[Inform] Inform History

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Happy Poster

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Jan 2, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/2/00
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I'm trying to write an Inform manual for beginners to intermediate folks. In
the beginning, I want to have a short word about Infocom, z-code, and how
Inform came to be. By piecemealing things I have read, and your history on
Graham Nelson's website, I came up with the following. Please let me know if
anything is not factual or if you think it could be better expressed.

"The language has an interesting history. It all started with a company
called Infocom. Infocom was formed by some MIT students in the 70's who saw
the work of earlier researchers in the realm of artificial intelligence and
language parsers. Like 70's startups, they decided to make a fun company
where dress was casual, sodas were free, and they could turn out intelligent
games that had no pictures. From the late 70's to early 80's, they were in a
Golden Era because most graphic cards were so terrible that a lot of people
preferred to not even see anything graphical. However, as computers became
more advanced, text-based games appeared antique to many people and they
started moving to more graphical interfaces like Apple Macintosh, Unix'
X-Windows, and Microsoft Windows. Infocom was about to go bankrupt when a
company out of California, Activision, decided to buy the company.
Activision is still in place today, and they have made a 3D graphical
version of Zork. Zork was originally a series of very popular text
adventures revolving around a dungeon. However, let's step back a bit. In
its height, Infocom wrote an assembler language that when compiled made a
game file called a z-code file. They patented it. The z-code file was a very
compressed format because hard drive space was expensive. You would open
z-code files with an interpreter which then ran the game. When Infocom
merged with Activision, the z-code file was a thing of the past and they let
the patent expire. Then, a clever computer programmer in the United Kingdom
named Graham Nelson reverse engineered the format and using a Unix C
language compiler building tool, awk, created a language called Inform and a
compiler as well. He decided to make the tool free. Others started building
the z-code interpreters and the most popular are called Zip and Frotz. At
that point, making z-code games was public domain, thanks to the hard work
from Graham Nelson and the various developers of Frotz and Zip. Today you
can see people using Frotz to play games on almost all platforms, even the
Psion, Palm Pilot, or Windows CE. If you are interested in a more detailed
history of Inform, Infocom, or z-code files, please consult the Inform
Designer's Manual or visit the Internet newsgroup, rec.arts.int-fiction."


Philip Goetz

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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Sorry, Happy, I disagree with your history. Specifically:

Happy Poster <ha...@poster.org> wrote in message
news:RuLb4.9286$ok.1...@news3.mco...

> language parsers. Like 70's startups, they decided to make a fun company
> where dress was casual, sodas were free, and they could turn out
intelligent
> games that had no pictures. From the late 70's to early 80's, they were in
a
> Golden Era because most graphic cards were so terrible that a lot of
people
> preferred to not even see anything graphical. However, as computers became
> more advanced, text-based games appeared antique to many people and they
> started moving to more graphical interfaces like Apple Macintosh, Unix'
> X-Windows, and Microsoft Windows. Infocom was about to go bankrupt when a
> company out of California, Activision, decided to buy the company.

It didn't happen that way.
The same people who like graphic adventures now, liked graphic adventures
then.
Infocom competed successfully against graphic adventures with text
adventures --
so successfully that no one else in the US entered the text adventure market
in a big way after Adventure International (which, incidentally, was no
longer
doing text adventures) went under.

Two bad things happened:
1. Infocom was located in the same building as Lotus. They had Lotus envy.
Some people at Infocom wanted to become software moguls with millions in
stock options. They decided to switch from writing text adventures to
making
a relational database called Cornerstone. Businessmen did not want a
database
written by a game company. Cornerstone bombed. Infocom went under.
Other publishers took this as a sign that text adventures were no longer
economically feasible, despite the fact that Infocom's failure was caused
mainly by its attempts to move out of text adventures.

2. Electronic Arts, biggest and baddest of the game companies, tried to
move
into text adventures with a product called Amnesia. It was abominable. The
story gave you no motivation, but let you wander around a New York simulated
in excruciating detail (5000 locations, of which about 4950 were useless),
doing trivial events. Periodically a lot of text would scroll by on your
screen
and NPCs would advance the plot in some way that had nothing to do with
what you had done. But even if you had the patience to wander through the
vast simulated
territory, starving to death every 20 moves or so, with no clues which areas
were
important, having no idea what you were doing there or who you were
or what your goals were, the game would crash every 50 moves or so.
It was a text adventure written by people who had apparently never played
text adventures, including their own.

It was supported by a big advertising budget, yet nonetheless did less well
than expected. This was taken as the second proof that text adventures
could not be written.

Would people pay for text adventures? The question has never been put to
the public since 1985. I think the answer is yes, if they were marketed
correctly. Obviously you can't put them on the shelves in Electronics
Boutique
and expect them to move, since their audience is 95% testosterone-crazed
adolescent males.

Phil Goetz
fl...@populus.net

Charybdis

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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> Would people pay for text adventures? The question has never been put to
> the public since 1985. I think the answer is yes, if they were marketed
> correctly. Obviously you can't put them on the shelves in Electronics

I've seen tests of IF in bookstores/airports on occasion priced about the
same as a paperback, for businessfolk and so forth to play on laptops.
Often they've done pretty well - but the experiments always seem to be
cancelled due to lack of new titles.

- Richard

Happy Poster

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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Fascinating, Phillip. I wonder if some Infocom people migrated to Lotus. No
wonder Lotus 1-2-3 macros looked like Inform code. No wonder I can't keep
Lotus Notes from locking up my system -- I needed to type BEAT WITH STICK !

You know how VH1 does that "Where Are They Now?" special? You know the
story -- some rock star is now a dentist in San Diego or washes dishes in
Phoenix. Someone should do one in RAIF to show where the Infocom people
turned up.

Happy


Matthew T. Russotto

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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In article <Lk5c4.635$xt4....@news2.mco>,

Well, they considered doing that, but there are some places even a
reporter won't go.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Graham Nelson

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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In article <RuLb4.9286$ok.1...@news3.mco>, Happy Poster

<URL:mailto:ha...@poster.org> wrote:
> I'm trying to write an Inform manual for beginners to intermediate folks. In
> the beginning, I want to have a short word about Infocom, z-code, and how
> Inform came to be. By piecemealing things I have read, and your history on
> Graham Nelson's website, I came up with the following. Please let me know if
> anything is not factual or if you think it could be better expressed.

I thought this was a private email to me, until I found it here.
But I'm afraid the history is a little misleading, so here goes:

> "The language has an interesting history. It all started with a company
> called Infocom. Infocom was formed by some MIT students in the 70's who saw
> the work of earlier researchers in the realm of artificial intelligence and

> language parsers. Like 70's startups, they decided to make a fun company
> where dress was casual, sodas were free,

There is nothing very 70s about this, and in any case, the casual
living and late nights culture came later -- the Infocom "company
experience" belongs more or less solely to the period 1983-6.

> ... However, as computers became


> more advanced, text-based games appeared antique to many people and they
> started moving to more graphical interfaces like Apple Macintosh, Unix'
> X-Windows, and Microsoft Windows. Infocom was about to go bankrupt when a
> company out of California, Activision, decided to buy the company.

I can't agree, I'm afraid.

The buyout was June 1986, well before Windows existed. X-Windows
hardly existed in any remotely domestic market; the Mac (c. 1984)
was very much a novelty in its user interface. So I don't believe
this was a factor. Infocom was not on the point of "bankruptcy",
but in any case its difficulties were caused by a venture into
business software which did not work out. The actual games, please
note, had had an amazingly strong trading year in 1985, dominating
the SoftSel computer game distribution charts. So there is no
reasonable argument that a collapse in popularity of the games
caused the buyout. (Popularity did collapse, but later, and in
the opinion of some people at least, as a result of changes made
during the buyout, notably to distribution.) Here is the relevant
section of my own history:

"Infocom's intention to explore byways of the new medium was genuine,
but not of course altruistic, and its business history throws a good deal
of light on its decisions. The extent of Infocom's commercial success is
often exaggerated, not in its scale (at one time a quarter of U.S. homes
owning computers had bought the product) but in its duration. Typical
sales per new title rose from 10,000 in 1981 to 50,000 in 1983-6, falling
below 20,000 again in 1988-9. The exceptions were the Zork trilogy,
which sold 1,000,000 units over the decade - which explains if not
excuses the later sequels - and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The
Galaxy at 250,000, which explains Infocom's eagerness to write The
Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a project frustrated by Douglas
Adams's inability to get out of the bath when copy deadlines loom -
"you can't fault him for hygiene in a crisis" (Geoffrey Perkins). Sales
were further buttressed by customer loyalty, carefully nurtured by large
direct mail shots (at end of 1986, circulation of the newsletter was
240,000); by repackaging of 1980-2 titles; and by a no-returns policy in
distribution (ended in 1987) obliging shopkeepers to treat Infocom's
wares as luxury goods, kept on shelves until they sold. Remarkably,
Suspended (1983), not an obvious money-spinner, was to receive a
Gold certificate for 100,000 sales in 1986: typical shelf times today are
measured in months or even weeks. Infocom's customers were,
according to market research, adult (75% over 25) - which is not so
surprising given prices of $40 to $50 - and heavy readers, 80% of them
men, though specific products were designed to appeal to women (such
as Plundered Hearts and the mysteries) and to children (Stu Galley
adapted the Seastalker parser to children's sentence structures, observed
during testing). The work force had grown fast (1981, two; 1982, four;
1983, twenty; 1984, fifty; 1985, one hundred) but was increasingly
preoccupied with managing itself and with Infocom's one business
product, the database Cornerstone (1986). It was intended to capitalise
on Infocom's expertise in virtual machines, which allowed large
programs - adventure games - to run on a variety of different designs of
small computer: but this was not the strength in 1986 that it would have
been in 1982, since the IBM PC had grown in capacity and cornered the
business market, most of the rival manufacturers having gone bust in
1983-4. Cornerstone sold 10,000 but only after a price reduction from
$495 to $100, and by then Infocom had turned the corner into loss. In
June 1986 Activision had bought Infocom, in what amounted to an
agreed merger, for stock valued at around $8 million: at about five years'
gross income, this was a high price, or would have been if the stock had
in fact been worth that. Infocom still had fifteen titles ahead, including a
few of its best, but disputes over branding, marketing and the division of
profits and losses produced disquiet, while Activision had its own
travails. By 1988, though, market conditions would have obliged any
management to salvage the Infocom brand-names but abandon text for
largely graphical games. The company now called Activision (there was
a second, happier merger) has duly done this, but a pleasing footnote is
that its omnibus 1990s reissues of the text games achieved unexpectedly
high sales."

> Activision is still in place today, and they have made a 3D graphical
> version of Zork.

Three, at least.

> Zork was originally a series of very popular text
> adventures revolving around a dungeon. However, let's step back a bit. In
> its height, Infocom wrote an assembler language that when compiled made a
> game file called a z-code file. They patented it.

Is that so? I'm not aware of any patent. I rather suspect that such
a patent ought to have fallen foul of prior art from Pascal P-code, but
of course U.S. patent courts have still only barely learned the first
thing about computing, so who knows.

Also, "in its height" is wrong. Z-code was invented in 1979 when
Infocom had existed for about a week and employed zero people: its
sales figures were, I think, 1. (A tape of a mainframe version of
Zork.)

> The z-code file was a very
> compressed format because hard drive space was expensive.

Hard drive space was non-existent: floppy drive space was expensive.

> You would open
> z-code files with an interpreter which then ran the game.

A detail, but they were of course seamlessly made into a single
program as far as the user was concerned.

> When Infocom
> merged with Activision, the z-code file was a thing of the past

Not so. In 1987-9 they released many of their better works, using
Z-code, so it certainly wasn't a thing of the past.

> and they let
> the patent expire.

Again, please give references: it's news to me.

> Then, a clever computer programmer

ahem, an idle maths PhD student who ought to have been worrying
more about perturbations of the Chern-Simons equations on a
three-manifold with boundary...

> in the United Kingdom
> named Graham Nelson reverse engineered the format

No, the hard work was all done by a great many other people,
including Mark Howells, Mike Threepoint and the InfoTaskForce
group. I really contributed very little to the decipherment.

> and using a Unix C
> language compiler building tool, awk, created a language called Inform and a
> compiler as well.

At no time have I ever used "awk" for anything. Inform has never
used any compiler-building tool: its present version is a 1-pass
compiler optimised by hand for speed and low memory consumption
(because these were major issues circa 1995, when home computers
were about five times smaller and slower than they are today).

> He decided to make the tool free. Others started building
> the z-code interpreters

Z-code interpreters existed long before Inform did: in particular
"Zip" and "InfoTaskForce" interpreters certainly did, and they
weren't the only ones, though they were the most complete.

--
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom


Magnus Olsson

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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In article <ant0319110b0M+4%@gnelson.demon.co.uk>,

And Graham did not use Unix, but Acorn's RiscOS, and awk is definitely
not a compiler building tool, but a programming language useful for
processing tabular data files and similarly organized data.

I'm a bit amazed at the original poster, who boldly presents a long
"history" of Infocom where he manages to get more or less every
basic fact wrong, especially since there are a number of reliable
and eminently readable such histories available on the net.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------

David Cornelson

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Jan 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/3/00
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:84r5cf$jqq$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se...
> And Graham did not use Unix, but Acorn's RiscOS, and awk is definitely
> not a compiler building tool, but a programming language useful for
> processing tabular data files and similarly organized data.
>
> I'm a bit amazed at the original poster, who boldly presents a long
> "history" of Infocom where he manages to get more or less every
> basic fact wrong, especially since there are a number of reliable
> and eminently readable such histories available on the net.

But he _is_ a happy poster and that makes all the difference. Besides,
without his error-filled posting, we wouldn't have gotten the as-usual dry,
ahem, retort from Mr. Nelson.

Jarb

Volker Lanz

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Jan 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/4/00
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> You know how VH1 does that "Where Are They Now?" special? You know the
> story -- some rock star is now a dentist in San Diego or washes dishes in
> Phoenix. Someone should do one in RAIF to show where the Infocom people
> turned up.

Well, just they other day you found out where Mike Berlyn is. Buy a game by
Legend Entertainment and you'll maybe learn more. Or rent a copy of the
(excellent) PSX game Syphon Filter. That should give you another hint about
someone important. Or watch TV. Lots of video editing done by a company
called Avid. Someone else ended up there. And the list goes on and on.

They're EVERYWHERE!

And they're gonna get you!

;-))

- v


Kevin Forchione

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Jan 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/4/00
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"Graham Nelson" <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:ant0319110b0M+4%@gnelson.demon.co.uk...
<snip>

Thanks Graham. Not to be too cruel, but the original poster's history
reminded me of the scene in Woody Allen's Sleeper where Melish is handed
objects for explanation!

--Kevin

Mike Arnautov

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Jan 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/4/00
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Philip Goetz <pgo...@i-a-i.com> wrote:

>Would people pay for text adventures? The question has never been put to
>the public since 1985. I think the answer is yes, if they were marketed
>correctly. Obviously you can't put them on the shelves in Electronics

>Boutique
>and expect them to move, since their audience is 95% testosterone-crazed
>adolescent males.

Just curious... Is that assessment of the audience based on any
evidence?

--
Mike Arnautov | From the heart
http://www.mipmip.demon.co.uk/mipmip.html | of the sweet peony,
mailto:m...@mipmip.demon.co-antispam-uk | a drunken bee.
Replace -antispam- with a single dot. | Basho

Stephen Granade

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Jan 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/4/00
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Mike Arnautov <m...@mipmip.demon-co-antispam-uk> writes:

> Philip Goetz <pgo...@i-a-i.com> wrote:
>
> >Would people pay for text adventures? The question has never been put to
> >the public since 1985. I think the answer is yes, if they were marketed
> >correctly. Obviously you can't put them on the shelves in Electronics
> >Boutique
> >and expect them to move, since their audience is 95% testosterone-crazed
> >adolescent males.
>
> Just curious... Is that assessment of the audience based on any
> evidence?

That's certainly a common perception, but it bears only a slight
resemblance to reality. Every year the Interactive Digital Software
Association surveys U.S. households regarding computer and console
game playing habits. According to their latest survey, about 43% of PC
gamers and 35% of console gamers are women; 54% of frequent players of
console games and 69% of frequent players of PC games were reported to
be of age 18 or older.

The full text of the IDSA's findings is available at
http://www.idsa.com/releases/consumerusage99.html.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About.com's IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com

Philip Goetz

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Jan 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/5/00
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Stephen Granade <sgra...@lepton.phy.duke.edu> wrote in message
news:jd90258...@lepton.phy.duke.edu...

> Mike Arnautov <m...@mipmip.demon-co-antispam-uk> writes:
>
> > Philip Goetz <pgo...@i-a-i.com> wrote:
> >
> > >Would people pay for text adventures? The question has never been put
to
> > >the public since 1985. I think the answer is yes, if they were
marketed
> > >correctly. Obviously you can't put them on the shelves in Electronics
> > >Boutique
> > >and expect them to move, since their audience is 95%
testosterone-crazed
> > >adolescent males.
> >
> > Just curious... Is that assessment of the audience based on any
> > evidence?
>
> That's certainly a common perception, but it bears only a slight
> resemblance to reality. Every year the Interactive Digital Software
> Association surveys U.S. households regarding computer and console
> game playing habits. According to their latest survey, about 43% of PC
> gamers and 35% of console gamers are women; 54% of frequent players of
> console games and 69% of frequent players of PC games were reported to
> be of age 18 or older.

I was indulging in hyperbole. Yes, those are the IDSA figures. However,
IMHO they are far from reality. If you go online to Heat.net or Battle.net
and try to play an online game, you will look long and hard before finding
anybody over the age of 20, and I've never met any female gamer online
that I was aware of. And if you walk into a video game store you will find
that 90% of the titles are clones of Quake or Warcraft. I went into
Electronics Boutique before Christmas and asked to see some nonviolent
PC games; the clerk couldn't find any for me.

There are issues with how you define a "gamer" or a "frequent player".
About 50% of people who play on MUSHes are female, but MUSHes are
not part of the commercial market. The big growth in computer gaming
recently has been in online games like Jeopardy, bingo, trivia games,
and online gambling, and in hunting simulations. Should all these things
be counted together as "computer games"? There are also problems with
identifying who a game was actually bought for; most games that kids play
were bought for them by their parents.

Anyway, all you have to do is look through a gaming magazine or a gaming
sight, looking for the intelligent, insightful games and not finding them,
and you will see what I mean.

Phil


Mike Arnautov

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Jan 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/5/00
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Stephen Granade <sgra...@lepton.phy.duke.edu> wrote:

>> Just curious... Is that assessment of the audience based on any
>> evidence?
>
>That's certainly a common perception, but it bears only a slight
>resemblance to reality.

I am reassured to hear that. :-) It certainly doesn't square with the
trickle of mails I've been getting over the years, (Though admittedly
the most memorable one did come from an adrenaline-addicted Doom/Quake
player who had been astonished to discover that text adventuring freed
his imagination! :-)

>Every year the Interactive Digital Software
>Association surveys U.S. households regarding computer and console
>game playing habits.

Of course, those are generic playing figures, and as you rightly point
out they somewhat disagree with the popular perceptions. But I was
querying the statement about specifically "text adventure" audience. It
seems intuitively obvious that this audience need not fit the generic
profile.

Mike Arnautov

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Jan 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/5/00
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Philip Goetz <pgo...@i-a-i.com> wrote:

>I was indulging in hyperbole.

Ah... OK. It's just that you seemed to be talking specifically about
"text adventures", so I was curious whether any vague figures existed in
that direction. As already noted, my (very anecdotal) evidence seems to
suggest a rather different audience, but that may well be skewed by the
nature of the game.

Stephen Granade

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Jan 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/5/00
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"Philip Goetz" <pgo...@i-a-i.com> writes:

> Stephen Granade <sgra...@lepton.phy.duke.edu> wrote in message
> news:jd90258...@lepton.phy.duke.edu...
> > Mike Arnautov <m...@mipmip.demon-co-antispam-uk> writes:
> >
> > > Philip Goetz <pgo...@i-a-i.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > >Would people pay for text adventures? The question has never been put
> to
> > > >the public since 1985. I think the answer is yes, if they were
> marketed
> > > >correctly. Obviously you can't put them on the shelves in Electronics
> > > >Boutique
> > > >and expect them to move, since their audience is 95%
> testosterone-crazed
> > > >adolescent males.
> > >

> > > Just curious... Is that assessment of the audience based on any
> > > evidence?
> >
> > That's certainly a common perception, but it bears only a slight

> > resemblance to reality. Every year the Interactive Digital Software


> > Association surveys U.S. households regarding computer and console

> > game playing habits. According to their latest survey, about 43% of PC
> > gamers and 35% of console gamers are women; 54% of frequent players of
> > console games and 69% of frequent players of PC games were reported to
> > be of age 18 or older.
>

> I was indulging in hyperbole.

And I was answering Mike.

> Yes, those are the IDSA figures. However,
> IMHO they are far from reality. If you go online to Heat.net or Battle.net
> and try to play an online game, you will look long and hard before finding
> anybody over the age of 20, and I've never met any female gamer online
> that I was aware of.

They certainly exist -- one of the better-known Quake clans is the
all-female Clan PMS. There's even an entire web ring devoted to female
Quake players.

> And if you walk into a video game store you will find
> that 90% of the titles are clones of Quake or Warcraft. I went into
> Electronics Boutique before Christmas and asked to see some nonviolent
> PC games; the clerk couldn't find any for me.

This doesn't mean, though, that women aren't playing such games.

> There are issues with how you define a "gamer" or a "frequent player".
> About 50% of people who play on MUSHes are female, but MUSHes are
> not part of the commercial market.

You can only be counted as a gamer if you play commercial computer
games? If we assume that and then throw in the requirement that only
"real gamers," i.e. hard-core live-for-computer-games gamers, be
counted, I suspect we can get an arbitrarily small figure for the
percentage of women players.

> There are also problems with
> identifying who a game was actually bought for; most games that kids play
> were bought for them by their parents.

IDSA evidently makes an effort to distinguish between the purchasers
and the players in their survey, since they talk about the percentage
of adults who buy games as opposed to the percentage of adults who
play them.

> Anyway, all you have to do is look through a gaming magazine or a gaming
> sight, looking for the intelligent, insightful games and not finding them,
> and you will see what I mean.

If what you mean is that there are a lot of games, magazines, and web
sites that pander to a male adolescent demographic, then I'll
agree. Otherwise, it's like reading Maxim to get a feel for the
overall market for appliances.

John Hill

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Jan 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/6/00
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Graham Nelson wrote:
>
> In article <RuLb4.9286$ok.1...@news3.mco>, Happy Poster
> <URL:mailto:ha...@poster.org> wrote:

> > its height, Infocom wrote an assembler language that when compiled
> > made a game file called a z-code file. They patented it.
>
> Is that so? I'm not aware of any patent. I rather suspect that such
> a patent ought to have fallen foul of prior art from Pascal P-code,
> but of course U.S. patent courts have still only barely learned the
> first thing about computing, so who knows.

(snip)

> > and they let
> > the patent expire.
>
> Again, please give references: it's news to me.

Activision has given tacit(?) support to this community in recent years,
so I wouldn't expect anyone to get sued at this late date.
Still, I've often wondered about the legal status of the z-machine.
I guess I'm still curious, and now confused.
It is my sincere hope that this question has no practical consequence.
Jah love.

John Hill

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Jan 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/6/00
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Charybdis wrote:

> I've seen tests of IF in bookstores/airports on occasion priced about the
> same as a paperback, for businessfolk and so forth to play on laptops.
> Often they've done pretty well - but the experiments always seem to be
> cancelled due to lack of new titles.

I'm a little surprised I haven't seen this. Oh wait, "tests."
Do you recall any game titles or company names that I could search for?
Thanks.

Charybdis

unread,
Jan 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/6/00
to
> I'm a little surprised I haven't seen this. Oh wait, "tests."
> Do you recall any game titles or company names that I could search for?
> Thanks.

No - all the ones I'm aware of have been individuals as opposed to
companies.

- Richard

John Hill

unread,
Jan 6, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/6/00
to
Charybdis wrote:

> No - all the ones I'm aware of have been individuals as opposed to
> companies.
>
> - Richard

Maybe I should burn a bunch of CDs, put on my Moonie geddup and head
down to the airport. Or maybe I should finish my game first.

Charybdis

unread,
Jan 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/7/00
to
> Maybe I should burn a bunch of CDs, put on my Moonie geddup and head
> down to the airport. Or maybe I should finish my game first.

Nah, just claim that it's the latest game from Activision. Release a patch
which contains the story, parser and tech support details :-)

- Richard

Matthew T. Russotto

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Jan 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/7/00
to
In article <38744B...@fuse.net>, John Hill <john...@fuse.net> wrote:

}Graham Nelson wrote:
}>
}> In article <RuLb4.9286$ok.1...@news3.mco>, Happy Poster
}> <URL:mailto:ha...@poster.org> wrote:
}
}> > its height, Infocom wrote an assembler language that when compiled
}> > made a game file called a z-code file. They patented it.
}>
}> Is that so? I'm not aware of any patent. I rather suspect that such
}> a patent ought to have fallen foul of prior art from Pascal P-code,
}> but of course U.S. patent courts have still only barely learned the
}> first thing about computing, so who knows.
}
}(snip)

}
}> > and they let
}> > the patent expire.
}>
}> Again, please give references: it's news to me.
}
}Activision has given tacit(?) support to this community in recent years,
}so I wouldn't expect anyone to get sued at this late date.

I'm pretty certain there's no patent on the Z-Machine. Check your old
Infocom boxes and see if there's a patent number anywhere on them.
The Z-Machine was invented long before the stupid and nasty practice
of software patenting came into vogue.

I think it'd be expired by now, anyway.

If, say, Unisys, bought Activision (heaven forbid!) and they sic'ed
their lawyers on us, there could be a copyright case, given that none
of the current intepreters are "clean room" implementations, but such
a case would almost certainly fail on the grounds that the code of the
portable machines simply isn't even close to similar to the code of
the Infocom Z-machines.

Philip Goetz

unread,
Jan 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/11/00
to
> > Anyway, all you have to do is look through a gaming magazine or a gaming
> > sight, looking for the intelligent, insightful games and not finding
them,
> > and you will see what I mean.
>
> If what you mean is that there are a lot of games, magazines, and web
> sites that pander to a male adolescent demographic, then I'll
> agree. Otherwise, it's like reading Maxim to get a feel for the
> overall market for appliances.
>
> Stephen

Something like that, yes. The standalone PC and console computer gaming
market today is still dominated by the adolescent male mindset, if not
strictly the adolescent male demographic.

Phil


Gene Wirchenko

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Jan 12, 2000, 3:00:00 AM1/12/00
to
"Philip Goetz" <pgo...@i-a-i.com> wrote:

A nice, clear statement. (See other thread to appreciate this
statement.)

I agree. It isn't all adolescent males though I find it hard to
differentiate between those that would be interested in these sorts of
games and those who wouldn't.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

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