Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Flight To Remember

Apple's iPod, while a hugely successful portable mp3 playing machine, has carried with it some unusual and intriguing functionality under the hood. Of interest to the hyperfiction enthusiast is its "notes" capability, a slightly reskinned HTML allowing short texts to be displayed and navigated -- presumably the intent was for software documentation and help files, but it didn't take someone long to realise that it made iPods portable gamebooks (and, ostensibly, a potential portable library of all gamebooks ever written! MP3s compress down small, but raw text is still peanuts compared to that!) In 2004 XO Play sold a series of three brief hyperstories by an uncredited George Horton, distributed as "notes" data files intended for play on iPods. The $15 price point was a bit steep for the brief works and roughly no one was seen trying to sell them thereafter (... giving them away, however, was a different story, and amateur authors cranked out iPod hyperfiction -- or iStories as they were fashioned -- by the bale. Popular response was tepid.) though that hasn't kept people from putting dollar values on (admittedly larger and more substantial) eBooks for PDAs and personal computers.

In the meantime, ChooseCo relaunched (and incidentally airbrushed the significant contributions of Edward Packard out of the series history) the venerable Choose Your Own Adventure line of gamebooks in 2005 and tried to spin the product as hip and contemporary by making software versions of milestone CYOA books (the first such programs since Bantam produced video game adaptations of two of the books in 1985 for the Commodore 64 and Apple II) -- first The Abominable Snowman in 2007 for the iPod classic (including not only voice narration by the author but illustration presentation as album artwork for silent mp3s) and then Return to Atlantis in 2008 for the iPod touch, its touchscreen still denying players the option to mark their place with a fingertip.

This week's belated blog contribution isn't one of the official CYOA stories (still for sale -- go find them!) but rather a free iPod story spotted in the wild, being sold in the Apple store for "free". It was originally written in 2005 and shared with the iPod-owning world just now in 2009 -- where it has languished in the meantime, possibly in the typical amateur-gamebook intermediary formats of MS Word .DOC or .PDF, remains unclear.
(Edit: the author weighs in and clears up the mystery -- "To clear up the mystery, 'A Flight to Remember' was originally published on the iStory Silver website in 2005, but since this website did not really become main-stream, or common public knowledge, the story didn't gain much recognition. About a year later, the website stalled, and faded into oblivion.

I was browsing through my old works on my computer one day - four years later - and I've read through and revised this story. Shortly after, I took a chance, and sent it to Apple, to see if they would be willing to publish it on their website; and sure enough, they did! The result is that a number of interactive fiction enthusiasts - like yourself - finally got to read it for the first time. I feel it is a good story, and it probably deserves the attention.

A Flight To Remember:
A mysterious story about the horrifying experience of a special journey, taken and told by an old pilot, who flew a private Fokker aeroplane in the 1920s.

Written by Bojan Seles
First Published in 2005
Revised in 2009
Hyperlinked and converted from iPod Notes to HTML in 2009 by A_Gamebook_Fan.

I thank my family for their patience with my - at times difficult - quirky habits.

I hope you have enjoyed the story. Feel free to share your thoughts, and write to me.

Author's Email:

Copyright © 2005-2009 Bojan Seles
All rights reserved.



The year was 1921. August the 5th, if I can remember correctly. It was a bright and sunny afternoon. I was warming up the engines of my canvas-winged, one passenger aeroplane on a tiny airport near my home town, Ravenna, in Italy; when my long time not seen good old friend from high school, John Miller approached me.
I cannot explain the surprise I felt when I spotted his familiar face on the friendly airport that I used as my private flying circle. What followed however, was not nearly as pleasant as that. A few steps away from me, he suddenly stopped - I can still clearly recall the expression on his face - and stared at me as if into a hollow void.
It froze the blood in my veins; how stern his figure seemed to become at once. I tried talking to him, but I heard no answer from his tightly pressed, colourless lips. His eyes kept coldly staring into mine.

  1. Leave as fast as possible. That is, wave politely and take off. (Read on.)
  2. Get out of the plane and greet John Miller.



I started up the engine and pulled on my safety goggles, as I made a single slight waving gesture with one hand and my aeroplane started running on the path, passing the stone-cold figure of the familiar, yet strangely hostile man. He followed me leave with his icy gaze, but never took a step forward.
I lifted into the air, and still uncertain, looked back at the tiny black shape on the ground of the airport. Still startled I shook my head in disbelief, and headed towards Beyon Airport to the west.
The journey should have taken about two hours; however I found myself still flying in the third hour of my planned route. I checked the map many more times, and every time I had to confirm that I made no mistake, and I am heading in the right direction. But still, Beyon was nowhere to be seen.

  1. Continue going until you find a familiar spot that is located on your map. (Read on.)
  2. Turn back and scan the area that you've passed one hour ago, for Beyon.



Another half an hour passed before I spotted an open clearing that I thought was more obvious to locate. As I lowered the plane I also saw a small airport, that was placed way past the spot of Beyon on my map. I had no idea how, but I have missed the destined airport.
I signalled, landed with the aeroplane and turned off the engine. I was indescribably disappointed with my navigation skills. Not to mention that by now, I also doubted my flying skills.
Some people were moving in a busy fashion on the airport. I walked up to the closest steady person, who happened to be a middle-aged man, next to a private aeroplane that was situated not far from mine. He was testing the rotation of his propeller. I showed him the map and asked him if he knew where I have made a mistake in heading towards Beyon. He looked at me strange, and replied it was in the plan itself. He said Beyon had been deserted for ten years, and eventually cleared by the government. It existed no more.
I turned to face the man, shocked. I looked at the year my map was published, and I found it was the year before. I looked up at the man. "Could it be a mistake in printing?" I could not believe so. I noticed that I had not seen the type of clothes he was wearing, before.
He asked me what I wanted to do there anyway, with curiosity. I said that my father used to visit it in his younger days, and that today I had decided to go to the airport, myself. The man shook his head sorrowfully. "It must have been a long time ago, that anyone had visited that place," he said.
I thanked the man for his help, packed my things, and left.

  1. Return home. (Read on.)



To my surprise, I made the journey back home much faster, than on the way to the other airport. The weather did turn rainy, and eventually the clouds started roaring.
I almost flew through the stretching crossways of the powerful wind, afraid for my own life. I made it to safety, by passing through the opening of a large group of clouds; and then it happened:
The weather suddenly turned clear and bright, and I felt the sunshine warming my face. Looking back, I still saw the enormous, dark clouds, but they swiftly reached a border with the clear sky, not daring to cross into this bright field. I had never seen such beauty in nature, before.
It was at that exact moment, that I remembered my father's words, back in the days before he headed towards Beyon Airport. When I asked why he was going, he said, "I will be visiting your aunt. She's very ill. Take care and make me proud," with an encouraging smile on his face - referring to the argument we had had the day before.
My dear aunt, Elise died that year. It was 1913; eight years before the day I had decided to head for the first time to Beyon. After that year, my father had never been the same. Sometimes it still causes trouble for me to comprehend, if that place had ever existed.

  1. The End. Return to start?



Disappointed, I took a quick turn in the air, and started heading backwards on the route I came. Very soon the weather changed. Dark clouds blocked my way, and heavy rain started pouring suddenly. It was dangerous to fly, but even more danger posed the threat that I could not see my current position. I dared not to risk landing the aeroplane on just any surface; the impact of the landing could have killed me easily. And this high in the pouring rain I was unable to make out anything on the ground. Neither could I use my map.
It was the right time to worry. I decided to lower my flight, but as I passed a few dark clouds to get closer to the ground, at the next curve I found a large block of enormous, densely electrified clouds. I did not have time to wonder. A lighting struck and passed my Fokker's wing, by an inch. It startled me greatly, and I pulled suddenly to the right. I thought I was going to have to enter the electric cloud in front of me, when I spotted a small opening in the surrounding darkness, and suddenly directed my aeroplane downwards, falling through it.
When I pulled up into a horizontal position again, just hardly from the rain in my face, but I made out the shape of a tiny airport in front of me on the ground. I took a circle around it to signal my intense desire to land there. I received no answer to if I had permission to. I took another circle with still no response. I decided to take my chances against the authorities. I had found I had much more to fear in my current situation.
Slowly and cautiously I landed the aeroplane on the path. I noticed, that my wheels kept bouncing violently against the ground, as if the road was not clear. I managed to land safely, despite the attack however. I struggled to spot a shed to safely hide my aeroplane in the terrible weather. I could see none. In fact I could not see much at all, because there was not a single light at this airport. It seemed as if no-one had been on duty here.

  1. Stop the engine and jump out to have a look around. (Read on.)



I shut the engine down and left my double-winged, as I looked around the dark airport. "Could this be Beyon?" I wondered.
The place looked deserted. I saw the door leading into the watchtower swing open with the wind - not far before me - and the shut, large wooden doors of the sheds to my left. The airport really wasn't big at all. I spotted no other aeroplanes in the open.

  1. Have a look inside the watchtower. (Read on.)
  2. Go to the sheds.



I walked through the open door and up the stairs, just to see that the place looked like it had been deserted for years. Everything was old, dirty and worn.
I had reached the top of the stairs and stepped into the small, dark and round room. There was nobody. But when I moved closer and touched the lamp, I felt it was still warm. On closer inspection, I had found that it was put out only a few minutes earlier.
An eerie feeling came over me, as I shivered to the contrary warmth of the lamp, in the chilly temperature of the unlit room. I looked out the large windows into the horizon, but I could see no-one in the vicinity of the airport.
I walked slowly down the stairs and stepped out the door again, into the rain.

  1. Go to the sheds. (Read on.)
  2. Start the engine, take off and head home.



Trying to open the shed doors, I had found that they were tightly shut. It indeed looked as if the place had been bolted, and deserted for a long time.
Then, at the corner of my eye, I spotted a small stool with a cup on it. I walked to it and picked up the cup. It was coffee, and it was still warm. But as I looked around the empty airport I could see no-one in sight. I had searched the place thoroughly all around, and by the time I was done I was looking like a wet rag lied upon on a broom stick, in the pouring rain. I had been feeling quite uneasy.

  1. Have a look inside the watchtower.
  2. Start the engine, take off and head home. (Read on.)



As I walked up to my aeroplane, I noticed that the weather had calmed a bit, and the storm had softened into a steady rain fall. There was not much left of the thunders, lightnings, and the wild winds that raced heavily in all directions, and had been a great danger to my life, earlier.
Again, I decided to take my chances. I was not too keen on spending the night here. Just before I leapt over the body of my aeroplane, I spotted that the reason for the bumpy ground was obvious now. Wild plants had grown over the road, and no-one had taken care to fix it for years. And yet it seemed as if someone had just now left the place...
Suddenly I shuddered from the chill on my back. I started the engine, and along a softer path of the bumpy road I lifted from the ground. Taking another quick turn, I flew across the tiny airport and headed out of the dark clouds, towards my domestic airport, along the way that I had originally come.
After less than an hour of travel the weather turned bright again and I - to my great happiness - spotted my little airport ahead. I had returned home. However, as soon as I landed, I forgot what had happened to me earlier.
A few years later, a friend of mine informed me that he needed to go to Beyon Airport, and asked me if I could take him there. Reluctantly - and reminded of my adventure - I decided I would try to fly him there, despite our disagreement about the nature of the destination.
What I had found was a rich and clean, but tiny airport, two hours from my home one. It was not the place I had originally visited; my friend was right.
I guess I will never fully be able to understand the events of that mysterious, stormy evening; but I do know now that I will never be able to truly forget them.

  1. The End. Return to start?



I stopped the engine, quickly stood up and leapt over the wall of my aeroplane's body. I halted and looked at the man questioningly. He kept his ice-cold posture straight towards my face; not an inch of movement.
"Hi, I'm Robert Wolf. Do you remember me?" I started. The response did not seem encouraging. I took a few steps forward.
"Don't you remember? We used to go to the same class, back in high school," I felt my words drift away with the afternoon breeze.
The man leaned forward, and for a moment I thought I recognized John's eyes in the stranger's face. I hardly made out the silent words:

"Don't go. You'll suffer."
I could not understand what the man was talking about - how could I? But it felt very hostile - what more, it was threatening. I took a large step back, still weighing up the man's intentions. His face had turned cold again, and I recognized the incredible terror in his eyes.
  1. Start the engine and fly to Beyon. (Read on.)
  2. Put the plane away - into the shed, under protection - and go home.



"The man has gone mad," I said reassuringly to myself. I hopped into my aeroplane again, and started the engine. I took one last look at the stranger. He was still frozen, his eyes fixed on me.
I left him behind and headed for my chosen destination. But I didn't even make the first mile, before I sensed something had gone wrong. A moment later my left wing began to moan painfully against the harsh wind, as its upper layer tore off and sent me spinning towards the ground.
I still regret the moment I ignored the warning words of a man I never saw anymore. I could never fly again.

  1. The End. Return to start?



Who knows what could have happened that day, if I had not given up on my plans to go to Beyon. I never saw the stranger again. John Miller disappeared as I was preparing to safely cover and store my aeroplane.
I did suffer an accident years later, so the warning might have served right. I am still glad I didn't fly that day however.
My son occasionally takes me flying in his new aeroplane. It is a father's deep pride that delights me so much, to see him manoeuvre it so wonderfully.

  1. The End. Return to start?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fortress, Snowballs, Tangerine, Avocado

Today I take a crack at delivering the first game presentation on this blog! It's true, it's not just for lazy historicizing. (And what a week for its launch, with going live with its beautiful animated graphs and repost of Chris Boraski's browser-playable version of Zork gamebook number 3!)

For various reasons (more lazy historicizing?), this game is not as much fun as The Caverns of Doom, but it does have a more academically distinguished pedigree. To get things off with a bang here, I wanted to share with you all a foundational work of hyperfiction; however, a clickable version of Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths already exists (hmm -- at least, it did before Geocities went belly-up!), Cortázar's Hopscotch is too substantial a work to casually convert (or casually pirate, for that matter), and Raymond Queneau's renowned A Story As You Like It is already up in browser-navigable form both in English and in its original French as Un conte à votre façon.

What I have prepared for you, then, is a homage to that last work, written by author Daniel Godston for the 2006 issue #8 of the Drunken Boat online journal of art and literature with its focus on works by the Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle). In a curious editorial decision, it was originally posted online as an un-hyper-text; I have taken the liberty of modifying this sister text to include functional navigational links.


1. Would you like to hear the story about the fortress of goons? 2. Would you like to hear the story about the snowballs in the valley? 3. Would you prefer to hear the story about the tangerine and the avocado? 4. Once upon a time there was a fortress of goons in a kingdom on a distant continent. Surrounding the fortress was lush vegetation and ropy vines that draped under a canopy of trees. The king goon swam in a mud pit and sometimes gargled mud. One day a huddle of henchgoons told the king goon a yarn about how a creature in a distant kingdom was planning to invade their kingdom.
  • a. If you would like to hear a different exposition, go to 9.
  • b. If this exposition suits you, go to 5.
5. The king goon invited his henchgoons to jump into the mud pit for a swim.
  • a. If you prefer that they go for a swim, go to 6.
  • b. If you prefer that the king goon get out of the mud pit and towel off, go to 7.
6. They all dove into the mud pit and swam until the mud thinned and became a mountain spring.
  • a. If you want to know where they swam, go to 11.
  • b. If you don’t care about it, go to 7.
7. The goons were taken away by the mountain spring, and they were never heard from again.
  • a. If you would like to hear another development, go to 8.
  • b. If you like this development, go to 10.
8. The goons were taken away by the mountain spring, and the current took them to a blue cavern that opened up to the ocean.
  • a. If you prefer that they end up somewhere else, go to 7.
  • b. If this destination suits you, go to 10.
9. Once upon a time there was a fortress of goons in a kingdom on a distant planet. In the morning the goons would connect at the fingertips to share magnetic forces. 10. The creatures inhabiting that kingdom had experienced this kind of thing before, and this occurrence provided them with an opportunity to re-imagine what their government could become.11. The creatures of this kingdom dreamed up new colors, tastes, sensations, and imptr sounds. 12. The rivers that webbed across the kingdom flowed quietly, and some flowed around the crystal mountain.
  • a. If you would like to find out more about these rivers, go to 15.
  • b. If you would like to find out more about the crystal mountain, go to 13.
13. Silver fish darted up and down the rivers, around the boulders.
  • a. If you would like to know what the fish eat, go to 14.
  • b. If you would like to find out more about the boulders, go to 14 anyway.

14. The fish made patterns around the boulders. There were so many of them and they moved so quickly that the boulders weren’t troublesome obstacles. Sunlight danced on the fish’s scales.
  • a. If you wish to find out more about the patterns, go to 15.
  • b. If you want to find out more about the sunlight, go to 15 anyway.
15. Their patterns were elliptical and curlicued, and they looked like Full Carrick Bends.
  • a. If you wish to know more about the curlicues, go to 16.
  • b. If you do not want to know, go to 21.
16. They were swift and glittery. 17. The tangerine and the avocado mapped out their journey.
  • a. If the tangerine and the avocado displease you, go to 21.
  • b. If they suit you, go to 18.
18. They smackled and undulorbled.
  • a. If you wish to know what they did after that, go to 19.
  • b. If you do not want to know, go to 21.
19. They gliglistened and wananeded.
  • a. If you wish to know the rest, go to 20.
  • b. If you do not wish to know, go to 21.
20. There is no rest and the story is finished.

21. There is nothing left, and the story is likewise finished.

Through this convenient diagram (the renowned "bifurcating graph representing the structure of Raymond Queneau's A Story as You Like It" from Lettres Nouvelles, July–September 1967), one can observe that the structure of Fortress, Snowballs, Tangerine, Avocado is identical to that of its parent work, making for two congruent hypertexts whose contents are entirely different. Food for thought!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Completing the history of game books

The true claimant to the title of first "video game" or "computer game" keeps getting revised every few years: people thinking of games they've actually played in the arcades (the sun source of all video gaming, right?) will name Pong ('72), not realising Nolan Bushnell (Mr. Atari) released Computer Space a year earlier ('71) (two months behind Galaxy Game, the first coin-op) nor realising that it was itself a conversion of MIT's Spacewar! created a decade earlier ('61) over in a university mainframe / minicomputer setting (the sun source of all computer gaming, right?)

Then someone points out Higinbotham's pre-Pong Oscilloscope Tennis for Two ('58), which is challenged by the tic-tac-toe-playing OXO ('52), which is in turn dethroned by NIM (May '51, six months prior to Dietrich Prinz's first chess-playing implementation.)

It's looking like the book is finally being closed with Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann's 1947 "Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device", as anyone else who knows any different is probably long since dead and forgotten.


The history of gamebooks is similarly twisty.  (One might arrive at a more universal truth by omitting some extraneous words and just asserting that "history... is... twisty.")  Joe Devers' first Lone Wolf book was printed in 1984, while Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone collaborated on the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, the Warlock of Firetop Mountain, in 1982... but by this time gamebooks (and their pen-and-paper RPG analogues, the so-called "solitaire adventures" Flying Buffalo promoted for Tunnels & Trolls) were already big business, following the model set by the Choose Your Own Adventure series since its launch in 1979.  And yet CYOA was not sui generis -- gamebook 62, Sugarcane Island, rather than being the sixty-somethingth such book written in the vicinity of its print date in 1986, actually had been sitting in a drawer awaiting republication since its earlier printing a decade earlier in The Adventures of You series, though it was written seven years still prior back in '69!  Even Sweden had enjoyed its Den mystiska påsen in 1970, while Dennis Guerrier had published no fewer than four gamebooks in '69.  The illustrated Lucky Les first had his adventures printed in 1967, the same year in which Oulipo author Raymond Queneau shared his Un conte à votre façon (A Story As You Like It), generally accepted to be The First Work Of Hyperfiction... but only to those unaware of Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch, written in Spanish in '63 and translated into English in '66.

We'll lightly tiptoe past Vladimir Nabokov's work on Pale Fire in 1962 (Wikipedia reports "In 1969, the information-technology researcher Ted Nelson obtained permission from the novel's publishers to use it for a hypertext demonstration at Brown University") and ignore the eerily similar educational materials cranked out by TutorText since 1958, but that's a point we won't hammer on since the time machine remains pointed firmly back as we continue to regress all the way to 1941 when Jorge Luis Borges didn't only describe hyperfiction in his Examen de la obra de Herbert Quain (1941, translated by Anthony Kerrigan to English in 1962 as An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain) but demonstrated it in El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths).

If there are any earlier claimants to the legacy, they're keeping mum, perhaps not wanting to be sucked down into our mire.  Who knows -- perhaps some academic will find an interactive option in the margin of the Bayeux Tapestry or will decipher Linear A or Mayan glyphs to be references to paragraph numbers.  Do we know where we're going?  Heck no, but perhaps at least we enjoy a slightly better idea of where we've been, a wild, bumpy and altogether improbable ride from the bold and exciting literary avant-garde to dry and mundane pedagogical tools to a medium considered only suitable for children's escapist power fantasies (and on to hyperfiction, an uncanny synthesis of two earlier steps: dry and mundane avant-garde literature.  Go figure!)

Hello, world!

I'm a(n anonymous) child of the '80s ('79 to be precise) and like many of my cohort whiled away many a bemused hour in my childhood with whole hands of fingers jammed into Bantam's "Choose Your Own Adventure" interactive novellas as impromptu bookmarks so as to better keep track of plot forks and branches to return to sometime later.  As I grew and "matured" (nominally) I took up where my babysitter left off and plunged into the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series (after mistaking City of Thieves for the recommended-by-a-friend Thieves' World collection).  The advanced game mechanics were appreciated if typically ignored.

During this period, I was hopelessly devoted to a series of gutless home (micro)computers, though I was always thrilled to scope out the Tower of Babel computing profusion of the mid'80s and investigate how my friend's mom's Mac Classic sized up against my TRS-80 CoCo and the Commodore 64s in the school computer lab - all different machines doing what amounted to the same job in different (and mutually unintelligible) ways.  And as with the books I sandwiched my fingers in, selecting options from menus was a perfectly acceptable convention in this entertaining context also, a streamlining convenience keeping one from having to painstakingly peruse BASIC code listings or memorize byzantine directory structures in order to figure out how to run this week's hot new game.  As a normalized interface convention, it was also perfectly kosher as a game interface mechanism, and during the shareware revolution many programming-poor but narrative-rich would-be auteurs took advantage of various commercial and homebrew systems to share their stories with the world, or at least the sneakernet and their local BBS file areas.

The GUI revolution (let's face it, they were revolting times) made simple menus the order of the day, but along the way eschewed confusing words in favor of simplified icons.  The advent of the internet, a new and exciting medium, heralded the advent of the literary genre for the new millennium: hyperfiction! ... but those of us with paper cut callouses knew better, and watched with dismay as it collapsed at launch into a flaming wreck of academic obscurity.  (In Japan the visual novel arrived as a medium held in similar esteem for entirely different reasons.) Now that hypertext was the order of the day, something used by people who had never waited for a program to load off of cassette tape or stuck their fingers into any kind of publication, we must have assumed that the counterpoint to the rapidly dwindling gamebook publishing industry would be an explosion of the material casually strewn throughout the information superhighway.

But instead we got banner ads.  While gamebook-style interactive reads weren't unknown in this strange new world, amateur hour meant the death of the system that had professional writers and illustrators working beneath trained editors to publish tested material... all of which presupposes a certain profit motive largely absent in this Wild West bordertown.  Instead, people who arranged paragraphs for the love of the game and got their dog-walker to look over it once released their cocktail-napkin gamebooks in whatever medium they had available -- often Microsoft Word DOCs -- and watched them sink out of sight.

Sometimes this was a loss that no one, not even the dog-walker, would mourn, while othertimes -- who knows? -- hitherto unknown and underappreciated gems of the fin-de-siecle never reached their audience because the free webhost went under, or the work was saved in a file format Google didn't at that time index, or the author didn't bother to (or know how to) actually embed links and targets within their document to make it convenient to navigate... or the technological tides shifted and epic works gathered dust in Hypercard vaults or bitrotting on 5¼-inch floppy diskettes nobody had the equipment or knowhow to liberate them from.  Maybe they were languishing in a proprietary data file no one had thought or known to hexedit.  And maybe the publisher went under, leaving the books forevermore out-of-print, consigning the works (often interrupted mid-series) to a kind of limbo existing only in the memories of their onetime players and occasional used bookstore inventory-takers.

I aim to use this blog to give a few of these dusty no hope cases a few more hours in the sun after all these years, presenting the full text (with original illustrations, where possible) of these forgotten interactive stories in a hypertext-navigable Web-browser-playable form in many cases for the first time, ever, with a spot of context besides!  They may not all be winners, but the web is big enough to sustain a bit more nostalgia-bloat, and if people are playing the Atari 2600 E.T. game through emulation today it certainly has nothing in terms of compelling plot and gameplay that even the weakest of these lack.