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Bob's Interactive Fiction Page

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Bob's Text Adventure Reminiscences

I wanted to talk a little about my longtime enjoyment of interactive fiction. Skip right to Zork for Free or Lengthy List of Links if you don't want to read the following paragraphs, which try to give you a little background and perspective.

In the late 70s home PCs were a rare novelty, but my friend Gary Ames (how are ya, Gary? e-mail me) had one and I was able to play text adventures when they first appeared. I have fond memories of playing Adventureland and The Count on Gary's Vic-20, which stored its tiny programs on a regular cassette tape. Later, I had a lot of fun playing classic games like Zork, PlanetFall and The Lurking Horror from a company called Infocom - first on Jim Hoskin's Apple IIe and later on my own Apple IIe.

By the mid 90s I had long left Apple behind and PCs increasingly sported flashy graphics and sound. The series of Zork sequels led to Return to Zork, among the first non-text, graphical adventures with sound. It was a lot of fun, though like all the Zork games it had some obscure solutions and you basically were forced to buy the hint manual.

Play text adventures today

These days, you can easily play all the old text adventures by downloading a free "interpreter" program. Interpreters exist for most operating systems. For Windows, you want WinFrotz. WinFrotz, developed by Richard Lawrence and Stefan Jokisch, runs old text adventures, all the original Infocom games, plus many others developed by amateur game enthusiasts.

You can still buy Infocom's games, or get some Infocom games for free. You also can download from a large selection of free games at http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/. When you get there, try these directories: Infocom, Competition95, Competition96 etc. You can download about anything that ends with the extension .Z5, .Z3, or .DAT. You then can play those game files with a free "interpreter" program from http://www.ifarchive.or/if-archive/infocom/interpreters. Windows users: get WinFrotzR53.zip from the Frotz directory.

I was just glancing around at the link in the preceding paragraph, and noticed it doesn't really explain itself, so here's a quick reference: you can find an Apple II interpreter in the Apple directory; UNIX, DOS, Amiga and Windows interpreters in the frotz directory; Apple Newton interpreter in the yazi directory; Java help in the zax directory (apparently it lets you play text adventures in your browser); Atari ST, Amiga, Silicon Graphics Irix 5.3, Apple IIGS and Acorn Archimedes interpreters in the zip directory.

With WinFrotz, in no time at all I was running old Infocom adventures. Most amazing to me, I was able to use it to finally hear sound effects that someone developed many years ago for my favorite old Infocom game: The Lurking Horror (these sounds were the exception to the rule; 99 percent of text adventures have no sound). Though the sounds are included on the Masterpieces of Infocom CD (see next paragraph), it is impossible to hear them using the software included on the CD.


Get Infocom's Entire Output Cheap

With that groundwork laid, let me help you get started in text adventures. You can do plenty for free, but you might want to look into Masterpieces of Infocom, a single CD that collects Infocom's entire output (well, most of it) in one place. The CD also includes PDF (Adobe Acrobat) versions of the original books and maps that came with the games when they were sold singly, along with hints for every game, in case you get stuck.

The CD includes everything you need to run the games in the Windows, DOS and Macintosh operating systems. And don't forget that if you have some other operating system, you can download an interpreter and run the games that are on this CD. Yes, that's right, the game files are cross-platform; get the right interpreter and the game files will load and run.

You can get the Masterpieces CD for around $20, which is great but breaks the hearts of us oldtimers who paid that much for each game.

Where to buy Masterpieces of Infocom - Sadly, Activision has not made or sold any Infocom game collections for years. They still own the rights to them, they just don't feel like selling them. BUT YOU CAN STILL BUY IT! You can often find Masterpieces on sale online. Start with Half.com and ebay.com, two great places to find hard-to-find stuff. Just type "Infocom" in the Search box on the home page of either site. Soon you'll have at least a few buying opportunities. You may also see some other Infocom collections, which are quite good, but Masterpieces is the most comprehensive. Also, type "masterpieces of infocom" into any search engine and you'll probably find online software retailers who still have a few copies in stock. And also, check out the next section:


ZORK for Free!!

Zork I
For Windows PCs:
Infocom
For Macintosh: Infocom
Zork II
For Windows PCs:
Infocom
For Macintosh: Infocom
Zork III
For Windows PCs:
Infocom
For Macintosh: Infocom

Interactive Fiction Links

Infocom
Peter Scheyen's great unofficial Infocom site with exhaustive information about the company, the games, and the history of the Great Underground Empire

Hints, walkthroughs of Infocom games

Excellent Interactive Fiction write-up and
Excellent Infocom write-up at Wikipedia.org

JustAdventure.com

AdventureCollective.com

Infocom Documentation Project - Acrobat (PDF) files of the printed material, information & comics that were included in the box when you bought an Infocom game. Also, Invisiclues, Infocom's trademark way of gradually revealing more and more pointedly helpful information to move forward.

Key & Compass Interactive Fiction page by David Welbourn. Includes complete texts/walkthroughs of many games, including one of my favorites: Trinity.

MOOs, MUDs and other online roleplaying
MOOs and MUDs are basically the Internet equivalent of text adventures. Okay, that oversimplifies it. Just go to this page in the Internet Primer on my site for more information and plenty of links.

Boffo Games
Home to Steve Meretzky, author of Infocom classics Planetfall, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (with Douglas Adams) and Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz

Skotos Gaming - Home to Brian Moriarty, author of Infocom classics Wishbringer and Trinity.

XYZZY, XYZZY Awards

Return to Zork walkthru - with nifty maps and stuff.

Interactive Fiction wiki

The Zork Library.com - Good resource for the various Zork games, including downloads of the excellent music from Return to Zork (the other two multimedia Zork games have boring music).

Infocom gallery

The Interactive Fiction Archive

Adventure Game History List (Hans Persson)
http://www.lysator.liu.se/~unicorn/adv/agh-index.html

MUD Area building software and links
http://www.goodnet.com/~esnible/mudinfo.html

Tolkien text adventure games http://www.lysator.liu.se/tolkien-games/adventures.html

The Unending Addventure
http://www.addventure.com/addventure/game2/

Virtual Rooms, or a Spatial Metaphor
http://www.well.com/user/mmcadams/units4.html

Brass Lantern interactive fiction site

Chronology of Quendor

Museum of Computer Adventure Game History

Interactive Fiction articles at Wikipedia.org

Other titles

Collections

Interactive Fiction

Infocom

Adventure game

Hypertext fiction

Activision

Masterpieces of Infocom

Zork books

The Count

Adventure

Scott Adams

Adventureland

Duncanthrax the Bellicose

Colossal Cave Adventure

Double Fanucci

Zorkmid

Z-machine

AFGNCAAP

Zork calendar

InvisiClues

Gamebook

Unwinnable

Bob Fahey's Games Page

Bob Fahey's Home Page