The first section here are questions which I personally have asked the Zork Implementors and received answers back. The second section is a collection of quotes from other interviews which relate to the Zork world.

Q: (before I received the design documents): WasReturn to Zork intended to originally be all above ground?
A: Yup, it was originally above ground, as I had not finished researching Zork tales. The project was rather a rush job, so I was designing as I was researching.  Maps are usually the first thing I do. Usually I research for a couple months before starting a design, but there was no time. (I went into the ring for 3 3-round boxing matches as research for my first game Star Rank Boxing, lol.)
 I also remember being criticized by some game critic for a game within Zork that was a rip-off of the little sliding numbers pocket game. The critic was correct and justified...except that I didn't put that game in...Dombrower did.  Ah, well. :)

Q: At one point there was talk of a Zork movie. Was there anything seriously brainstormed/written/etc about that either?
A: Nothing on the movie.  It was optioned briefly, but nothing ever came to us.  It was a non-event.

Q: Judging from the Zork NEMESIS design documents, the final Act was supposed to be quite extensive compared to what appeared in the final game - lots of labyrinthine tunnels beneath the temple and a boat ride, etc. Do you recall if any of that stuff even went into the concept art stage or the graphic design stage, or was most of it dropped before serious production began?
A: I do recall some concept art done for those catacombs. I think I have it somewhere. Nothing was ever programmed though. We cut it for time and budget reasons.

A: Info of general interest:  I was contracted to write the Wishbringer novel by Byron Preiss Visual Associates.  It sold very well, and I was approached to write a sequel, but old Byron didn't pay very well, and my career was taking off in different directions, so a second book never happened.  I did get a nice note from the writer of the original game, saying how much he enjoyed the book.

BRIAN MORIARTY (from 2009~2010)
Q: The main problem I am having is trouble in figuring out exactly how you intended to have Wishbringer relate with Beyond Zork. The ending of Beyond Zork has magic being destroyed so I'm assuming that Wishbringer did not take place after it. Yet, in Beyond Zork, there is a scene with the Queen platypus who was upset that Alexis is more beautiful than her, which seems to imply that the backstory to the game of Wishbringer has not yet happened, placing Wishbringer after Beyond Zork. I am thus having trouble placing the game of Wishbringer within its proper place in the chronology of Zork.
A: Magic is not destroyed at the end of Wishbringer. It is preserved in the Coconut for later release thousands of years later, as explained in Beyond Zork II: Grueslayer. Oh, wait. I never wrote BZ2. Oh well. Time is a funny thing in the Zork universe. I suspect Y'Gael (who looks suspiciously like the crone in the Magick Shoppe) knows more than she lets on.

Q: So Wishbringer was thousands of years after Beyond Zork when magic had returned?
A: I suspect Wishbringer happened soon after the magic returned. Or maybe caused it to return. Or not.

Q: Was "Beyond Zork II: Grueslayer" actually a seriously intended idea?
A: Yes, Grueslayer was real, if only in my head. You recall the sheath of the Blade of Entharion is an object in Beyond Zork? In BZ2, your task was to reunite it with the Blade itself, which was called Grueslayer.

Q: Were the Fields of Frotzen always plagued by terrible storms and colorless?
A: No. The storms and colorlessness were caused by some dark magical event, long forgotten.

Q: Is the old sailor [in Beyond Zork] supposed to be the same viking sailor as seen in Zork 3:
A: I think so. Try HELLO SAILOR and see.

Q: Do you recall who the four Implementors were in the Ethereal Planes of Atrii?
A: Tall, bearded is probably Meretzky.
     Cheerful is probably Lebling.
     Loud-mouthed is probably me.
     Only woman is probably Amy Briggs.

Q: Did you have a specific Implementors in mind which the Ur-Grue was supposed to be in Beyond Zork? If so, who?
A: That would be telling.

STEVE MERETZKY (from 2010)
Did you intend to write more than 4 of the Zork choose-your-own-adventure books?
A: No, always intended as a series of four; might have done similar books for other games/game universes if the Zork ones had sold better.

Q: (I asked Steve a long question about an apparent contradiction between Jeearr's nature in "Conquest of Quendor" as opposed to "Sorcerer")
A: I wouldn't try to reconcile the universe of the Zork books with the universe of the games... they use a lot of the same elements and place/character names, but aren't intended to have the same history/timeline/etc.

Q: Unfortunately, then, for what you had originally intended, when Activision took over the company, they absorbed those books into the main timeline and are used extensively for the backstory for Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor. It is good to know though that you had not originally intended them to be part of the same universe. I suppose that's always the problem when someone else picks up the rights to another author's creation and does with it whatever they want... not understanding the original intention.
A: Yup. They could have easily asked me ... I was around and knew people on the team. Sigh.

Q: I was always curious, with the amount of mystery originally surrounding the appearance of grues, how did you manage to get the rest of the team to include artwork of them in the Zork books?
A: Neither I nor anyone else at the company had much involvement in or control of that process ... we just signed the book deal, and I wrote the manuscripts and handed them over to the publisher.

Q: (I asked a question related to the Zork II poster)
A: The history of that poster was that it was just done by a fan ... if I recall correctly, somewhere in Europe, perhaps Italy. He sent it to Mike Dornbrook unrequested, and Mike decided to publish it as a Zork 2 poster. So its creation was never directed by anyone connect with the game, at all.

Q: (I asked a question about the Zork I artwork that appears on the radio shack box)
A: That illustration dates back to the earliest release of the game by Personal Software, around 1979 +/- and was re-used a few years later for this Radio Shack edition. Not sure about the history of the production of that piece of art; before my time. Joel Berez or Marc Blank would be the most likely to know.

MARC BLANK (from 2010)
Q: Do you recall any more details on how this deleted puzzle was intended to have worked in Zork I and where it would have been located at (I always guessed in the dry FCD#3 reservoir)? This image appeared in the New Zork Times with the following words beneath it: "Marc Blank's sketch for an underwater problem designed for, but never put into the original Zork. The treasures would have been pearls and a trunk of jewels."
A: The words in the drawing aren't in my handwriting, so I'm not really sure of its provenance. It's odd that it's described as my sketch...

Agent of WALTER VELEZ (who did cover artwork for Avon Zork novels) (from 2009)
Q: I have a question. Did Velez write any information down about each piece of artwork? From reading the "Zork Chronicles" novel, I am at a loss of which character in the book to identify the green troll-like creature with on the cover artwork.
A: When Walter did the covers for "Zork" we were just given a fact sheet or description of what he should do for the cover art. We never read the books. So, Walter or I do not really know much about the contents of this world that was created. The art was created before the books were fully written. Often when this happens the covers don't match up all that well to the characters in the stories. I have no idea who the green troll-like creature is.

(I asked a question related to what she had planned to have happened in Zork Quest III)
A: (She told me that she could not recall anymore and also that she was not allowed to tell me any more details about Zork, as the rights and material which she created for the game are now the property of Activision.)

EDDIE DOMBROWER (from 2009~2010)
Q: By the way, what happened with Return to Zork? Why are the trolls and orcs simply a man in a fright wig? I seems it wouldn't have been too difficult to use a little make up.
A: As for the orcs and trolls, as we were going for a bit of a campy feel in the entire production and had some recognizable faces playing those roles, we wanted to not try to do Tolkienesqe or grotesque meanies, but slightly silly meanies (I mean, flatheads are a pretty silly notion after all).

Q: I'm not sure if you can answer this, as I don't know if you played any role in its development, but do you know why "Return to Planetfall" was canceled and how close to completion the game was before it was canceled?
A: The short story: Steve Meretzky, the original Planetfall designer/developer wrote a great design and premise for the game, but it got stuck in bit of a "developement hell" (a Hollywood term) trying to get screen writers to make an interactive story out of it. We started on the visual designs and they were stunning.  In the end, though, Activision decided to cancel the project... well before we got into serious production.

LAIRD MALAMED (from 2000)
Q: I believe that the Temple of Agrippa in underground. Is this true? (and is it suppose to exist in the same area as Return to Zork, since the Futuristic Age in the temple shows a scene of the Mountain Pass from Return to Zork)
A: Yes, it is underground, but the covering above it has broken away. Watch the opening movie closely and you’ll see that the mountains once met above the temple. Obviously, to be able to see the eclipse, we had to expose the temple. I think there is something in one of the books in the temple that refers to an earthquake. [NOTE: this is also clearly stated in the design documents]

Q: Also, is "Flood Control Dam #7" an error in the game? Or is the conservatory dam suppose to be a different dam than #3 (it says #3 in the nemesis manual map)
A: The manual is in error. It should be FCD 7.

Q: (I asked Laird if Lucien was the Thief from Zork I)
A: (Laird confirmed this and also stated that Lucien became the Nemesis when the player from Zork I killed him as the thief.) [NOTE: Both of these points are clearly stated in the design documents and in the screenplays for their respective scenes and they are actually portrayed as such in the final game].

Q: Are Bivotar, Ellron and Syovar the same ones from the choose-your-own-adventure books?
A: (Laird confirmed that this is true)



A: If I wrote a pure text adventure (which would be a labor of love, as there is little commercial interest) I'd write the game Spellbreaker was originally intended to be -- about the creation and cosmology of the Zork universe.

A: I'd have loved to have done "The Lurking Horror" as a larger-size game (it was almost the last of the "small" games which had to fit in 84k bytes of disk space). Some good scary stuff got cut out of it or never implemented due to the size restrictions.

A: I wished The Lurking Horror could have been larger -- a lot got cut from it due to space considerations.

A: I think I had the most fun writing The Lurking Horror, although I wish (we all wished) that it had been an "Ezip" (meaning larger-size) game. A lot of lovely shivers had to be cut out of the design, and some stuff out of the almost-finished product. It was a labor of love, set as it was at a thinly-disguised MIT, with lots of real places and a somewhat-accurate geography. Aside from the actual monsters, the course of the game duplicates "Institute Exploring" adventures I went on when I was a freshman.

A: The main building of MIT is almost aligned east to west. On certain days of the year, the setting sun shines all the way down the Infinite Corridor just like the temple of the sun at Karnak, Egypt. MIT is reputed to have more miles of corridor than any building except the Pentagon.

Q: There can't really be a Tomb, can there?
A: Yes, there can! It's called Tomb of the Unknown Tool ("tool" is MIT slang for a nerd). It's rough, coffin-shaped, not quite as tight a squeeze as in the game, and has no door inside it.

In The Lurking Horror, on the roof of the Brown building there is a peach tree in a tub. Lebling was originally going to have a puzzle revolve around the tree and a single peach on its branches but instead covered the tree with slime so that it couldn't be climbed. His reasoning: "I wanted to keep people form climbing the peach tree - I didn't want to have to check all possibilities such as players jumping off the tree, cutting its branches, etc."

If you examine the wizard's hands in the Spellbreaker photos, you'll notice that he is wearing Dave Lebling's class ring from M.I.T., the "brass rat."

A: Recently, Activision (the owner of the Infocom name) asked if I would be interested in writing a mini-Zork text adventure as a promotional item for their forthcoming Zork: Nemesis game. The idea was intruiging, but the timing was bad for both of us. The nostalgic side of me likes the idea of re-visiting the GUE, and I've got lots of story/puzzle ideas, but I really don't know whether it will ever happen. [instead Nino Ruffini would start to write a Zork Nemesis prequel, but it would quickly be cancelled and left unfinished]

Blank offers a rare piece of  Zork  trivia. "Do you know that there is actually a clue to saying  Ulysses  or  Odysseus? The commandment in the prayer book in the temple starts off with saying: 'Commandment 29,160--Oh ye who go about saying unto each other, "Hello Sailor." ' If you look at the first letter of each line going down the side, it reads 'Odysseus'!"

Laird Malamed
also mentions this same topic:
A: The idea of a text-based prequel was actually originally intended for Zork Nemesis but never happened. "There was not enough time to oversee it properly and still get Zork Nemesis out on time," says Malamed. "We pretty much forgot about the idea until Marc Blank called to see how the game was going, and one thing led to another. The goal was to make something that would celebrate the Zork humor and lead into ZGI. Making the game was a lot of fun because I got to work with Marc and Mike, who are great guys."