Leonard Nimoy's Primortals Interactive Comic Book & Reference Guide (1996)
The CD Rom consists of three main areas, Evolution, Play and Techno Files. In Evolution we learn about the conception of Primortals, get background on the setting and photos from the official presentation party. The Techno Files mainly provide background on SETI and the Primortals' universe and characters.
1. Evolution: Concept, Visual Developement, Art & Photo Gallery
1.1. Concept: Encounter, Arrival, King Tyrannosaurus
The plot is set on Earth in 2040. Humanity has mastered cold fusion power and is beginning to build robots. A colony exsists on the moon and research stations have been set up on nearby planets. Then Earth receives a message from an alien source. No clue is given as to the identity of the aliens but that they're three months away from arriving at the planet.
As the story develops, a number of reactions to the situation present themselves for examination: political-military, religious, international, the business-corporate community and third world responses. In the beginning it was thought that one writer would focus on the response of one one particular element of society, but that approach was discarded and they were set to work on developing several story lines.
Each of the ships carries a different species of dinosaur. They were taken from Earth in the Jurassic Era by an alien species who thought them the most likely lifeform to develop advanced intelligence. The aliens helped them along, though, by steering their developement through genetic engeneering while intentionally retaining some of their more basic features. This led to a caste system in which predators dominate herbivores, for example. All are telepathic and able to communicate with each other and the humans. They appear antropomorphic because they mimic the colloquial and dialect characteristics of the individuals they're dealing with.
After the arrival the reader would learn about dinosaur society in deep space: their religious beliefes, government, views on human society and humanity, that the mindset of carnivores differs from that of herbivores and again from those that can fly. They come with weapons and military forces at their disposal. Conflict arrises when some of them want to stay on Earth permanently.
1.1.3. King Tyrannosaurus
It comes to a war between opposing factions among the the dinosaurs, with humans fighting on both sides. At the end some questions are answered like whether they're cold or warm blooded, how they came to disappear from Earth and maybe, in later volumes, who took them.
1.2. Visual Developement
1.2.1. Character Design
This section contains sketches for the main characters with short explanations for the inspiration behind them. For example was Zeerus not only based on the appearance of pterodacyls but also insects to create a "weired new creature". Tentacles were added early in the process to Primaster to make him more alien that led to him suddenly become two creatures living in symbiosis. (Screenshot: Kafka)
1.2.2. Unpublished Pages
1. An alternate page where Zeerus first landed in the woods. The location was changed later to Central Park. 2. Stewart was first concieved as being older, more muscular and longer haired. The character was updated to young, charming intellectual on second thought. 3. General Stark appeared originally in issue #1 instead of in Origins #1.
1. 3. Art & Photo Gallery
You can choose between four characters (Primaster, Zeerus, Stewart and Jess) to follow the story from their point of view. There is very little in the way of interaction. At times you're allowed to switch characters in a chapter and you can switch back and forth between screens and text balloons. Red text allows you to choose between different paths to follow and blue text will lead to a screen providing information from what SETI does to how a Force Distortion Generator works. Some of the screens contain animated elements and sound effects.
3. Techno Files: Primortals, SETI, Sciences
Here we get an introduction to the characters, their origins, capabilities, developement, status and affiliates, psychological make-up and abilities. (Click here or on one of the pictures to start the slide show.The text appears a bit blurry in the slide show. If you want to read it go here to open the picture in full resolution.)
Section A provides information on the organisation's background, giving details on its history, functions and goals. Section B is about the Signal Detection Protocol. Where to look, how to go about it and how to verify a signal is addressed in addition to what to do with a confirmed signal. Who needs to be informed in what order and what steps to take.
The CD I bought off Ebay had no cover and without having done further research, I expected some kind of game to take place when I popped it into my PC. But for good or worse, Leonard Nimoy's Primortals Interactive Comic Book & Reference Guide is just what it advertizes, a kind of making of with the story from the comics retold in abridged form with some sound effects and animation added.
The interactive comic book part recycles many of the drawings from the actual comic books but also introduces some variation. While in the comics the reporters just shout Dr. Karagigian's name when he arrives for the press conference and he answers with "No comment", on the CD the exchange reads as follows:
"Is it true you've been contacted by aliens?"
"Is it true you were abducted by aliens?"
"Is it true you're going to star in the next 'Alien?'"
"No ... What?!" (1)
The people behind the CD Rom were optimistic enough, planning for consecutive volumes, which ends the one at hand on a cliffhanger, presumably also to draw new potential readers over to the comics to follow the plot more readily. With the invention of the DVD Video format in the same year and the trend in providing interactivity it continued that started with the laser disc, the Primortals Interactive Comic Book & Reference Guide was a good shot riding the tide of it's time. But it was not enough, obviously, to get more people interested in the comic books to boost numbers and save them from being discontinued or be a success story on its own.
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