No, hell hasn't frozen over. Pigs haven't sprouted wings. But Infocom is announcing its first non-interactive fiction game ? and it does have graphics.
"It's a hoax," you're thinking. "Infocom would never use graphics to illustrate locations in text adventures. Infocom hates graphics." Well, yes and no.
Infocom has yet to see computer graphics that add to the quality of a text adventure. There may be ways in which graphics could be used more subtly to enhance your mental imagery. But with today's machine resolutions, and even with proposed advancements in technology, graphics can't begin to compete with the scenes and characters you can imagine. Therefore, Infocom still firmly believes that words paint the most vivid images in your mind.
Of course, there is a place for graphics today: in a completely different setting and in a completely different kind of game. In fact, Fooblitzky is all graphics, and has more graphics in it than any other computer game on the market.
But the really important thing about any game is how much fun it is, how enjoyable it is to play, not whether it does or doesn't have graphics. And Fooblitzky is a winner. Already, there are addicts at Infocom.
Logic, deduction, chance, and social interaction are all big parts of Fooblitzky ? just like deductive reasoning is a part of ClueŽ and MastermindŽ. (Fooblitzky reminds some people of a cross between those games, even though its theme is completely different.) Fooblitzky is a multiplayer game ? 2, 3, or 4 people can play. The name "Fooblitzky" was chosen because it's easy to remember and incredibly difficult to pronounce.
Okay, so the name is goofy. The game is goofy. But it's sophisticated goofiness.
The roots of Fooblitzky go back more than 2 years. Marc Blank and Michael Berlyn wanted to develop something unique, something totally different from text adventures ? or any other kind of computer game. They hired a crazed crackerjack artist, Brian Cody, and a programming magician, Poh C. Lim. More recently, Paula Maxwell joined the graphics group as an artist. Together they played board games, computer games, video games, mind games .... They discussed game theory: what made a game interesting, challenging, intricate, multifaceted, and replayable. And then they designed Fooblitzky.
People play against each other in Fooblitzky, not against some poor, misguided computer. The fun is in trying to bluff, outsmart, or just plain lie to the other players. Unless you're the multiple-personality type, you can't play Fooblitzky by yourself. (If you don't have any friends and your family is no longer returning your telephone calls, tough nuggies.)
Fooblitzky is intellectually challenging, requiring a sharp mind, careful note-taking, and a penchant for chattering teeth and flipping hot dogs. It's not a shoot-em-up arcadestyle game requiring joystick coordination, so even adults can play! A game typically takes 1 to 2 hours to play.
Players move around the "city" of Fooblitzky on sidewalk squares, much like you move tokens around a board game. Players can buy items at stores with "foobles" (the unit of currency) and sell items at pawn shops and work in restaurants to get more foobles. Players can also get smacked by cars at street crossings, or get flashed by the Chance Man and squashed by a falling piano. Through all this, each player tries to deduce and then obtain the 4 "correct" items needed to win. Since the 4 items change each time you play, no 2 games are alike.
Fooblitzky is unlike any game you've ever played before. And Infocom is proud of that. Fooblitzky opens up new frontiers in computer gaming, and that's what Infocom is all about.
Fooblitzky is so different and innovative that Infocom's marketing department hit upon a different and innovative marketing approach. Because you're a special customer of Infocom's, because you read The New Zork Times, you can buy Fooblitzky before anyone else! Research shows that the people who learn Fooblitzky the fastest and enjoy it the most are the people who enjoy Infocom's interactive fiction the most.
Therefore, for a limited time, Fooblitzky is available ONLY through The New Zork Times. That's right: For the first six months, Fooblitzky is available exclusively to YOU, since you read The New Zork Times. Once you learn Fooblitzky and play it with your friends, you'll love it. You'll become an Infocom ambassador, spreading the word about Fooblitzky. When Fooblitzky is released to the rest of the world, everyone will have heard of it and will want the new game. But you don't have to wait: you can start enjoying the new game now."Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone, is rightwise king born of all England."