- Related Games:
Before we had moving picture games, we had text games. Lovingly referred to as “text adventures,” these games were essentially a digital choose-your-own-adventure book. Infocom, a software company from Massachusets, made a ton of them. Games like Zork and Planetfall are some of the most popular, though the group also made a game version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, you can now discover the best for yourself, as the source code for every Infocom text adventure is now online.
User “historicalsource” uploaded the games onto GitHub. From there, anybody can download and even add onto the adventures. Behind historicalsource is one Jason Scott, founder of textfiles.com. Here, Scott preserves a piece of internet history by publishing old text files written in ASCII code. For those unaware, ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Essentially, this is what the internet was before structure and design came to ruin it all. Imagine the terminals in Bethesda’s Fallout games and you have a pretty good idea.
These specific games were written in Zork Implementation Language (ZIL), which is hard to understand. Fortunately, Scott has a link on Twitter to help you through the slog.
I've uploaded the entirety of source code of all Infocom text adventures/interactive fiction to Github. https://t.co/p0K8MRKoTN If you don't understand ZIL, and you probably don't, read this instruction manual. https://t.co/H8nl1fxWcv
— Jason Scott (@textfiles) April 16, 2019
Believe it or not, Infocom was acquired by Activision in 1986. But, the company shut them down soon after in 1989. Activision then left the name in 2002. However, Infocom’s work made text adventures quite popular for a time. In fact, these games are still going now. Companies like Twine and Inkle exist for this very reason. Some of their titles even have pictures now. Modern technology!
If you’re itching for this type of game but can’t stomach the lack of anything but text, Telltale’s titles are sort of a modern take. We probably won’t see any official Infocom games anytime soon, however. One game developer, Bob Bates, tried to buy the rights to Infocom but couldn’t due to a company behind the infocom.xyz domain, who owns the rights, it seems. Interestingly, that site is acting as a modern iteration of Infocom, but only has two games available.