Zak McKracken was my first experience with video game streaming. I had the curious sensation that instead of minor annoyance at getting lost in a maze, at some point I felt somewhat embarrassed and on display even though I think my highest viewership was about a dozen.
I had a déjà vu to the days of discussing Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle back in high school with the group play of Zak McKracken here on the forum. (To be clear, for me those games and high school were early 2000s.)
Also, Zak McKracken gave me a new perspective on yaks.
I didn’t, but I learned a lot of extra English from Command & Conquer.
I first played Zak McKrackren in 2015! Before that I wasn’t even aware of LucasArts games.
How did I discover it? I was looking for an old school game, where you can do everything. The dream of an open world/sandbox/virtual reality/matrix/ call-it-as-you-want existed already a long time ago and I wanted to see if someone has tried that in the early history of video games, where the possibilities were extremely limited. How does the retro-version of this dream look like? Somewhere I’ve been scrolling through screenshots, and when I saw the Interface of Zak McKracken with the first scene in his bedroom, I knew I found was I was looking for.
Through the first scene, with the big number of verbs, the inventory, and interactive world I saw the intention or imagination that the developers had. Their dream must have been an open world sandbox game and Zak McKracken was the realisation of this dream that was possible with the technology of the 80ies. I felt connected to the developers and expected to see funny results when I experiment with the possibilities in this world and unexpected results. Maybe things that even the developers did not anticipate. This reminded me of my own games I developed in the 90ies and the fun I had when funny unexecpted things/bugs happened in the games that I have not expected.
I was happy with Zak McKracken just being able to experiment in the world, and I had no idea about what would follow story-wise. Later I discovered the playthrough https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx_abVM14p8 and learned also about the other LucasArts games.
I’m planning a trip to Italy. If all goes well, I’ll meet you (all who happen to be) there.
@David I lived in a very small rural place in the 80s. I wasn’t good at school, and the forecast was not good for me. I guess everyone thought I would do a low-paid manual labor for living. I was however always very interested in computers and (naturally at that age) especially in computer games. When I played Zak for the first time in '88 (I think) the excitement for computer games went to a whole new level. It was my first touch to adventure games, and the narrative, the ability to explore and discover and the graphics blew my mind. I wanted more, and (my mom) bought Maniac Mansion next, and I loved it. I remember the agony when I waited Indy III to arrive. At school they wondered how my English was so good. I knew words that hadn’t been thought yet
I was so excited to these games I thought that I want to create them myself too. And also realized I need to get a higher education in order to do so, and my grades weren’t good enough. So I studied harder (well, I just started to study…), and got a scholarship for outstanding development from primary school. Around that time I started to copy the art of the game boxes, and learned how to draw. That led me to create my own art, and I had 10 art exhibitions a bit later.
After getting good grades, I got accepted to upper secondary school (“lukio”; got a scholarship for arts from there too, btw). I was inclined to arts, but the story telling was always in the back of my head too. After lukio I got accepted to graphic arts school and graduated with honors (got a scholarship from there too ). When I presented my thesis (a multimedia CD-ROM presenting the history of Lucasfilm Games / LucasArts; designed a box and a jewel case for it too), one of the teachers said he had always been good at guessing where the students get their inspiration from, but I had been a mystery to him. But after he saw my presentation, he said he wondered no more.
So, I was on my way to advertising, and have done that the past 20 years now. I am a concept designer, I do the graphic design, they know me also as a copywriter, and I program websites. What I like to do, is to tell stories. It’s not adventure game or movie design, but it’s what I like to do. And the things I do today for work are not that far from adventure game design.
All this because I played Zak McKracken and The Alien Mindbenders 30 years ago.
Thanks “Zak”!! Yes, I really wanted the player to feel like they were in a real world. Rather than creating “if-then-else” statements for every object combination, I gave certain objects flags that meant they could be used as a tool (to pry open things), or could carry a flame, etc. That way there might have been combinations of things we hadn’t thought of.
And then there are some really unexpected things that happened. Let’s say they were features, not bugs.
I first played Zak with my Dad when the game was relatively new (the german language version was about a year old at the time I think) and at the same time he had a subscription to the Time Life Book series called “Mysteries Of The Unknown”. So while learning all about these real life mystical places in the game I subsequently would find out more about them and their real origins in those books.
That greatly fascinated me, I still have the entire book series and I learned much about the world, starting with the fun approach to things only to dig deeper with these books later.
Today I´m a skeptic who is more into James Randi than David Spangler but is still very much fascinated with all these things and Zak might have played a part in that development and how I approach the mysteries of the world in general.
UPDATE: in addition to the event on Friday, you must book your reservation ticket even for the Zak Night, on Saturday 22nd.
The event is free, but you must get your ticket to partecipate.
Here is the link: