FAQ 1/3

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Stephen van Egmond

Apr 17, 2004, 7:27:55 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/part1
Maintainer: Stephen van Egmond <>
Version: 1.6 - December 2000

West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded
front door.

There is a small mailbox here.

Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet.


(1.1) Welcome to!
This is the Frequently Asked Questions list for the group, a Usenet newsgroup for the discussion of
Interactive Fiction games and related topics. To read a specific
question, use your newsreader's search function on the string "(n)",
where n is the question number.

It is posted periodically to the following newsgroups:

* rec.answers
* comp.answers
* news.answers

(1.1) Welcome to!
(1.2) The purpose of this group and some history of interactive fiction
(1.3) Other Usenet newsgroups discussing interactive fiction
(1.4) Netiquette, hints, and bug reports
(1.5) Are there any publications about IF?
(1.6) The IF archive and other Internet resources
(1.7) "Games, walkthroughs, hints, source and other FAQs"
(1.8) Disclaimer and copyright/trademark notice
(1.9) XYZZY?

Part 2 covers Infocom, and part 3 covers just about everything else.

The current maintainer is Stephen van Egmond. Questions and information
should be mailed to The most recent
version is at

Throughout this file, there will be URL references to relevant files and
web pages. Many files reside at (See section 1.5).

Special thanks to Paul Smith, Magnus Olsson, Jacob Butcher, Paul David
Doherty, Volker Blasius, Keith Lim, Luis Torres, Jacob Weinstein, Mark
Howell, Adrian Booth, Eric Shepherd, Sascha Wildner, Jim Butterfield,
Mark Stacey, Stu Galley, Dorinda Hartmann, Tomas Schafer, Hans Persson,
Gareth Rees, Robert Pelak, Juergen Christoffel, James Montanus, Russell
Bryan, Werner Punz, David Kinder, Matt Ackeret, Christi Alice
Scarborough, Roger Long and Graham Nelson for ideas, suggestions and
contributions. Scott Forbes created and maintained the original FAQ.

No newsgroup should be without one!"

This is the south end of a large temple. In front of you is what appears
to be an altar. In one corner is a small hole in the floor which leads
into darkness. You probably could not get back up it. On the two ends of
the altar are burning candles. On the altar is a large black book, open to
page 570.

Commandment #12593

(1.2) The purpose of this group and some history of interactive fiction
Here in the newsgroup we discuss games of the
interactive fiction genre, ranging from classic games by companies such
as Infocom and Scott Adams to 'modern' and non-text IF games.

Simply put, the IF genre includes any game that tells a story as part of
the game, usually with the player as the protagonist. The actions of the
player affect the progress of the story, which often centers around
solving puzzles or finding treasure, and leads to an endgame in which
the player 'wins' and completes the adventure.

One of the earliest games that could at least be termed interactive is
Hunt The Wumpus, from the early 1970s. In this game, you have three
arrows, and are trapped in a maze that is a dodecahedron, with the nodes
being rooms and the edges being the room connections. In any room, you
are given hints as to phenomena that are going on in adjacent rooms (you
can't tell from which one though) - breezes from bottomless pits, grunts
from the (very hungry) wumpus, and so on. The wumpus can move, and the
bottomless pits are frequently rearranged by earthquakes. Your goal is
to hit the wumpus with one of your arrows by firing it down a passageway
into an adjacent room.

Interactive fiction traces its electronic roots to a 1977 program named
ADVENT, better known as the Colossal Cave Adventure. It was this
program, written by Willie Crowther and Don Woods, that established many
of the features now common to the genre, including noun/verb parsing
(e.g. "TAKE BOOK"), mazes ("You are in a maze of twisty little passages,
all alike") and the basis of most later IF in fantasy/adventure
settings. Soon after this the game Dungeon, or Zork, was written by MIT
grad students; these students were the nucleus of a 1980 startup company
called Infocom, which produced a version of Zork for the TRS-80 Model I
and other machines. This led to widespread popularity of interactive
fiction games, and was later referred to as the Golden Age of the genre;
for several years, Infocom's products were the top-selling games on the

Later events, however, led to the decline of the IF genre. As the
educational level of the average computer user decreased and the
features and capabilities of the average computer increased, the trend
in computer games went to 'arcade' games instead of text.

By 1989 Infocom had been absorbed by another company and destroyed,
leaving a legacy of high-quality, well-written interactive fiction and a
large audience with few sources for good new material. This newsgroup
discusses 'classic' interactive fiction games, new games keeping the
genre alive, and non-text (even non-computer) IF.

This is the north end of a large temple. On the east wall is an ancient
inscription, probably a prayer in a long-forgotten language. Below the
prayer is a staircase leading down. The west wall is solid granite. The
exit to the north end of the room is through huge marble pillars. There is
a brass bell here.


(1.3) Other Usenet newsgroups discussing interactive fiction
Many people make the mistake of assuming that and are the same group. Nobody in rgif can answer
programming questions, and few people in raif want to see hint requests.
Be very careful when crossposting to both newsgroups: do both audiences
care? Even if you do crosspost, direct followups to the appropriate
forum with a Followup-To: header line. is a newsgroup for authors of interactive
fiction, and discusses adventure development systems such as Inform and
TADS, features of a 'good' IF game and how to implement them,
techniques, hazards, tradeoffs, etc. If you're thinking about writing a
game (as opposed to playing one), is your group. is the FAQ.
Collected knowledge and archives are at discusses all types of computer games for the
Commodore Amiga computer, including IF games for that machine. has a similar charter, discussing games for the
Apple Macintosh line of computers. discusses a subset of the topics
covered in Those interactive fiction games
available for the IBM PC. If you're looking for IBM-specific info about
a game, or for info about a game available only on IBM PCs, you may find
help in c.s.i.p.g.adventure.

The hierarchy discusses MUD (multi-user dungeon) games.

The groups discuss fantasy role-playing games (not
necessarily computer-based) such as Dungeons & Dragons. is for general discussion of games in the
"Rogue" family (games that display an ASCII representation of a dungeon
and its contents). is a moderated newsgroup for
announcements about Rogue-like games. The other groups in the roguelike
hierarchy each discuss a specific game in the "Rogue" genre.

Abruptly, your surroundings shift.

Nondescript Room
This is a drab, nondescript room. The only exit leads south.

Enchanters' Retreat
Belboz is meditating here.

"Hello." Belboz doesn't seem pleased to see you.

Belboz looks at you suspiciously. "Only the rawest apprentice would ask
for a hint (or post one) without observing proper netiquette."

(1.4) Netiquette, hints, and bug reports
Before asking for a hint, consider that many people before you have
asked for hints. At there are numerous hint files and
walkthroughs available. See question 1.6 for more information. If the
game is old,, a Usenet archiving service, will
almost certainly have past questions and answers.

1. Above all else, don't spoil the puzzle or game for other people who
are reading the newsgroup but didn't ask for a hint. One common way
of doing this, if you're asking for a hint, is to put the number of
points you have earned so far, or the area of the game you're
dealing with, in the subject line, so that people who are not yet
that far into the game can skip your post.

When asking for or giving hints, try to put spoiler warnings in the
subject line and text, and if possible, a form feed character in the
main text before the spoiling content.

Good example:

>Subject: Re: ZORK I at 10 points (SPOILERS)
>J. Random writes:
>>How do I get into the white house?

>Have you tried running for President?

Most machines can generate a form feed character if you type a
CTRL-L or (in "vi") CTRL-V CTRL-L. If you can't generate a form feed
character, use at least 24 blank lines. The form feed character
causes most newsreaders to pause and require the user to hit a key
before continuing.

This feature is useful when protecting part of a message from people
who don't want to see it, as it gives them the option of hitting "n"
instead and skipping the SPOILER section.
2. If you're asking for a hint, please try to ask in a way that doesn't
spoil the puzzle, or spoil other puzzles in the game. Describe
whatever details are relevant, but don't post the answer to every
other puzzle you've solved up to this point.

Good example:

>I've figured out what the gold machine is for, but I keep
>getting killed whenever I try to use it.

Bad example:

>I used the gold machine to send a message to Orkan, but the
>Warlock noticed my presence and turned me into bat guano.

If you can't ask the question without revealing part of the puzzle,
protect the question with spoiler warnings as above.
3. When giving a hint, please try to give just enough info to send the
adventurer on her way. Please don't post the exact sequence of moves
required to win the game from this point, or solve the next two
puzzles in order to get the ball rolling.

Good example:

>Have you explored the area outside the house?

Bad example:

>There's a window on the east side of the house that you can
>squeeze through in order to get in. Don't bother with the
>front door; there's no way to open it. Don't eat the food,
>either: You'll need it later to feed the microscopic dog.

Other common messages seen on involve bugs
that the poster has found (or thinks they have found) in a
particular game. A bug is broadly defined as behaviour that was not
intended by the author. The most common error is one where
characters or objects behave in strange ways; less common is the
existence of ways of getting around a puzzle that the author did not
intend. Lists of known errors in Infocom games are published in some
editions of XYZZYnews and on the Infocom home page. See below for
the locations of these resources.

If you know that you've found a bug or contradiction in a game,
please refrain from posting about it to the entire newsgroup. There
is no point in embarrassing the author. Almost every author provides
an electronic-mail address, which you should use to inform her about
the bugs. Many authors don't see everything on rgif, or don't read
it at all.

On the other hand, if you're not sure whether what you've
encountered is a bug or not, it makes sense to post about it; don't
forget to put spoiler warnings in where appropriate.

Belboz looks at you expectantly.

Belboz looks at you suspiciously. "Curious little enchanter, aren't you?"

(1.5) Are there any publications about IF?
There are two magazines archived at which are still
producing new issues. They are named SPAG ("Society for the Promotion of
Adventure Games") and XYZZYnews.

They are both excellent. Issues are made available in PDF (requiring an
Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format reader) or in plain text. The
magazines are free. XYZZYnews encourages subscription by giving
subscribers the latest issue before everyone else. SPAG focuses almost
entirely on game reviews.

Someone went through the first 33 issues of a PC-only magazine called
SynTax and made the IF-relevant files and articles available in a file
at It's a promotion for the subscription-only

Everything is available at,
and SPAG can be found at

Belboz looks at you expectantly.

Belboz stops you with a word of power.

"Ah! Now I have you, charlatan! Fool me twice? Never!" He rises to his
feet, makes a threatening gesture, and you find yourself transported

This is part of a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

A hollow voice says:

(1.6) The IF archive and other Internet resources
The interactive fiction archive site at is by far the
largest collection of interactive fiction games, development systems,
"walkthrough" solution files and related IF materials available. It is
generously maintained by Goob, Zark, Stephen Granade, and David Kinder.
Uploads of new material are encouraged: instructions are available by
connecting to

Other mirror sites:

* USA:
* USA:
* USA:
* USA:
* Finland:

The other area where considerable information is available is through
WWW. The known offerings:
A browsable hypertext index of the archive.
You can look through the file listings, click on a file name to
download it.
The Infodoc project, which is making remarkable, rapid progress:
"With the permission of Activision, Inc., this project strives
to recreate the Infocom manuals as close to their original form
as possible, providing complete documentation for each game. At
the same time, the documents are being created in a special
blind- friendly format, containing all the text in a single
The unofficial "Infocom" home page, compiling a lot of widely
distributed Infocom-specific information into a very usable
form. There's articles on Infocom published in the computer
industry and in Infocom's own newsletter, as well as
invisiclues, maps and known bugs on every Infocom text
A huge pile of game-reviews written by Carl Muckenhoupt with
links to the files they're talking about, specific to, and primarily the games/pc directory.
The home page for the annual interactive fiction competitions,
past and present.

> S.W.SW.W.W.
Flathead Ocean
Passing alongside the shore now is an old boat, reminiscent of an ancient
Viking ship. Standing on the prow of the ship is an old and crusty sailor,
peering out over the misty ocean.

The seaman looks up and maneuvers the boat toward shore. He cries out:

(1.7) "Games, walkthroughs, hints, source and other FAQs"
Thanks to Magnus Olsson for much of the info in this section.

Games and source:

* At the IF archive in the directories games/, programming/,
infocom/compilers/inform/, and their subdirectories. Read part 3 of
this FAQ for more information on continuing game development.
* Source code for some text adventures (including various versions of
Colossal Cave/ADVENT, Dungeon/Zork and World) have been posted to and comp.sources.misc. They're available from FTP
sites archiving these groups, such as Many versions of
Dungeon and Colossal Cave have been unearthed -- even source code in
FORTRAN -- and are in the IF archive
* Some Macintosh IF games are available from,
including Colossal Cave and Dungeon. [Unnkulian may be there too.]
* Amiga IF games are available from any Aminet mirror site, such as in the pub/aminet/games/role directory.

Walkthroughs and hints:

A walkthrough is a start-to-finish "most direct route" way to finish the
game, which guarantees that you will miss out on lots of the pleasant
details that make IF worthwhile. Hint files are usually in the
question-and-answer form. Infocom's variation on this was the Invisiclue
booklet: answers were printed in 'invisible ink', and you used a special
marker to make them visible when you needed a hint. The electronic
version of this (receiving progressively more hints on the screen) is
implemented in many games. Type HINT or HELP to see if they're
available. There is also a shareware-ish program called UHS ("Universal
Hint System") which has many hint files compiled for it; beware of the
author's registration scheme and the lack of attention given to porting
the UHS reader to non-PC platforms.

* in the solutions/ and infocom/hints/ directories.
* Walkthroughs for many popular IF games are available from
* The Invisiclues for all v3 to v5 Infocom games are available through
the Infocom home page at; these
are derived from the Invisiclues stored at

Relevant mini-FAQs and information compilations:

* A list of
computer games related to J.R.R.Tolkien's works. (Fredrik Ekman)
Games, authors, history, statistics, interpreters, and tools for
Infocom games. (Paul David Doherty)
* Infocom
game information table. (Paul D. Smith)
* - A succinct FAQ by
Stephen Griffiths, tuned for Windows users who want to play TADS and
Inform games, available in longer form at
FAQ by Gareth Rees on what to do if you have an Infocom-format game
file (.z3, .z5, .z7, .z8 or .dat) but don't know how to "make it
go". See also section 2.8 of this FAQ.

"Please accept this gift. You may find it useful!" He throws something
which falls near you in the sand, then sails off toward the west, singing
a lively, but somewhat uncouth, sailor song. The boat sails silently
through the mist and out of sight.

A seedy-looking individual with a large bag just wandered through the
room. On the way through, he quietly abstracted some valuables from your
possession, mumbling something about:

(1.8) Disclaimer and copyright/trademark notice
This FAQ Copyright 1995-2000 by Stephen van Egmond. Reproduction of this
document and inclusion in any off-Net compilation without permission is
not OK. Ask first.

All trademarks remain the property of their respective companies.

Nothing happens. In the distance you hear a voice:

(1.9) XYZZY?
People frequently ask about the origins of XYZZY. From the Jargon file

:xyzzy: /X-Y-Z-Z-Y/, /X-Y-ziz'ee/, /ziz'ee/, or /ik-ziz'ee/
adj. [from the ADVENT game] The canonical `magic word'. This comes
from ADVENT, in which the idea is to explore an underground cave with
many rooms and to collect the treasures you find there. If you type
`xyzzy' at the appropriate time, you can move instantly between two
otherwise distant points. If, therefore, you encounter some bit of
magic, you might remark on this quite succinctly by saying simply

"Ordinarily you can't look at someone else's screen if he has
protected it, but if you type quadruple-bucky-clear the system will
let you do it anyway."

Xyzzy has actually been implemented as an undocumented no-op command on
several OSes; in Data General's AOS/VS, for example, it would typically
respond "Nothing happens", just as ADVENT did if the magic was invoked
at the wrong spot or before a player had performed the action that
enabled the word. In more recent 32-bit versions, by the way, AOS/VS
responds "Twice as much happens".

The popular `minesweeper' game under Microsoft Windows has a cheat mode
triggered by the command `xyzzy[enter][right-shift]' that turns the
top-left pixel of the screen different colors depending on whether or
not the cursor is over a bomb.

> SE
This is part of a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

Someone carrying a large bag is casually leaning against one of the walls
here. He does not speak, but it is clear from his aspect that the bag will
be taken only over his dead body.

A good slash, but it misses the thief by a mile. The thief comes in from
the side, feints, and inserts the blade into your ribs.

It appears that that last blow was too much for you. I'm afraid you are

**** You have died ****

Press any key to continue


Stephen van Egmond

Stephen van Egmond

Apr 17, 2004, 7:27:55 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/part3

Maintainer: Stephen van Egmond <>
Version: 1.6 - December 2000

Now, let's take a look here... Well, you probably deserve another chance.
I can't quite fi-

You go dizzy for a few seconds

then your head clears again.

(3.1) Beyond Infocom
This is part 3 of the Frequently Asked Questions list for the group, a Usenet newsgroup for the discussion of
Interactive Fiction games and related topics. To read a specific
question, use your newsreader's search function on the string "(n)",
where n is the question number.

Contents of this file:
(3.1) Beyond Infocom
(3.2) Infocom wasn't the only adventure game company, you know.
(3.3) Level 9 Software
(3.4) Topologika Software
(3.5) 'Who is Scott Adams?'
(3.6) Want some games for that ZX Spectrum?
(3.7) The ongoing development of interactive fiction.

The current maintainer is Stephen van Egmond. Questions and information
should be mailed to The most recent
version is at

Part 1 covers the elements of Part 2 covers

You are in an amphitheater. The sound of the crowd comes from all around.
There is a gladiator here, holding a weapon and advancing toward you. The
gladiator says:

(3.2) Infocom wasn't the only adventure game company, you know.
There were (and are) numerous other companies dedicated to the
production of interactive fiction games.

Level 9, Adventure International ("Scott Adams"), Topologika, Magnetic
Scrolls, and Penguin software seem to have a noticeable following on If you have a personal favourite, ask about it,
and someone will probably know. Feel free to contribute some FAQ
questions to the maintainer:

The gladiator advances menacingly.


(3.3) Level 9 Software
Level 9 was formed by three brothers (Pete, Mike and Nick Austin) in
1982. Their first product was a port of Adventure to the 8-bit computers
that dominated the English market at the time. Until they left the text
adventure business in 1990, they produced over a dozen adventure games
for the 8-bit computers (the Spectrum, C64, BBC B and Atari 800
machines). From 1986 their games also appeared for the Amiga, Atari ST
and IBM PC computers.

Level 9 used a custom adventure writing system referred to as "A-Code".
This allowed a high degree of compression: a typical game of 210
locations, 70 objects, and lots of text could fit into 32K. The
adventure engine had 5 major versions:
* Basic Text: black on white with noun/verb parser
* Advanced Text: yellow on black with faster display
* Basic Graphics: simple line drawings for each location, at a cost to
the amount of text in the game
* Advanced Graphics: dramatically improved parser and the usual amount
of text.
* Interactive Characters: grid-like maps, digitized graphics, and
improved parser with interactive, independent characters.
Each game was available in three versions for the Sinclair Spectrum: 48K
all-text, 48K graphics with reduced text, and 128K graphics with full
text, multiple UNDO and save/restore in RAM. For the final games the
digitized graphics were only available on the Amiga, Atari ST, PC and
C64 disk versions.

Several of Level 9's games formed trilogies, and were repackaged as such
in the late 1980s. In approximate chronological order, then:

These three were later packaged into a Middle Earth Trilogy (renamed by
the lawyers to Colossal Trilogy). In 1986 the package was released
again, this time with graphics, a nicer parser and some text tweaks, and
renamed The Jewels of Darkness.
* Colossal Adventure, Essentially a conversion of Crowther and Woods'
classic mainframe text adventure. The Austins expanded the end game
* Adventure Quest, A game very much in the mould of the original
Adventure. The ultimate object is to defeat the Demon Lord.
* Dungeon Adventure, This game follows on directly from Adventure
Quest. After defeating the Demon Lord you must now loot his tower.
The following three were packaged as the Silicon Dreams Trilogy:
* Snowball (1982?), Considered by many as Level 9's best game. As Kim
Kimberley, colonist on the spaceship Snowball 9, you must defeat the
hijacker who has taken control of the ship. Famous for advertising
itself as having 2 million locations (though rather a large number
of these were very similar).
* Return to Eden (1984), The direct sequel to Snowball. After rescuing
Snowball 9, you are accused of being the hijacker and are sentenced
to death. You must escape the authorities and stop the robots on
Eden destroying the Snowball.
* Worm in Paradise (1986), A rather darker game, set 100 years after
Snowball and Return to Eden. The colony of Eden has become a corrupt
dystopia, in which you are a lowly worker.
The following three games were re-released as the Time and Magik
* Lords of Time (1982?), A time-travel adventure, set in nine separate
time zones. The Timelords have meddled with history, and can only be
stopped if a specific item is recovered from each zone.
* Red Moon (1985), Level 9's first use of magic in their games. In a
parallel universe, the Red Moon crystal, the sole source of magic,
has been stolen. You must recover it...
* The Price of Magik (1986) The Red Moon crystal has again been
stolen, and must be recovered from the mansion of the magician
Myglar. A gothic horror story.
The following games were not part of a trilogy:
* Eric the Viking (1984), A comedy adventure based on the film of the
same name.
* Emerald Isle (1985), You are a paratrooper stranded on an enemy
island from which you must escape.
Level 9 (in association with Mandarin) also produced several multiple
choice adventure games. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole was based on the
Adrian Mole children's books popular in England in the 1980s, and The
Archers was based on the English radio show of the same name.

In 1986, Level 9 upgraded their adventure writing system to allow
independent non-player characters in their stories, and bitmapped
graphics. These games were first released for the Atari ST, Amiga and
PC, with later conversions to the C64 and Spectrum. Due to the size of
these games they were all split into 3 parts, each one only playable
after completing the previous section.
* Knight Orc (1987), For a change the player gets to be an Orc, who
has to avoid bloodthirsty humans. Notable for a particularly good
parody of inane MUD players.
* Gnome Ranger (1987), Another Level 9 game with the player as a
non-human protagonist. This time the player is Ingrid, a not very
likeable gnome. Ingrid must find her way back home. Contains a large
number of enjoyably bad "gnome" jokes, as in "Exits lead gnorth,
* Lancelot (1988), As its name and subtitle "The Quest for the Holy
Grail" implies, this is an adventure set in the world of Arthurian
* Ingrid's Back: Gnome Ranger 2 (1988), The sequel to Gnome Ranger,
with the player once again being Ingrid. This time Ingrid must same
her village of Little Moaning from being demolished by evil property
* Scapeghost (1989), A game with an unusual premise, as it begins at
your funeral. You were a police officer, betrayed by one of your
colleagues to the drugs gang you and your partner were infiltrating.
Now your partner is the gang's hostage and the police believe that
it was all your fault. The aim is to rescue your partner and clear
your name. A rather sombre game, as befits Level 9's final text

The gladiator advances menacingly!


(3.4) Topologika Software
Perhaps the first adventure game written outside the U.S. was "Acheton"
(c. 1979), by Jon Thackray and David Seal, with contributions by
Jonathan Partington, working in the mathematics department of Cambridge
University, England. "Acheton" is an enormous cave game, whose name is a
confection of "Acheron" (the river that dead used to cross in order to
get to Hades) and "Achates" (minor character in Virgil's "Aeneid"),
based around exploration and collecting treasures.

Thackray and Seal devised one of the earliest adventure-design systems
(which although basically an assembler was influential on for instance
the modern design system "Inform") and it was publically used on the
Cambridge IBM mainframe ("Phoenix") until the mid-1990s.

Acornsoft, then the software arm of Acorn Computers Ltd., also based in
Cambridge and with strong links to the university, published a
conversion of "Acheton" to the BBC Micro, on two 100K floppy discs (one
containing the game, one containing hints). "Kingdom of Hamil" and other
games followed.

The rights in these games are now held by Topologika Software (Waterside
House, Falmouth Road, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 8BE; email:, now better known as an educational software
house. They are not being sold anymore, but are freely available from
the if-archive, thanks to the work of Adam Atkinson, P. David Doherty
and Gunther Schmidl. See
* Acheton (JT, DS) fantasy
* Countdown to Doom (PK) SF
* Return to Doom (PK) SF
* Last Days of Doom (PK) SF
* Hezarin (ST, AS, JT) fantasy
* Avon (JT, JP) Shakespearian satire
* Murdac (JT, JP) fantasy
* Philosopher's Quest (PK) puzzle
* SpySnatcher (JP, JT, PK) espionage satire
JT = Jon Thackray; DS = David Seal; PK = Peter Killworth; JP = Jonathan
Partington; ST = Steve Tinney; AS = Alex Shipp

These all sell for 15 pounds sterling regardless of format, plus 1 pound
P&P, except that Last Days of Doom/Hezarin and Avon/Murdac are sold as
double-packs at 20 pounds; under RISC OS only, so is Acheton/Hamil; and,
under RISC OS only, Countdown to Doom/Return to Doom/Phil. Quest as a
triple at 30.

The gladiator advances menacingly!


(3.5) 'Who is Scott Adams?'

"Mr. Adams was never in the business of writing the Scott Adams
adventure games."
- The Dilbert FAQ by Dogbert

Adventure International is a company founded by Scott Adams, whose games
used a datafile and interpreter system similar to that of Infocom. There
is a freely distributable interpreter, Scottfree, on
There were interpreters released for a large number of 8-bit machines,
like the TRS-80, Apple II, Atari 400/800, and Commodore's 8-bit lineup.

The adventures were written using a noun/verb parser, but are considered
to have exciting story lines. I still remember playing the cartridge
version of "Impossible Mission" on my friend's VIC-20.

Adventure International released several lines of games using the same
datafile format and various interpreter revisions.

The Scott Adams Classic Adventure Series:
* Adventure Land: Ordinary treasure hunting.
* Pirate Adventure / Pirate's Cove: Search an island.
* Mission Impossible / Secret Mission / Impossible Mission: Stop the
reactor from going kaboom.
* There was also Voodoo Castle, The Count, Strange Odyssey, Fun House
Mystery, Pyramid of Doom, Ghost Town, Savage Island parts 1 and 2,
Golden Voyage, Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle, and Adventures of
Buckaroo Bonzai.
Questprobe Series: The adventures in this series feature characters from
Marvel Comics. The adventures were named The Hulk, Spiderman, and
Fantastic Four. The latter used a different adventure engine to allow
control of two different characters.

There was a separate line of games sold by Adventure International using
a different datafile format: Curse of Crowley Manor, Escape from Traam,
San Francisco 1906, and Saigon: The Final Days.

Other games include Labyrinth of Crete, Return to Pirate's Island, Stone
of Sisyphus, and Morton's fork.

In the UK, there were many companies related to Adventure International,
such as Horrorsoft, Tynesoft, Adventure Soft UK, and Adventure
International UK. More information can be found in Adventure Game
History, by Hans Persson, from whose work all of the above comes.

Scott Adams is on the Net and passes through rec.*.int-fiction from time
to time. In August 2000, he completed, after a multi-year effort, a new
Windows 95 text adventure called _Return to Pirate's Isle 2_. His home
page -- including a facility for ordering the game -- is at

The gladiator's weapon swishes through the air, narrowly missing you!


(3.6) Want some games for that ZX Spectrum?
There is an ftp archive of many of the games that were released by Level
9, Adventure Software, Brian Howarth, and some others of unclear origin.

The only common format in which Level 9 games are available is as images
(snapshots) for Sinclair Spectrum emulators. There are many Level 9
games available from the main Spectrum archive in Slovenia, in the
snapshots directory The filenames
(e.g. "") should adequately explain which games are
which, and for what size of machine they are intended.

There are also several Level 9 snapshots on the IF Archive, in

These games can be played with a Spectrum emulator. Emulators for PCs
and Macs can be found at

These games can also be played with the Level 9 interpreter, written by
Glen Summers. Versions are available for DOS, Windows, Amiga and Acorn
Archimedes. The interpreter is available at and has
also been integrated into the Mac program MultiAdventures

The interpreter can play all Level 9 games from Colossal Adventure to
Scapeghost, in any data format, provided that it is not compressed. The
interpreter has been tested with Level 9 games taken from Spectrum, C64,
BBC, Atari, Amiga and PC platforms. The only restriction is that the
very earliest format (v1) games do not work. However, all v1 games are
also available in later formats.

In general, Paul David Doherty's "Adventure Page" is the best resource
for information (and copies of) the more obscure adventure games. Refer
to for more information on Polarware,
Magnetic Scrolls, Penguin, Level 9, Adventure International, and more.
In fact, the entire site is a great resource
for Interactive Fiction history.

The gladiator swings his sword, remo-

You go dizzy for a few seconds

then your head clears again.

It is pitch dark, and you can't see a thing.

What do you want to light?

You switch the brass lantern on.

In Debris Room
You are in a debris room filled with stuff washed in from the surface. A
low wide passage with cobbles becomes plugged with mud and debris here,
but an awkward canyon leads upward and west.

A note on the wall says, "Magic word XYZZY."

A three foot black rod with a rusty star on one end lies nearby.

A cheerful little bird is sitting here singing.


(3.7) The ongoing development of interactive fiction.
The interactive fiction genre is by no means dead! There is ongoing,
high-quality development efforts taking place right now.

The majority of the public-domain and shareware efforts are in text
adventures, for a number of reasons: the production costs of text are
extremely low, compared to graphical, raytraced, and/or animated
offerings; the authoring tools for text are fairly sophisticated,
accessible, and next to (or precisely) free; and they can usually be
done in a much shorter time.

Games generally are developed around one of either TADS or Inform
development systems, and lately Hugo has been gaining prominence. As
mentioned in part 2, Inform outputs Z-code which can be played by a ZIP,
many of which have source code. TADS and Inform can be played on just
about the same types of computers and operating systems, though Inform's
games may have a slight edge in that they can be played on handheld
devices like Apple Newtons or Psion palmtops. Hugo has not been ported
as widely but is available for the major operating systems (Windows,
Amiga, DOS, Linux), and source is available.

Games like Legend, Curses, the Unnkulia Series, Enhanced, Shades of
Grey, Jigsaw, Christminster, and many more are available, whose quality
rivals that of games released in the 'Golden Age' of text adventures.
These can be found under "games" in the if-archive; some of the busier
games directories, in terms of new arrivals, are
The annual text adventure competition is a reliable source of
interesting and well-crafted games (there's some lemons, too). These can
be found at
* finally, seems to be the current home
for the competition.

Commercial companies continue to produce adventure-type software;
products like Myst, The Seventh Guest, The 11th Hour, and Return To Zork
are the closest conceptually to IF of the past. Many don't consider
these to be real interactive fiction -- or, consider them inferior IF
works -- since the games don't offer the same richness in details,
variety in actions, or challenge in puzzles as is expected of text IF
today. As a point of note (but by no means policy), Activision's
graphical releases in the "Infocom Universe" like Zork:Nemesis and
Planetfall 2:The Search For Floyd are often discussed on, and Myst and "other" graphical IF on the relevant
comp.sys.*.games newsgroups.

There is research going on in areas that could move interactive fiction
forward considerably, in terms of dramatic impact and sophistication.
The Oz Project at Carnegie-Mellon University is researching areas such
as computer simulation of character emotional dynamics, realistic
interactions with the "universe" of the actor, and much more.

Further theory can be found in the FAQ, at

Your lantern flickers slightly, brightens, then suddenly goes out!

Oh, no! A lurking grue slithered into the room and devoured you!

Stephen van Egmond

Apr 17, 2004, 7:27:56 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/part2

Maintainer: Stephen van Egmond <>
Version: 1.7 - December 2003

A strange little man in a long cloak appears suddenly in the room. He is
wearing a high pointed hat embroidered with astrological signs. He has a
long, stringy, and unkempt beard.

The Wizard draws forth his wand and waves it in your direction. It begins
to glow with a faint blue glow. The Wizard, in a deep and resonant voice,
speaks the word "FAQ!" He cackles gleefully.

(2.1) Infocom
This is part 2 of the Frequently Asked Questions list for the group, a Usenet newsgroup for the discussion of
Interactive Fiction games and related topics. To read a specific
question, use your newsreader's search function on the string "(n)",

where n is the question number, or click on one of the links below if
you are viewing this in HTML.

Contents of this file:
(2.1) Infocom
(2.2) What happened to Infocom, anyway?
(2.3) How did Infocom make those neat packages?
(2.4) Hey, anybody know how I can reach Steve Meretzky?
(2.5) Classic Infocom titles
(2.6) Previous Infocom compilations you still might find
(2.7) Recent Infocom products
(2.8) Infocom's historical artifacts
(2.9) Missing game pieces
(2.10) What is a Z-Machine?
(2.11) Where can I get free Infocom games?
(2.12) Creating your own adventure games

Part 1 covers the elements of Part 3 covers
non-Infocom game producers.

The current maintainer is Stephen van Egmond. Questions and information
should be mailed to The most recent
version is at

The dream dissolves around you as his last words echo through the void....

As you cast the spell, the moldy scroll vanishes!

After a momentary dizziness, you realize that your location has changed,
although Ford Prefect is not in sight...

You can make out a shadow moving in the dark.

The shadow is vaguely Ford Prefect-shaped.

This is a squalid room filled with grubby mattresses, unwashed cups, and
unidentifiable bits of smelly alien underwear. A door lies to port, and an
airlock lies to starboard.

Ford removes the bottle of Santraginean Mineral Water which he's been
waving under your nose. He tells you that you are aboard a Vogon
spaceship, and gives you some peanuts.

A long silence tells you that Ford Prefect isn't interested in talking
about Infocom.

Ford yawns. "Matter transference always tires me out. I'm going to take a
nap." He places something on top of his satchel. "If you have any
questions, here's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Footnote 14).
Ford lowers his voice to a whisper. "I'm not supposed to tell you this,
but you'll never be able to finish the game without consulting the Guide
about lots of stuff." As he curls up in a corner and begins snoring, you
pick up the Guide.

The Guide checks through its Sub-Etha-Net database and eventually comes up
with the following entry:

(2.2) What happened to Infocom, anyway?
This information is taken from [what was once] the
FAQ, with thanks to Infocom's Stu Galley for passing it along:

[Thanks to Dave Lebling (Infocom co-founder) for the definitive info on

Infocom never went out of business. It went deeply into debt to develop
a database product (named Cornerstone) that was a commercial flop. It
went shopping for a merger and found Activision, which later changed its
name to Mediagenic. What did happen is that in May of 1989 Mediagenic
closed down the "real" Infocom in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and laid
(almost) everyone off. All the releases up through Zork Zero, Shogun,
Journey, and Arthur were developed in Cambridge.

Mediagenic licensed the UK rights to the games to Virgin Mastertronic
some time ago.

Mediagenic went nearly bankrupt, was taken over by outside investors,
and taken through a so-called "pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy" in
January, 1992. As part of that process, they changed their name back to
Activision, moved from Silicon Valley down to LA, and recently merged
with a company owned by the investors (called The Disc Company).
Activision continues to release new products under the Infocom label,
including collections of Infocom's text adventures. Their graphical
CDROM adventures have been greeted with dour grunts on
rec.*.int-fiction, but the games seem to be improving in quality with
every new release.

You begin to feel distinctly groggy.


(2.3) How did Infocom make those neat packages?

From: Dan Schmidt <>

Fredrik Ekman <> wrote:
>I am wondering who wrote the stuff that came with the classic Infocom
>packages, such as the Enchanter "History of Magic" or the Leather
>Goddesses comic-book. Was it the game authors or someone else?
>Was there some kind of "editor" for the game packages that had the
>over-all responsibility for art, text and extra gimmicks?

I work with Mike Dornbrook, so I asked him. Here's his response: [MD
developed InvisiClues and had an illustrious career in Infocom's
marketing department.]

There were actually quite a few people involved in creating the package
elements for Infocom games. The game authors (we called them "the
implementors") were the primary writers. The first exotic package was
for Deadline (the third game, after Zork I and II). It was created
because Marc Blank couldn't fit all the information he wanted to include
into the 80K game size. Marc and the ad agency, Giardini/Russel (G/R),
co-created the police dossier which included photos, interrogation
reports, lab reports and pills found near the body. The result was
phenomenally successful, and Infocom decided to make all subsequent
packages truly special (a big benefit was the reduction in piracy, which
was rampant at the time).

The first 16 packages were done in collaboration with G/R. David Haskell
was the primary copywriter for Infocom materials (ads, catalogs, package
elements, etc.). G/R typically did the "fluffier" pieces. Infocom's game
implementor (and one of the co-founders) Dave Lebling wrote "The History
of Magic" in Enchanter, but G/R wrote the "True Tales of Adventure" in
Cutthroats. [The attentive reader will note that Sorcerer has a creature
named "Jeearr", which is absolutely not a coincidence. --SvE]

We were spending a fortune on package design ($60,000 each on average in
1984 - just for design!), so we eventually decided to bring it in-house.
I hired an Art Director, Carl Genatossio, a writer, a typesetting/layout
person, and someone to manage all the "feelies" in the packages. These
folks (plus an occasional contractor during busy periods) did all the
packages, hint books, New Zork Times, sell sheets, etc. from 1985 until
the end in 1989. There were two writers during that time period -
Elizabeth Langosy for most of it, then Marjorie Gove. Again there was a
mix of game implementor writing and "marketing" writing. For instance,
Steve Meretzky wrote the comic book in Leather Goddesses, but Elizabeth
wrote the newspaper in Sherlock.

An unsung heroine of Infocom was our Production Manager, Angela Crews.
She was responsible for acquiring the scratch-n-sniff cards, ancient
Zorkmid coins, glow-in-the-dark stones, etc. which made the packages so
distinctive. It was often an incredibly difficult task.

As for who oversaw all of this, again, there were many responsible. The
Product Manager (first me, then Gayle Syska, then Rob Sears) worked with
the Implementor and the Art Director to come up with a concept for the
package and hammered out the details of the elements. All of these folks
were intimately involved in the approvals, editing, tweaking, etc. which
all of the elements underwent over a 3 to 4 month period. And many
others (from the President, to Sales, to Testing) put in their two cents
along the way.

I would estimate that each Infocom package had 1.5 man-years of effort
invested in its creation.

-Mike Dornbrook

You begin to feel indistinctly groggy.


(2.4) Hey, anybody know how I can reach Steve Meretzky?
The members of the original Infocom crew have moved on to other
positions. Any kind of "where are they now" would probably be wrong, out
of date, and almost certainly unwelcome. David Lebling has recently
surfaced on rec.*.int-fiction to comment from time to time, and so has
Liz Cyr Jones, Brian Moriarty and others. Other implementors may be
lurking; nobody knows.

You see nothing else interesting.

The Guide checks through its Sub-Etha-Net database and eventually comes up
with the following entry:

(2.5) Classic Infocom titles
Classic Infocom is generally defined to be anything before Return to
Zork. Activision owns the rights to all the Infocom games and
trademarks, and occasionally releases them in some repackaged form or

Activision is currently [footnote 42] selling a few compilations, but
they are not (as of December 200) mentioned nor available on their
website. Yet they are for sale on, and of course
there's always ebay.

Infocom Mystery Collection
Contents unknown.

Infocom Adventure Collection
Contents unknown.

The Zork Collection
Contains Zork I, II and III, Enchanter, Sorceror, Spellbreaker,
Wishbringer, Beyond Zork and Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz.

The packaging in all three cases is a CD in a box, with the game files,
interpreter, and PDF versions of the documentation.

If you are looking for pirated copies of classic products, don't bother
asking on this newsgroup. In fact, don't bother at all. Many of the
games rely on materials in the game package for copy protection, either
in the form of knowledge you would have by reading it, or data that you
need to look up.

Ford is curled up on the bed, snoring loudly.


(2.6) Previous Infocom compilations you still might find
Infocom, in its pre-Activision days released trilogies containing a
subset of the trinkets found in the original packages. Like almost all
other original Infocom packages, these are now collectors' items.
Infocom released the Zork, Enchanter, Classic Mystery, and Science
Fiction trilogies, and Activision continues to bring out new trilogies
from time to time.

There is a service (see that tracks places
on the net that have these packages for sale.

Activision has released its own series of compilations:

"The Lost Treasures of Infocom I"
is a collection of 20 Infocom games. You may be able to obtain
it through mail-order outlets or used from someone who doesn't
want it anymore. The package was available for the IBM PC, the
Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga. The CD and floppy
editions were identical.

The games in LToI I were:
* Zork I
* Enchanter
* Deadline
* Starcross
* Zork II
* Sorcerer
* Witness
* Suspended
* Zork III
* Spellbreaker
* Suspect
* Planetfall Zork Zero
* Ballyhoo
* Infidel
* Stationfall
* Beyond Zork
* Moonmist
* Lurking Horror
* Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The LToI 1 package was available for the Apple IIgs through the
Big Red Computer Club, which sought and received permission from
Activision to produce a IIgs version which used a hacked-up
version of the InfoTaskForce (ITF) interpreter and did not
include Zork Zero. Matt Ackeret's IIgs port of Zip is far

The package includes a manual which contains photocopies of all
the original manuals and game pieces (such as the trading cards
from "Spellbreaker", which are needed to solve a puzzle in the
game), but some information is missing -- see section 2.7 below.

The package also contains a hint book, which looks like somebody
took all the Invisiclues booklets and typed them into a text
file. The hint book is riddled with spelling mistakes,
formatting errors and other problems, but in most cases the
mistakes are not serious enough to keep you from using it.

"Lost Treasures of Infocom II"
contained most (but not all) of the remaining Infocom text
adventure games, and retailed for $29.95 through retail and mail
order outlets. The games in the 3.5 disk version were:
* Seastalker
* Wishbringer
* A Mind Forever Voyaging
* Trinity
* Cutthroats
* Hollywood Hijinx
* Bureaucracy
* Border Zone
* Plundered Hearts
* Sherlock
* Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It
The CD-ROM version contained Shogun, Arthur and Journey in

LToI2 was produced for the Macintosh and PC only. Users of other
platforms can play the non-graphical games by transferring the
files to their machine and playing them with a ZIP. (See
question 2.10.)

This package contains photocopies of the original packaging, but
does NOT contain a hint book: Instead it contains a 1-900 number
which you can call to receive hints which is probably dead by
now. Some information is missing for Bueaucracy. See question
2.7. LToI2 also incorrectly identifies Kevin Pope as the author
of Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It. Kevin Pope
drew the cartoons which were included in the package. Jeff
O'Neill wrote the game.

After Lost Treasures, Infocom released its topical Collections. These
are considered inferior to just about every other collection.

Mystery Collection
Ballyhoo, Deadline, Witness, Moonmist, Sherlock

Adventure Collection
Border Zone, Plundered Hearts, Cutthroats, Trinity, Infidel

Comedy Collection
Bureaucracy, Hollywood Hijinx, Nord & Bert

Fantasy Collection
Enchanter, Sorcerer, Spellbreaker, Seastalker, Wishbringer

Science Fiction Collection
Hitchhiker's, Suspended, AMFV, Starcross, Stationfall

Zork Anthology
Published by Activision in 1994 as a CD companion to the
pseudo-Infocom title "Return to Zork". It contains Zork I, Zork
II, Zork III, Beyond Zork, Zork Zero, and oddly, Planetfall.

And, most recently:

Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces
This CD (released for PC and Mac, and works on other OSes) meets
practically every wish of the readership.

The CD includes the following games: A Mind Forever Voyaging;
Arthur: The Quest For Excalibur; Ballyhoo; Border Zone;
Bureaucracy; Cutthroat; Deadline; Enchanter; Hollywood Hijinx;
Infidel; Journey; Leather Goddesses Of Phobos; Lurking Horror;
Moonmist; Nord And Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail Of It;
Planetfall; Plundered Hearts; Seastalker; Sherlock; Sorcerer;
Spellbreaker; Starcross; Stationfall; Suspect; Suspended;
Trinity; Wishbringer; Witness; Zork Zero; Zork I; Zork II; Zork
III; Beyond Zork. Also included is the top 6 winning entries
from the 1995 Interactive Fiction authorship competition, a
"Very Lost Treasures of Infocom" section containing old game
ideas, statements of principle, and e-mail archives from
Infocom's heyday.

Notable by their absence are Hitch Hiker's and Shogun, which are
not included since the rights to distribute those games have
reverted back to the original authors. Douglas Adams has made
Hitchhiker's freely playable on his website, It is also possible to save the .z5
file to your hard drive for playing with one of the interpreter

All maps and documentation are included in Adobe Acrobat format
which can be printed out.

The packaging of Masterpieces bears little resemblance to the
originals; notably absent are the plastic or metal trinkets that
were included in packages (for example, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide
to the Galaxy included peril-sensitive sunglasses, a "Don't
Panic" button, a zip-lock baggie containing a microscopic space
fleet, and orders for the destruction of your home and planet).
Infocom's original packaging is legendary in the software

You begin to feel groggily indistinct.

You feel stronger as the peanuts replace some of the protein you lost in
the matter transference beam.

An announcement is coming over the ship's intercom. "Ed tgrykonx jcavfluu
nx jchotha otoyefti ltruvupirbi swrotrueft ochoollzitchogrya rd tfudeftd t
ow ctrufudx jp wkonvuphuvd te h oulpkonz zollcava ri li lo ti l oe hfudx
jirbtrugrys gvupp work oo sthaquio ta btoyr gkonr ga r or gz zr gi
skwazitz zkwaa rerl ow cfluirbwroorktoyfimthad tulp oe he hfluo
simbchogryr gu ni s."

The Guide checks through its Sub-Etha-Net database and eventually comes up
with the following entry:

(2.7) Recent Infocom products
Activision is working to build a following for Infocom's universes based
on the modern trend to humongous games sprawling across hundreds of
megabytes. Their offerings to date:

Return to Zork
A mid-1993 entry for the IBM PC, set far in the "future" of the
Zork series. Difficult, hunt-the-pixels, graphical interface. A
Macintosh version was released in mid-1994. PC Demo is

Zork: Nemesis
A graphical CD-ROM adventure released in 1995. The interface has
improved somewhat; the game includes amusing references to the
Zork universe, but the plot is said to be irregular and the
puzzles somewhat inconsistent. Said to be a huge improvement
over RTZ.

Planetfall: The Search for Floyd
Originally said to be due out in 1995, this project was killed
at Activision, revived with a release date in January 1997, then
finally killed. The publically-accessible vestiges of this game
include the demo included on the Masterpieces CD and some posts
made by an Activision representative under the name
"", available from Deja News.

Zork Grand Inquisitor
Released in 1998, this is Activision's most recent effort in the
Zork universe. Additional information is available at

Zork: The Undiscovered Underground
This is a text adventure prequel to Zork Grand inquisitor
written by Marc Blank and Mike Berlyn (former Infocommies),
programmed by Gerry Kevin Wilson. Available at

The Guide checks through its Sub-Etha-Net database and eventually comes up
with the following entry:

(2.8) Infocom's historical artifacts
There are a handful of games and other Infocom products that are not
included in any of the compilations. These products range from
hard-to-find early Infocom products to non-IF games made by other
companies and marketed under the Infocom brand name.

For more information about Infocom products, version numbers and Infocom
products that were never released, see Paul David's Doherty's "Infocom
Fact Sheet", which is periodically posted on and
is also avaialable at

Hard-to-find and early products

The Infocom Sampler (pre-1984?)
This was the first of three demo products written by Infocom,
containing (we think) excerpts from Zork I. The existence of
this sampler is deduced mainly because a later version of the
Sampler has serial number "ID2", suggesting an earlier "ID1".

The Infocom Sampler (1984, 1985)
This was the second of three samplers, containing excerpts from
Zork I, Planetfall, Infidel and The Witness, and also containing
a unique two-room puzzle that involved catching a butterfly.
Available for virtually every computer on the market in 1985
(including the Osborne, Kaypro II, TRS-80 Color Computer, etc.)
Superseded in 1987 by the third and final Infocom Sampler.

The Infocom Sampler (Fall 1987)
Third and final sampler containing puzzles from Zork I, Trinity,
Leather Goddesses of Phobos and Wishbringer. IBM PC, Apple II
and Commodore 64.

Fooblitzky (Summer 1985)
A graphical game involving deductive logic, by Marc Blank,
Michael Berlyn, Brian Cody, Poh C. Lim and Paula Maxwell. IBM
PC, Apple II, Atari XL/XE series.

Shogun, Journey, and Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur
Versions for the Apple IIe and Amiga were produced, but are now
rare. IBM and Mac versions are on LToI 2 CD-ROMs as well as
Masterpieces. Shogun has been seen running on an Apple IIgs; it
used IIe graphics rather than the IIgs' super-hires mode.

Leather Goddesses of Phobos (Summer 1986)
Activision chose not to include the original LGoP in either of
the Lost Treasures packages, possibly to prevent confusion with
the inferior sequel (see below) that was published at about the
same time. A coupon in the LToI II package offered the IBM PC
version of this game for an additional $10; versions for other
machines, including the Apple II, Macintosh, Atari and Amiga,
can only be obtained used, and you will probably have to look
for awhile.

Leather Goddesses of Phobos II: Gas Pump Girls Meet the Pulsating
Inconvenience from Planet X
This 1992 offering from "Infocom" had more in common with
Leisure Suit Larry than with the original Leather Goddesses.
Available for the IBM PC.

The New Zork Times and The Status Line (1983? - 1988)
The legendary Infocom newsletter. The name was changed in
mid-1986 due to threatened legal action by a lesser-known
newspaper serving a smaller area (Infocom promptly began using
old newspapers for packing material when shipping games to their
customers; by coincidence the NYT was the paper of choice for
this purpose). Thirteen issues were published under the name
'NZT'; one issue (Spring 1986) was titled '****' and the
remaining ten were published as 'TSL'. The newsletters are now
collector's items, and a complete set is rare.

The Infodoc project has a complete archive of all 24 issues in
PDF format: see Some text articles
are archived at
and at

Cornerstone (Fall 1984)
Infocom's one and only attempt at a commercial business product
(see section 2.1, above); probably of interest only to purists.
IBM PC version only; description in Winter 1985 NZT.

Non-Infocom "Infocom" offerings

Infocomics (1988)
Many believe that this is the point where Infocom-as-a-publisher
ended and Infocom-as-a-brand-name-for-lesser-products began. IBM
PC, Apple II, Commodore 64/128. At least four of these $12
'comic books' were published:
* Lane Mastodon vs. The Blubbermen
* Gamma Force in Pit of a Thousand Screams
* ZorkQuest I: Assault on Egreth Castle
* ZorkQuest II: The Crystal of Doom
Some comments from Steve Meretzky on Infocomics:

How depressing, I thought that InfoComix were long forgotten.

[...] The InfoComix were a joint venture between two Cambridge
companies, about a mile from each other: Infocom, and Tom
Snyder Productions. TSP was most well-known for doing
educational software and kids games; probably their most
successful product was Snooper Troopers. (We're talking early
'80s here.) (An aside: Tom Snyder went on to create a
successful animated cable TV show, something like "Dr. Katz".)
(Another aside: the programmer who created the InfoComix
engine, Omar Khudari, went on to found Papyrus, a very
successful creator of computerized car racing games.)

TSP created the InfoComix engine (of course, it wasn't called
that yet), created a rough version of the first product on it
("Pit of a Thousand Screams" or something like that), and
approached Infocom about creating more products using the same
engine. The Infocom top brass was attracted to the idea, I
think particularly to the idea that we could put out $10 games
and still make money.

Various people at Infocom then wrote scripts for the
InfoComics. I wrote the Lane Mastodon script. TSP then took
those scripts and did all the artwork and programming. I think
Infocom might have contributed some testing personnel toward
the end of the project cycle. It's a while ago, and I didn't
pay too much attention to it after the initial script, so my
memory is fuzzy. I believe there were a total of 4 Infocomix;
a fifth one was killed in mid-development; it was going to be
a much more adult-oriented product, a murder mystery inspired
by the movie "Body Heat". And yes, I wrote the LGOP comic book
(although the idea of doing it as a 3D comic was Brian
Moriarty's idea).

-- Steve Meretzy

Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth (Fall 1988)
Activision purchased the rights to this Macintosh game from
Simulated Environment Systems in late 1988, and reworked the
text and user interface. The game is a graphical RPG similar to
a number of D&D-type games on the market. Infocom planned to
release this game for the Apple IIgs and IBM, but only the
Macintosh version was ever published.

BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception (Fall 1988)
Activision now sells this game and its sequel (BattleTech: The
Crescent Hawk's Revenge) as part of a three-game package of
BattleTech-related games. Developed by Westwood Associates.
"Available in November [1988] for the IBM, in February [1989]
for the Commodore 64/128, and in [Spring 1989] for the Apple II
series and the Amiga." The IBM, Amiga and Commodore 64 versions
have been sighted; the status of the Apple II version is

Simon The Sorcerer
Infocom was used as the label for IBM and Mac distribution for
this Sierra-style graphical adventure. Amiga distribution was by
Adventure Soft, who in 1993 released the IBM version themselves.
The Activision package looks like a leather-bound book. If you
look at the left edge, you see a drawing of the spine of a book.
If you look at the right edge of the package, you see a drawing
of the edge of the pages. Same goes for the top and bottom

The picture of Simon on the front cover is slightly different on
the Activision package than it is on the AdventureSoft package.
However, both are reportedly reminiscent of the Harry Potter
books released in 2000.

Circuit's Edge
IBM and "other 8-bit platforms". A science-fiction RPG based on
Effinger's world in the story "When Gravity Fails". An Amiga
version may have been planned or in production, but it was never

Mines of Titan
IBM, Apple IIe and "other 8-bit platforms". A science-fiction
RPG set on the moon Titan. Originally released as _The Mars
Saga_ on the 64. Written by Westwood Associates. An Amiga
version may have been planned or in production, but it was never

Guards burst in and grab you and Ford, who comes slowly awake. They drag
you down the corridor to a large cabin, where they strap you into large,
menacing chairs...

This is the cabin of the Vogon Captain. You and Ford are strapped into
poetry appreciation chairs. The Captain is indescribably hideous,
indescribably blubbery, and indescribably mid-to-dark green. He is holding
samples of his favourite poetry.

One of the guards lightly bashes your skull with the butt of his weapon
and says (Ford translates for you):

(2.9) Missing game pieces
The Infodoc project is rebuilding a complete library of Infocom packages
and paraphernalia. They have secured permission from Laird Malamed of
Activision to recreate the game packages of the games that were in
Mastererpieces (which is everything except Arthur and HHGG). See When their work is complete, this section
will be obsolete.

However, for now, here is a list of missing or hard-to-find info in the
Lost Treasures game packages. All have been typed in and are available

The original packaging included an advertisement for a radio
station, WPDL AM at 1170 KHz. You will need to tune the radio to
this frequency (or TUNE RADIO TO WPDL) to get a vital clue.

Lurking Horror
Your Login ID, an important part of one of the early puzzles, is
*not* missing from the LToI manual. It's just hard to find.
(Hint: It's written somewhere on your Student ID Card.)

Some important information from the Popular Paranoia
advertisement is missing, as well as the Beezer card application
in triplicate is absent from the LToI 2 package.

Your friend Tamara will make frequent references to the letters
she wrote asking for your help; unfortunately, these letters are
not included in the LToI package. The full text of these two
letters is available from the archive, with
many thanks to Mark Howell for typing in these letters from the
original package.

Zork Zero
The original documentation for Zork Zero contained information
about the game's on-screen mapping, which may be activated by
typing in the command "MAP" at any time during the game. No
mention is made of this in LToI 1.

Also, some versions of the LToI package may be missing a (vital)
map of the "Rockville Estates" section of the game. The map is a
bluesprint of a construction site ("Frobozz Magic Construction
Company") showing an 8 x 8 grid of octagonal rooms connected by
lines representing passages. You cannot win the game without the
information on this map.

Some copies of the LToI manual include this map on a page that
is apparently numbered "40b" (the preceding page is "40a", and
the next page is 41 -- the page with the map is not numbered),
suggesting that the map was inserted after the first printing.
Early IBM versions of the LToI manual include the map on page 2
of the Zork I instructions.

If all else fails, the ASCII drawing on the next page is a rough
but accurate rendering of the "Rockville Estates" blueprint for
Infocom's Zork Zero. This map is provided for use by legitimate
owners of the Lost Treasures of Infocom package only.

0 1 2 3 4 5.... 6.... 7 Goobar -
.' .' .' I left my hardhat
8 9 10 11 12....13 14 15 out in lot 0.
: .' .' Please pick it up
16 17 18 19 20 21 22....23 Thanks,
`. .' .' .' Quizbo
24 25 26....27 28 29 30....31
: .' .' :
32 33 34....35 36 37 38....39
: .' .' : .' To
40 41 42....43 44....45 46 47....GUH-95
: `. .' : .' `. .' .'
48 49 50 51....52 53 54 55
`. : `. : `.
56....57....58 59 60 61....62....63
Work still to be performed in Phase Two: |Frobozz Magic Construction Co
* Removal of temporary passages | ROCKVILLE ESTATES
* Installation of emergency exits | Phase Two, showing all work
* Installation of sprinkler system | completed through 29-Mum-880
* Construction of Concierge apartment | 1:440 | drawn by S. Fzortbar

The Vogon Captain says, "Ofudgrythafudo tw cchoe ho tz z ocavtrup wwroz zl
mfluz ztruqui." A guard grabs you and Ford, and drags you toward the hold.
Ford whispers, "Don't worry, I'll think of something!"

In the corner is a glass case with a switch and a keyboard. It looks like
the glass case contains:
an atomic vector plotter

Ford begins trying to talk the guard into a sudden career change.

The hold of the Vogon ship is virtually undamaged by the explosion of the
glass case. You, however, are blasted into tiny bits and smeared all over
the room. Several cleaning robots fly in and wipe you neatly off the

**** You have died ****

Your guardian angel, draped in white, appears floating in the nothingness
before you. "Gotten in a bit of a scrape, eh?" he asks, writing
frantically in a notebook. "I'd love to chat, but we're so busy this
month." The angel twitches his nose, and the nothingness is replaced by...

It is pitch black. You could be eaten by a zmachine.


(2.10) What is a Z-Machine?
A zmachine or ZIP (Z-machine Interpreter Program) is a program that
interprets and runs Infocom game data files. Infocom used a
way-ahead-of-their-time implementation scheme that allowed them to
develop one game that would run on any of 26 different computers, using
a ZIP program specific to that computer and a data file common to all

The Z-machine specification underwent several extensions at Infocom. The
first two versions are obscure and you aren't very likely to encounter
them. Version 3 ("Standard") is the format for the majority of the files
in the Lost Treasures of Infocom series. Version 4 ("Plus") was a brief
experiment that quickly lead to version 5 ("Advanced"), a size suitable
for creating fairly large adventures of the magnitude of Curses or
Trinity (about 256K). Version 6 ("Graphical") has recently been
deciphered and can handle story files about twice as large as version 5.

Until version 6 arrived, all the Z-machines were text-only. Version 6
added some graphics primitives and is the format used in Arthur,
Journey, Shogun, and Zork Zero.

With the release of Inform 5.5, the free compiler for Infocom format
files (see below), Graham Nelson has proposed two new versions (7 and
8), the first non-Infocom "extensions" to the standard. Version 8 is
identical to version 5 but with twice the storage (512K).

Mark Howell wrote "ztools" -- a collection of C source files for dumping
vocabulary, version, font, graphic and other information from Infocom
games, for converting IBM bootable disks into story files, and for
disassembly of story files to Z-code assembly language. Ztools is
maintained by Stefan Jokisch. There are also numerous other "tool"
programs for Infocom files available by other authors for other

As a point of history, Infocom generated their Z-code files by compiling
the Zork Implementation Language (ZIL) with a compiler named ZILCH. ZIL
is a dialect of a Lisp-like language called MDL. MDL is ancient history,
and ZIL seems to have disappeared entirely, though some code fragments
can be found in back issues of the New Zork Times.

The ftp site has a considerable collection of Z-machine interpreters.
Frotz is the most accurate implementation, but other interpreters may
have more bells and whistles for your particular platform. They are at

Gareth Rees maintains a mini-FAQ with information on which interpreters
are recommended for which platforms, and what to do if you can't find an
interpreter for your computer.

There are some other ZIP programs at the if-archive that are not listed
in Gareth's mini-FAQ. They range in quality, but some are fairly
portable and have interesting source code. The best all-around is Frotz.
These are available at; remember to
look in the 'old' subdirectory.

Recommended interpreters

DOS, Windows, OS/2, BeOS, Windows CE, Amiga, (sort of) Linux, Psion
Series 5
Frotz by Stefan Jokisch. Plays all games, version 1 through
version 8, and conforms to Z-Machine Standard 1.0. Supports
timed input (Border Zone), graphic font (Beyond Zork and
Journey), mouse and function keys, command line editing and
history, small save files, sound effects (Lurking Horror and
Sherlock), cheat functions, multiple UNDO, input line recording
and playback, and European characters (Zork I German).

Psion 3c, some Unix variants
itf by the InfoTaskForce. Uses resources for configuration under
X11. Supports V1-V8 games (except V6), color and proportional
fonts, command history, command-line editing, and compressed
save files.

Apple Newton
Yazi by George Madrid and Sanjay Vakil. The shareware version
present here ($25) is somewhat crippled: you can save your game
at any time, but the games saved after more than 50 moves cannot
be restored in the shareware version. the most
recent version.

Zax by Matt Kimmel. Supports all z-code versions except v6, and
is very nearly compliant with Specification 1.0 of the

Nokia Nokia 9000-9110i Communicators

Acorn RISC OS, Macintosh, Unix
Zip by Mark Howell. Zip implementations vary somewhat in their
features, but it has proven to be an excellent interpreter.

There are a number of Zmachine interpreters for the Macintosh
based on Zip. The most popular is probably Andrew Plotkin's
MaxZip, which behaves like a proper Macintosh program with
resizeable windows and proportional fonts. It does not, however,
support the graphical games. Matthew Russoto's Zip Infinity is
another option. It supports the graphical font used in Beyond

You may notice increasing discussion about a particular interpreter
being Specification (n) compliant, where (n) is some number like 1.0.
The "specification" is a document by Graham Nelson, based on earlier
work by the InfoTaskForce, which describes rigorously how a Z-Machine is
supposed to behave. An interpreter is said to be Specification-
compliant when it conforms to this document. Frotz is the only
interpreter compliant with the specification available for all
platforms. Zip 2000 on the Acorn complies with the specification as

Some games may eventually require your interpreter adhere to a
particular Speficiation version, especially as the Specfication is
extended over time.

As a point of note, there is some debate over whether Z in "Z-Machine"
should be pronounced as "zed" or "zee". Nobody seems willing to agree on
which sounds better. [Though I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't prefer
"zed". -Ed] Everyone says "zed" with the exception of Americans and
Canadians raised on American programming, who say "zee". The original
prounciation was probably "zee".

> NE
Oh, no! A lurking Z-machine slithered into the room and devoured you!

**** You have died ****

Now, let's take a look here... Well, you probably deserve another chance.
I can't quite fix you up completely, but you can't have everything.

This light room is full of pot plants, flowers, seeds, ornamental trowels
and other miscellaneous garden implements.

A pair of yellow rubber gloves hangs from a hook on one wall.

Aunt Jemima, who has for years collected varieties of daisy, is engaged in
her regular annual pastime of deciding which species make the best chains.

Jemima screeches with irritation.

(2.11) Where can I get free Infocom games?
Since Activision bought Infocom, Activision now owns the copyrights and
trademarks on Infocom's products. This means it's illegal to have a copy
of any Infocom product you didn't pay for.

However, Activision made Zork 1, Zork 2, Zork 3 and Zork: The
Undiscovered Underground freely downloadable as a promotion for Zork:
Grand Inquisitor. These have been archived at Peter Scheyen's Unofficial
Infocom Home Page ( and are available
for downloading there.

Don't bother asking publically where you can get copies of Infocom's
other games, or any other copyrighted IF work. You will be met with
impatience and hostility. Some developers of older games (e.g. Polarware
and Scott Adams) have disclaimed any commercial interest in their games
and have permitted them to be redistributed on the IF archive. If you
are interested in game archaeology and want to preserve old works, try
to get in touch with their owners, get permission, and upload what you
can to the if-archive.

The regular posters here are fans of the art form of interactive
fiction, and admirers of the software developers who create that art.
They are the last people in the world that you should expect to agree,
or to remain silent, when some loser advocates ripping off those
developers by pirating their work.
-- Patrick M. Berry, poster

Infocom's complete collection was sold by Activision in compilations for
around US$20. Although the boxes indicate support for only Macintosh or
IBM PC computers, owners of non-PC, non-Mac computers need not despair.
If you can find one of the anthologies listed above, you can transfer
the data files to your computer (via floppy, networking, or something)
and use one of the available interpreters to run it. See question 2.10
for information on interpreters.

Your interpreter should support at least v3 files. Some of the larger
games (Trinity) are version 4 or 5. Zork Zero, Arthur, Journey and
Shogun are v6 games, for which the only currently-available interpreters
are Frotz (for Mac, Amiga, and Unix) and Zip 2000 for the Acorn. There
may be more. Check the index files under

There probably isn't a legal problem with doing this. Of course, if you
sell your package, you should destroy the copies you've made.

You sleep unexpectedly deeply, but just as you think you are starting to
wake up, you experience a sudden...

It is a frosty, clear night, but there is a scent of camp-fires burning in
the distance. You are passing through the landscape as if a ghost, and all
seems faintly unreal. To the east is one side of an animal-hide tent, but
there is no way in from here. To southwest, some soldiers sit around the
embers of a fire. There is a terrible sense of something about to happen.

> SW
A motley platoon of soldiers are sitting about the embers of a fire.


(2.12) Creating your own adventure games
There are numerous systems available for developing interactive fiction.
A detailed comparison and exposition of their features is available from
the FAQ. Briefly, though:
* Inform, a freely distributable compiler which allows you to generate
Infocom-format story files that can be played with any Z-machine

The Inform language and libraries are excellent. They were designed
to support the requirements of a Zork I-style game and provide the
means to modify the parser, manage timers and daemons, change
personalities and much more. It has C-ish syntax. This system does
require a certain degree of programming knowledge. The documentation
(in 3 parts) is pretty good; the 500+ -page Designers' Manual should
be read even if you don't want to use Inform in favour of a
different system, as it provides an interesting insight into what
goes into developing a game.
* TADS also has a strong following; it has its own web page which is
available at
* Hugo is a fairly recent system whose only weakness appears to be a
lack of popularity and an established source code base to learn
from. Its home page can be found at
* ALAN is useful for people who are not able (or willing) to program.
It is a language, but not a very complex one and most people are
able to get started quickly. It's more useful for games with a
greater focus on writing than complex behaviour. Make sure that the
demands of your game can be handled by Alan before you start coding. Newbies may also like Adrift,

There are many other IF development systems available, and some
background and information on them will appear in the next section. For
the best information on the subject, visit and read
its FAQ.

The Druid catches sight of your ghostly hand taking the mascot, and
immediately begins her occultations, cursing you and your ill-gotten
gains. But she is unable to make contact with you, and turns furiously to
the tapestry, hissing "lagach" to the Bear. At once a sudden swirl of wind
seems to pull her into the rough cloth, dissolving her to nothing.

You wake up, shivering with dread.

Something feels very wrong indeed. Your hand begins to burn.

In an astonishing freak accident, a meteorite hurtles through the Earth's
atmosphere and then straight through your head. Anyone would think you had
a curse on you (anyone, that is, still able to think).

**** You have died ****

Press any key to continue.


Stephen van Egmond

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