No new article this week, folks. Sorry about that! It’s the usual story of a five-Friday month and a chance for me to catch my breath. I’ll have one for you next week.
In lieu of a proper article, some administrative announcements, plus a taster of what will be coming down the pipe in the months to come:
The especially attentive among you have doubtless noticed that we crossed the border into 1995 with my last piece. That means a new slate of ebooks for 1994, the year just finished. As always, their existence is thanks to Richard Lindner. In fact, he’s been extra busy this time: we’ve also put together an ebook gathering all of the Infocom articles, something a number of you have asked me for from time to time. It begins with Will Crowther and Don Woods’s Adventure, that necessary prelude to the Infocom story, and continues all the way through my relatively recent series on the resurrection of the Z-Machine and Graham Nelson’s creation of the Inform programming language for making new games in the Infocom spirit; that seemed to me an appropriately hopeful note to end on. You’ll find Richard Lindner’s email address inside all of the ebooks. If you enjoy them, please think about dropping him a line to thank him.
In other news, I did one of my rare podcast interviews a few weeks ago, with the nice folks from The Video Game History Foundation. The subject was the game-content controversy of the early 1990s and the three enduring institutions that came out of it: the Interactive Digital Software Association (now known as the Entertainment Software Association), the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, and the E3 trade show. I’m definitely a better writer than I am an on-air personality, but perhaps some of you will enjoy it nevertheless.
The coverage to come in the immediate future will be quite graphic-adventure-heavy, as we’re now getting into the genre’s last big boom. Rest assured that I haven’t given up on other genres; they’re just in a slight lull.
- My next article will deal with The Dig, LucasArts’s second adventure game of 1995 — and what a tortured tale that one is!
- Then we’ll move on to a very eventful and profitable era at Sierra, with special coverage reserved for the second Gabriel Knight game.
- This was the year when the Interactive Fiction Renaissance really took flight, with the very first IF Competition and a downright stunning number of other big, rich games released. If you’re an old-school Infocom fan who hasn’t yet tried these games, you might just find yourself in heaven if you give them a chance, as they’re very much in the Infocom spirit, and written and implemented every bit as well.
- We’ll continue to follow the story of Legend Entertainment in some detail, looking at both of their 1995 releases.
- We’ll find time for The Dark Eye and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, a couple of moody, artsy adventure games with some very interesting personalities behind them.
- We’ll look at some more attempts to bring full-motion-video interactive movies to the masses, with unusual and sometimes risque subject matter: titles like Voyeur and In the First Degree.
- We’ll dive into the short and rather disappointing history of Boffo Games, a partnership between Steve Meretzky and Mike Dornbrook that brought us Meretzky’s final adventure game.
- We’ll backtrack a bit to cover the story of New World Computing and the Might and Magic CRPG franchise, which will set the stage for frightfully addictive strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic.
- We’ll examine McKenzie & Co., a noble if somewhat confused attempt by a new studio called Her Interactive to make an adventure game that “girls will love!”
- The big non-gaming story waiting in the wings is that of the World Wide Web, which began breaking into the public consciousness in a big way during 1995. I’ll try to do it justice via a multi-part series that will be slotted into all of the above… somewhere.
If you have a favorite game from 1995 that isn’t listed above, don’t panic. I always shuffle things around a bit for the sake of storytelling. I promise, for example, that Blizzard Entertainment will get their due a little later, as will the debut of Microsoft Windows 95, a truly momentous event in the history of both computer gaming and consumer computing as a whole. Of course, I’m always interested in hearing your suggestions of topics you think would be interesting, although I can’t guarantee that I’ll act on all of them. (Those I decline to pursue are generally the ones which I just don’t feel I have the requisite background and/or level of passion to turn into good articles. Believe me, it’s not you, it’s me.) And if you have a line on a valuable historical source — or if you happen to be one yourself — I’m always eager to hear from you.
And now for my obligatory annual fund-raising pitch: if you like what I do here and haven’t yet signed up to become a Patreon supporter, please think about doing so (assuming of course that your personal finances allow it). Your support will help ensure that this project can keep going for a long time to come. The same naturally goes for The Analog Antiquarian, this site’s alternate-week counterpart. (We’re nearing the end of the Alexandria story there, and will soon be making a brief sojourn in Rhodes before tackling the long arc of China’s history.)
Thanks so much for reading and helping out in all the different ways you do. See you next week!