To make a long story short, we wanted a highly portable means of playing a large variety of interactive fiction.

The idea is inspired by the excellent Gargoyle interactive fiction player, and is the logical extension to our "bootables" concept as found elsewhere on this website (see the main page index). But the bootables have very limited capacity and work only on computers having floppy drives, which today are all but gone (more's the pity).

Portability today is all about thumb drives, and most contemporary computers can be teased into booting from a thumb drive plugged into any convenient USB port. Now, our company, Futrezo Software Solutions, is all about Linux, and it turns out that making a bootable Linux thumb drive is not very difficult. We chose the Puppy Linux distribution, which seems made for such things. It's compact, relatively feature-complete, and extremely fast; on one of our computers we see sub one-minute boot times, compared to about two minutes for Ubuntu Linux and (shudder) much longer for Windoze XP.

But now we needed a portable player. We didn't want to use Gargoyle, even though it's by far the best, because of a number of unmet library dependencies on our Puppy distribution. We chose to go with simple console (or xterm) mode, and developed a player to suit. We call it GGZC, which doesn't stand for anything at all, and it's our idea of the poor man's interactive fiction player.

Let us say right away that if you run Windoze, a Mac, or a full Linux distro, use Gargoyle. It is better in every way imaginable, and we tip our hats in admiration. But if you're into minimalism and compactness, GGZC might be worth a look.

GGZC contains (at present writing) 12 interpreters, will play most interactive fiction, and has a few unique features.

1) You can play DOS games if DOSBOX is installed on your system (.deb and .pet packages exist, and no customization is needed).
2) You can play games inside a zip, tar, tar.bz2, or tar.gz archive (functionality currently partially broken in beta versions). Save files will be incorporated into the archive at the conclusion of your play session. We think this is a major positive point for GGZC and fits the theme of compactness. (You can also use encrypted zip files, and for that matter you can build an encrypted version of GGZC itself, if you have a desire for "stealth" play.)
3) GGZC is completely self-contained; the main bash script and the interpreters are all bundled together with the excellent "makeself" package.
4) Thanks to a reader's suggestion, the interpreters are built with libncursesw wherever possible, so that non-English interactive fiction can be played. For instance, fizmo is included instead of frotz for this reason.

To use GGZC, you must have a more or less "typical" Linux system, at least modern enough to use libc6. You need to have libncursesw, gzip, tar, zip, and bz2. Most systems have all of these; but anything missing (most likely libncursesw or bz2) can likely be easily installed through the system's package manager. If you run into library versioning problems, you can rebuild the package from source.

The executable package is here; the full source distribution is here. We recommend you try the executable first to save bandwidth.

Of course, GGZC is free software; no warranties are provided and you must use the package at your own risk. Please send comments, bug reports, suggestions, etc., by email here.

Original components of GGZC are Copyright (C) 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Futrezo Software Solutions, a division of Mr. Fred Investments. Other components are the property of their authors and are reused (generally) under a GNU license. While we reserve our rights in our own software, you may use it freely in any legal manner you desire. Give it away, sell it, create derivate products, do just about anything at all; but you can't take it away from us.