Oral History in the Digital Age

***Disclaimer: There was confusion and Cristina & I reviewed the same articles, sorry for the repeat in information!***

When sitting down to research a topic, our first objective is to find the perfect primary source to support our claims. What’s your favorite primary source to work with? Picture it in your head! Maybe you thought of diaries, letters, speeches, government files; but how many of you imagined oral histories? As Michael Frisch comments in Oral History and the Digital Revolution, text-based materials are thought to be the most efficient and effective source to engage in history since they are easy to, “read, scan, browse, search, publish, display, and distribute” (Frisch, 2). However, oral histories add a nuance to sources when it comes to the preservation of memory. As Doug Boyd perfectly states in Designing an Oral History Project: Initial Questions to Ask Yourself, “We conduct oral histories, not for obscurity, but to eventually connect one person’s story to the larger historical narrative.” While searching for and through oral histories can provide difficulties, there is a wealth of information than can be garnered from these personal narratives that should be considered when gathering sources for research. Thus, it’s important to understand the production processes and implications of oral histories in order to start utilizing more as they become further accessible with advancements of the digital age.

Why use oral histories?

As Michael Frisch mentions in his article, audio-video recordings are one of the most underutilized forms of historical sources. This is generally because searching for keywords or the right interviews in finding aids is complicated with varying degrees of organization between collections. However, oral histories are becoming easier to work with since technology now allows for, “rich annotation, cross-referencing codes, and other descriptive or analytic ‘metadata’ [that] can be linked to specific passages of audio/video content” (Frisch 3). This means that specific phrases can now be found within these audio/video files, which makes these sources more approachable to work with. Oral histories should be utilized since they offer another layer to analyze than traditional written records do. Oral histories are dynamic in, “context and setting, in gesture, in tone, in body language, in expression, in pauses, in performed skills and movements” (Frisch 2). When conducting or producing oral histories, it’s crucial to keep these considerations in mind. These choices of portrayal, whether for audio or video, affect the message and overall presentation of others’ stories.

Considerations when making an oral history?

There are many considerations to be made when setting out to create an oral history project. In his article, Doug Boyd provides multiple resources and tips to set up a good project, especially if you are the interviewer or director. Boyd reminds aspiring historians to, “understand that an oral history interview creates a relationship between, not only the interviewee and the interviewer but also between the interviewee and the project.” Sharing personal stories has larger implications than the project itself, so it’s important to keep this in mind when framing information for mass distribution. To conduct a successful project, release forms should be signed so participants understand their role in the oral history. Boyd also mentions that oral histories can be expensive if using professional equipment, however they can be conducted with a basic audio recorder or video camera. Audio or video should always be captured at the highest resolutions possible. Kara Van Malssen provided more insight into video recordings in Digital Video Preservation and Oral History. Video captured oral histories introduce additional presentation considerations. Lighting, editing, and directing all contribute to the message that is represented in these visual oral histories. In addition, video or encoding formats have to be taken into consideration; these include: H.264, AVC, DV, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 (Van Malssen). It’s important to keep in mind that every, “conversion from one encoding format to another– introduces a loss of generation,” especially when preserving these histories (Van Malssen). In preservation, the bit and frame rate, frame size, and coloring of the originals should further be kept consistent. With changing technologies between competing companies, the formats of video will shift with the trends, thus techniques within oral history will too (Van Malssen).

Implications of oral histories?

With the constant advancement of technologies and methods, one word seemed to emerge among these three readings: accessibility. In oral history, archivists of these collections seek to share these stories with as large an audience as possible, which has become increasingly easier with internet access (Frisch 4). While this makes much of the material accessible to the public, not everyone has internet access in the first place. This implies that oral history is limited to only privileged audiences. These limitations, along with usability as previously discussed, contribute to the lack of oral history use. However, these forms of evidence provide, “new dimensions of understanding and engagement through the broadly inclusive sharing and interrogation of memory” (Frisch 17). These primary sources add not only new perspectives to historical narratives but have an impact that is different from written texts. There is an added humanity in oral histories that can be both heard and seen that brings history to life.

Questions:

  1. Have you ever conducted an oral history? Share your experience!
  2. Do you find oral histories an accessible option for you to use in your research? How so? Where do you search for these sources?
  3. Do you see any parallels in these readings with previous weeks?
  4. Has technology changed since these articles were all written?

Week 10 Practicum: SoundCloud

SoundCloud allows users to upload original music, sound, or any other form of audio to the internet. A more in depth explanation from the “Terms of Use” page states that the collaborate site, “grants you a limited, personal, non-exclusive, revocable, non-assignable and non-transferable right and license to use the Platform in order to view Content uploaded and posted to the Website, to listen to audio Content streamed from the Platform or offline and to share and download audio Content,” to name a few of its features. As long as the file is uploaded as an AIFF, WAVE (WAV), FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR, or WMA and it’s 5GB or less, you are good to share! The main page offers three sections for surfing the audio database: Stream, Charts, and Discover. Discover allows you to search through categories of sounds, from “chill” to “party.” Charts creates a list of the top 50 most played tracks of the week or what the site deems “new and hot.” Stream is your own personal collection of the people/groups you are following.

But how does this all relate to Digital Humanities?

Since this practicum was placed in the week of “Digital Audio: Oral History and Sound Studies,” I wanted to see how extensive a collection there was for Oral Historians. Upon searching “Oral History,” the two most followed groups (on March 16, 2018) were Busselton Oral History Group of Busselton, Australia and the Southern Oral History Program of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Both had close to 200 followers (now including me!) and 2,170 and 812 audio clips, respectively (again, on March 16, 2018). Other results showed college or local history collectives trying to preserve the memories of their community members; however, these did not have as many followers or sound bites as the top two mentioned.

I next wondered about the specific content of Oral Historians. I immediately searched for Studs Terkel, an American Historian who recorded the words of Unionizers and Laborers throughout the last half of the twentieth century. I was happy to find that SoundCloud housed a “Studs Terkel Radio Archive.” This page had 622 followers and 368 tracks, as of March 16, 2018. There were also additional links provided that could bring you to more extensive digital libraries or historical sites in general. I found this to be true of other pages from “Oral History Jukebox,” which is sponsored by the American Historical Association and the “LBJ Presidential Library.” I tried searching for famous speeches as well, such as FDR’s “Fireside Chats” from WWII but there seemed to be limited uploaded files. This is not to say that these files are not accessible to the public; a quick search for “FDR’s Fireside Chats Audio Files,” will bring you to FDR’s Presidential Library and Museum website to hear his compliments of the New Deal program. Overall though, it seemed that SoundCloud is not the premiere way of sharing interviews, speeches, or any other sounds of the past.

However, SoundCloud does offer a platform for interesting ways to interpret audio from history. Since the site as well as the app (SoundCloud Pulse) allows users to download and upload their own content, users can interact with pre-existing files. In “The Dream That Came True [MLK “I Have A Dream” Speech],” DAH Trump sets MLK’s speech to background beats/music. This reinterpretation allowed not only DAH Trump but all who listen to the file to interact with history in a new way. SoundCloud lets other users comment on sections of the sound they like and overall feedback for further collaboration. At 35 seconds of this particular track, ML Ruubz stated, “Great concept, Darrick! Nice inspiration beat. Definitely sounds like the intro for something bigger!” while caseybxl thought at the 6th second, “I love almost every single one of this man’s speaches…so powerful. gives me so many chills. I have been to the mountaintop.” All of these people were moved by MLK’s dream in addition to this new spin on one of the most iconic speeches. As seen by their comments, a conversation was started that could lead to larger discussions of historical analysis without users of SoundCloud even knowing it!

I’d love to hear your opinions of SoundCloud! Has anyone used SoundCloud for historical research? In what ways? Have you uploaded any of your own files? Let’s keep the conversation going!

Oral History in the Digital Age

This week’s readings were about the meaning of oral history in the digital age, and how the practice of oral history has been affected by the new tools and technology of the digital age. This post will focus on the articles written by Michael Frisch, Doug Boyd, and Kara Van Malssen.

In “Oral History and Digital Revolution: Toward a Post-Documentary Sensibility” by Michael Frisch, Frisch stresses the importance of how new digitial technologies have opened new ways to work directly and easily with audio and video productions. Before the digital age, Frisch believes that the potential of audio and video documents were largely untapped because they were generally used and represented “through expensive and cumbersome transcription into text” (1). However, with the new technologies that come out of the Digital Revolution, people are able to search and organize within the audio and video documents directly, without relying on a transcription, and any point of the audio or video can be accessed instantly. For Frisch, this is important because this means that the actual voice of the speaker returns to the center of focus within oral history (3). Frisch believes that in the future, the entire practice of oral history will be digital, rendering the use of tapes and CD-Roms (which I am pretty sure are already basically extinct) useless. Frisch does not get into the specfic technologies of the digital tools used in oral history, arguing that they will already be old and obsolute by the time his article is published, since new and better technology is coming out all the time. Boyd and Val Malssen address this issue about oral history in the digital age, especially in terms of preservation.

We have already discussed the impact and issues that can arrise with rapidly changing digital technology in previous weeks when discussing digital archives and digital collections. In “Digital Video Preservation & Oral History,” I had never really put much thought into all of the pieces that make up a digital file before this class, so I appreciated the clarity of Van Malssen’s article. Van Malssen breaks down the most important components of a digital video and stresses that the preservation of a digital video must be addressed by the creator throughout its entire life cycle, not just an afterthught at the completion of the project. Both Van Malssen and Boyd stress that the decisions made about early during the creation of a digital video or audio project, has consequences as the project progresses, in terms of its preservation and usability later on. According to Van Malssen, using  video formats that are widely-supported will last longer in contrast to those that frequently change. However, even common and widespread platforms are subject to change, as seen through our discussion about digital archives and digital collections. Therefore, “it is important to constantly monitor the technological landscape to know when a format (container or encoding format) is at risk for obsolescence”  and “maintain original, high-quality files in their native codec and resolution.”

Out of the three articles, I really enjoyed Doug Boyd’s article, “Designing an Oral History Project,” the most. I once kind of did an oral history project in high school where we really di not have much guidence except to interview a person. I thought Boyd’s questions for designing an oral history project were supper helpful and something I would have benefited from in the past. Like Van Malssen, Boyd stresses the idea that your decisions in the beginning of an oral history project, has consequences down the road, especially in terms of the kinds of questions you ask. In order to frame your project, you need to ask yourself: Why am I doing this project? What is my desired outcome? What equipment will I be using? All of these questions will provide focus and clarity for your project. Boyd also stresses the importance of preservation throughout the stages of the project, especially when deciding how to create and distribute the oral history project, especially with rapidly changing technology.

Some questions to consider before class:

1.  When Frisch wrote his article in 2006, he predicted that oral history would be completely digital within 10 years. Has this happened or are we still transitioning to be fully digital?

2. What other questions and factors are important to consider when designing an oral history project that Boyd may not have mentioned?

3.  Have you ever participated in an oral history project and encountered the technological issues that can arise due to rapidly changing technology, and how did you avoid it or overcome it?

4. Why do you think it is so important for Frisch to refocus voices into the center of focus rather than transcriptions of what is said? Do you agree that the potential of audio and video material have been underutilized by historians in the past?

Bots, Bugs, and Blogs: The Challenges of Preserving, Interpreting, and Sharing Digital Artifacts

This week we look at how digital technology is changing what we preserve and how we preserve it. How do we handle the preservation of digital formats? How can twitter bots create historical interpretation? And how does digital technology open those preservation and interpretation processes up to more people? This week’s readings attempt to grapple with those questions.

Social Memory and Preserving Digital Formats

In Re-collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory, Jon Ippolito and Richard Rinehart discuss the preservation of new media formats in the context of the art world. They focus especially on social memory, which they define as “how and what societies remember” (14). Museums, libraries, and archives have traditionally been key sites of this social memory, but they often do a poor job of handling digital formats. Ippolito and Rinehart argue that in order to handle these formats, institutions need to be more open to preservation techniques like emulation, migration, and reinterpretation, rather than solely storage. If a piece of art was created to display on a computer screen, what matters is usually not the exact computer or even the exact operating system, but the visual experience the viewer has. That experience should be the focus of the preservation, not the physical details. They heavily emphasize “variable media,” and the idea that the works that will survive best are those that don’t rely on a specific medium to function.

Sebastian Chan and Aaron Cope provide a concrete case study of the challenges of collecting and preserving digital media in their article. They examine the Cooper-Hewitt’s acquisition of Planetary, an iPad app that visualizes the user’s music library as a series of solar systems and galaxies. It quickly ceased to be compatible with the current version of iOS, so the Cooper-Hewitt pursued a variety of measures to maintain it. They open sourced the code and encouraged derivative works to keep the program going and maintained an ongoing relationship with the donor to help evaluate those derivative works. They also collected earlier versions, change logs, and bug reports as part of the acquisition – with digital formats, a single “final version” often is not enough. It may not even exist.

Bots and Interpretation

New digital formats can also impact the way people and institutions create and perform historical interpretation. Steven Lubar and Mark Sample both delve into the world of Twitter bots. Lubar (whose work some of us remember from our History of Museums class) shares his appreciation for museum bots, which share random objects from a museum’s collection. They can call attention to how much is not on view and how museums make choices about what to display. Sample turns his attention to protest bots, which in some ways provide interpretation for our present historical moment. His examples are fascinating, but he imposes an extensive and strict set of criteria, and I wonder if he could end up excluding some interesting bot projects.

Dragan Espenschied’s “Big Data, Little Narration,” cleverly presented as a series of text messages, goes a step further and examines not just how we interpret history with technology, but how we interpret the history of technology. It contrasts Google Zeitgeist, a visualization of searches made in different cities, with a tumblr project to share old Geocities pages. Both share the history of what we do with technology, but Zeitgeist has no real interpretive frame and doesn’t invite further exploration. The Geocities project, on the other hand, invites further user interpretation of these old pages. It makes the pages communicative again, which is exactly what they were designed for in the first place.

Inviting the Public In

If we shift gears and look at the Sheila Brennan article, that same idea of inviting the public to engage comes through. She focuses on digitally opening collections. By providing item-level information and metadata online, we can invite users to explore collections in greater depth than they ever could in person, and to engage with multiple perspectives. When collections are displayed in the almost-infinite digital space, rather than in the very finite physical gallery space, there’s room for more than one narrative.

This call to invite the public in brings us full circle, back to Re-Collection. Ippolito and Rinehart don’t just discuss social memory, they also break it down into formal and informal types. Formal social memory is carried out by museums, libraries, and other institutions, but there’s also room for the informal social memory of amateurs and the general public. In many cases, informal practitioners are more willing to embrace flexible forms of preservation, like migration and emulation, while formal institutions lag behind with their insistence on storing the original copy. If we want to preserve old websites, or video games, or other digital media, letting the public take part in the process is often useful and may even be necessary.

Discussion

While they examine different aspects of the issue, all six of these texts fundamentally agree that the way we collect, preserve, display, and interpret history will have to change I response to the explosion of digital media. It’s a big topic, and I’d love to hear your overall thoughts on it, but here are few specific questions to get us started:

  • When looking at a digital artifact or project, is there such a thing as a single, definitive original? How do we define what’s important about the “original” version of something for the purposes of preservation?
  • How can institutions grapple with the additional resources and maintenance required to keep digital collections usable? Will this change funding structures, archival practices, and relationships with donors?
  • Espenschied mentions how the youngest viewers of the Geocities tumblr are sometimes confused by unfamiliar aspects of early-2000s technology. When exhibiting digital content, do we need to interpret and contextualize the medium as well as the content?

Horror in the House! Demystifying the Mystery House, Digital Preservation, and Democratization of Media

By Michael Toy

NOTE: Apologies to my classmates for not having this posted sooner. I hope you all get a chance to take a look at this before class Wednesday–it’s a very cool website and a landmark game in the history of video games.

In a week dedicated to exploring and dissecting the many varieties of digital content and how the digital intersects with the physical, it is fitting that we turn our attention to Mystery House Taken Over (MHTO, for the sake of brevity), a website built in homage to the smash-hit and groundbreaking 1980 adventure computer game Mystery House. The game was so popular and influential that even today, nearly three decades later, amateur programmers and game designers continue to create new mods and versions of it. In fact, as recently as 2016 a Mystery House app debuted on the smartphone; now a copy of the original can downloaded in seconds from the app store and played right on one’s phone. MHTO, however, was born during a lull in Mystery House’s popularity and played a decisive role in ensuring that its data and the many works derived from it remain safe in a digital vault.

MHTO is run and maintained by a small cadre of seven or so volunteer bloggers, academics, writers, and programmers that are relatively well known within this niche of the digital world, as many are themselves veteran authors and/or programmers of critically-lauded works within the “interactive fiction” genre—some in the text-based, exploratory vein of Mystery House, others completely and wholly unique unto themselves. The site offers a public and (commendably) free download of the original Mystery House game, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Though simple and unadorned, MHTO’s website also hosts and offers hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of “modded” (professionally- or user-modified) variants of the original, as well as the tools and information necessary for one to create their own mods for Mystery House, or even (in theory at least) their own unique game.
MHTO is essentially a free, one-stop mod shop for both amateur and professional game designers looking to build something new out of the discrete base components that together comprise Mystery House.

However, to best understand MHTO, one must first understand at least the fundamental aspects of its foundation. So, before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the site itself, let’s take a moment to briefly look at the birth and legacy of the historic videogame that started it all: Mystery House.


Mystery House’s official cover art.

The plot of Mystery House, like its graphics and structure is relatively rudimentary, even cliché, by today’s standards. The game opens with the protagonist standing outside of an ominous Victorian mansion (pictured below), the game’s setting, and upon entering finds himself locked inside with seven other characters: Tom the plumber, Sam the mechanic, Sally the seamstress, Dr. Green the surgeon, Joe the gravedigger, Bill the butcher, and Daisy the cook. It is soon discovered that a cache of jewels and riches is hidden somewhere in the house (with a “finders keepers” policy no less), initiating a frenzied search to find it before it’s claimed by another.


The mansion in which Mystery House takes place and as well as the story’s opening graphics.

With a locked door at his back and no choice but to move forward, the player joins the others, who split up to cover more ground. As the player makes his way through the mansion he stumbles across the bodies of the other house guests one by one, at which point the real plot is revealed. Whether it’s one of the other seven guests or some unseen inhabitant of the house, someone used the ruse of jewelry to lure the others and has been slowly but surely eliminating them one by one. Simply put, our protagonist is locked in the mansion with a murderer with only one goal: using clues, caution, rationality, and logic, unmask the murderer before he makes you his next victim and escape with your life.


Left: the mysterious message luring the group inside. Right: the entire cast of characters assembled in the foyer. Admittedly it’s difficult to identify who’s who, considering the five males are exact clones of one another, as are the two females. Though groundbreaking in its field, the artwork is… shall we say, rudimentary.

Though crude by today’s standards, Mystery House’s mechanics worked in much the same way that later graphical adventure and puzzle games would, like the hit 1993 adventure game Myst. Because of technological limitations of the time, the player controls Mystery House’s protagonist by way of a binary input decision tree, which in practice works much like a very long series of “yes-no” questions: “do you want to go upstairs or stay on the main floor? Upstairs: do you want to investigate the master bedroom or go back downstairs? Bedroom: a note on the dresser offers a clue to the treasure’s secret location, do you share this with the others or keep it to yourself?” This allows the player at least a modicum of freedom and choice at a time when most computers simply lacked the complexity, processing power, or memory to engineer or host what’re known today as “sand-box” style games à la Grand Theft Auto, Skyrim, or Fallout—the type of game that offers an entire (albeit bounded) world to explore at one’s leisure.

Another groundbreaking aspect of Mystery House, and that which it’s best known for, is that it was the first game of its kind to integrate a text-driven adventure narrative with accompanying digital illustrations of the characters and surrounding environment. Though some argue that it is the first game to integrate text-driven narrative with graphics, period, several “dungeon-crawl” RPGs preceding Mystery House had featured basic graphics linked with text. Mystery House was, however, the first interactive-fiction adventure game to integrate text with graphics on a large scale, and did so well enough that it sold tens of thousands of copies (possibly as high as 80,000 units) by the mid- to late-80s, earned the attention of influential members of the video game industry, and has repeatedly been honored by leading tech and gaming magazines like GamePro and Computer Gaming World as a recurring member of “best” and “most innovative” videogames lists.

Mystery House was conceived of, written, and illustrated by a woman named Roberta Williams and programmed by her husband Ken in the late 1970s. The Williams were inspired after playing a game called Colossal Cave Adventure and, discovering that few if any similar games existed at the time, decided they would simply make their own. Roberta drew influence from a wealth of literature in creating the game’s plot, none more so perhaps than Agatha Christie’s murder mystery And Then There Were None Alive. Since then (somewhat ironically) many games have drawn inspiration from Williams’ work and include small nods, winks, and Easter eggs relating to Mystery House. The couple worked well as a team; Roberta was the creative force, designing the plot, writing the dialogue and textual descriptions, and creating over 70 illustrations for use in-game. Ken, well-versed in programming and eager to make use of the new Apple II computer’s processing power, handled the digitalization of Roberta’s work, translating his wife’s narrative into a digital format meant to fit on a single floppy disk.

Originally marketed for sale by mail order at $24.95, the Williams were shocked to discover that demand was rapidly outweighing supply and quickly sold over 10,000 copies between 1980 and 1982. By 1982 the couple had founded a company called On-Line Systems, which quickly changed to Sierra On-Line, SierraVenture, and ultimately Sierra Entertainment, which only recently dissolved in 2007 following its acquisition by Activision. Under the SierraVenture name the Williams couple re-released an updated copy of Mystery House in 1982, boosting sales higher than ever. By 1987, when the Williams released Mystery House to the public domain, they had sold over 80,000 copies, and later a Japanese company would pick up the title for re-release in Japan, generating similarly impressive and surprising sales overseas.

Since the Mystery House code and software were now free to use by the public, amateur programmers and gamers quickly took advantage of this access to the game’s internal coding and dissect that code almost line by line. This allowed developers and programmers wishing to follow in the Williams’ footsteps to use the underlying structural framework of Mystery House as a foundation upon which to build one’s own graphical adventure games. While the near-simultaneous birth and rise of the Internet in public life certainly facilitated and fanned the flames of this phenomenon, this early gift from the Williams’ to early game development cannot be overlooked. By the new millennium, though the game and the growing number of related mods could still be found online, enthusiasm for this now ancient tech had dwindled precipitously in the face of powerful dedicated gaming consoles like the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and Xbox.

However, many still remembered Mystery House with a fond nostalgia, and by the early 21st century the videogame community’s desire to preserve this relic of early gaming reached the attention of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc (or NRPA), an organization dedicated to archiving and preserving new and experimental artforms like radio art, sound art, and net art. In 2004, with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, NRPA commissioned the creation of an official online archive to house the original Mystery House and its countless derivatives: The Mystery House Taken Over project, which can still be reached here http://transition.turbulence.org/Works/mystery/. Regardless of whether NRPA commissioned to honor its mission of preservation or simply to boost traffic to its official online archives at www.turbulence.org, the MHTO project has since flourished and has remained online and available to the public for nearly 15 years since its commission in 2004.

Returning to the current Mystery House website, MHTO’s primary purpose is two-fold. First, MHTO serves as a relatively simple and publicly-accessible archive for the countless sequels, spin-offs, remakes, parodies, re-imaginings, original works and other Mystery House mods that have emerged since the original’s 1980 debut. Some of these mods were created by Mystery House’s original designers while others are individual user contributions or collaborative works; unsurprisingly, this means that quality varies wildly from mod to mod, but if one is willing to sift through the duds there are true gems of digital artwork to be found—works that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but technically sound and narratively compelling.

MHTO’s archives are impressive enough in and of themselves, but it’s the website’s other main service that sets it apart and makes it such an interesting specimen to study: that is, providing the tools and the means for both amateur and professional game designers and enthusiasts alike to download the base components of the original Mystery House (or any of its modded derivatives) and use them to create their own original digital project. The process can be somewhat overwhelming for those not familiar with the process, requiring the downloading of several third party programs—to name just a few: 7-Zip (readily available free file decompression software, pictured below), a “Glulx interpreter” like Gargoyle (essentially a player for .blb, or Blorb format files), and most importantly, MHTO’s proprietary creation tool, the MHTO “Occupation Kit,” which contains every single known file, folder, picture, and line of coding of the original game. Using the 7-Zip program to extract and decompress these files, compiled in the “MHTO_kit,” one can easily obtain a full inventory copy of the game’s core commands and individual graphics (pictured below); unfortunately, making effective use of these discrete parts and reassembling them into a working game format is the challenging part.


The compressed files from the MHTO Kit

However, once one has familiarized oneself with the necessary tools, the MHTO Occupation Kit allows those with the time, interest, and skill to create whatever sort of interactive digital art or videogame the author/artist can imagine—within reasonable technological bounds of course. Even the two Williams’ quickly discovered that much of what they had wanted to include in the game was simply too much data to store on the floppy disks available in that era). However, given the level of raw processing power available in even today’s mid-range computers, the speed with which that power is increasing over time, and the democratization of digital archives, assets, and information the boundaries defining the possible and impossible in the world of the digital continue to expand, blur, and even fade away as time marches relentlessly forward.