The Guy

Posted: June 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production, Text Adventure History | 7 Comments »

So a few people, over the past months, have asked or commented about the guy in the inner artwork spread:

Some of it’s about the hair, or that he’s strongly built (unusual for a computer geek) and so on. Others, of course, have just assumed he’s “a guy” and nothing else.

When I was working with Lukas Ketner to do the artwork that became the inner spread, I gave him a ton of suggestions, requests, and reference photos. Some he used and some he didn’t, and over a short period of time we had a very nice artwork indeed. One of the reference photos was “the guy”:

This is in fact Marc Pacilli, my cousin.

It is rather a painful thing for my family, even over twenty years later – Marc was killed from a fall while on a scouting trip, in 1988.  He was, especially with the passage of time, very young – still in his teens.

Marc was the one who really introduced me to adventure games. I found an adventure game on the mainframe terminals at work when I visited my father at IBM’s research center, but the IBM PC in my aunt and uncle’s home had Microsoft Adventure, and it was there we got to experience this game properly – not in a solitary fashion in some cold research facility, but surrounding the computer in the den, trying to figure out what Woods and Crowther had planned, sketching out maps, going crazy trying to know where we were in mazes.

Marc solved a lot of it, including the endgame. Marc was, and this is not some warm nostalgic hindsight, goddamn smart. Marc could have been anything he wanted to – an athlete, a computer guy, a musician.  He was good at stuff, and was one of the most balanced people I’ve ever known. Had he been running some company in later years, I’m sure he would have been able to go out and kick everyone’s ass in the company’s basketball court or during a pickup game of football in the park, and then go back and nail what was slowing up the code builds. He was just that kind of guy. It’s why the artwork shows a muscular guy working at a computer – that was Marc.

So when working on the artwork design, I knew that there would be a guy working at a computer – and that guy could be anybody. So why not Marc?

I’m sorry that when you search for his name, you don’t get any hits – if he’d been around in the 90s, you can be sure we’d both have been in contact talking about httpd and getting it working and designing web pages and the whole deal. You’d have had hundreds of hits for his name, I just know this. But this weblog entry will be one of the only ones, and that sucks. The whole thing sucks, actually – but it wasn’t incompetence or evil or disease or any of a hundred things that took him from our family and the world.  It was just plain stupid chance, a freak accident, an unwanted set of circumstances. I remember the hole it left, a terrible blankness, that never got filled, by any of us who knew him.

In a few weeks, hundreds of people will have Marc’s image in their homes and work – it will eventually be thousands, all over the world. An image of Marc sorting out a problem, or maybe discovering a link, with a whole range of possibilities and ideas and dreams around him.

It’s maybe not much at all, but it will have to do.

And that’s the story of the guy.

7 Comments on “The Guy”

  1. 1 Johan Herrenberg said at 7:30 am on June 11th, 2010:

    Very touching, Jason. Your cousin will have his memorial.

  2. 2 mike said at 2:38 pm on June 11th, 2010:

    An update like this leaves you speechless. What can you add to that, that would be fitting? I think he’d be proud of that tribute, and it’s very fitting. It will be a story I will always remember now looking at the image. I hope the print comes about with enough interest as well.

  3. 3 zach said at 4:39 pm on June 14th, 2010:

    Great story. Thanks for posting.

  4. 4 Red said at 12:44 pm on June 15th, 2010:

    Very moving…

  5. 5 agaraffa said at 7:35 pm on June 15th, 2010:

    That’s such a great story Scott, thanks for posting it. My older brother introduced me to Zork and interactive fiction “all those years ago”. He now has stage 4 lung cancer and although he was diagnosed almost 5 years ago and is doing surprisingly well, he will most likely die way too young. Growing up he was a typical computer geek… he ran a BBS and was building PC’s before most people knew what a PC was. If he leaves this place before me, I know I’ll always have your films to watch to bring me back to happier times. I’ll be transported back to 1982 and remember my big bro fondly and just smile… I thank you for that.

  6. 6 Slow Down, It’s Sunday « 'tis nobler – to learn and change said at 6:01 pm on June 19th, 2010:

    […] The person down the street, the family who live around the corner, the cyclist or runner passing you while out walking; there’s an interesting story everywhere you look. […]

  7. 7 Chris said at 9:38 am on June 23rd, 2010:

    What a wonderful tribute to your cousin. Thanks for sharing this story with us, I will now always think of it whenever I pick up my copy of ‘Get Lamp’.

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