Stationfall status bar time display

In most modern Z-machine interpreters, the Stationfall status bar will show something like

 Deck Twelve                Score: 0  Moves: 5066 

But the Moves: part really makes no sense when you think about it. It is in fact not showing the number of moves, but, according to the game, the “Current Galactic Standard Time (adjusted to your local day-cycle) .”

The original Infocom interpreters all seem to display this as Score: 0/5066, which make a little more sense (well, except that you might think that the time is a max score). I guess this is hard coded in the interpreters, at least I can’t see anything in the source code that would explain it. The standards document does mention “time games” and “score games”, determined by bit 1 of ‘Flags 1’, but offers no explanation for this particular behaviour.

Frotz has some width-responsive code in its v3 status line – abbreviating it to “S:0 M:5066” when the available width is narrower. I suspect interpreters have used a variety of formats, including “X/Y”, but “Score:X Moves:Y” won out without anybody really thinking about the Stationfall case.

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Unsurprisingly, this applies to Planetfall too.

My versions from Lost Treasures 1 (DOS) also display “Score: 0 Moves: 4000”; are these using the original DOS interpreters or something else? Screenshots I’ve found for other platforms all do display the “0/4000” format.

Either way, it’s simple enough to detect if Planetfall/Stationfall are running and adjust the status bar accordingly. I think that’s probably a nice feature to have, even if it doesn’t completely adhere to the standard.

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Just to clarify, the MobyGames screenshots show the original Planetfall interpreters displaying Score: 0/5066 without the “Moves” word, just like Stationfall, with the exception of DOS and Macintosh. The Mac interpreter does actually say Score: 0 Time: 4613. The DOS screenshots do use “Moves”, but I suspect they might in fact be of DOS Frotz.

EDIT: Right, TRS-80 (non-Coco) also uses “Moves”, while Commodore 128 uses “Time”.

One interesting data point: The Solid Gold version of Planetfall displays “Score” and “Time”. This can probably be assumed to be the intended display, since the Solid Gold is a V5 game, and as such, has complete control over the status bar. For V3 games the interpreter is in charge of drawing the status bar, so games had to deal with that the best they could, but with V5, you can reasonably assume whatever is displayed is exactly what was intended, or at least a lot closer than would be possible in V3.

This is handled in the globals.zil file in the SG Planetfall source, for reference.

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I’ve filed an issue at to explore this later on to possibly do some special handling in Frotz.

The status line in Suspended is also a bit unusual, in that the “Score” indicates “casualties in thousands over the last cycle only”. But I don’t think Infocom did anything special to indicate this in any of their interpreters.

In the last preserved version of the Suspended source code (which, by the looks of it, was quite unfinished), there is a custom status line that looks like it was supposed to display the current location of each robot. There the numbers are labelled “Casualties this Cycle” and “Cycle”:

Another option for displaying (non-timed) V3 status lines might be:

     0 | 5066 


     0 : 5066