I have been working for the past months (post Christmas) on an idea to make the transcript game from Infocom’s ‘Lurking Horror’ as a tribute to both Dave Lebling and the Infocom team, and to ZIL itself. I got the idea from a similar project ‘blog’ I found which recreated the transcript for another game and at the end commented that the Lurking horror transcript would be a good ‘next project’. I thought to myself that the ‘challenge’ to reproduce the Lurking Horror transcript would be interesting and not too taxing on my limited ZIL ability (How wrong I was, the ‘computer’ login especially causing a few headaches!). My quandary is, where would you ‘showcase’ such a game - I have little experience of itch.io or of how to ‘submit’ to it or what other ‘hosting’ sites are out there. Also, is anything that uses Infocom material still copyright and if so - is ‘fan fiction’ allowed if it is ‘non-profit’ (e.g. A free game just to show ZIL as still a valid tool for IF)? - I have never really looked at putting any of my stuff into the open world as I tend to create for my own enjoyment, but I am at the stage where the game itself is almost finished and thought it would be good to release it along with the source for others to dissect. I think ZIL is seen to be a little ‘difficult’ to master and other languages are more suitable (Inform 7 for example) for ‘modern’ games - And, as someone who found it difficult to find examples (especially using @vaporware ZILF) thought that the more ZIL out there the better for those wanting to learn it too. What are the thought of others? Those having similar ideas of releasing games (not necessarily ZIL games) but not knowing where to start, or those who have already gone through the process (what did it involve and what were the pitfalls and lessons learnt). AG
Generally, I’d recommend entering the game in a competition, as those tend to generate the most attention and feedback.
Fan-fiction is often tolerated, but it might be best to check with the competition’s organizers whether it’s okay.
Next up would be Spring Thing. If you want to take part, you must submit your intent to enter (not the game itself yet) by March 1.
But note that the rules say: “your entry should be your own original content, and not contain any copyrighted material you don’t have the rights to.”
The biggest competition in the IF scene is IF Comp, here’s what its rules say:
If an Entry includes any text, images, music, audio content or work in or from any other medium (“Prior-Created Content”) that is owned by any third party, such use of Prior-Created Content in the Entry must be pursuant to Fair Use, licensed by the copyright-holder or otherwise permitted under US copyright law. We will generally follow the recommendations from the Organization for Transformative Works regarding what is and is not Fair Use. We note that any work in the public domain (such as all but the last four of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels) can be freely used as such works are not owned by any third party.
Pursuant to IFTF tradition, an entry may be a transformative work, such as a parody, critique, or fan-fiction. You may, for example, enter a game involving the further adventures of the characters from a novel, song or play that inspires you. You may not, however, fill your game with dozens of paragraphs of descriptive text copied word-for-word from that same Prior-Created Content, unless you have obtained a license from the Prior-Created Content’s copyright holder as such a usage would be too extensive to fall under fair use. Similarly, you may not scan a novel’s cover to use as your game cover unless you create a transformative work from that scan; we ask that unless you obtain a license to the music or use music available via a Creative Commons license, you not create background music out of the soundtrack from the film or YouTube adaptation of said a Prior-Created Content.
The release process itself will depend on the venue: if it’s a competition, the organizers will usually take care of distribution/downloads. If it’s outside of a comp, you can upload the game to the IF Archive, create a page on the IFDB for it, ideally with a nice cover image, and announce it here and on your social media channels, if applicable.
It sounds like a perfect fit for ParserComp as a showcase, when that comes up again, and if ParserComp allows fan-fiction.
My best understanding is that the copyrights on Infocom’s games will expire between 2075 and 2085, i.e., that the copyrights will outlive me and most current participants of this forum. There isn’t a blanket pass for non-commercial fan fiction, but in many cases there’s a very good argument that it’s fair use: legal issues with fan fiction.
But which way a fair use decision will go is hard to predict, and if you find yourself up against a corporation with a legal department in a fair use case, in practical terms, you’ve already lost. The good news (?) is that if they respond to a non-commercial unauthorized derivative at all, they’ll probably cease-and-desist you and not pursue further action if you comply.
All this said, Activision, the current owner, hasn’t shown any interest in interfering with non-commercial derivative works or even interfering with the public redistribution of Infocom’s games.
All that said, Microsoft has spent a year whittling away at antitrust objections to their acquisition of Acivision, and it’s a toss-up whether Microsoft would act differently. Certainly, they’ve been avid regarding copyright violation in other spheres, but those are pretty different spheres from this.
Now, I’m not a lawyer and none of this is legal advice, so I’ll just conclude with the tepid statement that it’s not entirely without risk.
— I think that my thoughts were that I was only using this project as a learning exercise and that others may benefit (in some way) with the efforts I have made. From other posts in this forum (generally), I have seen that other members have made games either solely or partially based on the works of Infocom and perhaps have taken a ‘risk’ to put these out there. From my point I just thought that the time spent doing this project may help others in getting their projects in ZIL into the open - I may be reluctant to post anything ‘out there’ but I do enjoy playing other (mostly parser based) interactive fiction. Still would be interested in other peoples thoughts though. As for entering into a comp - not sure for this project it would be an option. I have been working on another ZIL project based on my own ideas that possibly would be an option but it is not in enough of a completed state to enter (too many ‘life’ things getting in the way ATM) - maybe next year (although my procrastinating mind always says that!). AG
All that said, Microsoft has spent a year whittling away at antitrust objections to their acquisition of Acivision
If it happens, it will be the third purchase or acquisition of Activision since Activision acquired Infocom. (Although the first one in which the merged company was not called “Activision” afterwards.)
There have been Zork fan games on the IF Archive all that time.
EDIT: Okay, I overstated – not all that time. Since 1996, at least, though.
I always start looking for a game at ifdb.com. There is also possible to search for:
system:ZIL, many of the latest (non-Infocom) games have links to its source code.
(It would be nice to be able to search for a field that tells if source code is available or not.)
There are a couple different IFDB tags for this, though of course they’re slightly inconsistent. E.g.:
This is a bit OT, but the
+-syntax does not work for me. I have to use:
system:ZIL tag:"source available".
I think I’m gonna go through the few games I know and tag the ones that have source code with
ZIL source available.