When you start a game (see the section called Starting a Game in the chapter called The Game Launcher) the game window will open. By default the Game Launcher will close each time you start a game. You can get back to it by selecting View->Open Game Launcher. When you close the game window the Game Launcher will reopen.
You can end a game at any time by selecting Game->End game.
The game is played in the game console. The appearance of the game console will depend on the game system that the game uses. For TADS and Z-machine games the default game console will be used.
The default game console is used by Zinc as the isplay method for TADS and Z-machine games. A typical game might look something like this:
At the right hand end of the status bar are a pair of gears. When the game engine is busy these gears will be animated in colour. When they appear still in black and white it means that the game is waiting for your next command. Click in the game console and type in your command at the prompt. Press Enter to perform your command. See the section called Playing Interactive Fiction for information about they types of commands typically used in interactive fiction.
You can repeat a previous command by pressing the Up key repeatedly until you see the command you want and then pressing Enter.
You can change the default display options by selecting Options->Window (Basic Text Console)->Display Options. The Game Console Options dialog box will appear:
Select your prefered fonts from the list. You can choose a prefered fixed width font (in which all the letters are the same width) separately from a prefered variable width font. Some games require a fixed width font to display correctly, while many games do not mind. For games that do not mind you can specify your preference of font type.
You can select your prefered font size in the right hand list box.
You can select prefered foreground/backgroud colours. Some games will override these settings.
Interactive fiction games have different objectives. Sometimes the objective is to find treasure, sometimes it is to survive, and sometimes it is something completely different. In a detective game, for example, you may have to discover a murderer. Your objective in a particular game will either be stated in the game's documentation or will become clear as you play.
In interactive fiction games, commands are given in the form of short sentences. The commands that a game will recognise vary from game to game, but there are some commands that are recognised by nearly all games.
To get a description of your surroundings use the command look. To see a list of the objects that you are carrying, try inventory. To look at a particular object, a bottle for example, try look at bottle or examine bottle. Looking at your surroundings and at the objects you find will often give you essential clues. Note that the last two examples combine a verb (look) with a noun (bottle). This is a very common form of command in interactive fiction.
To move around the game world you can usually issue commands to move in the four cardinal compass directions. For example, go north will take you north, if you can move north. This command can often be shortened to north or even just n. The same applies for the other compass directions, and for up and down. Some games will allow you to move in eight different compass directions (northeast, southwest, etc...).