According to this page, Magnetic Scrolls typically used a tool named FRED to implement major parts of their games, which then produced intermediate code in a format called ELTHAM (Extra Low Tech Highly Ambiguous Methology). Hence, I propose listing their authoring system as either FRED or ELTHAM, rather than the currently used Magnetic Scrolls. Any ideas? --Mara 06:29, 25 August 2006 (EST)
Magnetic scrolls used a build tool called "Fred" (later "Fred23") to construct the world. The Scrolls' system consisted of a world simulation model driven by objects with a pre-defined set of properties. When an author had "fredded" the data, you could run the system to produce a "dry game", ie one without any story. You could nevertheless walk about a do a large class of (somewhat mundane) things from this basis.
Fredding the data was considered a chore, was tedious and somewhat error prone. Accidentally setting the wrong FRED property could, for example, make random objects hot, sharp or even wearable by accident.
The Magnetic Scrolls virtual machine was based on the Motorola 68000 architecture; a register symmetric, software friendly chip design. This was quite sensible and worked very well. Most machines at the time were 8 bit and "up emulating", ie emulating a 32 bit architecture with an 8 bit one, is efficient because you're using several 8 bit instructions to build one 32 bit one.
Importantly, the M68000 was a completed design, so the specification for the machine was known, and well documented. Supporting a new platform was achieved by working with people who _really_ knew the target machine, who would essentially write a M68000 emulator. Magnetic Scrolls supported around 13 platforms with this approach.
Additionally, the increasing popularity of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga (both M68000 based machines), opened the possibility of running the system native. ie a non-virtual machine. This would free up resources for improved graphics etc.