Posts Tagged ‘infocom’

IF Only: What Will You, The Detective, Do Next?

Cropped box cover image for Deadline

The first piece of interactive fiction I ever played was Infocom’s locked-room murder mystery Deadline. With a plot that turned on embezzlement and unfaithfulness, not to mention a fiendishly unforgiving set of scheduling puzzles, this is not the game I myself would recommend for a six-year-old. But I suppose my parents figured it wouldn’t do me any harm, and it left me with a long-term affection for interactive mysteries.

The mystery is a natural fit for interactive fiction. The player has a clear goal. The focus of the story is usually firmly on past rather than present events. Locks, ciphers, and other standard puzzles feel at home in the genre. So many classic mysteries are essentially logic problems in fancy dress, so it’s not a great stretch to do the same thing in game form. (In fact, here’s Mattie Brice on why murder mystery writing can teach us about narrative game design in general.)

So if you have a taste for classic whodunnit genres rendered interactive, here are some highlights dating from 1995 to 2016.

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The Infocom Cabinet: Explore Text Adventure History

If you enjoy digging through video game history, documents, and artefacts, you’ll want to have a poke around the archives of Steve Meretzky. Back in the ’80s he worked at Infocom, the interactive fiction specialists behind dozens of classics and curious including Zork, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Meretzky sure collected an awful lot of stuff over the years. A few years back, he let the chap behind the GET LAMP documentary rummage and scan things, and now Jason Scott has uploaded literally thousands of pages of design notebooks, letters, sales data, photos, and more as The Infocom Cabinet. That’s not even it all.

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Fantastic Cartography: Why Videogame Maps Matter

I well up a bit looking at this. So many memories.

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Adam’s celebration of videogame cartography, from cloth maps to digital records of procedural worlds. This article was first published in 2011.

Some of my earliest memories of gaming are not of the games themselves but of the things that came bundled in the box with them. Whether it was a hefty manual, full of lore and encyclopaedic listings, or a little extra something. My games don’t even come in boxes anymore. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the shelves in the house where I grew up, full of big cardboard slabs with none of this DVD case finery. I’ve been remembering the excitement of opening the box on the bus, surreptitiously because my parents always thought I’d lose the manual or disks before we reached home. And I’ve been thinking about what else I sometimes found inside.

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Fantastic Cartography: Memories And Maps

I well up a bit looking at this. So many memories.

Some of my earliest memories of gaming are not of the games themselves but of the things that came bundled in the box with them. Whether it was a hefty manual, full of lore and encyclopaedic listings, or a little extra something. Most of my games don’t even come in boxes anymore, although sites such as Steam Covers can help to keep the physical alive. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the shelves in the house where I grew up, full of big cardboard slabs with none of this DVD case finery. I’ve been remembering the excitement of opening the box on the bus, surreptitiously because my parents always thought I’d lose the manual or disks before we reached home. And I’ve been thinking about what else I sometimes found inside.

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Milliways: The Lost Infocom Game

As it happens, I’ve recently been playing some Infocom text adventures. Guess what: Infocom were really rather good. Guess what else: there was one rather significant game they never released. And you can play some of it.

The late, great Mr Adams.

In a remarkable find by waxy.org (linked via the magics of QT3), amongst a complete archive of Infocom’s work is the game Milliways: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the unreleased sequel to one of the most famous and adored IF games of all time, Adams’ own Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. This was discovered on the somehow aquired “complete backup of Infocom’s shared network drive from 1989.”

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