Dungeon Zork =/= Zork 1+2+3... Zork Complete?

The Original Pre-Split Zork had a few puzzles that didn’t make it in to Zork 1-3 (they made it into Sorcerer instead).

Likewise, Zork 1-3 has items that never were in mainframe zork (the baseball puzzle, the wizard with his wand, the demon, the dragon, the dam (not damn) echo room solution, and most of Zork 3).

Items in Zork 2 (and even 3), are reminiscent of the split. For example, the gazebo in zork 2 just contains a load of items that were better placed in the original mainframe (or in zork 1, they just needed to also be here- such as the newspaper, the mat, the teapot). Or there was the teleporting table in Zork 3 that brought you to locations in Zork 1&2 (which always stuck me as odd, as going to zork 2 you find that the carousel room is still spinning).

I would like to see a Zork Complete game: one where you travel through the GUE, dealing simultaneously with the thief and the wizard, perhaps with the trophy case treasure hunt and demon treasure hunt happening simultaneously (or just combined into one larger hunt). For the very bold, perhaps you’re even summoned away at one point to fulfil your role in Enchanter…

Such a game would change a lot of the puzzles in the Zork games, perhaps offering alternate solutions (such as using the teleporter table as part of the solution to the drafty room puzzle, or using the wand to fluoresce your way past the grue convention instead of using the grue repellent, or even using the wand to “Fire” that pesky thief, or "filch"ing the royal jewelry away instead of time travelling).

That being said, surely there’s some kind of copyright (copywrite?) issue involved in such an undertaking. How would one get the proper permission? Or is Zork considered public domain at this point?

Maybe I’m the only one interested in such an undertaking. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Zork isn’t public domain, it’s still considered under copyright, and owned by Activision. I think the Zork 1-3 game files were distributed for free once or twice but that’s not the same thing as releasing the copyright, which I highly doubt Activision would ever do voluntarily. The dudes who wrote Zork are still alive, and the 75-year countdown doesn’t start until the author has passed away, so we’ve got about a century I’d guess before these works enter the public domain. Preposterous, I know, but there it is.

That said, if someone were to do what you propose and implement a kind of uber-Zork, I’d do my best to get my hands on a copy and try it out. 8)


I knew activision was the last copyright holder (due to Zork: GI), but I’ve seen it playable online all over the place, as well as in the modern call of duty, as well as having seen ports of Adventure and Dungeon made in I7, so I guess I was hoping that Activision just “didn’t care” and let something like that slide…

Which, is an Activision game, to be fair.

Yeah, the Call of Duty thing is Activision using their own property.

Nitpick on the copyright expiration date: The Infocom works go out of copyright 95 years after publication. (They say “copyright Infocom”. The rules are different for works of corporate, as opposed to individual, authorship.)

Activision has traditionally not objected to ports of the MIT version of Dungeon, and they’ve been good about allowing new games set in the Zork universe. You could try to find Laird Malamed’s email address and ask for permission.

And a nitpick on the nitpick:

That’s the US part of the story. In the European Union (the UK may, as usual, be an exception to the European rule) copyright always belongs to individual authors (though the economic rights may not) with a duration (except for audio recordings) of life + 70 years . So even when Zork I becomes public domain in the US in 2075, it will still be copyrighted in EU countries.

This holds for a lot of works presently in the US public domain. E.g. there is a couple of short stories by SF writer Algis Budrys on Project Gutenberg. It’s perfectly legal to base an IF game on one of them, upload it to an American server and donwload it in America. It would actually be illegal to host it on a European mirror site or to download it to your computer inside the EU.

This. Activision has seemed (at times, anyway) very liberal with giving the nod to fan projects.