InfocomBot for AOL Instant Messenger

If you have an AOL Instant Messenger account, send an IM to InfocomBot, InfocomBot2, or InfocomBot3. I set up an automated bot to play classic Infocom text adventure games from your favorite IM client, T-Mobile Sidekick, or any other device that connects to AIM. It supports “save” and “restore” commands, so you don’t need to lose your place.

If you’ve never played a text adventure game before, Brass Lantern has a great introduction to basic gameplay. There are hints for all of these games on the InvisiClues website.

How’s it done? In short, it’s a Perl wrapper that glues the compiled game interpreter to the AIM network. I tweaked Tim’s excellent Zorkbot script to be a little friendlier, with better (and more secure) support for saving games and cleaner output. (If you want my changes, let me know.)

Thanks to Ilya, who modified dumb-frotz, a “dumb terminal” port of the popular Z-machine interpreter, to properly flush the output buffer after every line.

An example transcript is below. The bot may get overwhelmed, so check back in a couple hours if it gets kicked off AOL’s network.

Update: It was posted to Metafilter, so AOL is limiting the messages it responds with. I’m going to set up an additional couple bots you can use instead.

March 25, 2004: The bots are continually getting kicked offline because of the traffic from the Wired News article. I’m posting status updates in a new entry.

Example Transcript:

username: hello?

infocombot: Welcome back! To continue your saved game, choose your game and type ‘restore’ after it starts. For help and more info, go to

Type a game to play:

deadline, hitchhikers_guide, leather_goddesses, lurking_horror,

planetfall, shade, wishbringer, zork1, zork2, zork3

username: zork1

infocombot: West of House Score: 0 Moves: 0

ZORK: The Great Underground Empire – Part I

Copyright (c) 1980 by Infocom, Inc. All rights reserved.

ZORK is a trademark of Infocom, Inc.

Release 15 / Serial number aaaaa

West of House

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

There is a small mailbox here.

username: open mailbox

infocombot: > West of House Score: 0 Moves: 1

Opening the mailbox reveals a leaflet.

username: read leaflet

infocombot: > West of House Score: 0 Moves: 2



ZORK is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. In it you will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen by mortals.

No computer should be without one!

The original ZORK was created by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. It was inspired by the ADVENTURE game of Crowther and Woods. This version was created by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling, Joel Berez, and Scott Cutler.

(c) Copyright 1979 & 1980 Infocom, Inc. All rights reserved.

username: w

infocombot: > Forest Score: 0 Moves: 3


This is a forest, with trees in all directions around you. To the east, there appears to be sunlight.

username: n

infocombot: > Clearing Score: 0 Moves: 4


You are in a clearing, with a forest surrounding you on all sides. A path leads south.

On the ground is a pile of leaves.

username: e

infocombot: > Forest Score: 0 Moves: 5


This is a dimly lit forest, with large trees all around.

username: w

infocombot: > Forest Path Score: 0 Moves: 6

Forest Path

This is a path winding through a dimly lit forest. The path heads north-south here. One particularly large tree with some low branches stands at the edge of the path.

username: climb tree

infocombot: > Up a Tree Score: 0 Moves: 7

Up a Tree

You are about 10 feet above the ground nestled among some large branches. The nearest branch above you is above your reach.

Beside you on the branch is a small bird’s nest.

In the bird’s nest is a large egg encrusted with precious jewels, apparently scavenged somewhere by a childless songbird. The egg is covered with fine gold inlay, and ornamented in lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl. Unlike most eggs, this one is hinged and has a delicate looking clasp holding it closed. The egg appears extremely fragile.

username: take egg

infocombot: > Up a Tree Score: 5 Moves: 8


username: save

infocombot: Your game has been saved!

username: quit

infocombot: Game over! Would you like to play another game?


    Haha, Andy, I think your bot doesn’t want to take No for an answer! It’s messaged me with its help text three times in the past ten minutes without a response from myself. My network went down after I took a turn in Planetfall and I’m using Trillian if that helps.

    What are you using to power the bot itself? I’ve done some messing around with JAIMbot, but found it lacking for my needs (which is to simulate/duplicate a content update notification mailing list).

    I’m using dumb-frotz, a “dumb terminal” version of Frotz for Unix. It doesn’t display any of the control codes used for color, cursor movement, or the status bar. The output gets piped into a text file for each user, which is then read and piped into Net::AIM.

    having written aim bots before, i bet that your bot, if it gets any traffic, will quickly be throttled off the oscar network. email me if you want some tips.

    Yeah, I can’t seem to get past the first couple of steps and it dies on me.

    This is going to get lots of hits

    Both bots are running, but dropping messages like mad because of AOL’s terrible rate limits. Thanks to Fruminator’s suggestion, I’m thinking of setting up 10+ more bots and doing an automated rotation between them.

    you are my personal hero for creating this! It must be getting flooded with people already, as it’s dropping out on me as I try to play… I look forward to seeing the added bots in action!

    One minor complaint. If I’m idle and get the Game Over message, the bot asks if I’d like to play another game. I typed No just to see if anything would happen and the bot considered me un-idle, gave me the game list and then gave me the Game Over message yet again x minutes later.

    Excellent… but how do I know it’s really a bot? It could be like Kramer on Seinfeld doing MovieFone…”why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you want to see…”

    I would LOVE to see Enchanter (the series, if possible) game put up there as well. I just loved that game!!!!

    My favorite was the rainbow turtle, who I mistakenly killed once in the machine room; I almost cried…

    No boss key needed! I just keep this guy next to a few co-worker conversations and there’s no suspicion at all that I’m actually racing through space on a Heart of Gold. Thanks!

    Wait a second, I can’t believe I, and you all, fell for this one. It’s obvious that this is no bot! It’s clearly a person on the other end. Nice try, Andy, but it’s a little early for April Fools.

    This is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time… Now if only one of the bots would stay online long enough for me to get somewhere in a game… 🙂 Awesome none-the-less!

    (Actually reads Wired article.)

    Oh, heh, I guess you are quite aware of the Wired article, being that you were interviewed. 🙂 Never mind.

    Hey did you know you can warn the bots? Is there a way you can stop that like AIM does with its bots such as SmarterChild?

    Have you thought about porting the bot to Jabber ( Would solve the problems with the auto kicking from AIM, and open them up to a wider audience.

    Unfortunately, it’s not very popular. It’s not supported by any mobile devices that I know of, and it has a very small install base compared to AIM. I use it, but not many other people do.

    But feel free to port it yourself, and I’ll happily link to it.

    Found this via /. I hope you can handle the bandwidth.

    Can you post all your code? I’d like to install this in my own server.

    congrats! now i can finally solve a couple of these. (always looked on in wonder at them as a kid.)

    You might not have needed to modify the old dumb-frotz package to get it to do the Right Thing. Frotz 2.43 will let you compile it with a dumb interface, so you get the dumbness you need for bot use and the current Frotz core so it won’t barf on newer games. Send me your patches and suggestions so I can put them in the next release.

    First, I will say that I am using attempting to use these bots via the latest Trillian Pro 2.011. I can successfully add all three Infocombots and speak with them, but I cannot get any of them to start any game. By typing the game I want to play, it just responds again and again with the welcome message and instructions on how to start one of the listed games. While I was typing this comment, I left the trillian window open (to Infocombot3), and about 8 minutes after typing “zork1,” and having it give me the welcome message, it randomly sent another message to me saying, “Game over! Would you like to play another game?” Odd – I never even started one, at least not that I could see 🙂

    Is this an issue with Trillian, or are the bots just being hammered/slashdotted so bad that they’re not responding to new game requests? I searched around and didn’t find any other mentions of Trillian users having problems (or even just trillian users, for that matter). Thanks for creating this – it’s very cool! Any tips on this issue greatly appreciated.


    this is a silly game to play. But how come it keeps sending me back a message after I told it I quit? dang bot you got

    oh … my … god. oh my god. i was addicted — ADDICTED, i tell you — to HHGTTG when i was little. sadly, there’s a bug when you get to the vogon ship … won’t let you type on the keyboard, i don’t think the bot is reading the quotation marks right … i was bummed. either way, you guys are my new heroes.

    Where can I find the materials that used to come with the games? For example, I need to login to the computer on Lurking Horror, and don’t have my student ID card from the game. Help!

    I’m a blind PC user and just paid around $250.00 to purchase all of the **major** collection series by Infocom i.e. LTOI 1,2 and Masterpieces. I will also state, I purchased all of these collections new too that is why the high dollar amount!!! They all had their shrink wrap on them as well. I wanted to play these great games, for so long now, and I have just now founda interpretor called Winfrotz 5.3 which works with screen readers like JAWS or JFW, which I use now to manipulate my PC. If **any one** of the guys who worked for Infocom E-mail me I would greatly appreciate it. I have some questions I would like to ask him or them. My E-mail address is [email protected]. Thanks, Beto Escobar III, LMSW

    i have a question well two actualy

    1) do the other bots have diffent games ?

    2)if not are you planing to add on the other text adventures soon ?

    How do you begin to play another game? I got bored of ther one I’m playing and would like to try a different one.

    I just played it for the first time….I was searching for a IM on google because i have the main ones and i stumbled upon this and I played it……I just got one thing to say……THIS GAME KICKS ASS!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is great. Do you know where I can get the z-code of these games? Most if not all have been released to the public, I have Hithikers and the Zork series, but I would like the rest.

    Are you doing anything special with these bots to avoid “send rate” limits, like in the case where one bot might be talking so quickly to so many people that it would exceed the limit for the volume and speed at which it can respond to them?

    Or is your bot just subject to the limits like everyone else and your only workaround is to have more than one bot?

    At some point, I think someone at AOL flipped a switch that made the main Infocombot invulnerable to warns and rate limits. I have no idea why, but possibly because they realized it was a cool use of their tech.

    Have there by any other uses of AIM like this? Seems like there should be some other cool things to do in similar ways.

    where are they!? i haven’t seen these bots online in ages. way to come up with a mad cool thing and take it away thereby spawning a sense of loss on top of the infocom void there already was in IM land.

    Is there anyway to just download the games?

    Do you have access to them?

    Can we buy them (although I’d prefer NOT to 🙂

    not bad! nice to see them back! a bit more user frendly would be nice, perhaps a ‘help’ command, but all things considered, great!


    It would be great if you could share some tips about how to get over the warn and rate limitation the chat robots face.



    Would be great if infocombot would be resurrected…I never got to play with it but I sure spent a lot of time with the Guide on my PCjr back in the day.

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