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Museum of ZZT (museumofzzt.com)
91 points by DanBC 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments



ZZT had a programming language called "ZZT OOP" and you could write scripts that would be performed by objects in the game. The objects could move around, change shape, and send messages to each other. It was difficult to get them to cooperate—they'd move at different times and fall out of sync—such that you had to add synchronization code to keep them working together. Thinking back on it now, this odd little environment actually taught me some lessons about distributed systems.


Have you seen Preposterous Machines? Some lunatic made a Mandelbrot renderer in ZZT-OOP: https://museumofzzt.com/file/p/prepostm.zip


I hadn't seen this, thanks. Lunatic indeed!


Anna Anthropy's book about ZZT (and really about the culture of game development that thrived around the game) is very good. https://bossfightbooks.com/products/zzt-by-anna-anthropy


I loved ZZT! I can't remember which was first for me, that or QBasic, but I have many fond memories of being 8 years old and hacking away on little games. I think I started with both at about the same time, and they instilled a love of code. The idea that you could just type in a few words and make the computer do what you wanted was pure magic to my young brain.

In hindsight, the limitations of ZZT were very freeing — with such a limited palette of options, you couldn't bite off too much more than you could chew, and you had to get creative to make anything work as intended.

My palette has increased since then, but the principles are still the same. I haven't touched ZZT in years, but in a way my career has been built on it.


ZZT was an early example of a game that included a level editor and scripting language. Lots of people say they got their start in development work by modifying games, and their "this is how I got started" stories are interesting to me.

Sometimes on HN you'll find someone involved in the original game, and their stories are usually interesting.


And it's IMO a critical piece of game history - ZZT, in part thanks to its level designer, became quite successful and allowed Tim Sweeney to found Epic Megagames, which had a number of successful shareware games afterwards (also thanks to Cliffy B) like Kiloblaster (I remember that one) and Jill of the Jungle, Epic Pinball and Jazz Jackrabbit, until in 1998, a good seven years after ZZT, they made Unreal. And again, part of what made Unreal and later Unreal Tournament popular was its level editor and programming interface - which became available to other game creators in the form of the Unreal Engine, which still is a popular choice a lot of the AAA games of today.

So think again when you hate on emoji :p.

(I wanted to do the ascii smiley face but it doesn't seem to be supported. 2018 everyone).


David Newton did a whole video series on the history of Epic Megagames, in fact. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-36gm0W-VKneGghS9-8X...


Way cool. I loved ZZT back in the day but I had no idea of its connection to modern gaming. Thanks for explaining it!


Yep, this was me with ZZT. The scripting language was very limited--it didn't even have numbers really. You had to get creative. But it was simple and small enough to understand and try things out. Good memories to me.


Loved ZZT and Megazeux, it was what got me started into programming over hacking


First shareware game I bought back in the day. I think I might still have the original 3.5" floppy somewhere in my basement. Played it on my parents Tandy 1000 TX 286.


Its fun to look back and remember the original IBM PC ROM character set had a smiley face when "emoji" seems like such a recent development.


I misread that as ZTT and was looking forward to seeing something quite different...




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