Infocom, founded in 1979, is the shining light in the history of commercially-released Interactive Fiction games. Beginning with Zork in 1980, the company released over thirty games, many of which are still played.The company's strengths included technical innovation (their Text Parser was the best in the business, and the z-code data format Infocom created is a popular choice for distributing new IF games to this day), rich storytelling, and creative packaging (most Infocom games shipped with "feelies", thematically-related props which might form part of the Copy Protection system, constitute clues, give extra background information, or just be included for the lulz).In 1986, struggling with competition from video games with fancy graphics and badly damaged by an ill-fated foray into the business software market, Infocom was bought by Activision. Shortly after the acquisition, Infocom's champion on the Activision board left the company, and his successor spent three years "improving" Infocom before pulling the plug in 1989.These days many of their games are available on Abandonware sites - indeed the games (being entirely text) are incredibly small files by today's standards. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was a very verbose game is only 128k - smaller than most modern digital pictures.
Infocom was the Trope Namer for:
Recurring tropes in Infocom games:
- Arc Number: 69,105
- Easter Egg
- Featureless Protagonist
- Fictional Document
- Guide Dang It: Many of the games were DEVILISHLY hard, but particularly: Babel Fish
- Interactive Fiction
- Inventory Management Puzzle
- Kleptomaniac Hero
- Locked Door
- Second-Person Narration
- Unwinnable by Design
Infocom games with their own trope pages include:
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Hollywood Hijinx
- Leather Goddesses of Phobos
- The Lurking Horror
- A Mind Forever Voyaging
- Planetfall (and Stationfall)
- Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth
- Tombs & Treasure
- The Zork series
Tropes relating to individual games that don't have their own pages:
- Big Dumb Object: Forms most of the plot of Starcross
- Clueless Detective: In Ballyhoo
- Controllable Helplessness
- Criminal Mind Games: in Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels
- Developers' Foresight: Infocom's parsers were incredibly smart, probably due to having more memory to work with as the games didn't have any graphics.
- Diabolus ex Machina: Infidel
- Floating in a Bubble: In Trinity
- Going by the Matchbook: One of the Feelies in Witness.
- Here We Go Again: Trinity
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: James Clavell's Shogun, which James Clavell didn't have an active hand in adapting.
- Loser Protagonist: The backstory for Infidel establishes the player character as a greedy opportunist who is not half as clever as he/she thinks. Their situation at the beginning of the game is the direct result of some Jerkass behavior on their part and failure to see what was coming next.
- Masquerade Ball: The setting of Suspect
- Multiple Endings: A very rare early example in Plundered Hearts.
- The Password is Always "Swordfish": It is in Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels, anyway.
- Post Modernism: In Deadline, the player finds a novelization of the game within the game. In Trinity, the player discovers a book that lists the last few commands he has typed in so far.
- Public Domain Character: Each of the "Immortal Legends" games. Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels features Sherlock Holmes and related characters; Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur does likewise for King Arthur.
- Ruritania: Frobnia in Border Zone.
- Stable Time Loop: In Trinity.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: In Plundered Hearts.
- Villain Protagonist: Infidel.