Dungeon Dregs: History

In the spring of 1997 I was contacted by a web design company who wanted a custom-made game for a particular theme website they were developing. A new TV series based on Conan the Barbarian was soon to be launched and they were competing for the contract to build the corresponding site.

They faxed me some detailed specifications of what the game should contain. Conan, trapped in a dungeon, was to free himself and the other prisoners while fighting guards. To aid him he would have a sword he could use to stab attackers and break down doors. As soon as he broke out of his prison cell, guards were to come running. The perspective would be a somewhat slanted top view, not unlike a rat labyrinth as seen by a lab technician. (I later managed to convince them that it didn't make much sense to imprison Conan with a sword. If he had access to any weapon, it would more likely be a heavy ball and chain, which are also more practical for breaking things.)

The size of the game had not yet been decided -- and someone else would make the final graphics -- so it had to be built in such a way as to be easy to modify later on. This is not the way I usually construct games, but implementing that flexibility proved relatively straightforward.

Seeing as I have made the game public, I assume you can guess what happened next -- or rather what didn't happen. The deal didn't go through. I was stuck with a half-finished game I had no real use for. Even if I added real graphics and sound, "Conan" would still be a big step backwards in terms of complexity, compared to 3D-Blox or Cross Section, and I didn't feel like listing it with my other games.

Also, Conan the Barbarian is a registered trademark of Marvel Comics. Without an official site I would not be allowed to use that character anyway and the game would have to be called something else. For a while I toyed with the idea of inventing a totally ridiculous character named "Macho Dude" (shown to the right), who would free overly endowed women from the clutches of mythical creatures (or something) -- and turn the applet into a parody of "typical" computer games. But the joke might not be obvious to the average visitor, so I decided against it and went on to other projects.

In the end I figured it would be a shame to just let the game go to waste. I wasn't going to use it myself, but many aspiring Java games programmers are desperate for something they can tweak and tune while learning the more advanced features of the language. Well, it's all yours, guys. Have fun!