NetZone from GameTek

Cyberspace. We've all heard of it, most of us surf the 'net everyday. But what would happen if we were able to create actual artificial life forms within cyberspace? Would the inhabitants blindly go about their duties without a care as to why they are doing what they're doing, or would they gain their own sense of independence? In this sneak peek at Gametek's game, NetZone we will explore this question and the repercussions of such a world.

NetZone pits you against a group of anarchist artificial life forms that have taken out the head program (Zel Winters) that kept everything in order at the center of the world's largest and most advanced computer center. With the help of a now almost defunct entity Zel Winters, you must try to undo and prevent further damage from this band of rogue programs. You must wander the CyberWorld in search of clues and solutions to each of the four areas that have been tampered with. You start out the game by yourself but are soon joined by Zel and he will try to help you in your journeys.

The interface to NetZone is a simple point and click everywhere design along the lines of Myst and Buried in Time. Click the right mouse button and move the mouse and you can view your environment in a full, smooth scrolling horizontal 360. If you move the mouse up or down, you'll get about 20-30 pixels of scrolling distance. This interface makes the world feel more realistic. When you click to move forward or backward, you are taken right there_no waiting for animations to play.

While the right-click and drag idea is a good one, the designers have a couple bugs to work out. When I first started up the game, the response to the right mouse button click and move was fantastic, but after a few seconds, it became unusable. You would right click and move the mouse_nothing. You move the mouse the other direction_nothing. You move the mouse back really fast, and suddenly you're turning fast, but when you release the button or move the mouse back, you keep rotating in the same direction. Hopefully Gametek will have this problem worked out in the final version of the game.

The puzzles in the preview aren't too difficult, but since it's at the start of the game, you'd expect them to be fairly easy while you get used to the interface. But if these quandaries are any clue as to how interesting and (hopefully) complex they might be, I'm sure we'll all have a great time poking around in NetZone. Netzone is slated for release in October of 1996.

Louis Stice