Documenting a Voyage

Happy Thanksgiving.

This year, there were plenty of things I fully expected to be thankful for: my parents, my sister, my nieces, my wonderful wife, my amazing son, my pending daughter.

But there were also a couple of surprises today that I can be thankful for in an entirely more venial “Ooh shiny” sort of way. Such as the Raspberry Pi Zero, a miniaturized economy model of the already miniature incredibly affordable Raspberry Pi Model B+ computer that retails for $5 (The core components are identical, but it omits the network adapter and has only a single USB connector).

And then there’s this: A few years ago, before-times archivist Jason Scott made a fairly cool documentary, Get Lamp, about the heyday of Interactive Fiction. As part of his research for that, he had the opportunity to scan a big chunk of the private archive of legendary game developer Steve Meretzky’s days with Infocom, the more-or-less undisputed masters of the Interactive Fiction genre.

This archive, dubbed the “Infocom Cabinet” (as in “of Curiosities”), contains internal memos and publications, photographs from company events, notes on proposed games (a combination of enticing hints at what might-have-been and reassurances that Infocom did better to burn out than fade away), and, of particular interest, production documents on several Infocom games, including their adaptation of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and this blog’s namesake, A Mind Forever Voyaging.

Since A Mind Forever Voyaging was one of the biggest inspirations for my own Interactive Fiction game, that last one is pretty interesting to me, since the notes hint at an early concept for the game that was mechanically very different from the version that came to pass. Sadly, nothing in the documents hint at the possibility that anyone other than me was stumped for fifteen years because they couldn’t find the courthouse.

It’s a wonderful and historically important archive, and I urge anyone with a passing interest in that sort of thing to check it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *