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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 House's Lord 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 mind here.

    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 games.

  • 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, right?
    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 software.

Adventureland was created by Hans Persson and is now maintained by Stefan Meier.

If you find any errors or have information that is missing, please let me know