BTZ

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BTZ (Better Than Zork) was the authoring system created by William Mataga and used by Synapse Software for its series of Electronic Novels™: Mindwheel, Essex, Brimstone, and Breakers.

BTZ's first game, Mindwheel, boasted that it could recognize over 1200 words. It also tried to react intelligently to natural English input my guessing what the player meant by recognizing key words. This was partially good, since a player could type 'toad "what is west of here?"' or 'singer "what should i do now?' and had a chance of being understood. This was also partially bad, since the game rarely admitted that it didn't understand the player; this sort of Eliza-like handling of input has been called a "lying parser".

BTZ games ran in real-time. NPCs could enter and leave, and atmopheric messages might be displayed whether or not the player typed anything. However, the story itself did not advance without player input.

BTZ games also had a notion of distance; you could attempt to examine things in the next room or talk to far away players.

Meta-Commands

The BTZ meta-commands had some cosmetic differences from Infocom's standard:

  • AGAIN - Repeat your last command.
  • BOOKMARK - Save your current position in the game.
  • HEALTH - Same as the old diagnose command.
  • PAUSE NOVEL - Halts the changing world.
  • PRINTER ON|OFF - Create a transcript.
  • PROGRESS or PR - Same as the Infocom's Score command.
  • QUIT NOVEL - Same as Quit.
  • RESTART NOVEL - Same as Restart.
  • RESUME NOVEL - Same as Restore.
  • TIME FASTER|SLOWER - Speed up or slow down the changing world.

Links

See also:

  • "Building a Better Zork", Computer Entertainment, June 1985.