The Incomparable

75: My Gazebox is Full of Menhirs


00:00:00   the incomparable part test number 75 [TS]

00:00:07   january 2002 [TS]

00:00:14   welcome back to the incomparable podcast [TS]

00:00:16   my name is Greg NOS your host Jason [TS]

00:00:18   smell is away on assignment today we're [TS]

00:00:21   going to be discussing text adventure [TS]

00:00:23   these are computer games that were the [TS]

00:00:25   most popular in the early to mid [TS]

00:00:26   eighties you run the game and it would [TS]

00:00:29   give you a description of the room that [TS]

00:00:31   you were standing in a textual [TS]

00:00:32   description just words on the screen and [TS]

00:00:35   would describe exits and objects in the [TS]

00:00:37   room and then you would use English [TS]

00:00:39   sentences often very very simple English [TS]

00:00:42   sentences like get lamp and inventory [TS]

00:00:46   and go north to interact with the [TS]

00:00:49   environment the goal of the games was [TS]

00:00:51   usually to collect objects and solve [TS]

00:00:53   puzzles with them you would be presented [TS]

00:00:56   with situations that required you to [TS]

00:00:57   think through how what you had in your [TS]

00:01:00   inventory and what in the room could be [TS]

00:01:02   used together there was often scoring [TS]

00:01:04   systems that would give you particular [TS]

00:01:05   points for how you accomplished each of [TS]

00:01:07   these solutions but more off the goal [TS]

00:01:09   was just to finish the game to get to [TS]

00:01:11   the end to find out how the story [TS]

00:01:13   concluded with me today are Monty [TS]

00:01:15   actually hello hello Monty and Steve [TS]

00:01:19   lots [TS]

00:01:19   Hello Sailor nothing happens here text [TS]

00:01:24   adventures have a long and distinguished [TS]

00:01:25   history they started in 1975 when will [TS]

00:01:29   crowler at built the game adventure [TS]

00:01:32   it was modeled on the actual colossal [TS]

00:01:34   cave but with fantasy elements a man [TS]

00:01:37   named on Woods took it and expanded it [TS]

00:01:39   and released it onto the ARPANET where [TS]

00:01:41   it spread like wildfire as it was [TS]

00:01:44   adapted and and rebuilt for new systems [TS]

00:01:48   those to the schools that had spread to [TS]

00:01:50   include MIT or a bunch of them [TS]

00:01:53   undergraduates discovered it and built [TS]

00:01:55   Zork his work was created in 1977 and on [TS]

00:02:00   a mini computer and it actually launched [TS]

00:02:02   the text adventure golden age in 1978 a [TS]

00:02:08   man named scott adams produce the game a [TS]

00:02:11   simple game called adventureland that [TS]

00:02:12   was also modeled on the original [TS]

00:02:14   adventure and then in 1979 infocomm was [TS]

00:02:17   formed by the same people who had made [TS]

00:02:18   Zork and they released it for basically [TS]

00:02:22   every computer system that existed at [TS]

00:02:24   the time [TS]

00:02:25   surprisingly the Golden Age of text [TS]

00:02:27   adventures only [TS]

00:02:27   lasted about five or six years before [TS]

00:02:29   infocomm went down in flames on the [TS]

00:02:33   wings of cornerstone first business [TS]

00:02:35   product scott adams folded a year [TS]

00:02:37   earlier activation bought the infocomm [TS]

00:02:40   brand and then didn't do anything with [TS]

00:02:42   it other than abused it and text [TS]

00:02:45   adventures kind of went by the wayside [TS]

00:02:47   they gained graphics for a little while [TS]

00:02:49   and then they kind of mutated into the [TS]

00:02:51   point-and-click adventures from [TS]

00:02:53   LucasArts and sierra on-line and today [TS]

00:02:56   they only exist as games produced in [TS]

00:02:59   amateur competitions but they are [TS]

00:03:02   well-loved and have a glorious history [TS]

00:03:05   that has very very few people actually [TS]

00:03:09   remember given the participation in this [TS]

00:03:12   podcast what I'd like to do first [TS]

00:03:16   actually guys is is talk to you about [TS]

00:03:18   your first experience with text [TS]

00:03:21   adventures I mean how did you discover [TS]

00:03:23   them what games did you play first [TS]

00:03:25   what struck you about it that that [TS]

00:03:26   brought you to this low point 25 years [TS]

00:03:30   later money why don't you start my first [TS]

00:03:34   text adventure was the original colossal [TS]

00:03:36   cave adventure i played it on a CPM [TS]

00:03:39   machine we headed home to that is some [TS]

00:03:42   street cred right there [TS]

00:03:43   my mother had a very high tech job she [TS]

00:03:46   wrote later than that she wrote [TS]

00:03:48   third-party manuals and how to program [TS]

00:03:51   in cobol so we had one of those eight [TS]

00:03:55   inch floppy dive CPM machines [TS]

00:03:58   it was an altos which I can't find any [TS]

00:04:00   information about on the internet at all [TS]

00:04:02   i love their minutes so my first game [TS]

00:04:07   was actually the first text adventure [TS]

00:04:09   mostly what I like about it i think was [TS]

00:04:12   that I didn't need anybody to play it [TS]

00:04:14   with me because I couldn't get a good [TS]

00:04:16   dnd group going and and and thus we [TS]

00:04:22   discover the first common element of [TS]

00:04:24   text adventure fandom a lonely lonely [TS]

00:04:26   childhood and my best friend and I [TS]

00:04:29   played it for months and months the [TS]

00:04:32   trick about classical cave is that you [TS]

00:04:34   can get all but one point and have no [TS]

00:04:38   idea where that last point is [TS]

00:04:40   and eventually we learned by reading the [TS]

00:04:44   help files over and over again they have [TS]

00:04:47   to take this magazine i think it's [TS]

00:04:49   spelunker monthly and carry it into this [TS]

00:04:52   specific other room and drop it to prove [TS]

00:04:54   you explored their Wow and figuring that [TS]

00:04:58   out was one of the high points of my [TS]

00:05:00   youth that that also brings us to the [TS]

00:05:03   common experience of really unfair [TS]

00:05:07   puzzles [TS]

00:05:08   oh yeah this was complete nonsense but [TS]

00:05:10   it was in the help file [TS]

00:05:12   well in the help file just said you get [TS]

00:05:15   points for killing things solving [TS]

00:05:17   puzzles and exploring and carrying [TS]

00:05:19   spelunkers monthly into room g well I [TS]

00:05:23   think there was a parenthetical about [TS]

00:05:24   you may have to prove that you've been [TS]

00:05:26   places with send was this randomly [TS]

00:05:30   generated maze so they could say you are [TS]

00:05:33   at wit's end [TS]

00:05:35   yeah and it didn't seem to have any [TS]

00:05:37   other purpose in the game other than [TS]

00:05:39   maybe you're supposed to drop something [TS]

00:05:42   there and the magazine was in the [TS]

00:05:43   waiting room that's all better man than [TS]

00:05:46   I am I had a lot of time on my hands I [TS]

00:05:50   could have been perfectly satisfied not [TS]

00:05:51   to have that last point personally [TS]

00:05:53   called colossal cave trivia microsoft [TS]

00:05:57   a.m estas five-point shift with a [TS]

00:06:00   version of it was like five versions of [TS]

00:06:02   that over there were dozens [TS]

00:06:04   yeah it with the source code actually [TS]

00:06:06   the original was written on a PDP and [TS]

00:06:08   Fortran and I got the source code in [TS]

00:06:11   she's 86 I think and it had been run [TS]

00:06:14   through an automatic conversion to see [TS]

00:06:16   and so I i thought well this is [TS]

00:06:19   interesting i'm gonna take a look and I [TS]

00:06:21   looked at the source and it was see [TS]

00:06:23   automatically translated from Fortran [TS]

00:06:25   and then I close up the fine and on with [TS]

00:06:26   my life with nick is that the [TS]

00:06:29   programming equivalent of something [TS]

00:06:30   that's been run through group [TS]

00:06:32   yes to chinese and back Steve what about [TS]

00:06:35   you what was your first game [TS]

00:06:37   well I actually didn't start with text [TS]

00:06:39   adventures when my parents bought the [TS]

00:06:41   Apple to instead of the trs-80 color [TS]

00:06:45   computer that i really wanted back in [TS]

00:06:48   1979 they also picked up a couple of [TS]

00:06:51   assorted games [TS]

00:06:53   and among them with something called [TS]

00:06:55   mystery house also known as high res [TS]

00:06:58   adventure number one which was the first [TS]

00:07:02   of the online systems adventures made by [TS]

00:07:05   canon Roberta Williams which were became [TS]

00:07:08   sierra on-line it becames here online [TS]

00:07:11   eventually same team or at least Roberta [TS]

00:07:13   Williams produced King's Quest and you [TS]

00:07:17   know they may proceed on into adventure [TS]

00:07:19   history of the various games that I that [TS]

00:07:23   that we got when we purchased efforts [TS]

00:07:25   computer mystery house was the one that [TS]

00:07:27   really kind of sucked everybody in the [TS]

00:07:29   family in hand and took up all our time [TS]

00:07:31   and again it wasn't it wasn't text it [TS]

00:07:35   was a two-word parser there was a there [TS]

00:07:38   was some very rudimentary graphics at [TS]

00:07:41   the top rendered in lovingly in black [TS]

00:07:46   and white and green and purple which is [TS]

00:07:49   what the Apple produced in high res mode [TS]

00:07:52   I never quite figured out why that was [TS]

00:07:55   exactly but at least I had the white and [TS]

00:07:58   the purple and not just green that my [TS]

00:08:01   friend Mike across the street had and [TS]

00:08:04   then we had four lines of text at the [TS]

00:08:05   bottom was a two-word parser the the [TS]

00:08:09   images look like they've been drawn by a [TS]

00:08:11   two-year-old on a very rudimentary [TS]

00:08:13   digital pad of some kind [TS]

00:08:16   you're being generous yeah I really AM [TS]

00:08:18   they work they were pretty terrible and [TS]

00:08:19   they didn't really get much better over [TS]

00:08:21   the course of the next five high res [TS]

00:08:23   adventures they did improve a little and [TS]

00:08:26   then introduced color at one point but [TS]

00:08:28   my mom in particular really took to the [TS]

00:08:31   22 mystery Allison to adventure games in [TS]

00:08:35   general and so she systematically [TS]

00:08:40   brought in all the various high res [TS]

00:08:42   adventures and lots of other graphic [TS]

00:08:45   adventures many of which are lost in the [TS]

00:08:48   mists of time and rightfully so and then [TS]

00:08:51   eventually from there I heard about Zork [TS]

00:08:55   in we had this massive volume of game [TS]

00:08:59   reviews which really I mean it was the [TS]

00:09:01   only place you found game reviews back [TS]

00:09:03   in the day it was either in some [TS]

00:09:04   magazine like soft talk [TS]

00:09:06   or I you know some sort of hobbyist [TS]

00:09:08   magazine or in this gigantic book of [TS]

00:09:12   reviews that you buy we didn't have no [TS]

00:09:15   highfalutin internet to go looking up [TS]

00:09:17   reviews on so hi Rayna crosses or can it [TS]

00:09:20   sounded fascinating and one day my [TS]

00:09:22   friend Mike had a copy and I borrowed it [TS]

00:09:24   and spent spent months with that game [TS]

00:09:30   kept finding excuses not to return it [TS]

00:09:33   until I solve the thing and it went on [TS]

00:09:36   from there the rest is history [TS]

00:09:38   you know if you use a hole punch to add [TS]

00:09:41   a write-protect notch to the other side [TS]

00:09:43   of the floppy you can store on both [TS]

00:09:44   sides [TS]

00:09:45   yeah that was pretty cool storage was [TS]

00:09:48   not it was not really an issue in my [TS]

00:09:50   early gaming in fact that mystery house [TS]

00:09:55   came in a ziploc bag with one blue sheet [TS]

00:09:59   of paper as the instructions and they [TS]

00:10:02   mentioned something like there's a [TS]

00:10:04   sentence fragment towards the end of [TS]

00:10:05   that that sheet of paper that said you [TS]

00:10:08   can save game as well and we know what [TS]

00:10:11   the hell that was all we do is that we [TS]

00:10:13   typed savegame that said something about [TS]

00:10:15   overriding previous games and that [TS]

00:10:17   freaking us all out and so we didn't we [TS]

00:10:19   never did it [TS]

00:10:20   we thought we were going to write over [TS]

00:10:21   the entirety of the game and and and and [TS]

00:10:24   that would be it for Mystery House the [TS]

00:10:26   CPM version of colossal cave i played [TS]

00:10:28   had a savegame system where you type [TS]

00:10:31   save game and it would quit the game [TS]

00:10:33   completely and then you were supposed to [TS]

00:10:35   save the core image of the computer i'm [TS]

00:10:41   still not sure what that meant [TS]

00:10:44   well we we played through mystery house [TS]

00:10:47   without ever saving the game which was a [TS]

00:10:49   massive pain because you had to visit [TS]

00:10:51   every room before you could find the [TS]

00:10:54   trapdoor in the Attic you actually have [TS]

00:10:56   to head with bed and every single room [TS]

00:10:58   in the game and there are several rooms [TS]

00:11:00   that were kind of off on you know [TS]

00:11:02   branching paths where there was just [TS]

00:11:04   nothing there at the end of that path so [TS]

00:11:06   after having played two or three times [TS]

00:11:08   we knew all you don't bother to go down [TS]

00:11:10   this hall on the second floor because [TS]

00:11:11   there's nothing there but a poorly drawn [TS]

00:11:13   bed and a window that looks more like a [TS]

00:11:16   refrigerator [TS]

00:11:17   and so it took us it must have been [TS]

00:11:22   weeks before somebody just accidentally [TS]

00:11:25   you know in desperation wandered all of [TS]

00:11:28   the room and then chose to look through [TS]

00:11:31   this telescope out in the forest and saw [TS]

00:11:33   suddenly there was a trapdoor in the [TS]

00:11:35   room so just the let's family finishes [TS]

00:11:37   dinner and gathers around the Apple to [TS]

00:11:40   and says I know let's play colossal cave [TS]

00:11:42   or excuse me hi res adventure number one [TS]

00:11:45   ok and they loaded up and they start [TS]

00:11:47   from the beginning every time it was not [TS]

00:11:50   a massive game so it wasn't a big deal [TS]

00:11:53   and as I said most of the family was [TS]

00:11:56   pretty driven to finish the thing we're [TS]

00:11:57   fairly competitive so everybody was [TS]

00:11:59   trying to finish it first so it really [TS]

00:12:02   was just considered kind of a minor [TS]

00:12:03   nuisance at the time I mean we didn't [TS]

00:12:05   know any better [TS]

00:12:06   how we hadn't seen computer games before [TS]

00:12:07   was a wild frontier back that you could [TS]

00:12:10   do anything strange and wonderful [TS]

00:12:12   technology that makes you start from the [TS]

00:12:14   beginning every time as yes well you [TS]

00:12:17   know i don't i don't remember what my [TS]

00:12:19   first game I have a vague memory of [TS]

00:12:21   going over to a friend's house in like [TS]

00:12:23   junior high and he had an apple to not [TS]

00:12:25   an apple to plus an apple too and i'm [TS]

00:12:28   playing some scott adams adventures [TS]

00:12:31   adventureland was the first but I I [TS]

00:12:34   couldn't tell you anything about it [TS]

00:12:36   the first game I really remember is orc [TS]

00:12:37   and the what we do is take a pirated [TS]

00:12:41   copy and punch a hole in the disk so you [TS]

00:12:45   can flip it over and store the games on [TS]

00:12:46   the other side and so you had one nice [TS]

00:12:49   little five and a quarter inch package [TS]

00:12:51   of the game on one side and all your [TS]

00:12:54   saves on the other I I completely fell [TS]

00:12:56   in love the first time I strides or it [TS]

00:12:58   was just amazing and I'm actually [TS]

00:13:01   surprised that that it's not what you [TS]

00:13:06   guys started with I mean it was such a [TS]

00:13:07   phenomenon as far as they went in 1980 [TS]

00:13:12   it was exciting to get sore because I [TS]

00:13:14   started before short came out so i had [TS]

00:13:18   to suffer through colossal k which was [TS]

00:13:20   fairly interestingly written but mostly [TS]

00:13:22   just a bunch of descriptions of caves [TS]

00:13:24   and random treasures and then the scott [TS]

00:13:28   adams adventures which are just whore [TS]

00:13:30   really written so with when Zork hit and [TS]

00:13:34   it was something that had a sense of [TS]

00:13:36   humor about itself it was tremendously [TS]

00:13:39   exciting [TS]

00:13:40   plus you could take more letters that it [TS]

00:13:41   would recognize words i remember [TS]

00:13:43   adventureland only recognize the first [TS]

00:13:45   three letters York 126 yeah that's my [TS]

00:13:50   the the first game i bought the first [TS]

00:13:52   infocomm game i bought and my favorite [TS]

00:13:54   to this day is deadline it was their [TS]

00:13:56   third game and it was the first one that [TS]

00:13:58   included Feelies you know the you would [TS]

00:14:00   buy the game and it came in a sealed [TS]

00:14:02   inspection envelope and you have to [TS]

00:14:03   slide a knife under it to break the seal [TS]

00:14:06   and inside were little pills that have [TS]

00:14:08   been found near the murder scene and all [TS]

00:14:09   the photographic evidence and in the [TS]

00:14:14   game there's a gazebo and I being 13 14 [TS]

00:14:18   years old I had never heard of a gazebo [TS]

00:14:22   this was a strange in new world for me [TS]

00:14:24   and so I knew however that the game only [TS]

00:14:27   our step 26 characters and so I thought [TS]

00:14:30   it was a bug and it was a gaze box that [TS]

00:14:34   had just left the X off and if I could [TS]

00:14:39   just briefly ask you what did you think [TS]

00:14:41   a gaze box was it was something in a [TS]

00:14:45   garden that you could walk into an [TS]

00:14:46   apparently look out of it was a boxy [TS]

00:14:50   structure like shake you could gaze it [TS]

00:14:51   was out of it [TS]

00:14:52   there you go that makes perfect sense [TS]

00:14:54   for today's box i learned lots of words [TS]

00:14:58   from from my early infocomm like many [TS]

00:15:00   here or plover from classical cave [TS]

00:15:04   there's a that's not actually a word [TS]

00:15:06   though is it's a bird [TS]

00:15:07   what is Steve still learning words today [TS]

00:15:10   I think it's an emerald the size of a [TS]

00:15:12   plover zeg which sounds all well and [TS]

00:15:15   good but I don't know how big the [TS]

00:15:16   plovers egg is a pole over zeg wow I [TS]

00:15:21   remember looking up men here just to [TS]

00:15:22   figure out what it was when they [TS]

00:15:24   standing stones in the description so if [TS]

00:15:27   you knew what those were you did no I [TS]

00:15:30   didn't slide look it up to have a lot of [TS]

00:15:32   experience with gays bows and standing [TS]

00:15:34   stones standing still adjust the to tend [TS]

00:15:36   to go together [TS]

00:15:37   my my gaze boxes full of men here's [TS]

00:15:41   and the I just I I mean for me playing [TS]

00:15:47   adventure games and sounds like for [TS]

00:15:48   Monty at least 20 and fractionated for [TS]

00:15:50   Steve as well was a really social [TS]

00:15:52   experience I mean we would sit around [TS]

00:15:54   and play like the atari VCS with [TS]

00:15:57   everybody in the neighborhood sitting [TS]

00:15:58   around but they were only one or two [TS]

00:16:00   really hardcore adventure gamers in my [TS]

00:16:02   neighborhood and we would sit around and [TS]

00:16:03   try and solve puzzles together taking [TS]

00:16:05   turns driving i remember planetfall one [TS]

00:16:08   of the later rape where I think infocomm [TS]

00:16:11   hit its peak really in that area [TS]

00:16:13   planetfall i played and my house on the [TS]

00:16:18   phone with a friend who lived two blocks [TS]

00:16:20   away he was playing it at his house and [TS]

00:16:23   we were just talking to each other the [TS]

00:16:25   whole time for three solid days saying i [TS]

00:16:28   found a circuit board i figured out how [TS]

00:16:31   to get that robot to shut up [TS]

00:16:32   oh my god have you done this and you [TS]

00:16:34   killed Floyd yes that was very very sad [TS]

00:16:37   faster that that's actually the that [TS]

00:16:41   that moment in in planetfall is a lot of [TS]

00:16:45   people site that is like the first time [TS]

00:16:47   a computer game made them cry i'm not [TS]

00:16:50   going to run up to it but I remember it [TS]

00:16:52   being an emotional moment that sounds [TS]

00:16:56   like spelunker is weakly would have made [TS]

00:16:58   me cry a little bit i was definitely [TS]

00:17:00   emotionally affected by it [TS]

00:17:02   by that point in the game I had spent a [TS]

00:17:04   lot of time with the innocent childlike [TS]

00:17:06   robot Floyd and when he sacrificed [TS]

00:17:08   himself to save me and then for no [TS]

00:17:13   reason saying a song that took up the [TS]

00:17:15   entire screen the ballad of the [TS]

00:17:19   star-crossed lovers yes which for no [TS]

00:17:22   reason [TS]

00:17:22   recap the plot of the previous info card [TS]

00:17:26   games star cross was a great moment I [TS]

00:17:30   think that was one of the one of the [TS]

00:17:31   earliest if not the first moment that I [TS]

00:17:34   remember the whole debate about whether [TS]

00:17:35   computer games can be art came up and it [TS]

00:17:38   still rages to this day [TS]

00:17:39   Roger Ebert is wrong is so add money [TS]

00:17:43   what what's your favorite game just [TS]

00:17:45   going back in history the games i [TS]

00:17:48   thought were the best were either [TS]

00:17:49   Trinity or lurking horror trinity is [TS]

00:17:54   this [TS]

00:17:54   weird almost plotless combination of [TS]

00:17:58   Alice in Wonderland and the development [TS]

00:18:01   of nuclear technology where you end up [TS]

00:18:04   having to go to different places in time [TS]

00:18:07   where nuclear bombs happened and make [TS]

00:18:11   sure that they do there's also an [TS]

00:18:13   overlay of Mary Poppins and Peter Pan [TS]

00:18:16   going on to it's very odd but very [TS]

00:18:20   evocative and the other one is lurking [TS]

00:18:22   horror which is the one that's very [TS]

00:18:24   loved crafty and set at what's in homage [TS]

00:18:27   to love em Brian Moriarty wrote Trinity [TS]

00:18:30   right and he went on to do a lot of [TS]

00:18:32   lucasfilm stuff like the dig in bloom [TS]

00:18:34   city [TS]

00:18:35   I don't think he was involved in the dig [TS]

00:18:37   but he definitely did loam I i remember [TS]

00:18:40   when it came out a lot of people are [TS]

00:18:42   talking about it like it was a turning [TS]

00:18:43   point that in mind forever voyaging were [TS]

00:18:45   like like planetfall was you know in an [TS]

00:18:48   emotional moment in interactive fiction [TS]

00:18:50   mfv and trinity were literary moments [TS]

00:18:55   where it wasn't just a a game anymore it [TS]

00:18:58   was it was a story I wasn't crazy about [TS]

00:19:02   a mind forever voyaging as a game there [TS]

00:19:05   was way too much of just walking through [TS]

00:19:08   the plot there really is only one puzzle [TS]

00:19:11   to speak of it yeah there's one puzzle [TS]

00:19:13   it [TS]

00:19:13   yeah like you had a whole lot of things [TS]

00:19:15   you are required to do but mostly your [TS]

00:19:17   job well it was a novel rather than a [TS]

00:19:21   game resisted a novel you interacted [TS]

00:19:23   with us [TS]

00:19:24   what text adventures became is [TS]

00:19:25   interactive fiction they started [TS]

00:19:27   experimenting with with things other [TS]

00:19:30   than just adventure games while they [TS]

00:19:33   were experimenting fairly early like [TS]

00:19:36   suspended is a crazy idea for a game [TS]

00:19:39   where you have to control six different [TS]

00:19:41   robots each of which interact with the [TS]

00:19:44   world in a different way so the only way [TS]

00:19:46   to operate things you have to fix irises [TS]

00:19:49   site because iris is the only one who [TS]

00:19:50   can see things and then once iris works [TS]

00:19:52   you can look around and use the feeling [TS]

00:19:55   robot to feel what's broken [TS]

00:19:57   that was written by michael Berlin who [TS]

00:19:59   is a set established science fiction [TS]

00:20:01   author yeah that was their first attempt [TS]

00:20:04   at really getting ambitious [TS]

00:20:07   it was also i think the first game to [TS]

00:20:10   feature an impossible mode right yeah [TS]

00:20:12   that which was genuinely impossible [TS]

00:20:14   yeah you started and the world would end [TS]

00:20:16   in six turns or so [TS]

00:20:18   hooray just like real life [TS]

00:20:22   what I liked about that game was when we [TS]

00:20:24   were trying to solve it [TS]

00:20:25   my friend Mike and I figured out that [TS]

00:20:28   you could use any robots description is [TS]

00:20:30   everything in the game each robot would [TS]

00:20:32   describe differently so iris would say [TS]

00:20:34   the blue thing whereas out o would say [TS]

00:20:37   the thing that goes being without it was [TS]

00:20:40   the listening robot but eventually [TS]

00:20:43   figured out that if you used wiz at who [TS]

00:20:46   was the cursor librarian robot you could [TS]

00:20:48   just call everything the LH one or the [TS]

00:20:51   PX 2 and that would save your typing a [TS]

00:20:54   lot but great thing infocomm ever did [TS]

00:20:57   with shorten inventory to I helices l [TS]

00:21:00   and again was G which we have huge just [TS]

00:21:03   before this podcast i was playing a very [TS]

00:21:05   early version of Zork to that did not [TS]

00:21:08   have g4 again and i asked i'm steve what [TS]

00:21:12   was your what's your favorite game [TS]

00:21:14   well it's a toss up for me I don't think [TS]

00:21:16   I'm quite as as experience with the [TS]

00:21:19   infocomm cannons youtube because I never [TS]

00:21:21   quite got around to doing Trinity I [TS]

00:21:22   think I move your ultimate by that point [TS]

00:21:24   good play it now no I was I had just [TS]

00:21:27   branched off onto a different path of [TS]

00:21:28   loser hood at that point I was I was [TS]

00:21:30   more into the ultimate wasteland other [TS]

00:21:33   RPGs by that point but of the ones that [TS]

00:21:37   i have played it's a toss up for me [TS]

00:21:39   between chanter which I just really like [TS]

00:21:43   the dynamic of collecting spells I think [TS]

00:21:46   they the OCD part of me which is like [TS]

00:21:47   ninety percent of me really enjoyed that [TS]

00:21:49   the whole experience of walking around [TS]

00:21:52   collecting spells and it was nice to be [TS]

00:21:55   in a fantasy environment where there was [TS]

00:21:58   less randomness than Zork and the [TS]

00:22:02   difficulty level wasn't just [TS]

00:22:04   over-the-top and unfair i think that was [TS]

00:22:07   probably the first infocomm game that I [TS]

00:22:10   played through without having to look at [TS]

00:22:13   any hint anywhere it resort kind of [TS]

00:22:15   suffers from the early adventure game [TS]

00:22:17   problem of we're just making puzzles up [TS]

00:22:20   as we go [TS]

00:22:20   rain another puzzle we need another [TS]

00:22:22   puzzle we need another puzzle and a lot [TS]

00:22:24   of it feels like they just came up with [TS]

00:22:26   puzzles and slam together and in a [TS]

00:22:28   totally haphazard way I mean there's not [TS]

00:22:30   really a lot of coherence in the fantasy [TS]

00:22:31   world there right [TS]

00:22:32   really the baseball diamond puzzle has [TS]

00:22:34   no context in a fantasy settings i have [TS]

00:22:37   played Zork probably 50 times by this [TS]

00:22:41   point and i can play the whole thing [TS]

00:22:42   without drawing a map [TS]

00:22:45   I still don't understand the baseball [TS]

00:22:46   puzzle at all [TS]

00:22:48   well there's there's a bat and it says [TS]

00:22:51   babe flathead right I you're supposed to [TS]

00:22:54   swing the bat goes to find the bat swing [TS]

00:22:57   it and then run in a diamond [TS]

00:23:00   yes I don't know what direction diamond [TS]

00:23:02   is supposed to go [TS]

00:23:03   I think you're only available directions [TS]

00:23:05   are northeast northwest southeast and [TS]

00:23:07   southwest right and you can't go north [TS]

00:23:09   south and everything says dymond I mean [TS]

00:23:12   it's like a diamond shape Iran angular [TS]

00:23:14   room with a diamond-shaped window even [TS]

00:23:16   even assuming you have the baseball [TS]

00:23:18   context that's required to understand [TS]

00:23:20   the puzzle explain why it's in a fantasy [TS]

00:23:23   setting again like it that I cannot do [TS]

00:23:26   well you see the flatheads were famously [TS]

00:23:28   eccentric and extremely rich so they [TS]

00:23:31   would do crazy things like hollow out of [TS]

00:23:33   volcano just store there one crowd and [TS]

00:23:36   build a flood control damn yes so [TS]

00:23:38   clearly babe flathead wanted to have an [TS]

00:23:42   underground baseball diamond [TS]

00:23:43   it was the Big Blue Ox flathead right [TS]

00:23:45   yes while Duncan Thrax was was [TS]

00:23:48   pioneering double fanucci babe flathead [TS]

00:23:52   was working out the rules for a [TS]

00:23:53   rudimentary version of baseball that's [TS]

00:23:56   that's one of the reasons i like [TS]

00:23:57   deadline so much it was outside of the [TS]

00:24:00   cannon that was dragged from you know [TS]

00:24:02   MIT when they were just throwing the [TS]

00:24:05   game together it was start to finish [TS]

00:24:08   written as a coherent experience [TS]

00:24:11   yeah that's that's that's exactly why I [TS]

00:24:13   liked enchanter because it flowed all [TS]

00:24:17   the rooms made sense they you can [TS]

00:24:19   understand why they were where they were [TS]

00:24:21   as a result and ended up kind of I think [TS]

00:24:24   a little bit more of a linear experience [TS]

00:24:26   but really enjoyed it for that for for [TS]

00:24:30   all those reasons [TS]

00:24:31   and then second which may or may not be [TS]

00:24:35   first I think I kind of go back and [TS]

00:24:37   forth what it [TS]

00:24:40   yes exactly would be leather goddesses [TS]

00:24:44   of Phobos oh you pervy little bastard [TS]

00:24:47   which had all of the humor of of [TS]

00:24:50   hitchhikers + tax 7-bit ascii sex+ far [TS]

00:24:56   less difficulty and more reasonable [TS]

00:24:58   puzzles and except for that stupid maze [TS]

00:25:01   where you had to hop every set seven [TS]

00:25:03   steps and every three steps or whatever [TS]

00:25:06   it was and I don't for some reason I [TS]

00:25:08   don't recall that maybe black that out [TS]

00:25:10   of my memory we we wrote that out yeah [TS]

00:25:12   you had to eventually you know just just [TS]

00:25:14   writing out the commands just so we [TS]

00:25:15   would make sure to hop and do everything [TS]

00:25:19   that was necessary every proper term [TS]

00:25:21   number okay yeah it's coming back to me [TS]

00:25:24   yeah that kind of sucked so what do you [TS]

00:25:27   like about it other than the the naughty [TS]

00:25:29   bits it was funny [TS]

00:25:31   I mean it's all the all the info con [TS]

00:25:33   games were funny on some level but I [TS]

00:25:35   always enjoyed moretz keys work and you [TS]

00:25:39   know I i suspect that he's largely [TS]

00:25:41   responsible for why Hitchhiker's Guide [TS]

00:25:44   was so entertaining as well [TS]

00:25:45   well on the douglas adams podcast there [TS]

00:25:48   we talked about how legendarily bad [TS]

00:25:52   adams was with deadlines ran they [TS]

00:25:56   eventually just kind of chuck the game [TS]

00:25:59   tumors etsy and and he finished it right [TS]

00:26:02   which is also why bureaucracy is [TS]

00:26:04   credited to the staff of infocomm and in [TS]

00:26:07   tiny little 8.5 douglas adams i'm [TS]

00:26:11   actually did the infocomm implosion you [TS]

00:26:15   know they were found it is as they were [TS]

00:26:18   going to write new software they were [TS]

00:26:19   just going to pour torque and continue [TS]

00:26:21   to do adventure games but it turned out [TS]

00:26:23   to be so profitable that they just kept [TS]

00:26:24   going gangbusters and then when they [TS]

00:26:26   actually did come out with a business [TS]

00:26:27   product which was their database [TS]

00:26:28   cornerstone in 1985 it fell flat on its [TS]

00:26:31   face one of the advantages they had when [TS]

00:26:35   with their adventure games was they [TS]

00:26:37   wrote a bytecode interpreter which is [TS]

00:26:39   nerd talk for something that could take [TS]

00:26:41   a very very compressed script and squash [TS]

00:26:44   it all [TS]

00:26:45   onto a single in the case of my Atari [TS]

00:26:47   490 k floppy drive and still included a [TS]

00:26:51   reasonable amount of texts [TS]

00:26:53   um and then they could just pour the [TS]

00:26:55   bytecode interpreter to each of the new [TS]

00:26:57   architectures whether it's Apple to or [TS]

00:26:58   commodore 64 Monty's families CPM [TS]

00:27:02   machine by that point we had gotten [TS]

00:27:04   better computers at home [TS]

00:27:06   ok and and so they could release all [TS]

00:27:09   these games or all these different [TS]

00:27:11   platforms at the same time because the [TS]

00:27:12   same script run and ran on each of the [TS]

00:27:14   bike open code interpreters for each of [TS]

00:27:17   the machines but they tried the same [TS]

00:27:18   thing with Cornerstone where the the [TS]

00:27:22   product was written by code interpreted [TS]

00:27:24   which meant it was very very very slow [TS]

00:27:26   and around 95 you know it just the [TS]

00:27:32   function of computer games is very [TS]

00:27:33   different than the function of business [TS]

00:27:35   software and slowness doesn't help and [TS]

00:27:37   they never ported it to anything other [TS]

00:27:39   than the pc well there was no point [TS]

00:27:41   everybody was using pc for the [TS]

00:27:42   enterprise at that point so you just use [TS]

00:27:45   the word enterprise it not in a Star [TS]

00:27:47   Trek context yes i know i'm sorry their [TS]

00:27:50   whole their whole reason for in doing an [TS]

00:27:52   interpretive database was pretty much [TS]

00:27:54   out the window at that point the driver [TS]

00:27:55   stock so and they're stuck with the [TS]

00:27:57   overhead and they're charging five [TS]

00:27:59   hundred dollars for something that [TS]

00:28:00   didn't include a natural language parser [TS]

00:28:02   which is what they were known for and [TS]

00:28:04   the company just kind of crumbled at [TS]

00:28:07   that point and it's their greatest work [TS]

00:28:09   was behind them at that point i don't [TS]

00:28:12   know i think that they were still [TS]

00:28:13   putting out [TS]

00:28:15   trinity I think Trinity was a pretty [TS]

00:28:16   late one and lurking horror was in there [TS]

00:28:18   last year [TS]

00:28:19   Trinity was 86 but they were all they [TS]

00:28:22   were doing James Clavell shogun you know [TS]

00:28:25   they were they were grasping at straws [TS]

00:28:26   dated plundered hearts which nothing [TS]

00:28:28   against plundered hearts but it they [TS]

00:28:31   were looking for new markets the [TS]

00:28:33   cornerstones released in 85 and that [TS]

00:28:38   meant that Trinity leather goddesses [TS]

00:28:39   bureaucracy station fall which was [TS]

00:28:42   admittedly not as good as planetfall [TS]

00:28:43   lurking horror you know the two somewhat [TS]

00:28:48   lesser zor countries that those were all [TS]

00:28:51   post post cornerstone so they were still [TS]

00:28:53   putting together some decent games [TS]

00:28:54   towards the animated shogun and [TS]

00:28:57   a you know their their feeble attempt at [TS]

00:29:00   RPGs which was I think what quarter [TS]

00:29:02   staff but they also they did they'd like [TS]

00:29:06   border zone which was a fine game but it [TS]

00:29:09   was it wasn't a coherent story it was [TS]

00:29:11   just a bunch of little vignettes that [TS]

00:29:13   one they were trying to add graphics but [TS]

00:29:16   they weren't doing it well and it was a [TS]

00:29:17   ski graphics talent tell me that that [TS]

00:29:21   Nordenberg couldn't make heads or tails [TS]

00:29:23   of it is not a weird game [TS]

00:29:27   no I will not tell you that I still kind [TS]

00:29:30   of enjoy playing that although there are [TS]

00:29:32   a couple specific parts of that still [TS]

00:29:34   make me very angry [TS]

00:29:35   the spoonerism section still runs [TS]

00:29:37   through my head [TS]

00:29:38   some of those art spoonerisms keep tell [TS]

00:29:43   us how angry it makes you if they didn't [TS]

00:29:48   do it did [TS]

00:29:49   did anybody in the world play Sherlock I [TS]

00:29:52   played Sherlock know what Monty and then [TS]

00:29:55   nobody else [TS]

00:29:56   Sherlock is very unsatisfying what about [TS]

00:29:58   Arthur never played Arthur you can't [TS]

00:30:02   even get started in Sherlock unless you [TS]

00:30:04   know that dr. Watson keeps his [TS]

00:30:06   stethoscope in his hat it is had a [TS]

00:30:12   euphemism it could be I don't know [TS]

00:30:14   everything is written in this weird [TS]

00:30:16   British is to use the term bowler that [TS]

00:30:18   could be anything really i just did you [TS]

00:30:22   know it seems like they were grasping [TS]

00:30:24   for new markets like see starker was a [TS]

00:30:26   young person's game and that was earlier [TS]

00:30:29   admittedly but just they didn't maybe I [TS]

00:30:33   was growing up in and discovering at [TS]

00:30:35   least my interest in girls if not actual [TS]

00:30:37   girls and they didn't grab me the way [TS]

00:30:40   like deadline or starcross you're [TS]

00:30:42   suspended did well I feel like in that [TS]

00:30:45   later era while they were also doing [TS]

00:30:47   rich interesting games like Trinity and [TS]

00:30:49   learning or they're also trying to do [TS]

00:30:51   games that had multiple story options in [TS]

00:30:54   them the movement plundered hearts [TS]

00:30:56   cutthroats and I think Sherlock all had [TS]

00:30:58   three different possible plots you could [TS]

00:31:01   follow which [TS]

00:31:04   looks they were always chasing [TS]

00:31:05   replayability yeah I which they never [TS]

00:31:09   had in their early games you know once [TS]

00:31:10   you were done with his work you're [TS]

00:31:11   pretty much done in fact i played it [TS]

00:31:14   just out of sheer a nostalgia couple of [TS]

00:31:17   days ago and it took me two days and I [TS]

00:31:19   still remember exactly where everything [TS]

00:31:20   was it's been two decades since i last [TS]

00:31:22   touch the thing but then again i played [TS]

00:31:25   it again didn't I so replayability is [TS]

00:31:27   that's why I have all the infocomm games [TS]

00:31:29   on my iPad so i can play that whatever I [TS]

00:31:31   want and feel really really smart this [TS]

00:31:34   just out of curiosity what do you think [TS]

00:31:36   could be used in that space of your [TS]

00:31:37   brain that's taken up with infocomm [TS]

00:31:39   walkthroughs I don't know it probably [TS]

00:31:42   abba lyrics or something if it wasn't in [TS]

00:31:44   focus on something I'm going to find [TS]

00:31:45   myself west of white house and I'll know [TS]

00:31:47   if it's going to go in North up get egg [TS]

00:31:49   down south east open window West West [TS]

00:31:52   open case and so on but the damn thief [TS]

00:31:55   the randomness that was my most hated [TS]

00:31:58   thing about the early infocomm is the [TS]

00:32:00   random elements always drove me nuts [TS]

00:32:03   that you couldn't consistently kill the [TS]

00:32:05   troll or that the thief would pop up and [TS]

00:32:08   swipe something and make your game on [TS]

00:32:09   when we are you can save the game right [TS]

00:32:11   before you do that [TS]

00:32:12   what does explain this savegame thing to [TS]

00:32:14   was the first of all you're better at [TS]

00:32:16   killing things when you have more points [TS]

00:32:18   so you should get us i only just learned [TS]

00:32:19   that a couple of days ago pick and [TS]

00:32:22   second you can get everything back from [TS]

00:32:24   the thief after you kill him and he's [TS]

00:32:26   used the nasty knife against the thief [TS]

00:32:28   because that's better but the sword is [TS]

00:32:30   better against the troll yeah [TS]

00:32:33   do not use the rusty knife against [TS]

00:32:35   anything because it is cursed and will [TS]

00:32:36   kill you right you can throw it can you [TS]

00:32:39   can but it will the rusty knife will [TS]

00:32:41   turn around in midair and stab you in [TS]

00:32:42   the throat oh yeah there is that one of [TS]

00:32:45   the proudest moments of my young life [TS]

00:32:46   was figuring out that the dexterous [TS]

00:32:48   thief is going to be able to open the [TS]

00:32:49   egg where I fumble-fingered me cannot [TS]

00:32:52   you see you have to open the egg because [TS]

00:32:54   there's a beautiful clockwork canary in [TS]

00:32:56   it and then you have to use the canary [TS]

00:32:58   outside in the trees to get the ball [TS]

00:33:01   place feuding somebody picked him down [TS]

00:33:04   equipment and this is important [TS]

00:33:07   information anyway infocomm blew up that [TS]

00:33:11   it was acquired by activision they [TS]

00:33:13   spotted along for another couple of [TS]

00:33:15   years and then just started releasing [TS]

00:33:17   greatest [TS]

00:33:18   and I think that the reason info comms [TS]

00:33:21   hold up especially the early ones is [TS]

00:33:22   because they're not game so much as they [TS]

00:33:25   are novels they are experiences and you [TS]

00:33:27   have an experience and you can put on [TS]

00:33:29   the shelf and you can bring it down to [TS]

00:33:30   have the experience again that's why i [TS]

00:33:32   don't think the multiple storylines [TS]

00:33:33   worked you don't replay Zork they [TS]

00:33:37   replayed like minor 2014 einer to throw [TS]

00:33:42   in another mid-eighties videogame her [TS]

00:33:45   parents their anthologies the multiple [TS]

00:33:47   storyline ones isn't in their [TS]

00:33:50   neighborhoods is an anthology of three [TS]

00:33:52   fairly boring Pirates have read worse it [TS]

00:33:58   is there the airplane novels of the [TS]

00:34:01   interactive fiction world I think that [TS]

00:34:04   was one of the best stated goals of [TS]

00:34:06   infocomm early on in there there early [TS]

00:34:09   days was that they wanted their their [TS]

00:34:12   games to eventually be up on the shelves [TS]

00:34:14   in a bookstore you next great literature [TS]

00:34:17   so i think a lofty goal that perhaps [TS]

00:34:20   overstated the the reach of the computer [TS]

00:34:22   game industry in this those days well [TS]

00:34:24   they they continue I mean they're [TS]

00:34:25   they're games continued to sell long [TS]

00:34:28   after they were released which was a [TS]

00:34:29   rarity for the industry usually game [TS]

00:34:31   comes out those up big not big like [TS]

00:34:34   today but big for the time and then [TS]

00:34:36   would fade as people played it and got [TS]

00:34:38   used to it and moved on but if you come [TS]

00:34:40   to zork you can plays work the same way [TS]

00:34:42   today that you played it 20 years ago [TS]

00:34:45   that I think two is part of the rapid [TS]

00:34:48   destruction that Activision made on [TS]

00:34:51   financial com after they acquired them [TS]

00:34:53   was they take we're treated them like [TS]

00:34:55   regular video games with the other would [TS]

00:34:58   keep their their seven-year-old games on [TS]

00:35:00   the shelves because people were still [TS]

00:35:01   snapping them up i mean Zork popped up [TS]

00:35:03   on the soft talk you know top sellers [TS]

00:35:06   list for half a decade and then [TS]

00:35:09   activation came along and they they [TS]

00:35:11   treated infocomm games like they were [TS]

00:35:13   standard computer games where you know [TS]

00:35:15   that the next big thing would come along [TS]

00:35:16   with graphics that looked like you know [TS]

00:35:19   that the pictures look like people [TS]

00:35:20   instead of misshapen the two-dimensional [TS]

00:35:24   frogs of some kind and so they replace [TS]

00:35:27   the old with the new on the shelf and [TS]

00:35:28   and they try to do that with infocomm [TS]

00:35:30   and I [TS]

00:35:31   I think actually demanded after they [TS]

00:35:33   acquired them that they produce eight [TS]

00:35:34   games a year [TS]

00:35:35   yeah instead of the four they were [TS]

00:35:36   producing right which is which [TS]

00:35:39   meanwhile the quality went down big [TS]

00:35:41   surprise yeah shocking [TS]

00:35:43   that's a Zork is the Dark Side of the [TS]

00:35:44   Moon of interactive fiction of course of [TS]

00:35:47   Activision hadn't done that I strongly [TS]

00:35:49   suspect it would have happened shortly [TS]

00:35:52   afterwards anyway just because the at [TS]

00:35:54   compusa is of the world plus the the [TS]

00:35:57   computer game industry is changing i [TS]

00:35:59   mean people wanted graphics you know [TS]

00:36:01   infocomm had a famous ad where they say [TS]

00:36:03   we stick our graphics where the Sun [TS]

00:36:04   don't shine and it was a picture of a [TS]

00:36:06   brain and you can get away with that [TS]

00:36:09   with the fanboys like say three people [TS]

00:36:11   recording a podcast and yes 2012 but for [TS]

00:36:16   the most part people wanted their [TS]

00:36:17   computers to do pretty colored things [TS]

00:36:19   that moved around [TS]

00:36:22   well even as infocomm they become part [TS]

00:36:25   of activism still they did move into [TS]

00:36:27   graphics beyond orchid graphics and and [TS]

00:36:30   they weren't very good [TS]

00:36:31   well they were still trying to to to do [TS]

00:36:34   interpreted games so they had a limited [TS]

00:36:37   amount of simplistic graphics that they [TS]

00:36:39   could reasonably render on multiple zip [TS]

00:36:43   boxes machines which is what which is [TS]

00:36:46   what they called their interpreter still [TS]

00:36:48   in cases if still 0-0 was the [TS]

00:36:51   implementation language it was the [TS]

00:36:52   implementation program alright you win [TS]

00:36:54   these you just got told which was which [TS]

00:36:58   was later shortened to Z machine it's [TS]

00:37:01   actually probably worth noting that [TS]

00:37:02   stock scott adams who actually was first [TS]

00:37:05   to market with the adventure game room [TS]

00:37:07   and if you go to his website he proudly [TS]

00:37:09   announces himself as the progenitor of [TS]

00:37:11   the entire computer games industry [TS]

00:37:12   pointing out it is it not the dilbert [TS]

00:37:15   scott adams this is a different scott [TS]

00:37:17   adams no no this is the scott adams of [TS]

00:37:19   the scott adams adventure games he put [TS]

00:37:21   himself in the ads right get a big fro I [TS]

00:37:24   think he was in the ads along with some [TS]

00:37:27   very seventies looking people dressed up [TS]

00:37:29   in period costume anyway but what i was [TS]

00:37:32   getting too was that he actually wrote [TS]

00:37:34   an interpreter as well for his games [TS]

00:37:36   previous to the resort arrival on the [TS]

00:37:41   scene i'm clearly getting out nerd here [TS]

00:37:43   so I'm going to throw down my trump card [TS]

00:37:45   just that I've written adventure games i [TS]

00:37:46   wrote my own parser and my own lexer and [TS]

00:37:50   nothing ever happened with them but damn [TS]

00:37:54   that was fun [TS]

00:37:55   nerd and I think fifth grade or so I was [TS]

00:38:01   in a elementary school that had a [TS]

00:38:02   computer lab full of Apple tues and we [TS]

00:38:05   were told we had to write a complete [TS]

00:38:07   fancy computer program and i found this [TS]

00:38:10   whole thing boring and a little [TS]

00:38:11   insulting because I at eros ad at home [TS]

00:38:13   so naturally i hated apples so I wrote a [TS]

00:38:16   fake adventure game that looked like an [TS]

00:38:20   adventure game as long as you did [TS]

00:38:21   exactly the right move [TS]

00:38:23   each time if at any point you typed [TS]

00:38:26   anything other than the required input [TS]

00:38:29   it would just say I'm sorry I don't [TS]

00:38:31   understand that you realize that you've [TS]

00:38:33   liked anticipated demos at the Consumer [TS]

00:38:36   Electronics Show by a couple of decades [TS]

00:38:38   yep so when it came time to display it [TS]

00:38:41   to the teacher I said go ahead and try [TS]

00:38:43   it and she typed something I guess I [TS]

00:38:46   didn't anticipate that word here let me [TS]

00:38:47   show you how it works and then it worked [TS]

00:38:49   perfectly [TS]

00:38:50   I started out writing what amounted to [TS]

00:38:51   choose your own adventures where you [TS]

00:38:53   were presented with a situation you [TS]

00:38:55   could like you know one through four 22 [TS]

00:38:57   pick different options but then I [TS]

00:38:59   eventually did a little research and and [TS]

00:39:01   a lot of trial and error and started [TS]

00:39:03   parsing reasonably complex English [TS]

00:39:05   sentences and having reasonable puzzles [TS]

00:39:09   I you know had an inventory system and a [TS]

00:39:11   container system and this was all [TS]

00:39:13   without benefit of any sort of you know [TS]

00:39:15   how the people who knew what they were [TS]

00:39:17   doing actually did it but I i wrote four [TS]

00:39:21   or five games that my friends played and [TS]

00:39:23   solved and complained about the landless [TS]

00:39:26   Lee I did write a book on solving [TS]

00:39:28   infocomm games [TS]

00:39:30   damn i'm not going to win this nerd [TS]

00:39:32   battle and my my friend and I were at [TS]

00:39:36   the computer store shopping for the next [TS]

00:39:38   infocomm game which I think was infidel [TS]

00:39:41   at the time and the smarmy guy who don't [TS]

00:39:44   know how don't put the ring on got a [TS]

00:39:47   needle in it well what's the difference [TS]

00:39:49   you're gonna die at the end of the game [TS]

00:39:50   anyway very unsatisfied speaking of [TS]

00:39:52   which [TS]

00:39:53   yeah what's your what's your view on [TS]

00:39:54   that that was allows the ending [TS]

00:39:57   really [TS]

00:39:58   yeah it didn't make it clear the game [TS]

00:40:01   was over i thought i had screwed up [TS]

00:40:03   yeah okay i'll give you that I I don't [TS]

00:40:06   think if they explained you have one but [TS]

00:40:09   your dad I would have understood what [TS]

00:40:10   was going on right [TS]

00:40:11   yes now I think I realized it was over [TS]

00:40:14   are also i probably would have had a [TS]

00:40:16   similar complaint but I i thought it was [TS]

00:40:17   great ending but I completely understand [TS]

00:40:20   where people work were ticked off about [TS]

00:40:21   it anyway this army guy that was helping [TS]

00:40:23   us hurt us bragging about how we had one [TS]

00:40:25   planet followed three days and he said [TS]

00:40:28   that he was looking for people who were [TS]

00:40:30   good at infocomm games because he had [TS]

00:40:32   just written a book called a shortcut [TS]

00:40:34   through Adventure land which was how to [TS]

00:40:36   solve a bunch of the Sierra online games [TS]

00:40:39   so what ended up happening was my friend [TS]

00:40:42   and i wrote the entire book got sixty [TS]

00:40:45   percent of the royalties it was just how [TS]

00:40:47   to solve the first ten infocomm games [TS]

00:40:49   and the publisher went bankrupt the day [TS]

00:40:51   the book itself so I never did anything [TS]

00:40:53   but I was like 14 or 15 that was still [TS]

00:40:57   pretty neat [TS]

00:40:58   I backpack i wrote walkthroughs you know [TS]

00:41:00   step-by-step walkthrough for my friends [TS]

00:41:02   this is before you could actually do [TS]

00:41:03   anything like put them online but there [TS]

00:41:06   were you know there was a brief shining [TS]

00:41:09   moment of my childhood where it was cool [TS]

00:41:11   to be able to solve info comes until [TS]

00:41:13   other people how to do it and then they [TS]

00:41:16   put me in a trashcan and rolling down a [TS]

00:41:18   hill [TS]

00:41:20   I ok ok I i will see you your book [TS]

00:41:25   authorship and I I beta-tested info [TS]

00:41:27   comes I beta-tested leather goddesses of [TS]

00:41:29   Phobos and lurking horror and money's [TS]

00:41:32   gonna bust at his bureaucracy story and [TS]

00:41:34   Hollywood hijinks and food litsky now [TS]

00:41:39   what was flicks key cuz i've never been [TS]

00:41:41   sure the Blitz key was a board game that [TS]

00:41:44   half of it took place inside the [TS]

00:41:46   computer the computer had the role of [TS]

00:41:49   you know like they have modern versions [TS]

00:41:51   of monopoly where the bank is controlled [TS]

00:41:53   by a little the government astok device [TS]

00:41:56   that comes with it and every player has [TS]

00:41:58   a credit card rather than cash publicity [TS]

00:42:00   was similar where it would roll the dice [TS]

00:42:02   and it would set your goals public ski [TS]

00:42:04   can generously be chalked up as an [TS]

00:42:07   interesting experiment [TS]

00:42:08   ok it was not infocomm me remember [TS]

00:42:11   seeing lots of at [TS]

00:42:12   for it but i never understood any of [TS]

00:42:13   them there were dogs involved i have to [TS]

00:42:16   say that Greg your beta testing of [TS]

00:42:18   infocomm games is pretty cool [TS]

00:42:20   it's gonna be hard to top that i'm super [TS]

00:42:23   jealous it I I felt pretty damn special [TS]

00:42:26   and I mean it was it was just like this [TS]

00:42:29   is as good as it gets which [TS]

00:42:31   unfortunately turned out to be true [TS]

00:42:33   oh it turned from a happy ending to a [TS]

00:42:36   setting so quickly [TS]

00:42:37   50 well here's my bureaucracy story [TS]

00:42:42   yes in 1987 1988 infocomm was doing the [TS]

00:42:48   marathon of the minds as a way to get [TS]

00:42:50   publicity for their new games what they [TS]

00:42:52   do is they take their game that was just [TS]

00:42:54   about to come out and go to a city in [TS]

00:42:56   the United States and then all the high [TS]

00:42:58   schools in that city would send three [TS]

00:43:00   student teams to a location and then [TS]

00:43:04   they play the game until one of the [TS]

00:43:06   teams won the teams were composed of [TS]

00:43:09   people pulled out of trash cans at the [TS]

00:43:11   bottom of the hill largely yes for [TS]

00:43:15   bureaucracy which was the second douglas [TS]

00:43:18   adams game although had previously [TS]

00:43:20   mentioned douglas adams may not have had [TS]

00:43:21   that much to do with actually doing [TS]

00:43:25   anything [TS]

00:43:25   his name is on the box that's an extra [TS]

00:43:28   for bureaucracy the city of San Diego [TS]

00:43:30   and I got to be one of the kids on the [TS]

00:43:33   team which was actually highly contested [TS]

00:43:36   because i was going to a math science [TS]

00:43:37   computer magnet school at the time so [TS]

00:43:42   there was just a hill with thousands of [TS]

00:43:44   trash can lie on the bed and there's one [TS]

00:43:46   exhausted bully who has to keep putting [TS]

00:43:48   the kids in the trash can [TS]

00:43:50   well it's a weird school because it was [TS]

00:43:51   in a bad bad part of town and there were [TS]

00:43:54   Crips and bloods who are the local [TS]

00:43:56   students and then a bunch of us pasty [TS]

00:43:58   white math science computer kids being [TS]

00:44:00   bused in well it's probably good that [TS]

00:44:02   your pasty so you can be mistaken as a [TS]

00:44:04   Crip or a blood any rate we were all [TS]

00:44:09   shipped out to these Reuben h fleet [TS]

00:44:12   space theatre and science center in [TS]

00:44:14   balboa park and each school has its own [TS]

00:44:18   little computer station in the science [TS]

00:44:20   center and we played for 37 hours [TS]

00:44:24   while being supplied with endless [TS]

00:44:27   amounts of coke and pizza getting [TS]

00:44:30   bleary-eyed and insane by the end of it [TS]

00:44:34   when you say played for 37 hours was [TS]

00:44:36   there any break [TS]

00:44:40   no I mean you could take a break if you [TS]

00:44:41   wanted but that meant the other teams [TS]

00:44:43   would get ahead of you did you go to the [TS]

00:44:47   bathroom [TS]

00:44:47   we have to just stand up to do it [TS]

00:44:52   yeah like there are three people on the [TS]

00:44:54   team you don't need all three people at [TS]

00:44:56   the computer the whole time [TS]

00:44:57   no guys I got this great plan catheters [TS]

00:45:00   but as it happens my team won so I can [TS]

00:45:05   first of all state that I was the first [TS]

00:45:07   person outside infocomm one of the three [TS]

00:45:10   first three people outside infocomm to [TS]

00:45:11   win bureaucracy and also actually got my [TS]

00:45:14   name printed in The New York Times later [TS]

00:45:17   the status line which was their official [TS]

00:45:19   newsletter they got sued by the new york [TS]

00:45:21   times you have to change that and I got [TS]

00:45:24   a cool t-shirt which I still have some [TS]

00:45:27   of course you do it and we won something [TS]

00:45:31   like copies of all the games for the [TS]

00:45:34   school my favorite moment though was [TS]

00:45:37   they had copies of other games that were [TS]

00:45:39   about to come out one of which was [TS]

00:45:40   Hollywood hijinks and one of my [TS]

00:45:42   teammates snuck over and started looking [TS]

00:45:44   through the materials because he had a [TS]

00:45:46   pirated copy of Hollywood hijinks and he [TS]

00:45:49   needed to read the documentation to get [TS]

00:45:51   past the infocomm copy protection which [TS]

00:45:55   took the form of the secret hints inside [TS]

00:45:57   the documentation itself the feelies yes [TS]

00:46:00   physical items which I thought was [TS]

00:46:02   pretty clever because they never [TS]

00:46:03   bothered putting any actual copy [TS]

00:46:04   protection on their games which made [TS]

00:46:06   them almost unique at the time but it [TS]

00:46:08   was it was copy protection that wasn't [TS]

00:46:10   really really intrusive it was [TS]

00:46:12   integrated into the game and that was [TS]

00:46:14   terrific you know it was it was [TS]

00:46:17   something that wasn't easily reproduced [TS]

00:46:19   like wasn't digitally reproducible and [TS]

00:46:22   you actually had to pay attention to [TS]

00:46:24   everything that came in the packet [TS]

00:46:26   yeah and then so when you had sorcerer [TS]

00:46:30   for example you actually had this thing [TS]

00:46:33   they called an info tater which had a [TS]

00:46:36   two rotating dials that you had to line [TS]

00:46:38   up to tell you what color a group was [TS]

00:46:42   the problem i find though is that later [TS]

00:46:45   on when they came out with the lost [TS]

00:46:46   treasures of infocomm cd-rom packages [TS]

00:46:49   they didn't include all of the [TS]

00:46:51   documentation for some of the games [TS]

00:46:53   became accidentally impossible [TS]

00:46:55   well they built like they built the in [TS]

00:46:57   visit clues were you know the [TS]

00:46:58   aftermarket in books that they would [TS]

00:47:02   came with invisible ink and a pen that [TS]

00:47:04   you could drag across it to reveal the [TS]

00:47:05   answer guaranteed answers in increasing [TS]

00:47:09   specificity and then they integrated [TS]

00:47:11   those into the games later on when you [TS]

00:47:13   type hint and it would give you the end [TS]

00:47:14   it just it it never seemed is cool [TS]

00:47:18   what's that supposed to seem cool you're [TS]

00:47:19   looking at hints you should hang your [TS]

00:47:24   head in shame and that's how it's [TS]

00:47:26   supposed it's not supposed to feel good [TS]

00:47:28   one good thing about the lost treasures [TS]

00:47:31   of info concept was they actually [TS]

00:47:33   included all of the maps and all of the [TS]

00:47:35   visit clues in book form which was great [TS]

00:47:38   because the Invisibles were usually [TS]

00:47:40   written with at least as much attention [TS]

00:47:41   to humor as as the games themselves word [TS]

00:47:45   so they were often as funny to read [TS]

00:47:46   through it as playing the games were [TS]

00:47:49   they always have questions that applied [TS]

00:47:52   that didn't have anything to do with the [TS]

00:47:53   game just so they could have a few [TS]

00:47:55   nonsense answers and then answer saying [TS]

00:47:57   this [TS]

00:47:59   there isn't this room in this game stop [TS]

00:48:01   just looking at answers and go back to [TS]

00:48:03   playing if they did they didn't want to [TS]

00:48:04   didn't want the questions which were [TS]

00:48:06   printed in regular ink just to give away [TS]

00:48:07   anything about the game so that include [TS]

00:48:10   the fake questions you know I worked at [TS]

00:48:12   a software store years and years and [TS]

00:48:15   years ago and people would try and [TS]

00:48:17   return the Invisibles after having used [TS]

00:48:19   them [TS]

00:48:19   she's no use to me now how a no no ma'am [TS]

00:48:24   I'm sorry that that you you can't no [TS]

00:48:26   sorry [TS]

00:48:28   yes you can see the manager [TS]

00:48:31   I'll be right back so you guys play text [TS]

00:48:34   adventures anymore have you had any [TS]

00:48:36   other than the original you can go back [TS]

00:48:38   and play the old ones but they're still [TS]

00:48:39   being produced and there's a a small but [TS]

00:48:42   very vibrant community that that is [TS]

00:48:44   still making games if you have you [TS]

00:48:46   played any of these anytime recently I [TS]

00:48:49   have [TS]

00:48:49   and I'm surprised if you watch the [TS]

00:48:53   documentary get lamp which is a [TS]

00:48:55   documentary about text adventures the [TS]

00:48:57   DVD comes with about fifty i think text [TS]

00:49:00   adventures on the disk [TS]

00:49:02   there's an ipad app fronts [TS]

00:49:06   yeah frost comes with a couple hundred [TS]

00:49:08   yeah i'm looking at it now I played two [TS]

00:49:11   or three modern games i played vespers [TS]

00:49:15   which is this game where you're a month [TS]

00:49:18   trapped in a monastery at the top of the [TS]

00:49:20   mountain while everybody dies of [TS]

00:49:22   playground you so any kind of a downer [TS]

00:49:25   okay well you're on top of a mountain [TS]

00:49:29   that's really kind of the only way you [TS]

00:49:31   can go and there's a game called [TS]

00:49:35   fotopedia phot OPI a which is [TS]

00:49:40   technically a text adventure in that [TS]

00:49:43   you're entering commands and it's got a [TS]

00:49:46   text adventure interface but really it's [TS]

00:49:49   about a short story about somebody dying [TS]

00:49:50   in a car crash and are you the that [TS]

00:49:54   person you're everybody it's super [TS]

00:49:56   postmodern and I get the feeling that [TS]

00:49:58   people have gotten tired of texting [TS]

00:50:00   ventures as games and are really trying [TS]

00:50:02   to branch out do text adventures as [TS]

00:50:04   literature or text adventures as our or [TS]

00:50:07   drag actually the game I was going to [TS]

00:50:09   mention his lost pig which one the IAF [TS]

00:50:11   competition [TS]

00:50:12   oh yeah two or three years ago it's just [TS]

00:50:15   a bug [TS]

00:50:15   I hadn't played games in eons mean in [TS]

00:50:20   you know since the Paleozoic and it was [TS]

00:50:24   great fun because it's so highly [TS]

00:50:26   polished that it was a reintroduction to [TS]

00:50:30   the genre but I haven't sat like I said [TS]

00:50:33   my kids down a couple years ago and try [TS]

00:50:35   to get them interested in his work and [TS]

00:50:37   they got it but they just didn't follow [TS]

00:50:40   up there right now they're currently [TS]

00:50:41   obsessed with minecraft um but they [TS]

00:50:45   wandered around House little bit they [TS]

00:50:47   got inside and then they just drift away [TS]

00:50:49   from it which was disappointing and I [TS]

00:50:51   want to try again with lost pig just [TS]

00:50:53   because it's so funny and it's so well [TS]

00:50:56   done [TS]

00:50:57   here's one of the room descriptions from [TS]

00:50:58   lost pig fountain room all wall in this [TS]

00:51:02   room glow [TS]

00:51:03   it bright just like daytime except that [TS]

00:51:05   instead of sun it wall that glow and set [TS]

00:51:08   of grass and tree and square room with [TS]

00:51:10   four wall and instead of outside it all [TS]

00:51:12   underground but beside those things it [TS]

00:51:14   just like it will keep going out to east [TS]

00:51:17   west but normal doorway go north and [TS]

00:51:19   southeast and southwest in middle of [TS]

00:51:21   room there fountain but found to not [TS]

00:51:23   have any water south wall have big [TS]

00:51:25   curtain hanging on it big here to pick [TS]

00:51:28   look over then pick look away [TS]

00:51:30   you're basically paying a caveman trying [TS]

00:51:32   to get his pig back [TS]

00:51:33   the pig is great in that game too it's [TS]

00:51:35   so well-written becomes even though it [TS]

00:51:39   has obviously no no dialogue to speak of [TS]

00:51:42   it's it's a descriptive text about the [TS]

00:51:45   pigs is so well done that it's probably [TS]

00:51:48   one of the most memorable characters and [TS]

00:51:49   interactive fiction that i can remember [TS]

00:51:51   but that's what struck me was that the [TS]

00:51:53   pros of the game is written from your [TS]

00:51:56   perspective which you know usually [TS]

00:51:58   there's descriptions of things going on [TS]

00:52:00   but I've never seen the descriptions [TS]

00:52:02   written as a the character would [TS]

00:52:05   perceive them [TS]

00:52:06   yeah a lot of info cod games are written [TS]

00:52:09   from a sarcastic third person pointed [TS]

00:52:12   right you right you you are here witness [TS]

00:52:15   had some Raymond Chandler qualities to [TS]

00:52:20   the writing but not a lot and lurking [TS]

00:52:23   horror was supposed to be HP Lovecraft [TS]

00:52:24   but yeah they were written as they they [TS]

00:52:28   were written by an author rather than [TS]

00:52:29   writing as the perspective of the [TS]

00:52:32   character and when the character has [TS]

00:52:35   limited mental capacity in the [TS]

00:52:37   vocabulary you end up with something [TS]

00:52:40   like lost pig and I thought that was [TS]

00:52:41   really fun and really different and [TS]

00:52:43   something even 30 years into the sauna [TS]

00:52:45   that I had never seen before [TS]

00:52:47   yeah so I've i actually did play lost [TS]

00:52:49   pig because when i downloaded frost it [TS]

00:52:51   was recommended as has a fairly easy and [TS]

00:52:54   good first place to start for [TS]

00:52:56   interacting interactive fiction but I [TS]

00:52:59   haven't really explored much on the [TS]

00:53:02   modern stuff because you know you and I [TS]

00:53:06   well both of you and I the plural you [TS]

00:53:09   use know that that [TS]

00:53:15   that nerds generally are not great [TS]

00:53:17   writers and they tend to write pretty [TS]

00:53:21   schlocky pretty a derivative stuff and [TS]

00:53:25   so I I'm a little afraid to take a [TS]

00:53:27   chance on some random guy that you know [TS]

00:53:30   they posted to the IAF archive and i [TS]

00:53:33   still have enough up the old infocomm [TS]

00:53:35   games that i haven't played that I can [TS]

00:53:37   still go back if I feel need and and and [TS]

00:53:41   give one of those old games a shot now i [TS]

00:53:43   have actually considered maybe playing a [TS]

00:53:45   i guess a couple of there were a couple [TS]

00:53:48   of games that were written a few years [TS]

00:53:49   back by Yahtzee and crawshaw does the 0 [TS]

00:53:53   punctuation reviews on their hilarious [TS]

00:53:56   so i imagine those are those are [TS]

00:53:58   probably pretty good although it's hard [TS]

00:54:01   to say that I assume he doesn't use the [TS]

00:54:03   same kind of a rapid fire style and his [TS]

00:54:06   adventure are no spaces in this [TS]

00:54:07   description i can't read any of this [TS]

00:54:09   that would get fairly tedious I i find i [TS]

00:54:12   don't have the attention span anymore [TS]

00:54:14   plus have you seen Skyrim man that [TS]

00:54:17   thing's beautiful i love text adventures [TS]

00:54:19   but it's really really hard to not just [TS]

00:54:22   stare it a beautifully rendered portal 2 [TS]

00:54:26   or something [TS]

00:54:27   yeah yeah that's I i find that what [TS]

00:54:30   mommy said about skyrim kind of applies [TS]

00:54:32   to me too is that I i have such limited [TS]

00:54:33   time these days [TS]

00:54:35   22 game that i can go back and play an [TS]

00:54:39   old text adventure and spend the [TS]

00:54:42   inordinate amount of time it takes to [TS]

00:54:43   really figure all the puzzles out and [TS]

00:54:45   all that stuff [TS]

00:54:46   or i could spend 20 minutes walking [TS]

00:54:48   around oblivion you know slaying goblins [TS]

00:54:50   and having sadly a more rich experience [TS]

00:54:55   really playing that and then I i could [TS]

00:54:57   going back the old text games much as I [TS]

00:54:59   love them [TS]

00:55:00   most games these days don't require a [TS]

00:55:02   pad of graph paper by your side at all [TS]

00:55:04   times and how much how much of our [TS]

00:55:07   affection for these games is just [TS]

00:55:09   nostalgia for me i'd say about [TS]

00:55:11   60-percent the really good ones [TS]

00:55:15   61-62 point hey I mean yes they hit me [TS]

00:55:20   at exactly the right age but the good [TS]

00:55:22   ones are still really good [TS]

00:55:24   mhm like if you see if somebody is [TS]

00:55:26   willing to spend the time to play [TS]

00:55:28   through planet [TS]

00:55:28   fall Floyd's death is still a really [TS]

00:55:32   good moment [TS]

00:55:34   damn it and I'll fight the man who says [TS]

00:55:37   otherwise i love these games i mean they [TS]

00:55:39   affected my childhood they they are [TS]

00:55:43   signposts for sadly what I've become [TS]

00:55:48   but I don't know that I would play them [TS]

00:55:52   these days I don't know that my kids [TS]

00:55:53   have an interest in playing them and I [TS]

00:55:55   just wonder if they were such a product [TS]

00:55:57   of their time and of the technology that [TS]

00:55:59   something like that is not going to [TS]

00:56:02   happen again [TS]

00:56:03   what if you've displayed them in a [TS]

00:56:06   different context at one point somebody [TS]

00:56:08   had set up an aimbot that would place [TS]

00:56:11   York with you that was a friend of mine [TS]

00:56:14   actually and ebay oh well I thought it [TS]

00:56:16   was a brilliant idea [TS]

00:56:18   did either of you guys ever play any of [TS]

00:56:19   the legend games after infocomm went [TS]

00:56:23   kaput a couple of the guys from infocomm [TS]

00:56:26   Steve maretskiy and Bob Bates who did [TS]

00:56:30   that [TS]

00:56:32   sadly is only really known for having [TS]

00:56:34   done Sherlock and Arthur but they got [TS]

00:56:37   together and formed their own company [TS]

00:56:39   they're crowning achievement they put [TS]

00:56:41   together again called time quest which [TS]

00:56:43   is effectively you're you're following [TS]

00:56:47   along behind a guy who's it was not some [TS]

00:56:51   evil duties run across the time machine [TS]

00:56:53   and he's gone to various periods in [TS]

00:56:55   history and screwed things up and [TS]

00:56:56   basically you're part of some kind of a [TS]

00:56:59   you know time police department that has [TS]

00:57:02   to go back in time and fix these [TS]

00:57:04   problems this guy is caused and it's [TS]

00:57:06   really really well done it's probably [TS]

00:57:08   one of the best adventure games that [TS]

00:57:10   I've ever played [TS]

00:57:11   it's well worth digging up and and [TS]

00:57:13   giving a try [TS]

00:57:14   never even heard of it they went to more [TS]

00:57:16   of a point and click format at one point [TS]

00:57:18   and they did that came based on what [TS]

00:57:21   they did a couple of sample games [TS]

00:57:22   laurent yeah [TS]

00:57:25   and something based on Shannara sorry [TS]

00:57:33   going [TS]

00:57:34   yes and but maretskiy continue to make [TS]

00:57:36   games and he put together something I [TS]

00:57:38   think his last game for them was a super [TS]

00:57:40   hero League of hoboken which was really [TS]

00:57:43   funny and really well done to so it's [TS]

00:57:46   worth trying to pick those up if you can [TS]

00:57:47   find them is it Murray or merced ski [TS]

00:57:50   maretskiy yeah I've been pronouncing it [TS]

00:57:54   wrong for two-and-a-half decades nice [TS]

00:57:57   days boxes keeping it on that note I'm [TS]

00:58:03   going to end the podcast this podcast is [TS]

00:58:05   over i would like to thank our [TS]

00:58:07   participants today Steve let's thank you [TS]

00:58:10   Greg [TS]

00:58:11   it's been a spin experience and Monty [TS]

00:58:13   Ashley thank you good hosting reg and [TS]

00:58:17   score [TS]

00:58:20   [Music] [TS]

00:58:38   Roger Ebert is wrong w always look like [TS]

00:58:47   he's smiling these days [TS]

00:58:48   yeah he looks like he's really enthused [TS]

00:58:51   about what happened to those pictures he [TS]

00:58:55   looks like you saying hi like somebody [TS]

00:58:58   just told him to say chin up Roger [TS]

00:59:00   attended oh if only he could chin up [TS]

00:59:06   we seem to be wondering where yes yes [TS]

00:59:10   look what's wrong with nostalgia i [TS]

00:59:12   enjoyed something is a youth and now I [TS]

00:59:14   get to keep doing it [TS]

00:59:15   half of the twilight zone episodes are [TS]

00:59:17   about how that's good for you [TS]

00:59:20   don't you mean 60-percent we're done [TS]

00:59:25   here yeah [TS]