Retroist Podcast – Episode 094 – Zork

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On today’s show we talk all about the groundbreaking text adventure game, Zork. We talk about how it was made, the people behind it, how to play and much much more. For those with Java on their computer, who have never played Zork or who just want a refresher, I suggest you check out the aptly titled website, Play Infocom Adventures Online.

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If you have any suggestions for topics you would like for me to cover in the future, email them to me at retroist@retroist.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/retroist and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/retroist.

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12 Responses to Retroist Podcast – Episode 094 – Zork

  1. TexasDevin says:

    YES! I grew up playing Infocom games. This podcast is going to rock!

  2. Kris Knives says:

    Hmm I never actually played any pure text adventure games. I always was playing things like Kings Quest and what not. I did play Return To Zork but that was well past the point of them being pure text. I can totally understand why that might appeal but I can hardly imagine staring for hours at those old screens like that. Reading to much on a computer really strains my eyes. Nice show, I enjoyed it.

  3. The Doc says:

    Zork really is an acquired taste. Because there were no graphics, it was simply you, your keyboard, and your imagination. But there is the true genius with all of the old Infocom games, and most great horror film – your imagination will always build things for you much more vividly than any computer graphics ever will. I agree with you that when the Zork games went graphical, it was a major let down.

    Ask any two people who played any of the Zork games what a grue looked like and you will always get totally different answers because it was up to the person what they looked like.

    The puzzles in most text adventures are the very reason why so few of them have ever been fully completed! These puzzles are some of the hardest you are likely to ever come up against. Making them even more difficult was the limited parser. I was constantly slamming my fists into the keyboard when I would type in something that seemed so obvious to me, but the stupid parser would say “I don’t know how to do that”.

    So when you were able to defeat some of the puzzles it truly felt like you had done something. I very rarely get that feeling when playing today’s games. Also lacking in today’s games is truly great storytelling, but that is what really drove people to text adventures. I truly miss how these Zork games pulled you into their world.

  4. The Retroist says:

    Well said The Doc, well said!

  5. Zork is definitely a top 10 game for me. Playing it in the dark added to its addictiveness. The world of it was extra creepy playing it that way.

    Have you guys seen this? Someone hacked an electric typewriter so you could play Zork on it.

    http://vimeo.com/16311288

  6. robohara says:

    I have written a couple of text adventures and let me tell you, a LOT of work went into those early ones! I think for the most part, text adventures fall under the “you had to be there” umbrella. Some of us who experienced them the first time around still enjoy them, but it’s hard to get kids who grew up with the PlayStation to give text adventures a second glance.

  7. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Great podcast.

    Played color console games in the living room, but when we got a C64, I got Suspended and Michael Crichton’s Amazon and moved to the bedroom with an old B&W telly so I could stare at that screen for as long as I needed without interference.

    Good, eye-aching, times.

  8. jjb1011jjb says:

    i just got a c64 and zork has had the honor of being the first game i would ever play

    its fun but its hard i am a former role playing gamer and fighting that troll took me back to my rpg days

    great podcast

  9. Drahken says:

    There’s still a thriving (somewhat underground) community for this type of stuff. You can get interpretors for modern computers, then download the game files & play them. There are also publishing programs for people who want to write their own, and archives of such self-published/homebrew games.

  10. Hi there. Just discovered the podcast and the website while researching for Zork on the web. I never actually played until just yesterday. Got confess that reading “Ready Player One” was what made me go after Zork. And I really liked it.

    Congrats, mate. You gained a follower and a listener. Really liked this episode, specially your “original” ads.

    Btw, I recently discovered you can play Zork right on the broswer here:
    http://thcnet.net/zork/index.php

  11. Dorothy says:

    I was just out of high school when Zork was released. My brother introduced me to this game. We used to play it together and try to solve the puzzles. My brother, who is six years older than me, was mad and somewhat disgusted with himself when I solved something he couldn’t. Good times when you can out play your older brother.

  12. The Retroist says:

    Triumph over an older sibling! That is something I can get behind.

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