June 13, 2005

Don't Panic

Writing about web page http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocom.php


There was a time when computer games didn't have graphics. Or at least they couldn't have graphics and sound at the same time. They certainly couldn't have graphics, sound and enough content to keep even a human being amused for more than a few minutes. So they had text. This was radical – a computer game you could control by typing in commands. The game would then respond to your commands with a breathtakingly prescient understanding of your intent. Or not. Usually not – the early text parsers (circa 1977) weren't that bright. But, as long as you limited yourself to what the game understood and the game designers wrote creatively enough to misunderstand you in a humorous and entertaining fashion, it all worked. It therefore stands to reason that any game which combined a really good programmer with a really good writer was likely to do well. So when Steve Meretzky of Infocom got together with Douglas Adams to create a game based around the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the result was never going to be less than interesting and more than likely insane. So it proved – the Hitchhiker's Guide adventure game was one of the best-selling games of its era, selling some 350,000 copies. In 1984.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. there's an amusin Hamlet text game somewhere online, extremely amusing! Hours of fun!

    13 Jun 2005, 03:38

  2. Ah, the good ol' days. When I was a lad we never 'ad all t'polygons of t'day by gum we ne'er e'en 'ad all t'sprites. [/shiteyorkshireaccent]

    Millions of polygons can try (and often fail) to hide the fact the a game sucks. 20 years ago they didn't have this power. And some of these games were REALLY tough.

    13 Jun 2005, 10:28

  3. There's a game I play called Volfied, which I originally encountered on the Atari about 10 years ago. It has 16 levels, and the furthest I've ever got is 15. For all I know, I am the best player of this game in the world – the thing is ridiculously hard in the later levels

    13 Jun 2005, 11:52

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