Glulx vs Z-Code in 2019

Is there really any disadvantage anymore in using Glulx in Inform 7? I’d looked into using Inform many many years ago and had thought Z-Code would be more accessible to more people, but as time has gone on I’m thinking that Glulx is pretty damn well universally accessible, at least to the people who would play a “parser” IF game (even to the point of being playable in a web browser sans-sound).


For a long time, there was a dearth of good Glulx interpreters for Android. I believe that’s changed now (?) though I haven’t been following that closely. And web interpreters are extremely common now either way.

There are also a couple formatting tricks that Z-machine can do that Glulx can’t (though there’s an extension that fixes that).

But these are pretty minor, so no, I see no real disadvantage to using Glulx in this day and age.


Thanks Daniel. I’ve never understood the idea of playing a parser IF game on a smartphone to begin with. Sounds like a pain lol.

I don’t know what the situation is for iOS, but for Android, Fabularium is wonderful and can handle both Z-machine and Glulx games just fine. IMO, short parser games work okay on mobile, especially if the commands themselves are also short (i.e. you don’t need to keep typing something like ASK SHRDLU ABOUT BLUE PYRAMID ON RED CUBE). Lime Ergot works well on a phone, for example.

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Hmm definitely something worth considering FOF. I’ll try to make the actual commands not be too long or complicated if possible. The solutions to a good IF game should only require thinking, not finger gymnastics!

Even with Emily Short’s Glulx Text Effects (if that’s the extension you mean), aren’t the possibilities on Glulx more constrained than on the Z-machine? You have exactly eleven pre-defined styles to work with in Glulx, and I think working with colors is iffy, though maybe the situation has improved. Also, it’s up to the interpreter whether to override your formatting code with the user’s settings; you can never guarantee what the text will look like.

One quirk of Glulx formatting I ran into: Inform’s “bold type” actually targets Glulx’s “sub-header” style, which is larger than regular text by default on at least some interpreters, including Glulxe (note the E), which I think is the “reference implementation”. If you want bold type mixed in with your regular text, you’ll probably want to change this, but that will have the side effect that room name headings are now the same size as regular text as well.

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Draconis was referring to these functions, which are supported in Windows Glk, the new Gargoyle 2019.1 release, and hopefully soon Quixe/Lectrote.


I’m so confused now. I do plan to also release a web version… so I can’t use those Gargoyle Glk Extensions currently, correct? I may just not use many text effects. They’re not as important as the gameplay. Italics and bold are probably the effects I’d most need.

You could still use the functions if you check first that they’re supported (through the gestalt system), which you should be doing for the other terps too. Then the file will be ready for when support does come to Quixe in the future. It also wouldn’t be too hard to manually update the file either if you are uploading your own Quixe game somewhere. Or if it’s not important for what you’re working on now, you can wait until it’s better supported.

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Thanks everyone. Since this is my first real project I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t starting down any irrevocable path (or at least a difficult one to change). I’m actually more interested in a simple but deep textual game where people need to think about solutions more than simply moving around or having images or special effects, so I think I’ve come down on starting with Z-Code and seeing if I can’t make a complete game without needing to use Glulx (not that using Glulx seems any disadvantage). Again, thanks to everyone for chiming in!

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There are a few Android devices out with good keyboards- in particular the Gemini & Cosmo from Planet Computers


Frotz works great for iOS. I play almost all IF on mobile, and have never had much trouble with it. It supports both Glulx and Z-machine. It also has some features to make typing long commands less tedious - you can double-tap any word in the text to make it appear at the prompt, and double-tap the prompt itself to scroll back through recent commands.

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