- The Pawn
- The Guild Of Thieves
- The Magnetic Scrolls
Collection Vol. One
- The Legacy - Realm
The Message Board
About The Website
(Micro)Chips - an Interview with Peter Kemp (page
Oo-Topos for the Apple ][
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!
my computer time was spent on:
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.)
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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:
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.
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*.
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...
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