Border Zone GamesK

Border Zone

Released October 8, 1987 · consists of 5 releases.

A work of interactive fiction from Infocom in the espionage genre, where events take place in real time.

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Border Zone

First release date October 8, 1987
Platform Apple II , Atari ST , Commodore 64 , Mac , PC , iPhone , iPad
Developer Infocom
Publisher Infocom
Genre Adventure , Text Adventure
Theme Espionage
Franchises
Aliases

Overview

Border Zone was the 30th game released by interactive fiction pioneers Infocom. It was the only one of their text adventures to feature "real-time" play (i.e., time passes in the game even if no command has been entered.)

Development

Border Zone creator Marc Blank had been one of Infocom's top game designers/programmers (or as the company referred to them, "implementors", or "imps"). One of the original collaborators on Zork, he had also created Deadline and co-written Enchanter.

However, Infocom was founded with the goal of creating business applications. Zork was supposed to be a way to bring in money while those applications were being written. Pushing forward with the original plan, the company began working on a relational database program called Cornerstone. Blank -- correctly, as it would turn out -- felt that Cornerstone was a doomed project that could potentially sink the company. This led to tensions with upper management, and in 1986, Blank was fired.

Nevertheless, by the next year, Infocom had been acquired by Activision, and the new management was willing to work with Blank again. Deadline, as implied by the title, did feature a running clock and timed events. However, time would only pass within the game when the player entered a command. Blank wanted to push this concept further, where time would pass within the game simultaneously with real time.

Story/Gameplay

In another innovative approach for Infocom, Border Zone switches between three different perspectives as it tells its story. Users play first as an American businessman; then as an American spy; and then as a KGB agent. All three are in the eponymous border zone between the fictional countries of Frobnia and Litzenburg, entangled in a plot to assassinate the American ambassador.

Some puzzles require commands to be entered with the correct timing (again, as measured by real time). In some cases, quite exact timing is required. Because events occur in real time, it is possible for the player to be interrupted while typing a command. The command prompt will then re-appear with whatever text had been typed to that point.

"Feelies"

As had become traditional for Infocom, Border Zone's packaging contained collectibles (or, as they were referred to, "feelies") to help set the mood of the game. Border Zone's feelies were:

  • A map of the area.
  • A "tourist's phrasebook". The phrasebook consists of several pages of largely humorous translations of allegedly common "Frobnian" phrases. It also includes a train schedule.
  • A "matchbook" and "business card" from local businesses.

Border Zone

Border Zone

Border Zone

Border Zone

Gallery

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Specific release details

Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces
Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces
Platform PC
Region United States
Developer
Publisher
Release date January 1996
Product code 0 47875 33640 7
Company code None
Rating
Minimum Players 1
Maximum Players N/A
Resolutions N/A
Sound Systems N/A
Single player Features N/A
Multi player Features N/A
Widescreen Support No
Notes N/A

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