Obtaining Infocom games and necessary feelies

Recently, I discovered 31 Infocom games were released in five collections, and can be found on ebay. I was wondering if these collections handle feelies well enough, or if another release like The Lost Treasures of Infocom or the Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces of Infocom would be better. I’m reluctant to consider the latter because I already purchased the Zork Anthology from gog, and hate to render that wasted money by buying all the same games again, so I’ve been leaning towards getting the Fantasy Collection (I’m not necessarily interested in every single Infocom game), and possibly considering others in the future (although Leather Goddesses of Phobos isn’t in any, and I’ve been curious about that one, so that might just have to be its own purchase).

My firsthand experience with Infocom is next to none although I’ve completed all of Legend’s text adventures, 9:05, and Lost Pig. I’ve barely tried Zork I. I think the farthest I’ve made it in Planetfall is like the morning of the second day, and I haven’t accomplished much. I did try Seastalker briefly, but didn’t know what to do despite the game supposedly being geared towards children from what I’ve read. I’ve never been good at solving adventure games without resorting to hintbooks, gamefaqs, etc. I did manage to complete Legend’s Gateway games without outside help (although the part about launching the spaceship on the icy planet in the second game had me stumped for a few days). From what I’ve read, I think most Infocom games would be far too difficult for me although I’d like to try beating the introductory level games and maybe the easiest standard games without help.

I’m not sure how unethical it is to download games for free although I honestly don’t think companies like Activision and Microsoft should be supported after reading and hearing about their unethical practices, and I am willing to resort to secondhand purchases just to avoid needlessly stuffing their pockets (I would never want to reward a company that does anything like work employees literally to death).


I don’t think the five collections (Fantasy Collection, etc) contained the feelies at all? Just a CD-ROM and a printed manual. You get all the necessary information, but if you want the original glow-in-the-dark Wishbringer stone you need to find a grey-box Wishbringer package on ebay.

What was the Zork Anthology on GOG, six bucks? If you’re really interested in collecting Infocom feelies, that’s not even a sneeze. Either you are willing to spend money (in which case go start with a Masterpieces CD-ROM) or you’re not (in which case, hey, there’s plenty of sources for downloading the games and manuals).

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I’ve downloaded multiple versions of each Infocom game (source code, too).

I don’t feel bad about it. Activision has failed to make available the majority of the catalog for public purchase/consumption, even though they have a working interpreter (as the small number of games for sale proves). I have also downloaded all available packaging/feelie scans from these two locations:
The Infocom Documentation Project (plover.net)
Computer Game Museum Collections - Infocom Gallery (mocagh.org)

Activision did grant permission to duplicate the manuals/feelies years ago, and it hasn’t been revoked AFAIK.

I’m keeping my own archive, on the off chance that Microsoft proves to be more protective of the content. Since the content has such a small storage footprint, I encourage any fan to do the same.

I can’t vouch for the Fantasy/Mystery/etc collections, but the feelies in the Lost Treasures compilations are bare bones, ugly, and I think incomplete for a game or two. I buy individual games sometimes, but they are collector’s items, and I handle their contents infrequently and carefully.

If you have any questions about accessing or playing Infocom games online, just let me know.

You have a couple of options for Invisiclues (Infocom-authored) hints. Z-code files are available at the Infocom Documentation Project (maps, too) at the link above. There are HTML hints as well, though there is archival benefit to keeping a copy of the z-code yourself.
InvisiClues (elsewhere.org)


What’s up on GOG is the old DOS interpreter from the early 90s. Plus whatever layers of emulation are needed to run that on modern Windows. Activision just dug out their own 1994 CD-ROM and slapped it up there.

(Then there’s the Call of Duty easter egg, which I’m sure is based on one of the open-source interpreters.)


Ah, yeah, I’ve been curious about the CoD implementation but not curious enough to buy a CoD game. I doubt I’d be able to figure out what’s going on there anyway.

I’ve been curious about the Steam/GOG stuff, too, but it’s funny that it’s probably running in DOSbox.

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I think GOG uses DOSbox and ScummVM for a lot if not all of adventure games on there.

I think one of the ebay listings for the fantasy collection included maps or something, so I assume those were the feelies necessary for completing the game. I’m not really ready to look into buying feelies that aren’t essential to completing the games, and I’m not very particular about physical vs. digital – I prefer to go with the most convenient option tbh.

I’d rather not spend more than necessary, but I don’t want to do anything unethical (I guess free downloads even of games that aren’t officially sold potentially rob secondhand sellers of sales?), and I don’t want to risk getting in trouble (if that’s a significant risk). One of the reasons I was considering the fantasy collection was because I had downloaded Seastalker for free (maybe from archive.org I forget), so I figured it would be more ethical to buy a legit copy, but if that’s a nonissue, then I’m glad to know I didn’t do anything wrong.

I thought I read Seastalker was solvable for adults without feelies, so I was curious to try a challenge like that. I know I can always resort to walkthroughs if (and when) I give up, but I was hoping to try solving games on my own as much as I can although I know I have practically no chance for the more difficult games. I already read how to defeat the troll in Zork I, but it’s just as well because I never would have thought to do that. I couldn’t even complete the Spellcasting games without outside help even on second play-throughs (even excluding the Island of Lost Soles).

I’ve been curious about which Infocom games would come closest to my speed…

Also, I actually got the Zork Anthology on sale (I always hold off for sales), so it actually ended up being like $3.89.

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Feelies can also be found at https://gallery.guetech.org/

For beginners? Definitely Wishbringer.


I would be very surprised. You have to navigate a sub out of a bay with varied depths, etc near the very beginning. Doing it without a map would take an amazing amount of luck. IMO Seastalker is one of Infocom’s worst games. I consider it for to be completionists only.

I think most people just whack it with the sword. There’s a better use for the item I think you’re thinking of

Wishbringer is a solid suggestion for a first game.

So far as ethics go, that’s your call, but I wouldn’t say anyone owes second hand vendors on ebay anything. That’s a luxury goods market. I can see an argument for respecting Activision’s property, though I don’t buy it personally.


I thought I read Seastalker was solvable for adults without feelies

Feelies are generally distinct from hints. Feelies are material that you read, for fun, before playing the game. They set the scene and get you in the mood.

Feelies may also include “copy-protection” information which you need to play. For Seastalker, you definitely need the oceanographic chart to play, and the base blueprints are pretty important too.

Activision’s later releases sometimes did a poor job of separating solution maps (which give spoilers) from feelie maps (which you are supposed to have when you start playing). But if you go to the manual collection sites (Infodoc or Guetech), you can look at the original manuals.


Regarding which games to start with, I suggest reading the following topic:


Let me just say that the first step to trying to enjoy the Infocom games is having the desire to play them. With that in mind, be ready to take things slow and meticulous. Map things out by hand (I use a software called Trizbort for mapping personally), and to be very observant of the words used in the game. They are the vital hints in solving the puzzles.

I’ve been going through the entire infocom library with a dear friend of mine and can easily say that playing with a partner complete changes the experience in a dramatic way. Not saying that it is the only way to play, but definitely one that you can consider to really experience it differently.

With Seastalker, it is considered an easy text adventure, because the game hinges on the core mechanic of, “We are going to reference the instructions. Can you follow those instructions?” So reading the manual and all the materials are mandatory to succeed, because the game outright states, “Reference the materials provided and follow them.” If you do that, it is almost impossible to fail.

If you want some suggestions for Infocom adventure games that are good starting points, I would highly recommend Enchanter and Wishbringer. Both offer very easy to grasp mechanics and the loop is quick to understand.

Just know that, when coming into a text adventure, there are going to be stylistic choices by designer that you can pick up that will help you along that journey. As you play, the games will get progressively easier, because you will have picked up on the tools you need to address those types of games and practiced them over and over and over.

And to let you know, I just recently beat Legend Entertainment’s Gateway and found the game to have elements that are much more challenging than some of the infocom games. You’ve got this! I can’t wait to hear about what games you dive into and what sort of frustrations and joys you face along the way!


As others have stated, some of the feelies/documentation are required to complete the games, used as a form of copy protection. Luckily these are documented online in links given above.

Keep in mind that Infocom’s games were written for a virtual machine and are playable in interpreters, of which there are many. Most of them are open source.

Once you have an interpreter, all that is really needed is the game’s “story file”. All currently available ones can be found here. There are a handful of exceptions which have extra graphics files: Zork Zero, Shogun, Arthur, and Journey, and also two which can optionally use sound: The Lurking Horror, and Sherlock. Beyond Zork also has a special font that some interpreters can display.

If you feel bad about playing 40 year old games for free, then you could always buy a beat up copy and either extract the story file from the disk, or settle for the fact that you made a best effort to obtain the game legally. :sunglasses:


The graphics files for Shogun and Arthur don’t appear in any interpreter I’ve tried though. (I have a Windows computer.) But I think WinFrotz can handle Beyond Zork’s VT220 version (Gargoyle doesn’t).

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Frotz will display Shogun, Z0, Journey, and Arthur with graphics, provided you have the right blorb, correctly named, in the same directory as the story file.

Not that I would recommend any of these as a first game.


Frotz will display Shogun, Z0, Journey, and Arthur with graphics, provided you have the right blorb, correctly named, in the same directory as the story file. Not that I would recommend any of these as a first game.

Oh my gosh no! Shame on the person who thinks those are a good start! hahahaha!


I started collecting feelies recently to decorate my studio/office…I’m mounting game maps for Zork and Wishbringer and so on in nice floating glass frames. I really really want to get a Wishbringer stone but they’re either in insanely expensive copies of the game or pulled out of the box and sold for insane prices by themselves, lol.

It’s a really nice hobby though, I’m discovering it scratches my adult-disposable-income nostalgia itch. :slight_smile:


The wishes make them really worth it though, imo.


I did read some people didn’t think it was one of Infocom’s better games, and I think I read it got negative reviews along with Cutthroats at the time. Admittedly, I didn’t really like it when I tried it. I just hate to think I can’t solve a supposedly juvenile-level game.

I didn’t mean to suggest feelies were hints. I assumed only children would need the feelies, and adults would be able to figure it out, but it seems I was completely mistaken about that game being beatable without feelies – either I was wrong about what I read, or whoever posted that didn’t know what s/he was typing about.

I actually had already checked that. While difficulty is subjective, I always figured most games had a pretty good consensus enough to rank with relatively similar results. If it varies that much, then I guess the Infocom rankings were just the opinions of whoever assigned them to the games although I’ve also read that they might not always represent difficulty so much as how suitable the labeled game would be for someone new to Infocom (I’ve read that AMFV is easy despite being rated advanced because it doesn’t have many puzzles, but I’m guessing the nature of the game would render it not as advisable a choice as a standard game for a newbie).

I was led to believe Infocom games were known for their difficulty, and I figured their idea of “introductory” was probably tougher than games like Gateway, so I’m very surprised to learn that some Infocom games might not be any worse than that – I actually beat Gateway without outside help in eight days (one of which I didn’t play at all, so I guess seven) although I did luck upon a few things through trial and error, and didn’t always see what to do immediately. Which games did you find less challenging than Gateway? I’d love to see how I would handle them. Since I’ve played Planetfall a little, I can tell you that simulating the life of a janitor at the beginning was a bit tedious/patience-trying, and dropping items after trying to pick up too many was a bit of a pain (I know a similar limit is in the Spellcasting games). I haven’t really accomplished anything more than arriving, picking up some items, finding Floyd, and sleeping one night (I’m not even sure I did everything I needed to do before sleeping, so I didn’t save after that).

I think I used maybe frotz, I forget, when I downloaded a few IF like Lost Pig and Photopia. I have Zork I-III, Zero, Beyond Zork, and Planetfall from the Zork Anthology from GOG, so I just played Zork I and Planetfall (haven’t tried the others yet) through whatever GOG prepared (seemingly DOSbox). I was wondering what the best way to play the Infocom games was like if certain releases were better than others (apparently, the Lost Treasures collections aren’t the best for feelies).

The games seem to have multiple versions. I think I read Cutthroats was buggy, so I’m guessing different updates/releases resolve such issues. Are the most recent versions the ones to go after, or are their certain games where a later release might be inferior for any reason? I figured the CD releases like those collections might be a convenient way to get the games set up although I do have a USB floppy drive and an Xtra 486 computer with DOS.

Which Infocom games, or even any other IF are most similar to Legend’s? Thanks for all the input – it’s really interesting to learn from discussions like these. I guess the next step would be either to finish Planetfall (I’ll have to start over since my first game was on a harddrive that was damaged), put that game on hold and look into Wishbringer, or perhaps play another fanmade IF first…

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The versions from the Masterpieces CD-ROM are the most reliable. Anything later might have been in the middle of changes (untested) when development stopped.


So I have beaten 14 infocom games, chronilogically from zork 1 to hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and I needed a hint for 2 puzzles in zork 3, 1 hint for zork 2 and 1 hint for Sorcerer. I typically beat each game in roughly 8-12 hours and in the cases of some games, as early as 5. I also was playing these with a friend, so our mileage definitely will vary compared to someone playing solo. Again, I feel Enchanter is a good starting point, or even Planetfall.

Again, the key is to take things slowly, map things out, save a new save at each puzzle and keep track of the location and intention of each puzzle for reference if you need to revisit them.

The infocom ratings for difficulty are so misleading so dont take those into consideration in the slightest.

If you are ever interested, I run an interactive fiction club where we rotate between a classic text adventure and more modern interactive fiction each month which i can send the info your way if you want. (Not to be self promotional in the community.) Its a pretty nice group of folks who support each other through the trials and tribulations of navigating these games.

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