From IFWiki

BTZ (Better Than Zork) was the authoring system created by William Mataga and used by Synapse Software for its series of Electronic Novels™: Mindwheel, Essex, Brimstone, and Breakers.

BTZ's first game, Mindwheel, boasted that it could recognize over 1200 words. It also tried to react intelligently to natural English input by guessing what the player meant by recognizing key words. This was partially good, since a player could type 'toad "what is west of here?"' or 'singer "what should i do now?' and had a chance of being understood. This was also partially bad, since the game rarely admitted that it didn't understand the player; this sort of Eliza-like handling of input has been called a "lying parser".

BTZ games ran in real-time. NPCs could enter and leave, and atmopheric messages might be displayed whether or not the player typed anything. However, the story itself did not advance without player input.

BTZ games also had a notion of distance; you could attempt to examine things in the next room or talk to far away people.


The BTZ meta-commands had some cosmetic differences from Infocom's standard:

  • AGAIN - Repeat your last command.
  • BOOKMARK - Same as Save.
  • HEALTH - Same as Diagnose.
  • PAUSE NOVEL - Halts the changing world.
  • PRINTER ON and PRINTER OFF - Used to create a transcript.
  • PROGRESS or PR - Same as Score.
  • QUIT NOVEL - Same as Quit.
  • RESTART NOVEL - Same as Restart.
  • RESUME NOVEL - Same as Restore.
  • TIME FASTER and TIME SLOWER - Speed up or slow down the changing world.


See also:

  • "Building a Better Zork", Computer Entertainment, June 1985.