At the beginning of April 2016 Peter Verdi's Magnetic Scrolls Chronicles website went offline. So far all my attempts to contact Peter failed. His site carried some invaluable interviews with former Magnetic Scrolls people. To preserve the work I temporarily uploaded a dump of his site taken in summer of 2015. All you can see below is 100% Peter's work! Hopefully his site will reappear soon! Peter, if you read this, can you contact me?

Remember how it's like to ride on a cloud? How it feels to be squashed by a bus, or how to get that damned gold disc from Micky? Well, here's your chance to relive all these situations.

Have a chat with the devil in THE PAWN, ransack an entire island in THE GUILD OF THIEVES, restore luck itself to a whole country in JINXTER, uncover a conspiracy in CORRUPTION, become an inter-dimensional secret agent in FISH!, an ancient god in MYTH, walk in the footsteps of Alice in WONDERLAND and inherit a haunted mansion in THE LEGACY.
Become a part of the fantasy of Magnetic Scrolls - you certainly won't regret it . . .


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    - The Pawn
    - The Guild Of Thieves
    - Jinxter
    - Corruption
    - Fish!
    - Myth
    - Wonderland
    - The Magnetic Scrolls
       Collection Vol. One
    - The Legacy - Realm
       Of Terror
   Magnetic Interpreter
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Through the Goldfish Bowl - an Interview with Phil South (page 3)


"I think we could have had a ball 
doing it as a Monkey Island type game"
- Phil South


Let's swiftly move on to the puzzle-design ...
Thinking up the puzzles was a three or four stage process. We first sat around in a big circle with pads on our laps writing notes, talking through the game with Anita asking us what happens next. We then made something up because we had no idea. Then we had to figure out how that fitted together. We changed it to fit. Then on another pass we added puzzles. Some of the puzzles were too complicated and we had to leave them out, and some we wrote. Sometimes during play testing it came out that the puzzle was too hard or to too easy. We adjusted the hardness by leaving clues. Sometimes the puzzle was taken out altogether. We played other people's games and saw how they solved the hardness problems.

Finally the game was written and we added more areas, more puzzles and more jokes. Eventually after a few months of doing this roundabout process I stuck to writing and making jokes or refining the ones we already had and left the puzzles to Pete and John. Every idea I had for a puzzle was too wacky to work. I've always loved advent puzzles but never been good at making them.


Who came up with the final puzzle? I remember sitting at the computer for quite some time, trying to figure that one out - a few keyboards were smashed during the process ...
I'm guessing it was like this: original idea by John, Phil and Pete, then puzzle evolved by John and Pete with input from Phil which was quickly discarded along the way, then John and Rob finished it so that someone could actually play it. *laughs*


When you're writing a story for a text adventure game, do the puzzles sometimes get in the way?
Yes always. Puzzles are the game. Jokes and dialogue are the story. Unless the solution to a puzzle is a joke, which in a lot of cases in 'Fish!' it is, then the two are inextricably linked. But mostly they are separate but dependent pieces of the same work. They have to work together but they are worked on separately because their needs are different.


How long did it take to write 'Fish!' from concept to release?
My memory is shaky on that point, but I think about a year, maybe 18 months? 1987 to 1988. I recall us going up to the programmers house in Cambridge on the first ever Comic Relief Red Nose Day for a final polish of the game, which would make it Feb 1988. I worked at 'Your Sinclair' magazine between 1986 and 1988 so that would be able right. I went freelance round about the time we released. The conversation with John and me on the bus would have been in 1987.


If you could go back to 'Fish!'today, would you want to change anything?
None of the jokes. And as much as I LOVE the text adventures (and I think reading is important to foster), if I did it again I would do it in the style of the Lucasfilm 'Monkey Island' games or Sierra 'Space Quest' games. Interactive cartoons ... OK so the textual aspect of it meant that the pictures were created in the mind, like a radio play, our graphics were always better than everyone elses because we really didn't have any. We worked in the human imagination. BUT I think we could have had a ball doing it as a 'Monkey Island' type game. Also my skills as an animator would have come in much handier. *laughs*


What personal memories do you have working for Magnetic Scrolls?
I remember Magnetic Scrolls being in a rather grimy and unsavoury Victorian suburb of South London and having to brave the trains late at night to get there. I remember Anita being small but scary, and possessing a wisdom far beyond her years. She terrifies the crap out of men twice her size just by looking at them. I remember Ken (Gordon) being the most laid back Scotsman I'd ever met, which puts him on track for being one of the most laid back guys worldwide. Rob Steggles has an evil sense of humour and at the time had a real passion for Games Workshop's BLOODBOWL board game. Michael Bywater is scary smart, hugely funny and also possibly one of THE most grumpy men I've ever met.

Writing 'Fish!' is one of the most creative, scary, fun, frustrating, liberating and fascinating pieces of work I've ever been a part of. I don't regret that it didn't do any business because it holds a special place in people's hearts and as a writer/creator you can't hope for that very often in life.


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