The Purpose of Feelies

The entire concept of Cardinal and Em was one I lifted out of a mainstream SF screenplay I wrote. It was really bad and was poorly reviewed except people found the setting interesting. I lifted it wholesale and set this game there.

To bring this around to topic, I think one of the cool things about feelies is to provide a physical piece of an imaginary world a player can hold in their hands, and those are the best.


Such an interesting topic.

Starcross had a star map and an index of items that was used as copy protection of sorts. Nothing stopped people from copying the docs though.

Deadline’s evidence pieces were inspired by the Dennis Wheaton books, (I bought two of them way back) which were mystery cases that included cigarette butts, photos, and other pieces of evidence.

Sometimes, however, these feelies were not for copy protection but for verisimilitude or immersion.

They were also a source of envy.

How fun is playing Wishbringer if you can’t own the stone? Still probably the coolest Feelie in the INFOCOM era. Yellow glow-in-the-dark plastic stone… but that damn thing glowed PURPLE!!!

Still have mine, even though I carried it in my pocket for years.

Hitchhiker had some good ones. Mostly simple though. Cotton wool in a baggie, cardboard Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, empty baggie holding the Microscopic Space Fleet.

Infidel had stamped envelopes with correspondence, a rubbing of a cube with coded markings.

Of course Suspended had a map board and icon markers for locating the robots.

When I wrote Piracy 2.0 I bought a number of clear acrylic 1” cubes and dyed them purple with boiling hot RIT dye. I bought a rubber stamp with a logo and applied paint to one face. Kinda crudely. I gave some away at PAX East one year.

For The Promise I carved a wolf-head amulet from a black beach stone and slung it on a leather thong.

For players I made a good replica in black Sculpy on the same leather thong. It took several hours to Dremel the stone amulet into a wolf’s head so that was never going to work for player versions. Sculpy was much faster and the end result looked VERY similar.

Feelies do not have to hide secrets to the gameplay but if they do, that is cool as long as players can get them easily.

Downloadable maps and documents are a great way to do Feelies.

Even those can help immerse a player in a game.


Re: feelies as copy protection, does that impede anyone from playing those games today? Or are the feelies well enough documented online that people can just look up the unique code/whatever?


All of the Infocom stuff has been archived (I’ve wrtten a bunch about them), and lots of non-Infocom games besides. This is a fun site, though displaying images is weird if you left-clock. Better to “open image in a new tab.”


Oh wow, that site is extensive! And will be fun to have on hand when I finally get around to playing an Infocom game. :smile:


The manuals and feelies, in particular, are archived at .

(I see Dave fixed the SSL cert on that site. Thanks!)


I remember having trouble with Plundered Hearts. It has something to do with the map, but I never did figure out how to do it. I never did finish it, as it left a bad taste, and I avoid it ever since.


I think the bigger issue is knowing that you need to seek them out, and having them conveniently “at hand” when that moment arises. For example, if one just stumbles into a playable-online edition of Stationfall on Internet Archive, one doesn’t get very far at all without the navigation form. Yes, the game tells you to consult the packaging, but the modern netizen is more likely to move on to any one of the other 999,999,999 digital amusements available to them.


Personally, I think that the best IF feelie is a pdf one… so, a little informal poll:

YR if in the post-comp release I add a pdf of an extended version of the in-game books (no more than five pages for book, excluded the one in the chest in the iglenook), duly proofreaded, of course ?

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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Many games, including my own, include images like maps, which can be downloaded. PDF files, JPGs, etc.

If you print them out, they are feelies. If not, they are documentation.

By definition, isn’t a “feelie” something you can hold and feel?

That said, my latest game has a virtual feelie. An object in-game that has no purpose other than to hold it.




I was a dumbhead who had no idea that the stone actually glowed. I got Wishbringer at age 15 or so and had it for months like “cool white rock”. One evening after I had cleaned up and thrown away some game boxes and documentation (yes, I know, tragic in retrospect) I went to bed, leaving the stone on my dresser. After a few minutes I rolled over and saw it glowing like an eye in the darkness what the hell is glowing PURPLE over there? IS IT A GRUE??

I similarly had never seen glow in the dark items which could light up purple so it was a simultaneous terrifying and amazing discovery!


Me too. Nowadays it isn’t unusual to see lots of different colors of glowing things, but back then I had only ever seen the distinctive yellow-white color that is by far the most common. The Wishbringer was unique in my experience.

P.S. I have three of them. :grinning:


I had seen purple glowy things but they were usually purple!

This was the yellow that glowed slightly green normally, but this glowed PURPLE!!!

Like the game cover!

I was blown away.


Those 3 games sound fun. I’m sorry you lost money on them.


That takes me back to a game/competition I played on the Web nearly 30 years ago! One of the ‘episodes’ featured a “cardinal clue”… but I missed the reference to cardinal directions. D’oh!


The ‘stone’ is fun, but my favourite Wishbringer feelie is the sealed envelope (complete with custom ‘E Platypus Unum’ stamp). At the end of the plaudits in/on the box it says “Stop reading and deliver that envelope!” :slight_smile:

Probably my least favourite Infocom game!


Infidel rises to nearly my favorite.

It is highly contentious though. You either love it or hate it. With more probably hating it.

The end angered many but delighted me.


I haven’t had many feelies with games, but a few that did make an impression on me were the cloth maps in the Ultima games (Ultima IX even had the fortune teller cards that you select in the game to choose your character class) and the septim with Oblivion…


Who cares about having a duffel bag with the Halo logo on it? Make things that are actually in the game or enhance the game. Those are the only feelies that matter.


Agreed. Many collector’s bundles nowadays are underwhelming for this reason.


Why should you get a mere 1 to 10% of someone else’s sale? ( And that 10% is quite uncommon )
Instead, buy a bunch of Buddha statues wholesale. List them for sale on Amazon. Then link to them.
That way you get all of the profits on the sale.

Conveniently, the above link has links to all kinds of cheap feelies.