Space Quest Floppy Disk Shadow Box

Recently I posted about the Kickstarter campaign from Mark Crowe & Scott Murphy, the creators of the Space Quest series. As of this writing, I'm not sure that they're going to make their project goal, but I'm still hopeful. Space Quest was a milestone game for me and shaped my early days of computer gaming.

To further the nostalgia I grabbed a copy of the EGA original and fired it up using Boxer. Boxer is a DOS emulator for the Mac that lets you play all your favorite old games. Leaving the Arcana

"Butston Freem" - Still funny.

I knew I had my original Space Quest floppy disks hanging out in a case in the closet. These disks have traveled with me for the past 26 years through 4 states, countless apartments and a couple of homes. I figured it was time to give them a proper display. So, I did the obvious and headed to Google to see how other folks display old floppies. Ummm, that was a bust. Apparently what I thought was a great idea isn't all that popular of a thing to do. In fact, I could find only a couple of examples, including a sweet photo on Flickr of some vintage Mac goodness.

It seemed I was in nearly uncharted territory, but I was not to be deterred. I gathered up the items to be included in my display. These consisted of the two original 5.25" floppies with sleeves and the user manual. I don't believe I have the original box anymore (though it could be in one of a couple storage locations so I decided that I'd reprint that on some high quality photo paper. I know that I do have the 2 original "valuable coupons" that came with the game, but I couldn't find them in my hasty search. I decided to reprint those, too (Thankfully, Google could help with that). I'm sure the original coupons will turn up someday and when they do I'll swap them out with the blatant forgeries.

Laying out the piecesI laid out the pieces to get a feel for just how large of a display I would need. From a cost standpoint, I didn't want to do any custom framing. And, after playing with the arrangement it seemed like I was probably heading into the 24" x 30" range. I felt that was too big and had too much dead space so I decided on 16" x 20".

Adjustable Depth Shadow BoxOff to Michael's to get some supplies. I debated between a standard frame and a shadow box for a while. Because the disks and manual are fairly thin, I didn't want to have a shadow box that felt super flat. However, I wasn't sure that the disks would fit nicely in a standard frame with matting and backing behind them without looking sandwiched. I was happy to find a perfect 16" x 20" shadow box that is adjustable for 4 depth settings.

I'm not really the "crafty" type so I didn't have any of the other supplies I would need. This meant I also needed to buy matting, an X-Acto knife, and various adhesives to stick everything together. The most expensive component was the shadow box itself at only $17.99.

Marked and ready to cutI started by cutting the matting down to 16" x 20" to fit the shadow box. Once I had this backing I played around with several more layouts to get a feel for what I wanted. After consulting the wife (always a good idea) I settled on the final design and went to work.


Another layout candidate Still toying with layouts










I drew horizontal and vertical dividing lines on the back of the matting to separate it into four quadrants. In the upper right (left looking from the back) corner, I cut a window for the cover art to show through. I measured the cover art, allowed for about 1/8" of overlap and then measured in from the edges to create my cut lines.  Using the X-Acto knife, I tried my best to cut smooth and steady along the guides. It worked OK and I had just a little bit of cleanup once I had the window cutout. I used the edge of the knife to smooth away the rough bits.

Marking the "window"I centered the cover art on the window on the back of the matting and mounted it with archival tape.

Next I used photo adhesive squares to mount the coupons and disk sleeves to the matting.  I used glue dots to secure the floppy disks to the backing. Finally, I used photo corners to hold the original user manual in place. I didn't really measure everything (or anything for that matter) exactly, I just kind of eyeballed it stuck things down. Perfect symmetry was not my ultimate goal.

I set the shadow box to its shallowest setting, dropped in the matting with my mounted items, and then reinstalled the backing.

Photo Corners

And there you have it. A Space Quest I - The Sarien Encounter shadow box.

Photo corners on the manual

Stuck down with photo adhesive


The Finished product

Two Guys from Andromeda

I can't count the hours I put into playing the Space Quest series.  I picked up part one (on 5.25" disks, obv) at Radio Shack back when that was the place to buy software.  I hadn't heard anything about it, but the box looked neat so I gave it a chance.  It was great... and I was hooked.  Back in the days when you could easily trade games on floppy disks with your friends, I purchased the boxed versions of each new installment, sometimes playing through in one sitting (with my buddy, Arthur) over the course of a single long night filled with Ale-8 and Cheetos.

When I heard Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe had a project on Kickstarter for a new "SpaceVenture", I couldn't wait to throw my buckazoids at it!  I'm excited about the prospect of a cleverly written (hopefully) saga that values substance over pushing the envelope of graphics capabilities and seeing just how much gore and violence can be squeezed into a game.  Don't get me wrong, I love flashy graphics and I have no problem with violent games, but sometimes I want a game that makes me think and get lost in a story.  Mark and Scott always had the ability before and I'm putting up my own money ($150) to bet that they still do.