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php Zork!

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Rating: 4.3/5 (38 votes)
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DerekWphp ZorkI'm fairly certain there isn't a single person that will read this who has never heard of Zork, but if you haven't you're in for a treat.

Zork is a text adventure, which is a form of interactive fiction, like a cross between a novel and an RPG with some escape-the-room type puzzles thrown in.

The very first text adventure was simply called Adventure and it was fantasy based. Most of its influences came from J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons. The heyday of the text adventure was before computers could handle graphics, as we are used to today. Instead, intricately detailed dungeons with twisty little passages were all described with text, thus leaving much to the imagination of the player. If you have participated in forum-based role-playing then you have experienced a form, possibly even a derivative, of the text adventure. The difference is, in a text adventure you are the only player and the moderator is the computer.

In the case of Zork, it was one of the first text adventures and even spawned several sequels. Originally conceived in the late 1970's by a research group of MIT, the game was written by Tim Anderson, Mark Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. And now, many years later, the first game of the Zork series has been ported to PHP for your gaming pleasure by someone who goes by kodrik over at thcnet.net. The game is, in itself, somewhat self-explanatory; the trick is getting the text parser to understand your commands enough to tell you what you want to know. I've prepared a list of useful things you should know before playing Zork:

Help - If you've never played a text adventure before, just type help and the game will give you a quick tutorial. I am not going to provide an in-depth tutorial about text adventures here since the good folks over at Brass Lantern have already done that for you.

N, S, E, W - If you want to move in this game, type n for north, e for east, w for west, and s for south. The game will describe the directions you are permitted to go. It will tell you, for example, that there are "Exits to the north and East."

Get (or take) - The command for taking things, such as "get key," all objects near where you are will be described to you, though you may have to poke around to 'see' everything.

Look - If you just type 'look,' you will be given an explanation of where you are and what's around you. 'Look' can also be used in conjunction with other things, such as "look at leaflet."

Login - To be able to save your game while playing so that you may continue at another time, you must log-in. Use this command with any username and password that you like and you will be added to the database.

Save - Saves a game in progress.

Restore - Restores a previously saved game.

There are many other commands as well, such as open, close, read, lift, pull, etc. Just type, in easy-to-understand language, what you think you should be doing, and you'll get the hang of it. Other than that, good luck.

Play PHP Zork

If you're really into the TA scene, be sure to check out Wulfo's review of interactive fiction by Zarf.

And, even more fun, is an unbelievable easy-to-learn text adventure creation program called Quest, which was developed by a British programmer named Ray Pang. Yes, it does require a download, but it's worth it. You can even make online multiplayer games and submit your own creations to the site. There are quite a few good ones already there; I suggest playing Mansion and The Former, in particular (the latter being submitted by yours truly). The program comes with a tutorial and this post has already rambled on for long enough, so I guess you're on your own with this one. But trust me, it's worth a look.


Wow! Jay I am very suprised you posted them both back-to-back within such a short timespan! And that image you made is beyond cool.

Also, I wrote this long, long ago. The game i mention there, the one i made; The Former. I've actually written it a whole bunch of new plotline elements, and now it's a script!

Yep, that game I made will become a short film.

If anyone wants a copy of the script for whyever, E-mail me, I'll be happy to send you a copy. It's like 30 pages long.

Haha, I'm very excited to see this posted.

cheesetoy January 26, 2006 3:14 PM

Cool! My algorithm analysis teacher worked on Zork.


I would like a copy of that script please, can you make it available online or where can I e-mail you?

hiram archibald January 26, 2006 4:17 PM

Derek's last two postings re: IF have inspired me to share my favorite IF designer: Adam Cadre (online at http://adamcadre.ac/).

His are my favorite IF offerings. One great sci-fi game is "Shrapnel" (PC download; Z-code download).

And my favorite of his and absolutely all-time favorite IF is "Photopia" (PC download; Z-code download).

Warning: his games include some mature themes and language.

Photopia makes me cry every time I play it.

All that aside, how does IF relate to Flash and Shockwave gaming here on jayisgames? Derek, you seem to be the IF buff--is there a new generation of IF out there that incorporates some sound and/or graphics elements of online gaming?


Don't forget, hiram archibald, it was Wulfo's review of Zarf's IF that kicked it off.

And I would argue that IF has nothing to do with Flash and Shockwave, nor are either of those technologies a prerequisite here. After all, it was your excellent review of the Java clone of Carcassone that dragged you into the fray. ;)

hiram archibald January 26, 2006 5:30 PM


Natch--Java is indeed noncanonical.

No, what I meant was, I love IF for what it is. Have our resident experts Wulfo and Derek been able to rustle up IF games that broaden the horizon:

Games that still use keyboard command and input (not mouse driven) and thrive on storytelling (so not quite overlapping with escape-the-room games), but are hosted online and have incorporated some sound and/or graphics elements--Flash, Shock, (even Java ;P), whatever.

Maybe I'm asking for a mixed genre that doesn't yet exist. But for all you programers ambitious enough it sounds promising to me.

Kristofski January 26, 2006 6:24 PM

You could pay $25 for that quest program to write games. Or alternatively you could download the Hugo engine for free from generalcoffee.com. Though I guess it's up to you...


Oh man, flashback to my C64 days. I never did finish it though...or at least, I don't remember doing so.

I can vaguely recall trying to "kill troll with axe" but I don't remember if I made it past that point or not (or even if it was part of this game, for that matter). :)


Oh my gawd, Jay, you have made my year! I've only just recently become addicted to p-n-c games, and check your site daily. I've never been a game player except for a few months in the early 80s when we had an Amiga in the office. I was so addicted to Adventure that I'd go in early and stay late! (Never beat it) Finding that download today was AWESOME! I LOVE THIS SITE!


Thanks for the clarification, hiram archibald.

There is only one that I know of, and that's the somewhat recent update by the BBC of the classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure.

Facade may also qualify, though I haven't had the chance to review that one yet. Hopefully soon.

Riibbiitt January 27, 2006 1:33 AM

I don't know whether to love you or hate you guys. I know I won't get much sleep tonight.

I still have my original copies of Zork I, II and III, H2G2 and Adventure! I can't bear to part with my 5 1/4 floppies for some reason.

I always loved IF games because the games left a lot to the imagination. Thanks for the trip back to my childhood!

P.S. Do you think they'll do Zork II next? That was my favorite by far.


Well, you all seem to want some sort of crazy Flash-IF mix, but it's actually not that new. It was in fact pioneered by King's Quest, a game so sucsessfull it spawned like eight sequels and almost literally created the 3D adventure genre!! Basically, you move with the keys, and type in what you want to do on a little input thing below the screen.

Also, a little place called Homestar Runner made a parody of this game, called Peasant's quest.

Happy gaming. =)


Ah yes, Peasant's Quest, I forgot about that one. Cheers, Derek!

Oh, and then there's Sancho's Island, too.

Yossarian January 27, 2006 4:50 PM

Whoa, *Zork* made it onto Jay Is Games? Nice.

Apologies if someone already listed this URL, but -- for fans of the genre -- I highly advise a visit to ifarchive.org, which has every single public domain text adventure to date.

In no particular order, check out: The Mulldoon Legacy, Anchorhead, Galatea (for a good example of an interactive fiction non-game), and Varicella. Hell, play all of Adam Cadre's games. They're worth it.

Curses and Jigsaw are also worth a look, as is the winner of the latest IF competition (the name of the game escapes me). Am I missing any notable games?


i'm going nuts :\ is it just me, or does the map just make no sense at all?


I was thinking that. It doesn't seem to match up with the original map. it also doesn't seem to be consistant, ie I start at canyon & go west. The I go east and I'm not back at the canyon, I'm in the clearing.

Pity, because this is very cool otherwise.

valentine bauer February 1, 2006 7:04 AM

jezz i think i was 8 last time i played zork maybye i'll have to get out the zork point and click adventure games i got stashed away

very fun


Does any one know where a walk through for this game is. I have found several but they are for previous versions and dont match this game.


omg is there a walkthrough anywhere! I really can't go through the trap door, is anyone else having probs?


Yo, Lolita, that part was really frustrating for me, also. After the third time I typed in, "Look under rug," and it came up with, "There's a trap door under the rug," then, "open trap door," and "I see no trap door," and just a little bit of cursing at the narrator, I tried,

"Move rug."

Hope that helps! :)


thanks so much juggler!!! I also found that the map doesn't match up either, great game though x


Derek W, do you still have the script available? If so could you email me a copy?


SyrDragon August 3, 2006 10:04 AM

When I trying using login to create a new account it says no user found and asks if I want to create a new account but it won't let me confirm it. 'yes' and 'y' both return with 'I don't understand'


Umm... a bit of a correction there.. the person who ported zork was me... krux.


I remember playing zork many years ago on a brand new Apple II :)

Some movements are one-way i.e. going east then going back west won't get you back to where you started.


im stuck


how do i start!!! im really stuck. i am goin up and down on the canyon I dont know what to do!! PLEASE HELP ME!!


yes!!!!!!!! i have a knife, rope, bottle, sack,etc....

well, at least im goin faster and faster...


derek! please send me a copy of your script.


zorkdork1 March 7, 2007 9:33 PM

Wow, this brings back memories. It is amazing how the imagination can be so powerful. I can remember the Zork scenes in my head almost like it was a 3D game back then. I found a place to download Zork to play in windows CMD, but this php might be easier. I also remember the original Zork sometimes not bringing you back to the same spot if you go (ie E then W), so I don't think that is a bug in this version. Is Deadline online anywhere? I never finished that one.


It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.



Maybe a walkthrough? IIt's completely infuriating. As soon as that lamp goes out, man you are done.


the zork game says i have to login to save my game. i type in my name: tonia, but it says that it doesnt understand. how to I specify a username and password?


how do I create a username and password?

Rob Gilliam July 21, 2010 1:38 PM

type: login username password


actually a point of note.. kodrik isn't the author of this. I am.


Ok, so I got through the trap door, wandered around the gallery and bank, tried everything I could think of on the curtain of light, dropped all of the stuff I had picked up in order to climb up that chimney . . . and found myself in the kitchen of the house where I'd started. Help, please?


Kisekio, you can (strangely) go back down the trapdoor again. Believe me, I've done that before. And when you get back in the chimney room,

go south and nab the valuable painting.

(P.S. Tell me if you can get through the wall of light!)

cami, yeah, the map is cruddy. I'm on the
annoying maze where my whole screen is filled with "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike", and I'm about to restart from my last save. It's so CONFUSING!!! :(

P.S. Someone tell me how to get through the maze PLEASE!!!


This would be longer, but my Internet crashed before I could post...
Kisekio, you can go back down the trapdoor.

Oh, and when you get to the chimney room, go south, nab the painting, go back up the chimney with the painting, put the painting in the treasure chest in the trapdoor room, and then go wander wherever.


Well, apparently my laptop DID post...


ahem Anybody still here?

I tried this game but was unable to finish it. I'm used to playing mainframe Dungeon which I've finished successfully many times. However, I'm stuck at 563 points in this one.

The Thief seems to be absent from this version, leaving no apparent way to get the egg open safely. Also, the Cyclops seems to be in permanent snooze mode, so I can't get him to knock down the wall that leads into the "Strange Passage" which is worth a few points in the offline game.


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