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Milliways
Apr 21st, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

hygraed directed me to the following blog post about an Infocom hard drive saved from years ago. This is a drive that contains some internal e-mails relating to the development of their games, as well as a ton of other stuff. Little is officially known about it – I’m not going to speculate or pass bad information, or compromise what little info I have picked up on it. Unlike the decision a journalist or blogger must make when scooping something that is dynamite, I am more motivated by a sad, pathetic and altogether desperate desire to simply have people like me.

I kid! The initial attraction of the post is that you get to play a snippet of what could have been the sequel to The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, through the magic of the Java zcode applet. But what ended up happening was a sort of exploding dramabomb, as internal e-mails to the development of the sequel to HHGG (referred to as “Restaurant,” or “Milliways”) were included.

Everyone running a blog gets to make this decision someday, I think. That is, if they stick with it long enough and don’t, like, abandon it after a few months, or something. The two main arguments seem to be:

Well, you shouldn’t post internal e-mails without contacting those involved

Hey, this is unfiltered access to a shop that made important games in my childhood, gimme gimme!

And there are nuances to both (post the stuff after checking with the people who wrote the frigging things / I MUST POSSESS MAGIC INFOCOM DRIVE).

I had to make a similar decision myself recently regarding the urban legend arcade game I am quite obsessed with, good ole Polybius. I had been running the Polybius Home Page for a little bit, and had shot a viral Youtube video and so forth, when I was contacted by Gerald Torensen. Gerry runs www.sinnesloschen.com and pointed me to this website where he saw a Polybius cabinet huddled within some others.

Of course, since I really am one stupid son of a bitch, and no journalist, I didn’t do any clicking at first. If you do scroll down a bit and click on the Poly cab, you’ll get taken here, and you’re well on your way to downloading his modern-day recreation of what Polybius could have been like. I was slow to figure it out, but I did figure it out eventually.

Now, the question is – what to do with this info? I got curious on my own, without any help. Even though it was literally clicking on what was one button, it was still the most interesting alternate reality “game” I’d been involved with since the Dead Kids Foundation stuff. I can either blab about it on the Polybius Home Page, or I can let other people discover it for themselves.

… Of course, that all went out the window when another blog got to the same conclusion as me a couple weeks later, and posted everything.

I wasn’t sore or bitter, because honestly, the stakes are so low. There’s a quiet rumbling of people who are into the myth of a fake arcade game. We’re not going to be in the same situation as someone getting an Infocom hard drive, because – due to the fact that there was no actual Polybius – we can’t exactly have the programmers stop in and chat and receive some compliments, since they don’t exist.

Not the case with the Milliways post: Infocom developers arrive very quickly. If they are agitated by the fact that their stuff got posted, they did not show it. The exception is author Michael Bywater, and his exception is very understandable in the original post. Some of the blog commenters quickly descend into name calling against Mr. Bywater, for the CRIME of having an opinion, and seeing how Bywater was the writer of Jinxter (which had and continues to have an amazing effect on my own writing) it was evident to me that he was holding back and choosing to not go nuclear on the drive-by cretins that infect the average Slashdotted / Dugg post.

My brother and I got Magnetic Scrolls games when we were growing up. I’ve always been more nostalgic for their games, with the exception of Zork. I’ll confess that I am on one hand happy to see Magnetic Scrolls brought into a bit of a limelight again — I decided long ago to refrain from writing the creative people whose work I respect, as it was extraordinarily unsatisfying in all cases — so you might think that being able to lurk and read from afar is a good thing, as it’s the only option I’ll have. But man, the ends don’t really justify the means here, and I think access to those who were at Infocom and Magnetic Scrolls is going to be made more difficult in the future. They didn’t precisely get King of Konged here, but it was pretty close. My lasting take here is that it’s now going to be more difficult than ever to hear the stories of the people involved.  

Polybius Lives / Polybius Font
Apr 18th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Just a quick note – I updated the Polybius Home Page with info on the following things:

1) The font. I was given this by a gentleman that contacted me through the JC BBS. I have received some e-mail from people asking for the font, and while I love that sort of contact, it’s not fair to not have it available for everyone. But please – you wanna talk some Polybius, just send me an e-mail at beaver@zombieworld.com.

2) I was recently made aware of the site www.polybiuslives.com. They have a screenshot of what Polybius might have looked like if it was on a color X/Y monitor. Good stuff – not sure if there is more stuff at the site that is not obvious to get to, but when I know more I’ll update. I also noticed that there was a mention of polybiuslives.com on Shawn Struck’s blog, so perhaps this is making the rounds.

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