Infocom IP - Why No Love?

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by USS Triumphant, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So, there's new King's Quest, new games in the old LucasArts point-and-click families of games, "Atari" is making a new console. Other games get celebrated with 20 year re-releases. Does anyone know why there's seemingly no love for the old Zork, Enchanter, Planetfall, etc? I know Blizzard-Activision has control of the IP. But they're just sitting on it?

    (I don't know that I'm really hoping anyone will know an answer. Mainly hoping someone has some news I've missed. Or failing that, to commiserate. ;) )
     
  2. Timby

    Timby Anyone who opposes me will be destroyed. Administrator

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    Without putting too fine a point on it, text-based games would draw attention on a level roughly equivalent to the crud on the bottom of my foot.

    EDIT: Even though there's a market for nostalgia and the like, no one is going to cough up the resources needed to make something like Zork run on modern systems, even with stuff like DOSBOX. The money isn't there.
     
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  3. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, there are a few non-text based Infocom IPs, such as the more modern Zorks. But on the whole, I think it just belongs to a different era. But that doesn't mean it's disappeared entirely.

    People are still making games using Inform and in fact it got recently retooled. It's become more of an underground interest, and some consider it an artform, and there are many really good writers that end up making fantastic games these days.
     
  4. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    I'm guessing that this spate of nostalgia is due to people not liking any of the new kinds of games that have come out in the last two decades, which is why people are (in the underground) bringing back text-based games like whatever was made at Infocom.

    Me, I'd love it if a game like Wing Commander and types like it were brought back-it would be amazing on modern gaming systems to be able to kick Kilrathi butt again.
     
  5. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think you understand what I meant - I'm not talking about the old games. I'm talking about them using all of the rich body of material invented for them (especially for the Zork/Enchanter/Wishbringer shared world) to create *new* games with modern graphics and technology.

    But, you're sort of wrong about no one being willing to cough up the resources to make the old games work - there have actually been a few modern commercial games that have included old text adventures as easter eggs. There have been releases of some of the games in the mobile app stores. And of course, there are fan maintained ports of things like Frotz that still let us run those old z machine games on almost anything.
    Damn straight! I don't think it'll happen any time soon, though. I have a (yes, probably conspiracy) theory that things like Microsoft Flight Simulator and the more realistic fighter sims were discouraged by the powers that be after 9/11.
     
  6. Rincewiend

    Rincewiend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Google interactive fiction, you will find sites with mostly fanmade games and modern interpreters to run the games...
     
  7. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Either I'm speaking in Egyptian hieroglyphs, or there's something wrong with the parsers here. ;) Again, I'm not talking about new text games (and I'm familiar with the ongoing IF scene), I'm talking about new games made with new technologies and graphics - but with Infocom IP.
     
  8. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, as for new games, I think there are two answers to that:

    1. The gaming landscape has changed drastically in the types of games people typically play.
    2. Zork is its biggest IP. While there have been many sequels to Zork (11 games in total), the newest ones being graphical were made in the 90's. I think it's possible there's a nostalgia barrier here. I'm not sure it would make financial sense to make a new game in the franchise at this point, unless it's developed by an indie dev.

    There was a semi-recent Zork game, but that was an internet game, an RPG that hardly had anything to do with Zork aside from the name.
     
  9. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell memelord Premium Member

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    The bottom line is that the Zork audience isn't big enough to justify a modern video game budget.

    Maybe something worth tossing out as a Kickstarter or whatever.
     
  10. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, that's what I was going for :D It would also be hard to gain any new audiences at this point. I think that the series has a very convoluted history, and hypothetically, if I were looking to be making a new game in the series, I'd probably be looking at doing a graphical remake of the first game.
     
  11. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Bingo, only I'd probably make it the first three games combined (which as you probably know, they were, but were broken down into bite-sized memory pieces that would fit on the home computers of the time). That's what frustrates me, though - I'm not even looking for Blizzard/Activision to use the material to put out some E3 dominating PlayStation 5 flagship title or anything like that. Just something like what Telltale Games has been doing with some of the older titles would be fine. But there's seemingly nothing.

    And yeah, I played Legend of Zork, the online RPG you were talking about, daily, even though it frankly sucked and was just a generic RPG thingy with some Infocom words plugged in. I was hoping if they saw interest it might lead to something better.
     
  12. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, exactly my thinking. Actually, I didn't know about the original sequels considered to be a single game. I had never heard that one, but remaking it into a single game would be a good idea, and would be a good tribute to its legacy if it came back to its original intention.

    I just think that the IP has fizzled out. Not enough of an audience would remember the legacy it left behind (like Robert has mentioned), and anything new would be a struggle to get a new one interested in it. That RPG was pretty shitty, and unfortunately, I think that's what it took to get people interested in playing with the IP these days and it was as far from anything recognizable as Zork or Infocom.

    Actually, somewhat ironically, I'd love to see someone recreate the famous white house and underground passage, using a 3D modelling program. How cool would it be to actually walk around in, say in VR?

    You see a Grue. It is dark.

    In VR, I think that could be pretty scary.

    I think that it's pretty amazing that Infocom managed to create a scene that stays so vivid with us all these years later, and only using a bunch of words. That's pretty powerful. And I think that it's precisely because they are words that it has stayed that way, years later. I've played many games that were gorgeous to look at only to be quickly forgotten.
     
  13. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yep, the original was called Dungeon, and included most of Zork I, II, and III. It was made to run on a mainframe at MIT, and when they decided to release it as a commercial product, they realized that the home computers of the time (Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit, Apple II, etc) wouldn't be able to load the whole thing. So they broke it up into three chapters, added a little to each - mainly to the beginnings/ends of each - and sold them as three games.
    That's might be true, but I believe at least the original game/trilogy was good enough to get a new audience from scratch, if recreated correctly. And I find it hard to believe that "Sam and Max" had a significantly larger audience. Or "King's Quest". Maybe they did, but it just seems odd to me that they would have. And they've had recent sequels - "King's Quest" a very well advertised and received one.
    I've often said and thought that the Infocom games and the Scott Adams Adventures had the best graphics of any games I've ever played - because the GPU was my vivid imagination. ;) That said, "Return To Zork", "Grand Inquisitor", and "Nemesis" all did a fine job of adding to the storyline in a video format. The only complaint I really had was that Nemesis ended too abruptly. But I've thought about it, and I think I know why: I think the game was written like a text adventure, and the closing moments are brief but *beautifully ornate*. Describing them in text would have been several full pages - just like the endings of the old text adventures.
     
  14. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    I wonder if maybe the text adventure game format is part of that. Kings Quest had Graham, Sam and Max had well, Sam and Max but in the Infocom games the player usually filled the role of the protagonist. IIRC, you may be assigned a role in the game but the player is usually left nameless so maybe it's harder to capitalize on the IP. Part of the appeal of using an existing IP is having something pre-packaged without having to come up with something original.
     
  15. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You may be right. There *are* additional characters that could be used, especially in the (for lack of a better term) EU of the Infocom novels - even a couple that could be used very easily to fill in details for AFGNCAAP. (The Ageless Faceless Gender-Neutral Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Person.) But it *would* probably be asking a bit much for new game developers to be aware of that material and use it, when - however many fans of the original Zork game there may be - there's probably only a relatively few obsessed fans like myself that know all of those sorts of little peripheral details. And unfortunately, none of the Implementors (the name for the game creators) of Infocom are even with the company that holds the IP anymore.
     
  16. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which I think is why VR might be the way to go if they want to take a stab at reviving the IP. That's one way they could capitalize on an adventure game where the player is never seen. In fact, I've never really liked the first-person genre much, and always preferred the 3rd-person point and click, but something about VR makes them suitable for a comeback.
     
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  17. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  18. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Very cool. I may have to play with this this weekend. :)
     
  19. The Lensman

    The Lensman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't know how I didn't see this thread, but yeah, I'm a big lover of the Infocom games, especially the Quendor games. In fact, until Hurricane Harvey and mold screwed me over, I still had most of the original boxes and feelies. :(

    However I still think the Zork universe could be revived and be a hit. Saying "there's no audience for these old games" doesn't make sense since new games with no audiences get released all the time. It's all in the quality of the new game and the marketing. Period. They don't even need to go into the nostalgia aspect and could push it as a new game universe. Now, for me personally, I would like an "Elder Scrolls" type world where you can walk around Quendor or the Great Underground Empire (why not both?). I'm happy that we're at least at a point where Zork is forgotten enough that it can finally evolve with the times.

    I love the Infocom games, they were truly special. And we are now at a point where everything in those games can be realized on screen, even the time travel parts. Now, as for the "faceless adventurer" thing being a problem.....not really. The thing about those old games is that you typically imagined yourself in the role. Many games now allow you to customize, quite extensively, the look and gender of your character, and that should be the option in a potential new game.

    While I would kill for a huge open world, triple A game 'ala Skyrim, I'd be just as happy if they did a graphical version of the original Zork trilogy in it's original form as one game. I'd think that'd be small enough and easy enough to do, and it could work as a way to gauge interest in doing more games set in that world. I'd also kill for a first person Enchanter game. While I still remember reading "You are standing in a field, West of a white house" for the first time and exploring the quiet desolate ruins of the Great Underground Empire with my Elvish sword and brass lamp, there's just something special about Enchanter for me.

    I loved that it was in the same world and all the little references, like Dimwit Flathead. I loved the quiet remains of Castle Largoneth as well as the bits of lore like the Implementors and the Unseen Terror. I loved that the days grew shorter and the decay and grayness spread over everything with the passage of time. I loved being able to use magic and feel like a magic user for the first time in a video game. I really loved all the crazy stuff you do and try with magic and all the creativity that went into providing the results of even the most bizarre of experiments. I especially loved being able to summon yourself from the Zork games in the form of the Adventurer, to help you solve a puzzle. That was the best. But it was just such a well put together little game, full of awesome imagery, great puzzles, great magic, great references, I think when all is said and done. It's my favorite.

    Here's a quick down and dirty fake cover I did for an Enchanter comic book series:

    [​IMG]

    I'd kill if these were adapted into comic form, especially with Mignola on the art. I once began an adaptation of Enchanter, but only got as far as the first couple of pages (the prologue). I'd still love to do a series of mini-series covers based on the games.

    I wonder, what are the stand out moments from the old text games for you guys?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  20. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Some of the stand out moments?

    "Hello Sailor! Dost thy know the magnitude of thine sin before the gods?"

    The really cool creepiness of almost everything in Enchanter.

    The moment that I realized what was missing from the description in the Nothing to see, nothing to.... part of the HHGTTG game.

    The abandoned highway in Beyond Zork.

    The grue's lair, and the moment I beat Wishbringer, the first text adventure that I beat. (Also, using the feelies and map for the game to run a tabletop RPG for my cousins at my grandma's house, and pretty much *everyone*, including all of the adults, thinking the stone was really cool.) (Infocom content has featured heavily in almost all of the RPGs I've run through the years. I think it's a shame they never released an official sourcebook, because a lot of it is perfect for the purpose - but I've done well enough with it, anyway.)

    How Chuck got the Intersect on the TV series "Chuck".

    "Wanna play Hucka-Bucka-Beanstalk?"

    Making lifelong friends with the two very appealing daughters (to me, at the time - I was 9, they were 8 and 10) of one of my dad's co-workers, because of our shared love of Zork.

    "SQUAWK! Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!"

    "Here's to us. Who's like us? Damned few. And they're aaaallll dead."

    "Curfew begins in 10 seconds. Curfew begins in 5 seconds. CURFEW! Curfew began 5 seconds ago. Curfew..."

    (Okay, so admittedly, one of the last three is from a Scott Adams Adventure and the other two of the three are from graphical Infocom. But I'm including them anyway. ;) )

    And this: