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Rumour: Disney releasing new, alternate version of The Dig on Nov. 30

Boem

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There is a rumour going around that Disney is working on remaking or finishing an alternate, so far unreleased version of The Dig, and is planning on releasing it on November 30th. This version was created by Brian Moriarty (famous for Loom and Fate of Atlantis) before moving on from the project later. The game that was eventually released was very different, and very much smaller in scale and ambition (made by a team led by Sean Clark). There is a lot of background information for this, so get ready:

Some background info: the 90s adventure game The Dig (available on Steam) had a very troubled production. Based on an idea by Stephen Spielberg (but with very little actual guidance by him) the team at Lucasarts was under a lot of pressure to make a game worthy of having the Spielberg name on the box. What followed was a series of different teams trying to make sense of an increasingly messy product, and a lot of wildly varying versions were partly created and discarded along the way. The game that was eventually released was relatively straight-forward for an adventure game, and far less ambitious and strange as some of the earlier versions. Still, even though it was never as big as Monkey Island, Sam & Max or Day of the Tentacle, it has its own devoted fans to this day.

Much more information on the troubled history of The Dig and some information about the alternate versions in this excellent Secret History from Mixnmojo: http://mixnmojo.com/features/sitefeatures/LucasArts-Secret-History-The-Dig/1

Now, the rumour. It comes from Mixnmojo, which as some of you may know was once (and might still be, although things have calmed down these days) the centre of the biggest Lucasarts fan community on the internet. A lot of its founding members were and are close with the people actually making those old adventure games back in the day, and some of them have moved on to working with those teams at Telltale Games and Double Fine (such as Jake Rodkin, who worked for titles such as Sam & Max, Monkey Island and Walking Dead at Telltale, does Idle Thumbs, and is working on Firewatch now) and Spaff, who is the community manager for Double Fine, among others.

One of the biggest members of that community (who is pretty close to some of the oldtimers of the industry, including Moriarty) is ATMachine. People who are familiar with the Mixnmojo community know that he's thrustworthy, and has uncovered a lot of weird little secrets from Lucasarts past - like gathering never before released design documents, programming secrets or concept art and the like. Earlier, Mixnmojo retweeted these tweets from ATMachine.

@mixnmojo Mark your calendars... I hear #Disney will release a new #LucasArts adventure game on Nov. 30. #adventuregames

(Really!)
@mixnmojo The #LucasArts adventure game in question from yesterday's tweet?

From what I hear... it's #TheDig, by #ProfBMoriarty.
A couple of days ago ATMachine created this thread at the Lucasforums, over at Mixnmojo. The forums are pretty quiet these days (there aren't exactly a lot of Monkey Island games coming out anymore), but a lot of the veterans still hang out there.

New Thoughts on Brian Moriarty's The Dig. http://lucasforums.com/showthread.php?p=2864731#post2864731

His post is too long to quote here, but he's talking about how he received some files from 'someone' (he won't say who, but remember that he's in contact with some people who used to work at Lucasarts) that gave a lot of information (previously unknown to the public) of one of the earlier versions of The Dig, specifically the version Brian Moriarty worked on. It's well worth reading. It seems very different, not just story wise but gameplay wise as well - unlike any other Lucas adventure (having much more team members you can order around (some of whom can harbour a grudge against you if you make them do things they don't want to), all of whom can die, you having the power to resurrect them or let them die, uploading their minds in robot-bodies and swapping those minds around - very weird stuff.)

He later posted this as well:

According to this podcast interview, Brian Moriarty himself says that he managed to get his version of The DIG to a playable alpha stage before he left LucasArts.

My question is: does that build still exist somewhere.... and if so, might it yet see the light of day at some point?
The timing of all this is very curious (only a couple of days later he tweeted about Disney actually releasing that version) and it wouldn't surprise me if Moriarty himself is actually the person who talked to him about all of this. He has shared information with him before for articles at Mixnmojo, and Moriarty has been talking more and more about remaking/doing possible sequels to Loom and his lost version of The Dig in recent months.

I know most people here won't be familiar with ATMachine or Mixnmojo, but people on Gaf who are can vouch for them as well. ATM has always been big in the Adventure Gaming and Scumm community and tracking down forgotten secrets of that era, and he's not someone to make stuff like this up. On the one hand it would be weird for Disney to invest in anything new coming from the Dig (they have some other titles, such as Monkey 3, that are far more well-known and well-received than The Dig), but Moriarty has been pushing for something like that for a while now, and Disney has shown that they're more interested in doing stuff with the old licenses than people were expecting by allowing Sony and Double Fine to work on several remakes.

It wouldn't surprise me if this is one of the secret Double Fine/Sony projects. They've said they've got several projects going on of which only Day of the Tentacle is confirmed, and they've said that they're 'probably' going to do more classic Lucas licenses besides that. Sony also confirmed that, as far as the Double Fine remakes sell well (and Grim Fandango did very well for them), they were willing to do all of them. And finally, when Brian Moriarty started talking about wanting to do more with Loom again a couple of months back, he said he would only do it with one of 3 studios: Telltale (who didn't comment on it, but who confirmed that they've left classic adventure licenses behind for now), Wadjet Eye (who were interested but said they could never negotiate a deal with Disney on their budget) and Double Fine, who did react very publicly and enthusiastically on Twitter. Also, eagle-eyed fans have noticed that one of the employees of Double Fine had Loom playing on his work computer in the last episode of the Double Fine documentary.

That, combined with how Moriarty keeps bringing up his alternate version of the Dig in interviews, podcasts and talks recently makes me think something is indeed going on. Also, he's tweeting stuff like this now:

Brian Moriarty ‏@ProfBMoriarty Apr 27
Finally got to Monument Valley. Eerie parallels to the unpublished version of a certain Lucas adventure ...
The evidence (for now): flimsy, although the circumstances do feel right
The person claiming it's true: thrustworthy
The chances of this happening: you decide
 

Dsyndrome

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Interesting, didn't know The Dig went through that much development turmoil concerning the story. I'd throw money down for this version, loved the game and would appreciate more / reimagining.

I still want to be able to play god and put a bomb inside a turtle creature, though.
 

whatevermort

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This would be one of the best bits of game news I could hear verified. I think the released game is excellent, if not a little... Rushed, shall we say. The thought of this gives me a lovely little thrill.
 

Slime

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Holy crap, cool. I was just getting geared up to play this game for the first time, too.
 

Krejlooc

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OMFG

I will throw money at the screen so hard if this come out

holy shit

Definitely one of my favorite lucasarts game. I love its tone, it's unlike any other of their games.
 

dancrane212

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Game would only need one difference from the final release to get me to purchase it.



Better yet include a whole video on how the turtle bone/bomb puzzle was greenlit.
 

Ulthwe

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Thanks for your thorough post Boem, it would be great to see an alternate version of this game.

I recall playing it some years ago and getting stuck quite a few times. Don't even recall finishing it. Loved the art and overall atmosphere though.
 

thelongestj

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Please don't tease me like this, my heart can't handle it!

I used to read those all kinds of those behind the scenes stuff from LucasArts past but I had to stop because I was getting too depressed knowing what I was missing. To get another version of The Dig or a new Loom, would be the biggest gaming news story of the year!

I can't believe these are possibilities in 2015!
 

StrangeTaco

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Developers would only have to make a single cut to guarantee my purchase. No other work is required!

This image is truly the stuff nightmares are made out of.

In all seriousness though I'd love to see this game redone. Original was awesome.
 

Dog Problems

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Reading all of that has gotten me excited but I'm going to wait until something official is announced before getting too hyped up.

It'd be nice if this "special edition," or whatever it ends up being, came with a PDF file of the novel.
 

Gunstarheroes

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YO THIS IS TOYING WITH ME WAY TOO HARD...

GRIM FANDANGO, KINGS QUEST, AND THE DIG IN ONE YEAR?!

We point and click baby.
 

Dsyndrome

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it seems like stupid crazy far fetched. game was never as popular as the other lucasarts stuff even with spielberg behind it

which is why im saying Disney can't do something this cool

cause it def be the coolest they've done
They did allow achievements to go into KOTOR 2, and we've seen more adventure gaming goodness now than we've seen the past 10 years with Lucasarts.
 

petethepanda

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Whether or not this particular rumor pans out, I'm fucking ecstatic that Disney has actually been doing stuff with all these old Lucas franchises instead of just idly sitting on the IPs forever.

Hey Disney, as long as we're talking about 'alternate versions', how about you call Ron Gilbert and ask him to make Monkey Island 3? (I really enjoyed the Curse we got, but I must know what would have happened.)
 

Ionic

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it seems like stupid crazy far fetched. game was never as popular as the other lucasarts stuff even with spielberg behind it

which is why im saying Disney can't do something this cool

cause it def be the coolest they've done
Perhaps they're banking on people wanting a bunch of fun space alien stuff with Star Wars coming out and dug through their adventure game catalog to find The Dig.
 

inm8num2

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Holy shit!

So within the span of a year there will be a Grim Fandango remaster, a new King's Quest game, and potentially an alternate version of The Dig. Nice.
 

Boem

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I totally forgot that Gamescom is going on right now. Sony has their conference tomorrow (no livestream though), and they promised some fun third-party announcements. Sony is the one who made the deal with Disney to get Double Fine to remake Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle (and maybe more) possible. They always stated that, when they first started approaching Disney, they were interested in the entire adventure game catalog. They only started with Grim Fandango because Double Fine was trying to get a deal with Disney at the same time, so they decided to cooperate, and that's why they've been focusing on the Tim Schafer adventure games until now.

If this is true (and, even though I made the topic and I believe the arguments for this being true, I realize that's still a pretty big if) I expect we'll hear more about it tomorrow. The Nov. 30th date is weirdly specific, especially for an unannounced project. It would only make sense if they're close to officially announcing it, and that might explain why ATMachine suddenly got that information as well.

Both Disney and Sony are listed as exhibitors on the Gamescom website. Double Fine isn't, but they weren't a part of the original rumour - that's just speculation by me because they worked with Sony/Disney before, and Moriarty (who isn't attached to a studio these days) said he wanted to work with them. Still, just to be clear, that's not a part of the information given by ATMachine.

I guess we'll see tomorrow!
 

Coffee Dog

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I basically can't believe this just because of how cool it would be and I don't want to get my hopes up.
 

Fuz

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Definitely not in my favourite Lucasfilm* adventures, but still a really damn good game.
Let's hope it won't be crap like the terrible Monkey Island remakes.

Never understood the hate for the turtle puzzle, I solved that quite easily.


* Oh looks like it was already Lucasarts at that time.
 

Corpekata

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This tears me in two directions. First, is that it seems like a TON of effort for Disney who, while they have shown a bit of interest in their classics they own, don't seem like the type to release an alternate version of a game that's relatively middle tier when it comes to how famous it is in the back catalog. Second is that it's so weirdly specific of a rumor that I kind of want to believe it. It's not like FF7 remake or Shenmue 3 where the mere mention would drive hundreds into wondering or drive traffic to a website. It's like when Legend of Kay's HD remaster port was first discovered, it's like "who would bother to lie about that?"
 

Boem

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Huh, I've been searching to see if I can find any more proof of this, and I see that someone posted my thread on Reddit. Oh well, at least they just linked back to this thread - and it's not like I found that information myself in the first place.

Maybe they're also planning a movie or a show of it?
It was originally an idea Spielberg had for a TV show/miniseries, but he thought it would be too expensive to make. He then wanted it to become a Lucasarts adventure games because his son was a big fan of them and he played those games with him. He didn't do much work on the project beyond giving them the basic concept though, and I don't know if Spielberg would be willing to go back to that idea again (or if he even really remembers it).
 

jett

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I don't remember much about the original, except that I was disappointed. :p I'd be interested in playing an alternate version but man I just don't believe there's a fucking chance in hell Disney or anyone puts any effort into actually finishing what the OP's alleges to exist.
 

pinkurocket

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One of my favorite 90s adventure games.
Definitely my fave in terms of atmosphere.
Keeping an eye out for this here.
 

Tizoc

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I am somewhat tempted to replay the Dig just to attempt to remember what that bone/skeleton puzzle was like lol.
 

BTails

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Oh my goodness... I absolutely love The Dig (Flaws and all), and have read the Mix n Mojo article in the OP probably 3 or 4 times, I would absolutely love to see the "Alternate" version of this game!!

EDIT: Sorry, I meant THIS website, which is phenomenal resource for anyone who loves development info on old Adventure Games:

http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/digbm1.html - LOTS of images from the supposed "Alternate Dig" build.
 

Boem

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Oh my goodness... I absolutely love The Dig (Flaws and all), and have read the Mix n Mojo article in the OP probably 3 or 4 times, I would absolutely love to see the "Alternate" version of this game!!

EDIT: Sorry, I meant THIS website, which is phenomenal resource for anyone who loves development info on old Adventure Games:

http://home.comcast.net/~ervind/digbm1.html - LOTS of images from the supposed "Alternate Dig" build.
(This website is also made by ATMachine, the source of the rumor)

I said Sony was having a conference tomorrow earlier in this thread, but the website I saw it must have been mistaken as apparently they're not having a conference at all. My bad, I'm completely out of the loop with stuff like that. They do have a presence on the show floor though, and they'll have some third party news on their website. Their next actual conference is in October, in Paris.