Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

A place to discuss Knightmare-VR, a planned revivial of Knightmare
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Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by Pooka » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:15 pm

Okay, this'll be a short one.

Just a quick reminder for anyone who doesn't read the series discussion board, this is a cross-platform project: I'll share some thoughts here and also host a discussion on Knightmare Chat tonight (Sunday) for anyone who wants to pitch in.

Anyway, so, Knightmare VR...

I was never happy with the concept (I'd imagine many people may feel the same way), but I was also excited about there possibly being a new series of Knightmare, never mind how different it would be. I even remember asking Tim if there was any more footage they shot at one point...

In any case, KMVR is a strange beast. At some points, it feels a bit like Knightmare; at some other points, it may as well be a different concept entirely. I do have to wonder if this is what TimeGate may have been like, had they made that. Anyway, some positive points (few as they may be) are:

- Treguard. I'm not too okay with him being a floating avatar head, but it does hearken back to the days when his head would appear in the Dungeon along with the Dungeoneers, and interact with characters! And I'm very grateful for Hugo doing the voice, as well; it's always comforting to hear his tones.

- Lord Fear. Again, wonderful voice acting from Mark Knight. The script for his bit is a little strange, but it's still got some of the wit in it - "yes, Lissard, it's the tooth fairy!".

- I quite like the incidental music (apart from the theme tune and the strange voiceless version that plays as they go through the dwarf tunnels!). To the trained ear, it becomes apparent that it's actually the same tune throughout, with different tempos and inversions, and on different instruments, creating varied atmospheric background music. Really quite clever, if you are into that sort of thing.

- The ogre's okay. He's the wrong colour for an ogre, but it's quite good to see a "guard" figure again!

- Seeing-eye stone as opposed to spyglass? Hmmm... okay.

- Slice Me Dice Me! A wonderfully fiendish floor puzzle that would have worked well in 'real Knightmare'.

That's about all I can think of. Some negative points are:

- The rest of the characters. Lissard doesn't sound right (for obvious reasons); Despair doesn't do much; Ellie just acts like a scaled-down version of Elita with no real characteristics.

- And Garstang. I particularly don't like Garstang. I was very pleased to see an orc in Knightmare, but as a host? This just seems a little awkward to me - I much prefer him in KMGW as a looming threat, rather than just a gruff Cockney avatar (...although, having said all that, I did call for TC to do Garstang's voice at KnightmareCon, and he did - so...!).

- The dungeoneer casting spells. I kind of get why this is a thing, but PICKMEUP? Would it kill you to have a one-word spell?

- The animation. It looks a little bit like everyone here is the Automatum!

- And the lack of a physical environment. Arthur just saying what he's going to take and it appearing in a computer-game-esque inventory is just bizarre! Yes, this is a necessity for the game as it stands, but it's really odd.

My overall take on KMVR is that it is very much a pilot. Which it is. There was a limited budget and, I would imagine, not too many resources with which to do the thing - however, as a result of such, it looks a bit clunky and even unfinished. There are some good ideas - really, there are - but for some reason, it's difficult to see where this is going!

And, sadly, I can see why no TV channels picked it up. Mind you, I'd still have watched it had they done so!

Any thoughts?
Last edited by Pooka on Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by Canadanne » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:02 am

About the only thing I really *liked* about KMVR was getting to hear Lord Fear again. (They did a good job with his avatar, too - the eyeroll is perfect. *g*) Oh, Slice Me Dice Me is good too - it definitely deserved to return in the Geek Week episode, and that team died so quickly that we still haven't seen it tackled "properly", alas!

By "properly", I mean of course a real dungeoneer actually being directed by their advisors, because the whole point of the game is team communication. If the dungeoneer can see the rooms, they don't really need anyone else. (They sort of tried to compensate for this by giving the advisor a different view of the puzzles, but it wasn't clear how vital their role was.) So instead of testing how well the team can guide the dungeoneer, it becomes a test of how well the dungeoneer can control their avatar. You're just watching a kid play a computer game, and I'd rather play a computer game myself than watch somebody else play one. The original Knightmare took ideas from computer games, but wasn't at all like playing one - it was more like a proper adventure through a fantasy world. The real people and the realistic environments were absolutely essential.

Only having one advisor was also a really bad idea. Half the fun comes from watching the trio of advisors argue about what to do; I think the lack of conversation in KMVR is part of what makes it so boring. Even what they do say to each other sounds really forced half the time - I find it very hard to believe the kids weren't scripted, considering how robotically they deliver some of their lines! (Advisor: "Friday is the day we think of fish on." Arthur replies: "I-want-to-take-the-gemstones." Advisor overrules him and he agrees, without either of them offering any reasons! Not to mention Arthur's weird little monologues when they enter Slice Me Dice Me and the gargoyle cavern.)

Other things I particularly disliked:

- The theme music. How was this ever allowed to happen?

- The clue objects that couldn't actually be picked up, just magicked into some intangible "inventory". Oh dear. Maybe this would have been sorted out if a series were made, though.

- Hated the unrecognisable Lissard. If Cliff Barry wasn't available, they should've just introduced a new minion for Lord Fear.

I'm sorry that so much time and money was spent on this without it going anywhere in the end, and I *am* disappointed that we never got to learn more about the new characters and stuff (I would have liked to be a fly on the wall during the playtesting), but I'm really glad this wasn't made into a series. It's just so far removed from what Knightmare is all about. I know it's a limited budget pilot so you have to cut it some slack, but it's hard to imagine the finished product being all that much better.

I do think TimeGate might have worked, though, since that didn't need to closely resemble Knightmare and wasn't in danger of tarnishing KM's legacy.

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Re: Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by wombstar » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:14 am

I agree with everything that's been said, the only thing ill add is it was an interesting experiment. I guess as no tv network wants to make KM like it was so this was a way of trying to do it and keep those networks happy.

Interesting chapter in Knightmare's history, and part of the struggle to brink it back.
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Re: Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by pjmlfc05 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:12 am

Oh dear, This will be short and sweet!

Highlight

Slice Me, Dice Me - a great looking room and loved the sound of the swinging axes

Lowlight

The concept of it - it was just like watching a naff computer game

Pretty much what Canadanne has said I agree with. Might have sounded promising, but the execution sucks. Not a surprise it didn't develop further.
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Re: Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by Pooka » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:34 pm

Canadanne wrote:I would have liked to be a fly on the wall during the playtesting
Thank you for finding the snippet about the playtesting! I was looking for it for ages - thought it may be somewhere on KM.com (other than the Forum).

This is what I e-mailed Tim about, initially - I assumed he may have filmed some (all?) of it and the pilot was only a bit of one quest... but maybe I was wrong there! He didn't reply, anyway, so it's a moot point really.
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Re: Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by HobGoblin » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:58 pm

The most interesting thing about KMVR is that it demonstrates the concept Tim Child had in mind back in the mid-eighties. It was only technical limitations that forced him to develop 'a glorified version of blind man's buff ' instead. At least, that's my reading of it...

Interesting that he was still pushing in this direction years later despite the huge success of his happy accident. Fortunately he seems to now accept the strength of the original format.

As for KMVR appreciation...I appreciate the effort to bring KM back! SMDM has a lot of potential but looks almost impossible in its current form. A few tweaks and it could be another lethal grand challenge in the spirit of the CoB.
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Re: Knightmare VR Appreciation Week

Post by Billy » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:53 am

The biggest positive I can find with Knightmare VR is just how it felt at the time. Looking back, the gap between 1994 and 2004 seems hilariously short and if someone announced the triumphant return of, I dunno, Dick and Dom in da Bungalow now, it wouldn't feel like it had been gone long enough to warrant a comeback. But given I was six in 1994 and fifteen when KMVR premiered, it felt like a huge moment, something I had essentially been waiting my whole life for. With Challenge repeating all eight series regularly, and Treguard's brief if fun appearance in the aforementioned Bungalow, it genuinely felt like things were building to something major. For it to fizzle out so soon and things to enter the comparative wilderness of late noughties KM fandom (when the future events of 2013-14 felt so unlikely I'd have dismissed them at the time as absolutely impossible) was a huge shame.

Looking back 2004 wasn't the best of times to attempt it, too late for the show to still be seen as remotely current yet too early for any adulthood nostalgia to have properly developed - a bit like your favourite 1980s pop group trying to get a hit circa 1996, a post-relevant/pre-nostalgic impossibility. And even with advances in computer technology in the ten years since Series 8, it still wasn't enough to work as a completely CGI format - today it looks only slightly above a Playstation 2 game, with better graphics able to be achieved with off the shelf software you can buy anywhere a decade on.

Many instantly dismissed KMVR as point-missing nonsense, a textbook example of how not to revive a show. But I see it as the equivalent of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie - it perhaps wouldn't have worked in the long run, but damn was it good to see it briefly back.

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