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Archive-name: games/interactive-fiction/part1
Maintainer: Stephen van Egmond <>
Version: 1.6 - December 2000

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
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.

Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet.


  (1.1) Welcome to!
  This is the Frequently Asked Questions list for the group, 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.answers
    * comp.answers
    * news.answers

  (1.1) Welcome to!
  (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 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 The most recent
  version is at

  Throughout this file, there will be URL references to relevant files and
  web pages. Many files reside at (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!"

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.

Commandment #12593

  (1.2) The purpose of this group and some history of interactive fiction
  Here in the newsgroup 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

  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.

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.


  (1.3) Other Usenet newsgroups discussing interactive fiction
  Many people make the mistake of assuming that and 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. 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), is your group. is the FAQ.
  Collected knowledge and archives are at discusses all types of computer games for the
  Commodore Amiga computer, including IF games for that machine. has a similar charter, discussing games for the
  Apple Macintosh line of computers. discusses a subset of the topics
  covered in 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 hierarchy discusses MUD (multi-user dungeon) games.

  The groups discuss fantasy role-playing games (not
  necessarily computer-based) such as Dungeons & Dragons. is for general discussion of games in the
  "Rogue" family (games that display an ASCII representation of a dungeon
  and its contents). 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.

Abruptly, your surroundings shift.

Nondescript Room
This is a drab, nondescript room. The only exit leads south.

Enchanters' Retreat
Belboz is meditating here.

"Hello." Belboz doesn't seem pleased to see you.

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 there are numerous hint files and
  walkthroughs available. See question 1.6 for more information. If the
  game is old,, 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?

  >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 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.

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 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 It's a promotion for the subscription-only

  Everything is available at,
  and SPAG can be found at

Belboz looks at you expectantly.

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

This is part of a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

A hollow voice says:

  (1.6) The IF archive and other Internet resources
  The interactive fiction archive site at 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

  Other mirror sites:

    * USA:
    * USA:
    * USA:
    * USA:
    * Finland:

  The other area where considerable information is available is through
  WWW. The known offerings:
          A browsable hypertext index of the archive.
          You can look through the file listings, click on a file name to
          download it.
          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
          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
          A huge pile of game-reviews written by Carl Muckenhoupt with
          links to the files they're talking about, specific to
, and primarily the games/pc directory.
          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.

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 and comp.sources.misc. They're available from FTP
      sites archiving these groups, such as 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,
      including Colossal Cave and Dungeon. [Unnkulian may be there too.]
    * Amiga IF games are available from any Aminet mirror site, such as 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.

    * in the solutions/ and infocom/hints/ directories.
    * Walkthroughs for many popular IF games are available from
    * The Invisiclues for all v3 to v5 Infocom games are available through
      the Infocom home page at; these
      are derived from the Invisiclues stored at

  Relevant mini-FAQs and information compilations:

    * A list of
      computer games related to J.R.R.Tolkien's works. (Fredrik Ekman)
      Games, authors, history, statistics, interpreters, and tools for
      Infocom games. (Paul David Doherty)
    * Infocom
      game information table. (Paul D. Smith)
    * - A succinct FAQ by
      Stephen Griffiths, tuned for Windows users who want to play TADS and
      Inform games, available in longer form at
      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.

Nothing happens. In the distance you hear a voice:

  (1.9) XYZZY?
  People frequently ask about the origins of XYZZY. From the Jargon file

    :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

    "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 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
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.

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

  **** You have died ****

Press any key to continue


                                                        Stephen van Egmond

User Contributions:

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM