(ƒ) does a happy lil' dance



Welcome to the IF help FAQ! This FAQ list contains answers to frequently asked questions about IF, ZZT, and the community in general. If you have a question that you would like answered here, e-mail it to Hercules.

This is the help FAQ for the IF page, written by aetsch, 2001-2002 (with additions by Hercules).

ZZT-related questions:

What is ZZT? Is it cool?
ZZT is a game-creation system (GCS) that was originally created by Tim Sweeney (of Unreal fame) in 1991. ZZT is a phenomenon in the way that its popularity has remained steady even 10 years after its original release. ZZT runs in DOS, using ASCII (text-mode) graphics with 16 colors. While this may seem that it would severely limit the graphical possibilities, amazing things can be accomplished with this limited palette. Yes, ZZT is cool.

Where can I download ZZT? Is it free?

ZZT can be downloaded here from the IF page in our Downloads section. Or, you can get it from z2, the Internet's main ZZT site. ZZT was originally shareware, but Epic released it as freeware in 1997. Don't worry about the "registered version" messages in ZZT - it's completely legit.

Example of artwork in ZZT
Amazing things can be accomplished with ZZT's minimal graphics capabilities.

Image (c) aetsch 2001

How do I play ZZT games?

To play ZZT games, first you will need to download ZZT, of course. I recommend making a folder for ZZT and ZZT games, such as C:\ZZT. It doesn't have to be C:\ZZT, however; you can use any folder on your computer.
To unzip ZIP archives, you'll need a decompression utility. Chances are great that you already have one on your computer, but if not, you can go to a shareware/freeware site such as http://www.hotfiles.com and download a free one from there.
Unzip zzt.zip into the new folder. Then, download some of our games here from the IF page. Most ZZT games are under 200KB (1/5 of a megabyte) when compressed, so you don't need to worry about long download times. Download the ZIP files to your ZZT folder that you just created. After you've downloaded some games, extract the ZIP files with an extraction utility. The ZIP files will extract to files with the .ZZT extension.
To play a ZZT world, run ZZT.EXE in your ZZT folder. Press K (for keyboard control), press C (color graphics), and press Enter once or twice until you are on the main screen. From here, press W to bring up the World Load box. This will display a list of ZZT games in your ZZT folder. To load one, move the box until the horizontal arrows point to the file you want to load, and press Enter. The world will be loaded and the title screen will be displayed in the game area. Press P to play the game. If you need help in the game, press H to display ZZT's help menu.

I want to make my own ZZT game; where do I start?

First of all, play lots of ZZT games. This will give you a feel for how games are built and the level of skill you should try to reach. When you go to start making a game, first download a ZZT editor or a STK kit. Both of these can be found from z2.
Several things to remember when making ZZT games:
  • Poorly made stuff is trite, and it will come back to haunt you. Don't release the first game you make, unless it really is good. There's already enough poorly made stuff around, and you don't want to befoul your name.
  • If you're not sure if something is good enough for release, e-mail it to someone and see what the feedback is. Many people, including Hercules and myself (aetsch), would be glad to play through your game and give you advice on it. Don't be a stranger, now!
  • Compare your work with that of others. This is a good way to judge your own skill level. Just be sure that you aren't overly critical of yourself, as some people (even "famous" ZZTers such as myself and Nadir) tend to be. Again, sending your work to someone else for evaluation is a good idea.
  • Don't copy anyone's stuff. I can't stress this enough. This includes art, music, etc. However, there are a few exceptions. Color and fade toolkits can be freely copied and reused. Object code can sometimes be reused, but be sure to get the author's permission first. Resist the temptation to steal music from someone's game, no matter how much you like it. Stealing stuff makes you look lame, and the author will find out.

What is this about "MegaZeux" and other clones?

Over the years since ZZT has been made, several "clones" or variations on the basic idea of ZZT have been created. The first and foremost in popularity is MegaZeux, which was created by Greg Janson (a big player in the early ZZT world; author of STK and Code Red, among many other ZZT games) in 1993/94. MegaZeux is actually quite different from ZZT - it uses a different programming language, has a completely different method of editing and playing worlds, and is generally much more complex. Many ZZTers (myself included) don't touch MegaZeux very much except to maybe play an occasional game, while a few ZZTers are also avid MegaZeuxers. MegaZeux has a following and community of its own which is mostly separate from the world of ZZT.
There is also ZIG (written by aetsch), which is a clone that keeps many of the basic ZZT game play and editing elements while adding new elements of its own. ZIG includes features such as an extended ZZT-OOP-compatible programming language, character set and palette modification, board layers and scrollable "large" boards, and more. ZIG can load most ZZT worlds, and can play many of them (usually with a little bit of conversion work). ZIG is not 100% complete as of this writing, but is scheduled to be by the end of this year, at the latest.
ZZT++ is a recreation of ZZT written in C++. The goal of the project is to finish with a complete, 100%-accurate clone of ZZT that has source code available for modification. It is progressing slowly but surely.
There are a number of other clones in development, but unfortunately most of them are far from complete and some have been cancelled. These include ZZ3, SuperWAD, Corndog, and others.

Website-related questions:

The games sound cool, how do I play them?

Playing any game downloaded from our site is simple. For more information, see How Do I Play ZZT Games?

What is the purpose of the main page and the news page?

For new users here, it may seem confusing that we have two news pages. The first page, the main page, is where site- and IF-related news goes, such as announcements of newly released games and site updates. The News page is an area where several people post news of happenings in the community, such as people joining or leaving companies, and major new games being released.

The site is huge, where can I find a descriptive list of all the pages?

We've put together a site map to give people a clear idea of what we have to offer here. To visit it, click here or click on the Sitemap button at the top of the page.

Interactive Fantasies-related questions:

What is a ZZT company?

A ZZT "company" is not a true company per se. Usually, it is a group of anywhere from five to 25 ZZTers who have joined together to release games under a common title. In that sense, it's more like a record label of sorts. Usually, ZZT companies don't have much involvement in the projects of their members - they usually serve to provide a recognizable name to release games under.
Generally, companies have a company leader or president who usually runs the company's web page, which many companies have. Sometimes (such as in IF's case) there may be vice-presidents, or other people in charge of different things in the company (such as website management). The president is usually in control of the major things of the company, such as who joins and leaves.
Companies, in most but not all cases, usually have a preset maximum number of members. If you want to join a ZZT company, you usually send the president a request to join. Including a sample of your work will greatly increase your chances of getting in. To further increase your chances, make a name for yourself by releasing a good game.

What is Interactive Fantasies' history?

For a full, in-depth description of IF's history, go here.

Can I join IF?

Interactive Fantasies usually has 15 members. If a member leaves, Hercules is instantly bombarded with thousands of requests from people wanting to join.
Just kidding! Ha ha! But seriously, when someone leaves IF, a spot opens up. If you want to join IF, that is the time to act. When a spot is open, there will be an announcement on the main page saying so. If you want to join, you should then e-mail Hercules with a request to join. Including a sample of your work will greatly increase your chances.

Community-related questions:

Is there a "central site" for ZZT?

Yes, ZZT has had a "central site" for several years, even though it hasn't always been the same site. zzt.org has been the headquarters of the ZZT community for a long time, but at the moment z2 is where you should be. The community's ZZT games are being uploaded here and there is the main forum where ZZTers discuss things. There's more -- you should keep on eye on it as a ZZTer.

I want to become active in the community; where do I start?

If you wish to be an active member of the ZZT community, you could several things. Basically the ZZT community consists of two major parts: IRC and the message boards on the "central site". Both have their (dis)advantages and some people prefer one or the other.
To start off with IRC (Internet Relay Chat). You'll need a program called a 'client' to actually be able to get onto IRC. Good examples of these clients are mIRC, Xircon and Bersirc. Install it and add the following server: Espernet (server: irc.esper.net, port: 6667, group: Espernet). Connect to Espernet and join #walktheplank. An alternative channel is #loungeact, located on Austnet (which should be in your server list). You're there, along with other ZZTers. Just go ahead and chat. Be yourself and don't make a fool out of yourself (e.g. by typing stuff like "lol, y can't u c what i mean?").
IRC can be very messy and off-topic: conversations often go in uppercase and tend to go about random things, switching from topic to topic, which doesn't involve ZZT most of the times. For more organised communication, which is managed by a strict set of rules, you should visit the z2 forum. First of all, register and log in. Be sure to read the rules after this. Now you see several subforums here, organised by category. Check them out and see if there is any interesting talk going on. You contribute whenever you wish, either by replying to existing threads or starting one of your own. Just be sure to heed the rules.
I suggest you check out both and see what you like. Have lots of fun being a part of the community!