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Subject: rec.games.int-fiction FAQ 1/3

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:19 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: games/interactive-fiction
All FAQs posted in: rec.games.int-fiction, rec.arts.int-fiction, comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.adventure, comp.sys.mac.games.adventure
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/part1 URL: http://bang.dhs.org/faq/ Maintainer: Stephen van Egmond <svanegmond@home.com> 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. > OPEN MAILBOX. READ LEAFLET Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet. (Taken) (1.1) Welcome to rec.games.int-fiction! This is the Frequently Asked Questions list for the group rec.games.int-fiction, 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.games.int-fiction * rec.arts.int-fiction * comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.adventure * comp.sys.mac.games.adventure * comp.sys.amiga.games * comp.sys.acorn.games * comp.os.os2.games * rec.answers * comp.answers * news.answers Contents: (1.1) Welcome to rec.games.int-fiction! (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 ftp.ifarchive.org 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 mailto:svanegmond@tinyplanet.ca. The most recent version is at http://bang.dhs.org/faq/ Throughout this file, there will be URL references to relevant files and web pages. Many files reside at ftp.ifarchive.org (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!" > PRAY Altar 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. > READ BOOK Commandment #12593 (1.2) The purpose of this group and some history of interactive fiction Here in the newsgroup rec.games.int-fiction 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 market. 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. > NORTH Temple 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. > READ INSCRIPTION (1.3) Other Usenet newsgroups discussing interactive fiction Many people make the mistake of assuming that rec.arts.int-fiction and rec.games.int-fiction 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. news:rec.arts.int-fiction 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), rec.arts.int-fiction is your group. ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/rec.arts.int-fiction/FAQ is the FAQ. Collected knowledge and archives are at http://bang.dhs.org/library/. news:comp.sys.amiga.games discusses all types of computer games for the Commodore Amiga computer, including IF games for that machine. news:comp.sys.mac.games has a similar charter, discussing games for the Apple Macintosh line of computers. news:comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.adventure discusses a subset of the topics covered in rec.games.int-ficton: 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 rec.games.mud hierarchy discusses MUD (multi-user dungeon) games. The rec.games.frp groups discuss fantasy role-playing games (not necessarily computer-based) such as Dungeons & Dragons. news:rec.games.roguelike.misc is for general discussion of games in the "Rogue" family (games that display an ASCII representation of a dungeon and its contents). news:rec.games.roguelike.announce 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. > BLORPLE WEST WALL Abruptly, your surroundings shift. Nondescript Room This is a drab, nondescript room. The only exit leads south. > SOUTH Enchanters' Retreat Belboz is meditating here. > BELBOZ, HELLO "Hello." Belboz doesn't seem pleased to see you. > ASK BELBOZ FOR A HINT 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 ftp.ifarchive.org there are numerous hint files and walkthroughs available. See question 1.6 for more information. If the game is old, http://groups.google.com/, 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? > >SPOILERS . >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 rec.games.int-fiction 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. > ASK BELBOZ ABOUT THE DUSTY SCROLL 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 ftp.ifarchive.org 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 ftp.ifarchive.org. It's a promotion for the subscription-only magazine. Everything is available at ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/magazines, and SPAG can be found at http://www.sparkynet.com/spag. Belboz looks at you expectantly. > FROTZ BELBOZ 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 to.... Maze This is part of a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. > PLUGH A hollow voice says: (1.6) The ftp.ifarchive.org IF archive and other Internet resources The interactive fiction archive site at ftp.ifarchive.org 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 ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/. Other mirror sites: * USA: http://www.ifarchive.org/ * USA: ftp://wuarchive.wustl.edu/doc/misc/if-archive/ * USA: http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/doc/misc/if-archive/ * USA: ftp://ftp.guetech.org/pub/guetech/if-archive/ * Finland: ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/mirrors/ftpg.dm.de/if-archive The other area where considerable information is available is through WWW. The known offerings: http://www.ifarchive.org/ A browsable hypertext index of the ftp.ifarchive.org archive. You can look through the file listings, click on a file name to download it. http://infodoc.plover.net/ 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 column." http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pete/Infocom/ 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 adventure. http://www.wurb.com/if/ A huge pile of game-reviews written by Carl Muckenhoupt with links to the files they're talking about, specific to ftp.ifarchive.org, and primarily the games/pc directory. http://www.ifcompetition.org/ 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. > HELLO SAILOR 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 comp.sources.games and comp.sources.misc. They're available from FTP sites archiving these groups, such as ftp.uu.net. 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 sumex-aim.stanford.edu, including Colossal Cave and Dungeon. [Unnkulian may be there too.] * Amiga IF games are available from any Aminet mirror site, such as ftp://ftp.wustl.edu 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. * ftp.ifarchive.org in the solutions/ and infocom/hints/ directories. * Walkthroughs for many popular IF games are available from ftp://ftp.uu.net/pub/games/solutions/. * The Invisiclues for all v3 to v5 Infocom games are available through the Infocom home page at http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pete/Infocom; these are derived from the Invisiclues stored at ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/hints/invisiclues/ Relevant mini-FAQs and information compilations: * ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/info/tolkien-games.list A list of computer games related to J.R.R.Tolkien's works. (Fredrik Ekman) * ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/info/fact-sheet.txt Games, authors, history, statistics, interpreters, and tools for Infocom games. (Paul David Doherty) * ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/infocom/info/gameinfo.txt Infocom game information table. (Paul D. Smith) * http://users.actrix.co.nz/stevgrif/howplay.htm - A succinct FAQ by Stephen Griffiths, tuned for Windows users who want to play TADS and Inform games, available in longer form at ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/info/playgame.FAQ * ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/infocom/how_to_play_these_games 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. > XYZZY Nothing happens. In the distance you hear a voice: (1.9) XYZZY? People frequently ask about the origins of XYZZY. From the Jargon file 3.2.0: :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 "Xyzzy!" "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!" 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 Maze 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. > KILL THIEF WITH SWORD 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 dead. **** You have died **** Press any key to continue ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Stephen van Egmond