The future of Zork

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The Lensman

The future of Zork

Post by The Lensman » Thu Jan 31, 2002 1:46 am

Hello all, the new site looks great. I did not get back in time to respond to the comments in my last post "Why Zork is dying".  

In regards to any fan made game. I'm all for it, but you guys just seem to be taking the hard road in my opinion. Look, I don't know what the average video game experience those working on the game have. What you've played, how much you keep up with the mod community. Especially when I read comments to the effect of having Activision give you the liscense (or rent it, whatever) and you guys selling a game. If I recall correctly, you guys also have limited experience in creating a Myst style game as well. In addition to that, there's no mod community in place to give you any sort of assistance in creating the game.  

This is why I belive that any resurgence in Zork will have to be done:

A. By the users as a game Mod
B. With a non-Myst style game that has a level editor and
c. A modding community in place to offer support and advertisement

A couple of years ago, a guy did a horror based mod for Half-Life. It was done so well, that P.C. Gamer actively promoted it, and included it on several versions of their demo disk. When the guy started talking sequel, they promoted that in advance and kept people updated. So the idea that people with limited skills in designing games, can not only get the liscense, but then turn around and sell the game, just doesn't seem feasible. But the idea of modifying an existing game, in a well done manner, and getting the exposure that Zork needs to show Activision that it isn't dead is entirely possible.  

I submit to you that the best format, right now, for Zork is the RPG. Morrowwind is a new RPG that will ship with a level editor that will allow people to build towns, edit NPC's, etc,. It is the first RPG that will allow people to do this on this scale and it's in 3-D. I don't know about you, but I'd love to walk through a forrest and come across the White House. Walk around Miznia or Borphee and see the sights. Walk around in the GUE instead of the stop-go of the Myst style games. Or have a conversation with a 3D Belboz, cast spells and such. Yes, the mechanics will have to reflect those of Morrowwinds native environment, but it's possible that a bad ass programmer might be able to modify the games mechanics to reflect the Zork worlds.  

There's interest out there, and I can guarantee that a mod like this would get the attention of gamers and if done well, some of the big magazines. Something new has to be brought to the table with Zork. And while I think Laird Malamed(sp) did a fine job with the last couple of games, he seems to be stuck in the same box mentally that alot of fans are. In essence, he, like others has this idea of "what Zork is" and instead of trying to re-envision Zork for a new time, he's willing to let it die because it "violates" what he and others feel is "the true spirit of Zork", whatever that means.  

An adventure game in the year 2002 should be about adventure, not just solving puzzles. That makes it a puzzle game, and we've all been there and done that. Both in text and Myst style. It's time for Zork to evolve to the next level instead of trying to be something it can no longer be.  

I've included a web address that has an article about Morrowwind's editor, with some screen shots from the editor.  
Check it out.  

http://www.ve3d.com/games/previews/tes/

Also, here's the games main website, check out the beauty of this games graphics and tell me you wouldn't want a Zork game this gorgeous. Again, me personally, I'd love to be able to walk up to and into the White House, with this game, it's possible.

http://www.elderscrolls.com/main.htm

There'll be a larger community in place to offer tips, and assistance and the odd's of something being produced far greater.  I think you guys could do so much more with this games engine than anything else out there.

Thoughts?

SCarey
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Re: The future of Zork

Post by SCarey » Thu Jan 31, 2002 5:10 am

This actually is a good idea, but Zork in an RPG format. It just doesnt seem right to me. My brother is big into Half Life Mods and I've read PC gamer. Zork really isnt the type of games the majority of the generation likes. Unless you created a Doom style, first person, rocket launching, cool explosions, I-need-a-mainframe-computer-to-operate, Max Payne game all set in a zork universe, advertising or not, the interest of a game that uses a certain amount of intelect won't float. And there arn't any cheat codes in a Zork game! how are people possibly gong to solve the game? Using your brain to solve a game isn't the same anymore. It take a certain type of person to appreciate good adventure gaming like Zork. Personnaly  loved the Myst series because goals wern't spelled out for you, and you really had to think. I met people, like my brother, from a different generation who hated those game and loved the types I explained above. Not to say that all first person shooteres suck, I loved Half Life, mostly because of the story it told, but it was still great. I love Ghost Recon, only because I got use what I learned while being in the Military and really got to test my skills. So while  the Mod Idea is a good one I can see how it may not work. There would really have to be a lot of thought put into a Zork game like that. Thats why we're all here. So what the hell. Why not give it a try. Anyone want to discuss a story line? did I make any sense? Its late, I need sleep. College sucks.

Not Afgncaap5

Re: The future of Zork

Post by Not Afgncaap5 » Thu Jan 31, 2002 5:58 am

Well maybe that's it, the fans are thinking they're the only ones keeping Zork alive, but maybe it's there reluctance for something different that is in fact killing Zork.  We could think of Zork more like Star Wars in terms of games.  A lot of games, in many genres, but all taking place in the same universe.

As far as making the mod, I'm not sure anyone here knows how to do such a thing, but I for one am for it.

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Re: The future of Zork

Post by SCarey » Thu Jan 31, 2002 7:03 pm

Well Star Wars is flexible like that. The original story shows great battles, great characters, large expansive versatile universe. This is Zork. You cannot create a strategy C&C like game set in a Zork universe. Its hard to explain, Zork is just differnt. There is a certain feel a Zork game has to have to it.....I dont know I'm rambling again! this is just for the sake of conversation. but still I am a Zork fan.

The Lensman

My response part 1

Post by The Lensman » Thu Jan 31, 2002 9:51 pm

"Well maybe that's it, the fans are thinking they're the only ones keeping Zork alive, but maybe it's there reluctance for something different that is in fact killing Zork"

That's how it looks to me. And yes, I'm a Zork fan from way back and I can appreciate the desire for things to stay a certain way. I was pissed when Beyond Zork came out, and it had graphics, limited though they were. I wasn't too thrilled when Zork Zero had even MORE graphics, mainly because game graphics at that time largely sucked and I felt if you couldn't do them right, don't do them. By the time Return To Zork rolled around, text games were a thing of the past, and while I sort of lamented that a new Zork game would be totally graphical in nature, I was also a little stoked to see some familiar landmarks.

"We could think of Zork more like Star Wars in terms of games.  A lot of games, in many genres, but all taking place in the same universe"

EXACTLY!!! And whether these are full blown games done by Activision, or mods of existing games is beside the point. Activision isn't going to do a game, any game, based on Zork unless there's interest. But interest is waning because of no new game, it's a Catch-22. Mod's are the cheapest way to keep Zork alive. Now I proposed that Morrowwind be the optimum format for a Zork mod, it would be. But one can go about making Zork mods that are somewhat easier, but would require a little time. No more than what's being proposed already.

Civ 3 is either out, or about to come out. The last two versions of Civ were modifiable, and had a strong mod community behind it. One could design a Zork mod for Civ 3, and we could see the evolution of Quendor from a couple of tribes to vast empires.

A couple of years ago, I was working on a Zork mod for Heroes of Might and Magic 3. It was pretty cool. I didn't have to create graphics or anything, just create a map using the map editor, drop in cities, objects, (treasures, special items), signs that said whatever you wanted them to, and after a certain amount of turns, 20 or so, I had a "Dimwit's Guide to Zork" message that would pop up and relate some fact about Quendor. When FCD#3 was built, who Dimwit was, when Megaboz ended the Empire and so forth. It also allowed for an underground level as vast as the map of the surface.

Unfortunatly, I was ready to build this level after taking the game out of the box, and spent more time with that than  playing the game, so I never fully understood the games mechanics.

The point however is that I would love playing different types of games set in the world of Zork. And since Zork is quickly fading to obscurity, I doubt most people would be upset that Zork has changed since most probably don't know what it is now anyway. Plus, I have no doubt that the gaming community would'nt love a Zork mod of any type, it just doesn't occur to most people to build one since it's largely forgotten.

"Zork really isnt the type of games the majority of the generation likes. Unless you created a Doom style, first person, rocket launching, cool explosions, I-need-a-mainframe-computer-to-operate, Max Payne game all set in a zork universe, advertising or not, the interest of a game that uses a certain amount of intelect won't float"

Games like "Deus Ex" and "System Shock 2" required a certain amount of intellect and I know "Deus Ex" was named Game Of The Year by a couple of magazines, "System Shock 2" I don't recall. Are the younger generation *really* that action oriented? Or is just assumed that they are, so action games are put out and they're programmed to accept that that's all that's worth playing?

Or to put it another way, in America superheroes dominate comic books. Many comic creators and readers are tired of this, and the fact that because of this, comics aren't taken seriously as a genre in America. Contrast that to Japan, where comics are accpeted by the general public as a legitimate and valid form of literature like books. Because they catered across the board to a wide variety of readers instead of just focusing on one genre of the art as we did in America with Superheroes. Since that's all that we put out, and that's what people got used to reading, companies assumed that's all that people wanted and so continued to print that to the long term detriment of the industry.

Over the last decade, more comics across a wide variety of genre's have been cropping up to critical acclaim. Even DC has it's Vertigo line which is not based on Superheroes, and does well. In essence, when someone took the chance of putting out a top product, with enough coporate backing, it became successful and broke the mold.

The Lensman

My response part 2

Post by The Lensman » Thu Jan 31, 2002 9:55 pm

(continued)
If I recall, Deus Ex required quite a bit more in the attention span department than other first person games. It operated like a RPG in some aspects, you could select the type of person you wanted to play. My character was a hacker, so I had to play very stealthly in order to survive. The all out frag fest is a thing of the past, and people want more flavor in the first person shooter. As someone who plays them, I see it first hand.

Back to the original point though, Morrowwind may be a good indicator of just how successful a Zork RPG could be. It's certainly not going to be some simple frag fest and it will require a certain amount of intellect. Are we talking the kind that stumped us in games like "Spellbreaker"? No, but then we're not talking about doing puzzle games per se' either.

In the end, the game would probably have high system requirements upon coming out, in order for it to be cool. Each new entry into the Zork world should be pushing the envelope like the old Ultima games used to upon arrival. I wasn't able to play the last three Zork games when they came out, so it's nothing new to me.

"You cannot create a strategy C&C like game set in a Zork universe. Its hard to explain, Zork is just differnt. There is a certain feel a Zork game has to have to it....."

I would've agreed with you once, but no longer. To me Zork or more appropriatly, Quendor, is a world. I'm more interested in visiting that world than I am playing a certain type of game set in that world. I would totally dig a C&C type of game where you have Adventurerer's, Enchanters, Dragons, Demons, Trolls, and the like battling it out. It's evolution.

Zork (and by extension Enchanter) has always evolved, it just may not seem like it. The original Zork trilogy had a very dry sense of humour and at the same time an elegant sense that epic things had just ended. The Enchanter trilogy took it a step further and these two are the most alike in flavor.

Beyond Zork is tolerable, but this is where the Zork universe moved to the goofier "pythone-douglas adamsesque" style of humour. They didn't have that elegant feeling of great things having just passed, as the originals did, and the humour was more obvious, upfront and goofy.

Zork made a quantum leap of a change by going graphic. This is major evolution, and I was wary of it, but still hyped to see all the old familiar places of old. Sadly, the acting wasn't that great, continuity thrown out the window, a bad extrapolation of where Quendor would be in "x" amount of years, and the inability to really experiment with things like you could in the old games. It didn't have the feel of the original games in anyway.

Nemesis was a good game, but a horrible Zork game. It lacked everything that made Zork what it was. I did like that it was a bit more serious, but it was TOO serious, and threw the pre-existing cosmology out the window.

Grand Inquisitor was closer to the original games of Zork Zero and Beyond Zork, but was still a bit too goofy in certain respects, not to mention the butchering of certain aspects of the timeline and continuity. It, like all the graphic Zork games, lacked a sense of adventure. But I still enjoy it, and it was the best of the graphic Zork games, especially because it had spells and acknowledged the Enchanter games more openly. It had certain aspects of it's engine updated, but that was it.

Myst style games are out, and most serious gamers revile them. So trying to create a game in this style requires that you somehow get non-gamers to buy a game. Myst was able to do it, but Myst and it's sequels are generally acknowledged to be anomolies in the gaming world. They managed to suceed, other similar games have not done as well. If Zork is to continue, some hard thinking about where to take it in the next step of it's evolution has to occur.

Saying that you don't want it to become "x" because it will lose a feel that most people aren't aware of only condems it to death. People have said that certain types of games are no longer interesting, continuing to do games that arent' interesting to the game buying community is not logical. Hoping that people will someday come around to see that they are interesting is not logical. You might as well wait for text games to come back in.

It's got to evolve with the times or die. I don't want it to die. I love Quendor, in fact right now I'm transcribing the first two trilogies over to Word so that I can print them out and read them later. I dig it that much. I want to visit Quendor again in the future, with modern graphics and technology behind it. When I see where games have come, when I see where they're going, I want Zork to be a part of that, preferably at the forefront of it all in terms of graphics and technology. I mean, who would'nt love a massive online game world for Zork as Everquest has?

Sorry to rant, but this issue has been something that's been bothering me for years and you're the first people I can talk about Zork to who know what I'm talking about! :)

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Re: The future of Zork

Post by DataAngel » Thu Jan 31, 2002 10:59 pm

Woah I missed all that while sleeping?  :o

Okay time for my thoughts as well... I am strating to agree that Zork has evolved over the years and is no longer what it once was and continues to do so. I think I am just sad about it being anything besides a hardcore puzzle/think game. I ave to agree that most games that come out for the current generation are all FPS/RTS style games. The reason for this is that many people don't have the time to sit down for 2 hours and play a thinking game. Nowadays its a 5min. fragfest then back to working. I realize theres many people playing games like EQ, AO, etc. but thats actually a small amount of players of games in total. Yes, THEY have time to play for hours and hours all the time, but if they are playing those then I doubt they will care or have time for anything else.

I have chekced out the morrowind and it looks impressive enough to do something like Zork in its world. I also agree that even we can manage to make a good mod. within a reasonable time we could easily get it on some major PC game sites. Also this way we shant need the license because we won't be releasing it for money.

Okay on another note, I have been getting into Digital Art this last month and although not yet doing anything in Maya its to come. Before when there was talk of Zork we didn't really have many people that could do graphics, well now here is one more person who can help.

If anyone wants to see some of my work, you can at
http://destiny-server.dns2go.com/personal/art/art.htm

The more time I have between now and when we actually make the mod. or something like it, I will have had time to learn Maya. So I should be able to make skins for the chars. etc. so we can literally CHANGE it to Zork, without having things like skeletons lol

Lastly I am glad to know that people are still wanting to do this and I am wondering if maybe we could do an article on Gamespot about Zork and our plans to do a HUGE mod. using Morrowind. I mean there HAS to be a person at gamespot that likes Zork we can appeal to? Once we commit to something people expect us to do, then we will be more pressed to do it than just talk all the time. I would also really like to know just how many people out there would like it to come to pass. Anyways, great thoughts people.

Not Afgncaap5

Re: The future of Zork

Post by Not Afgncaap5 » Fri Feb 01, 2002 8:27 am

Okay, I guess I'll play around with it, of course, while I've done 3d stuff, it's in old programs.  The last time I did a REALTIME 3D environment was using the original Quake engine.
I did a fairly good representation of my own house, it was fun getting a nailgun off of my bed.

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Re: The future of Zork

Post by SCarey » Fri Feb 01, 2002 4:43 pm

Ok, this is going way back up the forum, but after I commented on a ZOrk FPS type game, the first game that came to mind that may work was "Deus Ex" I personally loved that game because of the style of play. You could manipulate objects, use some powers. So yes that may work. I havnt checked out this Morrowwind game yet. I think I might, now that it seems there is potential there. If I were to help create a Zork game It would probably take me a while. The only MOD based system I've use and did a lot with was The DOOM editor. but after that it was work and now school + work so I dont have alot of time (unless its writing fan fiction which I do do alot of nowadays) SO if you need help with a story line I can offer my input. LET'S COME TOGETHER! LETS DO THIS! LET'S KEEP ZORK ALIVE!!! As for live digital action. I have access to a TV studio with Media 100 digital video editing software. It's pretty High speed, I've worked with it  before for classes, better yet its free to use because I'm a student. Thats just another Medium to play around with and think about.

Publicity in Gamspot, like Data Angel said, could make eyes perk up at Activision. They would more than likley see the seriousness we all have about the next Zork. Lets hint it to them somehow, but only after we can commit to creating it.

Like Lensman, it is awsome to have someone else who likes Zork some much that also would like to keep it alive. 2 years ago I wanted to write a script to a Zork TV show. Of course I knew it would never become a reality but I like writing so I started, never finished. Now There is a small community with others like me, and I'm seeing good things for  the Zork future. Even if publically Zork doesn't open u at least we still will all talk about it.

"Last night Darth Vader came down from Planet Vulcan and said If I didn't ask Loraine out to the dance, He'd fry my Brain."                                           -George Mcfly, Back to the Future


"Keep the faith my friend. If you build it they will come."  
                                                                         -The late Jim Morrison, Waynes World 2  

Now, its getting good.  

Not Afgncaap5

Re: The future of Zork

Post by Not Afgncaap5 » Sat Feb 02, 2002 1:04 am

Well if we'er going into live action stuff (though I don't see why we would) I think I'd be better for that.  While I don't have a TV studio, I do have a digital camcorder and copies of (as well as training in) video editing programs like Premeire and After Effects.

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Re: The future of Zork

Post by SCarey » Sat Feb 02, 2002 4:31 am

Ok, so maybe I'm being too optimistic. I got excited. Another Zork could be a reality....you never know. Like I always say, your damned if you do, your damned if you dont.

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Re: The future of Zork

Post by DataAngel » Sat Feb 02, 2002 5:13 am

Well, we all get too optimistic sometimes and thats cool, but don't lose sight of the goal and how we plan to attain it. :)

Not Afgncaap5

Re: The future of Zork

Post by Not Afgncaap5 » Fri Feb 08, 2002 9:13 pm

This one is for The Lensman...and I don't mean any offense.

Do you plan on helping up in making this mod?  Do you have any idea what goes into making a mod?  I mean sure, it's 'been done' as you said in your Horror Half Life scenario, but small independent games have 'been done' as well.  So again, are you really knowledgable in Mods, or did you just think, "ooh this is pretty, and you can make stuff, they (meaning us) should make a mod of Zork."

The Lensman

Re: The future of Zork

Post by The Lensman » Fri May 17, 2002 1:49 am

You make some good points, and yes, it's easier to talk about what I think should be done and what should be done. In the time since the website has been down, I've gathered more info on two games that might be easier to mod. And yes, I will probably attempt one, though not on the possibly easier one. Confused yet? I am....

Okay, originally I suggested Morrowwind as the best game to mod Zork from. I still stand by the assertion that that game would really help the Zork Mod community because of it's gorgeous graphics and the ability to see the Zork world from the "street" level.

Since then I've become aware of the game "Dungeon Siege" which being set in midevil times would be the next best game to mod. It will have an extensive editor that will allow almost unlimited freedom in creating scenarios, objects, locales, characters and such. Do a google search to find out more about the game, but so far this seems to be the one that'll be easiest for the layman.

The next game, one that I one, is Freedom Force. It's a superhero game, that, like Dungeon Siege, allows for almost unheard of freedom in modding. I have just downloaded the level Editor and will be checking it out tonight. Right now most skins are superhero based although the game designers have just released a soldier skin for those who want to create a hard core military mod. There are characters with swords, and as soon as a male one comes along, I'll snag him. This one will take a little more time to play with because it's set in a superhero world. But the editor will allow the creator to create multiplayer maps as well as single player scenarios and campaigns.

Some of it will require knowledge of python scripting, something I'm not familiar with. But there are some levels that take place underground, and as the Zork world was a mix of modern tech and midevil tech, I might be able to pull it off a bit. Dungeon Siege is too much for my computer, but I'm willing to try something with Freedom Force.

Like many here, I've only got a certain amount of time to do computer stuff and I really don't play much on the computer these days. But I would like to have something playable, if possible, in about four months or so. Meanwhile, others will hopefully try doing something with Dungeon Siege. I'm still confident that older gamers would jump at the chance to play a 3d Zork game(mod). Not all of them are as picky as some here when it comes to Zorks format because many of them probably havn't played a Zork game in years. It's one of those things that may grow slowly, but I think it will work.

Zork can still be a profitable franchise, but it needs to adapt to the times. Hopefully we can help it do so. I'll keep you guys informed when I have something worthwhile.

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Re: The future of Zork

Post by DataAngel » Fri May 17, 2002 12:14 pm

well good job on the research and be sure to keep us up and up on whats happening with the mods. I just got a new computer so I have plenty of power under the hood for stuff now. Let me know if I can help. Also I too don't have lots of time due to my work schedule but oh well.

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