Terry Pratchett's words and worlds have inspired generations of film-makers, game designers and more. There is not enough time to delve into all that I want to talk about in depth in my week-long tribute to the great man, so here is a little primer into to other things Discworld from the ZX Spectrum to our tabletops...
THE COLOUR OF MAGIC (ZX Spectrum, 1986)
Based on the first-ever Discworld novel, which was only three years old at this point, The Colour of Magic also appeared on the Commodore 64 and the Amstrad CPC. This was also a time when Sir Terry was still working as a Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board. It would be another year before his written work would become popular enough to become a full-time creator of worlds.
The Disc's first foray into interactivity written by Fergus McNeill (Carmageddon, Gender Wars) is a somewhat atypical text adventure. There were staples to this genre that The Colour of Magic did not adhere to making for a frustrating experience rather than a fresh one. Usually in such games when you move you would type North, South etc. The designers here have tried to be clever by replacing the compass with Discworld specific terms like Hubward, Rimward, Turnwise and Widdershins. This makes even the simplest action of walking somewhere or moving something much more frustrating. You have to pay great attention, often taking time to remember what the Discworldian term for North is. The parser is also very counter-intuitive. For example, to have a conversation you'd first need to "TALK TO" them, then say "SAY" before saying what you want to say.
This accentuated what I don't like about these types of games. You're not working out puzzles in order to proceed, but attempting to guess the mindset of the programmers and how they wanted you to do it. The variety of the English language makes for so many possibilities that it becomes maddening. On the flip-side it makes you appreciate the free-flowing and excellently designed interactive fiction that Infocom created a lot more.
Want to give it a try? You can do by downloading the game blow.
This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses Speccy to emulate it on PCs. Tested on Windows 7.
01.07.2015 - Version 2 - Improved installer
File Size: 2.5 Mb. Install Size: 3.6 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
The Colour of Magic is © Delta 4 Interactive
Discworld (the universe) is © Terry Pratchett
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me
SOUL MUSIC / WYRD SISTERS
Produced by Cosgrove Hall for the UK's Channel 4, Soul Music and it's sequel Wyrd Sisters are particularly noticeable for being the first full length dramatised adaptations of any Discworld novel. While the animations will never be confused to that of a Disney film, they are certainly pretty good for a lower budget British show in 1997. And for one that's not particularly aimed at kids.
If you could pick any one thing that these adaptations do right, it's the casting of Christopher Lee as Death. I can't think of a perfect voice for the all-caps speaking character and one that the recent Sky One adaptations felt the need to duplicate in The Colour of Magic.
The DVDs are unfortunately out of print, but you can view them on YouTube HERE.
THE WITCHES (BOARD GAME)
In 2013, Treefrog Games released a board game entitled Terry Pratchett's The Witches. It is a pseudo-sequel to their Ank-Morpork game, which I have yet to play.
This game offers a fun if rather slight experience that sees you play as one of four trainee witches tasked with helping the residents of Lancre in order to learn your craft. You do this by rolling dice to reach a certain number in order to resolve the problems represented as tiles. These come in green easy tiles or purple hard ones.
The easy tiles are a little too easy. So easy that defeating them becomes a little boring after a while. The true fun begins when attempting the hard tiles. These problems are far more perilous than 'Sick Pig' or 'Pregnancy' and are impossible to do with dice alone. You'll need to use cards to help you and if you still fail, different effects will happen.
If you're interested in this game or the more backstabbing original they are available to buy on Amazon. You can visit Treefrog's home page here for more information.
In 1992, a fan-made MUD (or Multi-User Dungeon) was released and had become so popular it is still running to this day with regular updates. Essentially being a precursor to today's MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), these text-based games can take a lot of time and effort to get into. They also suffer from the same flaws as the modern counterparts in that new players have a tough time in a sea of seasoned and far more powerful players.
I didn't have much of a chance to get to grips with the game so I cannot give you much of an idea of what is involved. Since Sir Terry's death, the servers have been overloaded with fans and players coming back to the service.
PC Gamer does have a wonderful article that describes it much better than I could - mainly because he could actually play it. You can read it here.
You can play the mud here.
Terry Pratchett was one of a kind and someone whose crazy inventiveness, warmth and hilarious imagination will forever be a big part of my life. I think his family said it best:
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.