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Interview: Jolt's Collins On Bringing Back A More Casual Zork

In this interview, Jolt Online CEO Dylan Collins talks with Gamasutra about the studio's upcoming Legends of Zork, explaining why the studio chose to revived the beloved Infocom franchise, how it intends to make money with the free browser game, an
Earlier today, online gaming developer Jolt Online announced the forthcoming release of Legends of Zork, a browser-based "persistent online adventure" based on the world of Infocom's 1979 text-based adventure classic. Partnering with IP-holder Activision, Jolt has been working on Legends of Zork for six months now, with a team of three to five people on the project. The new game seeks to resurrect the series as a Casual MMO that people can play "on their laptop, desktop, or Apple iPhone (in school, work or on the bus)." The company has a history of non-traditional games, such as MMO strategy game Utopia and trucking sim Trukz, the latter of which was recently reviewed by Gamasutra sister site Worlds in Motion. When asked why Jolt took up a franchise that hasn't seen a proper release in almost 12 years, CEO Dylan Collins told Gamasutra, "Zork is one of those legendary games that almost everyone has heard of, even if some of them have never played it. We thought it would be ideal for a more casual RPG experience." "Not everyone has forty hours a week to level up," he continued. "Also, as huge fans of the game, we thought that it was about time it staged a comeback." Though Collins declined to specify whether the title would be text-based like earlier Zork releases or if it would include graphical elements, he did mention that it will include microtransactions. "I guess the one-word description is 'freemium,'" he said, describing Legends of Zork's business model. "The game is free to play, but there are premium options which let you upgrade various elements for a few dollars." The CEO went on to praise Activision for licensing the property to an external partner, and for recognizing online gaming's continued growth. "Jolt is a publisher that's absolutely focused on browser gaming, so it makes a lot of sense," he said. "We worked extensively with the folks over at Activision in terms of the entire mythology, but we're continually searching for people who were involved in the games over the years," Collins added. "Even now, we'd love to hear from them to talk about ideas for future content." Though Jolt hopes to bring in new users who want to see hardcore games in a casual format with the new installment, Collins believes Legends of Zork will also appeal to series fans. He concluded: "We'd like to think we've stayed close to the philosophy of the original games in terms of the gameplay style while perhaps opening it up to new players. I'm sure some will agree and some will disagree, but in any case we're very excited about it," he says.

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