Frotz in the iPhone App store

After all the various discussion of whether Apple would or would not allow it: it’s there. Craig Smith has a free-download version of Frotz available, which comes preloaded with a bunch of games (9:05, An Act of Murder, All Roads, Anchorhead, Balances, Being Andrew Plotkin, Bronze, A Change in the Weather, Child’s Play, Christminster, Curses!, Dreamhold, For a Change, Heroes, Jigsaw, Lost Pig, The Meteor, the Stone, and A Long Glass of Sherbet, The Act of Misdirection, Photopia, Slouching Towards Bedlam, Spider and Web, Varicella, Vespers, The Weapon, and Zork (MIT version)).

It also has a button that taps straight into IFDB, and downloading a new game adds it and its cover art to your game collection.

Plays a little slowly with Bronze, but faster than the reports I’ve heard of the game on other PDAs (and Bronze does whacking lots of pathfinding all the time). Older I6 games are faster.

IF cover art looks really nice on the iPhone screen, too.

A Speculation

Thesis: Many of the most memorable non-player characters in IF are ones the viewpoint character already knew before the game started.

Supporting positive evidence: Michael from Anchorhead; many or perhaps most of the characters in Robb Sherwin’s games; Miss Sierra and Princess Charlotte in Varicella.

Suggested explanation: it’s really hard to get to what is interesting about someone in the first few minutes or hours of acquaintance, so in games where we’re meeting everyone for the first time, a lot of energy has to be wasted on the building of trust and mutual figuring-out.

Also, the viewpoint character can’t make any general observations about the history and personality of other characters, because he hasn’t known them long enough — so the whole tool of direct exposition is off limits. Showing and not telling is good a lot of the time, but telling can be a valuable shortcut when you want to get to the interesting parts of a relationship.