The Status Line: How did you get started?
Amy: After getting a B.A. in English, I kicked around Minnesota for awhile, then decided to move to Boston to live near my sister. As I left, a friend mentioned that Infocom was located here, to which I jokingly responded, "Okay, I'll get a job there - they must need writers and editors!" I had played some of Zork, Enchanter and almost all of Suspended. As fate had it, Infocom was hiring testers the very week I arrived in Massachussetts. Within fifteen days I was gainfully employed playings games all day. Tough life.
TSL: Why did you write a romance?
AMY: C.S. Lewis said he had to write THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA because they were books he wanted to read, and nobody else had written them yet. Plundered Hearts was a game I wanted to play. It just happened to have an adventurous setting, a female protagonist and romance, since that is what I'm interested in.
TSL: So you read romances?
AMY: I started reading romance novels as a teenager and still do, though in not as great quantities. I surrounded myself with all forms of romance - movies, modern books, and classics.
In general I like stories about strong women heroines. I like those stories even more when the heroines are not above falling in love.
TSL: Did you write a story with a female protagonist to make a point, as a women's issue?
AMY: Not really. Feminism does not rule out romance, and romance does not necessarily have to make women weak in the cliche sense of romance novels.
TSL: Aren't you really demeaning women, saying that all they're interested in is getting a man? Don't romances portray women as helpless air-heads who need Rambo to come help them across the street?
AMY: That's two questions, actually. My answer to the first is that, no, I'm not demeaning women. I don't expect the idea of Plundered Hearts to interest all those women who don't like romances, though they would probably enjoy playing it for other reasons. It is not aimed at women, but at romance and adventure lovers, a large number of whom are women?
As to the second question, you can't get anywhere in Plundered Hearts if you act as an air-head. There's your father to be rescued (don't believe that Captain Jameson can do it alone)! There's the hero to be saved from certain death - several times! One doesn't have to be Miss Simper to enjoy dancing (or necking in the gazebo) or be Ms. Rambo to defeat the bad guys. Just be yourself and do both.
TSL: How much research did you do?
AMY: I already had plenty of experience with romance novels, from my reading, and I have long been interested in fashions, so I only needed to brush up on those. Pirates, though, I had to research, and sailing ships. I watched a lot of movies - "Captain Blood"-type movies with Errol Flynn - and romantic adventures like "Romancing the Stone." All in all, I figure Plundered Hearts is about as historically accurate as an Errol Flynn movie. I tried not to be anachronistic if I could help it, but if the heroine's hairstyle is from the wrong century, or if pirates didn't make people walk the plank - if stretching the truth adds a lot to the story, does that really matter?
TSL: So, what is in a romance, anyway?
AMY: A romance is any story where the romantic interest becomes the focal point of the plot. "Romeo and Juliet" is a romance.
There is actually a wide range of different species of romance in the modern term (these are my definitions, based on personal experience and some research):
"Historical" or "bodice-rippers" are the novels you see at the grocery store check-out counter, with flashy covers of a half-naked couple embracing. They have lurid sex-filled plots in historical settings.
"Contemporary" romances, portray today's woman meeting Mr. Right. There are many variations on this theme, from spy/intrigues and mysteries to life in a small town after a divorce.
"Regency" romances are my favorite. They take place between 1790-1830, during the Regency of England, when mad George III was still alive, but his son, the future George IV, ruled. I do not believe it coincidental that this is the period Jane Austen wrote about, as the modern novels shadow hers: the stories are mostly comedies of manners, many of them with a "Pride and Prejudice" twist (Boy meets Girl, Boy and Girl take instant dislike of one another, misreading their emotions, Boy and Girl battle words, Boy and Girl fall in love and marry). Sex is not a major concern, generally, but simmers just beneath the surface.
In "gothic" romances, the heroine is alone against the world, in a strange and haunting setting - usually a castle or ancient mansion. She meets and falls for the hero as she discovers the reason behind/solution for the haunting. Though "Jane Eyre" is the epitome of these romances, they can take place in modern settings - "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier is an example, or our own Moonmist.
TSL: What kind of romance is Plundered Hearts?
AMY: It is a cross between Regency and Historical - it has more action than a Regency but less sex than a Historical.
TSL: Is there sex?
AMY: Well, there is romance. I tried to create scenes of warm tender glowing love, rather than cold graphic sex. There's a hot kiss, for instance, with the hero, in a gazebo scented with flowers under the full moon; in contrast, there's a cold sex scene with the villian in his bedroom. It fades off waves crashing and trains rocketing into tunnels the way old movies do.
TSL: Do you think men will play Plundered Hearts?
AMY: I hope so. When I wrote it I knew men would be playing it. So I stepped back occasionally and tried to envision men playing the heroine. Since she is a strong character in adventurous situations, I don't think men will feel too effeminate when playing.
Of the testers who played it, the men enjoyed it as much as the women. One burly football player got a kick out of having to wear a lace chemise and curtsy all over the place.
TSL: Does having a woman as the main character change the way the game is played? Are the puzzles different?
AMY: The priorities are different from those of other games I believe. In Plundered Hearts you don't go around collecting treasure (an activity I've always found boring in adventure games); you're trying to save people.
I like to think my puzzles are more about relationships between characters than being player versus object. They involve behavior in certain situations more than mathematical brain-teasers. The emphasis is on people, not things. However, Plundered Hearts has its share of object-oriented brain teasers.
TSL: Is Plundered Hearts different from other interactive fiction games?
AMY: I like to think of my story as more literary, more like a novel. There is more story line than in many other games. In Plundered Hearts the play progresses continually. This is not a romp through a lot of puzzles, but a voyage through an interesting story.
The Status Line; Winter 1987; page 9
Copyright 1987 (c) Infocom