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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    - Myth
    - Wonderland
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       Collection Vol. One
    - The Legacy - Realm
       Of Terror
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Fish!'n (Micro)Chips - an Interview with Peter Kemp

Peter Kemp was the 'Third Man' in the writing team behind Magnetic Scrolls' 'Fish!', the company's last game to be released under British Telecomsoft's Rainbird label. However, unlike Harry Lime, Peter was not a black-market racketeer in post-WWII Vienna, but instead delivered - together with John Molloy and Phil South - a fine, fine piece of interactive fiction and certainly Magnetic Scrolls' wackiest game ever.

Recently I had the chance and the pleasure to talk with Peter about the good old computer-gaming days, his contributions to 'Fish!', and his time working for Magnetic Scrolls. The result of this pleasant and highly interesting conversation can be found on the following pages. . .


Peter, first of all thank you very much for agreeing to do this. Can you start off by talking a little bit about yourself?
Well, I'm now in my mid-50s and have recently taken early retirement from my office job. For the past thirty years or more, I've been involved with IT: various jobs in programming, systems analysis, systems design, capacity analysis, service management and financial management. I've been married for twenty five years, almost all of which have been spent living in a small, sleepy town on the south coast of England. (It's the sort of place where they roll up the pavements at six o'clock and put them away for the evening.)

I play (too much) World of Warcraft, take evening classes to improve my French and I've been learning to play the piano for the past two years. (In the absence of any talent whatsoever, I do a lot of practice. It's my ambition that one day I'll be good enough to be called "mediocre".)


How did you get into computer gaming?
What else are computers for? *grin*

You'll have to think back to 1979, when I got my first computer. (For the record, that was an Ohio Superboard machine. 1 MHz 6502, 4K RAM, 8K Microsoft BASIC in ROM, with a Kansas City audio cassette interface for storing programmes.) I'd just started work as a mainframe computer programmer, so it seemed perfectly natural to get a 'home' machine as well.

Software was thin on the ground. One of the few commercial suppliers was Aardvark who supplied a number of games. There were also a number of books of simple BASIC programs (keyed by hand, of course), which were almost all games. I spent most of my spare time in 1980 writing a "StarTrek" type program, but soon hit the 4K RAM limit, but I had a lot of fun working out ways to pack data using a byte to store more than one variable for example. The end result was a dreadful game, but I had a lot of fun putting it together.

The Ohio Superboard - a naked printed circuit board,
without a case or PSU - that's exactly how it was delivered   


What got you interested in adventure gaming then?
After a while, I got tired of typing in programs by hand, saving them to and loading them from cassette. In early 1980 I bought an Apple ][ Europlus with (gasp!) a floppy disk drive. There wasn't a huge selection of software at the shop where I bought the machine. They did have "Apple Adventure" (a personal computer version of the mainframe 'Colossal Cave'), but I knew this wasn't nearly as sophisticated as Infocom's "Zork". So I bought Zork instead and was instantly hooked.


And why was that genre so special for you?
I suspect the reason I got hooked was simply due to the way it allowed my imagination to run riot. There's an expression in English called 'steam radio' - an affectionate way of referring to radio programmes (especially comedy and plays) where the listener's imagination plays an important part of the overall experience. It's the same with a good book - I have a mental picture of (say) Tom Sawyer that's almost certain to be different from your mental picture of the heroes and villains in that excellent book. And a text adventure allows the player to create their own, personal version of the game that's not possible with pictorial adventures.


You and fellow 'Fish!' co-author John Molloy were friends before you got involved with Magnetic Scrolls, weren't you? How did the two of you meet?
John and I had known each other for some years previously, from a time when I was still living in London. We met, purely by chance, at a computer show in London when (as memory serves) I was asking somebody at one of the amateur clubs whether they knew whether anyone was selling Infocom's "Enchanter". John overheard this conversation and introduced himself. (At the time, it was very rare to meet another Apple user let alone someone who knew of and played Infocom's games.)

To start with we contacted each other primarily about solving Infocom puzzles - it took us exactly one week to crack Zork III for example - but since we also have similar tastes in music, film and anti-Microsoft jokes we've kept in touch ever since.

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