Series 7, Quest 2. Nicola takes on the Trial by Spikes in Level 2.

The Quest 3.1: Lord Fear's Diary

By Keith McDonald

Lord Fear on the performance of his new challenges. Then a walkthrough of how they are made.

Lord Fear, the Leader of the Opposition, as played by Mark Knight in Series 6 of Knightmare (1992).

Goblins, but Winter is a dreary time!

If you ask me (and it's futile asking anyone else), then Winter ought to be abolished, along with elves, wizards, gnomes and dragons. Then you could add children to the list and life would be pretty near perfect, especially as abolishing winter conveniently takes care of Christmas.

The trouble with being really great at being bad is that Christmas can be a bit disappointing. Especially when the staff don't take the hint and do a bit of seasonal toadying to the boss. I have it on good authority that the Powers That Be make a right seasonal meal of it. Hordriss and Treguard even exchanged gifts!

Grief, but it would be a cold day in the goblin pens if Grippa and Rhark started gift-wrapping their old bones and leaving them out for yours truly.

It's not that I don't like presents, badness me no! But the odd DIY World Mastery kit from Lissard don't exactly set the sleigh-bells ringing.

No. The best thing is to forget all that pudding and tinsel rubbish and get down to some really serious bad business planning for next year. Yeah...that's what the off-season is all about - getting ready for the hunt to start again.

Let's take a look says I, at things that worked wicked, but could be even better (or worse, if you like it that way).

First off: the Death of Spikes. Not a bad little puzzle if I say so myself. Killed off four dungeoneers and scared the living night-lights out of a few others... Question is: now that they've all seen it, can it still cut the mustard?

The Trial by Spikes, as seen in Series 7 of Knightmare (1993).

Then there's the Firebomb chamber, and I've got to say I'm just a teensy bit disappointed in this one. A damp squib on the performance side. Only one victim, and that was a spare Goblin that got lost in the hunt. Note: must get Lissard to turn up the Mendacity Engine and get some more speed out of these blocks and fireballs. I keep telling him... we're making things too easy for the little beasts!

Play Your Cards Right... That's what I call a killer puzzle! Over fifty per cent wipe out rate and devilish obscure with it! I say keep it on but let's shuffle the pack a bit for next time.

The Play Your Cards Right challenge, as seen in Series 7 of Knightmare (1993).

Which brings us conveniently to the new stuff. Let nobody say of Lord Fear that he was not an innovator. Personally I find the old creative business only a tad less stimulating than the old destructive business.

That's why I've got the old feelers out for some really heavy techno-magical offensive hardware. I mean this tricksy stuff is all fine and dandy, but there's nothing like fire-power to get real respect.

As for the Powers That Be? Hasbeens and Wannabees, the lot of them! And the next crop of Dungeoneers? Goblin Fodder!

Floor puzzles

My guider informed me with dire dread in his voice that we had entered the infamous chamber containing the Death of Spears. With fear and trepidation I waited, heart in my throat, for the cautious commands that would guide me to success. As I side stepped fleet footedly across the death trap the creak of the spikes alerted me to their imminent release. Cold sweat making my skin clammy, I leaped aside, muttering a prayer to the patron saint of dungeoneers, St. Child. A spike was released with the ferocity of a mountain tiger, missing me by a hair's breadth as I collapsed into a safe position. A quick crawl, and I could try to fling myself through the doorway just before the ceiling collapsed, entombing me forever...

Just a taster of the kind of effect that the floor puzzles have on our intrepid dungeoneers. Floor puzzles have always been an important part of the Knightmare dungeon and they have developed enormously since the first couple of series. The Travelling Matte Company, who are responsible for generating the graphics for puzzles, chambers and wall monsters have been working on the programme since its first planning stages. The designers work closely with Tim Child to put his ideas on to the screen. Tim will have an idea about how to test the team's skill with moving spikes, paving stones or causeways and the design team will spend hours creating the three dimensional building blocks that go to make up a playable game.

A variant of the Firebomb Room / Moving Blocks without fireball ducts, as seen in Series 7 of Knightmare (1993).

This year there was an additional task, to create a new environment for Lord Fear. As you all know, his home was destroyed at the end of the last series and the sewers of Goth which have been built to replace it were a real challenge to the designers as well as the teams. Jake Knight, Kafat Lam, Robert Hemmings and Dave Edwards (Eggwoods) all worked together on the project using Silicon Graphics software - "Soft Image" and "Acrobat" to produce the environments.

The Sewers of Goth, as seen in Series 7 of Knightmare (1993).

The new Sewers of Goth only took about three days to build but then they went to Tim Child for approval and testing. Often minute changes need to be made which will take hours, for example the dock for the boat had to be exactly the right size for the real boat in the studio and the water in the sewers needed to move at exactly the right speed to look realistic. The more observant of you may have noticed that the flames in the torches on the walls of the sewers actually burn backwards, was this a deliberate mistake we ask ourselves?

Ideas for the next series are already mulling around in Tim's mind, I have a feeling that we are going to see even more computer generated environments creeping into the dungeons as the Powers that Be attempt to get one up on Lord Fear. Have you got any ideas for tricky traps and dastardly dungeons? Send them to me and I promise to show them to the production team, you never know your plans could even be used in the new series.

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