One of the coolest text adventure games of the 1980s was Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, based on Douglas Adams' bestselling novel of the same name. Though the game was wildly popular, and a sequel to it was rumored repeatedly, nobody has ever known exactly what happened to that sequel. Until now. Andy Baio, the investigative journo-technologist at Waxy, has received a mysterious network drive from which he recovered all the notes, plans, emails, and information about what Infocom was going to do with the sequel that would have been called Milliways. And he's published it for all to see.
From an anonymous source close to the company, I've found myself in possession of the "Infocom Drive" — a complete backup of Infocom's shared network drive from 1989. This is one of the most amazing archives I've ever seen, a treasure chest documenting the rise and fall of the legendary interactive fiction game company. Among the assets included: design documents, email archives, employee phone numbers, sales figures, internal meeting notes, corporate newsletters, and the source code and game files for every released and unreleased game Infocom made.
Some of the highlights include weird infighting emails between people obviously frustrated with the bureaucratic process of game design. And sad emails about how Infocom's finances are hurting. My favorites are moments when people talk about groups of two or three people designing a game — and complain when more are going to be brought in.
We also learn that the software infrastructure of the game might have actually become a character in the game itself. Designer Stu Galley wrote in an email:
I've been talking with Tim Anderson about using the New Parser in this game. It still needs a lot of development, and in the end it may prove to be slow in operating, but it promises to be very capable. Now here's the question: should the game itself make a big deal out of the New Parser? For example, the game could begin with the parser introducing itself to the player, asking the player to type a few sentences to "warm up" the parser, before getting on with the story itself. The parser could take on a personality, explaining that this is its first job, that it means well but it may not succeed. Perhaps it gets depressed and refuses to work at all. Perhaps the parser is in fact Marvin's new aural interface module, depressing him even further.
Want the full story? Check out Baio's amazing writeup.
Milliways: Infocom's Unpublished Sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [Waxy.org]