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Frotz is a Z-machine implementation: an adventure game engine for playing the text adventures released in the 1980s by Infocom, as well as more modern games compiled to the same architecture.

Frotz is perhaps the most well-known and popular Z-machine implementation available. Its advantages over other Z-machines are twofold: firstly, though it was not the first non-Infocom Z-machine to be released, it was one of the early ones-- the initial release, written by Stefan Jokisch, was in 1995. Secondly, because the program is written in highly portable C, it has been possible to port the original DOS version to most modern computer formats, including not only Unix and Windows but even palmtops and mobile phones. Various extensions have since been added, such as sound effects and graphics.

In 2002, the Frotz core codebase was picked up by David Griffith, who continues to develop it. At this time the codebase was distinctly split between the virtual machine and the user interface portions such that the virtual machine became entirely independent from any user interface. This allowed some clever programmers to create some of the stranger ports of Frotz. One of the strangest is also one of the simplest: an instant messenger bot is wrapped around a version of Frotz with the bare minimum of input-output functionality creating a bot with which one can play most Z-machine games using an instant messenger.

Frotz is also the light-bringing spell in Infocom's Enchanter series from which the engine took its name. "Frotz" was also a verb in MIT slang, meaning "play with", which is presumably the source of the name of the spell.



  • Frotz home page. The homepage for the Frotz core and the Unix and dumb versions.