Game

The making of Stephen King’s The Mist: “It’s kind of hard for a text adventure to be scary”

In gaming circles, Stephen King’s The Mist is widely known as the “science gone wrong” story that inspired Half-Life. However, the novel itself was adapted into its own text adventure game in 1985. Here, Retro Gamer Magazine finds out how writer Raymond Benson wraps gamers in a fog.

This is what happened. Angelsoft was founded in 1984 by American children’s author Mercer Mayer and his business partner John Sansevere in White Plains, New York. His idea was to develop home PC adventure game software based entirely on licensed properties, hoping to appeal to casual gamers. The plan was done, but they were having trouble negotiating the correct permit, so Mercer went to someone about the dog. A dog named Cujo. Published in 1981, Cujo is Stephen King’s tragic story about what happens when a good pet goes bad.

The story climaxes when Donna Trenton and her young son Ted are attacked in a car by a rabid St. Bernard. During the ordeal, Donna wanted Ted to come home and read “one of his Mercer Meyer books” in bed. This reference provided Mercer with the perfect icebreaker. “I called Kim and we chatted for a while,” he said, “and then I asked what he could give us. It turned out that all his books had been bought by the studios and thrown away. He went to to talk to his people, and he came back and told me that there was really a story available: The Mist.”

james bond

Stephen King's Mist video game

The company acquired the rights to A View To A Kill, a Bond film that was due to hit theaters in the summer of 1985. While making the deal, Angelsoft hired programmers to develop custom adventure game systems. The frame is in place – it just needs someone to fill it with locations, characters and puzzles. Enter Raymond Benson, a writer who happens to be a great gamer and expert on all things 007.

“My book, The James Bond Bedside Companion, just came out in November 1984,” Raymond said. “I was living in New York City at the time and I had an agent who I knew loved the games. I was a huge Infocom fan – I really liked Zork and its sequels. Angelsoft needed a writer to make The Mist and A View To A Kill, my agent immediately thought of me. I was hired as a freelance writer and designer to create both games.

Beginning with The Mist in January 1985, Raymond joined a small team of a producer and a few programmers. The first thing he did was call the king. “I spoke to Stephen on the phone. It was a short conversation. “I asked him if he mind if I made up things that weren’t in his story or deleted things, and I asked him what he thought about some things. He basically said, ‘Do what you want. ‘” However, Raymond doesn’t tell stories for the sake of stories, the changes are just to help the interactive experience.

text adventure

Origin of fog

Origin of fog

Raymond Benson

The development of the game took about three months, and it was mostly flawless. However, Raymond recalls being frustrated with Angelsoft’s adventurous programming language (codenamed ASG). “Angelsoft’s parser isn’t as advanced as Infocom’s, and I’m disappointed it couldn’t do some of the things Infocom did with their game. But it worked in the end.” The game was published by Mindscape in 1985. After the game is complete, Raymond starts working on A View To A Kill and follows Bond’s second adventure, Goldfinger.

007’s game is more advanced than Mist, but not necessarily better in the author’s mind. “For Bond, you need more than just text adventures, you need graphics,” he said. “It’s poorly translated. The Mist is moody and creepy—it’s a good story for the media. It just works better.” Today, Raymond is best known as the award-winning author of more than 25 books, including Includes 6 original James Bond novels. He hasn’t worked directly in computer games for many years, but he remains keenly interested in games, especially the adventure genre.

“In the late 1980s, I went into the game industry full time and worked for several companies like Origin Systems and MicroProse. I especially liked The Mist, but I think the best game I’ve ever made is Dark Seed II by Cyberdreams. It’s a shame that the graphics and text adventures are outdated. I’ve always liked games with interactive stories. “I think King’s The Stand would be a great game…”


This feature was first implemented in Retro Gamer 108. you can: Subscribe to Retro Gamer Magazine Here, get more of these features delivered straight to your door.

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The making of Stephen King’s The Mist: “It’s kind of hard for a text adventure to be scary”

In gaming circles, Stephen King’s The Mist is best known as the ‘science gone awry’ story that inspired Half-Life. Yet the novella itself was adapted into its very own text adventure game in 1985. Here, Retro Gamer Magazine discovers how writer Raymond Benson enveloped gamers within The Mist. 
This is what happened. In 1984, American children’s author Mercer Mayer and his business partner John Sansevere founded Angelsoft in White Plains, New York. Their idea was to develop adventure game software for home computers based solely on licensed properties in the hope of attracting casual gamers. The plan was in place, but they struggled to negotiate any suitable licences, so Mercer went to see a man about a dog. A dog named Cujo. Published in 1981, Cujo was Stephen King’s grim tale of what happens when good pets go bad. 
The story culminates with Donna Trenton and her young son Tad getting attacked in their car by a rabid St Bernard. During the ordeal, Donna wishes that Tad was back at home, tucked up in bed reading “one of his Mercer Mayer books”. This reference gave Mercer the perfect icebreaker. “I called King and we chatted for a while,” he says, “then I asked him what he could offer us. It turned out that every one of his books had already been optioned by movie studios, ruling them all out. He went to speak to his people then came back and told me there was actually one story available – The Mist.”
Bond, James Bond

The company acquired the rights to A View To A Kill, the upcoming Bond movie that would premiere in summer 1985. As the deals were being done, Angelsoft hired programmers to develop a custom adventure game system. The framework was in place – it just needed someone to fill it with locations, people and puzzles. Enter Raymond Benson, an author who happened to be both a keen gamer and an expert on all things 007.
“My book The James Bond Bedside Companion had just been published in November 1984,” says Raymond. “I was living in New York City at the time and I had an agent who knew I enjoyed games. I was a huge Infocom fan – I was really into Zork and its sequels. Angelsoft needed a writer for The Mist and A View To A Kill, and my agent immediately thought of me. I was hired as a freelance writer and designer to do both games.” 
Beginning with The Mist in January 1985, Raymond joined a small team that consisted of a producer and several programmers. The first thing he did was give King a call. “I spoke with Stephen on the phone. It was a short conversation. “I asked him if he cared if I invented things that weren’t in his story or deleted stuff, and asked his opinion on a couple aspects. He basically said, ‘Do whatever you want’.” Raymond wasn’t about to mess with the story for the sake of it however, and changes were made only to aid the interactive experience. 
Text adventure 

Raymond Benson

Development of the game lasted roughly three months and was largely hassle-free. However, Raymond remembers being frustrated with Angelsoft’s adventure scripting language (codenamed ASG). “Angelsoft’s parser was nowhere near as sophisticated as Infocom’s, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t do some of the things that Infocom did with its games. But it turned out okay in the end.” The game was published by Mindscape in 1985. As soon as it was finished, Raymond started work on A View To A Kill and followed that with a second Bond adventure, Goldfinger. 
The 007 games were more sophisticated than The Mist, but not necessarily better in the mind of the author. “For Bond, you needed more than just a text adventure, you needed graphics,” he says. “It didn’t translate well. The Mist was moody and spooky – it was a good story for the medium. It just worked better.” These days, Raymond is best known as an award-winning author of more than 25 books, including six original James Bond novels. He hasn’t worked directly on a computer game for many years now, yet he still has a strong interest in gaming, in particular the adventure genre. 
“In the late Eighties I got into the gaming industry full-time and worked for some companies like Origin Systems and MicroProse. I especially like The Mist, but I think the best game I ever did was Dark Seed II for Cyberdreams. It’s too bad that text and graphic adventures have gone out of fashion. I’ve always enjoyed games with interactive stories. “It seems to me like King’s The Stand would make a great game…”
This feature first ran in Retro Gamer 108. You can subscribe to Retro Gamer Magazine here and get more features just like this one delivered straight to your doorstep. 

#making #Stephen #Kings #Mist #kind #hard #text #adventure #scary

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