The Dig is a science-fiction point and click adventure game built on the SCUMM engine, as were other LucasArts adventures of the time such as The Secret of Monkey Island. The story concept was written by Steven Spielberg and was originally planned to be a movie. However, the budget required was quickly deemed too excessive, plus the CG technology of that time was not mature enough to create the asteroid Attila or the many unusual location and creatures. Ultimately, the concept was rolled over into a computer game. Around the time of release, a novelization of the game was also created, penned by veteran science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster.
The game suffered a long production time. It started in 1989 and had four different project leaders, Noah Falstein, followed by Brian Moriarty, then Dave Grossman, and finally Sean Clark. The game was finally released in July, 1995, to mixed reception.
The Dig went through many different incarnations. At first it was going to be set in the future, with characters crash landing on an unknown planet and having to find a way off it. The game was initially designed to be much more violent, with blood and gore in a lot of scenes. The violence was toned down because LucasArts felt it was too graphic for younger gamers. Some of this violence is kept in the novelization, most notably a detailed scene involving one of the characters' head injury.
The game proudly displayed the fact that actor Robert Patrick, antagonist from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, lent his voice for commander Boston Low. The Dig was re-released via Steam on July 8th, 2009 for $4.99.
The Dig has players following commander Boston Low through his mission to save the planet from an asteroid that would destroy Earth. But then he has to save his crew, when they are transported to a faraway planet with only their space suits and a few tools such as a shovel. Commander Low and his crew; reporter, Maggie Robbins and scientist, Dr. Ludger Brink, must explore the strange planet, dubbed "Cocytus", to find a way home and dig up a few discoveries along the way.
The Dig's score was composed by Michael Land, who also composed for other LucasArts titles, such as the Monkey Island series. For The Dig's score, he gathered a lot of inspiration from Wagner, using many chords from Wagner's works. The majority of the score was played on a K2000 synthesizer, with other live instruments occasionally mixed in. A full interview with Michael Land, conducted by The Dig Museum, can be found here.
- Upon mousing over Boston (when not in outer space) and hitting ctrl+B, Boston will flex his muscles.
- After examining the communicator a few times Boston will say, "It's a T-1000 model," a reference to the fact that the Boston's voice-over work was performed by Robert Patrick, who played the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- In the control room, if the player types "SWAN", they will see Boston taking a swim outside the window. This can only be done before completing the "exploding alien turtle" puzzle.
- In the tomb, on the ground on the left side of the screen, players can find a faint outline of Max the rabbit.
- The planet the astronauts are marooned on is nicknamed "Cocytus", after the circle of Hell which contained the only exit, by Ludger Brink. However, the dialogue in which he does this was removed from the final game, and it remains nameless throughout. The back of the CD case does retain the text "Greetings from Cocytus", though, and the novelization leaves the dialogue intact.
- Originally, there were meant to be four astronauts lost on Cocytus, not three. This is still reflected in the cover art for the game's soundtrack. The removed character is Toshi Olema, a Japanese businessman who funded the Atilla project on the condition that he be allowed to go into space with the crew. Olema was meant to die a gruesome death in an also-removed chamber where acid dripped from the ceiling, reflecting the more graphic nature of the game's early design. The unceasing nature of the acid flow would also mean that it would be impossible for the player to resurrect Toshi with Life Crystals, since Low would die if he attempted to get close to Olema's body. It is unknown whether Olema would have been resurrected at the end of the game when the Cocytans were freed from Spacetime Six.