September 21, 2004

Hitchhiker’s Guide Taken Over

by Nick Montfort · , 10:41 am

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the interactive fiction, by Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky), as promised, has been re-implemented and (partially) illustrated and is now available online. It’s quite fascinating to see the first release of the new edition, not only because it demonstrates the continued vitality of 20-year-old IF, but also because I’m in the middle of a similar project. Here’s information on playing the new HHGTTG, on the making of the new edition, on how to submit illustrations that they may use to expand the edition, and on the making of the original 1984 Infocom interactive fiction. The last page links to a video clip of Adams discussing the game. As Richard Harris writes there, “There was a time when computer games didn’t have graphics. … Then graphics games came along and the computer using portion of the human race forgot all about 500,000 years of language evolution and went straight back to the electronic equivalent of banging rocks together – the point’n’click game.”

Update, 9:45 pm: Evin Robertson posts on that the BBC “are running the original Infocom game through a modified interpreter running on their server. The server communicates to the flash interface using some XML,” with ID numbers that tag items in inventory, locations, and the like. This is a clever way to: (1) ensure the original text exchange is maintained exactly, (2) enable a new illustrated interface, and (3) prevent people from downloading their own copy of the game, which resides on the server. Google Groups took many hours to show the new newsgroup posts, but here it is.