Jeremy, as both a devoted supporter of yours and one who has deep respect
for Dark's well-thought-out positions, I'm finding this discussion very
interesting.  First of all, kudos to you for being willing to listen and
take feedback.  So here's some more from, as I said, a devoted fan.

David Greenwood has a deserved following in the blind/vi gamers' market
because, while he produces titles at the speed of glaciers conquering
continents, when he does produce, he brings forth titles with a lot of
complexity, comparatively, and with well thought-out UI's (given the state
of the art at the time.)  Lone Wolf, despite not having been updated
since--- 2003???, still stands up well and with its mission editor has
nearly infinite replayability.  I don't know how many people played it at
the height of its popularity, or still do, but it still gets traffic here
and over on the GMA list.  There are still people playing Shades of Doom,
many of the same folk I'd guess who are now enjoying your Swamp title.  GMA
Tank Commander is also still doing well in terms of people playing it,
though I think it never hit as well as LW and SOD.

I think the success of these titles is in part due to the thought that went
into the interface.  It's possible to master the interface in a few hours of
game play, and once mastered, there are a lot of possible strategies for
winning the games, as well as playing styles that can work.  In LW,  you can
concentrate on stealth, and only take your shots when you're sure of them,
(the strategy I used to play with,) or you can be the ballsy skipper who
takes "down the throat" shots at incoming destroyers, rather than evading
them, with consequent adrenaline highs and high risk.  And you can do so in
part, because he has designed his speech interface to allow you to gather
data in time without significantly jiggering with the flow of the game.

Another part of the success is the fact that when they came out, each of his
titles did something no one had done in audio gaming, and that harked back
to a classical game style from video or computer gaming.  LW harked back to,
what was it called, something like Submarine, which was a detailed
simulation that ran on Macs, and perhaps Windows machines as well from the
late eighties.  Shades was I think the first FPS.  GMA Tank Commander also
broke ground, though less new ground rather than an elaboration of LW with
better soundscapes and more complex controls.  (And now you've ruined me for
SOD and GTC with your mouse controls which I now miss in both games.

Now, to bounce to a different subtopic, I know that you like working on
multiple projects, with quick feedback and changing challenges.  You excel
in this arena, with your good communication with your players, and your
willingness to put out a concept and see if it flies, sometimes in the face
of "tradition" for lack of a better word.

Now, how would you take this strength and bring it to the development of
longer projects?

Well, in Castaways and Swamp, you have the beginnings respectively of a
great military/economic simulation a la Civilization, and of a complex,
real-time multi-player FPS shooter/military simulation.  Castaways could be
expanded to include real-time, multi-player cooperative and competitive play
in a server-based world where player actions affect one another more
directly, where players build empires.  I think I mean Age of Empires for a
good comparison with mainstream titles.  You could implement roads, a more
complex trading economy, PVP military combat and shared threats (say a
zombie apocalypse, rather than the mission-driven play which is good for
teaching the system.  Again, this reminds me of AoE, with its tutorial
missions.

In Swamp, we have something rather different and more tactical.  Expand the
map, include consequences for the entire world of player actions or
failures, work out ways for players to cooperate more effectively and
communicate better, and you have a multi-user, real-time tactical game that
would have (theoretically) infinite replay value, as the world would always
be changing, depending on what the players do.

And I know you're working on a third project, which you gave me permission
to talk about, so I will, a fantasy RPG-style game.  Depending on what you
have in mind, this could also become a large, real-time, multi-player game
with complex combat, magic and such, either in the vein of Masters of Magic,
or another take on the Angband/Nethack style of game.  (By the way, I'm
really excited about this one as I have been a frustrated fan of both games
for years.)  Since Zombie does the FPS style, I'm hoping for a party-style
game like Ultima or MoM.  Again, if you set this game up with an
over-arching story, it could be amazing.

Now, these are all daunting-sounding projects.  If you tried to do them all
at once, and waited to release until you have finished projects, I'd expect
to be retired before seeing all of them.  But here's the thing.  You've
established a good working relationship with your fan base and we've shown
that we are willing to take things in chunks.  When Swamp first came out, it
was much less complex than what it is even now, and I understand more is
coming in the next update.  Castaways more than tripled in complexity
between the first release and its current state.

So, I think you can usefully keep on producing modular pieces to these and
other game projects, concentrating on an update for one, then an update for
the next, and so forth, gathering ideas in the meanwhile for each from the
discussions here and in the Audiogames.net forum.  It would require you to
limit yourself to a finite number of projects, but as each project comes at
the gaming question from a different angle, each would provide challenges
for you.  But there would also be common pieces.  Before long, you'd have a
gaming engine as an emergent property of your efforts.

Now, I'm with you however you decide to go, and I'm sure others are too.
This is one road map you could follow to use your talents and account for
your mindset, while producing larger and more complex titles that would rock
our worlds.

Submitted with respect,
Chris Bartlett



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