April 3, 2002 7:50 AM   Subscribe

9:05 Remember back in the heyday of Infocom when you would routinely spend four or five days straight (subsisting on RC cola and beef jerky, only taking breaks to visit the john) trying to crack all the puzzles in Zork II or Suspended? Yeah, those were the days. Now, of course, you're a busy guy -- you can no longer devote entire weekends to the joys of text adventuring. That's why, today on your coffee break, you should play Adam Cadre's 9:05. Playing the entire game, from start to finish, should take you no longer than 10 minutes. But set aside a bit more time, because you'll probably want to play it again.
posted by Shadowkeeper (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Two words of warning. First, as Adam himself notes on the linked page, the online zplet version is a bit buggy. (One bug I've notice: if you're in the living room and you wish to open the front door, you must specify "front," as in "open front door". Just entering "open door" will fubar the game.) If you are on a PC and want a relaxing, non-buggy experience you can download the PC executable here. Secondly: please don't give away the solution to any of the, um, puzzles here.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 7:51 AM on April 3, 2002

For users of other platforms, or people new (or newly returning) to these text adventures, I'd recommend having a look at Brass Lantern's Beginners Page which will point you to resources for every platform imaginable.

And I'd strongly advise against playing these games via an online interpreter. Although it should be ok for something like 9:05 which is very short, it will be INCREDIBLY frustrating for a "full length" game...
posted by bcwinters at 8:13 AM on April 3, 2002

Argh, this was weird. I ran it up and just stared at the prompt, what do I do? Where do I click? It's such an ingrained thing nowadays that you play every game with the mouse that I was left confused.

Of course, I've played many a text adventure game, but it took a good ten seconds to make the mindleap back to the 80s, and take my hands off of the mouse!
posted by wackybrit at 8:14 AM on April 3, 2002

Another good resource for weeks of timewasting Interactive Fiction fun. And for a truly addictive experience, try your hand at writing your own text adventures.
posted by ook at 8:27 AM on April 3, 2002

OK - I didn't think that would be worth finishing, but it is. Very funny.
posted by willnot at 8:28 AM on April 3, 2002

Not bad. Can anyone find more than two possible endings, or is that it?
posted by ook at 8:37 AM on April 3, 2002

I went through a Text Adventure Obsession phase a few years back and still love the medium. There are a lot of dedicated people out there creating beautiful and intriguing things! The piece de resistance and coup d'etat of interactive fiction (in my humble opinion) is Graham Nelson's Curses, though Adam Cadre has some great stuff out there too.

I'm such a nerd.
posted by kittyb at 9:42 AM on April 3, 2002

[Which do you mean, the bedroom door or the front door?]


[Which do you mean, the bedroom door or the front door?]

>front door

[Which do you mean, the bedroom door or the front door?]

>"front door"

[Which do you mean, the bedroom door or the front door?]


[Which do you mean, the bedroom door or the front door?]

posted by badstone at 9:48 AM on April 3, 2002

i found 3 outcomes.
posted by corpse at 9:49 AM on April 3, 2002

Did that to me too badstone - got confused and kept asking the same question over no matter what I typed. Drained the fun out of it pretty quickly!

posted by Mars Saxman at 10:33 AM on April 3, 2002

badstone: The original poster wrote (One bug I've notice: if you're in the living room and you wish to open the front door, you must specify "front," as in "open front door". Just entering "open door" will fubar the game.)

Then again, I can't complain, since I deliberately typed open door to see what would happen ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2002

Cadre's "Photopia," (found with his other games here) is short, easy, very well written, and shows how interactive fiction can be moving in ways and produce forms of immersion in a story that you couldn't do with regular fiction.

His "Shrapnel" is bizarre, weird, and disturbing, in a good way. But probably makes a little more sense if you've played some other IF before. ("9:05" is also a little more interesting if you've played other games in this apparent genre.)

In addition to Graham Nelson, whose excelent "Curses" was mentioned by kittyb, who has another masterpiece "Jigsaw," and who is the man who reverse-engineered Infocom's text-adventure format so that he could write his own games and help other people do so as well, Andrew Plotkin has some really good (and difficult!) interactive fiction, including "Spider and Web" and "So Far."

There's another good list of IF recommendations here.
posted by straight at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2002

If anyone's really interested I've got a copy of the old HHGttG Infocom game, along with the winfrotz emulator here.
posted by esch at 11:45 AM on April 3, 2002

What's the third outcome? I only saw two.

I looked for a way to investigate myself, to find out more information about why I'm where I am at the start of the game, and for what reasons did I do what the evidence indicates I have done, but the game's purpose is simply to be misleading, so you get that "Memento" like surprise at the end. Like most interactive fiction, it doesn't survive detailed exploration.

I used to enjoy IF, but tired of all the error messages. I'd want to look under the rock but the guy who wrote it decided that wasn't important. I'd want to create my own exits when the options given offered certain ends. I'd be in a clearing with woods to the north and shoreline to the south, but no suitable description of what lay east or west. Or northeast. Or up. I'd want to just build a log cabin with the forest and stick around for awhile, but there was ultimately a (non? HA!)linear plotline predesigned, which I'd have to persue in order to 'finish the game.'

I guess it's impossible to create a truly nonlinear, freely explorable virtual reality through mere text. The world created by the writer promises being more elaborate than any given offtheshelf novel, but in the end is little more than a Choose Your Own Adventure book with a couple added twists to it. Even textbased MUDs, with several authors creating rooms that described elaborate landscapes and amazing friends and foes, could only expand their universe as far as their accumulative imaginations would go.

So for some years I turned to graphic based equivalents, the natural evolutionary step. Even then there's too much limitation. I'm reminded of the concept of the "Holodeck" in the Star Trek tv franchise. The idea that inside a large room one could theoretically create any environment, with suitable technology that would fool all the senses. However, no matter where your imagination could take you, you're still trapped inside this room. You don't really travel anywhere except inside your own mind. You might as well just pick up a book.

Realm is child-like silly fun, that's roughly based on interactive fiction. They just added a graphic interface. However due to a tendency towards simplicity, the creators of the Realm expanded their universe by repeating motifs. They became only as good as their artists, and the enemies are recolored and resized versions of a limited number of sprites. The goals are limited to prestructured missions and quests. One can opt to choose a personal goal, but is limited not so much by the game's community of fellow players as by the mechanics of the game engine. The battles became repetitive against the machine, so many players opted to fight one another, and this is fine if you know what you're doing, but then cheaters make it impossible for anyone to enjoy. You never know when you're going to come up against someone who's tweaked their access in such a way as to be unstoppable.

My ex-wife became addicted to EverQuest for a time. I found the visuals to be staggering, but the actual gameplay was cumbersome - worse than an aircraft simulator.

Diablo is another example. It promises a variety of objectives and goals, but ultimately regardless of which character you choose, the plot itself is linear and ultimately leads to the same conclusion - kill the demon; eat or be eaten. I guess any computer game is just elaborate coinflipping, when you peel it down to its binary basics. All these graphic games and so many more have their origins firmly grounded in MUDs and IFs, but nothing beats the imagination.

The problem is, one's imagination is so rarely 100% compliant with a game's engine.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:10 PM on April 3, 2002

ZachsMind - The primary ending is to go to work. You can also bypass work and get on the freeway, or you can bypass work and choose not to get on the freeway.

If there's a fourth option, I was unable to find it.
posted by willnot at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2002

If you're still reading after this point but have not played the game yet, assume you will get spoilers. The following text is not intended to give everything away, but will no doubt have spoilers in it.

Willnot. I found the first one you mentioned, and the freeway option. That's only two. Corpse said he found three outcomes.

The game doesn't let you go to the backyard. It describes the place as if it were a house, but maybe it's just an apartment? There's no backway. You also can't take the corpse and properly dispose of it. I opted not to answer the phone one time, thinking that might bring someone to the house wondering why no one's answering before I'm able to leave. No change. I tried calling 911 on the phone to turn myself in, but it doesn't allow that. It doesn't even let you take the toaster with you. As I explained before, the game's too linear, and that's unfortunate.

...Oh wait. I found the third option. There's two freeway options. I get it now. =(
posted by ZachsMind at 1:41 PM on April 3, 2002

woohoo, i win!
posted by corpse at 1:48 PM on April 3, 2002

Thosse interested in playing any infocom game
posted by xammerboy at 3:02 PM on April 3, 2002

I win too!
posted by xammerboy at 3:36 PM on April 3, 2002

Building in proper responses to the endless varieties of possible user input is by far the hardest part of authoring interactive fiction. Even very small games need extensive third-party beta testing to be properly completed. When the alarm goes off and I wake up in the "Bedroom (on the bed)", my first natural action phrase is to "get out of bed." When that doesn't work, the game is no longer a natural, immersive experience. When it's so difficult for an author to implement every common phrase someone might use to perform a simple, expected action in a very limited, semi-linear universe, it's unreasonable to expect a fully immersive experience, one where every action is possible and has reasonable consequences. Implementing everything that's possible to do in a bedroom with five objects is a daunting task, and is often one that is not worth the time of either the author or the player.

So a compromise is made between the player and the author to give the player a smooth, immersive experience without making unrealistic demands on the author's time. Interactive fiction has a canon of actions, phrases to initiate those actions, and cues to indicate which actions are possible. If a wallet is openable and closable, the description of the wallet should say if it is opened or closed. If a lamp sits next to the bed, "turn on lamp" should have the expected effect (the player attempts to turn on the lamp)-- which may or may not have the expected consequence (the light may not go on). But unless the possibility is implied by descriptions in the game, the player should not expect to be able to "put the lamp on the wallet" or "throw the lamp out the window." (Similarly, the player should expect "put the lamp in the wallet" to not work, even though it might if the wallet (a container) is poorly implemented.)

When the player inevitably hits the wall of unimplemented possibilities, canonical cues attempt to preserve the immersiveness while guiding the player towards possible actions. An attempt to do something not possible while on the bed would result in "You first have to get off the bed," implying the action "get off the bed" will do the right thing.

This means players new to interactive fiction often need a short tutorial or description to get started. Experienced players often expect many more things from a game than would be in such a tutorial, however: hard-core gamers often type "examine self" as one of their first three commands, and if they get the default Inform [IF programming language] library response-- or worse, an error message-- they get frustrated. It's as much the author's responsibility to be familiar with the canon as it is the player's.

Enjoying short-form amateur IF often demands a little bit of extra patience for these kinds of bugs. There's a community network of willing beta testers to address this obvious need, but it's still tough to get a truly thorough game out on volunteer, hobbiest effort.
posted by dan_of_brainlog at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2002

spoiler alert:

Zach, did you find the body? I couldn't find it!
But I bet I get a few bucks for his DVD player!
posted by nprigoda at 5:55 PM on April 3, 2002

there's an option to get killed in a car accident.
posted by juv3nal at 5:55 PM on April 3, 2002

nprigoda - look under the bed.
posted by willnot at 6:00 PM on April 3, 2002

As has been discussed to death on the various Interactive Fiction newsgroups, distributing those old Infocom games is a violation of copyright. And Infocom (or whatever company owns their assets these days) enforces those copyrights. I couldn't get that elsewhere.org link to work (even after fixing the http typo stuff) so I don't know what's hosted there; but Esch, posting a copy of Hitchhiker's Guide is kind of a bad idea.
posted by bcwinters at 6:21 PM on April 3, 2002

posting a copy of Hitchhiker's Guide is kind of a bad idea.

They can't be too worried about it when Douglas Adams' own site has a free Java version.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:37 PM on April 3, 2002

I want to be able play the original Nintendo Robocop on my Mac. Possible?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:56 PM on April 3, 2002

Paris: abso lutely.

ok, the ROM link is kind of cheesy, but you didn't expect me to violate a copyright right here in plain view, didja?
posted by ook at 8:35 PM on April 3, 2002

yeah i found the body, but the game wouldn't let me do anything with it. Not that there's many interesting things one can do with a dead body. Anyone know if there's a point where if you spend too much time hanging around the house eventually someone comes in to find you loitering about and they call the cops or something?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:23 PM on April 21, 2002

« Older On average people laugh 18 times a day   |   Deaf culture has taken an interesting twist. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments