Playing Infocom on Windows 7

I’ve heard that Infocom games are very hard to run to a modern pc.

I don’t want to spend lots of money on these old Infocom games, if they will be difficult to launch with Windows 7.

It also might be challenging to save your game progress, since those games were not designed to be saved to anything but a floppy disk drive.

Can anyone give me advice on this?

Thank you in advance.

Not true.

Load the game data file into Gargoyle ( … frotz.html). It will play normally and save files as normal disk files.

I’m curious where you “heard” about these difficulties, because that’s a source that needs to be set straight. Infocom games are probably easier to run today than virtually anything of a similar vintage: run interpreter, load game data, play game… no virtual drive need to be mounted or anything!

Your source may not have been aware that there are alternatives to running them from their original disk media on their original operating system, in which event your source’s knowledge on the topic is nearly two decades out of date.

As everyone else says. If you try and play the Infocom games in their original incarnation for any given OS, then yes, it’ll be difficult. But the games themselves exist as data files as well, usually in the form zork.dat, or zork.z3, or zork.z5 (and some games are .z6 and z.8). Depending on your source for the games you may have them all in .dat files*. You can load them into any modern Inform interpreter, as zarf says and links to, and it’ll be über-easy.

*[rant]I got a huge collection of Infocom games, unadvertised, when I bought the Zork Anthology. Zorks 1-3, BZ, Z0, RtZ and Nemesis… and a mysterious folder full of .dat files with names like SUSPENDED and SUSPECT and INFIDEL. I was thrilled when I found out they were games… but it didn’t do me any good because there was no documentation![/rant]

Re “spending a lot of money”, I’d advise you to ask around, in this forum, what exactly you’re looking to acquire. I know that at least one collection - a volume of the Lost Treasures of Infocom - had very bad quality manuals, and was even missing, for Ballyhoo, a piece of information without which you couldn’t finish the game.

Now, if you’re talking about spending a lot of money because you’re going to buy a packaged version of the game in eBay for hundreds of dollars… then yes, you’ll have difficulty getting THAT one to run. :wink: I wouldn’t reccommend it unless you’re a collector.


I don’t know about the original versions, but this wasn’t true even of the DOS versions I played of Infocom games. Of all the DOS IF I’ve played I can only remember THE MIST (and maybe BEYOND THE TITANIC, but I’m not sure on that one) as games that forced you to save on a disk (but if you go to other systems, like Apple II, yeah, you need the separate disk. Unless you have an emulator, which is what you probably have).

Argh, rambling, drivelling. Back to the point: the number of DOS games I’ve played where you could ONLY save to a floppy disk can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and none were Infocom’s.

As far as documentation goes, the manuals can be found online here–which states that it’s a legitimate upload, done with the permission of Activision–and here, which may be higher-quality, and I guess is not official but which might be kind of tolerated by Activision.

I don’t have any insider information on this, but I kind of suspect Activision tolerates putting these manuals up because it saves them the trouble of doing high-quality scans themselves. I don’t know how the manual scans in the Lost Treasures of Infocom app are, but I remember that some people were not too impressed by the manuals when the Zork games were released at

My intention was to buy the Activision re-release of these Infocom games, such as the “Infocom Adventure Collection”, which is on CD, and which are said to “work” on Windows XP.

On Windows 7, I understand people have had a very difficult time getting these to run, from what I’ve read in various google searches.

I’ve read that something called DOS BOX will allow you to run them, but the tutorials I’ve seen look very cumbersome, and I’m still not even sure if that will alllow you to save games.

As for downloading and loading DAT files, I think that might be violation of Activision copyright, am I wrong?

The DAT files are on the CD you’re buying.

Once you buy the game, you can play it however you like. The DAT files, as Juhana said, are already there. You load up an interpreter, and hey presto.

I would definitely NOT recommend you use DosBox. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous thing, but it’s overkill and interpreters are MUCH better. And more versatile. And way easier to set up.

Also, if you could spread the word, it’d be lovely. It appears that there’s plenty of people out there who know nothing of existing interpreters, and are still fiddling around trying to get the game to run in the state of the art of twenty years ago. If you could help bridge this gap of information, plenty would thank you, I’m sure.

Because Activision sure as heck isn’t going to say “Having problems playing the games? Try this third-party software which we didn’t code, don’t own and probably can’t redistribute”.

…but I may be wrong, because I seem to remember an interpreter being distributed with Zork: The Undiscovered Underground.

Bah. Rambling.

I can confirm that all the Infocom games I’ve tried work very well in Frotz on Windows 7 (just renaming .DAT to .Z#). I have heard that there is some weirdness with Sherlock writing to an illegal address, but I believe interpreters work around it in that specific case.

Oh, yes, the .z6 games will need a little extra. Zork Zero, Journey, Sherlock, Shogun, Arthur, The Lurking Horror. You’ll need to download some files, called BLORBED files, which have been made in order to allow these games’ multimedia features to work with modern interpreters.

Once you buy the collection, you own the games, and I very much doubt there is any sort of copyright violation in downloading the media files in blorbed format. You already have the games, media included; you paid for them; now you’re just downloading the media in a different format to easily play.

Hey, an example popped into my mind: Broken Sword. ScummVM supports Broken Sword I and II, except that it’s had to repackage the cutscenes. They distribute the cutscenes package freely in their website - because, unless you own the original game, the package itself is useless; it only exists so that you can properly play the game in their interpreter. Similarly, you can get the blorbed files from a couple of places - if in doubt, just ask and you’ll be pointed to them, or given outright.

Look, bottom line: we’ve all been playing Infocom games in interpreters for years. Go ahead and buy the collection. Then anything that you do to get the games running is your business; you paid for the games, you want to be able to play them. I need a CD-Crack just to play Discworld Noir on my computer because the copy protection they used is faulty in newer systems, and I don’t lose any sleep over it; I’m still using the original, purchased CD.

So go ahead and buy it. Then if you need any assistance with the blorbed multimedia files, or the manuals, or anything at all, just come here and ask. We’ll help you.

I have never purchased any of the mini-collections, but the Lost Treasures and Masterpieces collections have a data folder in them with the *.DAT files you would be looking for (the game folders themselves have the game bundled into executables that will only work in DOS). I imagine the mini-collections are the same way.

As people have said, the *.DAT files will play nicely in Gargoyle or Windows Frotz. I even like the interpreter Filfre a lot although it doesn’t always do Infocom status bars (the line of information at the top of the screen) correctly.

The odd thing is that the data folders in these collections don’t always have the last version of a game. If that is important to you (Solid Gold versions of games will often have built-in hints or games like the Lurking Horror or Sherlock have sound support), you can check the version you have against the list in the Infocom Fact Sheet: (in the 35 Canonical Game section)

You can patch your version to another one using files from here: … tches.html That would require DOSbox, though, and would be a bit of a hassle. Really, I’d just recommend buying the games and then finding the data files again on the net. Save yourself some trouble.

You’ll also find that the sounds in Lurking Horror and Sherlock aren’t really worth much of the hassle (also, sound will work great in Windows Frotz but I’ve never gotten it to work properly in Gargoyle).

As Matt said, you might also want to keep the Infocom Documentation Project handy for nice scans of the manuals. Also useful is the Infocom Gallery.

Okay, so it sounds like DOSBOX is a waste of time, and Frotz is the best interpreter.

There are many different versions of Frotz in that archive, do you know which works best on Windows 7?

One last question, if I am running Windows XP or Windows 98 on a laptop, will the game automatically run and save games easily in that case?

Don’t laugh, but I’d consider buying an older version of Windows to play these games if they worked very efficiently on that OS.

You want this version: … taller.exe

It was updated just a couple of months ago so it should be good for Windows XP and later. I don’t know what Win98 support looks like these days.

I haven’t tested it recently, but Windows Frotz should work fine on Windows 98, or even Windows 95 for that matter.

DOSBOX is not a waste of time, it just depends on what your interests are. WinFrotz works great for a Windows interpreter. DOSBOX works great for DOS interpreters. Both can save to HD’s. I have played both and I prefer DOSBOX just because I like playing DOS games in DOS just like the original games and I am just an old DOS fart. I play WinFrotz in Windows 7.

Not everybody might like it, but there is a rather nice Infocom-Collection on the iOS-Appstore.


edit: looking now at the topic, it’s rather nonsense what I wrote. But it’s really nice anyway …

I agree. I use an Apple II emulator for playing old CRPGs and DOSBOX (actually, Boxer) for playing slightly less old CRPGS. It’s definitely worth exploring if you have an interest in classic games. However, for Infocom games on Windows, I’d recommend that you go with a native IF interpreter like WinFrotz. As an added bonus, you can easily use it to play many of the games that members of the modern IF community have authored over the past couple of decades. See the ifarchive for gamefiles and ifdb for descriptions and reviews of games. I think you’ll find that several of them rival the Infocom games in quality. See the recent IF Top 50 threads (results, discussion) for some recommendations on where to start.

If you have a C compiler, you can also try ZORKMID (an interpreter I wrote), which should be compatible with most Infocom games (any that use EZIP/XZIP/YZIP won’t be compatible, although many of Infocom’s games don’t require it). (But Frotz just isn’t that good an interpreter actually)

However, if you have the original DOS programs, I would recommend to use DOSBOX instead unless you need debugging capabilities (the “D” in “ZORKMID” stands for debugging). You can even run other story files with Infocom’s DOS-based interpreters by specifying /g and the filename (do not include a space).

(Most of Infocom’s game are ZIP, some are EZIP and XZIP and YZIP, and as far as I know only one (Fooblitzky) is DIP (I don’t know what the “D” stands for).)

Make DosBox your best friend. You can play the dos versions, and if there are legal version on sites that offer abandoned dos games you can download them (make sure they’re legal, you can contact Activision, or whoever bought them out.)

I’ve been playing Enchanter.

It installs easy, and runs like any windows app. The screen is a dos emulator.

Make a folder in your C: right in the main C: called dgames. (Using windows.)

When you open doss box type:

mount c c:\dgames

then type: cd c:\dgames

viola. You use it like dos. Just install your games in their own folders in dgames folder. (using windows)

dir will show you a list of game folders.

The only time you use dosbox is to mount your c to dgames and open the game file.

Don’t worry about dosbox being illegal, I think it’s pretty much vetoed in. Tons of publishers, mainstream, are selling their old games of Gog and Steam, using DosBox as the solution. Uses FreeDos I believe.

Another way is to give the name of the directory or executable as the command-line argument to DosBox. (In Windows, this is possible by dragging the directory or file icon onto the DosBox icon, or it can also be done using the command prompt, or you can create a shortcut that has the command-line arguments already filled in.)