Re: Licensing Zork

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Haravikk
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Re: Licensing Zork

Post by Haravikk » Thu Sep 25, 2014 12:14 pm

[Mod Edit: The previous posts in this thread were removed at the request of the original thread author. The thread diverged a bit and included useful info after the initial conversation, so all content after that initial conversation has been retained.]

I'd love to see a Zork remake or new release; personally I think that Zork Nemesis or Zork Grand Inquisitor would be the most viable for a reboot, as gameplay-wise they're perfectly functional, and could easily be adapted into a touch-friendly format for smart-phones etc.

The main issue is whether or not either of these games have any surviving game assets such as source code for the Z-vision engine or the original 3d models from which the various scenes are built, as well as video of live-action sequences. If these existed then it would be hard to re-render at modern resolutions, or even adapt the game to an engine that can render the environments in real-time, though some improvement of textures might be needed (even at the original resolution some of the models lacked detail by today's standards).

I'm a programmer myself, and have worked on old games written in C and C++ before so have an idea of the headaches in properly updating them, and have done work on various iOS and Android programs. I tried for a while to get in touch with anyone at Activision that could help me find out what original assets still exist and/or discuss licensing terms, but I was completely unable to get any kind of meaningful response. I was able to get in touch with someone from QuickSilver (who created the Mac version of the game) but they weren't able to help much either, as most of their contacts were no longer with Activision anymore.

It's a huge shame, as I do feel that those titles would be very viable as a means of reaching a new audience on smart-phones, tablets and modern computers, but for any chance of that actually happening I'd need to find someone who can actually help in tracking down game assets and licensing (or some kind of agreement).

I've worked with Project Magma on the continuing updates to Myth II (a Bungie classic), and we were lucky to have some contact within Take Two who owned the Myth franchise after Bungie sold it, but they made efforts to re-release the games difficult, insisting on up-front payment for copies in increments of 10,000… yeah. I've no idea if Activision would provide any easier options, but without dialogue it's impossible to know.

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KM3K
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Re: Licensing Zork

Post by KM3K » Thu Sep 25, 2014 1:20 pm

I totally agree that updates for modern PCs and smartphones would be perfect for Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor. Unfortunately, I've made no more progress than you on that front.

One of our previous members, Lord_Skylark, used to have a lot of contacts, which is where he got most of the content in the Zork Compendium from. Unfortunately, he doesn't come around here any more and I've been unable to contact him. He had copies of the graphics and 3D models for Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor. That's where the "HI-RES" renders found in the Zork Compendium came from. You can find all the images he generated at http://www.thezorklibrary.com/history/image/hires/ . Hopefully, those original resources aren't lost for good now that he's gone.

If you have the time, you may want to contribute to ScummVM's implentation of ZEngine. Marisa-Chan made a separate implementation (which works quite well) for Windows and Linux at https://github.com/Marisa-Chan/Zengine . RichieSams and others from ScummVM worked on reimplementing that engine, but it is still incomplete. You can find the code for that engine at https://github.com/scummvm/scummvm/tree ... es/zvision . That engine seems to be on hold for now, but RichieSams has said he plans to get back to work on it this fall. Hopefully that will really happen.

While ZEngine does work well, it's not very well known and is a little tricky to use. I really hope the ScummVM engine is finished so that more people are exposed to the games through there. If you want to try ZEngine, you can find details about running it in my "Installing & Playing Zork Games on Modern Operating Systems" section of the site at http://www.thezorklibrary.com/installguides/ .

Haravikk
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Re: Licensing Zork

Post by Haravikk » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:16 pm

KM3K wrote:If you have the time, you may want to contribute to ScummVM's implentation of ZEngine. Marisa-Chan made a separate implementation (which works quite well) for Windows and Linux at [snip] . RichieSams and others from ScummVM worked on reimplementing that engine, but it is still incomplete. You can find the code for that engine at [snip] . That engine seems to be on hold for now, but RichieSams has said he plans to get back to work on it this fall. Hopefully that will really happen.
Wow, I didn't even realise these projects existed! While I'm familiar with ScummVM I've never investigated coding for it before, but if I have a free weekend I might dust off my C/C++ programming skills and see if I can start to learn; the Z-Engine has always interested me as the graphics were great considering the hardware it could run on!

Anyway, thanks for pointing these out, looks like I've got a lot of reading to do :)

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KM3K
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Re: Licensing Zork

Post by KM3K » Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:01 pm

Haravikk wrote:Anyway, thanks for pointing these out, looks like I've got a lot of reading to do :)
Glad I could help! I'd love to contribute to the ScummVM project too, but I simply don't have the time these days.

Some more things to look into: Review Lord_Skylark's page of contacts and sources for the Zork Compendium at http://www.thezorklibrary.com/history/00-sources.html . This one guy Bill Mings worked on ZN/ZGI and has pages with screenshots from ZN and ZGI at http://www.billmings.com/html/games.html . If you take a closer look, you'll notice that the last two of the ZN screens aren't screens, since they're really tall and higher resolution. Plus, I'm pretty sure some of the screenshots are views of the scenes at different angles than seen in the game. I think this guy must have original assets. I haven't contacted him about that yet, but based on what you said about contacting developers, I thought you may be interested in doing so.

Zidane
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Re: Licensing Zork

Post by Zidane » Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:25 pm

Haravikk wrote:RichieSams and others from ScummVM worked on reimplementing that engine, but it is still incomplete. You can find the code for that engine at ...m/scummvm/scummvm/tree ... es/zvision . That engine seems to be on hold for now, but RichieSams has said he plans to get back to work on it this fall. Hopefully that will really happen.
Hehe, this implementation in current scummvm three will be "on hold" until I complete it in my fork .(github)../Marisa-Chan/scummvm/tree/zvision (reimplementing it since 2013 fall)

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KM3K
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Re: Licensing Zork

Post by KM3K » Thu Oct 02, 2014 6:15 am

Zidane wrote:Hehe, this implementation in current scummvm three will be "on hold" until I complete it in my fork .(github)../Marisa-Chan/scummvm/tree/zvision (reimplementing it since 2013 fall)
That's great that you're continuing the work! I hadn't seen your scummvm repo before. I'll take a look at your progress soon. Thanks for your all your work! It's appreciated!

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