Zork: Now In Full HD

Sunday December 28, 2008
I am a fan of interactive fiction.  While it would be an understatement to say that the medium has experienced a bit of a lull since its heyday in the era of Infocom, I have been fairly impressed by the IFComp competitions of recent years; really enjoying these games as new, unique experiences rather than nostalgia or kitsch.

One thing has been consistently irritating is getting all of my fancy, modern hardware to play these games in a satisfying way.  The one place I definitely don't want any nostalgia in this experience is remembering the 14-inch flickery CRTs that I played these games on in my youth.  I could point fingers at various unsatisfactory pieces of software, but the fact is that the increasing variety of interpreters (glulxe, hugo, tads and z-machines of various versions) it is sometimes frustrating to even get these games to run on linux, let alone look good.

Enter Gargoyle, a classy looking, multi-platform, multi-interpreter interactive fiction system.

My original experience with Gargoyle, several months ago, was actually pretty bad.  It looked nice, but it took forever to figure out how to compile it.  I had to patch it and I couldn't figure out how to do it gracefully enough to compile on anybody else's system.  When I did built it, it opened a small, apparently fixed-size window with a fairly small font.  Not that good for an immersive experience on a desktop, and terrible for playing on the couch on my HDTV across the room.

Today, I discovered that, first of all, it builds now.  Not only that, there are some packages for Ubuntu if you are adventurous enough to try them.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I discovered that you can configure it pretty easily.  In a few minutes, thanks to the "Toggle Fullscreen" key in Compiz's "Extra WM Actions" plugin, I had a config file which looks really nice either on a "full HD" (1920x1080) TV or WUXGA desktop monitor.

Thanks to Gargoyle, here is what Zork looks like today:

Get your copy of "Zork HD" (by which I mean, "my ~/.garglkrc file") here.  Toggle it full-screen and enjoy.