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The Work Of Diverse Hands
Before we wrap up Level 19, I thought it would be a good idea to say a little bit about the process of MAKING it. When we first took over the daily work of Dungeonaday.com, Owen and I had some long conversations about how we were going to approach the climactic levels of Dragon's Delve which were, not surprising, the least fleshed out in Monte's notes. The notes were clear that certain things HAD to happen, but they were written with the mindset that the details should be based on the material and foreshadowing that was going to be built into Levels 14-18 (where the Mages Four story line really started to come to the forefront).
I'm pretty sure it was Owen who came up with the idea of the "slide puzzle" format for the Entropy Engine, and that led immediately to the idea that each "room" could contain its own pocket dimension. With that on the table, I remember saying something like, "and if we want all the pocket dimensions to seem really unique, we could get different designers to make each one!"
We thought about that for a minute ... and then decided that it was a really cool idea!
High-level encounter design is a tricky matter, and there is a strong tendency for any designer to lean heavily on the elements with which he or she is particularly comfortable. If we wanted the eight pocket dimensions of the slide puzzle to really seem DIFFERENT, then it was almost imperative that we bring in some outside help to get them designed. And so the quest began.
We didn't want just any designers. In fact, given the challenge of designing for that level of PC, and the demanding standards we try to uphold for Dungeonaday.com, it was important that we get designers who really knew their stuff--and folks like that aren't usually just sitting around waiting for work to fall on their desks. But, with a little poking and prodding, and as much begging and whining as my dignity would allow, we pulled together a tight squad.
Charles M. Ryan, whom you all know from his work on Level 17 and Fane of the Sea God, took time away from his work on the After Dragon's Delve project to write Area 521.
Thomas M. Reid, best-selling novelist and former Forgotten Reams Creative Director, through his ineffable imagination together with a regrettable song-title-pun and gave us Area 525.
Jeff Quick, former Star Wars Insider Editor-in-Chief and current developer at AEG, had such great ideas that we asked him to do both Area 523 and Area 526.
Sigfried Trent, linchpin contributor to a slew of Open Design projects, the netbook of feats, and host of DDOCast, apparently had a bottomless wellspring of creative, unusual concept, and we had no choice but to have him design areas 522, 524, and 527.
And since we couldn't let the freelancers have ALL the fun, Owen and I held aside areas 528-530 for ourselves.
Now that the work's done and the encounters posted, I can look back and say that I am VERY pleased with how Level 19 has come together. It FEELS just the way I'd hoped it would when we started talking about it all those months ago, and I think we succeeded in pulling together something very special. PLUS it's a great penultimate challenge for Dragon's Delve.
Now it's on to the Court of Metterak ... and a final battle with the Dragon Prince!