Moments Out of Time in Gargoyle 2023.1 (Bocfel)

I am trying to play Moments Out of Time (2001) by L. Ross Raszewski, which uses the rare Z6 format.

The version of Bocfel in the 2023.1 release seems to correctly identify and use the associated moments.blb blorb file – at least, music plays on startup, though I haven’t encountered any sound effects while playing the game. There seem to be some issues with the interactive menu display, however. The custom menu at the bottom of the screen is not shown, and the menu screen for interaction with the console device doesn’t print the title of entries being listed. (The selection can still be made, it just has to be done blindly.)

I know that Z6 is the least well-supported version of Z-machine, but Frotz seems to get the menu displays right. Is this the kind of thing that just needs custom settings for the game in Gargoyle, or is this some deeper issue?

Note that the game can be played with the impaired features disabled. I’m just trying to figure out a way to get the author-intended experience out of Gargoyle.

For simplicity of testing for anyone interested, here’s a version of the game that packages the game file and sound effects into the same file:

momentsoutoftime.zblorb (1.7 MB)

[EDIT: Note that the above is a zblorb that I put together, and not from the original author. I have since found out that the original author did distribute a zblorb version, but it seems as though IF Archive doesn’t have it. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine still has it at: this link along with the original download page at Temporal Sciences Commission: Tomorrow's News Yesterday]

Frotz 2.54 with SDL support also plays sound, and the menus work correctly. For that interpreter, you may want to specify screen width and height parameters, but remember that these are in Z6 “units” of pixels instead of characters, so an invocation like sfrotz -H 600 -W 900 momentsoutoftime.zblorb works nicely.

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Gargoyle, along with most Z-Machine interpreters, has only partial support for Z6. I wouldn’t have expected much to work at all.

Just use Frotz.

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Sound effects definitely working under Gargoyle 2023.1/Bocfel. The game starts with sound effects disabled, but command >SOUND ON enables them, and the first sound effect can be heard upon entering the second room (east from starting location).

The issue with the menu doesn’t seem to be a matter of color configuration. In a couple of places it seems like maybe it’s trying to print the bottom menu’s entries in the status line – maybe the interpreter is getting confused about the window in which the output should be placed? If that’s the case, it could be just a minor issue at the interpreter level. I’ve tried all the custom settings for the game I could think of, and none of them seem to help. (If you’re around, @cas: Any ideas?)

So, Dannii’s point about V6 games being pretty unsupported is correct, but in this particular case, it is a simple bug in the interpreter. In all versions but 6, when selecting the upper window, the cursor moves to the origin. In V6, that’s not mandated. But I overlooked that, and move the cursor in all versions. So, the fix is trivial, and the menus look correct with the fix in place.

It’s been over a year since the last Gargoyle release, so it’s probably time to start preparing a new one. I’ve got this fix in Bocfel already, and I’ll ensure it’s in the next Gargoyle release.

V6 will probably never be properly supported, but I’m happy to at least try to improve the V6 experience in Gargoyle. The next release, for example, will contain graphics support, in a rudimentary form. You ought to be able to at least limp to the finish of some games.

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FYI to anyone interested in this game: I’ve updated the IFDB page to include a link to the original, official zblorb version, and I’ve also uploaded it (as moments.zip) to IF Archive (suggested directory /games/zcode).

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