Reaping the Dungeon Trivia (DOS)
Reaping the Dungeon author Ron Heuse speaks with MobyGames about the making of his game.
MobyGames Ron, what was your inspiration for Reaping the Dungeon?
Ron Heuse It was a build up of gaming experiences starting around the late 1980's. I played a room to room text style dungeon game called Kingdom of Kroz by Scott Miller (Apogee Software). "Kroz" is Zork (late 1970's game) spelled backwards. It was a very big success and was the first computer game ever to release part of itself for free. This shareware marketing model with the simplicity and addiction of the game caught my attention. Now my antennas were up. But of course pleasure had to come before business so off I went looking for more! I then started playing most all of the RPG dungeon crawler games like Larn, NetHack, Omega, etc., but the one that I spent the most time on was a game called Moria. It was big, deep and rich with loot. The greatest dungeon crawler experience I still remember. Oddly enough I never did play the original to this whole genre of dungeon crawlers called Rogue even to this day.
MobyGames What was your personal situation when you developed the game?
Ron Heuse I was 26 at the time and was at a fork in the road. Down the one road, I had just started a small business idea I had involving senior citizens and it went very well so very quickly. Then down the other road I have a half finished game called Reaping the Dungeon. I couldn't do both. Coming home one day from the seniors building I remember making the decision. That was my last day with the seniors. I then spent the next few months coding and got Reaping the Dungeon finished.
MobyGames How long did it take to develop the game? What technology did you use?
Ron Heuse It was off and on for 9 months but took about 5 months full time. I wrote the game using a combination of Microsoft QuickBasic 4.5 and assembly code routines. I also remapped the text characters to simulate graphics even though it was still text. You were able to do that on PCs with EGA video cards or later.
MobyGames What was the biggest challenge?
Ron Heuse Marketing. Next would be balancing the game. Reaping the Dungeon does not allow a player to go back and do a few easy levels over and over again to boost up their character's equipment and abilities. This has the design danger of a player falling to far behind and rarely being able to catch up OR a snowball effect in becoming too easy if they are on a good run.
MobyGames When was Reaping the Dungeon first released, and how?
Ron Heuse It was released in late 1993 with about 200 demos going out to the shareware vendors and also uploads to the BBS systems which were still very popular around then. Even though Reaping the Dungeon was somewhat late on the tree of dungeon crawlers, I think a lot more distribution would have placed it in a situation at that time where I would have done a few more episodes.
MobyGames Publisher feedback wasn't encouraging?
Ron HeuseThe shareware vendors who received my demos at the time were only interested in getting something free that works and is of good enough quality. They could sell it on a floppy disk usually for a few dollars in the way of a "disk copying fee". It was a kind of controlled arrangement between shareware authors and distributors that worked for everyone. Back then, a shareware author would usually release a product with built-in written permission for shareware vendors to distribute under certain conditions. So when they would get a product like this they usually just did their thing and you would not hear from them. I don't recall any feedback from that avenue.
MobyGames In a later release, you changed the name from "Reaping the Dungeon" to "Dungeon Rogue". Why?
Ron Heuse "Dungeon Crawler" and "Rogue type game" were very common ways to reference a game such as this. The change I thought would make it more recognizable as being that style of play. Also at the time of renaming I was working on some screen designs for a new Windows graphical version in case there was a hungry fan base for more.
MobyGames What became of that version?
Ron Heuse Nothing. I must have that main screen for the graphical version laying around on some hard drive someplace. I just recently moved so trying to find it now would have the odds of using a teleporting mushroom and landing right beside the drop shaft (untagged).
MobyGames How content are you with RtD?
Ron Heuse Many of the ideas and approaches I took I'm fairly content with. Many small game projects like this can go unfinished. This being my first public released game seems to have done the right thing at the right time for me. Even to this day I learn from it.
MobyGames Has the game been a success?
Ron Heuse Financially no, but the design, programming and marketing aspects of it were a great investment.
MobyGames In hindsight, is there something you should have done differently?
Ron Heuse The one thing I regret is that I did not spend enough time after the game was done to refine and balance it. That last 5% that's equal to the first 95% as they say, I wish I spent a lot more time on. I wish I made the game a lot sooner. I had what I needed to make it about 4 to 5 years earlier. Then I'm sure many more episodes would have followed. Also one change that would have made a very significant difference is giving the creatures ranged attacks.
MobyGames You had plans to develop the game further?
Ron Heuse Yes. I was going to make it module based where the next one was a sequel where after you make it to the surface you then roam the planet's surface. Jupiter has GOT to have some kind of surface, no? The 3rd module was then going to be in space. In module 2 players would be picking up all sorts of spaceship parts and not know why. I still have notes laying around someplace on all the crazy shops there was going to be, even a software store where your character could have bought a new application tool to help his adventures, kind of like an interface add-on. So many crazy things to add! I enjoyed every minute of its development so there is always a chance in future that I would make another one. I still get an e-mail on it from time to time and that's when it starts to swirl again.
MobyGames What's your favorite creature in the game?
Ron Heuse The "Rubble Crab" as it was my first to create and was just right in every way with what it did and didn't do as a first encountered creature. It was a good struggle based on your current abilities. The "Blaze Bubble" is close though with its fat presence just turning up beside you all of a sudden with both a worried look on its face and one of intentions. I just remembered the laugh I had when I put this thing in. The death of a Blaze Bubble (its honorable one) seems to just sound right on a PC speaker.
The second episode, The Machine, originally cost $11.95. The commercial distribution has long since been discontinued. Interested players can now get the full version for free from the author Ron Heuse if they link from their website to his. For details check out www.heuse.com/free.html.