LucasArts' Secret History #11: The Dig Trivia and Secrets


This game was based on a concept Steven Spielberg had – often summarized as "Treasure of the Sierra Madre meets Forbidden Planet" - that he brought to LucasFilm Games when it proved financially unfeasible to be produced as an episode of the Spielberg-produced Amazing Stories anthology TV series.

There were three major incarnations of the project – the first was led by Noah Falstein, including team members Dave Grossman and Bill Eaken, getting far in the concept/design stage and containing RPG-like survival elements, as well as having its story take place in the ruins of four ancient alien cities. The second was started about a year later, led by Brian Moriarty, who threw out everything and began from scratch. His version got far along, but was also cancelled due the production's numerous problems. Finally, Sean Clark took over the project, keeping some elements of Moriarty's version while removing others, and this is the version that got out the door. Extremely brief attempts in-between to salvage older incarnations of the projects, one by Dave Grossman and another by Hal Barwood, were apparently also made.

The Moriarty version of the game was said to be gory and violent at times, in many cases at the specific request of Steven Spielberg - one of his suggestions was that blood should splatter all over the "camera lens" after cutting out the eyeball of a sea serpent. Additionally, one character was killed gruesomely by acid drips, and another was attacked by ferocious bats. The violence level was eventually toned done significantly.

At one point the game featured four astronauts instead of three. The cut character was Japanese businessman Toshi Olema, who was put on the team in exchange for providing much of the funding for the expedition (as in the story NASA was at an all-time budgetary low). An early version of the game's cover art, featuring Olema was actually seen in magazines, and the final cover art, which has the fourth astronaut airbrushed out, still includes the artifact of his feet.

Originally, Robbins' first name was Judith instead of Maggie. Also, before the character was cut, Toshi Olema the businessman became Dr. Toshi Olema, a "brilliant but shy" female physicist.

The Brian Moriarty version of The Dig had a feature in which items that are too large to carry or ideas that the playable character came up with for puzzle application could actually be stored in the inventory in the form of "idea" icons. A team member on Moriarty's version, Bill Tiller resurrected the feature for A Vampyre Story almost fifteen years later.

Another feature of the Moriarty version involved a Klein bottle which would reverse/mirror the appearance of the characters who passed through (from right to left-handed, etc.) This would play a role in puzzle-solving.

In early versions of the puzzle where Brink's hand has to be cut off, there was an added sense of urgency because there was water rising in the room where his hand is trapped. In this same version, Maggie was not part of the scene.

While in the control room (the room beyond the airlock where Low has to fiddle the height of the blue crystals), type in "SWANS," and Low will see himself diving and swimming beyond the glass.

Press CTRL-B at any point during the game and Low will flex his muscles.

There is a slightly different ending if you don't honor Maggie's request to not be revived by the life crystals.

Although of dubious quality, a novelizaton of the game was published, penned by Alan Dean Foster. There was apparently a book on tape version as well.

Additionally, an official soundtrack CD of (some of) Michael Land's score was available when the game first came out by Angel Records, though it is exceedingly rare to find these days.

Main character Boston Low is voiced by Robert Patrick, probably best known as T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (as pointed out on the game's packaging). There is a nod to the movie in the game: if you have Boston look at his PenUltimate, say it is the "T-1000 model." In another Terminator reference, Boston can ask Maggie, "Have you seen this boy?" in reference to Brink.

Before entering the door to the first tram platform, Boston Low jokes that there may be a mad scientist with a pretty girl and a talking robot on the other side.

According to the LucasArts web site, The Dig is the most successful adventure game in the company's history, pushing over 300,000 units. The year was a particularly profitable one for adventure games as previously in 1995, the company shipped Full Throttle, which was also the biggest adventure hit the company had put out at the time.

The game's demo features placeholder voice actors not present in the final game. The resource files also contain unused lines of dialogue that reference a replaced interface.

Like any game, The Dig was showcased to the media during its develop, and thus magazine previews and presentations slides exist for versions of the game that were cancelled. Visit the resource links below to see some unearthed glimpses of the older versions.

There are a few fun conversations that can be found in some dialog trees, such as when the player has Boston repeatedly bring up the topic of the light bridges up with Maggie. For similar fun, have Boston constantly shine his flashlight at the bats.


ATMachine's House of LucasArts and Sierra Oddities - The home of a number of fascinating The Dig articles, including:
The Development History of The Dig - An attempt to piece together a semi-coherent story of the game's long and troubled development.
Images from Brian Moriarty's The Dig - Exactly what it says
Images from early alphas of Sean Clark's The Dig - Also what it says.
Facsimile images of the interfaces from early The Dig - Attempts to recreate how The Dig might have looked in earlier incarnations.
The Dig Museum - TONS of interviews with team members, among other resources, can be found at this hosted fansite dedicated to the game.
The Dig soundtrack The entire soundtrack available for download, courtesy of hosted site LucasArts Soundtracks
The Dig's Hint Book - Unlike Full Throttle, The Dig's Hintbook actually contains a narrative walkthrough. Like Full Throttle, the great "Scummbuddy" has scanned the whole shebang for us, giving me an excuse not to painstakingly transcribe the walkthrough text for everyone's convenience. Enjoy the concept art!

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