You Are Likely To Be Eaten By Another Grue

Zork lives! The grandpappy of interactive fiction has been slumbering since 1997’s graphical adventure Grand Inquisitor, but it’s due for a surprise, browser-based return later this year. Details? Not a lot as yet, really. Legends of Zork is being handled by Irish outfit Jolt Online Gaming, with some sort of backing from Activision. There’s no word on whether any of the original Infocom team behind the classic Zorks are involved. Oh – just one more thing. It’s an MMO.

[Pauses for screaming and shouting].

Thing is – it’s an ideal property for an MMO. The idea sounds basically like The Kingdom of Loathing with less satire and meat gags, so there’s no reason at all it wouldn’t work. There’s also no reason at all a fantasy dungeoneering game needs to be called Zork, but never mind. Could be a lot of fun, if it manages to successfully squeeze genuine adventuring and exploring into the MMO structure. There’s no mention of it being text-based like its progenitors, but the fact it’s entirely a browser jobbie and will even run on an iPhone suggests what imagery it does have will be on the static side. The stark simplicity of Trukz, another browser-based MMO by Jolt, reinforces that – so there’s every chance this will be fairly in keeping with those early Zorks. Trukz, incidentally, is an MMO about haulage. I’m amazed Jim isn’t playing it, frankly.

Keep an eye on the Legends of Zork site for more, but meantime there’s a press release conveniently pasted below. To get yourself up to speed on what Zork was and why Grues are so mean, have a read of Gamasutra’s extensive retrospective, and go play the original Zork in a browser for no pennies here.

Jolt Online Gaming today announced that it will be publishing Legends of Zork™, which will give players the chance to once again take up the mantle of Zork™, this time via an Internet browser.

The Great Underground Empire has recently fallen and the land is in disarray. The Royal Treasury has been sacked. The stock market has collapsed, leading even mighty FrobozzCo International to fire employees from throughout its subsidiaries. A craze of treasure-hunting has swept through the remnants of the Great Underground Empire. The New Zork Times reports that trolls, kobolds and other dangerous creatures are venturing far from their lairs. Adventurers and monsters are increasingly coming into conflict over areas rich with loot. It’s a dangerous time to be a newly-unemployed traveling salesman, but it’s also a great time to try a bit of adventuring.

LegendsofZork.com will provide online gamers with a persistent online adventure, playable from any Internet browser. Players take up the role of a recently laid-off salesman and part-time loot-gatherer, as he explores the Great Underground Empire. Designed to provide gamers with a casual MMO game they can play on their laptop, desktop or Apple iPhone (in school, work or on the bus), there’s nothing to download, just go to www.legendsofzork.com

“As a complete Zork geek, I’m very proud to be releasing this title”, stated Dylan Collins, CEO of Jolt Online gaming. “Anyone who plays MMOs will definitely like to spend some time with Legends of Zork while they’re taking a break or browsing around the web. It’s very addictive”.

27 Comments

  1. shinygerbil says:

    [screams and shouts]

  2. Pags says:

    Where’s Meat Circus? I need someone to help me scream and shout.

  3. James G says:

    Less satire?

    Done with the right level of irreverence, this could actually be a bit of fun.

  4. caesarbear says:

    Wait, like The Kingdom of Loathing, but not as fun? How’s that a viable MMO? oh wait, that’s right, it has Zork in the title.

  5. Skurmedel says:

    Why not just allow the game to be run in a browser? This constant strive to MMO:ize is getting annoying. I guess this could be fun, but I’ve never played Zork either so I don’t know how well it will translate.

  6. solipsistnation says:

    So it’s, uh, a MUD? In a browser? Okay.

  7. neodorian says:

    First game I ever really loved as a kid. Hope it turns out to be fun.

  8. jonfitt says:

    Interested in Interactive Fiction and have an iPhone? Check out Frotz. It is an interpreter that plays Infocom’s IF games. Zork is available free.

  9. jonfitt says:

    @solipsistnation. That’s what I thought. A MUD with jpeg graphics maybe?

  10. Fumarole says:

    Now there’s a game I didn’t see coming.

  11. Anthony Damiani says:

    It’s not just an MMO.
    It’s a BROWSER GAME.
    I’m rooting for the grue, but the smart money’s on Chuck Norris.

  12. solipsistnation says:

    @jonfitt: Maybe. The KoL comparison is telling– it’s kind of like a browsery MUD without location-based character interaction (although there are chat channels). It’ll be interesting to see, anyway. I like KoL, but I don’t know if there’s room for another one, unless there were people who were turned off by the stick-figure graphics and preponderance of bizarre in-jokes.

  13. rob says:

    Kingdom of Loathing isn’t really an MMO in the traditional sense since the interaction between the players is limited pretty much to the market and chatting (or at least this was the case when I last played it, the guild stuff was pretty seperate from the rest of the game). If they go for a similar model it will retain its Zorkishness.

    Fumarole: You didn’t see it coming? It is dark in here. You might be eaten by a grue.

  14. Bob says:

    Holding out for Leather Goddesses of Phobos…

  15. Doc MacRae says:

    KoL also has some limited PvPing, but it’s far from the heart of the game. And there’s a quest in KoL that is basically a tribute to Zork (same kind of gameplay and playing the free browser of Zork is almost the same thing).

  16. john t says:

    I tried frotz, the interface for downloading new games is fucking dreadful.

  17. Nick says:

    I don’t scream and shout anymore at MMO announcements, I just sigh and roll my eyes.

  18. whitebrice says:

    @Pags:
    What? Their site mentions something about DRM, but isn’t this a browser-based game?

    (Okay, Meat should be here any second)

  19. Pags says:

    Ha! Very good.

  20. Greyface says:

    Ohhh god, I play too much KoL as it is, don’t throw it’s predecessor at me. I’d like to actually, you know… get stuff done.

  21. Rustdragon says:

    In support of the title of this article I present:

  22. Zaph says:

    Rustdragon: 1+
    (I was going to post that!)
    Admittedly I haven’t played Zork for more than a couple of lines (ahem) so maybe I should look into that.
    On KoL: it’s a hoot ‘n a holler. The references are fairly astounding, there was even a reference to a song by Neutral Milk Hotel (via lyrics) in there that was a somewhat startling joyous experience to me.
    Anyways. This might turn put pretty great. Keeping my toes crossed.

  23. Alex says:

    Damn… Rustdragon is too quick for me.

  24. gnome says:

    I’m fairly optimistic about this new Zork thing for no apparent reason. Yes. Quite a bit.

  25. Okami says:

    At last I can grind grues for hours on end..

  26. Down Rodeo says:

    The constant griefing from grues has to finish. The developers need to nerf them so that they no longer one-hit-kill players who like to explore the dark.

    Umm, obvious joke.

  27. Pod says:

    Do people in the games industry no longer have ORIGINAL IDEAS?