Maurice Molyneaux's Design Work On...
My primary tasks on this title were to work out the various puzzles and character interactions in the game settings, as well as to flesh out the story. The environments had been laid out prior to my arrival on the project, but they were mostly maps lacking sufficient interactive elements. I worked with the developers to flesh out the gameplay throughout, determining placement of helpful and harmful creatures, hints, and puzzles.
Title: ECCO THE DOLPHIN: Defender of the FutureUPDATE: Recently ported to PS2 with only slight modifications to the design
Developer: Appaloosa Interactive
Published: August 2000 by Sega
Ever the scriptwriter, I also reworked the game story and wrote the dialogs and narration.
The game credits science fiction author David Brin for the story, but what Brin provided was a very sketchy outline of a plot that, frankly, reminded me too much of the film Star Trek: First Contact. Brin's work was merely a plotline, onto which I had to graft meat for the story. For example, the outline specified three different dolphin tribes for one game level, but there was no detail on what those tribes would be. Working from the game environment, character designs and puzzles I developed the entire backstory for the three tribes, their behaviors, rituals and dialogs. I did this kind of thing throughout the product.
- Hearing "Dr. Who" saying what I wrote.
Sega of Europe popped for Tom Baker -- the actor who played Dr. Who in more episodes than any other -- to do the narration of the game. Fun to hear lines I wrote recited by that voice.
- Slipping a Sega in-joke into the game.
Although a 3D game, there were two side-scroller levels, reminiscent of the original Ecco games for the Sega Genesis. I suggested calling the first of them the "Genesis Caves" as an homage to the platform Ecco first appeared on. In the final game that level is called "Caves of Genesis".
- The "Shrine of Controversy" stage. I'm very proud of that piece of the game, which, in my humble opinion is one of the most atmospheric things done to date in a video or computer game. Whereas most games games go for heightened tension or humor, this one stage has an overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness about it, with characters that border on tragic. Hats off to the programmers and artists to who made it look so sad and lonely, and to the musician whose score drove the point home. It also features the best dialogue I've written for a game.