Category Archives: books

Video of Douglas Adams Demoing HHGTTG Game in 1985

When Douglas Adams paired with text adventure giant Infocom to do a computer game version of his much-beloved satirical SF book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it seemed an idea too good to have come from the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy.  Infocom was the biggest player in the market, and Adams a computer-literate author who’s works matched the sensibilities and episodic nature of the genre.  All the more so when Adams was matched with Infocom “IMP” or Implementor (what the company called its game designers) Steve Meretzky, author of some very Adamsy games for the company such as the Planetfall series.

So it came to pass that Infocom released the HHGTTG game for a myriad of home computer systems in 1984, and it was a huge success, a top-seller that dominated the game sales charts for months and became Infocom’s best-selling product.  You can read more of the HHGTTG game’s development and Douglas Adams’ other major contributions to the video game landscape in a previous entry in this blog, written to celebrate what would have been his 60th birthday if not for his passing in 2001.

As for the video mentioned in the post title, here is Adams demonstrating the electronic version of his novel on the U.K. TV show Micro Live.  He very cheerfully points out how diabolically obtuse and unfair his game is, as well as takes the host through the opening passages of it:

For more information on the history of Infocom and its seminal text adventure Zork, consult your local Dot Eaters article:

source: Anna Black, via The Galamoon retrogaming Daily

Are You A Hoopy Frood Who Really Knows Where Their Towel Is?

The Hoopiest Frood

Today is Douglas Noel Adams’ birthday.  He would be 59, if he hadn’t been so rudely taken from us in 2001.

Adams was not a particularly prolific writer, and by all accounts had to be bribed, cajoled and downright threatened to produce anything.  “I love deadlines.”, he once wrote.  “I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”.  Thankfully, while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria in 1971, gazing up at the canopy of stars above him, Adams came up with the idea for and subsequently wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Starting as a BBC radio series, through subsequent books, records, and other media, Hitchhikers was a hugely influential work of SF comedy. It follows the exploits of hapless earthling Arthur Dent  and his pal Ford Prefect, who Arthur is surprised to learn is not in fact from Guildford as he previously claimed, but actually from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.

Adams made several contributions to video game history, starting with the computer text adventure adaptation of Hitchhikers, produced in 1984 by the dominant company in that genre at the time, Infocom.  His collaborator on that project was Steve Meretzky, who himself had been hugely influenced by Adams when creating Planetfall (1983) for the company.  The game would flout several conventions of the text-adventure, including a sequence where the game would outright lie to you about what you were seeing.  Adams also did the text-adventure Bureaucracy in 1987 for Infocom, and later the Myst-like graphic adventure Starship Titanic, published by Simon & Schuster Interactive.  Titanic featured voice talent from John Cleese and Terry Jones, two members of the famous British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for whom Adams had contributed early in his career.

Fallout from Hitchhikers also helped shape Sierra’s long-running Space Quest series, done by The Two Guys From Andromeda, Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy.  In fact, it’s hard to think of any comedic foray into science fiction without seeing a touch of Douglas Adams in the proceedings.

As much as I might be a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot in terms of literary contributions to the Universe, Adams had a profound impact on me as a writer, as well as a human being.  He continues to leave a 6′ 5″ hole in the world, one that will never be filled.