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

(Inaccurate) Memories Of Memories - A Conversation With Michael Bywater (page 2)


You said there wasn't really a 'before/after' Magnetic Scrolls - what did you do besides working for them?
At the time of my involvement with Magnetic Scrolls I was a contributing editor of Punch magazine (which folded in the early Nineties), writing about future technologies for the Observer, a UK Sunday newspaper, lead columnist for MacUser magazine and also developing an idea for "intelligent" travel guides which eventually foundered because, overall, it was too ambitious. It would have needed the iPhone, the Net and WiFi to work, none of which were really on the cards at the time. If we'd known... but we didn't.


... and what happened afterwards?
Afterwards? I went on writing. I was a columnist for the Independent on Sunday for many years, worked on a couple of games for Infocom (Bureaucracy and the ill-fated sequel to Hitchhikers' Guide), wrote for just about every British newspaper you can think of, did lots of radio, some TV, a couple of movies and spent far more time than was good for me hanging out with the late (damn it) Douglas Adams.

I remain a full-time writer -- my last book was called Big Babies, the one before that was Lost Worlds, and the next one, all about male friendship, will be A Fine Bromance. Then after that I'm starting work on a trilogy of novels and if you think James Lee Burke meets Neil Gaiman you won't be far wrong.




"I think Starship Titanic was an example of a game which was graphic-based in look but IF in feel and we totally overshot the mark."

- Michael Bywater




How did you actually get involved with Magnetic Scrolls?
I was sleeping with the boss. No; literally. I was going out with Anita Sinclair who I'd met at CES in Las Vegas in, I think, early 1987. She was one of the most fascinating and brilliant women I've ever met and you'd have gone out with her too if you'd had the chance. She dumped me in the end, of course, but I'd have dumped me too. Wise woman.

What comes to mind when you think about your time at Magnetic Scrolls?
My main memories are of course of Anita. And her bull terrier, Murdoch. And of the chaotic offices in the ancient and haunted part of London called The Borough, a warren of streets and alleys on the south side of London Bridge. I remember Ken Gordon very well, and Rob Steggles and Hugh Steers less well. It was an odd time of my life.


Any specific memories of Ken Gordon?
My main memory of Ken was his car. I mean I'm not sure whether his car was his avatar or vice-versa. But he was an absolute lynchpin of Magnetic Scrolls and an extraordinarily pragmatic and calming influence. Whatever was going on, Ken would sort it out.


So, your first job was to write the goodies for "Guild of Thieves". How did that fall into place?
That was a bit of fun. It wasn't a "job" in the sense that I applied for it or was asked to do it or was a paid gig or anything. I just thought, hey, we could do some amusing stuff here, and Anita agreed. It was really an excuse to play with an early version of Aldus PageMaker, a page layout program for the Mac which was (along with the, actually far better, MacPublisher) the beginning of desktop publishing.


How much of a free hand were you given in the writing process?
Total free hand. I was the writer. How it works is, you write the stuff, then the other guys read it and say "That's funny" or alternatively "That's not funny" and you change it.


Did you work hand in hand together with Rob Steggles or did you write on your own?
As I remember, Rob gave me the game outline and the characters and I just made it up from there. It's a very different thing. The game is more like a logical axiomatic system where you're trying to move the player through the process, giving them enough room to get into perplexing difficulties but never enough so they get completely snookered and stuck and dead, and so just give up.

Writing the supporting material is much easier. I just thought "What would a guild of thieves look like?" and went from there. It was the time of the breakdown of trades unionism in Britain and there were all these terrible dinosaurs representing The Working Man and in reality just buggering up The Working Man's life with rules and restrictions and terrible tortured constipated bureaucratic language and all the rest of it... and I thought it would be fun to apply that mindset -- of truculent respectability -- to something which wasn't in the slightest bit respectable. And it just went from there.

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