So, Activision did a strange thing, recently – they re-released Zork.
Specifically, they released the entire game of Zork I as an easter egg inside their new title Call of Duty: Black Ops.
This video from G4TV about the easter egg (as well references to other easter eggs available in the same location) is very informative.
First of all, it’s definitely a real Zork – specifically Revision 88/Serial Number 840726, the “canonical” Zork I, which was compiled on July 26, 1984 and the final version Infocom released commercially. (Infocom sometimes quietly upgraded the software to reflect bugs found or writing errors or any other discovered issues.)
What unintentionally happens here by this easter egg being included is an in-your-face argument of the uphill battle text-based games face in the modern gaming world, at least in terms of bringing in new players from the pool of first-person games. You are strapped in a chair in a small room where monitors and machines blaze and swap around, providing tons of stimulation, and once you break free of the straps in this, the menu, you can walk entirely around the room, interacting with objects, seeing fully-rendered angles of all the material that previously looked like drawings, and then choose to log into a terminal which gives you a variety of choices.
Going from that and finding yourself sitting at your game which itself is sitting at a terminal, which is then playing a game of Zork, the contrast is just blistering. It’s like being in the middle of a football game and picking up a book. To me, it seems a head-on approach towards the people who find the first type of game fun is not the way to do it.
On the other hand, the mere existence of Zork in the game starts a conversation like this one. “What do you mean ‘Zork’, people in forums will say. They’ll look around, find it, and maybe of the thousands who happened to see what everyone is gabbing about, a few will find they actually like this book in the middle of the field. And read it.
A very interesting development. Activision had a good part in killing off Infocom and what was good about it, but this latter-day maneuver is worth watching.