Interview with Zak Jarvis

My recollection is that I hopped onto IRC and chatted up John Hendrikx. IRC is how I handled most things in those days. I may have sent him a bunch of tileable textures.

Development started before I came on board, and the earliest files I have are dated February 1995, the latest are January 1996.

Initially I came on just to do tiles and monsters. I don't remember how I ended up writing the story for it, or if the story I wrote ever became the official background for the game. I know the readme file credits Chris Mair. Maybe what I have is an elaboration on his story. It's been so long now that I'm just not certain, and I absolutely defer to anyone who remembers better than I do.

Brilliance and Steve Worley's Forge + Essence I & II, Vista Pro, ADPro, Imagine.

Somewhere around 25 textures. Most are variations. Some are animated. I also modeled and animated two monsters and began a third. All that work is lost now. Backed up on a Bernoulli drive that stopped working years ago.

I recall that initially I was working off a fairly standard 8bit RGB palette slice (I think I might've derived it from a Mac). Later on John Hendrikx opened up the engine to full 24 bit textures and I started working in either full 24 bit or in custom 8bit palettes. That, I believe was the 5.7 release. I have a mysterious version, labeled 'ProgB', which I think is a tiny bugfix of the 5.7 release.

A lot of that was my doing, and the idea was only half-baked. The games that had influenced me the most were Dungeon Master and Black Crypt. I wanted to bring that sort of experience to the more outright FPS style gameplay.

The hazy plan was a trilogy of games (I hadn't grown out of believing that fantasy stories come in threes yet). The player begins as an evil wizard that's been defeated by the good guys and imprisoned in a dungeon full of the nasty things he made. You could either attempt to redeem yourself or become a bigger bad guy. The idea never got far enough for me think in any depth (that I can remember) about mechanics for that.

I recall we had discussed that, but sadly all my IRC logs are gone and I don't remember anymore. The tiles I made covered a wide range of possible locations.

Yeah. It was fun to play with too, and I still have a working copy. Milka -- Michael A. Krehan -- wrote it and it was a very solid piece of work. The one thing it lacked was a BSP compiler, so while you can load, edit and save maps, they can't be brought into the game. The idea was to get people working with the editor while John Hendrikx If you contact him, and he's okay with it, I'd be happy to provide the files to the editor.

My memory of the project is that only Chris Mair and me were otherwise unemployed and had a lot of time to devote. Early on, Chris went away to College, then Michael got swept off into compulsory military service and John became snowed under with work at University. Losing John and Michael mortally wounded the project. Then I was hired on to do art for several other games (which also never saw the light of day). I stayed in touch with Steve Bara for a couple of years after TextDemo/Shade faded but I've not heard from anyone in ages. Surprisingly, in doing research to answer your questions I discovered that Michael moved to San Diego just a few years after I did. Now I have to look him up!

Not very. We were at the stage where it had become clear we needed a design document to move forward, but by the time we'd started putting it together we'd lost both Michael and John to that pesky real life thing people were talking about so much back then.

I think I tried out the demo of Poom, but wow, it's been a *long* time.

I am. I've had art published in a pretty wide variety of venues, from Taschen's 'Digital Beauties' book to Spectrum 9. Lately I've been much more focused on writing. I recently finished my first novel and I have a bunch of short stories in the pipeline.