TSL: Is GUE Tech really MIT?
DAVE: I definitely based it on part of the MIT campus. When I was a student at MIT, there was a pastime called "Institute Exploring" (also known as "Tunnel Tours"). A group of students would go over to the main part of the campus at around 3am and try to visit some of the more obscure and off-limits locations.
MIT is full of basements and sub-basements, and those are often crammed with incomprehensible equipment left over from some cancelled research project. Late at night there are still professors and students working, but for the most part all you see are security guards and maintenance crews.
TSL: So some of the locations in the game are based on real places?
DAVE: Except for a few. As far as I know, there is no eldricth altar at which students are sacrificed to nameless gods. But then, I was never a professor, so I can't be sure.
Most of MIT's buildings are connected by basements and tunnels, some of which are not generally accessible to the student population, unless... Well, let's put it this way. MIT students are very good at acquiring keys or at "getting past" locks when keys aren't available.
Until fairly recently there was a door (not at quite the same location as in the game) in the chemistry building that said "Department of Alchemy." Alas, I'm told that what was behind it was a storage room.
There really is a skyscraper (well, twenty stories) on campus, housing the geology department, among others. There really was at one time a semi-transparent dome housing a tree atop the building. I have no idea why, or what type of tree it really was. When I was a student, it was possible to get to this roof by going the wrong way through a door that said "Positively No Admittance, Opening Door Sounds Alarm." When we visited the roof, the alarm didn't go off.
The Great Dome, which has been featured in such masterpieces as Star Trek, is often the site for elaborate decorations. In my memory it's been disguised as a giant cupcake, a Halloween pumpkin, and so on. Rumor has it that a cow and a Volkswagon Beetle have also been hoisted onto it.
TSL: The Infinite Corridor? Is it real?
DAVE: The main building of MIT is almost aligned east to west. On certain days of the year, the setting sun shines all the way down the Infinite Corridor just like the temple of the sun at Karnak, Egypt. MIT is reputed to have more miles of corridor than any building except the Pentagon.
TSL: There can't really be a Tomb, can there?
DAVE: Yes, there can! It's called Tomb of the Unknown Tool ("tool" is MIT slang for a nerd). It's rough, coffin-shaped, not quite as tight a squeeze as in the game, and has no door inside it.
TSL: What about Miskatonic University? Is GUE Tech in Arkham?
DAVE: Well, I have a theory about Miskatonic University. After all, the troubles they were mixed up in in the twenties and thirties, they probably had a lot of difficulty recruiting students. It was the Depression, after which I think that perhaps a benefactor like George Underwood Edwards may have infused a lot of money into several struggling small schools about then, and caused them to merge into GUE Tech. After all, Yale University was renamed after it's benefactor, why not Miskatonic?
TSL: Do you really live on a hill crowned with a circle of stone?
DAVE: Absolutely, although we since discovered that the odd noises at night were merely a raccoon.
The Status Line; Winter/Spring 1988; page 5
Copyright 1988 (c) Infocom