Gerrard relates the graphic story behind Magnetic Scrolls
say that software sells hardware, in which Jack Tramiel must
owe many an ST-sale to the award winning British adventure House,
Magnetic Scrolls, and in particular the comparatively unknown
name of Geoff Quilley. Geoff's the artist who produced the ST
pictures for The Pawn, most of those for The Guild of Thieves
and 19 for the company's brand new release, Jinxter.
was the ST version of The Pawn that made us successful, and
it's still one of the biggest selling pieces of Software for
the ST", says Anita Sinclair, the company's co-founder
and managing director, and who for many adventurers is Magnetic
of the reasons for that is simply that it's Anita's job within
the company to deal with press and publicity. She does more
than just talk to the press, however. As managing director she's
involved in every aspect of Magnetic Scrolls' work.
is writing her own adventure, and in fact the initial success
of the company is partly down to her little-known ability to
turn out an arcade game or two! This was after the first text-only
version of The Pawn had been published by Sinclair Research
for the QL. While waiting for other things to happen, Anita
went to Firebird and showed the games to Tony Rainbird. He thought
they were ok, but didn't sound too enthusiastic.
while she was there she also demonstrated The Pawn. Tony loved
it and said he'd buy all the budget games for the rights to
all other machine versions of The Pawn. Fortunately she had
only sold the QL rights to Sinclair.
founders of Magnetic Scrolls were Anita, who'd been writing
software on a freelance basis, and a friend of hers, Ken Gordon,
who was leaving school and also wanted to write software. They
decided to team up and try to produce a really good arcade game,
till Ken turned up one day with Hugh Steers, who had written
a text parser. After a trial run with a small adventure, the
team of three decided they needed a serious writer in order
to produce a proper game.
this stage Ken turned up with someone else, Rob Steggles, who
was to write most of The Pawn and its follow-up, The Guild of
Thieves. "The bulk of Guild of Thieves was actually written
before The Pawn first came out, which was late 1985", Anita
explained. "Rob had said he was going to write another
adventure for us, so we locked him in a hole for a while and
he came up with what is basically The Guild of Thieves. Maybe
we should lock him in a hole more often.
most important thing about an adventure is the writing, and
if you can't write then that's that, you might as well give
up and go home. You can learn programming, you can learn to
use an adventure system, but you can't really learn to write
in the same way.
Pawn was written as a text-only adventure, but when it was decided
that Rainbird was going to publish it, graphics were requested
with it. So we said, 'Only if they're very very good".
At this point Shakespeare and a pub in Oxford enter the rather
haphazard development of the Magnetic Scrolls success story.