“Shada” by Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts (2012)

(This is 2018 Reading Challenge Book #8.)

Setting up this reading challenge, which I am dreadfully behind on, I did not expect it to focus on Doctor Who books. This is my third and there may be a few more, but I suppose that is better than not reading at all. Over on “The Adventure Gamer”, I have been covering the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game by Infocom and Douglas Adams. Without a doubt, it is one of the best adventure games of the 1980s, filled with humor, fun, and devilishly difficult puzzles. I highly recommend it! As background research, I have been diving deep into Douglas Adams lore. I have read most of two biographies (focusing on the 1980s), re-read the Hitchhiker’s Guide novel, already covered the radio plays, and now I find myself looking at Douglas Adams’s four serials for Doctor Who, of which only two were produced. The book that I have just finished, Shada, was actually Mr. Adams’s final script for the program and was partly filmed before an industry strike caused it to be shelved and eventually abandoned altogether. If I have time, I plan to read The Krikkitmen, The Pirate Planet, and The City of Death as well.

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to TinyTIM (1991-1996)

The following story is a personal one, about a game that I played and a project that I worked on many years ago. I want to tell it here, in this format, as something of a time capsule for those of you that played it with me and for those of you that did not. As I have been spending weeks now researching the Hitchhiker’s Guide books and series (for The Adventure Gamer), I could not help but to think back of my own small contribution to HHG fandom: the Hitchhiker’s Guide to TinyTIM. It was, in short, an occasionally funny collaboration by a bunch of kids who played a particular online game in the mid-1990s about the game itself and about life. Some of its short articles were brilliant and others were plagiarism, but it was all done with heart. Before I can explain the “guide”, I need to talk about the game that inspired it.

In the earliest days of the Internet, there were online games. A full history of them would be incredibly fun to research and write, but for our story the key date is 1980: the launch of “MUD”, the first “Multi-User Dungeon”. This system and its dozens (eventually hundreds) of clones, acted like a multi-user version of a text adventure game. In fact, early text adventures such as Colossal Cave were sometimes reimplemented in a MUD context. You moved around using commands like “go west” and talked to people by “say”ing and “whisper”ing. Basic programming languages were implemented inside the games, allowing young programmers to collaborate and extend the game as they played it without having to tinker with the source code. These systems predated Minecraft and modern open-world creation games by decades.

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