Curses! - 30 years today!

Version 7, the first publicly released version, have a compilation date of 930428, and that makes it 30 years today!

It's become a matter of pride now not to give up. That tourist map of Paris must be up here somewhere in all this clutter, even if it has been five years since your last trip. And it's your own fault. It looks as if your great-grandfather was the last person to tidy up these lofts...

An Interactive Diversion
Copyright (c) 1993 by Graham Nelson. New players should type "help".
Release 7 / Serial number 930428  (Compiled by Inform v549)

The attics, full of low beams and awkward angles, begin here in a relatively tidy area which extends north, south and east. The wooden floorboards seem fairly sound, just as well considering how heavy all these teachests are. But the old wiring went years ago, and there's no electric light.

A hinged trapdoor in the floor stands open, and light streams in from below.

It was announced a couple of day later in

Announcement: CURSES Announcing "Curses", a new Infocom-format game:
Your family have owned the house for generations, not that they ever amounted
to anything. Well, now it's yours, but you haven't any great ambitions; all
you want is to get away from the holiday packing, which is driving you mad,
and hunt around in the ramshackle old attic of Meldrew House for that student
map of Paris you know you left up there somewhere.

You certainly have no idea why Aunt Jemima's keen interest in horticulture,
your grandfather's early photography, how robot mice work, what Arthurian
legends have to do with the motorway at the bottom of the garden, Tarot
cards, the politics of George III, holiday snaps and Greek myths are all
about to become suddenly important to you... could you possibly be suffering
from a Curse?

"Curses" is a new version-3 format story file which can be played, hopefully,
on any Infocom interpreter capable of running general version 3 games. (Most
games were version 3: but be warned that some interpreters are hacked only to
work with one specific game.) The InfoTaskForce interpreter will run it, and
since that's been ported to most machines now this means it should be easy
to get going.

"Curses" is a fully worked-out and tested game which pushes the format to
its limits; it is about 115K long, larger than average, and has a comprehensive
parser (capable of working out implicit commands, and of asking clarifying
questions) with a vocabulary of about 700 words.

The story file contains full instructions and needs no other accompanying
material. It is public domain, though I retain the copyright.

"Curses" was written under an Infocom-format compiler called "Inform",
details of which are given in a similar announcement on

It may be found in the if-archive at


contains all the Inform files, including a copy of "Curses". See the Index
file there. There is also a copy in if-archive/games/infocom. Remember
that it must be FTP'd in binary, not ASCII, mode. There are interpreters for
Infocom-format adventures in if-archive/infocom/interpreters.

My thanks go to Volker Blasius for maintaining the archive, and to many others
(credited in the game) for helping with its creation.

Graham Nelson
Oxford University, UK

The first version of Inform was also announced simultaneously in

Announcement: INFORM Announcing "Inform", an Infocom-format compiler: 
Infocom game story files are as near to a universal format as we have for
interactive fiction games, but until now it has been very difficult to
construct them, and I am not aware that anyone has previously created them
outside of Infocom itself.

I have written such a compiler, called "Inform", the ANSI C source of
which is public domain. It is not a marvellously well-written program,
but it does work, and it is documented.

Inform produces version-3 files from a fairly C-like source language.

The documentation for it contains a description of Inform, and what I think
is a complete specification of the version-3 Z-code format; although this
information is mostly available on the nets, I don't think it has been
collated into a single account before. It also contains a couple of short
articles on game design, and particularly design subject to the version-3

There are also two example games, one medium-sized, one tiny. Both the
source files and the story files they compile to, are included.

Inform is public domain, though I retain the copyright. I have no objection
to anyone using its output for anything they wish.

I have also written a fully-fleshed out new game called "Curses", for which
the source is not available. Details are given in a similar announcement on

Inform may be found in the if-archive at


contains all the Inform files, including a copy of "Curses". See the Index
file there. There is also a copy of "Curses" in if-archive/games/infocom.
Remember that story files must be FTP'd in binary, not ASCII, mode.

My thanks go to Volker Blasius for maintaining the archive, and to the
InfoTaskForce and Mark Howell for their sterling work.

Graham Nelson
Oxford University, UK

The source to Curses! is unfortunately believed to be lost but Allen Garvin have made reverse engineered versions of the source code from the compiled files. I have made some bug fixes to his source of release 16 and that I believe plays pretty true to the original (with a few bugfixes to issues in the original release 16), here. Hopefully someone get inspiration and makes an anniversary version in Inform7.

I would like to see a “Let’s play” on Curses! but I’m maybe not the right person because I probably know the game too much…


Woohoo! Thanks for the post!

This is the one game that got me into IF, and out of the 2700 IF games I’ve played, this one is still my favorite.


I’m considering it after Jigsaw finishes! I think I’d have a lot more success doing this with a group than alone (where I solved a good number of puzzles, realized I’d made the game unwinnable two weeks prior, and quit).


Curses is one of my “I really want to finish this one day” games. Much like 1893, it is one of those games that I have started dozens of times, only to either become stuck at a puzzle or enter into an unwinnable state.

That being said, I do enjoy the game. It reminds me of Myst in a way, with the objects in the attic having connections to previous places and events. Curses is difficult, but very imaginative.