Read the source code for every classic Infocom text-adventure game!

Jason Scott has made the source available for every one of Infocom's classic and genre-defining text adventure games (previously) for the Apple ][+ and its successors, posting it to Github under the historicalsource account. Read the rest

The history of a Zorklike programming interpreter is a tale of language, art, code and literature

The heroic age of text adventure games was dominated by Zork and Zorkalikes, many from the games studio Infocom; the text adventures' fortunes sagged when improvements in computer graphics lowered the average gamer's age, and then rose again when BBSes carved new spaces for text-based play. Read the rest

Zork machine implemented in hardware

The venerable Infocom text-adventure game Zork spawned the Infocom Z-Machine V3, a virtual machine that could run "programs" (games) from the commercial to the hobbyist, including "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall and Curses." Read the rest

Wikipedia as a Zork-style text-adventure

Kevan Davis's Wikitext is an incredibly clever mashup of Wikipedia and Infocom-style text adventure games: starting with a random Wikipedia entry, it gives you the article summary, an 8-bit-ified version of the main photo, and "directions" to the articles referenced by the one you've landed on. (via Waxy) Read the rest

Great Richard Corben cover for a great Fredric Brown SF anthology

In the 1970s I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club. Whoever the art director was at the time, they were producing some excellent covers. I still have the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom novels with Frank Frazetta covers and illustrations, but I somehow lost The Best of Fredric Brown (1976) with this Richard Corben illustration of a Yeti embracing an explorer. I probably let a friend borrow it, and it never made its way back to me. I could buy a used copy on Amazon for a few bucks, but I already have Kindles of his short stories.

One of my favorite Brown stories didn't appear in this anthology. It's called "The House." It's just 3 page long. Here's a PDF scan from the August 1960 issue of Fantastic Science Fiction Stories. It reminds me of descriptions in an Infocom text adventure. Here's an essay about the story.



Great 1950s horror sci-fi novel, The Mind Thing, now on Kindle

Fredric Brown's "The Fabulous Clipjoint" is an e-book

I was pleased to find Read the rest

Ancient adventure texts at last unearthed

Well, this is wonderful—Jason Scott, creator of the GET LAMP documentary and tireless historian in the service of games, is releasing a huge trove of scans from the archives of Infocom veteran Steve Meretzky.

Infocom, of course, was a leading developer of mysterious and beautifully-written computer text adventure games in the 1980s. Meretzky's carefully-kept notes—over 9000 scans, says Scott—document numerous aspects, from design to business, of what was widely considered the company's golden age, in which it produced famous games like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, and the remarkable, pioneering A Mind Forever Voyaging, written and made by Meretzky himself, among others.

Jason Scott writes of these documents, which will live at The Infocom Cabinet:

For someone involved in game design, this is priceless work. Unfettered by the crushing schedules and indie limits of the current industry, the designers at Infocom (including Steve, but not limited to him by any means) were able to really explore what made games so much fun, where the medium could go, and what choices could be made. It’s all here.

One of the challenges in the video game space is that design knowledge is often prized tightly behind the doors of competitive game companies, and then lost when the tides of business change or studios close their doors. Software and hardware age, and works younger than a decade can be fundamentally impossible to access. The work of archivists like Scott is often unsung but essential to the memory of the medium, and his TEXTFILES.COM Read the rest

A chance to give back to a quirky, legendary game developer

I always say I feel as if I was raised by the adventure game creators of the 1980s: Wry, cryptic guys and gals who built impossible caves, surreal worlds and kingly empires for me to play in. They feel like family I've never met. Today, let me tell you a little bit about Michael Berlyn. Read the rest

You can play the Hitchhiker's Guide game right now

Yesterday, March 11, was Douglas Adams' birthday. Did you know you can celebrate by playing the 1984 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game in your browser at work this instant?

Although games made with a text parser -- you know, where you type commands like TURN ON LIGHT or LOOK IN POCKET or S to travel "south" through described space -- are increasingly a lost art, the Hitchhiker's Guide game, made by Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, was radically accessible for its time. The game playfully teaches you how to succeed at its opening circumstance by letting you die repeatedly in ways that quickly acclimate you to its sense of time, space, and humor.

The frustrating thing (or the beautiful thing, if you're like me) about old text games is the limitations of what they can understand. But the Hitchhiker's Guide game was downright literary for its time, empathetic to uncommon commands, skilled at understanding what the player wanted to do. It holds up well even today.

Give it a try. Maybe help each other out in the comments?

You can also emulate it a little more neatly with help from this crucial abandonware repository and an emulator like DOXBox or similar. Read the rest

Text-adventure interview with Zork co-creator

Zork co-creators Marc Blank and Dave Lebling are to be awarded the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Pioneer Award, a prestigious prize, and a well-deserved one. It's amazing to think of Zork's creators as just a couple of guys who're still kicking around, doing stuff -- like learning that the authors of Gilgamesh are living down the street and sometimes doing speeches at publishing industry banquets. Wired interviewed Dave Lebling and another Infocom designer for their piece on the story, and have presented the resulting interview as a text-adventure game you have to play in order to read.

Text Adventure: Zork Creators Honored With Pioneer Award [Chris Kohler/Wired] Read the rest

Hitchhiker's Guide tattoos

Love these (sadly unattributed) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tattoos. Illustrating the flowerpot/whale scene is particularly poignant, as it is perhaps the most humorously existential moment in one of the great existential comedies of all time.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Tattoo

(via Forbidden Planet)

  Science fiction inspired tees from Atomic Tarantula - Boing Boing Knuckle tattoo blog - Boing Boing Science tattoos - Boing Boing Black light tattoo of a skeleton Boing Boing Buy the typewriter on which Douglas Adams wrote Hitchhiker's Guide ... Secret history of Infocom's abortive sequel to The Hitchhikers ... Read the rest

Secret history of Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic game

In a Metafilter discussion of Starship Titanic, a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy spin-off game, Yoz Grahame, who was Douglas Adam's sysadmin and technology dogsbody, pops up with some of the incredible, hilarious backstory behind the venture.

When we created the initial fake-brochure site, we thought it'd be a fantastic laugh if the fictional shipbuilders had their own intranet. If you filled in the form on the brochure site (specifying your name, email address and favourite species of frog) we followed the occasional mail about the game. Then, one day, folks got a mail from the intranet admin, "Chris Stevedave", giving folks the link to the intranet and the current password, which was hurriedly followed by a second mail apologising for the accidental mail leakage and urging customers not to click the link, then a third email noting that Chris Stevedave had been demoted to Bilge Emptier Third-Class. It worked fantastically (so fantastically that some people really did send the emails back, reassuring us that they hadn't looked at the site) everyone poured into the Starlight Lines intranet.

Have a wander around the intranet. Look at the wireframes, enjoy the status reports and play with the currency calculator.

Then go look in the forum.

The idea was to present a read-only Senior Management forum in which you'd see some of the key backstory characters getting on each others' nerves. But we figured there should probably be a writeable forum for the lower-level employees, so I spent half a day hacking up a stupidly basic forum system and forgot all about it.

Read the rest

Doctor Who vs Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Andrew Orton's "Doctor Who: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Daleks (The Peter Jones-y Edit)" mashes up the BBC Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy classic TV series with a Tom "the best Doctor Who" Baker encounter with the Daleks.

Mike Richards adds, "An utterly magnificent addition to the only reference book anyone needs. Animated in the same style as the 1980s BBC TV adaptation with a spookily accurate VoiceOver in the style of the late Peter Jones."

The Hitchhiker's Guide Reminds You Not to Panic if You Meet a Dalek

(Thanks, Mike!)

Douglas Adams's 1990 BBC doc on hypertext, with Tom Baker - Boing ... Dr. Who's "regeneration" meant to be like bad acid trip Kids' Dalek video Retro: Doctor Who advertises Prime Computer BBC has Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy RIP Geoffrey Perkins of Hitchhikers' Guide and Father Ted - Boing ... Don't Panic: DIY portable Wikipedia as Hitchhiker's Guide to the ... Read the rest

Multiplayer Zork coming to your browser -- Boing Boing Offworld

Now here's a nice bit of news from Offworld: Zork's going to be an MMO!

Today's guardedly optimistic revival: casual MMO developer Jolt (they of the recent Google Maps enhanced long-distance trucker MMO Trukz [which friend of Offworld Mathew Kumar recently detailed]) have announced a revival of Infocom's foundational text adventure Zork as a browser-based casual MMO.

Though they haven't yet detailed how the game itself will operate, they have said Legends of Zork will provide a persistent world for all its players, who will take the role of a "laid-off salesman and part-time loot-gatherer, as he explores the Great Underground Empire."

Jolt reviving Zork as browser-MMO,

Discuss this on Offworld


Video for Frontalot's nerdcore song about Zork - Boing Boing Zork parody on a wiki - Boing Boing Play Zork by phone - Boing Boing If Quake were Zork - Boing Boing Someone has implemented Zork in - Boing Boing Read the rest

Secret history of Infocom's abortive sequel to The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy text adventure, Milliways

Andy Baio's been slipped a hard drive containing the whole network share from Infocom, creators of the legendary text-adventure game Zork and The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy; he's mining the drive's many treasures and today he's published a long account of the abortivr Milliways game, a sequel to H2G2 set in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe:

1. It seems natural to include a scene in the restaurant, Milliways. Could be a bit of fun: strange parties, unctuous compere, self-introducing food. Perhaps there's an object there that you need to get. (It could be a SPORK, a spoon with sort of forky tines on the end. Or would that be a FOON?) It could be a vehicle from the car park -- Marvin has the keys. If you manage to re-enter Milliways at another time (oops! on another occasion), you will not meet yourself, "because of the embarrassment that usually causes." What about a visit to the Big Bang Burger Bar?

2. Given point 1, you must have a means (or several meanses) of time travel. In fact time travel instead of space travel could be the primary method of changing scene. In the original, the party got to Milliways by accident: in the radio version, a "hyperspatial field generator" overheated; in the book version, Zaphod's great-granddaddy screwed up the works of Eddie, the Heart of Gold computer. Maybe your trip to Milliways would require info from an anti-piracy device in the game package. Once at the restaurant, you can steal a timeship and go anywhen you want.

Read the rest

Maze of twisty little passages, all alike is REAL!

Will Crowther's classic computer game "Colossal Cave Adventure" created the text-adventure game genre -- and immortalized a vision of cave-complexes that went on to inform Zork and its imitators, as well as countless D&D campaings and MMORPGs. Turns out that cave-complex is real -- it's modelled on Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, and it really has a "maze of twisty little passages, all alike."

Because so little primary historical work has been done on the classic text computer game "Colossal Cave Adventure", academic and popular references to it frequently perpetuate inaccuracies. "Adventure" was the first in a series of text-based games ("interactive fiction") that emphasize exploring, puzzles, and story, typically in a fantasy setting; these games had a significant cultural impact in the late 1970s and a significant commercial presence in the early 1980s. Will Crowther based his program on a real cave in Kentucky; Don Woods expanded this version significantly. The expanded work has been examined as an occasion for narrative encounters (Buckles 1985) and as an aesthetic masterpiece of logic and utility (Knuth 1998); however, previous attempts to assess the significance of "Adventure" remain incomplete without access to Crowther's original source code and Crowther's original source cave. Accordingly, this paper analyzes previously unpublished files recovered from a backup of Woods's student account at Stanford, and documents an excursion to the real Colossal Cave in Kentucky in 2005. In addition, new interviews with Crowther, Woods, and their associates (particularly members of Crowther's family) provide new insights on the precise nature of Woods's significant contributions.

Read the rest

Play Infocom Hitchhiker's text adventure by IM

Ben Burry has hooked up a Jabber bot to a copy of the old Infocom Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game. Now you can play H2G2 over IM -- or over phone, if you have an IM-to-SMS gateway running!


(via Games * Design * Art * Culture) Read the rest

Indian infocomic: Yoga At Home

Begging for a remix. I also like this frame where the dude gets mad at the other dude.

BoingBoing reader Avi Solomon scanned this odd infocomic brochure from India, and explains:

The Yoga Institute in Santa Cruz, Mumbai is unique in catering mainly to middle-class Indians who usually have a family and face the pressures of urban life. This 1997 comic book, produced by the institute in the style of popular indian comics of the period, captures the essence of 'householder yoga', giving an idea of how powerful spiritual practices can shape the ethos of an 'ideal' Indian family.

Link Read the rest

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