Vespers on the iPhone

Now that would be cool. But not this Vespers, the original text game.

So I hear Frotz, a popular Z-machine implementation used for playing interactive fiction, is now available for free on Apple’s iPhone App Store. Apparently there was some question about whether Apple would allow it in the store, probably because it is an interpreter used for playing separately downloaded game files. But it looks as if, for now at least, it is approved for downloading.

The software comes pre-packaged with a number of good IF games, and it looks like Jason’s original text version of Vespers is one of the ones included. Very sweet. Even better, the program can connect directly to the IFDB, allowing users to easily download and play any of the hundreds of games in the collection. From the screenshots, the interface looks nice and clear, and appears to be quite customizable.

Combined with the potentially vast user base for the iPhone/iPod Touch, this package might very well prove to be a great way of expanding the IF audience. I think a lot will depend on the speed, implementation, and interface. As soon as I can get my paws on a Touch, I’ll be trying this right out. For now, though, it looks very promising.

In the meantime, I’ll have to start daydreaming about how I’d do movement on this thing…

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  1. El Clérigo Urbatain
    Posted August 17, 2008 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    Simply I don’t understand why so much fuse about IPhone and IF. We were playing If and adventures on Nintendo DS thanks to DSFrotz and Glkpogo and nobody say a word about. It seems that finally money matters, the more cash on a device, the better to get commented and reviewed.

    I couldn’t compare interfaces between devices, but I doubt IPhone is more capacitate to handle IF than NDS, because they must use same approach: or a virtual keyboard (bleg!) and writing recognition (usable but not perfect).

    NDS is more acquirable in price than the other, so I recommend go for it instead the unaffordable price of IPhone or abusive contracts with mobile operators to get it (at least, in Spain).

  2. Rubes
    Posted August 17, 2008 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    I agree that a lot depends on the implementation — I haven’t used an iPhone more than just in passing, so I don’t know if the keyboard works that well for something like IF.

    But I think the big deal is that the iPhone offers a new avenue of distribution for IF, and potentially a much wider audience. A cell phone is a very different beast than a DS, particularly for the more ‘adult’ crowd. I know I’d be far more likely to carry an iPhone (or iPod Touch) with Frotz on it than a DS, and I imagine it’s the same for a lot of people.

  3. georgeolivergo
    Posted August 18, 2008 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    Graphical adventures on a phone? Is anyone doing this at all? That would be seriously badass.

    Urbatain, would you agree that the iphone experience of accessing any z-code game you want, at pretty much any time (through the IFDB) and then immediately playing it, kind of trumps the experience of getting to a wireless hotspot with your NDS, downloading a game, and then…what? Do you burn it to your cart?

    I don’t even have an idea of how that would work, but the iphone experience is immediately understandable. So faced with a choice of the two options, the iphone just seems a lot more straightforward (not to mention the basic utility of the device compared to the NDS).

  4. El Clérigo Urbatain
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    Yes I admit it. My comment was a little negative one.

    Well, thinking again, maybe yes, the good think is that Frotz for Iphone has that quality and accessibility. And more important is that Apple has been so much nice to allow Frotz be there for no profit.

    About implementation… no one for sure, what kind of interface supports the IPhone running Frotz. So better wait to see the devide running IF to see if it is deserves the money.

    About NDS vs IPhone. Well if NDS was so cool that Frotz author managed to implement that automated download from if archive and such… I mean, the posibility is there, just, we have a better software at Iphone than in any other palm device. But, to be honest, I’m sure Nintendo is not so kind as Apple to allow and provides of APIs to implement automated download from a hotspot.

    And we burn our adventures in our homebrew runner cartridge (or piracy cartridge, as you prefer).

    Talking about good ways to promote IF. Parchment… running on Wii. I must try, but I think Opera for Wii supports USB keyboards, so the you could have the adventure in the commodity of your sofa.

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