Thursday, March 11, 2004

The Second Poker Blogger Classic

I wasn't in the WBT2, because I only tried to register moments before the tournament and TruePoker didn't like my debit card (which PartyPoker has no problem with). They would have taken NeTeller or FirePay, but my PP account is set up with IGM-pay, neither of those. Oh well.

I can't say I was impressed with the software. The sound was interesting, but if I played there every day I'm sure I'd be annoyed by it. The un-sizable table window was annoying, but only bevcause I'm not used to their software: PartyPoker's tables can't be resized, and that doesn't bother me at all. Or, at least, not much.

Congratulations to Otis at Up for Poker for winning the tournament.

Old School Computer Games

I know, I said I'd post my PokerTracker summary ... I still will; I spent last night editing every single post in my blog to use <p> and </p>, as in correct HTML, instead of letting Blogger convert all my line breaks into <br />'s. The <br />'s were messing up my tables. (While I was at it, I converted my earlier tables into real HTML tables, and fixed a few typos and missed characters ... I like playing with the §Þ€Ç†∂£ characters, and there were a few that got missed.

I noticed during the tourney that the PokerGrub chose the name "Frobozz" (and a buxom blonde avatar), which is a character from Zork II, one of the old Infocom games. (The Wizard of Frobozz was not, however, a buxom blonde.)

When I asked him about it, a whole bunch of fellow bloggers said things like "Wow, they still play those?" and "Zork rules!"—apparently I'm not the only one who remembers those games fondly. And so, fifteen years out of date, my top eight best Infocom games:


The conclusion of the Enchanter trilogy, this game was a good bit larger than the previous two games in the excellent series. But best of all were the puzzles: Almost entirely magic-based, they nonetheless made perfect sense (except for the one about the compass rose). I still to this day wish I had the tinsot and izyuk spells. The genius: They pile several puzzles into a simple stone oubliette without any of them being either forced or obvious. I was actually disappointed with the conclusion: It was well done, but it meant no more games in this œuvre.

Zork II

The aforementioned Zork II is second on my list. Better than its predecessor and much better than its successor, Zork II ranks high on my list for the same reason as Spellbreaker: The quality of the puzzles. Zork II lacked some of the consistency of Infocom's later games, in that machinery and magic exist side-by-side in the game, but the puzzles, again, were abundant and made sense. And who wouldn't want to slay the dragon and save the princess?


This was the second chapter in the Enchanter trilogy, and again the puzzles were superior, and mostly made sense. The glass maze and its solution were both inspired, and of course anyone who ignores the bat guano will regret it. But cleverest of all is the time-travel puzzle near the end.


Same reasoning: Great puzzles. This game had a science-fiction theme, and may have earned its "expert" level rating because at one point the player is required to determine which diagram represents oxygen—by text descriptions! By the time the game is finished, you really feel that the space station is a real place.


Another science-fiction themed game, this one makes it in almost entirely because of Floyd the Robot. When he died, it brought a tear to one's eye. The game lacks one of the things that I think helps focus the others on this list: they in many ways come down to "collect the twenty treasures," which is the stated goal of Zork I. In Spellbreaker one collects spell scrolls and white cubes, in Zork II one must collect "enough" treasure to satisfy the guardian of a locked door, in Sorceror one collects spell scrolls and potions, and in Starcross one collects crystal rods. The player here does collect magnetic key-cards, but that forms too small a part of the game.

Zork I

The game that started it all. Zork started its life as a project by a number of students at MIT, who created Dungeon, and then formed their own company and decided that it should be their first product. Zork I is a subset of that old game (as are Zork II and Zork III), and collecting the twenty treasures of Zork is one's first best introduction to the text adventure.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

A romp through many of the areas seen in the first book or two, although the main plot stops when the Heart of Gold lands on the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. The Babel-Fish puzzle is inspired, and I'm proud to say that I managed to solve it—entirely without help. At one time Infocom sold "I got the Babel Fish" T-shirts, but I didn't get one.

Zork Zero

Infocom answered the blizzard of email asking for Zork IV, by doing the exact opposite. (Actually, in Zork III, they refer to Enchanter as Zork IV, and the product code for Enchanter was "IZ4," so maybe they couldn't make Zork IV anyway.) This game is the largest they ever created, and most of the puzzles are pretty good, but the game has a little bit of a desperate feel to it—sort of like Infocom knew that the end was near (they'd been bought by Activision at this point), and they had to produce their magnum opus in a hurry. With the exception of playing Double Fanucci, the graphical puzzles were mostly puzzles stolen from the public domain, so that for example the Tower of Hanoi puzzle became the "Tower of Bozbar" and you even get to do that game you see in bars sometimes where you have to jump the golf tees around until there aren't any left. But the sheer size of the game is impressive.

Honorable Mention

Deadline, the only mystery I liked; Enchanter, still good but the sequels were better; Suspended, where the different robots' take on the same thing was excellently done, A Mind Forever Voyaging, a high concept; Trinity, probably the best from a literary standpoint; Leather Goddesses of Phobos, a PG-rated romp through 1930s comic books; Hollywood Hijinx, one of the few games set in contemporary times; Bureaucracy, the second Douglas Adams effort; Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, a game of puns and wordplay; Beyond Zork, a semi-successful blend of text adventure and traditional role-playing game; Sherlock and the Riddle of the Crown Jewels, another literary collaboration (of sorts); and Journey, a successful combination of text adventure and graphics, although the graphics are today exceptionally dated.

Poker, anyone?

I had to stand up from the tables after a few horrid hours, down over $200; I may return (probably will) in a few hours but even when the deck hits me, I still can't pull off a big win the last couple of days. I know my BB/h is positive, but doing poorly makes one question one's real skill. Even with horrid players on the table, not enough of their money ends up in my stack. On the plus side, a couple of fellow bloggers joined me on the $3/$6 tables for a good bit of the time. They didn't do that well, either.