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 . . .


   News Archive
   The Games
    - The Pawn
    - The Guild Of Thieves
    - Jinxter
    - Corruption
    - Fish!
    - Myth
    - Wonderland
    - The Magnetic Scrolls
       Collection Vol. One
    - The Legacy - Realm
       Of Terror
   Magnetic Interpreter
   The Message Board
   About The Website

Fish!'n (Micro)Chips - an Interview with Peter Kemp (page 3)


Oo-Topos for the Apple ][


Back to Magnetic Scrolls then. Did you actually play "The Pawn" and "Guild of Thieves" before working on "Fish!"?
No, at least I think not. I did eventually play them but I believe they were free copies, courtesy of Anita, after I'd been commissioned to work on Fish!

Generally, my computer time was spent on:

a) Infocom games.

b) trying to write music for a synthesiser card made by a local company for the Apple ][. (Based on the AY 8910 chip, it was a great harpsichord synth. Unfortunately, the drivers didn't work and it could only be made to work from 6502 assembler, so I had to learn that.)

c) Playing with Apple DOS 3.3. (I spent a couple of months 'cracking' a copy-protected disk of the adventure game 'Ootopos' which crashed about 80% of the way through the game. Out of sheer annoyance, I managed to decode the disk's encryption and modified DOS, repair the damaged sector and create a fresh, playable copy. Great fun.

d) Playing MUD via a special telephone link to the University of Essex mainframe. (Packet Switch Stream or "System X" as it was known at the time. Now it's everyday use, of course, but at the time it was still being developed.) If you don't know about MUD, there are several links.


Did you crack games on a regular basis then? *grin*
There was *another* Apple ][ game I cracked, called "The Prisoner". Good game, but infuriating to play. (Deliberately so, of course, because it was based on the TV series of the same name.)

I'd got about 80% or 90% of the way through and completely stuck, so I broke into the disk. Eventually, I disassembled enough to finish the game by cheating in this way. At one point, there was a comment line in the code along the lines of "If you've got this far, you must be a pretty good programmer. If you'd like a job, give us a call on ..." followed by a telephone number. A clever idea - I wonder if anyone ever did call them?


Let's talk a little about "Fish!" now. What was your motivation, the trigger to "jump on board" the project?
In a nutshell, John asked me if I'd like to get involved with something completely silly and pointless - how could I refuse? (Those weren't the exact words, of course. It was more along the lines of "A bit of fun, a bit of money and everlasting obscurity.") I think part of the motivation was a desire to see if we could actually do it. After all, it's easy to criticise something (and we'd certainly criticised the adventure games from other companies!) so perhaps we needed to show that (some of) our criticisms were being made by people who *could* produce a commercially valid product.


How would you describe your involvement in the making of "Fish!" and how do you see the relationship between you and the rest of the writing team? Phil South said you were often the "referee" between him and John …
I didn't meet Phil until after Fish! had already started. As I remember, John invited me to join the two of them as a 'counterweight'. To paraphrase Phil slightly, I'd describe my role as covering:

a) Mr Boring. I would read and re-read the interpreter scripts, correcting grammar and spelling etc, as well as trying to polish the descriptive text.

b) Mr Pedantic. I would 'game test' as things were being written, reading the script and challenging ideas as too simple, too complex, too silly, too predictable, too ...whatever. I would write long letters to Magnetic Scrolls/John Molloy with all my comments, suggestions and observations. Some of these were accepted and some ignored, but at least we felt comfortable that the various issues had actually been *considered*.

c) Mr Referee. Inevitably there will be friction within a group of creative people. One of the things I was able to bring to the team was my ability to get people to compromise for the overall greater good.


Was it often necessary to be the ref?
Most of the time, but not perhaps in quite the way you might imagine. With so much creative input (ideas for puzzles, jokes, text descriptions, requirements for the system parser etc) there was inevitably far more material than could possibly fit in one game. One of the things I would do was to try and work out what was practical within the project restrictions of cost, quality and timetable. Just because people are creative doesn't *automatically* mean they're unreasonable - it's just that sometimes they need to appreciate that however good a particular idea, it's not right for this particular occasion...


Previous page / Next page

Back to Articles page