The SPAG Frequently Asked Questions File (FAQ) v1.3
Maintained by G. Kevin Wilson (

What is SPAG?
SPAG is an informative e-mail zine designed primarily to keep the gaming public aware of text adventures on the market today. Since the number of such games is small, SPAG will be sent out rather sporadically, maybe once a month, and even more sporadically during the summer. BTW, SPAG stands for: the Society for the Preservation of Adventure Games.

The SPAG Constitution:
"The Society for the Preservation of Adventure Games is hereby formed in order to maintain and encourage the spread of text adventures to a new generation, and to reintroduce the Infocom fans of the 70s and 80s to this versatile artform. World domination would be nice too, if there's time for it."

Format of SPAG:
Each month's issue will begin with a brief editorial, and any letters to the editor. After that, we move on to any reviews that I've received for that issue, followed by a chart which lists the scores reviewers have given games since SPAG started up. What I mean by this is, there might be a line like:

Name Avg Sc Chr Puz # Sc Rlvt Ish Notes:
Trinity 8.9 1.7 1.6 21 1-5, 8, 11 C_INF

As you can see, Trinity has an average score of 8.9 from 21 users. It also has an average rating of 1.7 for its characters and 1.6 for its puzzles. It has had reviews or other relevant articles appear in issues 1 through 5, 8 and 11 of SPAG. The notes are explained below.

[Other computers will be added as pointed out to me. This key will appear in each issue. Readers are asked to let me know if any games are available on a platform for which I do not have them listed.]

Lastly, at the end of each issue will be unpaid advertisements from companies or authors who wish to promote their text adventures.

The Ratings Scoring System:

The scale works like this. There are 4 categories for you to look at, and you may award up to 2 points in each. They are:

NOTE: These point values are merely benchmarks. You can award any value between 0 and 2 so long as you keep it down to one decimal place. This scoring system is loosely based on the Olympic system.

The other 2 points are at your discretion, and you may award them on the basis of thoroughness, realism, or anything else you feel is important to a text adventure. These are wildcard points, meant to encompass all the little things in a good game. These five categories add up to a maximum of 10 points. This is the total score. Only a spectacular game should ever exceed 9 points. Most shareware games will not exceed 6 points, and most Infocom games will hover around 7-8. We've had a bit of trouble with score inflation, so be sure you REALLY mean to give the game that high a score before you do.

Finally, there are two seperate categories, rated the same as the other five, that do not count in the total score, and are averaged only with other votes on the same category. These two are:

How do I submit reviews?
You mail them to me, Here is a sample review about Cutthroats:

NAME: Cutthroats PARSER: Infocom Standard
AUTHOR: Infocom PLOT: Two Seperate Paths
PUZZLES: Good SUPPORTS: Infocom Ports

Cutthroats is the tale of a daring treasure seeker that begins on an island of liars, murderers, and thieves. These are your friends, the other people aren't so nice. The parser is Infocom's excellent standard parser, quite sufficient for our needs. Unfortunately, the writing fails to capture the thrills of scuba diving, treasure hunting, and murder. The characters more than make up for that, however, and the parrot is worth a chuckle or two. I awarded my wildcard points on the basis of setting and non-linearity, since there are two different ships you can explore, each with its own seperate dangers. Overall, a very good game that falls short of such masterpieces as Trinity and A Mind Forever Voyaging.

Cutthroats is currently available in Activision's Lost Treasures of Infocom package, but the new packaging lacks much of the flair of the original. Cutthroats is a game of moderate difficulty. I got stuck only once.

Be sure to give a little overview of the game, no spoilers please, discuss the quality of the writing, plot, descriptions, characters, and the gameplay. Finally, and most importantly, include where it can currently be found on the Internet or elsewhere, and the price. For shareware games, indicate whether your version was registered or not. For those games with packaging, give your impressions of the packaging.

[Changes to the old system are discussed below.]

First, you'll notice that the score has been removed, and replaced by one or two word ratings. These are pretty arbitrary, and should allow more freedom to the reviewers. The EMAIL section is for the e-mail address of the game author, not the reviewer. AVAILABILITY will usually have either Commercial ($price), Shareware ($price), or Freeware. If the commercial price varies in stores, then it will just say Commercial. If it has been released in the LTOI collection, this line should say so. Lastly, if it is available on, the line should add GMD. (Demo) if it's only a demo version. The body of the review hasn't changed.

When submitting a review, try to fill in as much of this info as you can. Also, scores are still desired along with the reviews, so send those along. The scores will be used in the ratings section.

Here are my reasons for this change: 1.) No two e-mails agreed on what to rate, or what was most important. 2.) In the first issue, the scores were fairly widely askew. 3.) This format is easier to understand.

How do I Put an Advertisement into SPAG?
Send it to me. I'll put it in as long as it's in good taste and about a text adventure. Graphics and sound are permitted, but there must be a text parser in the game, and the writing must be more important than the 'flashy stuff'. Advertisements run for 2 issues before expiring. I do not print 'new releases' more than a month or so before the release date of the game.

Why don't you just post SPAG to (some newsgroup)?
Several reasons:

1) If I do that, I won't know who's reading SPAG, and can't bug them for reviews and ratings.
2) SPAG is meant to be a close-knit group of readers sharing their opinions with one another. This doesn't work as well on newsgroups.
3) I don't want to. Start your own newsletter if this offends you. If you can't put out the effort to subscribe, then I can't put out the effort to bother with you.

Where can I get back issues of SPAG?
Through anonymous FTP on, in /if-archive/magazines/SPAG/. Just login as 'ftp' and give your e-mail address as your password. The archive is kept current now, so don't worry about asking me for the latest copy when you subscribe (which I still strongly encourage you do.) After all, I can hardly encourage prospective authors to write in a field of 50 potential customers, can I? But, if I know of 500 potential customers, things get more interesting.

Subscribing to SPAG
SPAG's subscription process has lately been automated. To subscribe just send mail to with the line:

subscribe (your e-mail address here)

That's all there is to it, just that.

Last Words:
Other items of interest submitted will be considered. I would especially like to get stuff on 'Where are they now?', etc. Please do not submit fiction or non-text adventure-related articles to SPAG.

Thank you for helping to keep text adventures alive!