III. Gladiators, Team-Members and Stickmen
When reading through the old city descriptions of Arena, you'll notice that every city had a gladiator team waiting for you to challenge them. The same principle was planned for TES IV: Oblivion, which had an Arena in every city, too, but the idea was discarded during the development of the game. A french article tells us more about the story: the gladiator teams fight against eachother and the winner will get the throne that (for some reason) is threatened by demonic forces. From the beginning there were always dungeons for the player to explore, to strengthen his characters before fighting other teams. Because fighting alone is boring, the player should be supported by a team of other characters. In the EXE of Arena you can find strings like "Team Leader" or "Team Member 2".
In an interview with Power Play in 1994, Vijay Lakshman revealed a list of features that were scrapped:
"We wanted to create a real 'Arena', were players can fight against NPCs ad win gold and prizes. For example, we also wanted to include the option of playing via network and having a party, with bargaining, hiring, firing, etc. Of course we couldn't integrate all of this."
On five screenshots that are from around June 1993, we can see an early version of the party-interface:
The first picture shows the Crystal Tower on the Summerset Isles. The dragons flying around the tower and spitting fire are very interesting.
The second screenshot might show the hideout of the party. Inside Arena's GLOBAL.BSA you can find a "Start Game" screen, maybe showing the same building.
The third screenshot shows kind of a treasure chamber.
The fourth screenshot clearly shows a Tavern.
The fifth seems to be a temple (like the Brotherhood of Seth, etc.).
That the interface of this version was far from being finished isn't hard to see. The character names weren't displayed and some of the buttons were playceholders with little stickmen instead of "real" people.
On screenshots from August 10th 1993 we finally see the finished interface of the party-version. The placeholders are replaced, characters are displayed properly and some details of the interface were polished.
The first screenshot shows the Crystal Tower again, but this time the scene looks different:
The dragons are positioned a bit lower and they don't spit fire.
The second screenshot shows that the bulk interface could be minimized to show more of the actual screen.
The journalist David Pipes described the party-based-fighting-system back in September 1993:
"It is a first-person perspective role- playing game, again with very good graphics and
sound, and a party to accompany the player. Players will control multiple characters in combat, in real time. They will be able to plan tactical actions and instruct the others to follow through, then watch it happen as they fight."