A MetaFilter thread on text adventure game writer Andrew Plotkin led to a few happy discoveries. Plotkin (whose website is at eblog.com: "Blong! You are a pickle." Nobody who likes Daniel Pinkwater could be an evil man!) has written a number of entertaining (and, in some cases, viciously difficult) interactive fiction games, some of which I have played and enjoyed. But there’s more to this story. Interactive fiction is perhaps best known to the world through the game Zork. You would type in commands ("GO NORTH", "HIT THE RED TROLL WITH SWORD", "RUB LAMP WITH CHEESE") and it would spit back responses. There’s a thriving community of amateurs who write these things now; Plotkin is one of the better known. But he also wrote a game called System’s Twilight in the style of Cliff Johnson’s great puzzle games of the early nineties.
Those Cliff Johnson games were probably the best puzzle games ever written. Fool’s Errand, At the Carnival, and 3 in Three made games like The Seventh Guest look like the hackwork that they were. I’ve been looking for a copy of the Cliff Johnson games — now sadly out of print — on eBay and at dingy computer stores for years. Now, thanks to the a kindly MeFi user, I know where to obtain ‘em: a Mac abandonware site, The Macintosh Garden. And they’re as good as I remember them being.
But there’s yet more! The kindly MeFi reader, Matt Baldwin, runs a site devoted to board games! I’ve been going on a Scrabble kick of late, and Dave Adams is trying to bully everyone he knows into playing Go with him, but any site with an article entitled "Shoestring Games: Good Games for Under Ten Bucks" that mentions "The Great Dalmuti" (a game something akin to the dollar poker or the card game Asshole that was a popular sitting-around-doing-nothing game with some of my friends in Berkeley) and a game called "The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen", as well as giving props to Cheapass Games (publishers of the anti-Clue, "Kill Doctor Lucky", another Berkeley favorite) and Friend of Snarkout Jeremy Bushnell and his pals over at Invisible City Games, is a site I want to read more of. Matt, who seems to write for The Games Journal, is clearly a scholar and a gentleman. I look forward to exploring his site… just as soon as I finish the incredibly aggrevating "Know Your ABCs" puzzle in 3 in Three.