The SPIDER Symposion: in-depth discussion of specific Ellison stories and works.

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Postby Jan » Mon Sep 01, 2008 10:58 am



The game based on Harlan's short story.

Written by Harlan, David Mullich, and David Sears. Harlan performs the voice of AM. For full credits see IMDB. For our discussion of the original story, go here.

Re-released in 2013 by GOG.com

For general information, you can consult the Wikipedia page (use link to game on top of page). The game won several awards and can still be purchased from Harlan. You may also find it on eBay (search included). The game is DOS-based, so to run it (and similar games of the era) on a modern Windows computer, you need to install an extra program called ScummVM (more details below).

Harlan also provided considerable new material for the user's guide and the clue book. As far as I can tell, Harlan still has copies of the clue book in stock.

If you're having difficulties, a walkthrough might help (by Alicia Belliveau). Or another one. Some reviews: MobyRanks/The Press Says | Cyberpunkreview | Deskchair| Valuable Games| Destructoid/Forgotten Games | Adventure Gamers| Four Fat Chicks |

Let me know if a certain link would be useful up here. Also feel free leave your personal comments if you have played the game.


ScummVM info provided by samwise:
ScummVM is a free, open source (i.e. if you wanted it, you could also download the source code for it) program which re-implements the game engine for many old graphical adventure games, like I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream. Speaking at a very high level, most of these games were originally made up of two parts - 1) the game's data (i.e. the graphics, the sounds, the game logic) and 2) the engine (the bit that takes all of the above and makes it work). The game's programmers separated these out so that they could, without much hassle, create a Mac and a DOS version at the same time. The data remained the same on both versions and they simply made a Windows and a Mac version of 2).

OK, so ScummVM is used to replace the old, out-of-date engine which came with the original game (and is now too old to play on modern PCs). Not only can you use the ScummVM game engine to let you play the game data on modern operating systems and hardware, but it has also been ported to mobile phones, PDAs etc. which means you could potentially play IHNMAIMS on the move. Along the way, they also discover any known bugs (of which IHNMAIMS has a fair few) and, if they can, they patch those along the way too.

The general principle, then, is that you install ScummVM on your modern Mac OS X or Windows XP / Vista computer. Then, you need to copy the required data files from the original CD to a folder on your computer and point ScummVM to it (click Add Game...). The list of data files you need to copy from the original I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream CD is available here. The upshot of this, is that you may have originally bought the DOS release of IHNMAIMS but as all you're using is the data files, now you can play it on any operating system that ScummVM supports!

The recent announcement about supporting the Mac version did not mean that Mac OS X was now supported - it already was, if you had the DOS CD for IHNMAIMS. When a game is added to ScummVM, it's available for all the major OSs at the same time. What it meant was that the original Mac OS CD of IHNMAIMS was now supported. Before that release of ScummVM, only the data files from the Windows version of the CD would work with ScummVM. Now, you can use the data files from the old Mac CD as well.

This principle of requiring the original CDs is very important to the ScummVM guys, so Rule #0 in their forums is that you'll get no support at all, if they discover you don't don't have a legitimate, original CD or if anyone is silly enough to request where to get the games for free (they maintain a wiki page with where you can still buy some of the games legally - including a link to the HERC store). As long as you're aware of that, their forums are a very friendly place to be and very helpful, if you get stuck.

So there it is - you'll find on the Downloads page, an executable (.exe) installer for Windows, or a .zip archive (just extract it and run the main executable inside), as well as a Mac OS X Universal Disk Image (.dmg). If you download the latest version (0.12.0), you should have no problem using the data files from either the old Mac or DOS CDs - remember, you can use either set of data files, so it's easy to use the old Mac CD on a modern Windows PC or the old DOS CD on a new Mac OS X machine. ScummVM will just automatically detect the right version - provided you have put all the files and folders listed on the page linked above into the folder you have pointed ScummVM at.

It is fairly simple - once you've got one working, you'll realise just how easy it is to add more from their compatibility list. :)

Last edited by Jan on Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby addlepate » Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:21 pm

No replies to this one? Can't let that stand. It's brilliant.

I was surprised to find that Harlan's adaptation of the story into an interactive format did not come in the form of a text-based "interactive fiction" game, as was done for Hitchhiker's Guide. Nevertheless, I think that this "game" is the best ever in the "point and click" genre and, moreover, is one of the few games outside of the realm of text-based interactive fiction to achieve much in the way of true artistry and meaning.

Nowadays in gaming, being "non-linear" means simply having a playground of destruction -- virtual cities to terrorize, instead of corridors a la Doom. Harlan's game, on the other hand, really put both your gray matter and your metaphorical ticker to the test, and allowed for all sorts of failures - to greater or lesser degree - depending upon your powers of perception and empathy. You were plunged headfirst into a nightmare and had to think for yourself, and about ideas that truly matter at that.

I hesitate to continue to call this title a game, because the word seems to cheapen it. There's nothing else like it and, considering how brutal and braindead games are now, I fear that there never will be.

But good on Harlan for doing a game right. And shame on the industry for making hackneyed virtual wetdreams for bloodthirsty geeks and fratboys despite having a brave example they might've followed.

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