"Does Floyd always have to die?? You're heartless, Steve."
November 23, 2015 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Steve Meretzky has released a treasure trove of (minimally redacted) Infocom working documents. Written from 1981 to 1987, these internal documents were instrumental to Jason Scott when producing his documentary GET LAMP and have now been released on the Internet Archive. They include business memos, playtester notes, design documents, mockups by their packaging designer, and a tantalizing look into the elements of games that got cut or never fully developed. Stanford University has the originals.
posted by jackbishop (23 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
holy zarquon's singing fish
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on November 23, 2015


Amazing insights into the Implementors' thought processes: Taken.

[Your score has just gone up.]
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 1:20 PM on November 23, 2015 [9 favorites]

holy shit

my youth, laid bare!
posted by dismas at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

> zifmia Steve
posted by Wolfdog at 1:39 PM on November 23, 2015

I grew up playing these games obsessively, in fact I think I have Infocom to thank at least in part for my typing skills and vocabulary. My highest ambition was to go work for them in Cambridge when I graduated high school and I actually corresponded with them a couple of times in the mid 80s. Sadly they closed their doors just about a month before my graduation, so that plan sort of fell through.

One of my most cringeworthy fan moments was in... 1988 I think? My friend Mike and I, both huge fans of Infocom and Steve Meretzky in particular, managed to get hold of Steve's address and I wrote him a letter to ask for an interview. I have no idea what I said (as a junior in high school with no interviewing or publishing experience; it's possible that I wasn't entirely truthful) but somehow, incredibly, he agreed and replied with his phone number. We spent a couple of days coming up with what we thought were appropriate questions, and on the day of the interview me and Mike huddled over the phone in his mom's bedroom and gave Steve a call. In retrospect it must have been obvious how young and painfully inexperienced we were, but I have to hand it to Steve, he was a good sport and soldiered through even the most ridiculous questions. (Although there was at least one long pause after which he said something like, "...who did you say you were writing for, again?")

I recorded the interview with one of those suction-cup microphones that sticks to the back of your 80s-era phone, and I'm pretty sure either me or Mike transcribed it, but I'm afraid both the tape and any hard copies have been lost to the ages. Probably for the best, really... I think even 17-year-old me realized that my amateurish questions and asides would have made for a pretty unpublishable interview. But chatting with Steve Meretzky about Planetfall and HHGG and Sorcerer and what it was like to work at Infocom -- that was probably the most exciting thing that had happened in my life up to that point.

Steve, if you're out there: sorry for that lame experience 27 years ago! I definitely owe you a beer or two for putting up with my enthusiastic-but-thoroughly-inept interview skills. But you were a class act throughout and you're still one of my personal heroes. Thank you so much!
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:52 PM on November 23, 2015 [27 favorites]

posted by corb at 2:10 PM on November 23, 2015

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:12 PM on November 23, 2015

holy shit
posted by rifflesby at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2015

I assume JHarris is passed out on the floor, twitching.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:27 PM on November 23, 2015 [10 favorites]

Aaaaaaand now I have the itch to play Zork Zero again.
posted by Hamusutaa at 2:31 PM on November 23, 2015

Aaaaaaand now I have the itch to play Zork Zero again.

I had to go back and watch this again.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:02 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Autocannibalism is not the answer.
posted by eriko at 3:22 PM on November 23, 2015

Oh, my.

I so need to find my old Apple II and pray the disk drives still work.
posted by rokusan at 3:59 PM on November 23, 2015

Time for a round of hucka-bucka-beanstalk, perhaps? No? How about a rousing game of paddleball?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:52 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are 69,105 cool things here.
posted by delfin at 5:07 PM on November 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Some backstory by MeFi's own.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:29 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I still have my issues of the New Zork Times somewhere. Most of my favorite games in the 1980s were Infocom's and something was lost when they sold to Activision.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 6:00 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just hearing the sentence "Floyd did it... got card..." to this DAY will choke me up.
posted by Paladin1138 at 7:11 PM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I assume JHarris is passed out on the floor, twitching.

This is NOT TRUE. I'm just down there looking for that damn Babel Fish, it seems to have disappeared into a hatch in the wall....
posted by JHarris at 8:00 PM on November 23, 2015 [13 favorites]

Anyone have some highlights so far? There's just so much to dig through that I have no idea where to start
posted by flatluigi at 8:26 PM on November 23, 2015

At one point, Alice Bryant takes over the whole company.
posted by newper at 10:26 PM on November 23, 2015

My brother and I used to play Hitchhiker's Guide everyday after school. I was in high school and he was probably still in junior high. One day I came home and found that he'd figured out how to get the Babel fish in his ear. That's when I knew he was much smarter than me. Shortly after this revelation we had to give up and get the hint book. I still remember how to win though - "tea and no tea". Somehow this game always seemed more vivid to me than any graphics game I ever played. Maybe the imagination is mightier than the graphics card.
posted by jenh526 at 9:18 PM on November 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

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