Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Zork. or Why I'm Glad I Didn't Grow Up in the 80's

So after playing Zork for a few hours (if you can even call it playing) I have reached the conclusion that this game is just not fun. Zork never presents any real objectives and as a result you spent most of you time wandering around. This presents another flaw in the game. Wandering around is extremely frustrating in itself. The main problem being that if you move east, moving west will not always bring you back to where you came from. So as a result you spend tons of time typing “look around” and rereading the same passages over and over again just to figure out how to get back one move from where you are. This is made exceedingly frustrating when the game presents any type of puzzle in the form of a maze. If anyone had the pleasure of trying to figure out the maze in the cellar you know what I’m talking about. “You are in a maze of twisty passages all alike.” From there you have the option to go North, Northeast, East, SE, S, SW, W, NW, up and down, and keep in mind that if you go a space west, you can’t always go back a step east. This is probably the most frustrating and unintuitive puzzle I have ever encountered in a game.

The frustration level is mind boggling. It also doesn’t help that to solve a lot of the puzzles you basically just have to go through each item in your inventory trying “Use X on Y” for every X item in you inventory on every Y item in the room.

As for being a narrative, Zork falls short in that category as well. You are thrown into a world with some random house right next to you. The house obviously isn’t yours because you had to climb through the window to get in, but you still decide to put any treasure you find in the abandon houses trophy case as if it was your own. If this makes sense to anybody please let me know, because it certainly sounds crazy to me.

End of Rant.


Adam Johns said...

Ah, the mazes.

Everything in Zork is a problem to be solved. The usual way of solving the mazes (which are discrete but large sets of rooms with identical descriptions) is to go around dropping objects, and _then_ mapping the maze.

There's a fairly recent book about interactive fiction entitled A Maze of Twisty Passages. _Everyone_ remembers this part of Zork.

Steev said...

I just made a comment about that section on someone else's post. I mistakenly thought that it was part of Adventure, and not Zork.

He doesn't lie when he says that _everyone_ remembers that's certainly one of the most famous parts of the game, and considered to be one of the most challenging.