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Aug. 23rd, 2010 @ 02:45 am Review: 'Get Lamp' A text adventure documentary by Jason Scott.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Current Music: Winterwood, Don McLean
BPAL of the Day: Roses, Pearls and Diamonds

Just a small sampling of my collection of smaller 'artifacts' from various Infocom games with the 'Get Lamp' coin.

I have now watched my full copy of Get Lamp twice, along with the two times I’ve seen the presentation version. (I still need to hunt down all the lamps and any hidden bits that might be in there.) I am, unsurprisingly, very impressed! There are good sized segments on all aspects of IF from its inception to the present day while never seeming to dwell too much on any topic past its welcome. The pacing is absolutely pitch-perfect. The accompanying pictures are interesting and informative. I loved the pictures of people’s maps and notes… (And a bit shamed by my own collection of random sticky notes, napkins, scraps and anything else that could be scribbled on, most often barely legibly.) I learned several things I didn’t know and was left with much to ponder. (IE: The difficulty of explaining IF to the uninitiated as a roadblock too its popularity…. I figured it out as I went along, but it isn’t the easiest subject to explain.) Also the repetitious nature of puzzles in the genre. That may well be the downfall of graphical adventures, as well. I know there will be many more things that occur to me over repeated viewings. It is, I think, just about as good an overview of the world of IF as could be desired and is a beautiful and highly respectful tribute both to Infocom and interactive fiction in general. It was obviously a labor of love and the meticulous attention to detail is obvious and deeply appreciated.

I just about jumped out of my chair when, in the bonus features they were talking about IF potentially making a great springboard for writers. Yes, yes, yes! It is funny, actually. The Infocom job I always fantasized about wasn’t so much an Implementor as ‘novelizer.’ The Zorks and even the Enchanter trilogy is essentially a framework of a story with a barebones world and a plot direction. There is enough there to provide the backbone that an aspiring novice needs to start with but not so much that it gets in the way. You can just go so many places with that. It is a million times better than traditional fanfic. It fed my imagination like nothing else. It is a type of IF that I’m not sure is done anymore since most writers’ goal is likely, understandably, to make IF into an interactive novel experience and we do not have Infocom’s technical limitations. Those limitations may have been blessings in disguise for some types of IF.

The Infocom special and related extras were just about everything I could have wanted. The accompanying snippets of ads and interviews in magazines are just great. The next time I watch I’m going to pause the movie to see if I can read them. I loved hearing from a wide array of people connected with Infocom. The people and personalities, each unique and none ordinary. It is easy to see why the company was special. Some of the things mentioned I knew from my web search information gathering quests over the years, others I did not. It did not surprise me that A Mind Forever Voyaging didn’t do well commercially, though it is a masterpiece. It suffered the fate of many things that are ahead of their time. I’ve heard a lot about Floyd, the brave little robot from Planetfall, but I was also quite taken with PRISM. I cared about him, virtual or not. AMFV is my second favorite Infocom game. (Along with Spellbreaker.)

The biggest surprise was the bit about all the Infocom titles being put up for sale at a ridiculously low price! I gasped aloud at that. I wonder what would have happened if the sale went through to Bob Bates. I have always considered Legend the closest thing to what Infocom would have been if things had gone differently and I played every Legend game there was. What might Legend’s Zork games have looked like? I feel they would have been better than Activision’s. Unfortunately that’s just another ‘What if.’ Infocom’s story is in the end a sad tale with many ‘What Ifs.’ But it was special and nothing lasts forever. It is enough to have these unique works to still enjoy and inspire today.

I remember hearing about the Get Lamp DVD project several years ago… right after the closing of the first preorders. (I would have preordered back then had I known about it a little sooner.) It was well worth the wait!

****** Stars!

If I manage to make something of writing and become published and get any kind of following… even a small one… I will write short story IF games set in my world available at my site that will not be available in any other format in tribute to the works that inspired me first.
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