In 1984, Infocom had a fantastic idea: let’s make two nautical-themed adventures in a row! More to the point, Infocom was working hard to keep each of their key developers working on a game to release this year: Steve Meretzky on Sorcerer and Hitchhiker’s Guide, Stu Galley on Seastalker, Mike Berlyn on Cutthroats, and Dave Lebling on Suspect. (Marc Blank even produced one: the Tutorial Game that I looked at in my last bonus post.) The nautical comparison isn’t quite fair: while Mr. Galley had produced a rolicking sci-fi adventure in a submarine, Mr. Berlyn was aiming for a modern-day tale of treasure hunting and piracy on the high seas. Still, it seems odd to have two superficially similar games in a row.
For this game, Mike Berlyn picked up an accomplice: Jerry Wolper. Mr. Wolper was an Infocom programmer who would work on the technical aspects of the production while Mr. Berlyn worked on the story. Berlyn had already proven himself more than capable of handling the technical side, but this freed him up to be more of a creative presence than before and was well-aligned with other creator/programmer pairings the company was experimenting with. Seastalker had been built the same way, and Hitchhiker’s Guide will follow the same model in just a few months. Will this change help Berlyn to write the best possible game? Possibly, although it could also suffer from having a less experienced programmer at the helm. I guess I’ll have to play to find out.