By now, my list of adventure games has been around on the Internet
for more than five years, and it looks like it might be a good idea
to put together a Frequently Answered Questions document.
- Do you really want me to waste your time with some information
about a very obscure game for a computer almost only I had?
Yes. All commercially available games are interesting, as well as
freeware/shareware games and of course the very old games on mainframes
that were only available on one or two sites.
- What do you mean by "Adventure game", really?
This is a rather complicated question, actually. Let's try to see
if I can formulate something.
I tend to add the games that people send me information about to
the list. Personally, I haven't played any commercial adventure
games that weren't available on the C64, I think (almost, at least).
My original idea with this list was to collect information about
text games and text games with graphics. However, when I get information
about games that I have never seen, I usually add what I get. Information
about game type is one of the things
that people seem to have most difficulty in sending.
I do remove things from the list now and then, mainly when they
turn out to be RPGs, because I don't want to get into that mess.
That's why you don't find Bard's Tale or Ultima in the list, for
instance. There are some borderline cases here as well. Melbourne
of the Rings and the Lords
of Midnight games spring to mind.
On the other hand, I also realize that the concept of adventure
games has grown since I first started playing them. I'm used to
text games (perhaps with graphics), but that doesn't mean that that's
what the genre is about today. Since I haven't played the modern
games I can't really tell and I'd like to keep a (reasonably) open
From what I've heard of games like Lighthouse, they seem to be pretty
much like the old text games in spirit, even if the user interface
has changed dramatically.
Still, my main interest is in text games. I have tried in the time line to trace the development of the genre but it's
still pretty sketch. The search engine on the main page can also be used to find games of certain types
of games (like text-only games) or the old BBC
computer without being bothered by endless lists of graphical Sierra
- Where can I download [some shareware game] from the Internet?
The answer is almost certainly The Interactive Fiction Archive. They
also have some older commercial games where the authors have released
the games to the public domain.
- Where can I download [some commercial game] from the Internet?
The simple answer is that you can't. The more complicated answer is
that even though the game hasn't been commercially available for a
number of years, the company that originally produced the game has
been gone for a number of years, and the computer it ran on isn't
available on anymore, the game still is under copyright (also see
the answer to the next question). Making copies of it is illegal.
Having said that, I can casually mention that there are lots of sites
out there that carry old games that are out of print. Games for old
computers like the Commodore 64 or the Apple II are almost certainly
available somewhere on the web. I can't tell you where these sites
are, because I don't know. You should also know that copying these
games is illegal, although the risk that someone will actually
care is very small. Finally, there are also a few games that have
been commercially available where the copyright holders have placed
the games in the public domain, making it legal to copy them (Mad
Hatter Software, for instance).
Just to make things even more complicated, I'll mention that there
are a few pointers in this list to off-site ftp archives with commercial
games. I'm not going to tell you which games you can find this way,
but there are a few.
- This game isn't sold anymore, so it should be out of copyright,
Wrong. Copyright has nothing to do with offering the game for sale.
Technically, "Abandonware" is just another term for "piracy". The
rules for copyright are slightly different in different countries,
just to complicate matters more, but still. In Europe, works of art
(which I would classify adventure games as, being reasonably close
to novels), are protected by copyright during the life of the creator
and then for 70 years after his death. That means that most adventure
games will be under copyright protection for at least another 100
years. Most games in this list are copyrighted by the company producing
it. If that company goes bankrupt, the copyrights for their games
will be passed on as assets to some bank or whoever the company owed
money when they folded. In some cases, the bank doesn't care about
having these copyrights and will happily give them up if asked or
don't even know about having them. Still, to be legal, you have to
find out who currently owns the rights and ask them to release them.
If you get someone to release the rights for a game, please let me
know about it.
- I remember playing a game about [description]. Can you tell me
the name of it?
Almost certainly not. I have played a very small fraction of the games
in this list and I don't remember very much from most of the ones
I have played. If you read a novel 15 years ago, can you describe
the plot of it today? If you have a question of this kind, I suggest
you ask it in the rec.games.int-fiction newsgroup.
- Where does all this information come from?
From hundreds of people on the net. I put together the first very
small version of this list in 1993. Then I posted it to the rec.games.int-fiction newsgroup and asked
for additions. After a while, I made the list into a web page. Nowadays,
I get on the order of one mail message a day telling me some small
piece of information or other. Over the years, information accumulates...
- How can I play [some old game] that I bought for my old [some
home computer] on my new fast PC/Mac?
The normal answer to this question is simply that you can't. However,
for most of the old home computers of the 1980s, there are emulators
available for PCs and Macs so that you can run the old game exactly
as if your new machine was your old. This requires you to get the
game transferred from the old tape (probably) to the new machine somehow,
something that normally requires both special hardware and special