Ich bin ein Berliner!


JFK's famous words were my first to game-collectors Manuel Schulz and Miron Schmidt as I emerged into the main concourse of Berlin's Tegel Airport in for a twelve-day July vacation in Germany!

In addition to the normal tourist-trap stuff and a little game-hunting European-style which Manuel was kind enough to show me, I had the opportunity to visit the Computer und VideoSpiele Museum in person. Nice adventure cronology, with machines set up demoing the actual games, and a nifty Infocom display case. Check it out if you ever get over there.

I also had the pleasure of browsing the personal collections of Berlin's I-F collector's base -- Manuel, Miron Schmidt and Paul David Doherty specifically. Quite impressive. I saw a lot of things I previously hadn't known existed, so my personal wants-list is tremendously expanded this update.

Game-hunting European-style, for the record, is pretty much the same as how we do it here in the states, except really old stuff is much harder to come by overseas. But that didn't stop me from walking away with a Guild of Thieves, an Icom Deja Vu folder, Ancient Land of Ys, a European Corruption, two Ultima games, and the German versions of Bard's Tale, Maniac Mansion, both Simon the Sorcerer games, and BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge. (Not an Infocom grey in sight, though!) Some of these items are for sale or trade this update, others have honored positions in my own collection.

I had an absolute blast, Manuel. Thanks again! (Confidential to Manuel and Lotte: Yes, Green Day is cool. But Rancid is cool too!)

Lotsa topics to cover in the column this time, so let's dive right in!


Guidance

If you missed the announcement on the I-F newgroup, I'll tell you here: The I-F collecting community's first price guide is here.

Wait, hear me out. It's not at all disastrous like it may sound.

I know I've bashed guides in the past, from fear of price-fixing, but: (1) This one has been put together by one of our own, Manuel Schulz. And (2) I had an opportunity to actually preview the thing while I was over in Germany, and can safely assure everyone that it doesn't so much set prices as establish price-ceilings.

What Manuel has done is identified the absolute maximum amount a collector should ever reasonably expect to pay for games, and has even broken down values into "shrinkwrapped", "opened but near-mint", and "other" categories. It's an excellent guide, with package details, scans and even short essays on the various software companies... Did I mention it's organized by company? Some ommissions, but these'll be filled in in the next edition, I'm sure. It's available now for $15.00 + shipping from Manuel Schulz, tell him I sent ya.


Price Gouging, Revisited

A variety of responses regarding my thoughts on high prices last time. Most YOISers who replied seemed to agree with the prices I list. What surprised me was the fact that those who complained tended to accuse me of devaluing their collections by listing quotes that were too low. Only one collector thought some categories in YOIS were overpriced. (Don't worry, I'm not going to react by raising prices.)


Unclaimed Freight

Wondering why this update took so long? In addition to my being a lazy slob, a good part of the reason is the outrageous number of unclaimed packages I've had sitting around waiting for payments to arrive. It got so bad I finally just hauled everything back into the Shoppe. This is frustrating, especially when you have other potential buyers inquiring about something you've already promised to someone else.

So, as of this update, new policy. If someone asks about an item I've got reserved for someone else, I'm marking down the date. If, two weeks from that date, payment has not yet arrived, the item goes to the new buyer. Orders paid for too late will be shipped incomplete with a refund for the missing item(s). When I update the Shoppe, all unclaimed pieces are goin' back in (although I will make allowances here for last-minute orders). No excuses, no exceptions, I'm tired of holding stuff for 2 - 3 updates and it makes for a mess in the Shoppe.


Shadowkeep's Keeper

Okay. Telarium's Shadowkeep. Does anyone actually have this damn thing, with the original package? I know one person who says he has one, and I know another guy who's got the code, but jeez, you'd think this thing would be more common considering the Alan Dean Foster mass-market paperback novel promoting it was actually published (it even mentions Trillium on the cover). LMK if you've got one. I promise not to harass you about selling.

While we're on the subject of Telariums, does anyone have any of the "ASL" packages? These are a fourth package format for the Telarium / Trillium titles, and I got to see a couple in the collections of Manuel Schulz and Miron Schmidt. They come in a plastic case with the same cover art as the other three deals, but with the ASL logo in addition to Telarium's. ASL stands for "Audiogenre Software Ltd." All but Shadowkeep and The Scoop were released like this for Atari ST, PC and possibly Amiga.


Collector's Blight

Having trouble finding the novel Blight by Infocom's Michael Berlyn (author of Suspended, Infidel, Cutthroats, Fooblitzky)? In a recent chat with Berlyn himself, I learned that the novel was published under a pseudonym. "Mark Sonders" is the author you're looking for.

Now. I still can't find this book, so there's an Infocom item of your choice (folios included!), plus shipping both ways, awaiting the first Shoppe-er to dig one up for me. Used book stores are your best bet, though your local library may sell their copy if you sweeten the price enough.

Don't bother checking Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble online, I've already tried and their searches don't even turn up the title. Ace is the publisher, though they're long out of stock.


Software and Less?

Okay, now for the big news this month. (Actually, this column is horridly late, so most of you probably already know about this.)

No doubt if you're on the Software & More mailing list, you've noticed their new classification system for package condition. What is it, "D" means definitely new shrinkwrap, "P" means probably new shrinkwrap, some other letter means something else? Something like that.

The reason for this is... well, I'll just let Software & More explain it in their own words:

"Over the past couple of months we have been actively looking for shrinkwraped packages. We have been getting suspiciuos of some things. Some of the non-collectible stuff we have sold (for use) when it was opened was used. That is why I changed our web page from describing things as new to believed to be NEW because we were told it was new when we bought it and the shrinkwrapping looked professional. That is also why some packages are priced a little lower because I'm not sure or suspect of it. Sometimes we know for sure, if we got it from our storage (We bought it originally or got it from Egghead when they dropped Apple, Commodore etc). As we start to inspect packages better and see more of the same package then we have a better idea if it could be re-shrinkwraped. We are learning that you can't just go by how well the shrinkwrapping looks anymore."

"We have gotten 3 big shipments in from a much larger company than us (We are just a little store with 2 people) in the last few months from which a couple of your pieces came...You can usually tell when it is redone by a small machine because it is not meant to look new just to keep the product from being stolen...They are not selling it to us as collectibles (most isn't anyway) and we aren't telling them because the price will go up...I contacted the big company we bought software from and asked them if they shrinkwrap packages. He said they did (he called it 'the conveyor', whatever that means). He didn't understand why we were upset because 'everything works'. He said they shrinkwrap about 10 - 15%. The rest is 'the original shrinkwrap'."

Software & More wouldn't reveal the name of their source (well that's just business-sense), but they were very forward with me about the problems they've been experiencing. It's a dilemma: how to get this source of theirs to stop reshrinking packages without telling them that customers treat the original wrap differently from a rewrap (and then having to explain why, that they're collectible, without getting prices raised, etc). Anyway, that's the Software & More story.

What to do if you're not sure your package is the original wrap:

Software & More has told me they will refund payments if you don't think the wrap on your package is the original, provided you don't actually open it to find out.

Tom Hlavaty had a cool idea for so-called "shrinked" games that come with metal objects, such as coins. He suggested running them through an airport X-ray machine to see if the coins are inside. Since these metal-detectors don't damage computer disks, why not? B-)

Finally, let me just say that all shrinked packages in YOIS are guaranteed to be in the original wrap. If I'm not sure, I open it myself and eat the loss.


Dysan Dissertation, Revisited

Heard from a guy who has all of the Dysan Infocom repackagings, and can now offer some concrete details on the outer package:

"The Dysan packaging included a red outer sleeve (like the Sierra games) and a gold colored inner box. The outside dimensions of the box are 9.5" x 7.25" x 2.25. On the front of the red sleeve at the upper left in gold letters are the words 'Dysan Series Software'. The middle of the font of the sleeve has a single gold tapered curved line (about 45 degrees lower left to upper right). There are several indentations in the sleeve above the curved line. At the bottom of the sleeve in green print is the word 'Infocom' and below that is the name of the game. The description of the one I looked at (The Witness) did not match the description on the back of the folio package. I didn't compare the wording on the grey box version. The inner box has sides which are about 1/8" thick. The inner box has no cover except for the sleeve which gives it a loose, flimsy feel. I'm surprised that any have all of their original contents since the sleeve does not fit very snugly."

If you have any other questions, feel free to give Paul Coad a mail. Just please don't bug him with offers, he's already made it clear he's not interested in selling.


Yet More Prop Variations

Okay, I'll try to make this quick:


FAQs I Get Asked All the Time but Apparently Need to Clarify Once AGAIN

The most recent list is always on the web site. I don't maintain any "secret, more-recent list" between updates. How it works is: I print a copy of the list and mark off stuff when it's actually sent out. When new items come in, they go in what I call "The Pile". When I update the Shoppe, I delete the sold items from the list and type in the stuff from "The Pile". I don't go through and list what's in "The Pile" until the actual update. If there's something specific you want me to check "The Pile" for, just ask. (I may put your request onto the waiting list if I'm in the middle of an update when you ask, in the interest of keeping the Shoppe organized better.)

Price ranges I expect are in the FAQ. Read it. It's good for you.

The "two of my opened Infocoms for one of your shrinked Infocoms" deal is still open, but I wasn't very clear before. I meant two items of the same type, for instance two opened greys for one shrinked grey, or two opened folios for one shrinked folio. I didn't mean mix-and-match. Sorry about the confusion there. (See my want-list below for which titles I still need in wrap.) Incidentally, I'm a tad paranoid of so-called "shrinked" packages because of the little Software & More fiasco. I'd prefer to inspect the packages myself before making any committments. I'll pay shipping both ways if I don't like the look of the package.

No, I don't make pirate copies, and I don't know where to get pirate copies, and even if I did I would lie and say I didn't.

I only make "legal" PC-playable copies if you buy a valid copy from me. Doesn't matter if you can prove you have a valid copy from some other source, you don't get a PC copy from YOIS unless you buy the original from YOIS as well. I have more important things to do than make copies of every obscure game for everyone who needs them in a playable format.


New This Month

As I type this, I have in the Shoppe the product that killed Infocom. I've finally got one extra set of Cornerstone disks and a manual. Maybe more in the future, who's to say.

Aside from that... Hooboy. I gotta start updating this list more often. Nothing much that I haven't had before. Plenty of greys, some wrapped, more not. New InvisiClues, maps, novels, props. A little of everything.

As a final note, don't overlook the non-IF stuff. A lot of it turns up in large shipments or boxes of games in thrift stores and I sell 'em cheap (although that's also where I chuck the Ultimas, Wizardry, anything I can't classify as I-F). Most of these'll go under $10, in some cases $5, in other cases I'll toss 'em in free with your order just to free up some Shoppe space.


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