15. Dictionary of opcodes


The highest ideal of a translation… is achieved when the reader flings it impatiently into the fire, and begins patiently to learn the language for himself.

— Philip Vellacott


The dictionary below is alphabetical and includes entries on every opcode listed in the table above, as well as brief notes on a few opcodes once thought to exist but now disproved.


The Z-machine has the same concept of “table” (as an internal data structure) as Inform. Specifically, a table is an array of words (in dynamic or static memory) of which the initial entry is the number of subsequent words in the table. For example, a table with three entries occupies 8 bytes, arranged as the words 3, x, y, z.


In all cases below where one operand is supposed to be in a particular range, behaviour is undefined if it is not. For instance an interpreter complies with the Standard even if it crashes when an illegal object number (including 0) is given for an object operand. However, see SA for guidelines on detecting and dealing with errors.


2OP:20 14 add a b(result)

Signed 16-bit addition.


2OP:9 9 and a b(result)

Bitwise AND.


This is the Inform name for the keyboard-reading opcode under Version 5 and later. (Inform calls the same opcode sread under Versions 3 and 4.) See read for the specification.


EXT:3 3 5/- art_shift number places(result)

Does an arithmetic shift of number by the given number of places, shifting left (i.e. increasing) if places is positive, right if negative. In a right shift, the sign bit is preserved as well as being shifted on down. (The alternative behaviour is log_shift.)

The places operand must be in the range -15 to +15, otherwise behaviour is undefined.


VAR:242 12 4 buffer_mode flag

If set to 1, text output on the lower window in stream 1 is buffered up so that it can be word-wrapped properly. If set to 0, it isn’t.

In Version 6, this opcode is redundant (the “buffering” window attribute can be set instead). It is used twice in each of Infocom’s Version 6 story files, in the $verify routine. Frotz responds by setting the current window’s “buffering” attribute, while Infocom’s own interpreters respond by doing nothing. This standard leaves the result of buffer_mode undefined in Version 6.


EXT:29 1D 6/* buffer_screen mode(result)

Tells the interpreter how to handle display buffering. If mode is 0, updates must be made as soon as possible. If mode is 1, the interpreter may make changes to a backing store, and need not update the screen. The interpreter is free to ignore the advice, but if so must always act as though the mode is 0 (update the screen as soon as possible).

With buffer_screen in either state, an update of the visible display can be forced immediately by issuing buffer_screen -1, without altering the current buffering state. Note that buffer_screen -1 does not flush the text buffer.

The return value is the old buffer_screen state.

See S8 for more details.

[1.1] This opcode will only be present in interpreters obeying Standard 1.1 or later, so story files should check the standard number of the interpreter before executing this opcode.


VAR:224 0 1 call routine …up to 3 args…(result)

The only call instruction in Version 3, Inform reads this as call_vs in higher versions: it calls the routine with 0, 1, 2 or 3 arguments as supplied and stores the resulting return value. (When the address 0 is called as a routine, nothing happens and the return value is false.)


1OP:143 F 5 call_1n routine

Executes routine() and throws away result.


1OP:136 8 4 call_1s routine(result)

Stores routine().


2OP:26 1A 5 call_2n routine arg1

Executes routine (arg1) and throws away result.


2OP:25 19 4 call_2s routine arg1(result)

Stores routine (arg1).


VAR:249 19 5 call_vn routine …up to 3 args…

Like call, but throws away result.


VAR:224 0 4 call_vs routine …up to 3 args…(result)

See call.


VAR:250 1A 5 call_vn2 routine …up to 7 args…

Call with a variable number (from 0 to 7) of arguments, then throw away the result. This (and call_vs2) uniquely have an extra byte of opcode types to specify the types of arguments 4 to 7. Note that it is legal to use these opcodes with fewer than 4 arguments (in which case the second byte of type information will just be $ff).


VAR:236 C 4 call_vs2 routine …up to 7 args…(result)

See call_vn2.


0OP:185 9 5/6 catch(result)

Opposite to throw (and occupying the same opcode that pop used in Versions 3 and 4). catch returns the current “stack frame”.


VAR:255 1F 5 check_arg_count argument-number

Branches if the given argument-number (counting from 1) has been provided by the routine call to the current routine. (This allows routines in Versions 5 and later to distinguish between the calls routine(1) and routine(1,0), which would otherwise be impossible to tell apart.)


EXT:12 C 5/* check_unicode char-number(result)

Determines whether or not the interpreter can print, or receive from the keyboard, the given Unicode character. Bit 0 of the result should be set if and only if the interpreter can print the character; bit 1 if and only if the interpreter can receive it from the keyboard. Bits 2 to 15 are undefined.

[1.0] This opcode will only be present in interpreters obeying Standard 1.0 or later, so story files should check the standard number of the interpreter before executing this opcode.


2OP:12 C clear_attr object attribute

Make object not have the attribute numbered attribute.


VAR:253 1D 5 copy_table first second size

If second is zero, then size bytes of first are zeroed.

Otherwise first is copied into second, its length in bytes being the absolute value of size (i.e., size if size is positive, -size if size is negative).

The tables are allowed to overlap. If size is positive, the interpreter must copy either forwards or backwards so as to avoid corrupting first in the copying process. If size is negative, the interpreter must copy forwards even if this corrupts first. (Beyond Zork uses this to fill an array with spaces.)

(Version 0.2 of this document wrongly specified that if size is positive then copying should always run backward. This results in the player being unable to cross the river near the start of Journey, as the game uses copy_table to shuffle menu options, and the menu “Downstream, Upstream, Cross, Return” is changed to “Return, Return, Return”.)


1OP:134 6 dec (variable)

Decrement variable by 1. This is signed, so 0 decrements to -1.


2OP:4 4 dec_chk (variable) value?(label)

Decrement variable, and branch if it is now less than the given value.


2OP:23 17 div a b(result)

Signed 16-bit division. Division by zero should halt the interpreter with a suitable error message.


EXT:5 5 6 draw_picture picture-number y x

Displays the picture with the given number. (y,x) coordinates (of the top left of the picture) are each optional, in that a value of zero for y or x means the cursor y or × coordinate in the current window. It is illegal to call this with an invalid picture number.


VAR:252 1C 5 encode_text zscii-text length from coded-text

Translates a ZSCII word to Z-encoded text format (stored at coded-text), as if it were an entry in the dictionary. The text begins at from in the zscii-text buffer and is length characters long. (Some interpreters ignore this and keep translating until they hit a 0 character anyway, or have already filled up the 6-byte Z-encoded string.)


VAR:238 E 4/6 erase_line value

Versions 4 and 5: if the value is 1, erase from the current cursor position to the end of its line in the current window. If the value is anything other than 1, do nothing.

Version 6: if the value is 1, erase from the current cursor position to the end of the its line in the current window. If not, erase the given number of pixels minus one across from the cursor (clipped to stay inside the right margin). The cursor does not move.


EXT:7 7 6 erase_picture picture-number y x

Like draw_picture, but paints the appropriate region to the background colour for the given window. It is illegal to call this with an invalid picture number.


VAR:237 D 4 erase_window window

Erases window with given number (to background colour); or if -1 it unsplits the screen and clears the lot; or if -2 it clears the screen without unsplitting it. In cases -1 and -2, the cursor may move (see S8 for precise details).


This byte (decimal 190) is not an instruction, but indicates that the opcode is “extended”: the next byte contains the number in the extended set.


1OP:130 2 get_child object(result)?(label)

Get first object contained in given object, branching if this exists, i.e. is not nothing (i.e., is not 0).

The above description does not indicate what the behavior should be if you ask to get the (first) child of object zero, which does not really exist. This can happen when a variable is used to hold the ID of the parent object being queried. I am unaware of any cases where “return object 1” is the sensible response; the two possibilities are (1) error out and (2) treat child of zero “the same as” no child. I do not yet have empirical or source-reference evidence to suggest which of these is more appropriate.


VAR:240 10 4/6 get_cursor array

Puts the current cursor row into the word 0 of the given array, and the current cursor column into word 1. (The array is not a table and has no size information in its initial entry.)


2OP:19 13 get_next_prop object property(result)

Gives the number of the next property provided by the quoted object. This may be zero, indicating the end of the property list; if called with zero, it gives the first property number present. It is illegal to try to find the next property of a property which does not exist, and an interpreter should halt with an error message (if it can efficiently check this condition).


1OP:131 3 get_parent object(result)

Get parent object (note that this has no “branch if exists” clause).


2OP:17 11 get_prop object property(result)

Read property from object (resulting in the default value if it had no such declared property). If the property has length 1, the value is only that byte. If it has length 2, the first two bytes of the property are taken as a word value. It is illegal for the opcode to be used if the property has length greater than 2, and the result is unspecified.


2OP:18 12 get_prop_addr object property(result)

Get the byte address (in dynamic memory) of the property data for the given object’s property. This must return 0 if the object hasn’t got the property.

Note that the above description calling out the address “of the the property data” is strictly accurate. The address retrieved should be the address after the size byte(s) in the property entry. This is implied by the comment in the remarks about the object table that “the Z-machine needs to be able to reconstruct the length of a property given only the address of the first byte of its data”, and verified by empirical testing.


1OP:132 4 get_prop_len property-address(result)

Get length of property data (in bytes) for the given object’s property. It is illegal to try to find the property length of a property which does not exist for the given object, and an interpreter should halt with an error message (if it can efficiently check this condition).

@get_prop_len 0 must return 0. This is required by some Infocom games and files generated by old versions of Inform.

Note that while the argument description is property-address, it is actually the address of the property data, as retrieved by get_prop_addr, not the address of the property entry. This is implied by the comment in the remarks about the object table that “the Z-machine needs to be able to reconstruct the length of a property given only the address of the first byte of its data”, and verified by empirical testing.

Also note that the description that this is the length “for the given object’s property” is a bit misleading, as get_prop_len is not given object and property arguments, but just an address.


1OP:129 1 get_sibling object(result)?(label)

Get next object in tree, branching if this exists, i.e. is not 0.


EXT:19 13 6 get_wind_prop window property-number(result)

Reads the given property of the given window (see S8).


1OP:133 5 inc (variable)

Increment variable by 1. (This is signed, so -1 increments to 0.)


2OP:5 5 inc_chk (variable) value?(label)

Increment variable, and branch if now greater than value.


VAR:244 14 3 input_stream number

Selects the current input stream.


2OP:14 E insert_obj object destination

Moves object O to become the first child of the destination object D. (Thus, after the operation the child of D is O, and the sibling of O is whatever was previously the child of D.) All children of O move with it. (Initially O can be at any point in the object tree; it may legally have parent zero.)


2OP:1 1 je a b c d?(label)

Jump if a is equal to any of the subsequent operands. (Thus @je a never jumps and @je a b jumps if a = b.)

je with just 1 operand is not permitted.


2OP:3 3 jg a b?(label)

Jump if a > b (using a signed 16-bit comparison).


2OP:6 6 jin obj1 obj2?(label)

Jump if object a is a direct child of b, i.e., if parent of a is b.


2OP:2 2 jl a b?(label)

Jump if a < b (using a signed 16-bit comparison).


1OP:140 C jump?(label)

Jump (unconditionally) to the given label. (This is not a branch instruction and the operand is a 2-byte signed offset to apply to the program counter.) It is legal for this to jump into a different routine (which should not change the routine call state), although it is considered bad practice to do so and the Txd disassembler is confused by it.

The destination of the jump opcode is:

Address after instruction + Offset - 2

This is analogous to the calculation for branch offsets.


1OP:128 0 jz a?(label)

Jump if a = 0.


1OP:142 E load (variable)(result)

The value of the variable referred to by the operand is stored in the result. (Inform doesn’t use this; see the notes to S14.)


2OP:16 10 loadb array byte-index(result)

Stores array→_byte-index_ (i.e., the byte at address array+byte-index, which must lie in static or dynamic memory).


2OP:15 F loadw array word-index(result)

Stores array→_word-index_ (i.e., the word at address array+2*word-index, which must lie in static or dynamic memory).


EXT:2 2 5 log_shift number places(result)

Does a logical shift of number by the given number of places, shifting left (i.e. increasing) if places is positive, right if negative. In a right shift, the sign is zeroed instead of being shifted on. (See also art_shift.)

The places operand must be in the range -15 to +15, otherwise behaviour is undefined.


EXT:27 1B 6 make_menu number table?(label)

Controls menus with numbers greater than 2 (i.e., it doesn’t control the three system menus). If the table supplied is 0, the menu is removed. Otherwise it is a table of tables. Each table is a ZSCII string: the first item being a menu name, subsequent ones the entries.


2OP:24 18 mod a b(result)

Remainder after signed 16-bit division. Division by zero should halt the interpreter with a suitable error message.


EXT:23 17 6 mouse_window window

Constrain the mouse arrow to sit inside the given window. By default it sits in window 1. Setting to -1 takes all restriction away. (The mouse clicks are not reported if the arrow is outside the window and interpreters are presumably supposed to hold the arrow there by hardware means if possible.)


EXT:16 10 6 move_window window y x

Moves the given window to pixels (y,x): (1,1) being the top left. Nothing actually happens (since windows are entirely notional transparencies): but any future plotting happens in the new place.


2OP:22 16 mul a b(result)

Signed 16-bit multiplication.


0OP:187 B new_line

Print carriage return.


0OP:180 4 1/- nop

Probably the official “no operation” instruction, which, appropriately, was never operated (in any of the Infocom datafiles): it may once have been a breakpoint.


1OP:143 F 1/4 not value(result)
VAR:248 18 5/6 not value(result)

Bitwise NOT (i.e., all 16 bits reversed). Note that in Versions 3 and 4 this is a 1OP instruction, reasonably since it has 1 operand, but in later Versions it was moved into the extended set to make room for call_1n.


2OP:8 8 or a b(result)

Bitwise OR.


VAR:243 13 3 output_stream number table
6 output_stream number table width

If stream is 0, nothing happens. If it is positive, then that stream is selected; if negative, deselected. (Recall that several different streams can be selected at once.)

When stream 3 is selected, a table must be given into which text can be printed. The first word always holds the number of characters printed, the actual text being stored at bytes table+2 onward. It is not the interpreter’s responsibility to worry about the length of this table being overrun.

In Version 6, a width field may optionally be given: text will then be justified as if it were in the window with that number (if width is zero or positive) or a box -width pixels wide (if negative). Then the table will contain not ordinary text but formatted text: see print_form.


EXT:6 6 6 picture_data picture-number array?(label)

Asks the interpreter for data on the picture with the given number. If the picture number is valid, a branch occurs and information is written to the array: the height in word 0, the width in word 1, in pixels. (This is an array, not a “table” with initial size information.)

Otherwise, if the picture number is zero, the interpreter writes the number of available pictures into word 0 of the array and the release number of the picture file into word 1, and branches if any pictures are available. (Infocom’s first Version 6 Amiga interpreter did not handle this case properly, and early releases of Zork Zero did not use it. The feature may have been added on the MSDOS release of Zork Zero.)

Otherwise, nothing happens.


EXT:28 1C 6 picture_table table

Given a table of picture numbers, the interpreter may if it wishes load or unpack these pictures from disc into a cache for convenient rapid plotting later. Zork Zero makes frequent use of this, for instance for its peggleboard display. Moreover, it expects rapid plotting only for those images listed in the last call to picture_table. In other words, any images still in the cache when picture_table is called can safely be thrown away. (The Amiga interpreter 6.14 uses a cache of size 5K and never caches any individual image larger than 1K.)


0OP:191 F 5/- piracy?(label)

Branches if the game disc is believed to be genuine by the interpreter (which is assumed to have some arcane way of finding out). Interpreters are asked to be gullible and to unconditionally branch.


0OP:185 9 1 pop

Throws away the top item on the stack. (This was useful to lose unwanted routine call results in early Versions.)


EXT:21 15 6 pop_stack items stack

The given number of items are thrown away from the top of a stack: by default the system stack, otherwise the one given as a second operand.


0OP:178 2 print <literal-string>

Print the quoted (literal) Z-encoded string.

1OP:135 7 print_addr byte-address-of-string

Print (Z-encoded) string at given byte address, in dynamic or static memory.

VAR:229 5 print_char output-character-code

Print a ZSCII character. The operand must be a character code defined in ZSCII for output (see S3). In particular, it must certainly not be negative or larger than 1023.

EXT:26 1A 6 print_form formatted-table

Prints a formatted table of the kind written to output stream 3 when formatting is on. This is an elaborated version of print_table to cope with fonts, pixels and other impedimenta. It is a sequence of lines, terminated with a zero word. Each line is a word containing the number of characters, followed by that many bytes which hold the characters concerned.

VAR:230 6 print_num value

Print (signed) number in decimal.

1OP:138 A print_obj object

Print short name of object (the Z-encoded string in the object header, not a property). If the object number is invalid, the interpreter should halt with a suitable error message.

1OP:141 D print_paddr packed-address-of-string

Print the (Z-encoded) string at the given packed address in high memory.

0OP:179 3 print_ret <literal-string>

Print the quoted (literal) Z-encoded string, then print a new-line and then return true (i.e., 1).

VAR:254 1E 5 print_table zscii-text width height skip

Print a rectangle of text on screen spreading right and down from the current cursor position, of given width and height, from the table of ZSCII text given. (Height is optional and defaults to 1.) If a skip value is given, then that many characters of text are skipped over in between each line and the next. (So one could make this display, for instance, a 2 by 3 window onto a giant 40 by 40 character graphics map.)

EXT:11 B 5/* print_unicode char-number

Print a Unicode character. See S3.8.5.4 and S7.5 for details. The given character code must be defined in Unicode.

[1.0] This opcode will only be present in interpreters obeying Standard 1.0 or later, so story files should check the standard number of the interpreter before executing this opcode.


VAR:233 9 1 pull (variable)
6 pull stack(result)

Pulls value off a stack* (If the stack underflows, the interpreter should halt with a suitable error message.) In Version 6, the \_stack* in question may be specified as a user one: otherwise it is the game stack.


VAR:232 8 push value

Pushes value onto the game stack.


EXT:24 18 6 push_stack value stack?(label)

Pushes the value onto the specified user stack, and branching if this was successful. If the stack overflows, nothing happens (this is not an error condition).


VAR:227 3 put_prop object property value

Writes the given value to the given property of the given object. If the property does not exist for that object, the interpreter should halt with a suitable error message. If the property length is 1, then the interpreter should store only the least significant byte of the value. (For instance, storing -1 into a 1-byte property results in the property value 255.) As with get_prop the property length must not be more than 2: if it is, the behaviour of the opcode is undefined.


EXT:25 19 6 put_wind_prop window property-number value

Writes a window property (see get_wind_prop). This should only be used when there is no direct command (such as move_window) to use instead, as some such operations may have side-effects.


0OP:186 A quit

Exit the game immediately. (Any “Are you sure?” question must be asked by the game, not the interpreter.) It is not legal to return from the main routine (that is, from where execution first begins) and this must be used instead.


VAR:231 7 random range(result)

If range is positive, returns a uniformly random number between 1 and range. If range is negative, the random number generator is seeded to that value and the return value is 0. Most interpreters consider giving 0 as range illegal (because they attempt a division with remainder by the range), but correct behaviour is to reseed the generator in as random a way as the interpreter can (e.g. by using the time in milliseconds).

(Some version 3 games, such as Enchanter release 29, had a debugging verb #random such that typing, say, #random 14 caused a call of random with -14.)


VAR:228 4 1 sread text parse\
4 sread text parse time routine\
5 aread text parse time routine(result)

(Note that Inform internally names the read opcode as aread in Versions 5 and later and sread in Versions 3 and 4.)

This opcode reads a whole command from the keyboard (no prompt is automatically displayed). It is legal for this to be called with the cursor at any position on any window.

In Versions 1 to 3, the status line is automatically redisplayed first.

A sequence of characters is read in from the current input stream until a carriage return (or, in Versions 5 and later, any terminating character) is found.

The following description is not explicit about a crucial detail. Both text and parse are addresses of memory buffers to be filled by the read call. These buffers should be filled from the input stream as described below.

In Versions 1 to 4, byte 0 of the text-buffer should initially contain the maximum number of letters which can be typed, minus 1 (the interpreter should not accept more than this). The text typed is reduced to lower case (so that it can tidily be printed back by the program if need be) and stored in bytes 1 onward, with a zero terminator (but without any other terminator, such as a carriage return code). (This means that if byte 0 contains n then the buffer must contain n+1 bytes, which makes it a string array of length n in Inform terminology.)

It is not clear if “the buffer must contain n+1 bytes” includes the count byte itself in the “the buffer” or not. If it does, then the actual maximum number of letters which can be typed is actually “n-1”, which is the opposite of how I read “byte 0 of the text-buffer should initially contain the maximum number of letters which can be typed, minus 1”. (More clear would be “the maximum number of letters which can be typed is the value in byte 0 of the text-buffer minus 1”.) If the n+1 actually refers to the buffer after the count-byte, then the text could be n bytes, followed by the zero-terminator.

In Versions 5 and later, byte 0 of the text-buffer should initially contain the maximum number of letters which can be typed (the interpreter should not accept more than this). The interpreter stores the number of characters actually typed in byte 1 (not counting the terminating character), and the characters themselves (reduced to lower case) in bytes 2 onward (not storing the terminating character). (Some interpreters wrongly add a zero byte after the text anyway, so it is wise for the buffer to contain at least n+3 bytes.)

Moreover, if byte 1 contains a positive value at the start of the input, then read assumes that number of characters are left over from an interrupted previous input, and writes the new characters after those already there. Note that the interpreter does not redisplay the characters left over: the game does this, if it wants to. This is unfortunate for any interpreter wanting to give input text a distinctive appearance on-screen, but Beyond Zork, Zork Zero and Shogun clearly require it. (“Just a tremendous pain in my butt”—Andrew Plotkin; “the most unfortunate feature of the Z-machine design”—Stefan Jokisch.)

In Version 4 and later, if the operands time and routine are supplied (and non-zero) then the routine call routine() is made every time/10 seconds during the keyboard-reading process. If this routine returns true, all input is erased (to zero) and the reading process is terminated at once. (The terminating character code is 0.) The routine is permitted to print to the screen even if it returns false to signal “carry on”: the interpreter should notice and redraw the input line so far, before input continues. (Frotz notices by looking to see if the cursor position is at the left-hand margin after the interrupt routine has returned.)

If input was terminated in the usual way, by the player typing a carriage return, then a carriage return is printed (so the cursor moves to the next line). If it was interrupted, the cursor is left at the rightmost end of the text typed in so far.

Next, lexical analysis is performed on the text (except that in Versions 5 and later, if parse-buffer is zero then this is omitted). Initially, byte 0 of the parse-buffer should hold the maximum number of textual words which can be parsed. (If this is n, the buffer must be at least 2 + 4*n bytes long to hold the results of the analysis.)

The interpreter divides the text into words and looks them up in the dictionary, as described in S13. The number of words is written in byte 1 and one 4-byte block is written for each word, from byte 2 onwards (except that it should stop before going beyond the maximum number of words specified). Each block consists of the byte address of the word in the dictionary, if it is in the dictionary, or 0 if it isn’t; followed by a byte giving the number of letters in the word; and finally a byte giving the position in the text-buffer of the first letter of the word.

In Version 5 and later, this is a store instruction: the return value is the terminating character (note that the user pressing his “enter” key may cause either 10 or 13 to be returned; the interpreter must return 13). A timed-out input returns 0.

(Versions 1 and 2 and early Version 3 games mistakenly write the parse buffer length 240 into byte 0 of the parse buffer: later games fix this bug and write 59, because 2+4*59 = 238 so that 59 is the maximum number of textual words which can be parsed into a buffer of length 240 bytes. Old versions of the Inform 5 library commit the same error. Neither mistake has very serious consequences.)

(Interpreters are asked to halt with a suitable error message if the text or parse buffers have length of less than 3 or 6 bytes, respectively: this sometimes occurs due to a previous array being overrun, causing bugs which are very difficult to find.)


VAR:246 16 4 read_char 1 time routine(result)

Reads a single character from input stream 0 (the keyboard). The first operand must be 1 (presumably it was provided to support multiple input devices, but only the keyboard was ever used). time and routine are optional (in Versions 4 and later only) and dealt with as in read above.


EXT:22 16 6 read_mouse array

The four words in the array are written with the mouse y coordinate, x coordinate, button bits, and a menu word.

The buttons bits are arranged so that the “primary” button is the lowest bit, the “secondary” (if present) is the next lowest bit, and so on, up to a potential 16 buttons. The ordering of buttons should be that which is most natural for the host system. Here are some suggested assignments:

Table 1. Button assignments
Platform Bit 0 (low) Bit 1 Bit 2 …​





















In the menu word, the upper byte is the menu number and the lower byte is the item number (from 0). (Note that the array isn’t a table and has no initial size information. The data is written to words 0 to 3 in the array.)


1OP:137 9 remove_obj object

Detach the object from its parent, so that it no longer has any parent. (Its children remain in its possession.)


0OP:183 7 1 restart

Restart the game. (Any “Are you sure?” question must be asked by the game, not the interpreter.) The only pieces of information surviving from the previous state are the “transcribing to printer” bit (bit 0 of ’Flags 2′ in the header, at address $10) and the “use fixed pitch font” bit (bit 1 of ’Flags 2′).

In particular, changing the program start address before a restart will not have the effect of restarting from this new address.


0OP:182 6 1 restore?(label)
0OP:182 5 4 restore(result)
EXT:1 1 5 restore table bytes name prompt(result)

See save. In Version 3, the branch is never actually made, since either the game has successfully picked up again from where it was saved, or it failed to load the save game file.

As with restart, the transcription and fixed font bits survive. The interpreter gives the game a way of knowing that a restore has just happened (see save).

[1.0] From Version 5 it can have optional parameters as save does, and returns the number of bytes loaded if so. (Whether Infocom intended these options as part of Version 5 is doubtful, but it’s too useful a feature to exclude from this Standard.)

If the restore fails, 0 is returned, but once again this necessarily happens since otherwise control is already elsewhere.


EXT:10 A 5 restore_undo(result)

Like restore, but restores the state saved to memory by save_undo. (The optional parameters of restore may not be supplied.) The behaviour of restore_undo is unspecified if no save_undo has previously occurred (and a game may not legally use it): an interpreter might simply ignore this.


1OP:139 B ret value

Returns from the current routine with the value given.


0OP:184 8 ret_popped

Pops top of stack and returns that. (This is equivalent to ret sp, but is one byte cheaper.)


0OP:177 1 rfalse

Return false (i.e., 0) from the current routine.


0OP:176 0 rtrue

Return true (i.e., 1) from the current routine.


0OP:181 5 1 save?(label)
0OP:181 5 4 save(result)
EXT:0 0 5 save table bytes name prompt(result)

On Versions 3 and 4, attempts to save the game (all questions about filenames are asked by interpreters) and branches if successful. From Version 5 it is a store rather than a branch instruction; the store value is 0 for failure, 1 for “save succeeded” and 2 for “the game is being restored and is resuming execution again from here, the point where it was saved”.

It is illegal to use this opcode within an interrupt routine (one called asynchronously by a sound effect, or keyboard timing, or newline counting).

[1.0] The extension also has (optional) parameters, which save a region of the save area, whose address and length are in bytes, and provides a suggested filename: name is a pointer to an array of ASCII characters giving this name (as usual preceded by a byte giving the number of characters). See S7.6. (Whether Infocom intended these options as part of Version 5 is doubtful, but it’s too useful a feature to exclude from this Standard.)

[1.1] As of Standard 1.1 an additional optional parameter, prompt, is allowed on Version 5 extended save/restore. This allows a game author to tell the interpreter whether it should ask for confirmation of the provided file name (prompt is 1), or just silently save/restore using the provided filename (prompt is 0). If the parameter is not provided, whether to prompt or not is a matter for the interpreter—this might be globally user-configurable. Infocom’s interpreters do prompt for filenames, many modern ones do not.


EXT:9 9 5 save_undo(result)

Like save, except that the optional parameters may not be specified: it saves the game into a cache of memory held by the interpreter. If the interpreter is unable to provide this feature, it must return -1: otherwise it returns the save return value.

It is illegal to use this opcode within an interrupt routine (one called asynchronously by a sound effect, or keyboard timing, or newline counting).

(This call is typically needed once per turn, in order to implement “UNDO”, so it needs to be quick.)


VAR:247 17 4 scan_table x table len form(result)

Is x one of the words in table, which is len words long? If so, return the address where it first occurs and branch. If not, return 0 and don’t.

The form is optional (and only used in Version 5?): bit 7 is set for words, clear for bytes: the rest contains the length of each field in the table. (The first word or byte in each field being the one looked at.) Thus $82 is the default.


EXT:20 14 6 scroll_window window pixels

Scrolls the given window by the given number of pixels (a negative value scrolls backwards, i.e., down) writing in blank (background colour) pixels in the new lines. This can be done to any window and is not related to the “scrolling” attribute of a window.


2OP:11 B set_attr object attribute

Make object have the attribute numbered attribute.


2OP:27 1B 5 set_colour foreground background
6 set_colour foreground background window

If coloured text is available, set text to be foreground-against-background. (Flush any buffered text to screen, in the old colours, first.) In version 6, the window argument is optional and is by default the current window. (This option is supported in Infocom’s Amiga and DOS interpreters.)

(One Version 5 game uses this: Beyond Zork (Paul David Doherty reports it as used “76 times in 870915 and 870917, 58 times in 871221”) and from the structure of the table it clearly logically belongs in version 5.)


VAR:239 F 4 set_cursor line column
6 set_cursor line column window

Move cursor in the current window to the position (x,y) (in units) relative to (1,1) in the top left. (In Version 6 the window is supplied and need not be the current one. Also, if the cursor would lie outside the current margin settings, it is moved to the left margin of the current line.)

In Version 6, set_cursor -1 turns the cursor off, and either set_cursor -2 or set_cursor -2 0 turn it back on. It is not known what, if anything, this second argument means: in all known cases it is 0.


EXT:4 4 5 set_font font(result)
EXT:4 4 6 set_font font window(result)

If the requested font is available, then it is chosen for the current window, and the store value is the font ID of the previous font (which is always positive). If the font is unavailable, nothing will happen and the store value is 0.

If the font ID requested is 0, the font is not changed, and the ID of the current font is returned.

(Infocom’s old interpreters did not store 0 for an unavailable font, but the feature is clearly useful and so was introduced in release 0.2 of this Standard.

[1.1] In Version 6, set_font has an optional window parameter, as for set_colour. This was part of the original Infocom design, but omitted by earlier Standards. It is reinstated here, as it is useful to be able to measure a font that is about to be used in another window, so that window can be sized before attempting to place the cursor in it. A window number of -3 signifies “the currently selected window”


EXT:8 8 6 set_margins left right window

Sets the margin widths (in pixels) on the left and right for the given window (which are by default 0). If the cursor is overtaken and now lies outside the margins altogether, move it back to the left margin of the current line (see S8.


VAR:241 11 4 set_text_style style

Sets the text style to: Roman (if 0), Reverse Video (if 1), Bold (if 2), Italic (4), Fixed Pitch (8). In some interpreters (though this is not required) a combination of styles is possible (such as reverse video and bold). In these, changing to Roman should turn off all the other styles currently set.

[1.1] As of Standard 1.1, it is legal to request style combinations in a single set_text_style opcode by adding the values (which are powers of two) together. If the parameter is non-zero, then all the styles given are activated. If the parameter is zero, then all styles are deactivated. If the interpreter is unable to provide the requested style combination, it must give precedence first to the styles requested in the most recent call to set_text_style, and within that to the highest bit, making the priority Fixed, Italic, Bold, Reverse.


EXT:13 D 5/_ set_true_colour foreground background
EXT:13 D 6/_ set_true_colour foreground background window

The foreground and background are 15-bit colour values:









The optional window parameter is only allowed in V6, and operates the same as in set_colour.

[1.1] This opcode will only be present in interpreters obeying Standard 1.1 or later, so story files should check the standard number of the interpreter before executing this opcode.


VAR:235 B 3 set_window window

Selects the given window for text output.


0OP:188 C 3 show_status

(In Version 3 only.) Display and update the status line now (don’t wait until the next keyboard input). (In theory this opcode is illegal in later Versions but an interpreter should treat it as nop, because Version 5 Release 23 of Wishbringer contains this opcode by accident.)


VAR:245 15 5/3 sound_effect number effect volume routine

The given effect happens to the given sound number. The low byte of volume holds the volume level, the high byte the number of repeats. (The value 255 means “loudest possible” and “forever” respectively.) (The “repeats” parameter indicates the total number of times to play the sound, not the number of times to repeat it after the first play.) (In Version 3, repeats are unsupported and the high byte must be 0.)

Note that sound effect numbers 1 and 2 are bleeps (see S9) and in these cases the other operands must be omitted. Conversely, if any of the other operands are present, the sound effect number must be 3 or higher.

The effect can be: 1 (prepare), 2 (start), 3 (stop), 4 (finish with).

In Versions 5 and later, the routine is called (with no parameters) after the sound has been finished (it has been playing in the background while the Z-machine has been working on other things). (This is used by Sherlock to implement fading in and out, which explains why mysterious numbers like $34FB were previously thought to be to do with fading.) The routine is not called if the sound is stopped by another sound or by an effect 3 call.

See the remarks to S9 for which forms of this opcode were actually used by Infocom.

In theory, @sound_effect; (with no operands at all) is illegal. However interpreters are asked to beep (as if the operand were 1) if possible, and in any case not to halt.

Setting repeats to zero in V5 is illegal—it is suggested that interpreters treat this as a request to play the sound once, and maybe issue a warning.

To clarify:

@sound_effect number 3/4

will stop (and optionally unload) sound number if it is currently playing (or loaded). Otherwise it is ignored.

@sound_effect 0 3/4

will stop (and unload) all sounds—music and effects.


VAR:234 A 3 split_window lines

Splits the screen so that the upper window has the given number of lines: or, if this is zero, unsplits the screen again. In Version 3 (only) the upper window should be cleared after the split.

In Version 6, this is supposed to roughly emulate the earlier Version 5 behaviour (see S8), though the line count is in units rather than lines. (Existing Version 6 games seem to use this opcode only for bounding cursor movement. Journey creates a status region which is the whole screen and then overlays it with two other windows.)

Windows 0 and 1 are tiled together to fill the screen, so that window 1 has the given height and is placed at the top left, while window 0 is placed just below it (with its height suitably shortened, possibly making it disappear altogether if window 1 occupies the whole screen).

A cursor remains in the same absolute screen position (which means that its y-coordinate will be different relative to the window origin, since this origin will have moved) unless this position is no longer in the window at all, in which case it is moved to the window origin (at the top left of the window).


This is the Inform name for the keyboard-reading opcode under Versions 3 and 4. (Inform calls the same opcode aread in later Versions.) See read for the specification.


2OP:13 D store (variable) value

Set the VARiable referenced by the operand to value.


VAR:226 2 storeb array byte-index value

array→_byte-index_ = value, i.e. stores the given value in the byte at address array+byte-index (which must lie in dynamic memory). (See loadb.)


VAR:225 1 storew array word-index value

array→_word-index_ = value, i.e. stores the given value in the word at address array+2*word-index (which must lie in dynamic memory). (See loadw.)


2OP:21 15 sub a b(result)

Signed 16-bit subtraction.


2OP:7 7 test bitmap flags?(label)

Jump if all of the flags in bitmap are set (i.e. if bitmapflags == flags).


See clear_flag. (ITF implements this as unconditionally false.)

Neither test_array nor clear_flag is actually defined. I’m not sure what this is supposed to be.


2OP:10 A test_attr object attribute?(label)

Jump if object has attribute.


2OP:28 1C 5/6 throw value stack-frame

Opposite of catch: resets the routine call state to the state it had when the given stack frame value was ‘caught’, and then returns. In other words, it returns as if from the routine which executed the catch which found this stack frame value.


VAR:251 1B 5 tokenise text parse dictionary flag

This performs lexical analysis (see read above).

The dictionary and flag operands are optional.

If a non-zero dictionary is supplied, it is used (if not, the ordinary game dictionary is). If the flag is set, unrecognised words are not written into the parse buffer and their slots are left unchanged: this is presumably so that if several tokenise instructions are performed in a row, each fills in more slots without wiping those filled by the others.

Parsing a user dictionary is slightly different. A user dictionary should look just like the main one but need not be alphabetically sorted. If the number of entries is given as -n, then the interpreter reads this as “n entries unsorted”. This is very convenient if the table is being altered in play: if, for instance, the player is naming things.


0OP:189 D 3 verify?(label)

Verification counts a (two byte, unsigned) checksum of the file from $0040 onwards (by taking the sum of the values of each byte in the file, modulo $10000) and compares this against the value in the game header, branching if the two values agree. (Early Version 3 games do not have the necessary checksums to make this possible.)

The interpreter must stop calculating when the file length (as given in the header) is reached. It is legal for the file to contain more bytes than this, but if so the extra bytes should all be 0. (Some story files are padded out to an exact number of virtual-memory pages.) However, many Infocom story files in fact contain non-zero data in the padding, so interpreters must be sure to exclude the padding from checksum calculations.


EXT:17 11 6 window_size window y x

Change size of window in pixels. (Does not change the current display.)


EXT:18 12 6 window_style window flags operation

Changes attributes for a given window. A bitmap of attributes is given, in which the bits are: 0—keep text within margins, 1—scroll when at bottom, 2—copy text to output stream 2 (the printer), 3—buffer text to word-wrap it between the margins of the window.

The operation, by default, is 0, meaning “set to these settings”. 1 means “set the bits supplied”. 2 means “clear the ones supplied”, and 3 means “reverse the bits supplied” (i.e. eXclusive OR).