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Then, of course, there were hints and tips. . .
03/22/2021, 12:15:06

    The Elf writes:

    . . .if you knew how to find them! There was no World Wide Web then. Certain universities had WANs and LANs accessible by savvy non-academes who knew somebody who could grant them access. (Here on the West Coast, there was The Well, but whether it was run by University of California or Stanford, I don't know.)

    [Aside: Papa Elf and I beta-tested America On-Line (AOL), but I doubt that our suggestions carried much weight. Google hadn't been thought of yet.]

    I don't know when Redneck started the Tavern, since I didn't learn about it until about 1998.

    The various gaming magazines usually had tips and hints, but with only one per monthly issue, you could never be sure your favorite game would be included. AFAIK, the monthly publications "Computer Games Strategy Plus" and Shay Addams' "Questbusters" were the only multi-game hint mags around.

    The breach was partially filled by Prima and Brady, two different book companies who worked with early copies of games and their developers. Since the books were designed to be released (and sold) alongside the games they covered, last-minute game changes sometimes made the info incorrect. Bethesda published their own hint books in-house. Might and Magic was Prima all the way, but not at first.

    The earliest hints and tips were given by the developers themselves. The instruction manuals usually included a 900 telephone number you could call for assistance. (900 numbers were toll calls in which part of the toll went to the issuer, the other part to the telephone company.) I used them many times--the cost was around $0.50 or so. I actually spoke to game developers, who listened patiently while I explained my difficulty, and once I reported a bug that nobody else had come across. In every case, they'd give sound advice.

    Once the WWW was up and running, Google came along. Their original name was "Googol," as in 1 followed by 100 zeros, to indicate that they had a googol of topics on hand. However, they soon discovered that Googol was a copyrighted term, so they went with the phonetic "Google." Or so I've read. Somebody else coined the term "wiki," and the web hints were off to a flying start. Trouble is, you can't get much feedback for specific difficulties in a wiki.

    Bless the Tavern, Powers That Be!

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