Filfre: A Windows Interactive Fiction Interpreter

Filfre is a program for playing interactive fiction stories, also known as text adventures. These stories are available in a variety of different formats. Filfre supports the most long-lived and common of these, the Z-Machine, as well as a newer virtual machine called Glulx that is a successor of sorts to the Z-Machine. 

The Z-Machine format was invented by a pioneering computer game company called Infocom in about 1980, and used by them for 35 or classic games. Following Infocom’s demise in 1990, members of the free interactive fiction community reverse-engineered the format to allow interpreters like this one, and then developed a brand new development language called Inform to allow new Z-Machine games to be written. Today there are literally hundreds of Z-Machine stories available for free, many of strikingly high quality.

Glulx was created by Andrew Plotkin in the late 1990s as a response to the greatest weaknesses of the Z-Machine, namely its restrictions on the allowable size of the stories it plays and its lack of support for modern, high-quality graphics and sound. Many Glulx stories have been written over the past decade or so, and the format is slowly replacing the venerable Z-Machine as the most common IF delivery method.
Filfre supports versions 3, 4, 5, and 8 Z-Machine story files, either as standalone files or compiled into the Blorb IF packaging format. This encompasses the vast majority of all Z-Machine stories ever released. Support for graphical games, known as version 6, is not provided, due to certain features of this interpreter that are incompatible with that format. As of this writing, only five finished games in that format exist, however, and there is no reason to expect more in the future, as the newer Glulx format’s much superior multimedia support makes it the preferred format for stories using these features. Other available interpreters can be used to play version 6 Z-Machine stories, should you desire to do so.

Filfre supports the latest (as of this writing) version of the Glulx virtual machine, 3.1.1, including the new suite of "accelerated opcodes" for improved performance. Games created for earlier versions of Glulx are completely backward compatible with the latest version.

Filfre should run on most installations of Windows from Windows 95 on, but only Windows 2000 and beyond are "officially supported." If you are not running Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, or 8, some of Filfre’s support for Unicode characters will certainly be absent and other oddities may crop up as well. 

Older, slower machines might run newer works of IF, particularly those produced with Inform 7, somewhat sluggishly, and may choke entirely on some multimedia-intensive Glulx stories.

If upgrading from a very old version (i.e., pre 1.0), please take a moment to remove the file "riched20.dll" from Filfre's install directory. This is a very old version of the dll which has some  quirks that may affect the rendering of certain Unicode characters. If it is not there, Filfre will rely on your system's default RichEdit implementation instead -- which is likely much newer and at least somewhat more quirk-free.

Download Filfre 1.1.1 -- Installable application (January 24, 2013)
Download Filfre 1.1.1 -- Files only (January 24, 2013)
Download Filfre 1.1.1 source code for Borland C++ Builder 6 (January 24, 2013)

Infocom produced two games -- The Lurking Horror and Sherlock: Riddle of the Crown Jewels -- that included sound effects in a non-standard format. To hear these sounds using Filfre, download the following and unzip them into the folder that contains your Infocom story file. You must also have release 219 or 221 of The Lurking Horror, or release 26 of Sherlock. If you do not, run the executable UPDATELH.EXE or UPDATESH.EXE, also included in these zips, to patch your story to a version supporting sound.

Lurking Horror Sound Files and Patch
Sherlock Sound Files and Patch

Page Last Updated: January 24, 2013

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