OMG Crow! [requested topic split]

OMG - Yes!! I literally emailed someone the other day about doing something like this!!

Especially now we can easily hack the Infocom source code, we could absolutely do a “Crow 64” with an “unreleased Infocom game” made by a Beta Tester or External Imp who disappeared before the game could be released!! I LOVE the Catastrophe Crow ARG and with ZIL tools, source code etc it’s ripe for an ARG!



To keep this on track and not going down an ARG rabbithole, I love the ideas you have suggested for “Feelies 2.0 in the 2022 generation” :slightly_smiling_face::+1:


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Side note… :sweat_smile: I played around with the Crow 64 game textures and produced some freaky results, especially in the end scene!

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Thank you @kamineko ! Much appreciated! :smiley:

Solid point! Consider it taken.

Not a bad idea as well, thank you!

Yes, that’s where some of the inspiration is coming from (as in my mention of Crow 64). If a mainstream ARG tied in otherwise not-so-noteworthy submission into the IFCOMP, that could familiarize quite a few analytically-minded folk with IF genre. Those communities might have some sticky-ness in regards to IF; perhaps some that pass through with the ARG might linger out of curiosity?

I was thinking an unreleased title near the final days of Infocom that ties into the history of Infocom itself, blending fiction with fact. Might be fun. :grin:

That is wild! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks @Adam_S ! I appreciate that!

Someone else on a different platform suggested sites like zazzle and etsy offer some interesting possibilities beyond Ebay as they make the item on demand. They suggested you might even make it so the first so many to find the item and use the promo code get the item free, but then leave it listed at-cost for people who find it subsequently who still reeeeeaaaallly want whatever it might be. Given some of the neat custom crafts available on Etsy, and the idea of supporting an individual artisan, I really liked this suggestion.

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I think there would be quite a lot of overlap with people from the more technologically inclined side of the ARG community (cipher breakers, audiogram decoders, mini game makers, people who actually code their websites from scratch) with parsers, though I wonder if anyone from the ARS splinter (alternate reality stories, people who focus more on narrative development and art/writing as compared to the technowizardry) would be more interested in choice based Twine-y games?

I used to make and play ARGs that fell more into the ARS side of the community- (there generally was a bit of tension between the more oldschool ARG people who felt like ARS creations were ‘just glorified Tumblr roleplay’ and ARS makers who felt like they were being gatekeep-y) and I know a lot of the friends I met through those antics and similar circles have expressed more interest in choice based stuff rather than parsers.


This sounds rather similar to old-school Parser/Twine tensions that have thankfully pretty much died out around here. I don’t know how anyone being creatively productive takes away from anything else. It’s more cool stuff, who cares about the classifications? I dunno, I suppose some care. Regardless, interesting, and somewhat sad, drama there.

Tying some of this sort of content into an IF work would be pretty cool as well.

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Yeah there’s a lot of source material for this! You have the Infocom “ideas for games” document (part of the scanned Meretzky memos) for a start. Pick one of those and vary it just enough to nudge it into fiction.

I had in mind a character who would have been fairly young at the time, maybe a beta tester dabbling at being an Imp, blending AI with IF, fusing soul with code. Infocom (or a suitable stand in name, something like Interlogic) closes and the Imp is unable to move on. Fast forward 10yrs and their AI code spirit still occupies the empty building, getting angrier, pulling people in…

… Or something like that anyway… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Out of idle curiosity, since Infocom never published those games on the Meretzky memos, is there any copyright in effect? Like, can Microsoft/Activision sue someone who develops Frat House exactly as it is proposed?

Otherwise, your base premise is sound and typical of the creepypasta crowd. You would surely draw some of them in.

Good question! They’re literally just ideas sketched out, some more so than others, I can’t imagine that they would be covered by any kind of copyright. Though I’m sure if someone made a successful game from one of the ideas then Activision might suddenly be interested! :sweat_smile:

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Don’t we have a lawyer amongst our ranks? Was it @DeusIrae (poke, poke :wink: ) ? I know it probably isn’t his area of law, but he’d have a better general (this is not legal advice) idea than laymen like you and I, right?


Well, I’m sort of a lawyer – I have a JD and passed the bar exam, but never actually got admitted to practice anywhere since my career has been in policy and advocacy, not suing people, and the closest I’ve ever gotten to IP law is some classes on the First Amendment (which is not very close as nearly all IP law is based on statutes and common law). So you are getting precisely what you pay for with this bit of speculation on my part!

First off, copyright doesn’t depend on publication – copyright attaches at the moment of creation. So this proposal, tentative though it is, would almost certainly be found to be part of the Infocom IP that Activision/Blizzard now owns.

As to how far that copyright goes, the black-letter law rule is that copyright doesn’t protect ideas, just the (artistic) expression of those ideas. That’s easy enough to say, of course, but where the line actually gets drawn can get tricky in practice. For the Frat House example linked above, there’s enough detail there that if you implemented a game that incorporated everything actually as proposed, that would clearly run afoul of the copyright.

On the other end of the scale, if you just thought “a frat rush week – cool, that’d be a neat idea for a game!” and made up your own scenario, it likely wouldn’t be found to be infringing the copyright just because in fleshing out the idea, you hit upon some of the same specifics. Like, you can’t do that scenario without including a series of pranks, and probably a scene where the head of the frat kicks things off, so those would in all probability be OK.

The middle case where you’ve got the same concept, and some things are the same (say, the car-in-room prank) but others are different (no “barf badge”, ugh) is where things get really fact-specific and additional legal doctrines will come in to help guide an outcome – and as mentioned, I’m nowhere near an expert so I only have the dimmest sense of what those would be!

Anyway bottom line is yes, Activision would likely have a cause of action against anyone who made that game (not Microsoft yet, since the merger hasn’t gone through), and they’d almost certainly win. The question of whether it’d be worth their while or if they’d do that is a different question, of course – there’s been a lot of IF riffing on Infocom’s IP over the years, including ones that incorporate clear-cut copyrighted material like grues, and to my knowledge there’s never been a peep out of them, so picking an implementation of a three-page proposal for an unreleased game to change that policy seems deeply unlikely (if MS does have ideas to exploit the IP post-merger, I suppose that might change, but it still seems like a very low change). And since the monetary damages from distributing a free game based on an unreleased idea would presumably be negligible, I’d think that worst case scenario all you’d be looking at is a cease-and-desist demand. So I’d personally be comfortable running the risk, but it’s probably a risk nonetheless.


Thanks! Your cheque is in the mail :smiley:

Actually, before saying any more, it might be worth the Admins/Mods here splitting off the ARG and onwards conversation from the initial “feelies” post which was very interesting and I fear we may have derailed it with the ARG/copyright conversation.

What I will say though, following on from @DeusIrae’s comment around where copyright applies (if not how far it extends) is that the “possible ideas” documents have “Confidential” all over them in big red ink. So there’s no doubt these would be classed as owned IP.

To be honest though, I think using an entirely new plot for the unreleased game would work just as well if not better. It could still be “in the vein” of what is included in the potential ideas memos.



That is true. Back in the day – by which I mean 1996-1997 – they were actively friendly to the idea, and I believe they gave explicit permission to one or two Inform games set in the Zork universe. (Even aside from ZTUU, which was explicitly commissioned.)

However, the idea of an ARG game which claims to be an unreleased Infocom game and is based on genuine Infocom property? That feels uncomfortably outside the accepted bounds of fanfic. (I’m not talking about law now; I’m talking about social custom.)

Change the names and come up with original story ideas; then it’s fine.


Good enough for me, besides, you only need a JD in 47 states! :smiley:

Oh. Ooops.

Fair enough, thanks for the information. @Adam_S has the bill.

That probably wouldn’t be a good look in court, I would imagine.

This would likely duck any legal repercussions, agreed.

Well, poop. Fine, I’ll give you that the game title and story idea should be original due to community norms, but I still think using the name of a company that went bankrupt over 30 years ago is kosher. Crow 64 is supposedly an N64 game and I don’t see the fanfic/ARG community up in arms over Nintendo being rolled up in that, and Nintendo is still around.(Although Interlogic does have a nice ring to it, @Adam_S )

I concur, although I don’t envy @HanonO in figuring out how to splice this apart properly, lol.

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…or @HanonO can let it free-wheel because conversation evolves, and this is a “brainstorming” category that @pinkunz begun and helped derail, and despite possessing fabulous cosmic powers is not so OCD as to believe the forum conversations must be neatly organized tidily with no blending - 'cuz ya’ll are grownups… and while I’ll retrieve a cat toy from under the couch up to three times, I must draw the line for I am NO trained monkey for felines NOR human folk! :kissing_heart:



Fine. You win. I’m taking my ball and going to bed, lol.

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Adapting something from Infocom’s known game idea file seems problematic to me. But using Infocom’s name with a pile of fictitious details doesn’t… it’s legit for fiction to be set in a world that acknowledges that Infocom existed.

Say that just before the Activision acquisition, Infocom had begun cooperating with MIT on a seminar on interactive fiction. But the prof was controversial (he had been slated to have been one of the initial participants in the Media Lab, but Negroponte decided he was just too far out). It had only met 4 times before the acquisition happened and Activision pulled the plug.

But not before Infocom had shared ZIL and the source code of Zork and Planetfall for examples to the students. One student wouldn’t stop working on theirs. In fact, they seemed obsessed with their game. They neglected their studies. Friends and family were worried. And then they disappeared.

Their mom died recently, their father having passed some years before. And their sister, going through the parents’ estate, just found three 3.5" floppies the implementor had mailed their parents in 1987…


A virtue of the above frame: it has a built-in answer to the question “If it exists and is related to Infocom, why hasn’t Jason Scott put it on the Internet Archive already?” :smile:


Agree with much of what has been written above :+1:

Again using Crow 64 as an example, Adam Butcher set it up as a Nintendo 64 game but the characters and the company (Opus Interactive) are purely ARG-land. So by comparison the safer (and to @zarf’s point more socially “ok”) route would be to maybe set it up like Interlogic creating a game for Infocom. Or just go screw it and pinch the name but certainly make the game entirely of ARG creation. Bob Bates was both an Imp and his own contracted company so its realistic either way. :slightly_smiling_face:

@HanonO Hey Hanon, if you get 5mins please would you mind splicing this conversation off where I post “OMG!!” about Crow 64 please? Thanks :grin::pray:

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