Adam Sommerfield started in the world of text adventure games at the age of 7 playing Scott Adams games on his Commodore Plus-4 (a 7th Birthday present). Learning Basic, as many kids of the era did, he enjoyed creating simple text-only adventure games featuring himself and his friends in local places such as home, school, the park etc Later he enjoyed playing many of the homebrew and cottage-industry games, many published by Zenobi, on his ZX Spectrum +2 in the early 1990's. After graduating from West Nottinghamshire College with a HND in Computer Science he moved into the world of work, and that was the end of his initial dabble into text adventure games although a love of retro technology and 1980's computers and games remained.
In 2017 whilst researching 1950s MIT computer history Adam learned about the LISP language and the early artificial intelligence work, this prompted an interest in LISP which led to learning that a LISP-dialect called ZIL (Zork Implementation Language) had been created by MIT students in the late 1970's as part of their technology & tools to be used to create the brilliant Infocom games company and their text adventure games; shortly after renamed interactive fiction. After learning that it was possible to code in ZIL and create new games using Jesse McGrew's ZILF Adam set to work creating a small community to learn ZIL and promote its use alongside ZILF.
Contacting Jesse McGrew the pair started the "ZIL - Zork Implementation Language" on Facebook (see links below). Since then the use of ZIL and ZILF has steadily increased and the Facebook group enjoys active membership, including Tim Anderson (one of the original mainframe Zork implementors) and David Lebling (one of the founders of Infocom and author of several works of IF).
Release of the Infocom Source Code to Github
In April 2019, Jason Scott of the Internet Archive (WayBack Machine) uploaded the original ZIL source code for all of Infocom's interactive fiction games. This resulted in a wider renewed interest in ZIL and ZILF, the number of Facebook group members increased from 60 to over 600 members within the month.
Release of the Infocom Test & Development Source Code
In December 2019 Adam created a YouTube video describing his finding, compiling and making available of a "lost Infocom game" by the name of Hypochondriac. Believing the game to be an unreleased commercial game, in the same vein as Checkpoint and Milliways, the video was quickly picked up and shared across social media. Following some initial concern that the game shouldn't have been shared as it was found within the USR directory of the Infocom Hard Drive, the video was taken down and the links removed. In the meantime however the name of the actual author of Hypochondriac (Tomas Bok) was discovered and Adam reached out to Tomas on LinkedIn. Tomas (Tom) was happy that the game had been found, compiled to a working game file and was being enjoyed by the community, as such the links to the source code and playable game file were made public again.
This led to Adam seeking approval from Infocom Implementors David Lebling and Steve Meretzky to share the full USR directory contents. With the caveat being that the content is clearly marked as Test & Dev (rather than unreleased commercial), the names of the Testers removed from the directory names, and with the curation and removal of private mail (and other) files the Test-Dev directory was made public and shared via social media.
- Organizer of ZIL Text Adventure Game Competition 2019.