I am delighted to present the pilot for the new Aegis Quest, a live-action RPG game with similarities to Knightmare.
[Don’t miss the cameo after the end credits]
Created by victorious Knightmare contestant Alan Boyd, Aegis Quest is a live-action RPG game in which advisors guide a quester through a dungeon full of puzzles, traps and riddles in an interactive Dungeons and Dragons style adventure.
The game owes clear precedents to Knightmare, although there are notable differences. Aegis Quest fashions itself as a new gaming opportunity, with a gaming machine, characters and backstory created from scratch.
Knightmare, it is worth saying, has left unfinished business. Since its controversial axe in 1994, pressure by fans for its return persuaded Tim Child, then of Televirtual, to arc his developments towards an advanced VR gaming system in hope of a new series. Doing so pushed aside TimeGate, a more mainstream gameshow in development that was aimed at adults.
Sadly, the Knightmare VR pilot, released in 2004, met with disappointment. The fundamental principle of blindfolding the dungeoneer had been abandoned, and with that, out went the drama, the fun, and the interest from broadcasters.
With fan demand for the original format still showing no signs of waning, Tim Child returned once again to the site in 2008 to announce work in progress that lit many hopes but sadly failed to deliver. Reports still claim that adolescents are sorely under-represented in children’s programming, but the financial climate offers little hope for a big outlay.
“Through My Eyes Only”: Playing Quester
And so Aegis Quest arrives to stake its claim. If adolescents have now migrated entirely to consoles, AQ, for all its strive for independence, offers a realistic chance of bringing this gaming format back to glory again. What has changed significantly over the last 15 years is the desire of young gamers to participate rather than spectate. As an prospective multi-player RPG, Aegis Quest presents the opportunity for contestants to become actively involved.
Playing the Quester for this pilot was a new experience. As a literal cross between a television show and a computer based RPG, I’m not sure if there is anything else like it out there on the gaming circuit. Crucially, the fundamental tenets are back. The Quester is unable to see the dungeon environment (a chequered grid shows on the playing screen). It is down to advisors, who have the dungeon in sight, to guide me by voice as I control the character through the chambers.
The ledge in part 2 of the pilot shows the format at work. Even navigating around a plain grid can have its tensions. It reminds us, refreshingly, that it can be quite cool to fail.
A Stab in the Dark
What of the team behind the project. With a doctorate in Computer Science, Boyd developed the 3D client, gaming system and graphics, and oversaw the project. Aaron Parker, a mainstay of Knightmare fan-based projects, produced high-quality chromakey results and some slick effects.
The cast has its talent too, with Anna Francombe (Maraki) training with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in Los Angeles.
Keeping it Real
While Knightmare’s legacy has never been in question, opportunity has been lost. Two efforts to bring the game back have failed, and a dedicated fan Knightmare RPG project also stalled.
Hence, there is a plenty at stake for Aegis Quest. Anyone who values gaming, innovation, fantasy and nostalgia might consider offering spreading the word to keep this going. It may be the last of a dying breed…