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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I’m back from not-so-sunny San Diego. The vacation was great, but we spent way too much money. Eating out for every meal at hotel and Sea World prices is a quick way to deplete your checking account. Come on payday! It was cold every day and extremely overcast. For a Phoenician used to sun and clear skies, it was a most unwelcome change. We spent two days at Sea World and saw everything there was to see several times over.

Today’s interesting find is a Java applet version of Infocom and Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re not familiar with Douglas Adams’s wildly popular science fiction trilogy (QUICK QUIZ: Do you know the significance of the number 42? If you don’t, you’re unfamiliar.), then it probably won’t make much sense to you. You probably also won’t enjoy the experience if you’re not familiar with Infocom’s text games. I know what you’re thinking: “Text games?! WTF! I might as well read a book.” Well, Bubba, you probably should read a book—it’ll do you wonders.

Many, many days of my childhood were spent playing Infocom’s incredibly addictive games (and cheating horribly, I might add) on my then-state-of-the-art Atari 1200XL home computer. HHTG was the first one I encountered and I still remember fondling the package’s contents trying to figure out why they included a cotton ball. These gaming wizards not only figured out how to pack an entire game and parsing engine into a single 5.25” floppy disk and offer it on every conceivable operating system, they figured out how to take interactive fiction to an entirely new level. The stories were engrossing and the experience compelling. I encourage you to read the history linked above because their story is a tragedy—who knows to what heights gaming would have soared if they had survived to embrace graphical games.

For now, though, you can revisit your childhood (or mine if you were too young to remember it)