announcing a new research paper about Infocom

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Volker Blasius

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Dec 18, 2000, 12:01:19 PM12/18/00
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Yesterday I received the following letter from Stanley Hu, one of the
authors:

"I thought you might be interested in this. My MIT research group has spent
the last two months studying Infocom, Inc. in great detail. We have talked
to many of the original founders and employees, studied Board meeting
minutes, looked through source code, and done everything we could to tell
the story of Infocom's history in a fair and accurate way.

"As of Friday, our project has concluded. Our report and presentation,
entitled "Down From the Top of Its Game: The Story of Infocom, Inc.", is
available online here:

<temporary location deleted>

"The presentation was given on December 13th in a quasi-public forum to
members of EECS, STS, the MIT community, and some former employees of
Infocom.

...

The aforementioned Web pages will not be up permanently, but we will have a
home for our research here:

http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/infocom/ "

The report and the presentation are now in the archive with Stanley's
permission:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/info/infocom-paper.pdf
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/info/infocom-presentation.pdf

To read these files you need Adobe's Acrobat Reader 4.0, available here:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/download-tools/pc/ar40eng.exe

Enjoy!
Volker


Dennis G. Jerz

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Dec 18, 2000, 5:49:52 PM12/18/00
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I strongly recommend this paper, which was apparently submitted Friday for
course at MIT called "Structure of Engineering Revolutions." The authors
have sorted through much of the archived articles on Infocom history, and
supplemented their work with new interviews with former Infocom employees.
If you don't have time to read all 50 pages, at least read the four-page
conclusion.

The authors quote Infocom employee Dan Horn:

The reason that text adventure isn't alive anymore is that the technology to
present visual representations of a story advanced very quickly. Some
companies picked upon on that but you'd notice that the reality of gaming is
now EverQuest -- massive multiplayer, real time, online, and graphically
amazing. This is the market that Infocom was destined to own but let slip
through their fingers because of bad business decisions. Imagine if you will
Sorceror, Planetfall, and Deadline with the EverQuest engine, amazing... but
lost forever.

Apart from a reference to "Larry Nevin" for "Larry Niven" (p. 21), the whole
thing is well-written, pulling together images and referring to articles
that you might have glanced through in the if archive once upon a time, but
which you didn't have time to sift an analyze. It's nice to have somebody
else do all that work for you.

Also of note is the argument that Infocom's demise was due to a large number
of factors, not just the company's effort to divert resources away from a
thriving IF production and marketing machine into the development of a new
relational database that was supposed to compete with dBASE.

Graham Nelson's "A short history of interactive fiction" begins with the
disarmingly humble statement that "The history of interactive fiction has
yet to be written."

But Briceno, Chao, Glenn, Hu, Krishnamurthy, and Tsuchida have made a
whopping step towards writing the Infocom chapter. (I'd have asked for more
close readings of early, middle and late Infocom games, in order to provide
support for a side argument about innovation -- and the stagnation
thereof -- in the creation of Infocom titles... but since the course had a
business/entrepreneurial focus, rather than a literary history focus, their
emphasis is understandable.)

Here's hoping you get the "A", friends!

--
Dennis G. Jerz, Ph.D.; (715)836-2431
Dept. of English; U Wisc.-Eau Claire
419 Hibbard, Eau Claire, WI 54702
------------------------------------
Literacy Weblog: www.uwec.edu/jerzdg


Hans Persson

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Dec 19, 2000, 4:05:36 AM12/19/00
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"Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu> writes:

> Graham Nelson's "A short history of interactive fiction" begins with
> the disarmingly humble statement that "The history of interactive
> fiction has yet to be written."

Where do I find this? I can't find it in the if archive, but I suppose
it should be in there somewhere.

Hans

--
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Hans Persson http://www.lysator.liu.se/~unicorn/ |
| uni...@lysator.liu.se http://www.lysator.liu.se/~unicorn/fandom/ |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

Dennis G. Jerz

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Dec 19, 2000, 9:32:47 AM12/19/00
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"Hans Persson" <uni...@lysator.liu.se> wrote in message
news:vtofy8k...@sture.lysator.liu.se...

> "Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu> writes:
>
> > Graham Nelson's "A short history of interactive fiction" begins with
> > the disarmingly humble statement that "The history of interactive
> > fiction has yet to be written."
>
> Where do I find this? I can't find it in the if archive, but I suppose
> it should be in there somewhere.
>
> Hans

Sorry -- when I replied to Volker's post I cut off the all-important URLs:


http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/infocom/

The report and the presentation are now in the archive with Stanley's
permission:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/info/infocom-paper.pdf
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/info/infocom-presentation.pdf

To read these files you need Adobe's Acrobat Reader 4.0, available here:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/download-tools/pc/ar40eng.exe


Hans Persson

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Dec 19, 2000, 9:57:52 AM12/19/00
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"Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu> writes:

> Sorry -- when I replied to Volker's post I cut off the all-important URLs:

No, I meant where can I find Graham Nelson's "A short history of
interactive fiction"?

Roger Firth

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Dec 19, 2000, 10:12:40 AM12/19/00
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"Hans Persson" <uni...@lysator.liu.se> wrote in message
news:vtae9sw...@sture.lysator.liu.se...

> No, I meant where can I find Graham Nelson's "A short history of
> interactive fiction"?

At http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/inform/hist.html

Cheers, Roger
--
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
You'll find my Cloak of Darkness, Parsifal, Informary
and more at http://homepages.tesco.net/~roger.firth

Paul O'Brian

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Dec 19, 2000, 10:35:53 AM12/19/00
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On 19 Dec 2000, Hans Persson wrote:

> "Dennis G. Jerz" <Jer...@uwec.edu> writes:
>
> > Graham Nelson's "A short history of interactive fiction" begins with
> > the disarmingly humble statement that "The history of interactive
> > fiction has yet to be written."
>
> Where do I find this? I can't find it in the if archive, but I suppose
> it should be in there somewhere.

It's actually on Graham's homepage:
http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/inform/hist.html

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian

Neil Cerutti

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Dec 19, 2000, 12:20:44 PM12/19/00
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Well, that was quite fascinating. I don't think they really made
their case (that Infocom was not killed by Cornerstone), but it
was interesting and carefully done. The timeline gets quite
muddled, with events from 1984 to 1989 told in haphazard order.
It should have come with spoiler space, too. To anyone who hasn't
read it, and plans to: it spoils Deadline and Planetfall.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>

Scott Franklin

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Dec 19, 2000, 1:22:36 PM12/19/00
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Could you please post the paper and the presentation in the PDF formats to
the newsgroup. I tried to access them through the web and my computer
froze.

Thanks

Scott


John Elliott

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Dec 19, 2000, 1:55:54 PM12/19/00
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I think it would _not_ be a good idea to post 15Mb of PDFs to the
newsgroup. Some readers have to pay by the byte...

--
------------- http://www.seasip.demon.co.uk/index.html --------------------
John Elliott |BLOODNOK: "But why have you got such a long face?"
|SEAGOON: "Heavy dentures, Sir!" - The Goon Show
:-------------------------------------------------------------------------)

David Gasior

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Dec 19, 2000, 3:24:28 PM12/19/00
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In article <t3v9riq...@news.supernews.com>, Scot...@aol.com wrote ...

>Could you please post the paper and the presentation in the PDF formats to
>the newsgroup. I tried to access them through the web and my computer
>froze.

Go here:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/infocom/info/

Then right click on the PDF file names, and choose Save As... or Save File As
...

This will save the files to your hard drive. You can then open the files in
Acrobat Reader separately from the browser. AOL's various browser versions
have had their share of quirks when trying to open PDF files in them, so
hopefully this will take care of it for you.

--
David A Gasior
dga...@home.com
/
Fight spam - remove the word
"nospam" from my email address

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Dec 21, 2000, 12:11:16 AM12/21/00
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j...@seasip.demon.co.uk (John Elliott) wrote:

> I think it would _not_ be a good idea to post 15Mb of PDFs to the
> newsgroup.

It most certainly would not.

> Some readers have to pay by the byte...

And, aside from that, usenet posts are supposed to be readable
without jumping through hoops. unPortable Document Format
doesn't qualify.

- jonadab

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