Fate of Atlantis: story influences, development and planned sequels
First contribution here, hey guys!
Sort of a cross-post, but I thought I'd share the recent discoveries I made while researching sources for the game's newly-updated Wikipedia article. I guess parts of it are already well-known, but it's a nice summary and there is even some new stuff (the colossus/god machine/Tuaoi Stone/firestone/great crystal connection, for example).
At the time a sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure was decided, most of the staff of Lucasfilm Games was occupied with other projects such as The Secret of Monkey Island and The Dig. Designer Hal Barwood had only created two computer games on his own before but was put in charge of the project because of his experience as a producer and writer of feature films. The company originally wanted him to create a game from Indiana Jones and the Monkey King/Garden of Life, a rejected script written by Chris Columbus for the third movie. The title would have seen Indy looking for Chinese artifacts in Africa. However, Barwood thought the idea was substandard, having been declined for a reason, and requested to create an original story for the game instead. Along with Noah Falstein, he visited the library of Skywalker Ranch to look for possible MacGuffins. They eventually decided upon Atlantis when they looked at a diagram of the city in a Time Life volume, which depicted it as built in three concentric circles.
Writing the story and the actual script involved extensive research of a plethora of pseudo-scientific books. Inspiration for the mythology in the game, like the description of the city and the appearance of the metal orichalcum, was primarily drawn from Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, and from Ignatius Loyola Donnelly's book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World that revived interest in the myth during the nineteenth century. The magical properties of orichalcum and the Atlantean technology depicted in the game were partly adopted from Russian spiritualist Helena Blavatsky's publications on the force vril, and the giant colossus producing gods was based on a power-concentrating device called "firestone" once described by American psychic Edgar Cayce. Once the rough outline of the story was completed, the team began to conceive the puzzles and to design the environments. Barwood made the Atlantean artifacts and architecture resemble that of the Minoan civilization, while the game in turn implies that the Minoans were inspired by Atlantis. The majority of the 256-color backgrounds in the game were mostly mouse-drawn with Deluxe Paint, though roughly ten percent were paintings scanned at the end of the development cycle. Character animations were fully rotoscoped with video footage of Steve Purcell for Indy's and Collette Michaud for Sophia's motions. The art team consisted of three people only and was sometimes consulted by Barwood to help out with the more graphical puzzles in the game, such as the broken door robot in Atlantis. The addition of three different paths suggested by Falstein added about six months to the development cycle, mainly because of all the extra dialogue that had to be implemented for Indy and Sophia. Altogether, the game took more than two years to finish, starting in spring of 1990. The only aspect Barwood was not involved in at all was the production of voices for the CD-ROM version, which was instead handled by Tamlynn Barra.
The package illustration was drawn by lead artist William L. Eaken within three days and was inspired by the Indiana Jones movie posters of Drew Struzan. During development of the game, William Messner-Loebs and Dan Barry wrote a Dark Horse Comics series based on Barwood's and Falstein's story, then titled Indiana Jones and the Keys to Atlantis. In an interview, Bill Eaken told of hour-long meetings of the team trying to come up with a better title than Fate of Atlantis, though they could never think of one. The final name was Barwood's idea who first had to convince the company's management and the marketing team not to simply call the game Indy's Next Adventure.
After the release of the game, a story for a supposed successor in the adventure genre was conceived by Joe Pinney, Hal Barwood, Bill Stoneham and Aric Wilmunder. Titled Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix, it was set after World War II and featured Nazis seeking refuge in Bolivia, trying to resurrect Adolf Hitler with the philosophers' stone. The game was in development for 15 months before it was showcased at the ECTS. However, when the German coordinators discovered how extensively the game dealt with Neo-Nazism, they informed LucasArts about the difficulty of marketing the game in their country. As Germany was an important overseas market for adventure games, LucasArts feared that the lower revenues wouldn't recoup development costs and subsequently cancelled the game. The plot was later adapted into a four-part comic book series by Lee Marrs, published monthly from December 1994 to March 1995. In an interview, Barwood later mentioned the development team should have thought about the story more thoroughly beforehand, calling it insensitive and not regretting the cancellation of the title.
Another follow-up game called Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny that revolved around the Spear of Longinus was planned. Development was outsourced to a small Canadian studio, but eventually stopped as LucasArts didn't have experience with the supervision of external teams. Elaine Lee loosely reworked the story into another four-part comic series, released from April to July 1995.