Monday 20 April 2009

Zork's Back!

Possible the oldest (fully realised) computerised adventure world in this world is back! Legends of Zork is now online as part of the Jolt network. It's free to play but with buyable bonuses.

Given the recent demise of Dave Arneson, who gave us the oldest role-playing world in Blackmoor. (see OotS for a good tribute) it's sort of appropriate that the world of Zork (a.k.a. The Great Underground Empire) is back, but admittedly in a form totally different from before.

Zork was always more mind over matter in its text-based game play (the more warped the mind the better). Myst sort of nicked the baton of the Zork series with its visual, cryptic, problems; which Zork tried to follow, but both sort of ran out of steam and their many sequels failed to capture the uniqueness of the originals.

Legends of Zork is totally Web based and massively multi-player; and first impressions is that of a simple bash along, with XPs, levels, equipment lists, and a lot of conventional RPG trappings (plus the promise of guilds etc in the future, the game is very much still in development). So where has the traditionally emphasise on problem solving, the mainstay of many a text adventure, got to?

Maybe it's subtly hidden within in the new game with the Fanucci cards that you randomly pick up and in the design of the related gambit. Working out how these cards relate to each other can increase you chance of success in a given combat dramatically. Of course this means that once people work out the card play (and the solutions inevitable distribution on the net) will there be a game left to play?

Given that the game isn't too deep I think so, it sounds counter-intuitive but I've found that the simpler the game the more incentive to role-play and get communities together, especially in games that can't be 'won' - possibly the true definition of an RPG campaign world.

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