Exploring Zork, with special guest Jeff Green

The Black Dragon joins us for a text-based journey into an influential adventure.

Join us this week for a podcast journey into deep PC gaming history — literally, thanks to our first-ever podcast Let's Play session. We delve into the origins of the incredibly influential Zork series this week, and what better guide for our adventure than the one and only Jeff Green? Formerly the boss at Computer Gaming World and Games for Windows magazines, Jeff joins me and Bob this week to help crack the mystery of the Great Underground Empire with indefatiguable good humor and years of experience with PC gaming.

Zork, of course, began life back in the ’70s as a non-commercial creation by a bunch of MIT students who wanted to improve on Colossal Cave Adventure. In the process of putting together a clever hack, the Implementors ended up defining a new genre of game, one whose innate need for extreme mental gymnastics gave it surprising durability even as the industry pushed toward ever-greater graphical fidelity. It's a great and memorable series… even if we've never managed to finish any of the games ourselves. We love them all the same.

The music this week comes from, well, Zork. Yes, that's right, Zork had a soundtrack… in the Japan-only SEGA Saturn conversion. But you have to admit, especially during the opening section of this week's show, they did a bang-up job of putting together ambient tunes that really underscore the alien mystery and tension of the game.

MP3, 53.6 MB | 1:41:33

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Episode description: Former Computer Gaming World boss Jeff Green joins Jeremy and Bob to explore the world of the Great Underground Empire, consider Zork's influence on gaming, and do their best not to be eaten by a Grue.

And if you enjoyed the opening section of this week's episode, be sure to let us know. Enough positive feedback and we just might consider some sort of standalone spinoff based on that premise — it was a lot of fun, but it was completely off-the-cuff (I decided to take that angle shortly before recording and did zero planning for it). I honestly think a properly produced take on the idea could work.