A z-machine interpreter
for the Pico-8
>play Zork on the Pico-8
You can't do that.
>say the magic word xyzzy
OK, now you can play Zork on the Pico-8.
West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
Welcome to Status Line
Status Line is a z-machine interpreter written on/for the Pico-8 (standalone executables also available!). This allows the Pico-8 to run z-machine game files (past, present, and future), a game format best known from the classic Infocom text adventures of days gone by. Famous classics like Zork, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Trinity, and more can be enjoyed in the "cozy space" of the Pico-8.
- Game graphics drawn "from the limitless imagery of your imagination" (according to an old Infocom advertisement)
- Can play any game in the "z3" format (for example, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) or "z4" format (ex. Trinity, A Mind Forever Voyaging)
- Custom font allows for multi-font display, with mixed standard, italic, and bold (Bureaucracy shown)
- Games up to 256K in size supported
- Simple sound effects for beeping and booping (z4 games use this a lot)
- Save/restore games in progress (see details below)
- Multiple color themes to recreate that "classic feel"
- Multiple cursor types for fellow pedants
- Player-selectable text scroll speed
- Choose 24 or 12-hour clock for time-based games
Introducing Status Line Classics
While z3 games are typically lightweight and do not make harsh demands on the system, z4 games can be another matter. While z4 games are absolutely compatible with Status Line, the player may find that those games have many in-game limitations which can prevent them from being an enjoyable experience, especially for first-time players of those games
As such, with v2.0 of Status Line I am releasing v1.0 of Status Line Classics.
These are bespoke builds of original games from original Infocom source code, hand-modified to look and play great in Status Line. You can download the latest builds at my GitHub repository. Here's a few examples to see how great some classics can look when modified for Status Line.
|A Mind Forever Voyaging||Trinity|
|Nord and Bert||Bureaucracy|
Where Else Can I Find Games to Play?
I've Never Played a Text Adventure... Help!
Here's a handy guide for understanding the quirks and nuances that can often frustrate new players. Here's another great page with information for beginners.
I'm Inspired to Write My Own Text Adventure!
Great! While Status Line does support both z3 and z4 games, I would generally recommend using PunyInform to write a z3 game for use with Status Line. Inform 6 can build z3 and z4 games, but you will need to be more conscientious when authoring to stay within z3/4 limitations.
How Do I Use Status Line?
When you launch Status Line, on-screen instructions will explain, "Drag a z3/4 file into Status Line to begin playing." Simply do as instructed. The game will load and its introductory text will appear.
"MORE" will appear for long text passages, giving you a chance to read everything before proceeding. Hit any key to have the next page of text scroll onto screen.
At the title screen, hit the "Enter" key to open standard Pico-8 preferences. Player-selectable color themes, scroll speeds, cursor styles, and in-game clock options are found there. Your selections will persist as the defaults with each launch of Status Line, and will carry over across updates.
When you `save` your game, you may use whatever filename you wish. Status Line will modify the filename with a unique identifier for the game you're playing.
Example: you save your game of Enchanter with the name `bedroom`. Later, when you `Restore` your saved game, you will find the file has been named `bedroom_32a7_save.p8l`. Status Line has appended your save game title with a unique identifier that associates it with the game in progress, and uses Pico-8's default file extension ".p8l"
Because all saved games share the same folder, this ensures that saved games from different games don't overwrite each other. Keeping your saved games in the default save folder will allow the `Restore` command to function smoothly.
When `restoring` a saved game, Status Line will ask you to "Drag in a <identifier>_save.p8l file" and will open the default save folder for you. Drag-and-drop any save game with a matching identifier into Status Line to load and continue playing.
The Future of Status Line?
z5 support is the ultimate goal, along with a couple of extra surprises with v3.0.
- There is an issue when playing a game, quitting that game, then loading a new game when the game type switches from z3-to-z4 (or vice versa). Relaunching Status Line fresh has no issues and will play the games.
- A very subtle bug in how "property length" is calculated for internal objects has been found. I'm unclear if/how/when this will manifest itself in gameplay, but it is possible it could cause some issue somewhere in z4 games only.
Notes on Downloads
- Standalone executables do not require a copy of Pico-8 to run :)
- On first launch, the game may default to full-screen. At the title screen, open Status Line prefs ("enter" or "esc" key) and set Options > Full-screen to off. This will allow you to use the drag-and-drop function and is a one-time setting.
- Windows and Mac users will likely get a security warning on first launch. I'm looking into ways to fix this, but right now the developer accounts that could "sign" the app look expensive. If this is a deal-breaker, I totally understand.
Where is the source code?
With v2.0 of Status Line, all source code has been made available on GitHub. Every released version has been put in as a single commit, so you can go through the history easily.