Zinc is the Z Interpreter with Network Capabilities.
Zinc is an interpreter for text adventure games, which are also known as Interactive Fiction. For an explantion of text adventure games, please read the section called An Introduction to Interactive Fiction. Zinc comes with interpreters for Infocom's Z-Machine games and TADS 2 games. Third party interpreters for other types of game can be installed and used with Zinc.
One of the most common and arduous tasks for players of adventure games is drawing a map of the game. Zinc provides a complete mapping tool to allow players to easily map the game world as they discover it. The map also allows annotations to be made for each room discovered.
Zinc offers co-operative multiplayer network capabilities. For an explanation of how this works, see the section called How Does Multiplayer Zinc Work?
Interactive Fiction, or text adventure games, are one of the oldest forms of computer game. The classical text adventure game (hereon refered to merely as an adventure game) describes the game world to the player in plain text and invites input from the player in the form of simple sentence commands.
The name Zinc refers to something known as the "Z-machine". The Z-machine was invented when one of the early adventure games, a game called "Zork", was being ported to lots of different microcomputers by a company called Infocom. In order to make their task easier, and to help make Zork fit into the limited memory of the computers of the time, they invented a "virtual machine" called the Z machine and wrote Zork for the virtual machine. Then, to run it on a real computer, all they needed to do was to create an interpreter for the particular computer that could run the virtual machine code (which became known as "Z-code". Zinc is one such interpreter.
The Z-machine is now very old. Several groups of people have tried to create newer and better adventure game systems that work in a similar way. One such system is TADS, the Text Adventure Development System. Zinc includes an interpreter that can run TADS version 2 games.