How to play The Quill SNA games?

So I’ve got this big archive of what I think are all Quill games, files of 48k ending in .SNA, but I have no idea how to play them! And some searches have not enlightened me. Any ideas? Interpreters for either Linux or Windows would be preferred.

Edited to add: Gargoyle doesn’t seem to be able to open them. I found this website, but that seems to contain versions of the Quill editor itself and only for very old platforms. I can’t find any information there about running the games themselves.

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A ZX Spectrum emulator.

They’re ZX Spectrum snapshot files. Any Spectrum emulator will play them (FUSE is a free one). Or you can use an online emulator, such as QAOP. Qaop – ZX Spectrum emulator

You can also use a program called unQuill, which was designed to extract the Quill database from such files, to actually play the games directly on your PC (albeit in a slightly different form). I would recommend playing them in a Spectrum emulator for the proper experience. UnQuill


I think that .SNA files are just Spectrum emulator memory dumps? Like a savestate in other emulators. This info page suggests they’re readable by most Specturm emulators.

Spectrum emulation isn’t something I’ve played much with, but it looks like most or all emulators should be able to load them.

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The website is my website. I maintain it together with Tim Gilberts, who found Gilsoft in the 80s and published “The Quill”.

.SNA files are snapshot files. You need a ZX Spectrum emulator like Fuse to run them.

Quill itself exported to standalone binaries. You don’t need the editor itself to play a Quill’ed game.


In case you go for UnQuill, it requires DOSBOX to run. It can then work as a Quill-interpreter, which reads snapshot files or it can create z5-files to use with e.g. Frotz. I have only done that once, but the result was good and I completed both parts of a converted Quill game without any issues.

EDIT: If you got the file “” [01-Nov-2004] from the IF Archive, it is my impression that most of the games are made with PAW, which will not work with UnQuill.

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I’ve only dabbled, but I like this one:

It works, and in a fairly uncomplicated fashion. It reads .sna and .z80 files (probably among others). I’ve had issues figuring out how to save and load with some of the others, but it seems to work okay here. F1 to create a “snapshot”, F12 to load it. One save only per game, so far as I can tell. Speccy is AFAIK much better known, but saving in that seems to entail changing the whole starting point of the game, which I personally don’t like.

Unquill on the IF-Archive ( contains a Win32 binary (unquillw32.exe) that can be run from the command prompt on Windows without needing DosBox.

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The version of Unquill available on IF-Archive is not up to date. While working on zQuill, I had found some issues. There is still a small error in the interpreter that I had reported, but that has not been corrected: Words with a word value less than 13 are assumed to be movement words and not less than 20 as it appears in the code.
Glad to see that there are people who are interested in The Quill.

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Thanks everyone! I was clearly coming at this from the wrong paradigm, not realising that Quill outputs to a specific hardware platform. I’ll try my hand at ZX Spectrum emulation. :slight_smile: For the curious, I need this to play the fourth game of my IFDB Spelunking expedition, in which I play ten random games:

I think number 8 is a Spectrum game as well.


Celtic Carnage was PAWed, so yeah, you’ll need to play it on a Spectrum emulator. It’s part of a great series of pseudo-historical games by Ian Brown.

Time Quest… That’s a pretty early Spectrum game… so, yeah, it’ll be an interesting experience to play.

You can play both instantly online, by the way…

Celtic Carnage:

Time Quest:

…but a real emulator is more reliable and provides a better experience.


(Should you get stuck, then we have solutions to both on CASA…
Celtic Carnage: :: CASA :: Celtic Carnage
Time Quest: :: CASA :: Time Quest )


Thanks, that’s really helpful! :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the heads-up: I have updated Unquill on the IF-Archive to the latest version. It will still take up to 24 hours for Cloudflare to reflect the update, though.


Hm… I thought I had it running using FUSE, but after the introduction text I immediately hit a snatch. The game says “undefined variable” and then loops back to the beginning of the intro text. Possibly the online versions are a better bet for me?

There shouldn’t be an issue running the game on FUSE. Perhaps the snapshot you have is corrupted. The Spectrum Computing page I linked to previously has a .tap (or .tzx) file which is a better (and a more accurate format).

You do need to “load” it in properly. From Sinclair basic type LOAD “”

Note, if you’re unfamiliar with the Spectrum and the emulator then this can be a little problematic… LOAD is a keyword that is generated by pressing the J key. The quotation marks position might vary, depending on the emulator… on my computer/FUSE you get them by pressing Ctrl and P together.

Edit: Just tested the tap file in Fuse… If you merely download the zipped tap file from that site ( then you can simply File > Open… it and it will load automatically in Fuse.


I’ll try this later! Currently in the middle of the online version of the game. :slight_smile:

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I’m liking it more than I had expected, although the sudden deaths are really annoying, especially since there is no UNDO and LOAD doesn’t seem to work on the online version. Perhaps this will work better with a native FUSE.

When playing these games on a real ZX Spectrum, you would spend most of your time saving to tape and then reloading, each taking several minutes. The instant saving and reloading anywhere features of an emulator cuts down play time and frustration by an order of magnitude.

You can also increase the overall speed of the emulator, although this sometimes makes typing difficult.


You should be able to RAMSAVE and RAMLOAD (usually abbreviated to RS and RL in a Spectrum game, but not in this one)

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