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Quest 1-4 - Just Solve the File Format Problem

Quest 1-4

From Just Solve the File Format Problem
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File Format
Name Quest 1-4
Ontology
Extension(s) .asl, .cas

Quest Versions 1-4, often referred to as just Quest, is an Interactive Fiction authoring system. It was first released sometime around 1999 or 2000 and stopped being released in 2012.

Quest was originally released ca. 1999 or 2000 by "Axe Software"[1] (apparently a single person, "Alex Warren"). Quest appears to have, from the start, had a "free" version and a paid "pro" version (containing the "QDK", the "Quest Development Kit"); the "free" version was to have been able to play games, but edit them with limited capacity, a practice varying intensity, over versions, from including "nag screens"[2] to putting fundamental limits on the editor's abilies[3].

In 2011, in anticipation of the release of Quest 5, Quest 4 was made entirely free of cost.[4]

Contents

Extensions

Quest games are stored either as .asl files (human-readable and machine-editable scripts) or as .cas files ("compiled"/obfuscated versions of .asl files, created with a program called "QCompile").[5] However, in practice, most distributed games seemed to have been put inside ZIP files, which the player software could read directly.[5]

Savegame files are in their own format.[5]

Relationship With Quest 5

Quest 1-4 all appear to be different versions of the same format[6] (although the software still cannot presumably "read up" a version). However, Quest 5, released in 2012, uses an entirely new format, and in effect is an entirely separate interactive fiction system. Confusingly, the shortened term "Quest" appears to have been used to refer to both. As a general rule, unclarified uses of the term "Quest" before 2012 refer to versions 1-4, and uses after 2012 refer to Quest 5.

The Quest 5 interpreter can read and play, but not write, Quest 1-4 games.

Identification

.asl files have no magic number, but all contain in their contents "define room <Some string not containing newlines>" (brackets kept) in ASCII.

.cas files all seem to begin with ASCII "QCGF002" or "QCGF001", depending on version. This is possibly followed by the hex 0x00 0x08 0x01.

Specifications

Software

Sample Files

Links

References

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20000818032727/http://www.axeuk.com:80/quest/
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20001011203008fw_/http://www.axeuk.com:80/quest/qreg.htm/
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/20091229154751/http://www.axeuk.com:80/quest/qreg.htm?src=n
  4. https://web.archive.org/web/20110506234123/http://www.textadventures.co.uk:80/blog/2011/01/03/quest-4-is-now-free/
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 https://web.archive.org/web/20060508011312/http://www.axeuk.com/quest/manual.pdf
  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20061025075439/http://www.axeuk.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1258
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