Lurking Horror on a HiDPI Mac with sound effects

I’m following along with the “Eaten by a Grue” podcast; they finally played the last Infocom game, The Lurking Horror. I have a copy of The Lurking Horror, but I’d never played it, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I’m on a 16" 2019 MacBook Pro running macOS Catalina 10.15.6, which includes HiDPI “retina display.” The files I have are a .DAT file and a .BLB file, indicating to me that what I have is a Z6(?) version with sound effects.

It’s not at all clear to me which interpreter (if any?) I can use to run this game with HiDPI non-blurry text and sound effects.

If I rename the .DAT file to .z6, I can open it in Gargoyle, which is able to play a sound effect.

To get a sound effect to play, you have to solve the first puzzle: turn on pc. login 872325412. password uhlersoth. click box. click paper. read paper. z.z.z.z

But the latest 2019.1 Gargoyle interpreter doesn’t support HiDPI display, so the text is blurry. I filed a bug on this years ago and it’s still open. There’s an old patch there, but it apparently was never applied? There was an intfiction thread about this in 2017 and there was discussion of a retina patch, but I guess it was never applied to the mainline. I wonder if @Angstsmurf or @zarf have thoughts on this.

Next I tried Frotz in its SDL mode (sfrotz), but it, too has blurry text on HiDPI displays. I note with some interest that sfrotz plays the sound effect in a repeating loop, which seems like it’s probably historically accurate, indicating that Gargoyle is failing to play sounds in a loop…?

Last, I tried running in Spatterlight and Lectrote, which have excellent support for HiDPI text. (Those are normally my favorite interpreters when sound support isn’t required.) Lectrote will open the .z6 file, but I hear no sound effects. (I think Lectrote has no sound support…?) Spatterlight won’t even try to open a .z6 file, but it will open the game if I rename it to .z5—without sound effects, of course.

I guess for now I’ll probably play in sfrotz with blurry text, but I’m very open to other suggestions, including hacky workarounds.

It turns out that WinFrotz works pretty well in a Windows 10 VM on this machine. Using VMWare Fusion, I enabled VMWare’s option “Use full resolution for retina display.” The font felt a little small for me, so I cranked up the font size in WinFrotz’s options. The end result looks pretty nice.

Screen Shot 2020-08-23 at 12.41.04 PM

Not really. I have helped with building and releasing Gargoyle, but I don’t want to be in charge of code changes.

You are correct that Lectrote has no sound support. It’s possible, it just hasn’t gotten done.

I can’t really help with the problem, but here’s one item of information. The Lurking Horror is actually a “.z3” file, meaning version 3 of the Z-Machine. The two later versions of The Lurking Horror and the second version of Sherlock (a .z5 game) are the only Infocom games with digitized sound. It’s a special case, and very few interpreters can handle it. I doubt your specific issue has been solved yet.

Did you try configuring ttf fonts for sfrotz? An example .sfrotzrc from my Ubuntu box, hopefully something similar would work for you:


You could also try getting Grotz to compile. It is a GTK application but its backend is plain C so it could work.

I’ve moved to Linux a few years ago so my Mac knowledge ends with Sierra. Grotz tricks v6 sound output by wanting a blorb file. I was also wanted to recommend Wine and then settle with a Windows version of an interpreter, which is less overkill than a VM but then saw that Apple nuked 32-bit support, making it impossible for most software to work in MacOS under Wine. Immediately reminded me why I moved away from Macs.

My ultimate recommendation though would have been playing it in an emulator on the Amiga anyway, as that’s the machine where Lurking Horror was intended being played with sound. Pixel fonts, the sound of the disk drive when loading locations… no better immersion than this, but I know that’s a very personal point of view so feel free to share it or not :slight_smile:

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Yazmin does what you ask for, except looping and fading the sounds properly. It plays them just like Gargoyle.

Getting proper audio in these games is apparently tricky, enough so that David Griffith ran a successful Kickstarter to hire outside help for it, which is why Frotz is the only interpreter that does the looping and fading correctly.

It is of course possible to port the audio code from Frotz to other interpreters, but it isn’t really surprising that it hasn’t happened: it is a lot of work and is only used by these two games. In my opinion, the sound effects don’t actually improve the games much.

That said, I really should get back to working on Spatterlight.


I had that audio code MIT-licensed so that it could readily be used in non-GPLed terps. I’ve been planning to add it to GlkTerm, but that got backed up behind some other enhancements that haven’t yet been pulled in.

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I just found out that sfrotz supports antialiasing with ttf fonts, just add antialias=1 to the [fonts] section of .sfrotzrc.

Spatterlight 0.5.13b has excellent support sound for The Lurking Horror.