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 Magnetic Scrolls
       Collection Vol. One
    - The Legacy - Realm
       Of Terror
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Message In A Microchip - Page One
Article taken from "Crash" magazine, Issue 55 (August 1988)

Since The Pawn first took the software industry by storm, Magnetic Scrolls have acquired a reputation for producing first class adventures. Their latest game, Corruption, is about to enter the Spectrum's chips. Set in the world of insider dealing, the City and the stockmarket, it marks an interesting departure from their previous fantasy games. Samara, Egyptian adventurer, materialized in their London offices and spoke to Magnetic scribes Ken Gordon and Anita Sinclair.


'The beautiful façade of Le Monaco restaurant beckons you to take refuge from the streams of cars and buses which rush past along London Road, swerving dangerously close to the pedestrians as the road turns by the restaurant. The only other place to find some seclusion is in the park over the road to the west.'

At a distance of half a mile or so from this upmarket Corruption location in the City of London, south of the river between London Bridge and Borough station, lie the offices of Magnetic Scrolls. Nip down a grimy side alley, pass by a hearty-looking London pub, travel up in a rickety, rattling lift and you're there. It's a deceptively low profile for a company that has won practically every adventure accolade going including the prestigious British Micro Computing Game of the Year award for The Guild of Thieves.

So how did this small but successful company actually start? We spoke to Ken Gordon and Anita Sinclair.

'When the QL came out, that looked like an opportunity for writing new, interesting games. When the ST came along with its added graphics the move was easy because they're both 68000 machines. There was a gap in the market; nobody had got into 16-bit machines so we took the chance.'

They picked adventure rather than arcade games purely as a matter of personal preference. The product of this initial gamble was The Pawn. Set in the mythical land of Kerovnia, it was marketed by Rainbird and converted to run on a wide range of 16 and 8-bit formats ranging from IBM PC compatibles to Amstrad CPCs.

Each game takes about a year to develop. All primary work is carried out on a huge DEC Micro Vax linked to a series of individual terminals. With plenty of memory and disk space it's associated with none of the initial problems of working within the restrictions of a smaller machine. Disks don't corrupt and valuable bits of information don't get lost. A couple of programmers work from home on comparatively fast Apricot Xens, but the bulk of the programming takes place on a system which provides more than enough opportunity to experiment.

What amounts to about 80 % of a game is written by two people, one specializing in the text and the other in coding but as their work overlaps, neither is a complete specialist.

About two months before a game is due to be released, work starts on the individual versions. A specific format is assigned to each programmer: Ken, for example, has been working on the Amiga version of Corruption, Anita Sinclair on the ST. Meanwhile a small army of play-testers and bug-spotters is called into action.

Quality Control

The care that goes into the elaborate peripherals reflects the potential shelf life of each product. Ken Gordon:

'Our idea of a nice product is not necessarily one that's going to make number one in the charts but one that's going to sell for years. We still sell reasonable numbers of The Pawn.'

Ken reckons that the games have been successful because of the amount of effort that has been put into them:

'If we don't get something right it (the cause of the bug) will either come out completely or we'll delay things so it is right. We try and produce the most high quality product we can. We aren't in the same business as the people who sell their products at £ 1.99.

It's in the nature of an adventure that, in comparison with top quality arcade products, it has a longer-lasting shelf life.

'Adventure games tend not to have as many bells and whistles as, say, a 3-D shoot-'em-up which needs to have features to appeal to the next generation of game players. Adventures don't have the same initial sales figures but new players are still buying comparatively old adventures for the first time.'


Over the years they've developed a whole range of in-house adventure utilities. What do they think of some of the finished systems available on the market now?

'A lot of really good ideas get strangled because a system isn't capable of expressing them. One of the most complex utilities available at the moment lets you have up to 500 flags and 500 counters - you couldn't express one of our games in those terms. Without that extra flexibility, I could see it being very difficult to write a half-reasonable game using one of the adventure writing systems. The ones I've seen, even by people I've expected to do quite well, have been marginal.'

Magnetic Scrolls adventures, on practically every format other than the Spectrum, are well-known for their excellent illustrations. So where does Ken really stand in the great graphics versus text debate?

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