If you’re looking for a bit of old-school text adventure nostalgia, you can play Zork (and many other classic text adventures) on the Raspberry Pi. Some of my earliest memories were of playing text adventure games on the clicky-clacky keyboard of the BBC Micro – in particular Twin Kingdom which featured early AI characters who would come and annoy you.
Zork was one of the original adventure games, written back in the 70s by a team who went on to form a company called Infocom, creator of numerous computer game hits of the 80s and 90s. It was an extension of the crystal cave adventure game, written for the colossal PDP10 computer.
Zork spawned numerous sequels, and arguably inspired a whole genre of ‘interactive fiction’. Today there are many interactive fiction titles you can download and play, and it’s even possible to create your own using the Inform programming language.
You can play Zork using a piece of software called Frotz – this is a ‘Z-Machine’ (the Z referring to Zork) which compiles and plays Z-code or story files. The beauty of the Z-machine approach is that the same story files can be played on almost any computer.
To get started you can download Zork 1-3 for free from the Infocom site here. Just download the zip files and extract them to a directory on your home folder.
And to play on the Raspberry Pi, enter the terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install frotz
To download Frotz, then once you’ve downloaded some inform files you can start them with the command:
and that’s it!
Frotz is fairly self explanatory, you can save and restore game files, and use all the usual ‘look at mailbox’ ‘talk to dwarf’ ‘take key’ type commands.
Tip: if you’re using the X desktop you can navigate to the folder containing the Zork1.dat file by using the file manager and selecting open this folder in the terminal from the menu. This saves typing the cd/long/directory/structure stuff.
If you get stuck there’s a map of the Zork empire from 1979 here.
Next step is to create a Raspberry Pi text adventure game, perhaps along the lines of ‘Waiting for Pi?’