Here we are again. Another SPAG, another dollar. We just recently hit SPAG's 2nd anniversary, averaging one issue every three months or so. As of SPAG #8, we have published just over 100 game reviews. That's one big ole hunk of text. (Not to mention the 17 reviews in this issue) I'd like to pause here a moment and thank the most prolific of my steady reviewers:

Graeme Cree, who has written probably more reviews than anyone else.
Palmer Davis, who helped out by reviewing all the 1995 I-F contest entries.
Audrey A. DeLisle, who helped out a lot in the beginning.
Christopher E. Forman, who has written quite a few reviews himself.
Molley the Mage, who hasn't been around for awhile, but deserves thanks for his early work, and his recent work.
Magnus Olsson, who maintains SPAG's mailing list and has written some very nice reviews, not to mention Uncle Zebulon's Will.

And of course, to the authors of all the text adventure authorship programs. Without the toolkits like TADS, Inform, Alan, and others, a revival of I-F would be nigh impossible. And of course, to all of you who have written or are writing a text adventure. Thanks for helping keep my favorite hobby alive.

Thanks also to all the other contributers to SPAG. It's been a great two years.

I-F has seen a healthy revival since I first got into it. I hope that I have been a part of this revival. Without games like Trinity, A Mind Forever Voyaging, and Jigsaw, there wouldn't be much around on the game market that had a serious theme to it, much less any literary merit. It is games like these that remind us that not everything has to be a Leisure Suit Larry or a Doom.

But besides the fact that text adventures have a history of being better written than graphic adventures, there's also the noticeable fact that graphical adventures have ventured further and further from their interactive beginnings. In seeking simpler user interfaces, the games have sacrificed an important element of control that players once cherished. Text adventures still hold onto this interactivity in defiance of the mass game market, and maybe someday we'll have the opportunity to point out this loss of playability to the commercial game companies.

So, text adventures are important in their own ways. They have, ironically, become the spearhead of research into methods of interactivity and characterization, even as outdated as they are claimed to be. If anyone figures out how to make an NPC feel totally real, it will most likely be a text adventure author.

This issue is chocked full of chewy goodness. There are many reviews, loads of updated reader scores, an in-depth analysis on The One That Got Away, more info on the 1996 Second Annual I-F Competition, and maybe some other good stuff too. Apologies to Leon Lin in advance for the analysis. :)

G. Kevin Wilson

P.S: As of next issue I would like reviewers to use the new header format for their reviews. It changes nothing else, just the review header, scores will still be done the same. The new version seem much more succinct and to the point than the old one.