The Making of OMEGA
By the time a computer game appears on retail shelves, it shares only a
few of the characteristics originally visualized by the author. OMEGA is a
case in point.
OMEGA has evolved from an idea that first came to Stuart Marks in 1984.
It was an idea for a game that would allow players to engineer the mobile
tactics of a piece of military robotic hardware - a boat, plane or ground
vehicle - and compete in simulated battle against others. “I was so fascinated
by the idea,” Stuart said, “that I continued refining the design and by late
1986 was calling it “Tank Battle.”
By early 1987, the initial design specs included many of the features which
appear in OMEGA today. Stuart had expanded the scope of the project to include
battlefield, chassis and artificial intelligence design modules. But it wasn’t
until the Summer of 1987, after ORIGIN had agreed to publish the game. that
cybernetics entered the picture.
“I can’t recall the specific incident,” Stuart said, “but I remember bouncing
ideas back and forth with Dallas Snell, ORIGIN’s Executive Producer, when
the term was mentioned. We both liked the futuristic feel of “cybernetics”,
and “cybertank” seemed a natural fit with the direction the game was taking.”
The dramatic evolution continued. “The idea of making the player an employee
of the Organization for Strategic Intelligence, grew from a conversation with
friends during a round of beers at a local tavern,” Stuart said. “Later, Richard
Garriott, the author of the Ultima series, contributed a workable method of
including manual control of the cybertanks, and Paul Neurath, the author of
Space Rogue, came up with the idea for team play.”
The most difficult corners to turn in the development of OMEGA focused
on organizing the documentation, and implementing an easy-to-use design system
for novices. The manuals and tutorials were the objects of intense quality
testing at ORIGIN. An Artificial Intelligence Construction Panel and pre-defined
Capsule Routines provided an effective way of allowing non-technical players
to enjoy this simulation.
Stuart Marks and the team of graphic artists, programmers, sound engineers
and producers at ORIGIN, have not only turned the corners - they’ve been able
to straighten quite a few. The result is a truly unique gaming experience.
The OMEGA Experience!
(From the Cybertank Engineer's Handbook, 1989)