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Collection Vol. One
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the Goldfish Bowl - an Interview with Phil South
South should definitely not be a stranger to those of you who
were into computer gaming back in the Eighties - and rightly
so. Not only was he an editor for such iconic computer games
magazines as 'Your Sinclair'- he was also co-author of Magnetic
Scrolls' wacky inter-dimensional espionage game 'Fish!'.
recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Phil about
his experience working for Magnetic Scrolls and on how it all
happened with 'Fish!'. Well, gentle reader, without further
ado, here is what Phil has to say about 'Fish!', Magnetic Scrolls,
start off - for those few people who don't know who Phil South
is - a few introductory words about your pre-Magnetic Scrolls
I started out as a writer, and that's a thread that's followed
me always through most of what I do. John Molloy introduced
me to a friend who was a magazine editor. I started writing
for him, then he gave me a job up in London.
did you get involved with Magnetic Scrolls? Was 'Fish!'already
on your mind when you first got in touch with them?
Johnnie (Molloy) introduced me to Anita (Sinclair) once we'd
had our brilliant idea for the most difficult game to finish
was working at Magnetic Scrolls for Anita at the time doing
some game/UNIX hacking. Then one day he and I took the bus from
our home town, and on the journey we riffed on the subject about
what would be the most hard to do adventure game. He and I had
been playing adventure games for about 6-7 years by then. When
we said, "what if you started the game as a goldfish and
you had to save the world" we laughed, got off the bus
and went our ways.
called me later and said, "Actually, do you mind if I pitch
this game to some people I'm working with? I think we might
be onto something."
how the game happened. He pitched it to Magnetic Scrolls, they
went nuts, we brought in Pete (Kemp) and the rest, as they say,
"I was a very irritating
- Phil South
the initial idea for 'Fish!'came from you and John?
As I say, it was a chance remark from John or I which formed
the basis of prolonged one hour brainstorm. "What if you
started the game as a goldfish"? My recollection is that
I said that. But then I would try and take the credit, wouldn't
I? Just the kind of underhanded, spotlight hugging I am renowned
for... seriously I can't remember who said it but John and I
both came up with the bare bones scenario. We do this kind of
thing all the time, John and I. Mostly our zany ideas entertain
us and nobody else, but this time John saw some actual mileage
in taking it further.
believe at the time you were working on 'Fish!'you were also
an editor for none other than 'Your Sinclair'magazine? How did
it feel working for the 'other side' for a change? Was it difficult
to manage the two jobs simultaneously?
If I'm brutally honest John bailed me out a lot, and I was
having REAL trouble in the middle juggling my job and the game.
John took me to lunch and very nicely told me to pull my finger
out and help finish the game, which is about the time I did
a major re-write on the entire text. The final polish was done
by John and Rob Steggles, as they practically lived at Magnetic
Scrolls. Me and Pete visited as often as we could.
were your influences, your inspirations when writing the game?
The puns and the word play sometimes reminded me of Infocom's
'Nord And Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail Of It'
Infocom games for sure, but also the previous Magnetic Scrolls
games. I think 'Nord and Bert' came out at the same time...
not sure. 'Hitchhiker's Guide' was more pivotal I think...
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