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Dark Haven 2 June 11, 2000

It started quietly at first - an uneasy feeling at night, rising tension amongst the guilds, missing people, sightings of strange demonic. But there is no denying it any longer, something is terribly wrong beneath the city of Dark Haven. In an attempt to stem this flow, the guilds have put aside their differences, and sent expeditions into the sewers below the city to investigate. Sensing the gravity of the situation, the entrances to the sewers were then magically sealed as a final barrier between the city and whatever evil lay beneath. You are an unfortunate explorer, about to be caught in the adventure of your lifetime.

'Dark Haven 2: The Eyes of Kings' is the latest Palm OS RPG from Gasgorf Software built on an enhanced version of the award winning Ackeron: Dark Sun engine. Some of the more prominent changes include: a switch to the fantasy genre, enhanced replayability, a dozen new skills, a new encounter system that allows you to sneak, steal, ambush or barter, five guilds with truly different game-play, new art and UI, and a huge new story.

We had a chance to talk with Geoff Hulten at Gasgorf Software and asked the following questions.

> Gasgorf software consists of yourself and Jake Murakami. Could you give us some background info about how the company was formed?

Jake and I have been friends since we were in first grade together, and we' ve been talking about computer games almost as long. Over the years we probably made 5 or 6 starts at writing games together; we've always known we wanted to start a company like Gasgorf. Then, three years ago, Jake was finishing college near Seattle and I was heading to Seattle for grad school. We thought that there would never be a better time for a serious attempt at making it in computer games; we got an apartment together and Gasgorf Software was born.

There are a couple other people who have been important to Gasgorf Software. Erik Vee is a friend of mine from grad school and he did most of the creature artwork, some important testing, and had a bunch of great ideas that contributed a lot to the designs. Keawe Ho is a friend of ours from high school who is very involved in all aspects of Eyes. Alane Fieldson is an artist we met on the Internet, she is working on art for Eyes; we are lucky we found her.

> Dark Haven 2 uses an updated version of the Ackeron game engine. Is there a particular reason you decided to do a sequel to Dark Haven and not Ackeron?

There are two main reasons. First, we kind of promised a Dark Haven sequel a couple places and we want to make good on that promise. Second, we think that by hopping between genres we are able to keep things fresh; it's more fun for us and we think that when we are having fun we come up with better games.

> What would you say is the best new feature of the game engine?

We call the feature that I'm most excited about the 'encounter engine'. It is a wrapper around combat that allows you to talk, sneak, ambush, and steal from the creatures you bump into. This gives more interesting ways for us to differentiate the guilds and should make the game much more fun to replay with a different guild. For example, some guilds will be very powerful but will have to fight a lot; some won't be as strong, but will actually be able to trade with and get healing from some of the beings they encounter. Further, your opponents remember how you've treated them in the past and react accordingly.

We found that many of our customers like to play through our games once with each of the guilds. This feature, combined with some of the other new features and with our quest designs, should make the game much more enjoyable for those customers.

> Coming up with ideas for the storyline must be challenging. Where do you and Jake draw your inspiration from?

We read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books and we play a lot of computer games. I think we are most influenced by role-playing games we used to play on the apple IIe, some of the most memorable are: Wizards Crown & Eternal Dagger, Phantasy I, II & III, Bard's Tale I - IV, Wizardry I - VI, The Shard of Spring & Demon's Winter, Magic Candle. They were all great games that got by on game play and story without the benefit of fancy graphics.

> With the increasing popularity of the Palm IIIc, will your future games be in color?

Definitely, but there are a couple issues that kept us from investing in color for Eyes; color is still a small portion of the Palm market and there are several factors that make it more expensive and time consuming to produce games for the color devices. We anticipate that the Palm platform will continue to evolve: higher resolution screens, faster processors, better sound, more memory are all on the way. We hope that we achieve enough success with our first three products to be able to grow and evolve along with it.

> Are you considering developing for other platforms such as WindowsCE?

That's a tough one. On the one hand we could port our games and pick up some more sales, on the other we could spend that time working on a new game. For the near future we are going to focus on the Palm, but we keep reevaluating our options.

Dark Haven 2 should be available by Fall 00 (probably by the Summer, but we'd rather err on the side of safety at this point).

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