--I don't know SCUMM syntax very well. But also, SCUMM's own language as used by the LEC coders was (as I understand it) quite different from the end product in the resource files.

There were only a few comments, so my understanding of it is still imperfect. But I saw enough to lay a foundation for some inspired guesses as to the storyline.

I received it via computer, by the way. I still have it, and I've started to ask around with old LucasArts veterans for some clarification as to its meaning.


Last finished game: The DIG
Currently playing: The Secret of Monkey Island
To play list: LOOM
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:29 PM   #4
ATMachine
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According to this podcast interview, Brian Moriarty himself says that he managed to get his version of The DIG to a playable alpha stage before he left LucasArts.

My question is: does that build still exist somewhere.... and if so, might it yet see the light of day at some point?


Last finished game: The DIG
Currently playing: The Secret of Monkey Island
To play list: LOOM
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