Halfway through the third book of the Hitchhiker's Guide
series, there is a throwaway reference
to a doomed starship, one whose incredible splendor was matched only by the cosmic absurdity of its maiden-day annihilation.
But the story didn't end there. Unbeknownst to many fans, this small piece of Adamsian lore was the inspiration for an ambitious and richly-detailed side-story: a 1998 computer adventure game called Starship Titanic
Designed by Douglas Adams himself, the game set players loose in the infamous vessel, challenging them with a maddening mystery laced with the devilish wit of the novels.
The game was laden with extra content, including an in-depth strategy guide
, a (mediocre) tie-in novel
by Terry Jones, a whimsical First Class In-Flight Magazine
, and even a pair of 3D glasses for one of the more inventive puzzles.
Key to solving these puzzles was the game's groundbreaking communications system -- players interacted with the ship's robotic crew
through a natural language parsing engine called SpookiTalk, whose 10,000+ lines of conversational dialogue spawned 16 hours of audio
recorded by professional voice actors, including John Cleese
, Terry Jones
, and even Douglas Adams himself in several cameos (spoiler cameo)
. Want to experience the voyage for yourself? Then watch this narrated video playthrough (intro (ads)
- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9? 10 11 12 13
) ...or click inside for a information on how to run the game for free on Windows, Mac, and Linux (along with a bunch of other goodies!).Extra Content
Excerpts of extra material included with the original copy of the game, including a fictional newspaper
, profiles for all the bots
and helpful guides to their "cellpoint" settings
, the rantings of the infamous parrot
, background articles from the strategy guide
, and a map of the ship
(source for scans
Emulating Starship Titanic
Though an abandonware title, Starship Titanic
can still be played using emulation software for its original Mac OS platform. To get this working, you'll need four basic elements: the emulator program, some files necessary to make the emulator compatible, some tools to extract these files, and a copy of the game itself. It sounds complicated, but it's actually pretty straightforward if you follow the directions. The emulator software we'll be using, SheepShaver, is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, so it should work no matter your set-up (though I've only done it myself on a Windows box).
Here's what you'll need:
- The latest version of the SheepShaver emulator (in a .zip file): Windows
- Courtesy of the software archive at MacintoshGarden
, compressed copies of the game's three discs: one two three
- A compressed image of the game's original OS, on which to run the emulator: here
- A free copy of 7-zip, to decompress the OS file: here
Depending on your OS, you may also need some supplementary files to get everything working right; for instance, Windows XP users need a copy of SDL.dll
in the extracted Sheepshaver folder and need to install the GTK +2 runtime
. See Sheepshaver's installation notes for Windows
, and Linux
to see if your system needs any additional files; the site usually provides direct links to them.
Once you have that squared away, use 7-zip to decompress the Mac 9.0.4 OS folder. Then, open the Sheepshaver folder and click the "SheepShaverGUI" icon. In the first tab, click "Add," browse to the decompressed OS folder, and select the file "macos9800.image." Next, click the checkbox at the bottom for enabling the external file system (this will let you transfer files between your computer and the emulated Mac). In the next tab over, select the window size and resolution you want for the emulator -- you might need to experiment with different sizes, since the image can look a little glitchy on some settings. Finally, in the "Settings" tab, set the RAM size to 1024 and set the ROM file to be the "Mac_OS_Rom" file that's located in the Sheepshaver folder.
Now, click the Start button. If all goes well, the emulator should boot up a virtual version of Mac OS 9. Once at the desktop, click the icon for your computer's HD ("My Computer" for Windows, for instance) to access your computer's file system. Browse to where you kept the three Starship Titanic files and drag them to the virtual desktop. Now, click the "Stuffit Expander Alias" icon. This will open a tool that will decompress the files. Drag the game files onto the Stuffit window, then browse to a folder on your computer's drive and click "Choose." The game files will be extracted there.
After the files are extracted, exit the virtual desktop by clicking to close the emulator window and then select "Shut Down." If you've got it in fullscreen mode, close any open programs inside the emulator (File -> Quit) and then shut down the desktop by selecting Special -> Shut Down in the menu bar. Now, open up the SheepShaverGUI icon again. In the first tab, click "Add" and browse to the first decompressed game file (STCD1.toast). Once it's added, click Start. The emulator should boot again, but now the icon for Starship Titanic should be on the virtual desktop. Click it to start installation, select a folder (in the virtual system) to install the game to, and you should be good to go. When the time comes to swap discs, just exit out of Sheepshaver and select the appropriate disc to add in the first tab of SheepShaverGUI.
If you encounter any problems, the forums at E-Maculation
(the developer of Sheepshaver) and MacintoshGarden
(the home for emulated Mac games) are very helpful. See also the installation guides at E-Maculation
, Macintosh Garden
, and RedundantRobot
for more detailed documentation.
for making it this far:
"Parrots, the Universe, and Everything"
- A full-length video and transcript of one of Douglas Adams's final speeches, in which he discusses his environmental book Last Chance to See
at UC Santa Barbara.