Infocom, founded in 1979, is the shining light in the history of commercially-released Interactive Fiction games. Beginning with Zork in 1980, the company released over thirty games, many of which are still played.
The company's strengths included technical innovation (their Text Parser was one of the best in the business, and the z-code data format Infocom created is a popular choice for distributing new IF games to this day), rich storytelling, and creative packaging (most Infocom games shipped with "Feelies", thematically-related props which might form part of the Copy Protection system, constitute clues, give extra background information, or just be included for the lulz).
In 1986, struggling with competition from video games with fancy graphics and badly damaged by an ill-fated foray into the business software market, Infocom was bought by Activision. Shortly after the acquisition, Infocom's champion on the Activision board left the company, and his successor spent three years "improving" Infocom before pulling the plug in 1989.
Notable Infocom games include:
- Zork and its many, many sequels
- BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception and its sequel The Crescent Hawk's Revenge
- Planetfall and Stationfall
- The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, the game of the book of the etc., co-written by special guest implementer Douglas Adams
- A Mind Forever Voyaging
- Leather Goddesses of Phobos
- Bureaucracy (the return of special guest implementer Douglas Adams)
- Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It
- James Clavell's Shogun
- The Lurking Horror
Infocom was the Trope Namer for:
Recurring tropes in Infocom games:
- Arc Number: 69,105
- Easter Egg
- Fictional Document
- Guide Dang It: Many of the games were DEVLISHLY hard, but two words: Babel Fish
- Interactive Fiction
- Inventory Management Puzzle
- Kleptomaniac Hero
- Locked Door
- Second Person Narration
- Unwinnable by Design
Infocom games with their own trope pages include:
- Zork series (including the Enchanter trilogy)
- Planetfall (and Stationfall)
- The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy
- A Mind Forever Voyaging
Tropes relating to individual games that don't have their own pages:
- Big Dumb Object: Forms most of the plot of Starcross
- Brown Note: Hollywood Hijinks features a film that kills everyone who watches it.
- Clueless Detective: In Ballyhoo
- Controllable Helplessness
- Cosmic Horror Story: The Lurking Horror
- Criminal Mind Games: in Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Infidel
- Everything's Better with Platypi: In Wishbringer
- Fate Worse Than Death: In The Lurking Horror
- Fauxshadow: In Wishbringer
- Floating in A Bubble: In Trinity
- Going by the Matchbook: One of the Feelies in Witness.
- Here We Go Again: Trinity
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: James Clavell's Shogun, which James Clavell didn't have an active hand in adapting.
- Masquerade Ball: The setting of Suspect
- Multiple Endings: A very rare early example in Plundered Hearts.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: It is in Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels, anyway.
- Post Modernism: In Deadline, the player finds a novelization of the game within the game. In Trinity, the player discovers a book that lists all the commands he has typed in so far.
- Public Domain Character: Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels features... well, guess.
- Ruritania: Frobnia in Border Zone
- Stable Time Loop: In Trinity, Sorcerer and Spellbreaker
- Sweet Polly Oliver: In Plundered Hearts
- Things That Go Bump in the Night: in The Lurking Horror
- Turtle Power: Enchanter
- Villain Protagonist: Infidel