Internet Archive hosts massive Infocom document trove

November 24, 2015 | 11:58

Tags: #interactive-fiction #jason-scott #zork

Companies: #activision #internet-archive #mit

A trove of development documents from interactive fiction pioneer Infocom has been published on the Internet Archive, offering a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a classic games studio.

Founded in 1979 by staff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Infocom lasted only a decade before being shuttered - but in that time accounted for some of the biggest hits in gaming. Best known for the Zork series, the company's imaginative interactive fiction titles were the must-have games of the 80s - especially thanks to a clever approach to copy protection in which tchotchkes ranging from newspaper clippings to scratch-and-sniff cards, collectively dubbed 'feelies,' were bundled with each game and referred to at key points in the plot. Sadly, interactive fiction began to fall out of favour as graphical point-and-click games took over and the company would be acquired by Activision in 1986 and shuttered entirely in 1989.

Now, though, fans have unprecedented access to internal documentation from the company thanks to the work of the Internet Archive's Jason Scott and former Infocom staffer Steve Meretzky. 'Besides writing a large amount of game classics in the Interactive Fiction realm, [Meretzky] also was an incredibly good historian and archivist, saving everything,' Jason Scott, creator of the interactive fiction documentary Get Lamp, explained in a blog post announcing the collection. 'Steve showed me his collection of items he had from the days of Infocom (which spanned from roughly 1981 through to the company’s eventual closing and absorption by Activision in the early 1990s). And it was a hell of a collection.'

Following a year of digitisation, Scott has uploaded the first batch of documents to the Internet Archive: 4,000 pages relating to the company's best-loved titles including Zork Zero, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, A Mind Forever Voyaging, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Dubbed the Infocom Cabinet, these documents - never before seen by those outside Infocom - are available to view and download now.
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