Last week, Metafilter featured an informative and intriguing post on The Digital Village's Starship Titanic, a 1988 adventure game designed by Douglas Adams and based on the doomed craft briefly alluded to in the third Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, Life, the Universe and Everything.

The post is already an excellent resource for anyone wanting to play the abandonware game or check out the stuff that that was included with original copies (a fictional newspaper, bot profiles, and more), but it gets even more fascinating when Yoz Grahame, one of the developers who worked on Startship Titanic, stops by.

He shares some fun trivia about Adams and the game's development, as well as insight on a Starship Titanic promotional site that featured a cute easter egg that's since taken a life of its own:

"When we created the initial fake-brochure site, we thought it'd be a fantastic laugh if the fictional shipbuilders had their own intranet. If you filled in the form on the brochure site (specifying your name, email address and favourite species of frog), we followed the occasional mail about the game.

Then, one day, folks got a mail from the intranet admin, 'Chris Stevedave', giving folks the link to the intranet and the current password, which was hurriedly followed by a second mail apologising for the accidental mail leakage and urging customers not to click the link, then a third email noting that Chris Stevedave had been demoted to Bilge Emptier Third-Class.

It worked fantastically (so fantastically that some people really did send the emails back, reassuring us that they hadn't looked at the site); everyone poured into the Starlight Lines intranet.

Grahame says the intranet area was originally just a read-only Senior Management forum that offers visitors a peek at "some of the key backstory characters getting on each others' nerves", but he ended up spending half a day hacking a basic writeable forum for lower-level employees, or players, and forgot about it shortly afterward.

When he remembered to check the employee forum six months after the site launched, he found that there were already ten thousand posts on the forum:

Because it was buried one password and six clicks into the site, only a few dedicated people found it, and found each other. And once they were there, they started roleplaying Starlight Lines, and didn't stop evolving a long and bizarre narrative for the next thirteen years. When TDV died I moved the forum to my own hosting; every so often one of the players will poke me because something's broken, and I'll eventually fix it and they can carry on with their adventures.

It's been thirteen years of hosting an accidental community. It's somewhat like ignoring the vegetable drawer of your fridge for a year, then opening it to find a bunch of very grateful sentient tomatoes busily working on their third opera. It's one of the most remarkable things I've seen on the internet and I'm honoured to have inadvertently helped create it, not least because it got me a few fun speaking gigs."

[Via Waxy.org]