We were fortunate enough to get in touch with David Foster of Digital Leisure, who recently re-released the arcade classic Dragon’s Lair on Blu-Ray disc for play in your shiny new PS3 or any standard Blu-Ray player. David was kind enough to answer some questions for us about Dragon’s Lair for your consumption.
DreamStation.cc: Could you tell us your name and what your primary function was in the making of Dragon’s Lair? Also which if any other games have you’ve worked on in the past?
David Foster: My name is David Foster and I programmed the BD-J code in our Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray release. I also did the frame by frame clean-up of the Mudmen scene (painful!). (Editors note: BD-J stands for Blu-Ray Disc Java, which allows for control of audio, video and overlays using Java code)
I have been involved in varying capacities with the release of Dragon’s Lair on Amiga, Atari ST, Mac, Apple II GS, PC floppy disc, PC CD-ROM, 3D0, Sega CD, Atari Jaguar, PC DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, PC HD DVD-ROM and HD-DVD.
DreamStation.cc: For those of the readers who are too young to remember the original Dragon’s Lair game, could you describe what it is and why you felt the need to update it?
David Foster: Dragon’s Lair was originally released as an arcade game but what made it special was the feature film quality animation by Don Bluth and the fact that it came on laser disc. The player would react to the events that unfold and make the correct moves on the joystick to continue in the game. A wrong move and Dirk the Daring, our valiant knight, would die in a comical fashion.
We’ve brought the game to various formats over the years. As technology has improved, each release was much better than previous releases - typically in video quality. Now with Blu-ray for the first time ever we have gone back to the original film and captured it into high definition. Our Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray version looks much better than the original laser disc arcade release.
DreamStation.cc: What kind of extras are included on the Blu-Ray disc? Why not include the short lived animated series based on Dragon’s Lair for the hardcore fans?
David Foster: We’re the first Blu-ray release to feature all extras in HD. We’ve included new interviews with the creators - Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Rick Dyer. We also have a picture-in-picture visual commentary with the creators discussing the various scenes in the game. We’ve included a “progression reel” that shows a split screen of some of the older Dragon’s Lair releases beside the high definition video of the same scene. There are also trailers for Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp.
DreamStation.cc: How closely did you get to work with Don Bluth (the creator of Dragon’s Lair) for this project and how does he feel about the final results?
David Foster: We didn’t ask for or need a great deal of input from Don Bluth but Don, Gary and Rick have all been very cooperative and helpful. We’re thankful that they took the time to do the interviews and commentary on the disc. The first time they all saw the HD footage was when we went down to do the interviews and they were shocked at the beautiful quality. As Don says in the interview, this is the only version that approaches the quality level that he’s used to working with in the animation business. It was the first time that Rick Dyer had seen anything better than the laser disc quality of the original arcade release and he couldn’t believe how vivid the colors are in our Blu-ray release.
DreamStation.cc: How long did it take to create this High Definition version of Dragon’s Lair and beyond that what differentiates this from the various other versions previously available?
David Foster: We first did the HD transfer in October of 2005, so about a year and half total. The bulk of the Blu-ray work started in the summer of 2006. We had a team of people working on cleaning each frame individually to remove dust, scratches and hair from the film capture which took about six months. The Blu-ray BD-J coding took about 8 months.
The biggest difference is the stunning video quality - the colors are very vivid and don’t bleed. Coding in BD-J allowed us to make the most arcade authentic version to date and include the move beeps that we weren’t able to do with DVD. The move timing is very accurate and jumping movie to movie is very quick.
DreamStation.cc: To the best of your knowledge have there been any recent discussions regarding reviving the Dragon’s Lair franchise for a new title? How about a feature film? We’ve waited long enough, tell me there’s one in the works because I think it’d work perfectly in either an animated format or as a live action/action-comedy.
David Foster: Not as a game but there have been discussions about making a Dragon’s Lair movie. There is a script that Don Bluth and Gary Goldman have been working on for a couple of years and are continuing to fine tune. I believe they’ve considered live action, 3D computer generated and 2D animated and the consensus is that traditional 2D animation would be the best.
It is possible that if a movie were to go into production that there could be a new game created.
DreamStation.cc: You’ve also got the Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair II coming in the future, what sort of time line are we looking at for fans interested in those projects and how is the progress coming?
David Foster: We’ve completed the hand touch-up of the individual frames for Space Ace and are nearing completion of the project. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to release it this fall. Dragon’s Lair II will probably be a 2008 release.
DreamStation.cc: High Definition has changed the way we look at movies and video games, what’s the next step? Do things just continue to get better looking or will we ever venture into a 3D visual landscape with headsets and holograms?
David Foster: For the Dragon’s Lair line of games, they are not likely to get any better visually than our HD releases. You might see them move to other formats such as cable or satellite delivery.
In terms of the 3D worlds created in computer games, there’s always room to improve the visuals and effects and that will be a function of computer power. As some point you will not be able to distinguish game character from live action. The other area that can improve is the story telling - having great graphics does not always make the game compelling to play.
DreamStation.cc: The floor is yours, is there anything else you’d like to add about Dragon’s Lair or any of your other upcoming projects?
David Foster: We’re just very excited to see Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace in the highest quality possible. It’s been a challenge for the past year and half to get to where we are today but the early feedback that we’ve been getting from our Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray release is very gratifying and we look forward to bringing the high definition releases to our loyal fans.
DreamStation.cc: If Dirk the Daring got into a fight with a pirate and a ninja, who would win?
David Foster: If you made the right move, clearly Dirk would win but it might be a lot more fun to see what happens if you don’t!
DreamStation.cc: If Dirk the Daring were to choose his favorite dessert, which would it be: Pie, Cake, or Cheesecake?
David Foster: We’ll we know he likes his breakfast cereal (Dragon’s Lair II) but beyond that, there’s no hard evidence of his preferences. I suspect that to maintain his knightly figure he may skip dessert altogether but then again his mother-in-law looks like she might be big on making desserts (or at least eating them) and seems to be very forceful so given her size I’m going to put my money on cheesecake.
DreamStation.cc: We would like to thank David Foster for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us and our readers. We look forward to playing Dragon’s Lair and we await any future projects such as Dragon’s Lair II as well as Space Ace and any other forthcoming games from Digital Leisure. Many thanks.
For more information on Dragon’s Lair or Digital Leisure visit www.DigitalLeisure.com.
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