when and how did you first get into ZZT?
I can't remember the exact date I downloaded ZZT, but it was years ago. The oldest files created by me in my old ZZT directory say August of 1994 (that's a long time!). I was introduced when I was going through the Epic catalog that came with Kiloblaster 1.0. I saw ZZT and was immediately fascinated -- so I jumped on AOL and downloaded it, and the rest is history.
how many ZZT games have you created? what are they?
For ZZT, just two: Fred! Episode One and Fred! Episode Two. Neither of them are really great games, but Fred! Episode Two is known to be the largest ZZT world in existance (which is why most people don't have enough conventional memory to play it *grin*).
what things do you consider most important in a ZZT game?
The plot is the single most important thing in a ZZT game. I'm kind of a hypocrite in this area, because both my ZZT games almost completely lack a coherent plot. However, playing and finishing a game with a solid story is much more satisfying than playing a shoot-em-upblast-em-to-bits plotless built-in-enemy bonanza.
The other most important thing is creating an atmosphere. Dragon's dens should be dark and forbidding, happy towns should be bright and cheery, and space stations in outer space should feel empty and alone. This is where ZZT is great -- you can describe the room that the player is in to your content with the text, then use the graphics to put an edge on that description. A good ZZT game should be a feast for the imagination.
what tips, if any, would you give aspiring ZZT programmers?
First of all, read the documentation. Not the wimpy docs that come with ZZT, I mean the ZZT Docs that come with the STK. Play as many games as you can. Try to think up an original, coherent plot -- sit down and write a story out on paper before you start to lay your boards.
Don't think you have to be a graphics master to program a good game; just do what you can and try to describe it well. Don't use yellow borders, ever.
what are your favorite ZZT games?
Sivion is my favorite ZZT game, and the best one in existance IMHO. Mission:Enigma was fun but difficult, and Code Red was big. Letsee. The Island of Jerks series by AricM are also some of my favorite, and anything by the late Macrosoft (School Sucks 1-6, I believe, and others). There are probably others that I've played and I've really liked, but that's all I can think of now. :)
I was thinking of making a page somewhat like this, for the preservation of ZZT and its memory. After all, ZZT isn't just some game -- it's a part of all our lives, a slice of our maturity, an element in our coming of age. It's definitely changed the course of my life -- and it's also changed my outlook on life. If a few teenage hacks can create the works of art that have been created in ZZT in only their spare time, then maybe the world won't turn out so bad after all.