ZZT's source code has been reconstructed
Reconstruction of ZZT is a game-changer for the ZZT community
It’s an exciting time for both ZZT fans and retrogaming in general. Tim Sweeney’s creaky-but-brilliant 1991 classic ZZT – with its surprisingly robust, creative world editor – has been recreated in Turbo Pascal byte-for-byte by the developer of the terrific Zeta emulator, Adrian Siekierka. This means that many years after the source code for ZZT was lost, an exact recreation of the original executable is finally available, in the form of Reconstruction of ZZT, with Sweeney’s blessing and an MIT software license meaning it’s – at last – a truly open piece of software. An open-source version of ZZT 3.2.
Years of fiddly DOSbox noodlings may well be over; this means that the game can finally be ported natively to all manner of systems – an Android version of Zeta already exists as a proof of concept, and the sky really does seem to be the limit now for where it’ll end up. Any system that’s homebrewed is technically fair game. I’d personally love to play ZZT games on my 3DS.
More excitingly than simple ports, though, are the potential quality of life features and expansions that could now be applied to this most resilient of game engines. Goodness knows the fanbase are certainly committed enough, and hopefully this revelation will ultimately bring many, many more budding designers into the fray. ZZT has always been easy to use and now, given a little time, it will no doubt get even easier and much more expansive. It’s a scene that’s always been characterised by sheer imagination and now with potential barriers to entry about to be lifted, it’s very likely to usher in another “golden age” of ZZT creation, with a brace of new games to download from Dr Dos' excellent ZZT Museum.. I can’t wait. Maybe I’ll actually finish making a game now.