I became enamored with Infocom’s Interactive Fiction back on my Commodore 64. I only played the three Zorks back then, but I would spend days (weeks?) on each one. I beat large chunks of Zork II without any hints, although I used hints for the other two Zorks.
“Hints” back then were word-of-mouth information swapped at school in study halls. I actually don’t have clear memories of discussions of Zork I and III. But I know I didn’t figure out many of those puzzles on my own.
Sometime in the early 90s, I started seeing the different Infocom “Collections” for sale: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mystery, and the Zork Anthology. I’m pretty sure I picked up each one for around $10. Back then, I didn’t have any ideas of keeping them in a collectible condition. So I didn’t bother keeping the boxes.
I honestly couldn’t believe that these games were available so cheap! And they came with cool maps!
As you can see they came with booklets that had instructions and pictures of the various feelies that came with the original games. Later I found out about the Lost Treasures collections, and I picked those up as well. Much later, I grabbed a copy of the Masterpieces collection as well.
In each case, I wanted to have the external materials necessary to really enjoy the games. But the booklets really didn’t do that job. So around a year ago (i.e. around 2012) I started collecting original games with their original feelies.
Each of these is complete in their boxes – all the feelies, booklets, etc. My hope is to be able to eventually play through all these games and enjoy them as they were intended. I have all the original zcode files for all the games and interpreters to run them on my laptop. These boxed versions provide the original packaging and feelies that will complete the experience.
Other Infocom collectibles
These are the only two folio packaged games that I have (so far). The reason for these two is as follows. The Deadline folio was the game that started the elaborate packaging that Infocom became known for. I wanted that one just because of its historical importance. I also thought it was kinda rare, but I’ve since seen many up for auction on ebay, so they don’t appear to be overly rare.
The Sorcerer folio packaging came with an “infotator” that served as a means of looking up some information in the game. When they repackaged Deadline into the smaller grey box edition, they did not make a smaller infotator, but rather rearranged the information in the infotator into a simple table. I really wanted to have an original infotator.
I also have the box for the Enchanter Trilogy – that’s actually how I got Enchanter, Sorcerer, and Spellbreaker. Along the way I’ve gathered a few original Invisiclues booklets and an original highlighter.
But the real rarity (I think?) is the Fooblitzky game. I managed to get one in almost pristine condition. It has all four game boards and all four markers (which I assume have dried out by now).
I also bought the graphical Zork adventures that came out after Activision bought out Infocom. Again, at the time I wasn’t concerned with keeping up a collection and I ditched the boxes. But none of these games are particularly rare.
Other IF stuff
Here are some other commercial IF items that I think are interesting. The Hobbit was a good seller at the time and is somewhat infamous for being buggy, although it did try to push the genre forward a bit with its “Inglish” parser. Mindwheel is apparently a strange experience that I hope to play through someday. And 1893 is a commercial piece of modern IF.