So, more positively…
I’m on my holidays from tomorrow so in case anyone messages me on here, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit etc then I won’t respond because I won’t be checking social media whilst on holiday! It’s family time. Just thought I’d let you know so you don’t think I’m being rude when I don’t respond.
(Still on holiday, but let’s give this a happy ending)…
Pleased to say that I’ve been in contact with Tomas Bok, creator of Hypochondriac! He’s thrilled that we’ve found the game and happy that people really like it! He’ll be joining our ZIL group on Facebook when be can.
In the meantime I have pleasure in providing the link (again!) to source and game for Hypochondriac, enjoy!
Do you suppose you could interview him?
That is an excellent idea! I will ask
Hi, I’m the Tom Bok in question. I’m flattered and amused that this discussion is taking place! I thought I would straighten a few things out to help solve this mystery a bit.
- I worked at Infocom as a tester for summers and vacations during high school and college, and did an 8-month full-time stint there during a year-off before college. Really great job, and amazing people.
- The culture was great, and lots of folks would stay late at night or come in on weekends.
- On one of these late nights, Hollywood Dave, who was at that time the head of testing and my boss, showed me some code he was playing with. He had basically taken Zork and rewritten a bunch of the tokens to make his own game. I think he had only done the first few rooms. For some reason, one thing that stands out is that he had changed the well/bucket puzzle into a “Tiny Turnpike” that a miniaturized Evel Knievel could drive down.
- I loved this whole idea, and so Dave and I, along with Jeff O’Neill (like Dave, a future implementer) began to hack away on this project. For some reason, we dubbed it Zok (a mix of Zork and my last name). But it was very much a 3-way collaboration, not something that I personally authored. I think I was just the most enthusiastic about it.
- Hypochondriac was the beginning of another game that I was creating nights and weekends – not at all an official Infocom game, just a fun project. Totally different from Zok.
- By the way, I’m 1/2 Swedish so all of the Swedish maid put-downs were really jokes at my own expense. : )
- I also started another game that may have been kicking around – can’t remember the title, but it involved landing in a space station and rescuing a princess (hmmm, plot sounds oddly familiar right?) This one started because I thought it would be fun to start a game more from scratch. And I also wanted an excuse to implement an elevator, which seemed cool. I think another detail was that you could steal gloves that could wave open locked doors. EDIT – this is probably the “Search 'n Rescue” game that someone mentioned finding in the FB forum posts.
- I never finished any of these games – just a teenager screwing around.
- I have totally lost track of all of the code, so I haven’t played or thought about these games in decades.
- There is no guarantee that I wrote all of the code for either of these last two games. The code was sitting in a public directory, so there is no telling who could have added or edited.
- Infodope, as you probably already know, is not a drug reference. It was an underground version of the New Zork Times / Status Line that Hollywood and others created as a parody. Dope is like “the inside dope”.
- Cambridge Analytics was an LLC I started a few years ago to do consulting in my field. Absolutely no relation to Cambridge Analytica, the UK firm famous for misappropriating FB data.
Anyway, I hope that clears a few things up. I’m not on Facebook so I can’t join the community there, but it’s great that folks are still interested in Infocom. Such a great company in its time. So many people who used to work with me have later said at some point that it was the best place they’ve ever worked.
Peace and Happy Holidays to all…
Thanks for posting and indulging our historical curiosity!
Awesome Thanks Tom, much appreciated!
Next up … The curated, private data free, Imp approved for release (specifically Lebling and Meretzky), full collection of Test/Dev Infocom source code … Watch this space!
set to watch
Best regards from Italy,
Test & Dev source code now made available…
Sounds like a contradiction in terms to me!
When I was being paid to write games, I initially worked from 8am to 5pm. My boss would often glare at me when I left (before everyone else). I switched to working 10am to 6pm. He was much happier
My work days often started the same way:
Download latest version of game.
Find it didn’t work.
Spend hours fixing the crap colleagues had written at 2am.
Then I could start on my own work.
digging duly started. what caught immediately my attention is the apparently out-of-place Wishbringer directory. whose revealed to be a SG version of wishbringer (hints.zil is a clear pointer, IMVHO)
Best regards from Italy,
Ouch, that sounds frustrating!
I should have made my statement clear: I meant that a lot of people voluntarily stayed late at night, and it wasn’t always working (or at least not in the conventional sense of that word). Hmmm, let’s see: micro lab full of home computers of every shape and size … huge library of games from all manufacturers … wonderful, funny, creative colleagues, many of whom were in their 20s and not yet at the stage of life where they were rushing home every night to have dinner with families … plentiful fast food nearby.
The other big difference between then and now is that commercial game development at Infocom was usually a solo act. You were the only person responsible for editing and compiling your game code. So no colleagues checking in crap code at 2am. If the game didn’t compile, it was probably the same insidious bug you were trying to squash when you stomped out of the building the night before.
Well, it was semi-voluntary most of the time. I think the bosses were trying to encourage a ‘game developer culture’, ‘work hard, play hard’, … According to New Scientist, some of the developers of Red Dead Redemption II were working 100 hours/week towards the end!
If I’d had any sense, I would have quit at the end of the 1st game. My boss (cunningly?) asked me to write ‘version 1.5’ by myself, which was more enjoyable (and a better game ).
1 of the reasons I usually left around 6pm was that’s when most of the building started playing networked games WITH LOTS OF INTER-ROOM SHOUTING. (They’d do more work after an hour or 2.)
By the way, I’m 1/2 Swedish so all of the Swedish maid put-downs were really jokes at my own expense. : )
I always assumed that the “o” in “Bok” was short, or at least I did while playing Beyond Zork. But since you mentioned being half Swedish I’m starting to think that maybe it’s a drawn-out “o” instead. (“Bok” being Swedish for “beech” or, less likely in a name I guess, “book”.)
Sadly my last name is Dutch, meaning literally “he-goat”. So short o sound.
Ah, probably more related to the Swedish word “bock”, then. That’s a name in Sweden too, albeit not a common one. (In fact, I think I’ve only seen it in a series of children’s books by Astrid Lindgren about Karlsson-on-the-Roof… and now we’re getting really far off topic. )
Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story.
I saw Adam’s YouTube video a few days ago and was curious to see if there was more info here which I was pleasantly surprised by. Glad to have an addition to the IF community and a great conclusion to the recent findings!
Also wanted to add that I found it funny that the first post starts with “game didn’t go through QA” to finding you were the QA at Infocom. Working in QA myself, this resonates.
Ha! I apologise and will do something nice for a QA person next chance I get.