Aeon Emulator Blog

October 8, 2009

Zork I: The Great Underground Empire

Filed under: Aeon, Fun & Games — Greg Divis @ 8:49 pm

I probably should have started with this one, as it was the first game I got working in Aeon, but starting things off with a screenshot of an interactive fiction game just seemed too boring. Oh well, here it is:


There isn’t too much I can say about Zork that hasn’t already been said. It’s a classic, particularly in the realm of text-parser based adventure games. Also, take a look at the copyright date in the screenshot above: it’s been around for almost 30 years, but thanks to the Infocom Z-machine, you can still play it today.

Getting Zork to work was a big deal to me, since the only programs I had tested before were simple assembly or C “hello world” programs. Zork was the real deal, and I encountered a lot of issues on the way. I was practically ecstatic when I finally got it to run, right up until I tried to read any of the text on the screen:


It was really weird. The numbers, whitespace, and casing were all correct, but the letters were completely scrambled. I don’t remember the exact cause of this, but I think it involved my incorrect implementation of the ROR instruction.

Anyway, if you’d like to play Zork, you can find the first three episodes free for download here. If you want to play Zork 1 using Aeon, just open and you’re all set.

Alternatively, since Infocom games essentially run inside their own virtual machines, you can elect to use a more modern interpreter instead. No emulator required!

The Z-machine standard is itself a pretty interesting subject; if you’re interested in what it takes to build a compliant interpreter from the ground up, here’s a blog to follow.


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