Posts from June 2012.

Text Adventurer

Here’s a thing I did: textadventurer.org.

I created the @textadventurer twitterbot to help myself learn the Twitter API. Originally it did nothing but tweet Zork commands, taken from a walkthrough. I was its sole follower.

Oddly, I really enjoyed seeing the text adventurer wander through my twitter feed every hour or so. And when he would tweet, say,”go north”, I would find myself curious as to where he was headed. So I eventually created the companion account @zork_i, rebooted @textadventurer, and introduced them to one another. Now they are playing out Zork I in its entirety.

Follow @textadventurer if you just want him to stagger into your Twitter timeline on occasion; follow @zork_i if you’d like to see the game reply to his commands. You can see the history of their interactions here, and check the current state of the game by visiting textadventurer.org.

Some details:

  • @textadventurer sends moves at random intervals; you may see six on one day, zero on another. On average he will issue three or four commands every 24 hours.
  • The adventurer will not make mistakes. He will not do something fatal, put the game into an unwinnable state, attempt to pick up items while his inventory is full, get lost in the maze, etc. That is not to say that the adventurer will complete the game in the minimum number of moves, though. He will sometimes stop to smell the roses (and read the leaflets), even when such actions are not necessary for completion.
  • Even though the adventurer is semi-optimized, you will still, if you follow him on Twitter, sometimes receive a passel of movement commands in a row, as he works his way through the coal mines, navigates the maze, and travels from one end of the Great Underground Empire to the other. I though about packing these into a single command for brevity (“go north, east, southeast, up”, etc.), but decided to leave each command atomic for the sake of authenticity.
  • The replies are taken verbatim from Infocom’s Zork I. Because memory was at a premium at the time of the game’s release, most replies are short enough to fit into single tweet. Some take two or three, which @zork_i will send at 60 seconds intervals. There are (relatively) few longer replies, requiring three or more tweets, most of which are found early in the game as new rooms are explored; a couple require five or six tweets; and there are two which are seven tweets long.

Want to play Zork I yourself? You can do so online, or find downloadable versions of the game at the Interactive Fiction Database. Happy adventuring!

* * *