Lost Treasures of Infocom for iOS

It looks like Activision has published an edition of the Lost Treasures of Infocom for iOS.


They clearly did a lot of work on the interface, but I don’t think it helps much; it’s more complicated than useful. Featuring Zork as their free game doesn’t help, either; not a good choice for beginners, IMO.

I suspect they have no expectation of selling this to beginners.

…in fact, it’s quite possible they have no idea who they expect to sell it to. A lot of stuff is being pushed out for iOS “just because”. Surely everybody who is interested in these games already owns them, and also has iOS Frotz installed?

(But I’m just guessing; I’m not in on Activision’s product-planning sessions.)

Having looked at it, my comments are:

  • No proportional font? Sheesh. No side margins on the iPad? Argh.
  • The macro facility is cute but not a game-changer. As it were.
  • I am not fond of the “blizzard of pop-up hints” UI style, especially since it manages to explain every part of the UI except the parser (the hard part).
  • Despite my whinging, it is a solid hunk of iOS implementation.
  • I guess I should re-up my plans to release Shade and maybe Heliopause. They would be easy to do. Is a pay-what-you-want scheme entirely ridiculous?

Yeah, the readability is so bad that I kinda wish they’d just forked Frotz or IosFizmo.

Well, I guess if you only have one font for Zork III, it has to be fixed spacing or the Royal Puzzle won’t display properly. But that’s maybe an argument for putting a little more care into your port.

If it ever makes it to Android I’ll happily shell out the $10 :slight_smile:

Any educated guesses (or better) as to why Nord and Bert is missing? For the others present in Masterpieces but not here, I can come up with a plausible case:

  • Beyond Zork/Zero - (pseudo) graphics issues
  • Arthur and Sherlock - IP concerns
  • Bureaucracy - Rights reverted to Adams ala Hitchhiker’s(?)

But Nord and Bert is straight text, and proprietary, so what’s the problem?

There’s no particular reason to think Bureaucracy’s rights reverted. We only say that about HHGG because Activision stopped distributing it, roughly ten years after it was first released, and then Douglas Adams posted it on his own web site.

Games are missing from this collection (as compared to the LTOI CD), so Activision made some sort of decision. Arthur, Zork Zero, Journey are v6 games – that’s an obvious factor. As for the others, who knows. Maybe they couldn’t get Bureaucracy’s startup form to work right?

I think there are a lot of people who remember the Infocom games but probably don’t know about Frotz or don’t have access to the old games. (I know you can find them pretty easily on the net.) So if a few thousand more people are introduced to IF on the iPhone and iPad I think that’s great. Maybe there will be some newcomers even. I have these games several times over and I still sprang for it. The interface may not be perfect, but its still interesting.

Indeed, I should not dismiss the “hey what is this” factor of a free iOS download.

Dan -

I’m interested to know; how did you notice/discover the app? Are Activision marketing it anywhere, or was it a chance certain for interactive fiction?


I noticed it when someone (adelphi@inbox.com, no other name) posted a note on RAIF on Usenet. That was Wednesday night; I googled around at that point and saw a couple of iOS-app-review sites which had mentioned it. I wasn’t able to download it myself until Thursday morning.

(Activision must have told Apple “release this app on Dec 20”, because it appeared in the New Zealand app store after midnight local time. App-review sites in NZ linked immediately. This is often the way new apps are discovered, if the parent company doesn’t do a lot of PR work.)

I saw it on Toucharcade. toucharcade.com/2012/12/19/coming-tonight-52/

I’ve been hoping that more Infocom games than just the Zork Anthology would be released on GOG.com. It’s good to hear that Activision has not utterly abandoned Infocom. I do wonder what they’re doing though, playing around with releasing small collections here and there on different web retailers.

good?! it’s horrible! They do this to have perpetual claim to old games by selling on impulse buyers who would never otherwise play these ancient games. It’s kinda like Nintendo is doing with the 3DS, where its eShop holds a few NES and even B&W games, no hint of even SNES-level classics or previous DS games. Without much other games to choose from, the more curious will play one of these (at least for a few minutes), thus the company has a right to keep their property against emulation sites offering roms…

these games should all be on an online MAME-like game museum… they are revered classics for people interested in the history of games, not money-sucking companies trying to pull another Mickey Mouse…

No. They have legal rights to the games until 95 years after the publication date. Republishing the games does not change that.

hmm, haven’t we danced this little jig before? :laughing:

happy new year, fellow adventurers!

I don’t think you can very successfully argue the facts of what American law states.

well, I can argue that they suck. I can argue that it sucks having to shell out 10 bucks every few years or so to play a game/record on a new platform that we already paid for another platform many years ago.

I would actually argue all the way back in my youth. Today I don’t, I just do a search, download a copy from some warez and give the finger to bought legislators and leeches alike. Who are they to prevent me from remembering my childhood just because, unlike old wood toys, today’s toys have programmed obsolescense?

Link removed on request of another user.