Steve Meretzky was at MIT
around the same time as the Infocom
founders. In addition to his extremely successful games at Infocom, he was the author of Spellcasting 101
and its sequels, and a recent Planetfall
sequel ("The Search for Floyd
Steve's design style at Infocom was an interesting one : none of his games utilise many of the full range of capabilities available in the Z-Machine at the time (this was because all the implementors had their own, isolated way of working with the system) - for instance, in Planetfall and Hitchhiker's there are a bare minimum of containers and not even that many locations. He invented the Footnotes, and made extensive use of semi-intelligent mobile characters (such as Floyd). Planetfall (and later Stationfall) implemented the "survival" system introduced somewhere between the Zork and Enchanter series, although quite early on you could find an inexhaustible source of food. Leather Goddesses of Phobos is probably the best of his Infocom games overall (although they're all excellent). (As an aside, when I had to port Meretzky's games for Activision, and reverse engineer the inventory system, I found that LGOP allows objects to be renamed during gameplay, which has been implemented in an extremely devious and inconsistent way.) There were a slew of freebies in the boxes of his games, many of which were needed to solve puzzles.
Steve Meretzky is one of the best game designers ever. His games transcended the limitations of the text interface to create truly immersive fantasy worlds where the players actions had real and meaningful repercussions. Even more impressively he did this while incorporating lots of humour and logical puzzles, laying the foundations for the LucasArts and Sierra graphic adventures. He now works at worldwinner.com and organises game developer events in the Boston area.