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 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
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(Inaccurate) Memories Of Memories - A Conversation With Michael Bywater (page 6)


Contact Lenses - a thing unheard of in the Kingdom of Aquitania


How did you work out the feelies and goodies that came with the game?
Again -- I'm sorry about this -- I can remember nothing of the process. I suppose as usual with these things we all sat around and ideas just came up. Or perhaps I just made them up on my own. Haven't a clue at this remove, I'm afraid.


Well, there was an issue of "The Independent Guardian" with all those hilarious photographs ...
Oh, that was easy. Just a version of what we called "rags" in Punch. The pix came from the Punch library and we just dropped them in. I don't think we had scanners or anything like that.

Rob Steggles said that, from where he was sitting "Jinxter", although being an excellent game, didn't perform too well financially, because it had too large a team working on it. Do you remember "Jinxter" being a troubled production?
No. I came in very late and I was working against a mad deadline and too much taken up with Anita to really pay much attention to any tensions there may have been. Rob Steggles's memory is undoubtedly far more accurate than mine.

They may have resented this parvenu coming in and rewriting the thing at the last minute but they were all too polite to say so and in any case, the Magnetic Scrolls system made it all much easier than it would have been were it an Infocom game (though that doesn't mean it was easy; just easiER).

To explain why would involve a detailed explanation of the Magnetic Scrolls vs. the Infocom systems which we don't have time for and I'm not qualified to give. Let's just say that Magnetic Scrolls used a data-driven model rather than a text-driven one, which means, utterly simplistically, that if something was soft in the Infocom system, it was so because you described it as so. In the Magnetic Scrolls system, there was -- I mean this conceptually -- something called SoftBit and if SoftBit=1 then the thing was soft, whether it was a marshmallow or a feather cushion, and the system "knew" about the properties and behaviour of soft things in general. So the descriptive layer which the player actually sees is really rather less important (or perhaps I mean significant) than the underlying data structure, which were all in place.

Personally I think the story of "Jinxter" is a very unique mix of fantasy and and the "real world" and would make an interesting novel - have you ever thought about revisiting the story?
No. Never go back. Life's too short.


So, after completing "Jinxter" and the goodies for "Corruption", were there any plans for you to write more stuff for Magnetic Scrolls?
No. I had my own things to be getting on with and my own problems to solve. There was briefly an idea that Douglas and I would write something for Magnetic Scrolls but it never came to anything because he was extremely behind with a book and I was even further behind with my life.


And how excatly did your collaboration with Magnetic Scrolls end?
It was only ever a temporary ad hoc arrangement and came to a natural end.


Did you actually follow Magnetic Scrolls' fate or play any of their later games?
Not really. It became pretty clear that IF was going down the tubes because the big money was in imbecilic platform games and POV shoot-'em-ups, which was a shame. Everything that followed was a foregone conclusion. Even things like MYST -- which, hell, was just a droopy post-hippie HyperCard stack with a rather good music loop -- were way below the level of Magnetic Scrolls or Infocom in narrative terms. So the era came to an end.


Anything else that comes to mind when thinking about Magnetic Srolls?
You know, I think I've said it all, really. It was fun while it lasted, as they say...


Michael, it was a pleasure talking to you. Many thanks and good luck with your upcoming books and with all your future projects.
If one of those projects turns out to be an interactive fiction, you'll be the first to know.


"MYST was just a droopy post-hippie HyperCard stack with a rather good music loop."

- Michael Bywater


This article © Peter Verdi and may not be used in full or in parts without the written permission from the author.
Photo of Michael Bywater (page one) donated by Nigel Spalding and used with kind permission
Photo of Michael Bywater (page four) donated by Michael Bywater and used with kind permission
Box Art of Starship Titanic © The Digital Village
Box Art of Myth © Cyan Worlds Inc.

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