ISSUE #2 - September 26, 1994

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  The  \__/ociety for the |_|reservation of ||  ||dventure \___/ames
				ISSUE # 2
        Edited by G. Kevin Wilson (whizzard SP@G
			      Sept 26, 1994

All email addresses are spamblocked -- replace the name of our magazine
with the traditional 'at' sign. 


	Well, perhaps text adventures aren't as dead as everyone thought.
They certainly have a small audience, but at least the audience is there.
SPAG, at last count, has 105 subscribers.  This came from my trolls in
the int-fiction newsgroups, as well as the game newsgroups for classic video
games.  I have attempted to post to the game groups for Archimedes Acorn,
Amiga, Macintosh, and IBM.  At this point, I'm not sure if my posts made it
out.  If not, then we can expect a whole lot more readers when I do post on
those groups.  This is encouraging to me.  It helps me believe more firmly in
the books vs. television argument usually expressed by text adventure lovers.
Maybe there is still room for us, after all.
	Let me just comment on my own introduction to text adventures, and my
experiences since then.  I don't remember what my first text adventure was,
but I seem to remember Wishbringer as being one of the first.  It made a very
profound impact on me, whatever the case may be.  I have fond memories of
slowly working my way through it, and gradually working out both the 'wish'
and 'non-wish' solution to every puzzle in the game.  I even still have my
glow-in-the-dark rock somewhere.  I remember thinking how great it was to
have a sort of novel that I could control on the computer.  I'm an avid
reader, having swallowed up thousands of science fiction, fantasy, and
classical literary works.  Wishbringer seemed to tie my love of reading to my
love of computers quite neatly.  Well, as the years passed, I got into Sierra
games as well, until they removed the text parser from their games and put in
an idiotic point n' click interface.  I've since learned to despise that form
of interface.  Anyways, back to text adventures.  I slowly played a large
collection of them.  I played The Golden Wombat of Destiny, Pork 1, all of
the Infocom text adventures, Shades of Grey, and many, many others.  In fact,
I've played nearly every game on to some extent or another.  Many
I just played up to the point where I saw how poorly the game was done, and
then erased it.  I started work on my much hyped game, Avalon.  And later,
tired of playing all those poorly done text adventures, I started SPAG.
Hopefully, SPAG will help you to seperate the good games from the bad, and
believe me, there are some terrible ones out there.  My favorite game to date
is Trinity, although I really haven't gotten to play A Mind Forever Voyaging
yet.  In addition, my favorite non-Infocom games are Shades of Grey and
Multi-Dimensional Thief.  Shades of Grey is quite likely one of the most
vivid text adventures I've ever played.
	Anyways, aside from attending school here at Berkeley, trying to
major in Computer Science, and other non-text adventure stuff, that's me in
a nutshell.

				G. Kevin Wilson

	P.S. - Things might be a little jumbled this month.  There was a
last minute rush of reviews.  Please try to get reviews to me at least 1 day
before the deadline, especially if you are sending a ton of 'em.  (You too,
Molley! :P )

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR--------------------------------------------------------

From: "Collin Pieper" 

        At the end of this issue [SPAG1] you commented about Infocom, I'd
just like to comment on that.  First of all, you said you weren't sure what
computers the LTOI packages were availiable for.  They're availiable on
floppy disk for the PC, Macintosh, and Amiga and on CD (with the bonus games)
on a dual media CD supporting both the Macintosh and the PC.  You also
claimed there is no difference in price between the two volumes, this is not
true.  I puchased, from the same company, Vol I on CD for $39 and vol II on
CD for only $25.  I've also seen the disk versions (for the Mac) for $29 and
$17 respectively.
        I also have a couple notes on missing items.  In some versions of
LTOI I the map for Zork Zero is missing (in some it's in the manual). 
Also, Ballyhoo is missing a radio station advertisment.  The station and
frequency are supposedly WPDL 1170KHz AM.  Zork Zero for the PC is missing
the MCGA graphics file, while the Mac version contains the equivalent.
        And a final note.  To put the graphic series games into MCGA/VGA
add /dm to the command line.  Arthur looks particularly terrible if you
don't do this.  This might be useful for people who just ignored that big
batch file on the LTOI II CD.
        Finally, I think people are a little too hard on Activision's
repackaging.  You've got to remember that we are dealing with some ancient
games, some are nearly 15 years old.  Activision didn't have to re-release
them at all.  For well under $2 a game what do you want?  I have to agree
that Activision's carelessness and lack of maps/hints in vol II is annoying,
but complaints about the lack of trinkets are totally unrealistic.  How
could we afford to pay for Activision to recreate all that junk.

   [ He also later added.... ]

It seems that the information I gave you in my letter is now outdated.  The
missing PC file for Zork Zero is in the IF Archive under...


You should be able to stick that in the directory with Zork Zero and add
the /dm switch I was talking about.


From: "David Baggett"  
(The Net-rep and much more for Adventions.)

[The >> is "Audrey A. DeLisle" .]
[The > is David Baggett.]
[The brackets are me.]

>Congrats on tthe first issue!  I think it would be nice if you could post
>it here regularly (unless people object).

   [ Again, I want to keep track of who's reading SPAG.  If everybody just
     pulls it off a newsgroup, then how will I know who to bug for game
     reviews? ]

>>Unnkulian Unventure #2 S10 I GMD 7.3 [PA 2 WR 1.9 PL 1.4 CH 1 * 2] *=humor
>>I would rate it higher, but the plot is a bit jerky and there is one
>>'fatal' error.  There is a computer and you must know the password before
>>the game tells you.
>This is not an error -- it's a puzzle.  You have to guess the login (it's
>easy) and *find* the password.  It's not a bug that you can't get the
>password early on -- you just have to get past the dragon before you
>can get into the computer.
>Though I recently argued *for* walkthroughs with Michael Kinyon (in email),
>I'm starting to see the problems they cause.  Remember the "put the axe in
>the bucket puzzle" from UU1?  For those who don't, you had to get an
>axe across a chasm so you could use it on the other side.  There was a
>bug that allowed you to "hide" it in the bucket.  The *real* solution
>was to throw it across from the right place.
>Unfortunately, the walkthrough was wrong -- it said to stuff the axe in the
>bucket!  Not only did this give walkthrough users the impression that the
>puzzle was ridiculous and unfair ("how would I ever think of *that*?"), but
>it also stopped working once Leary fixed the bug, leading people to think
>that version 2 and 3 of the game were buggy!
>An aside: A lot of UU2's problems (and difficulty) stem from its
>pseudo-nonlinearity.  Once you get into the underworld, you have many
>puzzles you can work on at once.  They have to be solved in a particular
>order, however, and this is why people get confused.
>I won't say what the object is because that is part of the plot.
>You didn't mention that there's a killer cliffhanger ending!  :) This is
>resolved in "The Legend Lives!", which is now in beta-testing.
>>Adventions by D. A. Leary using TADS. 
>Leary writes a lot of stuff, but not all of it.  I wrote UU2.
>Overall, I liked your reviews but I thought they were way too generous.
>I'd say that most shareware games I've seen rate between 0 and 5, while old
>Infocoms should hover around the 7 mark.  (Including Trinity, which is a
>good, but far from perfect game.)  You have to leave us some headroom, you

   [ Thanks for your comments, Dave.  Hopefully the new rating system will
     help make things a little better.  Several letters came in suggesting
     this, that, or the other, and I used the best ideas from each, as
     you'll soon see. ]

KEY TO SCORES AND REVIEWS----------------------------------------------------

Consider the following review header:

 NAME: Cutthroats                                PARSER: Infocom Standard
 AUTHOR: Infocom                                 PLOT: Two Seperate Paths
 EMAIL: ???                                      ATMOSPHERE: Well Done
 AVAILABILITY: LTOI 2                            WRITING: Good
 PUZZLES: Good                                   SUPPORTS: Infocom Ports
 CHARACTERS: Not Bad                             DIFFICULTY: Medium

	First, you'll notice that the score has been removed, and replaced
by one or two word ratings.  These are pretty arbitrary, and should allow
more freedom to the reviewers.  The EMAIL section is for the e-mail address
of the game author, not the reviewer.  AVAILABILITY will usually have either
Commercial ($price), Shareware ($price), or Freeware.  If the commercial
price varies in stores, then it will just say Commercial.  If it has been
released in the LTOI collection, this line should say so.  Lastly, if it is
available on, the line should add GMD.  (Demo) if it's a demo
version.  The body of the review hasn't changed.

When submitting reviews:  Try to fill in as much of this info as you can.
Also, scores are still desired along with the reviews, so send those along.
The scores will be used in the ratings section.  Authors may not rate or
review their own games.

SPAG accepts reviews of any length, letters to the editor, the occasional
interesting article on text adventures (no reprints please), and even just
ratings for your favorite game, if you don't have the time to do a full
review.  Please though, at least send me info for each game you have rated
equivalent to the review header for Cutthroats, above.  All accepted
materials will be headed by the submitter's name and e-mail address, unless
you request that they be withheld, in which case the header will read as

NEW GAMES--------------------------------------------------------------------

	Things are still a bit dry.  Hopefully they'll pick up soon.


From: "Molley the Mage" 

NAME: Curses                            PARSER: Similar to Infocom
AUTHOR: Graham Nelson                   PLOT: [Blank]
ATMOSPHERE: [Blank]                     AVAILABILITY: Freeware_GMD
WRITING: [Blank]                        PUZZLES: [Blank]
SUPPORTS: Infocom Ports                 CHARACTERS: [Blank]
EMAIL: nelson SP@G

This is the finest work of IF which I have played since Trinity, bar none. 
Curses is perhaps the most "literate" work of IF to come along in years.  I
really cannot say enough good things about this game, so you have no choice
but to go out right now and get a copy for yourself.  You can't really make
any excuses about it, either, since Curses is completely free and is
written using the old Infocom story file format, which means that it's
playable on just about any computer in existence with one of the existing
Infocom interpreter programs (I recommend Mark Howell's Zip but
InfoTaskForce's will also work, as will any of several others).

You are an aristocrat who is preparing to go on vacation in Paris.  All you
want to do is find one lousy tourist map which you KNOW is in the attic
somewhere, and then you're off.  Sounds easy, right?  Right...

I can't even begin to describe this game without spoiling the plot, so I'll
simply ask:  How would you react when a seemingly simple situation in your
attic transformed into ancient magic, past and present places and times, a
mental tour of your own history, a "chance" to control the fundamental basis
upon which the universe is founded, the discovery of ancient powers
utilized by Merlin himself, Heaven, Hell, robot mice, and of course curses?

I don't know about you, but I reacted by becoming glued to my terminal for
about 50 hours straight.  Graham Nelson, the author of Curses, deserves the
highest kudos for his accomplshment.  I can't wait to see what he's going
to do next -- if you are going to play one IF game this year, make it
Curses.  Be warned that some of the puzzles are fiendishly difficult, and
one or two are a bit non-intuitive, but there are legions of loyal Curses
fans just dying for the chance to help you out anyway just so they will
have someone else to talk to about this wonderful game.  Go get it NOW.


From: "Lars Joedal" 

NAME: Ditch Day Drifter               PARSER: TADS standard
AUTHOR: Michael J. Roberts            PLOT: A bit loose, some non-linearity
EMAIL: mroberts SP@G    ATMOSPHERE: (Very) good
PUZZLES: Good                         SUPPORTS: TADS ports
CHARACTERS: Few but charming          DIFFICULTY: Easy

     You are a student at the CalTech University. Today is "Ditch Day"
where the senior students set up "stacks" (problems) for the under-
graduates to break. Your stack will send you all over the university,
from the book store over the Explosive Lab to the excavations under the
campus. Be prepared to meet vigilant guards and failed biological
     The game takes you into a realistic university atmosphere with just
a small bit of overstatement to make you smile. Most of the NPCs are
cardboard characters, but the insurance robot Lloyd is well-developed. I
also like the book store clerk. None of the NPCs are very conversational
though. The puzzles are fairly easy, but all logical and well-thought-
out. This makes the game an excellent introduction to IF. The veteran
gamer will complete the game very quickly, but should still play the
game for its story. The puzzles are rather independent, which on the
other hand makes the plot a bit loose (solving one of the independent
puzzles doesn't make the overall story advance much).
     The source code to "Ditch Day Drifter" is distributed together with
introductory documentation to TADS. Since this is meant to be read by
people who have not (yet) registrered TADS I guess it can be called


From: "Molley the Mage" 

NAME: The Enchanter Trilogy             PARSER: Early Infocom
AUTHOR: Infocom                         PLOT: [Blank]
ATMOSPHERE: [Blank]                     AVAILABILITY: LTOI 1
WRITING: [Blank]                        PUZZLES: [Blank]
SUPPORTS: Infocom ports                 CHARACTERS: [Blank]
EMAIL: ???

The "Enchanter Trilogy" was Infocom's second big line of more or less
"connected" games.  All three featured a better parser and more levels of
interaction than the Zork games did, and a *much* greater emphasis on plot
and storyline.  No longer collections of disparate puzzles surrounding the
gathering of treasures, these games in my opinion really brought Infocom
into their own as far as writing goes.

Enchanter, the first of the series, features you as a novice magician who
is sent to do battle with an incredibly powerful evil sorceror who is
destroying the world.  The reason you, a near novice, are sent instead of
the more powerful mages in charge of you is because Krill (the evil
warlock) could easily detect a mage of great power, while you won't even
register as a blip on his mental radar screen.  This will supposedly allow
you to slip in and defeat him while he's not looking.  The game is set in
and around Krill's castle, where there are various traps, tricks, and
treasures, not to mention a group of nasty henchmen who carry you off to
your death whenever they find you.  The game basically centers around the
collection of more and more magical spells to add to your arsenal.  These
spells are what enable you to defeat the aforementioned tricks and traps,
along with some well-timed help from a few NPC's (including the Adventurer
from Zork I, a classic moment if ever there was one!).  Eventually you
arrive at the requisite showdown with Krill, who goes down rather easily
(somewhat anticlimactic for a world-conquering sorcerer, eh?) 
Nevertheless, Enchanter is a fun game that will provide you with some hours
of enjoyment.

Sorcerer is the sequel to Enchanter (obviously) and once again you are
called upon to do battle with great evil.  In this case, your mentor Belboz
(head of the Circle of Enchanters to which you were admitted after your
amazing defeat of Krill) has been captured, imprisoned, and possessed by a
malevolent demon, Jeaarr.  Using Belboz's sorcerous powers, the demon will
of course be able to ... you guessed it ... take over the world, so off you
to the rescue again.  Your quest this time takes you back into the Great
Underground Empire, where you will visit an ancient castle, an amusement
park, and other locales en route to a showdown with the demon.  Two scenes
bear particular mention: the glass maze, which you must navigate in a
unique way, shows that not all mazes have to be annoying and boring.  There
is another puzzle involving time travel and meeting your "younger" and
"older" selves which is worth playing the entire game for, as I found it
one of the most imaginative and challenging IF puzzles ever.  As a whole,
the game is rather easy, but I enjoyed it immensely.  Highly recommended.

Spellbreaker, the conclusion of the trilogy, is truly an epic game.  It was
Infocom's largest and most ambitious project when it came out, featuring
about three times the puzzles (1000 points) of any other Infocom game.  For
me, it was love at first sight.  This is one of my all-time absolute
favorite games.  It seems that after you rescued Belboz in Sorcerer, you
took his place as the Head of the Circle of Enchanters.  Now magic has
begun to fail everywhere in the world, and all of your fellow mages have
been turned into small amphibians by malevolent sorcery.  You, however, are
strangely unaffected, and must pursue the source of this evil.  What you
will discover is a game which deals with metaphysics and magic with equal
facility, along with challenging puzzles and wonderful writing.  In short,
Spellbreaker is a game with almost no equal.  Be warned, however, that it
is HARD -- much more so than either of the previous two games in the
trilogy.  However, the puzzles are all quite logical, and most involve the
intelligent applications of the various spells which you will again find,
along with the collection of strange white cubes which when invoked in the
proper manner transport you to alternate places and times.  The only thing
I didn't like about this game was the inclusion of the ancient "three
weighings on a scale" problem (although it was presented in a novel
manner).  The ending was both surprising (to me) and satisfying.  This is a
game not to be missed!

As a whole, the Enchanter Trilogy is my favorite set of Infocom games, far
and away.  Again, I recommend getting them in the original packaging if
possible, but they are also in the LTOI package, so they are again
accessible to a new generation of interactive fiction lovers.  If you play
no other Infocom games in your life, play these three together -- they are


From: "Roger N. Dominick" 

 NAME: Enhanced                                  AUTHOR: SophistiChaos
 AVAILABILITY: Shareware $10 GMD                 PUZZLES: Logical, interesting
 CHARACTERS:   1-D, but fun.                     PARSER: small vocabulary
 PLOT: Well-planned, linear.                     ATMOSPHERE: Dark and corny
 WRITING: Good, little "purple" prose.           SUPPORTS: Any TADS run-time.
 DIFFICULTY: Medium, a few parser problems
 EMAIL: Hans Persson: unicorn SP@G
        Dominik Zemmler: dz SP@G

I recently played the (unregistered, ftp'd) shareware version of
_Enhanced_, the first (only?) chapter in the "Cyberventure Trilogy".
Possibly the first truly cyberpunk adventure game I've played (unless
_A Mind Forever Voyaging_ counts), and certainly entertaining as an
example of that genre.  However, some of the actions that must be taken
in the game depend upon the player's familiarity with certain cyberpunk
terminology ("ice", etc.), and a lot of the in-jokes are *really* in.
There are also one spot where you have to do a very repititous task
again and again, and more than one place where plurals either cause
problems by being too much ("connector"s being a good case in point) or
not enough (I dearly wished to be able to refer to "plastics", in the
plural).  I had a few word-hunt fights with the parser, especially in
one puzzle -- took me 30+ turns to figure out the expected wording to
do something required to finish the game alive!

The screens-long opening serves as a fast-if-not-especially-believable
way to get the character into the main thick of the action.  Once
there, the plot moves briskly through a storyline filled with in-jokes
and almost-caricature NPCs... but it somehow remains fun and engaging.
I got stuck twice, and ended up using a step-through from the if-archive
for one bit.  Enhanced and the solution file are ftp'able from the

I enjoyed the game, for a while; when I began to have parsing problems,
my enjoyment was diminished.  I'm looking forwards to seeing what else
comes out of this trilogy, and with a little polish, SGD's games should
be excellent.  I am going to mail a check off to the authors this
weekend; for $10, including source code, it's a very good value.


From: "Toni Cortes" 

NAME: Multidimesional Thief.		PARSER: AGT
AUTHOR: ?				PLOT: There is no real plot

	The game plot is as simple as finding your way out of a dungeon
in order to become a member of the thieves guild. The dungeon you move in
is made of many different places with no relation between them. You
can find a farm, a railway station, the city of OZ, and many other with
no relation between them. This mix of environments makes the game very
	The NPCs could be improved as they do nearly nothing. They are
treated as any other lifeless object. Another thing I didn't like
is that some puzzles are very difficult if you have not seen that
movie or read that other book (no names as I don't want to spoil the
	Something I really liked is that you can see the objcts you are
dealing with. Although it keeps the standard scheme of text adventure (no
graphics), when you inspect an object it is diplayed on the screen.


From: "Molley the Mage" 

NAME: Shades of Grey                    PARSER: AGT
AUTHOR: See Review                      PLOT: [Blank]
ATMOSPHERE: [Blank]                     AVAILABILITY: F_GMD
WRITING: [Blank]                        PUZZLES: [Blank]
SUPPORTS: AGT ports (IBM/Mac/Atari ST)  CHARACTERS: [Blank]
EMAIL: ???

This is an excellent piece of IF and certainly the best game I've ever seen
writting using AGT.  One of the most interesting factoids about this game
is that the authors have never actually met face-to-face; the entire game
was designed and written on Compuserve gamers' forums and via E-mail. 
Despite the geographic disparity, the product is a wonderful game, once you
get past the very first single stupid non-intuitive puzzle, which is all
that keeps this game from being an 8.0 (and thus in my ultra-elite).

Basically, you have amnesia.  You are wandering the streets of an unknown
city during an unknown year wondering who you are and how you got here. 
Eventually you will discover a clairvoyante who will help you to discover
your true self and your past through the power of Tarot.  What you learn is
that this is a somewhat political, occasionally difficult, *extremely*
well-written game which deals with the past, present, and future of Haiti. 
Beyond that I can say no more without spoiling the excellent plot, but take
my word for it -- Shades of Grey is a game not to be missed.  You might
find occasional frustration with the parser, but overall this is only a
minor annoyance and is quickly forgotten in the stream of evocative images
which will begin pouring forth from your computer as soon as you play...


From: "Molley the Mage" 

NAME: Trinity                           PARSER: Late Infocom
AUTHOR: Infocom                         PLOT: [Blank]
ATMOSPHERE: [Blank]                     AVAILABILITY: LTOI 2
WRITING: [Blank]                        PUZZLES: [Blank]
SUPPORTS: Infocom ports                 CHARACTERS: [Blank]
EMAIL: ???

And now, the cream of the crop, my ALL-TIME-NUMBER-ONE IF game...

Trinity is, without a doubt, the best IF game I've ever played.  I've 
been through it again and again just to read the text, which is something 
I cannot say about any other game except for AMFV and Curses.  (Which 
right away lets you know that this game is in elite company!)

I can't really describe the plot without writing a vast essay, but suffice
to say that you're an American on vacation in London when World War III
interrupts the daily routine -- specifically, the city gets nuked.  You,
however, survive the devastation, with the help of a magical portal and
a strange voice inside your head.  Through the portal you will discover a
world of wonder unlike anything you've ever seen in interactive fiction.

The plot revolves around the stages of development and construction of the
atomic weapons used to destroy you in the game's opening.  Eventually, if
you are clever and utilize all of your brain cells to their utmost, you
might get the chance to go back in time and change history for the better.
The ending of this game is in my opinion truly spectacular, a fitting reward
for the amount of work you'll have to put in.  I was truly satisfied with
myself after completing this game.  There is one non-intuitive puzzle, 
which I solved by pure luck, but by and large the puzzles are very well 
constructed and quite logical.  They are also not so difficult as to 
seriously impede your progress through the story, which is the real 
emphasis of the game, but not so easy as to make you feel as though you 
are wasting your time.  A perfectly balanced challenge.

If you can at all get this game in the original packaging, do so.  There
are no game-critical items to be found therein, but the sundial is one of
the neatest props Infocom ever put out.  (Mine still adorns my windowsill.)
In short, if you play one IF game in your life, you would not go wrong if you
make it this one.  Highest recommendation.


From: "Toni Cortes" 

NAME: Unnkulian Unventure I.            PARSER: Standard
AUTHOR: D.A.Leary (Adventions)          PLOT: [Left blank]
ATMOSPHERE: Good                        AVAILABILITY: S10_GMD
WRITING: Well Done                      PUZZLES: Good (most of them)
SUPPORTS: TADS ports                    CHARACTERS: Poor
EMAIL: "Dave Baggett" dmb SP@G

        Unnkulian Unventure starts you on the path to being a hero.  The
Orb has been stolen and you must return it.  You journey through
caverns, up mountains and into a chasm.  A monk is waiting to help you
at one place. (Copied from SPAG1 rad SP@G
        I enjoyed the game, especially the first 200 points (out of 400).
In this first part the puzzles are very logical and well designed.  In
the second part there are some puzzles in which I didn't find any logic at
all.  The writing is quite well done and gives the reader a good
description of what is going on.  The plot gives the player a lot of freedom
and lots of things can be done in parallel.  The characters that appear are
simple and don't allow much interaction with them, I wish they were a bit
more active.  Lastly, there is lots of humour in this game.  It may get a bit
repetitive, but humour is an important part of the game.


   [ Also this month, Toni sent me a review of TADS, one of the text
     adventure design systems out there for would-be text adventure authors.
     It seemed like a reasonable idea, and here it is.  I have no doubt that
     the entire spectrum of them will soon follow.  I have no set format for
     them, but Toni seems to have the right idea.  Just follow his lead. ]

From: "Toni Cortes" 

NAME: TADS                                       AUTHOR:  Michael J. Roberts
AVAILABILITY: Shareware $40 GMD                  PARSER: Very Good
DOCUMENTATION: Excellent                         EASE OF USE: Quite easy
EMAIL: mroberts SP@G

        TADS is an adventure compiler.  It is an object oriented language
especially designed to implement text adventures.  As these kind of games
are based on objects that a character can manipulate, the object oriented
aproach is very well suited.
        Writing an adventure with TADS consists of defining the objects
and the way they respond to certain actions.  This is done in a C-like
language which is very well explained in the manual.  The rest of the
game, like parsing, displaying, etc. is done automatically by TADS.
        Although it is very simple to use it would take a long time to
develop a complete game from scratch.  In order to solve this problem an
object library comes with the program.  In this library the most common
actions and objects are defined.  This simplifies the task of starting to use
the compiler.  After one gets used to the language, it is very easy to modify
this library in order to fit it to the programmer's needs.
        The registered version comes with a simple, but useful, debugger.
This eases the task of writing games.
        Although it is a good compiler, there are some things which could
be improved.  One of them is the small freedom the programmer has on how
to display things on the screen.  I'd love to be able to use colors and
        As an example of what can be done with TADS we can take look to the
Unnkulian series which has been developed with this software.
        There is more information about TADS and what this language
looks like on GMD.  There is a shareware version with a simplified manual
and some examples.


From: "Molley the Mage" 

NAME: The Zork Trilogy                  PARSER: Early Infocom
AUTHOR: Infocom                         PLOT: [Blank]
ATMOSPHERE: [Blank]                     AVAILABILITY: LTOI 1
WRITING: [Blank]                        PUZZLES: [Blank]
SUPPORTS: Infocom ports                 CHARACTERS: [Blank]
EMAIL: ???

Ah, the Zork Trilogy.  Basically chopped-up components of the Dungeon game
which was so popular at MIT, these were the games that launched Infocom to
its evenutal fame and fortune.  Based more or less on the concepts put
forth by the original Adventure game, the Zork trilogy games are mostly an
exercise in collection of "treasure" items and solving more or less
unrelated puzzles.  Zork I is a particularly good example of this, where
the player is apparently looting for looting's own sake, while Zork II sets
the collection of treasures up as part of the plot (although you must
discover this for yourself; at first, you are merely collecting them
because you get points for having each one).  Zork III changes from
collection of "treasures" to collection of related items which taken
together serve as a complete set of "Dungeon Mastering" equipment.  But in
all three of the games, the puzzles surrounding these items (while for the
most part well-written, logical, and fun to solve) are basically unrelated
to one another or to the story as a whole.  The disparate elements are
loosely glued together by the concept of the "Great Underground Empire"
wherein all three games are set, but beyond that there is no real
connection (and thus the games become rather non-linear in places, which is
a good thing in this reviewer's opinion, but for the wrong reasons!)

In Zork I, you play an adventurer who seemingly stumbles upon the ruins of
the Great Underground Empire in the basement of an abandoned white house. 
You immediately set about gathering the Twenty Treasures of Zork, and put
them in your trophy case for safekeeping.  Along the way, you'll deal with
a nasty troll, a particularly nasty thief, and a maze (blech).

Zork II casts you as this same adventurer, continuing his explorations into
the GUE (as detailed at the end of Zork I).  This time, however, you find
yourself in the realm of the crafty and capricious Wizard of Frobozz, whose
magic seldom works exactly as he intends it to but always causes you a
hassle or two.  Freeing yourself from his domain and taking his power for
your own is the goal of this one, though it's really just another "collect
the treasures" exercise with the worst puzzle in Infocom history thrown in
for good measure (the baseball diamond one, for those who know).

Zork III ends the tale of your exploits, as you find yourself confronted by
the mysterious being known as the Dungeon Master.  This game is the worst
of the lot, and should be played more for the sake of completeness than
anything else.  The ending will be apparent long before you get there, and
it's not particuarly fun getting their either because of some very stupid
random elements to the puzzles which require proper timing (but give no
warning to the player that this is the case).  This game experiments with a
strange scoring system unlike any other Infocom game -- 7 points, one for
each of the "major" actions you must complete (which does not include
actually winning, I might add).  Much shorter than the other two, this game
seems more like an afterthought than a conclusion.

At any rate, in comparison with Infocom's later works, the Zork Trilogy are
on a much lower level.  However, they are enjoyable games each in their own
right, (though Zork III stretches it right to the limit!) and should be
played by any fan of interactive fiction.  Don't expect detailed plot,
however; it simply isn't there.  These games, however, form an important
part of the base upon which today's IF is built, and therefore are entitled
to a bit of easy treatment.  As the first truly "commercial" IF played by
any significant number of people, the Zork games are a major milestone in
the history of IF -- and they are fun, taken at face value.  If you can get
them in the original packaging, do so -- the GUE materials are worth the
price of admission alone.  If not, however, they are part of the Lost
Treasures of Infocom pacakge.  Highly recommended for play by everyone who
wants to know where IF in general and Infocom in particular got going.


   [ Editor's Closing Notes: I hope that everyone enjoys the new review
     format more than the old one.  Let me know if you like it or not.  Also
     any suggestions are still welcome, but the system needs to be sorted
     out by issue #3.  I can't keep asking for revised scores from reviewers.
     It's not fair to them. ]

READER'S SCOREBOARD----------------------------------------------------------

There is a new standard for game ratings now.  Here's the scoop:

Overall scoring and these specific categories work the same.

Two new categories have been added:

Benchmarks for:

          0 - Little or no attempt at atmosphere.
         .5 - A few nice touches.
          1 - Good Atmosphere.
        1.5 - Feels like you're there.
          2 - Edge of your seat the whole way.

          0 - Frustrating to play, poor parser, few synonyms.
         .5 - A little better.  Still pretty unbearable.
          1 - Good parser.  Not too hard to figure out.
        1.5 - Good parser.  Most 'ease of use' commands implemented.
          2 - Excellent gameplay.  Understands almost everything you try.

The CHARACTER category will still be around, but it will be averaged only
with itself, to produce a CHARACTER rating.  It will not affect the total
score of the game.

There will be a PUZZLE category that is treated the same as the CHARACTER 

The PARSER category has been absorbed into GAMEPLAY.

Everything else in the rating section is the same.

Here's a revised ratings line for Trinity:

Name       Avg Sco  Chr  Puz    #Votes    Issues     Notes
=======    =======  ===  ===    ======    ======     ======
Trinity      8.9    1.7  1.5      21    1-5, 8, 11    C_INF

	A complete and revised version of this rating system will appear in
the SPAG FAQ, which should be up on
>From now on, only changes to the system and the notes will appear in each
issue.  For the basics, look at the FAQ.


	A   - Runs on Amigas.
	AP  - Runs on Apple IIs.
	GS  - Runs on Apple IIGS.
	AR  - Runs on Archimedes Acorns.
	C   - Commercial, no fixed price.
	C30 - Commercial, with a fixed price of $30.
	F   - Freeware.
	GMD - Available on
	I   - Runs on IBM compatibles.
	M   - Runs on Macs.
	S20 - Shareware, registration costs $20.
	64  - Runs on Commodore 64s.
	TAD - Written with TADS.  This means it can run on:
                AmigaDOS, NeXT and PC, Atari ST/TT/Falcon, DECstation
                (MIPS) Unix Patchlevel 1 and 2, IBM, IBM RT, Linux, Apple
                Macintosh, SGI Iris/Indigo running Irix, Sun 4 (Sparc)
                running SunOS or Solaris 2, Sun 3, OS/2, and even a 386+
                protected mode version.
        AGT - Available for IBM, Mac, Amiga, and Atari ST.  This does not
                include games made with the Master's edition.
        INF - Infocom or Inform game.  These games will run on:
                Atari ST, Amiga, Apple Macintosh, IBM, Unix, VMS, Apple II,
                and Apple IIGS.  I believe that it is also possible to play
		these on the C64, TSR-80, Acorn Archimedes, and others, but
		I am not positive, as I saw no public domain interpreters for
		any systems other than the first group on  I
		will update this as people confirm or deny the feasibility
		of running these games on these computers.

NOTES: If there was no rating for Character or Puzzle, it was left blank.
       Please remember that I do not yet have a large enough sample of
       scores to accurately compare them.  The grading system has changed
       and that may further damage the accuracy until I get about 20 more
       scores for each game.

 Name		       Avg Sc  Chr  Puz  # Sc  Rlvt Ish       Notes:
 ====                  ======  ===  ===  ====  ========       ======
Ballyhoo		7.2		   1	 x	C_INF
Beyond Zork		7.4		   1	 x	C_INF
Border Zone		5.6		   1	 x	C_INF
Bureaucracy		7.8		   1	 x	C_INF
Curses			8.6    1.5  1.7    1     2	F_INF
Cutthroats		6.4	           2     1	C_INF
Deadline		6.8		   1	 x	C_INF
Enchanter		6.8    0.8  1.3	   2     x	C_INF
Hitchhiker's Guide	8.0     	   1     x	C_INF
Hollywood Hijinx	6.0		   1	 x	C_INF
Horror of Rylvania	7.7		   1     1	C20_TAD_GMD (Demo)
Humbug			7.4		   1	 x	S10_GMD (Uncertain)
Infidel 		6.9		   3     1-2	C_INF
Jacaranda Jim		7.0		   1	 x	S?_GMD
Klaustrophobia		9.5		   1     1	S15_AGT_GMD
Leather Goddesses	7.7		   1	 x	C_INF
Lurking Horror, The	7.2		   1     1	C_INF
Mind Forever Voyaging	8.1		   1	 x	C_INF
Moonmist		6.4	           1     1	C_INF
Multidimen. Thief	6.0    0.5  1.0    1     2      S?_AGT_GMD
Nord and Bert		6.8		   1	 x	C_INF
Planetfall		7.3		   1	 x	C_INF
Sanity Claus		9.0	           1     1	S10_AGT_GMD
Seastalker		5.0		   1	 x	C_INF
Shades of Grey		7.9		   1	 1-2	F_AGT_GMD
Sorceror		6.6    0.6  1.5	   2	 2	C_INF
Spellbreaker		7.9    1.2  1.8	   2	 2	C_INF
Starcross		7.4	           2     1	C_INF
Stationfall		6.7		   1	 x	C_INF
Suspect			5.9		   1	 x	C_INF
Suspended		7.0		   1	 x	C_INF
Trinity			9.2    1.4  1.7    3     1	C_INF
Unnkulian One-Half	8.1                2     1	F_TAD_GMD
Unnkulian Unventure 1	8.1 	           2     1	S10_TAD_GMD
Unnkulian Unventure 2	7.1	           2     1	S10_TAD_GMD
Unnkulian Zero  	9.0 	           1     1	C25_TAD_GMD (Demo)
Wishbringer		6.3		   1	 x	C_INF
Witness, The		6.3	           2     1	C_INF
Zork 0			6.5    1.1  2.0	   1	 x	C_INF
Zork 1			5.4    0.6  1.6	   2	 1-2	C_INF
Zork 2			6.4    0.8  1.6	   2	 1-2	C_INF
Zork 3			5.7    0.6  1.4	   2	 1-2	C_INF


The Top Three:

 1. Klaustrophobia	9.5
 2. Trinity		9.2
 3. Unkuulian Zero	9.0
    Sanity Claus	9.0


Editor's Picks:

 1. Trinity
 2. Shades of Grey
 3. A Mind Forever Voyaging

	These are my personal top three.  They may not have scored the
highest, but check them out anyways.


--------------------------Save Princeton-(Last Month)------------------------

	Have you ever wanted to kill somebody by feeding them school food?
To hobnob with F. Scott Fitzgerald? To be single-handedly responsible
for the salvation or destruction of one of the oldest universities in
the United States? Save Princeton offers you the chance to do all this
and more. In the role of a visitor to the campus, you must save
Princeton from a mysterious invasionary force. Saving Princeton doesn't
require any familiarity with the place. In fact, all it requires is an
off-beat sense of humor and a little bit of brains.

Save Princeton was created with TADS, the Text Adventure Development
System. The game has fifty-two locations, and a vocabulary of
about 980 words, which makes it about as complex as a middle-period
Infocom game. It's shareware, with a fee of $10.

Save Princeton is available for the IBM-compatible and Mactintosh
computers, as well as any other systems that support TADS. 
Mac version: FTP to and retrieve

IBM version: FTP to and retrieve:

Other systems: Assuming you already have the TADS run-time for your
system, FTP to and retrieve:

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me.
-Jacob Weinstein
jacobw SP@G

CLOSING REMARKS--------------------------------------------------------------

	In the future, I would like to do a special European issue.  This
would be a one time thing, concentrating on text adventures made in Europe,
and describing how to go about getting these games.  Text adventures still
have a good following in England and other places throughout the world, and
I would like to present a more international magazine.  So, if you have any
info on European game sources or games, I would appreciate it if you would
send it my way.  Thanks.

	Also, I'd like to thank you all for the enthusiastic response I've
gotten for SPAG.  I never realized there were so many people out there who
cared so deeply for text adventures.  Whether it's just a love of reading and
puzzle solving, or nostalgia for golden days a decade past, you've all had
some very warm and reassuring things to say about text adventures, and SPAG
for that matter.  I'm glad to be able to provide a forum in which we can all
share opinions and thoughts on my favorite gaming form.  I hope that I can
continue to support and improve SPAG for a long time.  Keep those reviews
rolling in!


	   Thank you for helping to keep text adventures alive!

Click here for a printable, plain text version of this issue.