A Mind Forever Voyaging is a text based adventure game developed and published by Infocom for Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Mac, PC, and Commodore 128. It was the 17th game released by the interactive fiction pioneers.
Unlike most of Infocom's games, A Mind Forever Voyaging, released in 1985, features relatively little of the classic examples of interactive fiction gameplay, notably complex puzzles and quirky humor. The game designer/programmer (or as Infocom called it, "implementor", or "imp"), Steve Meretzky, wished instead to create a game which was mainly story-driven in nature, highlighting numerous social and political themes in the process. The strong storyline and serious tone has lent much critical acclaim to the game over the years, despite the fact that at launch, it was not a commercial success.
A Mind Forever Voyaging was also the first Infocom game to feature the advanced "Interactive Fiction Plus" line coding, meaning that greater computational calculations meant greater system requirements.
Meretzky had produced a series of successes for Infocom, including his collaboration with Douglas Adams on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This provided him carte blanche to work on a project that was less obviously commercial and unapologetically political. Dispirited by Ronald Reagan's landslide win in the 1984 United States presidential election, Meretzky wanted to warn of what he saw to be the dangers if these political trends continued. The game is, appropriately enough, influenced by George Orwell's 1984.
The title comes from a poem by William Wordsworth, describing Sir Isaac Newton. (The phrase also appears on the first-ever logo for Apple Computer, which depicts Newton sitting under his legendary apple tree.)
The player plays as PRISM/"Perry Simm", who in fact is an artificial intelligence who can be placed within simulated worlds. The year is 2031, and the "United States of North America" is considering adopting a "Plan for Renewed National Purpose", written by Senator Richard Ryder. In order to evaluate the Plan, Perry is asked to "live" within worlds that simulate the Plan's effects. He is first placed in Rockvil, South Dakota in the year 2041 under the hypothetical Plan. He is then moved forward at 10-year intervals.
In 2041, it seems like the Plan has improved the state of affairs. But each subsequent simulation showcases a more dire situation: America gradually slips, first into religious fascism, and then into apocalyptic anarchy. Ryder must then be stopped before he shuts down the PRISM project and pushes the Plan through. After this happens, Perry is allowed to "retire" into a simulation of the year 2091 in which the nation's problems have successfully been solved. In fact, he and his "wife" are chosen to go on "mankind's first interstellar journey, a trip expected to last a dozen generations."
Although A Mind Forever Voyaging does have some puzzles, they are not the major focus. It is perhaps more akin to a "walking simulator" than to most other Infocom games. The main purpose is to explore each simulation and observe how things have changed, as the Plan progresses.
As had become traditional for Infocom, A Mind Forever Voyaging 's packaging contained collectibles (or, as they were referred to, "feelies") to help set the mood of the game. A Mind Forever Voyaging 's "feelies" were:
- A decoder wheel (used as a copy protection mechanism).
- A copy of "Dakota Online Magazine" (13 pages long), featuring an autobiographical article by Perry.
- A foldout map of Rockvil, South Dakota.
- A ballpoint pen from "QUAD Mutual Insurance".