See page 7
|The Status Line||Important
See page 6
|Volume VI Number 1||Formerly The New Zork Times||Winter/Spring 1987|
Soon after, Douglas found that he was unable to use his credit card. He discovered that the card had been invalidated by the bank. Apparently, the bank had sent a new card to his old address.
For weeks, Douglas tried to get the bank to acknowledge his change-of-address form. He talked to bank officials, and filled out new forms, and applied for another credit card, but nothing worked. He had no credit, and the bank behaved like... well, like a bank.
It's a sad story, one that's replayed every day for millions of people worldwide. Of course, it's not always a bank at fault. Sometimes it's the postal service, or the telephone company, or an airline, or the government. All of us, at one time or another, feel persecuted by a bureaucracy. What can be done?
Only Douglas Adams would exact such sweet revenge. He retaliated by writing Bureaucracy, a hilarious interactive journey through masses of red tape.
You begin Bureaucracy in your spiffy new apartment. You're going to Paris this very afternoon for a combination training seminar and vacation, so you'll need to leave as soon as you get the money order your boss has mailed you. Unless, of course, there's some problem with the mail...
You'll soon find yourself entangled in a series of bureaucratic mishaps as you attempt the seemingly simple task of getting to Paris. Along the way, you'll wrangle with a very bureaucratic bank. And a very bewildering airport. And an eccentric assortment of characters ranging from a greedy llama to the paranoid owner of a camouflaged house. When you find yourself hanging upside down from a tree deep in the Zalagasan jungle, you know you're experiencing the outer limits of bureaucracy.
To make sure you are prepared for any eventuality, the packaging includes an official letter from your boss; a credit card application form (in triplicate); a skinny pencil; a helpful brochure from your bank; and a charter membership flyer for Popular Paranoia magazine.
Douglas Adams was assisted in writing Bureaucracy by the staff of Infocom, primarily the mysterious hacker W.E.B. "Fred" Morgan. He (she?) has worked on most Infocom products at one time or another. Mr. Morgan refuses to reveal any personal information about himself (herself?) other than a mailing address for cash and bearer bonds.
Bureaucracy will be available in March for the IBM, Apple II series, Macintosh, Atari ST, Commodore 128, and Amiga. Retail price is $34.95 for the Commodore 128, and $39.95 for all other computer systems.
Finally, it was time for Zork® I, Zork II, and Zork III to venture out into the world of personal computers. As everybody knows, they made their parents proud. One million people welcomed the little Zorks into their homes. They were called "remarkable," "fascinating," "beautifully written," "masterpieces of logic." Countless awards and accolades were won, including "Best All-Time Computer Game" from Playboy Magazine in 1986.
Now, five years later, Zork I, Zork II, and Zork III are together again, happily reunited in one incredible Zork Trilogy package.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, the staff of the Frobozz Mint struck a special Zorkmid coin. The coin, which bears the handsome visage of Belwit the Flat, is included in The Zork Trilogy package, along with the complete games of Zork I, Zork II, and Zork III on disk; a history of the Great Underground Empire; a Frobozzco International stock certificate; resort brochures from Bozbarland and Grayslopes; a letter from John D. Flathead IX; and a strange old map.
Just imagine... Zork I, Zork II, Zork III, a heap of fascinating documents, and a not-available-anywhere-else Zorkmid coin. And it's all yours at a savings of 50% off the original combined cost of the three Zork packages. Commodore 64/128 and Atari XL/XE versions cost just $59.95. Apple II series, Macintosh, Atari ST, Amiga, and IBM versions carry a suggested retail price of $69.95.
If you haven't yet welcomed the three little Zorks into your home, now is the time to do so... now that they're all together in the extra special Zork Trilogy.
I eagerly ripped open the envelope with the Infocom logo and quickly pulled out the latest edition of The New Zork ... wait! A little change threw me off balance -- but it was quickly regained. I opened the edition and turned to page 6. Ah, yes, page 6, home of puzzle number 11. I thought -- no, I prayed -- that I would be able to complete the program puzzle and win! Yes, me! Winner! Winner of the Infocom game of my choosing! I read about Leather Goddesses of Phobos and I wanted it. That would be the game of my choosing. Plenty of sex, action, sex, puzzles, sex, zany humor, sex; why, it had my name all over it! The tension within me built!
I looked at the puzzle. Then I looked at it once again. Puzzlement befell my shattered hopes and dreams! You had to match quotes with games! This got me to thinking. I personally have only two games (Leather Goddesses of Phobos would've been my third) so I recognized very few quotes (four to be exact). To win your puzzle, I would have to know dialogue from 17 games. Fine; how much would this be? I calculated it out to be $654.15 plus 4% sales tax; if I ordered them through you, it would have been $688.15. Being a college student on a very strict budget, I cannot afford $600 for games in order to compete in your puzzles. This is very disconcerting to me. I love your newspaper, with all its wit, and I want to participate to the fullest. Please help me in the future. Thank you for your cooperation.
[Editor's reply: We've run several "one game" puzzles and even one "no games" puzzle. And it's possible to solve even our multiple-game puzzles with knowledge of just a few games. Besides, what's more important: your tuition or a new Infocom game? Don't answer that.]
I just wanted to say that I couldn't believe how easy puzzle number 11 was. Even though the only Infocom games I own are Hitchhiker's, Zork III, and A Mind Forever Voyaging, I figured out the puzzle in less than 20 minutes. I only filled out seven numbers before I figured out I was drawing the legs of something, and in a few minutes of drawing and erasing I had completed the "dead man." I grabbed a back issue of a computer magazine and found an Infocom ad showing all of your game's covers. There was the cover of Deadline.
I suppose you'll get a few billion entries for the puzzle, but remember: I sent mine in first.
The snow fell at an ever-increasing rate, obscuring my view of the tree line ahead. The wind whistled through my cloak, and my lantern squeaked in the cold. The miles had trudged by at an ever-slowing rate, until I finally couldn't go on any further. I entered the small grove of trees and gratefully collapsed beneath a large tree with low branches. Totally exhausted, I did the only thing I could think of to pass the time 'til the end came: I whistled. As I whistled, a beautiful little bird flew over me into the branches of the tree. The end must be close, I thought; this is too familiar to be true.
Then the little bird dropped something on my head that was nothing like a brass bauble and flew away. Coincidentally, I realized that I had been whistling the theme song to the TV series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I decided to figure the odds of these two events happening together, hoping that it would take my mind off of the increasing force of the wind. I came up with a seven-digit number that was the same as the phone number of a girl who told me to do just what I had done: get lost in a snow storm. This drove me even further into despair. In my deep depression, I didn't notice I was sweating until I took of my cloak (actually, my jacket). A Chinook wind was passing through! By the way, the Hitchhiker's Guide has no info on a Chinook wind, so I'll tell you what it is: a warm wind that blows over the Rockies and raises the temperature. It raised my hopes too. All the snow melted and the sun came out, making the day quite beautiful, however leaving me still just as lost. I felt rather rested now, so I left the grove of trees and began trudging across a field. The ground began to rumble and shake, and the sky filled with mist! I looked around in terror and what should I behold stampeding over the hill straight at me? YAKS?!? In Montana? No, no, cows! I stood there dumbfounded long enough to wish I had an izyuk memorized before running as fast as I could, but slower than the herd.
I thought I heard something in the air behind me so I looked over my shoulder to check. Lo and behold! Be still my beating heart! Keep running my beating feet! A helicopter! I was really glad I had looked back at the helicopter until I turned back around to see where I was running. When I woke up on the helicopter, they were still picking tree bark out of my face. Never mind that, though, I was rescued! Free to watch more reruns of Gilligan's Island and Hogan's Heroes! Free to solve Zork a twelfth time! Of course the snow storm came back in force. Fortunately, we crashed on top of three cows. Not only did they soften the blow, but I ate steak for four days until the forest rangers rescued me again.
Finally, I spied the lovely little quaint abode with boarded windows and a front door intentionally left blank that I called home. I wondered what I could have possibly done to deserve what happened to me. I opened my big mailbox with the usual difficulty (it hates to give up posted mail) and realized what it was: my copy of The Status Line had been in my mailbox for six days unopened! I quickly remedied that fault as I stepped inside. Reaching into my cabinet for a cup, I found one of my china cups was inexplicably missing, so I grabbed another and poured myself a cup of tea. The stories and news items were wonderful, but the thing I wanted to see most was the new puzzle contest. I flipped to it eagerly, but just as I opened it up, my head started to feel as funny as the tea tasted. Before I knew it, the floor rushed up to greet me. The police came by and drew lines around me before the ambulance took me away, but as I was wheeled out of my library (kitchen, actually), I saw those lines on the floor. That's it! I realized, I knew it all along. "Deadline!" I creaked from the stretcher, "Deadline is the answer!" The police sergeant named Duffy asked me, "That T-shirt you're wearing is a large, isn't it?" I told Duffy, "No, it's a medium."
Great Falls, MT
My newsletter came with a distinct perfume (perhaps Moonmist) permeating the paper. My guess is that the newsletters are stored near the scratch-and-sniff cards used in the Leather Goddesses of Phobos game. On the other hand, my wife is convinced that the Infocom letter was perfumed because in the mail box it was sitting next to a letter from my (non-existent) lover. The perfume makes me a prime Suspect, and of course I hid the incriminating letter (according to her) but she managed to sniff out my Infidelity by paying attention to Invisible Clues. Our mutual trust, the Cornerstone of our marriage, is missing. She thinks some Enchanter or Sorcerer placed a love spell on me and that she, my lover and I are Starcrossed Trinity. Now she is looking for a good Spellbreaker. I need an honest Witness to tell my wife the truth. Without your help, my wife and I will become Cutthroats. Be my Wishbringer, and tell my wife that I'm inno-scent. Until we get an answer, she has me Suspended upside-down with a rope, twenty-five Fooblitzkys above the ground. The future of my marriage (not to mention my life) rests in your hands. Please answer as soon as possible; she has given me a strict Deadline, after which the rope will be cut and I will make Planetfall with my fragile skull.
New York, NY
On July 11, 1986, the news broke that Lotus founder and Chairman Mitch Kapor was resigning his active role in the company.
While none of the news stories revealed the REAL reason for Kapor's resignation, Infocom soft-ball fans were not fooled.
Immediately, Infocom's resident German semi-translators began struggling through the review, valiantly attempting to wrestle those thirty-seven syllable German words into submission.
The sentence which gave them the most trouble was one which read, "Programmierer Steve Meretzky ... holt vielmehr zum groben 'Durch den Kakao ziehen' aus." This apparently translated to "Programmer Steve Meretzky likes to drag people through cocoa." Naturally, this had everyone around here scratching their heads until someone discovered that "dragging someone through cocoa" is a German idiom for kidding someone.
Naturally, the author took this occasion to vent his disgust at the legal staff of the Times (which recently bullied Infocom into changing the name of this newsletter from The New Zork Times to The Status Line). The Times reporter proceeded to lead our author to the newsroom bulletin board.
There, in the very center of that crowded board, was a copy of the article from The Status Line about the forced name change. The headline, "Times to Infocom: Drop Dead" was circled with a fat red editing pen. Apparently, the folks in the newsroom don't hold their legal department in much higher stead than we do.
The skit, entitled Halloween Hijinx, told the story of a small town. Its cemetery is coveted by a huge condominium developer, and the deed to the cemetery, the last stumbling block between the developer and a hideous housing project, has mysteriously vanished.
As the action of the skit began, the main character (You) and his two friends (Zebulon and Jedediah) are heading out on Halloween for some trick-or-treating. They've decided to keep their eyes and ears open for any clues about the missing deed.
Characters in the skit included the church's forgetful pastor, Cyrus McGee; incredibly corrupt Mayor Slimebucket; a town bully named Chuggo; and elderly spinster Elmira Bat, the town gossip. Other townspeople were Doctor Goodbody, a kindly philanthropist; Abdul, a suspicious foreigner living in a tent near the cemetery; and Abdul's trained mule. The mule, named Mr. Zeke, could answer any questions whose answer was a number.
The skit was interactive in much the same way that an Infocom story is. After each action in the skit, the players would freeze, and the audience would shout out suggestions for what to do next. InfoAuthor Dave Lebling played the skit's "parser," screening inputs from the audience and forwarding appropriately-worded ones on to the players.
Players appeared in the skit in whatever costumes they had worn to the party. InfoTester Max Buxton, who played You, came as Punch, and his girlfriend was Judy. Dave Lebling was costumed as a giant computer chip; thus his parser role. InfoAuthor Steve Meretzky (Jedediah) and his wife were dressed as Baby Time and Father Time, respectively. InfoTester Tom Bok (Elmira Bat) was a nun, InfoAuthor Stu Galley (Abdul) was a beatnik, InfoEditor Jon Palace (Goodbody) was a basket of dirty laundry, and InfoAuthor "Hollywood" Dave Anderson was costumed as a huge Leather Goddesses of Phobos scratch 'n' sniff card.
As the story of the skit unfolded, the audience discovered that Slimebucket and Goodbody were in cahoots, and that Goodbody had kept the absent-minded pastor occupied while the Mayor stole the deed from the church. The deed was discovered locked in a chest buried in the cemetery. As the skit reached its climax, Goodbody was overpowered through the use of Abdul's voodoo doll, but Slimebucket arrived at that moment with a gun. Suddenly, Slimebucket was jumped by Chuggo, who was mad because the cemetery was the location of his secret clubhouse. But it wasn't over yet! Goodbody recovered and came after our heroes with an electric chainsaw, and the audience had one final puzzle to solve: PULL OUT THE PLUG!
Much later in the evening, the chainsaw was used for pumpkin carving.
Perhaps the culprit is one-too-many trade shows in Las Vegas. Perhaps it's just a by-product of working in such an intense atmosphere of high-stakes high-tech entrepreneurism. But whatever the reason, whenever one Infocommie says "X," and another one says "Y," there's going to be a wager any minute. You can bet on it.
For example, take Info-Marketeer Mike Dornbrook, a cheery optimist, and InfoAuthor Brian Moriarty, an industrial-strength pessimist. When Brian's Wishbringer was released in June of 1985, Mike bet him that it would sell at least 45,000 copies by the end of that year. By December, Wishbringer sales were nearly double that figure, so Mike ended up enjoying a fine dinner at the swank Parker House restaurant at Brian's expense. Seeking revenge, Brian made the same bet in 1986 for his second game, Trinity. As this issue was going to press, that bet was going right down to the wire ...
InfoAuthor Steve Meretzky made the first in a series of bets with Dornbrook after Mike predicted that people would send the postcards from their Planetfall package to Infocom as fan mail. So Steve bet him that less than 100 postcards would be received during the first year after Planetfall's release. When only 3 postcards arrived by September 1, 1984, Steve cheerfully ran up a sizable tab at The Ritz. Mike, by being off by a factor of 33, set an InfoBetting record that has never been equalled since.
Those same two were at it again a few months later. Mike bet that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would, some time before the end of 1985, hit the number-one spot on Softsel's Hot List, which was then the industry's bellwether bestseller list. When the game hit number one in early 1985 and stayed there for most of the year, Steve was obliged to pay off the terms of the wager: six hours of manual labor. Imagine all those people who bought Hitchhiker's, unaware that they were indirectly helping Mike Dornbrook get a new patio!
Steve swore revenge, and bet Mike that "no way would Leather Goddesses of Phobos sell more than 87,500 copies" by the end of 1986. The stakes were raised: this one was for EIGHT hours of manual labor. At last report, Steve was rumored to be stocking up on shovels, pickaxes, and a good steady whip.
But the optimism of a Mike Dornbrook and the pessimism of a Brian Moriarty pale in comparison to that of Marc Blank, co-author of Zork, and Brian "Spike" Berkowitz, co-author of Cornerstone. In fact, it was Spike who coined such immortal InfoPhrases as "It'll never work" and "It's worse than that."
Marc's first bet with Spike was that Infocom's sales would top $5 million in 1983, at a time when projections were for $3 million. Sales passed $6 million, doubling the forecast and quadrupling the 1982 figure. Spike paid off at The Ritz. The next year, Dornbrook took over for Marc and wagered that sales would break $15 million. This time it was Brian's turn to sup for free, as sales "only" increased by 70%.
Marc returned next year, betting Spike that sales would more than double. The stakes were raised: dinner at Lutece in New York City, including transportation. Pessimism won for the second year in a row; sales "only" went up 20%.
Then came the granddaddy of InfoBets. The bettors: Marc and Spike. The bet: whether Infocom stock would be publicly traded at a price of at least $20 a share by June 30, 1987. The stakes: dinner in Paris, including transportation and lodging. When Activision purchased Infocom during 1986, the sale price worked out to significantly less than $20 per share of Infocom stock. (We can't reveal the actual price, but this is the only bet which rivals Mike Dornbrook's error factor.) Spike has not yet collected; as he and Marc are both now living on the west coast, an amendment to dinner in Tokyo has been discussed.
More recently, InfoBetting has taken some rather silly turns, with bets being waged over such odd points as the lyrics of "Puff the Magic Dragon" and the number of calories in a banana. The most interesting bet of the last year, however, involved Spike, InfoPrez Joel Berez, and InfoSales Manager Gabby Accardi. The winner, the first person to lose 15 pounds, would get an all-expenses paid trip to Bermuda! The bet ended in indecisive confusion, but Spike and Joel took Gabby to Bermuda anyway. The trio has since been known as "The Bermuda Triangle."
But wait! All is not quiet on this particular night. One exhibit hall is brightly lit, filled with teams of teenagers who are plotting strategies, trying experiments, tapping at keyboards, and occasionally breaking into cheers. Fortified with caffeinated soft drinks and vitamin-rich juice, these brave souls spend the whole night venturing through a fictional world, searching for a path to the end of a story, hoping to win a personal computer for their school.
It's true! I've seen it myself! It's Infocom's "Marathon of the Minds"! It's a sneak preview of an unreleased Infocom interactive fiction, with the author attending in person! It's a chance for high-school students to win fabulous prizes! And it may invade your city sooner than you think!
It came to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on November 8-9. In the Hall of Africa, the stuffed animals, still frozen in their tableaux of jungle and grassland, saw 20 teams of three people each dive into Hollywood Hijinx under the friendly eye of its author, "Hollywood" Dave Anderson. At a discreet distance, journalists from local newspapers got their own chance. While the "Space Nerds" team, composed of finalists in NASA's Journalist in Space program, tackled standard-level Hijinx, more laid-back players tried their hand at introductory-level Moonmist, which was just appearing for sale in stores.
After a few hours, the adult teams threw in the towel and called it a fun night. After more than 12 hours, the contest concluded with not one but TWO winning teams: Corey Gates, Mike Greengard, and Greg Templeton from Contra Costa Christian, and Dan Connolly, Eric Hedstrom, and Craig McLaughlin from Amador Valley High School. (Why were there two winners instead of one? It's a long story, but basically the teams finished so close together that both deserved to win.)
The next Marathon of the Minds hit the Pacific Science Center in Seattle Center on November 21-22. This time the local electronic media hopped on the bandwagon, with three TV stations doing stories, including two live remote reports within minutes of each other on the nightly news. Three radio stations joined in with reports, interviews, and a series of give-aways for listeners. Several newspapers also covered this event.
This time 26 teams from high schools all over Washington state tackled Hijinx in a large two-story hall that was empty after an exhibit from India moved out and before an exhibit of model railroads moved in. After 16 hours, one team finished: Brian Lane, Mark Montague, and Cougar Van Eaton from Eatonville High School. And the Infocom Marathon team headed back to Boston to prepare for future events.
Of the people who responded to the survey, 82% were men and 18% were women. 46% of the respondents were age 20 or under and another 46% were between the ages of 20 and 41. The remaining 8% of the respondents were over the age of 40.
When asked what was your favorite game, ZORK I was the top choice. HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY came in second and PLANETFALL was third. This was really not so surprising because Zork I and Hitchhiker's are Infocom's biggest sellers and therefore are the two games with which most people are familiar.
But what about those games that haven't been played as widely? Maybe if you tried one of those you'd like it best. So I looked at what the experts (people who have played 15 or more games) thought were the best games. These Infocom afficionados also voted for ZORK I as their favorite. But they rated PLANETFALL as the number two game and ENCHANTER® as their third choice! If you haven't already, maybe you should check out these two titles and see what you've been missing.
What are the most important aspects of an Infocom game? In order of importance, here's what aspects you felt contributed most to your enjoyment of an Infocom game:
|1. Attention to detail
3. Descriptive prose
|5. Character interaction
7. Exploration and mapping
Your favorite categories of interactive fiction were FANTASY in first place, SCIENCE FICTION as the #2 favorite, followed by ADVENTURE in the third slot. This held true across all age groups. Although women preferred FANTASY, ADVENTURE, and COMEDY respectively, they represented too small a faction to influence the overall vote. Come on ladies! Get in there and let our voice be heard!
When asked what you thought was the most difficult Infocom game, you said HITCHHIKER'S was the toughest. SPELLBREAKER came in second and ZORK II was the third most difficult.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, WISHBRINGER was ranked the easiest. ZORK I was the second easiest and THE WITNESS® and SEASTALKER tied as the third. These votes, however, are somewhat misleading. Just as in the voting for the favorite Infocom game, some titles are named more often because they are the titles that more of you own. There might be some Infocom games that are easier or harder than the ones you've played, but you just don't know it. So once again I turned to the experts -- the people who have played at least 15 different Infocom games. Here's what they said:
3. THE WITNESS
Now, in Reader Poll #2, I would like to find out what you think about The Status Line itself. Please take a few moments to fill out the following form. And pay no heed to my state of mental health -- I feel stronger than ever and am eager to arise to the poll-taking challenges of 1987! So let the piles upon piles of polls pour in!
THE STATUS LINE READER POLL #2
Name:____________________________________________________________ Address:_________________________________________________________ City:____________________________ State:_________ Zip:___________ Phone:(___)________________________ Age:_________ Sex:___________ Computer brand and model:________________________________________How many Infocom interactive fiction games do you own? _____
How many Infocom InvisiClues booklets do you own? _____
Do you own Infocom's database, Cornerstone? ___yes ___no
On the average, how many people in addition to you read YOUR copy of The
Status Line? (check one)
___1 ___2 ___3 ___4 ___5 or more
Listed below are various aspects of a typical issue of The Status Line. By circling the appropriate number, please indicate how you feel about each aspect.
Love it Indifferent Hate it Articles about Infocom employees 1 2 3 4 5 New product information 1 2 3 4 5 Articles about the creation of Infocom games 1 2 3 4 5 Puzzles 1 2 3 4 5 Cartoons 1 2 3 4 5 Contests 1 2 3 4 5 Letters to the editor 1 2 3 4 5 Humor 1 2 3 4 5 Photo essays 1 2 3 4 5 Cornerstone articles 1 2 3 4 5 Hints to games 1 2 3 4 5 Technical support issues 1 2 3 4 5 Articles about fellow Infocom game players 1 2 3 4 5 Yak Facts 1 2 3 4 5Have you ever tried to solve one of The Status Line (or NZT) puzzles?
Have you ever sent in your Status Line puzzle solution to Infocom?
If you are familiar with The Status Line Puzzles, please complete the three following sentences:
___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________Please clip out or photocopy this form and mail to:
Attn: Paula's Poll #2
125 CambridgePark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
When told of her good fortune Mary Ann began laughing and confessed she was married at which point we began laughing and said marital status meant nothing to Mike. Mary Ann was very excited and said she would visit Infocom in the near future. She only had one question, "Was I the only entry?"
Well Mary Ann, the samplings shown here should prove to you that you are not alone in your pursuit of an evening of interaction with Infocom's Director of Marketing, Mike Dornbrook. Here is Mary Ann's winning entry:
I've been crazy with desire since laying eyes upon that big slice of beefcake, Mike Dornbrook, on page 12 of the summer edition of "The Status Line". What a photo -- arms posed seductively over his balding head; eyes beckoning "take me". And, he's got a job -- what a MAN!!!! Well, enough about Mikey.
I am a kinky goddess who fills her brass bikini quite nicely and the closest thing you'll find to Lane Mastodon this side of Mars. Not only will I kiss your kneecaps, but I also can afford an air-shuttle ticket to Boston (round-trip if necessary). I don't enjoy but will eat Polynesian food and know all the words to "Tiny Bubbles" (a polynesian classic made popular by Don Ho).
If you care about Mikey, you'll choose me. We'll dine and dance, yak it up at Club Zork or even Joe's Bar. We'll scratch and sniff. It will be a night to remember.
Yours very truly,
Mary Ann Hallenborg
I would like to have a date with Mike because I'm quite sure that he would find it both comfortingly familiar and psychologically purging in spending the day with someone who has the same name as his mother.
We would like to go on a date with Mikey because why not? As Bert in Mary Poppins asserts "It's better than a poke in the eye."
We are 2 slightly middle-aged housewives that are also computer nuts. We'd love to see where our Zorks and Witness got their start.
Bobbe Anderson & Sue Arkuszewski
N. Easton, MA
[Scanned photo of very beautiful woman should go here.]
Because of my name and because this is NOT a real photo of me, I bet I don't win the contest! But I bet that this does go up on someone's wall or bulletin board! Love The Status Line and think your company has a great corporate sense of humor!
Good luck on your date,
I can see myself now, arriving at Infocom. The Vogon driver will open the door to our Mercury Lynx limo, and I'll sweep up the stairs in my new Norwegian blue fox (Spiegel's, $995) and Addidas. Mikey will of course be resplendent in a tasteful club tie and Swatch watch.
Naomi B. Orbeck
I've enclosed a photo, and I think it's a good likeness. Let's cut the small talk, o.k. Mikey? A cat's life is a short one, we only get one or two big thrills out of the whole deal. I think you could be one of those thrills.
Whiskers, the wonder cat
Somewhere on Long Island
Dear Mr. Lange:
I want a date with Mikey because, frankly, I think Infocom owes me one. July 1984 marked both my husband's discovery of Zork and the end of our love life. Being awakened at three a.m. by a scraggle-faced, bleary-eyed man muttering something about a babel fish hardly makes me want
That's 50 words. I have to stop.
You know, Mikey is really kinda cute. Tell you what, I'll even pay for dinner, and we can leave my husband back at the office playing Leather Goddesses of Phobos.
Jacqueline M. Kiffe
Pat Robertson isn't President yet, but that hasn't stopped a lot of religious fringe types from crawling out of the woodwork lately. At least Infocom's woodwork, anyway.
For years, we've been receiving occasional letters from ladies and gentlemen around the country who insist that our Zork and Enchanter games are evil because they deal with magic. The use of magic, even in fiction, apparently promotes all sorts of nasty things, such as devil worship or forgetting to send money to Jimmy Swaggart.
The recent wave of activity began a bit more than a year ago, with a letter from a woman in California who wanted a full refund for Zork I. "I had no idea when I bought it that it was dealing with demonistic realms ... I was appalled that my ten year old son was being influenced in this way ... What kind of perversions are you trying to promote in youngsters?"
Shortly after that, a Cape Cod woman, a self-described "kamikaze for Jesus," discovered the Zork decision novel that her son had purchased at a school book fair. She immediately recognized the book for what it was, a dangerous promoter of violence and demonic worship, and attempted to have it banned from the school library. (See "Zork Banned," The New Zork Times, Volume IV, Number 4, Fall 1985, page 1. Also see "Zork book ban to be debated by Dennis-Yarmouth School Committee," The Register, Yarmouth Port, Mass., issue of 5/16/85, page 1.)
You MUST have seen our advertisement for The Enchanter Trilogy (which depicts a wizard stirring a bubbling cauldron of purple smoke). Because it was so eye-catching that a whole slew of religious zealots discovered that Infocom was actually the Great Satan. For example, one letter carrier dropped us a note to say that he was refusing to deliver any copies of Boy's Life which ran this ad.
Another person sent in a copy of the ad with all the offending phrases circled: "magic" and "spells" and "powers" and "sorcerer" and "Circle of Enchanters" -- not to mention "thrilling proportions," which must surely have spilled directly from the mouth of Lucifer himself. Written in the corner of the ad: "No thanks! The world has got enough evil in it! We don't need made up evil from FOOLS like you!" The person also wrote "Jesus (heart's) [sic] you!" across the Sorcerer package, obviously mistaking it for a car bumper.
Most recently comes this letter from Ocean Grove, New Jersey, hardly the heart of the Bible Belt: "I was looking through a mag. [sic] I saw your ad. I hope you are with plain tricks and not magic. Just what infocom [sic] means I dont [sic] know -- I hope the U.S. gets back to the faith of our Fathers. [sic] Amen." Enclosed with this note were several pamphlets and articles, most annotated with scribblings like "Never take no 666 it is the number of the antichrist -- it leads to everlasting fire." In a new twist, Infocom's godless magic was linked to godless Communism: "Deals with the Communist are woe woe woe woe" was scrawled on the pamphlet entitled "The Communist Plan for the Conquest of the U.S.A."
That brings you completely up-to-date on our contacts with the hardcore religious right. But then again, can you trust any information coming from well-known Satanic cultists like us?
Finally, if anyone who thinks that Wishbringer erodes the moral fabric of America is actually reading this, we have a message for you: Keep those letters coming! They're really entertaining! Write to:
125 CambridgePark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
Attn: Frothing Nutcake Dept.
Answer: These are ASCII characters which appear if the DOS file, ANSI.SYS, hasn't been loaded. Go through the INSTALL program again. To load ANSI, be sure to reboot the system (by pressing CTL, ALT, and DEL simultaneously) after the installation is complete. If rebooting has no effect, be sure that the DOS file ANSI.SYS resides on your DOS disk (the root directory of hard disks). Also be sure that the CONFIG.SYS has the line which reads: device=ansi.sys. You may need to create a CONFIG.SYS file using the DOS EDLIN or COPY CON command to include a line: device=ansi.sys. (TI PRO and DEC users do not have the ANSI file on their DOS directories.)
Question: Why am I having problems loading Infocom games on my Commodore 128 with 1571 drives?
Answer: Some 1571 drives, when starting up, default to 1571 mode instead of 1541 mode. A one-line BASIC command found on page 5 of your 1571 Owner's Manual will put you in 1541 mode: OPEN 1,8,15,"U0>M0" (Note that 0 is zero, not "oh").
Question: Are there any Cornerstone user groups which I can join?
Answer: Infocom does not sponsor any user groups, but individuals may certainly form their own groups. In particular, Mr. Michael Forrest wants to get together with other Cornerstone users in the Rockville, Maryland, area, and Mr. James Kelly is interested in starting a group in the Oak Parks, Illinois, area. Anyone interested may contact Mr. Forrest at (301) 443-6650. Mr. Kelly can be reached at (312) 848-9650.
Question: How can I change the order of the attributes in my file in DEFINE mode?
Answer: Cornerstone keeps the attributes in the file in the order in which you typed them. You cannot change the order. What you CAN do is create a report format which shows the attributes in the order you wish. Remember, by saving your report format under the name VIEW, UPDATE, or SELECT, your format will appear as the default format when you enter that mode.
Question: I put some headings and totals on my report, but when I print the report, the headings and totals don't print. What's wrong?
Answer: If you formatted the headings and totals for the report by using REPORT FORMAT HEADER and REPORT FORMAT TOTAL, you must do a REPORT SHOW HEADER and REPORT SHOW TOTAL to get the headings and totals to appear on the screen. Whatever you see on the screen is what prints out when you enter PRINT mode.
Question: I entered my Zip Code attribute as a NUMBER, but now I want it to be a STRING so I can combine it with City and State for my mailing labels. How can I do it?
Answer: Create a new STRING attribute with an Initial Value of NUMBER_TO_STRING(Numeric Zip Code attribute name,0). Recompute this attribute to copy in all the Zip Codes. Delete the numeric Zip Code attribute. Take the Initial Value off the new STRING Zip Code attribute. And you're all set!
Question: How do I print wider than 80 columns?
Answer: We get this question quite a bit at Cornerstone Support, and the answer is really quite simple. All you need to do is to get the information you want to print on the screen and enter REPORT FORMAT RECORDS from VIEW mode. Use the MOVE FIELD command to move the fields beyond the 80th position. You'll want to start with the field furthest to the right to make room for the others.
Question: My database crashed and now I find out that my only backup contains the same error. What can I do?
Answer: We cannot stress enough the need for keeping a series of backups of your database, especially if you do a lot of data entry. Many people simply keep backing up onto the same disk. However, if you have a separate backup after each data entry session, then you can minimize your losses by restoring a backup that is at most a few days old. For example, we have a database that keeps track of all the Cornerstone registration cards we receive. These cards are entered twice per week and a BACKUP ALL FILES is done after each data entry session. A series of 5 backups are kept and the most recent backup is done on the oldest backup disk in the series.
Also a reminder: Building Applications with Cornerstone is available through Infocom at 1-800-262-6868 for $14.95. Don't miss out!
A. "This has been my desire e'er since this charlatan bent me to his service. I perform this deed with pleasure!" -- The Demon, Zork II (#40)
B. "One more step and the President of the Galaxy is fried meat!" -- Trillian, Hitchhiker's Guide (#35)
C. "You reporters have all the sensitivity of buffalo. Can't you leave me alone?" -- Michael Wellman, Suspect® (#36)
D. "Uh, no thanks. I prefer to stay near my beach. I don't see much yummy seaweed out that way." -- The Turtle, Enchanter (#34)
E. "We have a position for an Ensign Ninth Class in the toilet-scrubbibg division, you know." -- Blather, Planetfall (#37)
F. "I dinna give a hoot about you or your questions! Now, begone!" -- Angus McNabb, Deadline (#38)
G. "She spake against the Church; she tried to poison the mind of a child too young to know the Truth." -- Mitchell Simm, A Mind Forever Voyaging (#39)
H. "Ragweed!" -- Ogre, Spellbreaker (not on number list)
I. "My, I wonder what this fine rope is doing here." -- The Thief, Zork I (#33)
J. "That's strange! Maybe you should use the Computestor." -- Tip Randall, Seastalker (#32)
K. "I've heard talk of a merger between Dad's company and another one, but I don't think it's happened yet." -- George Robner, Deadline (not on number list)
L. "When we began to approach your system, I got excited! A whole new culture to learn!" -- Gurthark-tun-Besnap, Starcross (#22)
M. "My court thanks you most humbly for rescuing the life of my daughter." -- Anatinus, Wishbringer (#21)
N. "Aha! A thief! Didn't I tell you that we needed more security!" -- Dimwit Flathead, Zork III (#31)
O. "You may not be aware of this, but I'm not working. I need to get repaired." -- Iris, Suspended (#30)
P. "I thought I should come here on the streetcar, in case you needed help." -- Sergeant Duffy, The Witness (#29)
Q. "Frobizz! Frobozzle! Frobnoid!" -- The Wizard of Frobozz, Zork II (#23)
R. "If anyone tries anything stupid, you won't live to regret it." -- Johnny Red, Cutthroats® (#24)
S. "Squawk! This tea is cold! Get me another cup. Squawk!" -- Pollibar, Sorcerer (#26)
T. "I'm gonna use it to find the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. Let's go sit in the sauna while I explain." -- Zaphod Beeblebrox, Hitchhiker's Guide (#25)
U. "I have a busy appointment schedule and little time to waste on trespassers, but for a small fee I'll show you the way out." -- The Volcano Gnome, Zork II (#27)
V. "Is this...is this a squash court?" -- Floyd Planetfall (#28)
W. "Detested words! Even now it sticks my soul to hear them uttered." -- The Vl'Hurg Warrior, Hitchhiker's Guide (not on number list)
X. "We could be in danger! The Snark may attack again any time!" -- Zoe Bly, Seastalker (#12)
Y. "He always promised me wealth here in America, but I've never seen it." -- Phong The Witness (#13)
Z. "Guards! Throw this trespasser into the glass maze!" -- Duncanthrax, Sorcerer (#20)
AA. "This is surely a terrible waste of time, not to mention upsetting, having all these police marching around the house." -- Leslie Robner, Deadline (#19)
BB. "You should not even be here. You will disturb our rest." -- Belboz, Spellbreaker (#11)
CC. "My sister was a fool to send the likes of you on such a quest!" -- The Evil One, Wishbringer (#2)
DD. "Here come da clone, here come da clone." -- Poet, Suspended (#10)
EE. "A courtly gentleman, isn't he? That black cape makes him look almost cuddly." -- Alicia Barron, Suspect (#14)
FF. "If he's going to read us his poetry, just pray he softens us up with some cudgels first...." -- Ford Prefect, Hitchhiker's Guide (not on number list)
GG. "Mmm. Just like Mom used to make 'em." -- Cyclops, Zork I (#15)
HH. "If you won't turn it off, I will. I can't take the noise any more." -- The Navigational Computer, Starcross (#18)
II. "The last vat, I swear it, tasted as if grues had been bathing in it." -- Hoobly, Spellbreaker (#1)
JJ. "You're going to be a hero, you know. You'd probably get a call from the President congratulating you..." -- Abraham Perelman, A Mind Forever Voyaging (#3)
KK. "Take the victim to the tower. I shall prepare for the sacrifice!" -- Krill, Enchanter (#9)
LL. "We will need that boat after all." -- McGinty, Cutthroats (#16)
MM. "Do this. Pick up that. Unjam the opening mechanism of the other." -- Marvin, Hitchhiker's Guide (#17)
NN. "Can't you talk this copper into letting me loose?" -- Monica Linder, The Witness (#4)
OO. "I am not permitted to enter the prison cell." -- The Dungeon Master, Zork III (#5)
PP. "Daydreaming again, eh? I've been looking everywhere for you!" -- Corky Crisp, Wishbringer (#6)
QQ. "Bleem miserable venchit! Bleem forever mestinglish asunder frapt." -- The Vogon Captain, Hitchhiker's Guide (#7)
RR. "Just because he's a boor doesn't make him guilty." -- The Detective, Suspect (#8)
SS. "I have waited three ages for someone to say those words..." -- The Sailor, Zork III (not on number list)
[Scan should go here.]
Deadline logo from Deadline.
This graphic is the outline of the dead body in the Deadline logo, and therefore the correct answer to the puzzle is "Deadline."
There were 343 entries, of which 319 were correct (93%). The closest thing to a common wrong answer was The Witness (5 entries). Several entrants misread the directions and supplied answers like "Mr. Robner's body." One person gave a non-Infocom game as their answer, and one particularly deranged entrant guessed "Puzzle Number Eleven" as the answer.
[Scan should go here.]
"Wiring diagram for the Improbability Drive -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Submitted by Infocom Marketing Director Mike Dornbrook.
Now, from the can-you-believe-what-people-will-go-through-to-win-a-stupid-T-shirt department comes the amazing story of 21 brothers living together in Wellesley, MA. Not only did all 21 of these brothers enter Puzzle #11, but all 21 have virtually indistinguishable handwriting! To top it off, all 21 had a different answer to Puzzle #11, encompassing every single Infocom title! Mark, Bob, Bill, Buzz, Steve, Joe, John, Louis, Ed, Richard, Sam, Mike, Fred, Pat, Neal, Brian, Greg, Chris, Matt, Josh, and Tom -- that must be one heck of a household!
Since there were more than 25 correct entries, we had to have a drawing to determine the winners. To uphold the legendary Solomon-like integrity of The Status Line Puzzle, the drawing was presided over by the prestigious firm of Flathead, Flathead, Flathead, and Beeblebrox. The lucky winners:
Max Yak's Null Set will return in our next issue.
The Status Line Puzzle
Puzzle #13 is based on The Enchanter Trilogy (Enchanter, Sorcerer, and Spellbreaker). The trilogy was recently released as a set for the first time (see the previous issue of The Status Line). To solve this puzzle, you will need to be familiar with the games as well as the game packages.
Notice that in the transcript below, there is a blank space in every input. The first step toward solving this puzzle is to figure out the correct word for each blank. By correct, we mean the word which would cause each input to produce the response that follows that input.
The second step is to look at the first letter of every word you've filled into a blank. These first letters will form a sentence with the final instructions to the puzzle.
For example, let's say the first input was >THROW THE ______ AT THE CLOWN and the response was "It bounces off the clown's rubbery nose and lands on your own head, cracking open. I guess the yolk's on you!" The word that belongs in the blank space is "EGG" and the first letter of the sentence you're trying to form would be "E."
The sun is getting low in the sky, and you decide that you've gotten enough of a tan. Shaking the sand off your wizardly robe, you slip it over your bathing suit and scramble down off the dune. On The Beach The blue waters and white sands make Accardi beach the finest in the province. The beach stretches north and south, and a path leads west, away from the ocean. A dune is low enough to climb. There is a sand crab here. >CAST THE ______ SPELL ON THE CRAB The crab looks at you for a moment, and you look at it. "Hello," it says. >______ BELBOZ You suddenly find yourself in a different part of the beach. Southern End of Beach The beach curves north from here, and a creaky old wharf, overgrown with seaweed, juts west into the ocean. Belboz is here, building a sand castle. It looks like a scale model of Entharion's castle, Largoneth, in loving detail. Another fellow member of the Circle of Enchanters is lying on a blanket. Her scowling face is completely hidden by sun cream. There is a beached whale here. >CAST THE ______ SPELL ON THE SEAWEED The seaweed dies instantly, and the ocean breezes blow it away. >CAST ______ ON BELBOZ Moving in a blur, Belboz completes twenty-eight turrets, the main tower, and the entire north wing of the castle. >CAST ______ ON THE OCEAN Unsurprisingly, this has no effect on such a huge body of water. The ocean breeze now seems a bit cooler. Then again, it might just be your imagination. >______, TELL ME ABOUT THE WHALE The old enchanter looks disapprovingly at the mammal. "I think it's a friend of Belboz. I certainly hope it doesn't follow us back to the Guild Hall. In fact, I think I'll cast a boredom spell on it." She begins to recite the spell. >______ HER Just as she is about to complete the enchantment, your fellow guild member crumples to the sand, snoring loudly. >______ THE WHALE A blow hole forms on the back of your neck and your body bloats to tremendous proportions. As you grow, you accidentally crush the sand castle beneath your belly. Belboz utters an oath, casts a spell to return you to your normal form, and uses some simple magic to restore the ruined castle. You suddenly notice a hellhound slinking down the beach. >CAST ______ ON ME A huge puff of orange smoke envelopes you. The hellhound pounces, tearing out huge chunks of your flesh with its massive teeth. Slowly, it dawns on the hellhound that you are not dying. It stops attacking and begins circling you warily. >______ THE HELLHOUND The hellhound snarls, "Me eat you!" >______ THE VIAL You discover some potion inside the vial. The hellhound continues to circle around you, probably wondering why you are still alive. >DRINK THE ______ POTION The potion tasted like lime jelly, and sent vibrations through your muscles. The hellhound decides that thinking hurts too much, and leaps upon you. Displaying amazing speed and agility, you wrestle the hellhound to the sand, clamping its powerful jaws safely shut. In the process, you seem to have levelled the sand castle again. Belboz raises his hands as though to hurl some fireballs, but instead he merely counts to ten, takes some deep breaths, and incants another restoration spell on the sand castle. >______ You have a few superficial scratches, apparently incurred during your recent struggle. The hellhound squirms in your grip. You can feel yourself tiring. >CAST THE ______ SPELL ON THE HELLHOUND The monster closes its eyes and curls up. Its lips slowly curl into a smile, and it begins drooling profusely. You decide that you're rather glad you don't know what it's dreaming about. >______ The sea breeze increases to hurricane levels, and a huge wave batters the beach, washing the whale back to sea and completely destroying the sand castle. Belboz shouts some words you'd never have even guessed he knew, and hurls a powerful spell in your direction... Grotto You are in a tiny cave of rock, about ten miles underground. There are no exits. On the ground is a small white cube. >______ THE CUBE Your surroundings suddenly shift. Slime Room You are in a small location whose walls are dripping with sticky goo. There are openings to the east, west, and south. There is a box here. >______ THE BOX You can't. It seems to be protected by a spell. >______ THE BOX The box springs open, revealing a copy of the bestselling book, "47 Tips for Building a Better Sand Castle" by Belboz the Necromancer.
ANSWER:___________________________________________________________ Name: __________________________________________________________ Address:__________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ T-Shirt Size (S, M, L, XL):__________Puzzle Rules:
The Status Line Puzzle
125 CambridgePark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
Stu Galley, Elizabeth Langozy, Steve Meretzky,
Curtis Montague, Jon Palace, and Gayle Syska
For the desktop publishing cartel:
Hollywood Dave Anderson, Tom Veldran
© 1987 Infocom Incorporated, 125 CambridgePark Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140
Zork, Enchanter, Deadline, The Witness, Starcross, Suspended, Planetfall, Infidel, Seastalker, Cutthroats, Suspect, and Wishbringer are registered trademarks of Infocom Inc. Hollywood Hijinx, Moonmist, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Trinity, Ballyhoo, Sorcerer, Spellbreaker, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Bureaucracy, Cornerstone, Fooblitzky, Tales of Adventure, Interactive Fiction Plus, and InvisiClues are trademarks of Infocom Inc. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a trademark of Douglas Adams.
Thanks to André St-Aubin for transcribing and HTML-izing this issue.