Epic (Third Review)

Title           Epic (Third Review)
Game Type       3D Combat Sim
Players         1
Compatibility   All Amigas (With WHDLoad Patch)
Company         Digital Image Design/Ocean
HD Installable  Yes (With patch)
Submission      Seppo Typpö (groucho@pp.inet.fi) Profiled Reviewer

I wrote the following story to Usenet newsgroup (comp.sys.amiga.games)
under thread "Games for August: Epic and The Lost Vikings". As the thread
title suggests it was a discussion about two Amiga games - Epic being one of
them. The general consensus in the thread was that while being a technical
feast and moderately entertaining experience Epic is somewhat flawed as a
game. The manual contains errors and lots of useless information. The gameplay
has certain problems and should have been more thoroughly tested. It feels
like each part of the game development process (coding, game design, manual
and playtesting) has been done separately and in a hurry, without good enough
interaction between the teams responsible.

The tale that follows tries to take a more humorous approach into what
happened during the final day of the development of Epic. It is completely
fictional story - none of persons introduced in it are real and events
happening during the story have never happened in real life. At least I hope
so...anyway, on with the story of:


Imagine a nice country house near a lake. The company producing Epic -
Ocean - has kindly reserved this building for the development of the game.
The house has four rooms: one room is occupied by Digital Image Design
team, the Epic manual team works in the second room, playtesters are
located on the third room while the fourth room is the office of the Ocean
project manager responsible for the whole product development.

There is one strange thing in the architecture of the house - the DID,
manual and playtester rooms are not directly connected to each other -
there are no doors between them, no connecting telephone lines nor common
computer network.  All communication and data exchange between the three
teams has to be done through the Ocean manager in the fourth room.

It was an ordinary working day. A phone rang in the Ocean manager's
office. Being in middle of glancing through the latest Playboy mag and
sipping a pint of ale the manager cursed the interruption and picked up
the phone. He then forced a friendly tone into his voice and and asked:

"DID team here, sir. The release date you mentioned six months ago is
tomorrow, and we would like to know if the playtesters and manual team are
happy with the product", a man's voice said. The manager quickly went
through his contact list and replied:

"Well, Michael - "

"It's Martin, sir." said the voice.

"Yes, of course. Let me do couple of phone calls, and I'll get back to you".

The call ended. The manager wiped the sweat from his hands and dialed the
manual team number. A friendly female voice replied:

"Susie's Escort Service, how may I help you?"

The manager cursed and was about to hang up when the woman continued:
"Relax, boss. It was just a joke. Remember you phoned us last week,
drunk as a skunk and thought this was the Susie's Escort Service?"

A moment of awkward silence followed, then the manager said quietly: "How are
you progressing with the manual, erm..."

"Sally, sir", said the woman. The friendliness in her voice was gone.
"Frankly, it is a mess, sir. We still know very little about the game.
Based on some text and drafts the DID team sent to us and after watching
"The Last Starfighter" 10 times in a row, we managed to get a rough idea.
Can you please ask DID to provide us with more precise information?"

"I'll check with the DID team and I'll get back to you",  said the manager
and quickly hung up. He then took special care to dial the proper number
of the playtesters team.

"Hello, boss-dude", said the high pitched voice. "We ran out of Coke and
chips, can you bring some when you come here to meet us?"

"Rodney, I need a status report for the DID team", the manager said,
calmly ignoring the request. He had no intention to visit the playtester
room - especially after that cute looking female playtester had refused to
go out with him and shortly after that, left the team.

"Well, the game seems to have couple of serious bugs and the playability is
still not quite right, sir. We have sent the bug report with improvement ideas
to you. Should be on your desk, sir."

"Well done, Rodney", the manager said and hung up. He felt uneasy - just
yesterday he had collected all unnecessary paper work from his desk and fed
them to the shredder.

He started to go through the papers he still had on the desk when the Red
Phone rang. The moment he had feared had come. Again he wiped his sweaty
hands and with a slightly trembling hand picked up the device which
connected him to the top of the Ocean manager pyramid.

"Is it ready?", asked a low-pitched, calm voice with a tone which made the
blood of the manager freeze. It's the CEO himself, he thought. Don't panic!

"There are couple of very minor issues we need to clarify but otherwise we
are progressing well", the manager said carefully. A deep silence fell.
After a time which felt like eternity the voice in the phone asked:

"How long?"

"I estimate 2-3 mo-, erm, weeks, sir."  the manager uttered.

"I'll give you three days" the voice in the phone said. "After that - the
game on my desk, or your resignation."

Suddenly the call was over. The manager sat in his chair quietly, thinking
over his options. The CEO had called his bluff. There was only one way to

He decided to first call that annoying woman.

"Sally, I discussed with the CEO about your progress. We agreed to give you
three days to complete the manual and sent it for the press. The CEO hopes
you can help him to get the game to market on time"

"But, but..." the woman uttered. "It is not a very useful manual in its
current state."

"The exact message to you from the CEO was "in three days, the manual on
his desk or your resignation"."

"All right", said the woman with sadness in her voice.

"Playtester team here, sir! Still waiting for those Cokes and chips", said
the cheery Rodney when the manager called him. Again, ignoring the request
the manager said:

"Rodney, I have discussed the work of the playtesting team with the CEO
and he was very worried about your progress."

A silence fell. The manager lit up a cigarette before continuing: "You
think you could complete the game testing in three days?"

"I guess so, though those bugs we reported...", Rodney started.

"Will be forwarded to DID team", interrupted the manager. "Can I tell the
CEO you agreed to his plan?"

"Yes...of course", Rodney said and hung up. One more phone call to make.

"Good news, Martin!", the manager yelled. "The manual team are ready for

"They are?" said the bewildered Martin. "And the gametesters?"

"They seem to be quite happy", the manager said and glanced through the
bug report he had just found. He would have to send this to DID, but it
would be "lost" for three days before arriving.  "I think we are good to
go, can you send the game for duplication?"

"Sounds like everything is in order then" said Martin, sounding even more
confused. "We'll ready an image for duplication today."

"Excellent, see you at the wrap-up party then", said the manager.
"I'll give the news to our CEO. Hope to work with you again some time

Category list.

Alphabetical list.