Zork Inspired Addicting Games by Iron Realms
One summer, my younger brothers introduced me to an addicting game: Zork, one of the first interactive text adventure games for personal computers. I watched and harassed them each time they missed even one obvious clue! When they challenged me to try, I quickly accepted. Little did I know that typing OPEN MAILBOX would begin a lifelong affair with text adventure games! Each had the same basic premise. Respond to textual descriptions, whether canned or player directed, by typing commands. Here are the ones that stand out in my memory:
The birth of interactive fiction, Zork is the addicting game where it all began! Written by some MIT students, the name came from hacker slang meaning “unfinished program.” Not just a text game, Zork features high quality storytelling and has all the basics -- search for wealth, darling adventure, exotic creatures, diabolical puzzles, and more! Since Zork became available to the public in 1980, two sequels and a book series followed the Great Underground Empire. Its popularity is such that an original version of Zork appeared as a hidden ‘easter egg’ in Call of Duty: Black Ops in November, 2010.
The game packaging read something like this: “You wander through an enchanted world trying to recover the 13 lost treasures...Can you rescue the Blue Ox from the quicksand? Or find your way out of the maze of pits? Happy Adventuring...” On the heels of Zork came Adventureland. Author Scott Adams (no, not the Dilbert guy) claims he created it in a single month! He broke new ground in the gaming world taking out advertisements and selling Adventureland for use on personal computers. From his first humble retail order of fifty games placed by a Radio Shack in Chicago, Scott Adams went on to found his own company to distribute other addicting games, both new full-scale graphic ones and re-releases of formerly distributed text games!
The first computer graphics involved something called “cursor addressing,” allowing programs to put a letters, numbers, and symbols at specific places on the computer screen to simulate graphics. Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman, a pair of students in Santa Cruz, California and no strangers to addicting games, used the new program to try to make a new kind of computer game. And thus, Rogue was born! The difference between Rogue and previous text games was a lack of canned adventures. Says Wichman in his personal account of the addicting game’s roots, “We decided that with Rogue, the program itself should "build the dungeon", giving you a new adventure every time you played, and making it possible for even the creators to be surprised by the game.”
Pulling characters from multiple genres of fantasy, players of this addicting game are as likely to run into Rumpelstiltskin as Count Dracula! King’s Quest was the first game to really take advantage of the inventory system. Adding to the “take anything that isn’t nailed down” mindset, one player quoted in Wikipedia added, “...if it is nailed down, look for loose nails, or solve the nail-removing puzzle.” The game featured abilities like mapping, and using senses to gather more information! King’s Quest and its sequels boasted elaborate story lines, complicated puzzles, and well-developed denizen characters. Of all early textual games King’s Quest was most like the addicting games produced by Iron Realms that we know and love today!
Graphics-heavy games like Gears of War 3 are nice, but the re-release and remakes of legendary addicting games like the ones above proves that deep down, all players really want are a set of polyhedral dice and some graph paper to choose their own adventures. That’s the beauty of interactive fiction, especially in the form of addicting games produced by Iron Realms! Massively’s Seth Brown sums it up nicely: “I don't think there can be an easily described favorite memory from the MUD I played predominantly: Lusternia, an Iron Realms Entertainment MUD. I played it for roughly five years nearly every day and the best experiences were often caused by playing in a real, living world rather than a single notable event...if you're looking for a challenge in PvP, play an IRE MUD."