Okay, first off: I didn't "interview" Laurence Brothers. I don't know how to properly conduct an interview. I did trade some e-mails with him and got some background information on the game. I'll drop in his quotes when appropriate. His most important insight was that "almost everything in the game comes from some fictional reference," including mythology. I'm catching some of them. There's The Maltese Falcon above, and I found a (useless) "sword that was broken" that I imagine is a Lord of the Rings reference (I also have some lembas wafers). Is the Goblin King a reference to Labyrinth, or is that too generic? We have deities from different pantheons: Odin (Norse), Athena (Greek), Set (Egyptian), and Hecate (Roman), and of course the Oracle is Greek. The "Lords of Destiny" might be a reference to a 1985 Dr. Who roleplaying game. The curse in Romani, which an anonymous commenter translated a couple of days ago, comes from a book by Charles de Lint ("yeah, it turns out that curse is a lot more vile than I thought"). I've probably missed a million others.
I don't think Mr. Brothers looked at my blog even after I invited him to, but it's funny how similarly we write and think about games. "One of my proudest achievements in school," he writes, "was winning a Rogue game fair and square without hacking it at all." Indeed, this is what started my blog! He notes that when you die in Rogue, "you just gnash your teeth and start a new game," which I had phrased as, "dying, screaming, and reloading." He does say that he intended Omega to be as hard as it is, and he deliberately implemented permanent death with Rogue-style difficulty in mind.
However, he notes that, "Omega is actually not that hard if you know all the tricks and secrets," and he suggested that one of them was hacking the ATM machine in Rampart for some extra cash (I haven't done this yet). Ironically, since I announced a couple of days ago that I would be cheating at Omega by backing up my saved games, I have only died twice. An anonymous commenter wrote yesterday that once you gain a few levels, "your character becomes much more durable," and I'm finding that to be true.
Let's talk about the things I've done and discovered since the last posting.
- I owe a debt to yet another anonymous commenter (what's with all these anonymous folks lately?) for explaining the "Combat Maneuver Sequence." Not only was I being inefficient in my combat, I also wasn't using all of the actions that I could have taken. No wonder the fights were so hard.
- I got down to Level 6 of the Goblin Caves. I still haven't found the king yet. I keep returning to Rampart every time my pack is full, where my kind associates at the Thieves' Guild identify all my items for 5 gold pieces each. Man, I wish there was a similar option in NetHack. On my first trip to the caves, I realized belatedly that I had wandered over there with just a club. I got a great axe from a goblin chieftain, but Kibfizma turned out to suck with it for some reason, and I ended up using a dagger until I found something better.
- I've joined two more factions. I became an acolyte of the Lords of Destiny and an associate of the Sorcerer's Guild. It appears that as you gain experience, your various guilds promote you and give you new advantages (the Sorcerer's Guild gives spells, for instance).
- I've won maybe eight combats in the arena (where I am a gladiator). These winnings entitled me to credits at a local gym, where I find that working out buffed up my statistics considerably. I went from 15 strength to 18 after a few turns on the weight machine. I'm guessing that the Collegium Magii (which I have not yet enrolled in) does something similar for intelligence and power.
- As I said, I've died twice. Once was in the arena, when I faced Tyron the Apprentice Ninja. I was confused when I couldn't see my opponent at first. It dawned on me that he's a ninja just as he disemboweled me.
- That freaking ghost continued to chase me around town for ages, immune to melee attacks, immune to magic missile. It wasn't until I got firebolt from the Sorcerer's Guild that I was finally able to kill the bastard.
- I won a fair amount of money at the casino. The slots advantage the house as bad as in Vegas, but roulette seems to offer roughly even odds.
- I found a brothel in town and paid a few hundred gold for the night. It wasn't really worth it.
- I took a break from the Goblin Caves to go find the Archdruid. It was a bit anticlimactic. He lives in a forest hut surrounded by priests, angels, and demons, and the only thing he did for me was to offer a "ritual of neutralization" that recovered my alignment from chaos. Returning to Rampart, the Oracle now tells me to check out the Goblin Caves. Great! I was already on that.
Finding the Archdruid's hut in the forest. You get hungry absurdly fast in the game. To make it here and back, I had to carry 25 buckets of fried lizard parts (from Chronicles of Amber?).
- I'm developing a reasonably good inventory. A cutlass +2 for my primary weapon, a blessed round shield +2 and blessed soft leather armor +5. I got some boots of agility and a "ring of brass and glass +4" whose purpose is actually slightly confusing to me.
I thought the moon's phase as "gibbous" must be another fantasy reference, but it turns out that's a real word, meaning between half and fully illumunated. Another thing I learned from CRPGs.
For his inspiration to write the game, Mr. Brothers credits the "obvious" realization that Rogue-like gameplay "could be expanded out of its one simple dungeon to...a larger world." However, he says that the real reason was "mainly to avoid working on a Ph.D., which I in fact never got, so it was a successful project from that point of view." Ironically, I am blogging about Omega to avoid working on a Ph.D., but Mr. Brothers consoles me that "you can stay ABD forever if the chairman likes you." I guess I'd better stop playing so many games or start sucking up.