Zork and Imagination
Back when we occasionally had to use our brains to create the images within games, a.k.a. in the 1980s and earlier, a text-based adventure game called Zork was incredibly popular. Since most games back then were either played on a board or in the backyard, our imaginations regularly got a workout. Besides, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and other books (stories written on piles of flat sheets called “paper” and bound together) were popular back then too, so the imagery came easily.
If you were born after 1980, brace yourself; the screenshot you see below may shock you.
That’s right. You type in text commands and the game responds in text. Guaranteed to work on all ATI or NVIDIA graphics cards without updating drivers or setting anti-aliasing settings. It will still run today, 27 years later. Heck, it’ll probably run on your cell-phone. (That reminds me… you can play a voice-based Zork over the phone if you’re so inclined. Via MAKE and DownloadSquad.)
In the late 1970s, several guys from MIT’s Dynamic Modeling Group developed an adventure game called Dungeon, written in MDL, and that ran on DEC’s PDP-10. Some of the DM Group programmers founded Infocom in 1979 and released a commercial version of Zork for microcomputers such as the Apple II and TRS-80, though they had to split it into Zork I, II, and III to get it to run on the less-capable home computers.
Hand Drawn Dungeon Map
Many players would sketch out maps to help them keep track of their surroundings. This was part of the fun.
Several blogs have recently linked to a map, shown below, at Tom Almy’s website. The map is self-attributed to Steven Roy, and some searching reveals that it was scanned from November 1982 issue of The DEC Professional. Almy’s Dungeon page has downloads for playing Dungeon on DOS and Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.