if you’ve been following developments here at auntiepixelante corp., you’ll know that i’ve written a whole book about the 1991 text-based shareware game-making tool zzt. it’s currently going through editing, a process i like to call “slouching towards bethlehem to be born.” it’ll be born soon.
meanwhile, i’ve made a new zzt game! it stars my unfortunate space femme heroine, star wench. i don’t remember how i started thinking about a star wench zzt game, but within a few minutes i had a page full of notes for it, and there was no going back after that.
zzt is entirely made out of text characters: making a game in the zzt world editor is a lot of asking yourself “which letter looks most like a sea anemone? how can i represent a beach umbrella in a few characters?” and then you have to be clever about using color, because half the available palette can only be as a character’s primary (foreground) but not secondary (background) color, so you can create transitions from foreground colors to background colors or background colors to background colors but not from foreground colors to foreground colors. if you block things out carefully, though, you can add details in the right places. and then you have a limited number of objects, the one game piece that can look like anything, so you look for places where you can get away with using other game pieces that have fixed appearances.
zzt makes you ask, again and again, “what can i get away with?” and that’s why using it is so great: every decision feels like a magic trick you were smart enough to pull off.
you can DOWNLOAD STAR WENCH ZZT HERE. to run it: well, you have a couple of options. one is lyon, a zzt emulator for windows. just open STARWNCH.ZZT in lyon. the other option is to emulate dos and actually run zzt. you can download zzt here (you probably want version 3.2). then use dosbox to mount the folder you dumped zzt (and STARWNCH.ZZT) in and run zzt. press W to bring up the “world menu,” scroll to STARWNCH, and press enter. VOILA, A GAME.
this game was funded by my generous patreon donors.