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The source files and a precompiled ZMachine storyfile of this adventure were recovered from a salvaged "Infocom hard drive", and made publicly available on GitHub in an effort to preserve them.

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A Mind Forever Voyaging

by Steve Meretzky

Science Fiction, Slice of Life

(based on 111 ratings)
7 reviews

About the Story

"If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not..."

It's 2031. The world is on the brink of chaos. In the United States of North America, spiraling crime and unemployment rates, decayed school systems and massive government regulations have led to a lazy, contentious society.

To reverse this critical situation, government and industry leaders have developed a Plan combining the economic freedom and strong moral values of the 1950's with the technological advancements of the 21st century. Will the Plan ensure peace and prosperity? Or will it set the earth on a suicide course to destruction?

As the world's first conscious, intelligent computer, only you can visit places that have never been seen before. Only you can view the future. And only you know what must be done to save humanity.

A major departure for Infocom, A Mind Forever Voyaging is reminiscent of such classic works of science fiction as Brave New World and 1984. You'll spend less time solving puzzles, as you explore realistic worlds of the future.

Game Details


5th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2011 edition)

13th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2015 edition)

29th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2019 edition)

15th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2023 edition)

Editorial Reviews

Adventure Classic Gaming

There are no traditional puzzles until the endgame, and even then, they are innovative, requiring you as the player to think like the machine you are supposed to represent. Rather, A Mind Forever Voyaging is about watching the life of a singular individual as it is effected by global changes and about observing a city's descent into mismanagement, neglect, and despair.

Yet, it is because of its innovative premise that A Mind Forever Voyaging ultimately falls short. The story that it casts is too simplistic, with few shades of grey. Like too many works of science fiction, it tells of a socialistic government obsessed with order and security that lapses into totalitarianism, a techno church that can preach only wacky space babble and a medieval strain of intolerance, and credit card breadlines that run dry. As well, the characters encountered tend to be as flat as a computer simulation in 1985—they have no personality.
-- Joseph Lindell
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Adventure Gamers

Part of me is tempted to use the patronising cliché that A Mind Forever Voyaging is remarkably good “for a game.” There's no getting around the fact that the prose is mostly utilitarian, the characters are markedly thin, and the ideas presented often lack nuance. Infocom boldly compared the game to Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, comparisons which only highlight these complaints further. But in the end, I feel its best aspects are in fact because it is a game. The great sense of exploration and non-linearity make you feel more like a historian researching for a book than a mere reader and player, curiously gathering evidence to evaluate The Plan for Renewed Purpose, all in a clearly-imagined and at times frightening world that seems more contemporary now than when it was written. For those who enjoy games heavy on exploration or with a political bent – or just want to experience a fascinating moment in gaming history – you should definitely check it out.
--Steven Watson
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Gaming Enthusiast
A Mind Forever Voyaging is one of the most mature interactive fictions, though it didn’t achieve a commercial success. With very little puzzles, it’s based mostly on exploration and observation.
-- Toddziak
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PC Gamer
You don’t have to agree with the speed or nature of how reality tumbles though, simply because the damage is kept much more personal. PRISM is a sentient computer rather than an impassive observer, and the collapse of civilisation is seen not as a wide-scale thing like in Deus Ex, but in the increasing degradation of his specific life and the small town he calls home. There’s a real sense of impending doom every time a new time period opens up, because you know it’s going to be even worse [...]
-- Richard Cobbett
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If you can suspend disbelief enough to accept the situation, then the game is quite good. Unlike other Infocom offerings, it is meant to be experienced, rather than played. The first two parts of the game have almost no puzzles, focusing instead on exploration and discovery as you walk the streets of Rockvil, watching daily life, seeing what activities can be attributed to the effects of the Plan, and watching the changes that take place over time.
-- Graeme Cree

Overall, AMFV is a great game. The plot is really intriguing and Rockville, the city that the simulations take place, is a vast area of exploration throughout the time periods. The writing is good quality and excellent.
-- Gerhard Peterz
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A Mind Forever Voyaging (1985) - Full Playthrough
Ferkung plays through the Infocom classic "A Mind Forever Voyaging," starting fresh after actually reading the manual.
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50 Years of Text Games, by Aaron A. Reed
In the last month of 1984—a year that had naturally and repeatedly brought Orwell’s dystopian novel to mind—Meretzky began sketching out ideas for something few people had ever tried to make before: an explicitly political game.
Voyaging’s prose is often minimal, an artifact of a medium still constrained by limited storage space. But the game’s power comes from the way you experience the words. It “allows players to experience a linear narrative in a non-linear way,” a modern reviewer wrote
Few mainstream computer games had ever engaged with real-world issues in such a direct way before. Themes of racism and religious bigotry, debates about economic policy, allegorical critiques of political figures: this was no Super Mario Bros. People of color had rarely appeared in games at all before 1985, let alone in situations that touched on the real-world issues affecting them.
Countless younger fans would find themselves deeply moved by the game. It awoke in some a political conscience, in others a fascination for open-ended exploration without artificial obstacles, and in many a giddy sense that games could be far more than they’d previously imagined. Hundreds among the next generation of game designers would come to cite it as a foundational inspiration, including Adam Cadre (Photopia), Chris Klimas (creator of Twine) and Sam Barlow (Her Story) among many others. Novelist Richard Powers, whose book The Overstory won a Pulitzer in 2019, has spoken of the game’s influence on him as a young writer, as has screenwriter Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli; Rogue One), who tried for years to pitch a film adaptation.
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 7
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Great Introduction to IF, August 12, 2021
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)

As a recent convert to interactive fiction, I have been looking for good games to get started with. Although this is perhaps not a typical work, I was intrigued by the sci-fi dystopian premise and encouraged by the wealth of critical praise heaped upon AMFV. Rather than detailing specific aspects of the gameplay or plot that I found especially effective, I want to focus this review on the merits of AMFV as an introduction to IF.

In short: I found AMFV quite stunning in its own right and also an effective introduction to IF more broadly. The work opened my eyes to the artistic potential of IF as a form and delivered a playing experience that was easy and engaging for someone with only minimal prior exposure to IF.

A few more detailed points:

I appreciated the relative lack of puzzles. Though I'm not averse to puzzle-heavy IF, I wanted a work without punishing puzzles or cruel game design (e.g. unwinnable states, lots of learning by dying). I loved that the main mission of the game is to explore the simulated versions of Rockvil, which still requires some careful attention to the description of places and objects without the demands of a typical puzzle (e.g. finding just the right use of an object to get past an obstacle). AMFV helped to ease me into the playing mechanics of IF without suffering the pain of banging my head (literally or metaphorically) against some puzzle to make progress.

I also thought that AMFV did a great job of introducing the a novice player to the poetics of IF, that is, the joys (and challenges) of navigating a simulated world via a text interface. Cleverly, the simulated versions of Rockvil can be seen as sorts of IF worlds within the broader IF work -- Perry Simm is in the same role as the player. This effect was achieved quite well and not in an eye-winking kind of way.

Finally, this work is clearly significant in the broader history of IF, which is obvious even to a newcomer like myself. Playing it definitely helped me to better understand the historical foundation of where more recent IF works have come from, but the experience was not that of an 'eat your vegetables' history lesson. The work is still fresh and enjoyable on its own terms, and indeed the satirical thrust of the work is still very relevant (even if the political satire could be heavy-handed at times -- probably my only real complaint about AMFV).

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Greetings from the Near Future, July 19, 2023
by Drew Cook (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

There's a rather famous quote about the Velvet Underground's first album. It comes from an LA Times interview with Brian Eno:

“I was talking to Lou Reed the other day, and he said that the first Velvet Underground record sold only 30,000 copies in its first five years. Yet, that was an enormously important record for so many people. I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!"

In 1985, Steve Meretzky was hardly a Lou Reed. He was probably one of the better-known game developers in America, thanks to the success of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Infocom, for its part, was hardly Verve Records. They had published some of the most successful microcomputer games ever made, and were making a play for big, corporate software dollars.

And yet, for all of Infocom's lavish production and post-production resources, A Mind Forever Voyaging has the aspirational earnestness of a small art film. According to Jimmy Maher, people around the office referred to it as "Steve Meretzky's Interiors," an unflattering comparison to Woody Allen's 1978 film of the same name. In fairness to Meretzky's contemporaries, amused bafflement is a possible reaction to something that one has never seen, anticipated, or imagined.

I could go on like this for hours. In fact, I already have elsewhere. So let's let this review be a review. In A Mind Forever Voyaging, the player guides an artificial intelligence, Perry Simm, though various iterations of a simulated future. The point of the simulation is to evaluate the effects of a sweeping legislative package usually referred to as "The Plan." The author of said plan is "Richard Ryder," and he and his policies are meant to remind us of Ronald Reagan.

The gameplay here is radically different from what one would have been used to in 1985. Perry must observe and record events and conditions that the game considers significant in terms of enriching or expanding the simulation. The AI is expanding its data set, in other words, while we guide Perry through daily life in Rockvil, Dakota. What is popular entertainment like, for instance, across the decades following the implementation of The Plan? How does the Simm family - Perry, Jill, and little Mitchell - get on? How are things at Perry's favorite Chinese restaurant?

Contemporary reviewers sometimes gloss over these innovations, missing the significance of centering human experiences and relationships in interactive narratives in 1985. Perhaps it is because we see these things everywhere nowadays. It can be easy to miss the influence of A Mind Forever Voyaging because it is everywhere. It can be hard to find an absence from which we can begin, from which we can detect its presence.

It has problems as a video game, and some of those problems are serious. It is not always clear what data is and is not useful for Perry, which can lead to feelings of being stuck. There is a climactic puzzle that has no relationship to the gameplay in the rest of the game. A game should train the player for its endgame, which A Mind Forever Voyaging fails to do.

I encourage contemporary players to refer to the Invisiclues - written by Meretzky himself - when stuck. If you don't understand a word or phrase in a Shakespeare play, do you look it up? The language of 1980s interactive fiction can seem equally arcane. Sometimes, these old games can feel mechanically obsolete. Which is fine! We have resources to help us through them as needed.

Some critics have invested significant ink in characterizing the model of AI in AMFV as unrealistic or incredible, as if A Mind Forever Voyaging was ever meant to be about computers. Despite appearances, it is about human beings. Humans wielding power, humans making art, humans forging friendships and families. Humans getting old together, humans insisting - rather shockingly in this context - that care, thoughtfulness, and imagination are essential to well-lived lives.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A Deserving Classic, October 3, 2019

I knew two things about the game before I started playing:

* There's not much of a "game" in it, with only a few puzzles near the end
* Steve Meretzky intended it as a blistering attack on Ronald Reagan's policies

The first point is definitely correct--most of the game feels of a piece with the more recent walking simulators, where the focus of the experience is just to explore an environment and get a general sense of what's happening. This isn't a complaint! Wandering Rockvil, watching the decay, was fascinating; the dread from witnessing just how bad things got was palpable.

For the second point, though... Maybe it's just a consequence of being 30-some years removed from Reagan and no longer viscerally angry about or afraid of his platform, but I had some quibbles about the politics--it's hard for me to draw a straight line between the Plan as described and a fascistic cult coming into power, for example. And since 2041 is pretty OK, wouldn't it be possible to implement the Plan now and then change course in 10 years? (Also, just from a writing perspective, the 2071 segment is so, so bleak, it's almost funny that Dr. Perelman's response is, "Well, maybe it turns a corner at the 50-year mark." (Spoiler - click to show)The state's running gladiator fights to punish ration cheats!)

Despite my reservations there, I really did enjoy this game and have no qualms about recommending it.

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A Mind Forever Voyaging on IFDB

Recommended Lists

A Mind Forever Voyaging appears in the following Recommended Lists:

2020 Alternative Top 100 by Denk
(Created 24-Jul-2020) The purpose of this list is not to compete with the IFDB Top 100 but to provide an alternative view, which makes sense for some games. Philosophy: 1. If a game only has 5-star ratings, it is because the game hasn't...

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The following polls include votes for A Mind Forever Voyaging:

Dynamic open world IFs by Natrium729
I'm looking for good "open world" IFs, that is, IFs where the player can just wander and explore the world without necessarily following the main plot (think Elder Scrolls). They could take place on a planet, in a city, or even just in a...

Games that inspired you to MAKE a game. by MyTheory
Whether it was the witty dialogue, the charming atmosphere, or the cleverness of the puzzle - you played "this" game and it inspired you to write your own. Selfishly, I'm looking for my own inspiration, but I am also very, very curious...

Games with an evolving environment by Sorrel
I'm looking for IF where the setting constantly evolves/changes to either advance the plot or confuse the player. Something to the effect of Shade.

See all polls with votes for this game

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