In Nihilum Reverteris

Retro Text Game

Raport techniczny

[Abstrakt] Raport opisuje prace wykonane podczas powstawania gry komputerowej - interactive fiction - In nihilum reverteris dla komputerów ZX Spectrum 128K. Zawarty jest opis każdego z etapów produkcji gry, implementacji na danej platformie oraz gotowego dzieła. Dzieło powstawało w ramach projektu „Twórcze programowanie - Laboratorium” finansowanego z środków Narodowego program Rozwoju Humanistyki w latach 2016-2019, projekt nr. 1027.0641.65.2016.


Robert Hellboj Straka (AGH University of Science and Technology), Yerzmyey (independent artist), Piotr Marecki (head of the UBU lab, Jagiellonian University)

About project

The proposed poster is devoted to the In nihilum reverteris (2018) retro text game developed for an 8-bit ZX Spectrum computer. The work represents an old school sci-fi text adventure game comparable with former text games from the 80′ era. The game itself behave as interactive book with different pathways, the player can take during the gameplay. We used the assembly language to code the game engine. This low-level approach was used mainly to allow 64×24 characters per screen, faster user-game interaction and to play in-game music on the AY-3-8912 chip. The text is accompanied with graphical screens which are loaded during the game progress. Due to enormous size of the whole project and to minimize tape/disk operations, the game was developed for 128K versions of ZX Spectrum only and divided to two parts. Port of the game to the Raspberry PI (RPI) and other linux enabled architectures for which SDL library can be installed or compiled, AmigaOne, Atari 8-bit, Apple II (with enhanced graphics) is also part of the project. Several other ports are in preparation: Commodore 64, Atari ST. RPI version is based on the low-level SDL (Simple DirectMedia Level) library and developed in the C language. It is available as an open-source package to enable its compilation on every linux platform using provided Makefile. No graphics acceleration is needed and the game will run on the minimal resources where just frame buffer and sound subsystems are available and accessible to the SDL libraries. The artists used ZX Spectrum computer to create an advanced digital work in 2018, because of its constraints (it is said ZX Spectrum is the most limited computer among 8-bit platforms). The game is a collaboration beetween demosceners: Yerzmyey (music, text, graphic design) and Hellboj (code). Piotr Marecki is a producer of the work. In nihilum reverteris is one of the of the digital works on retro platforms developed in the UBU lab at the Jagiellonian University. The lab primarily produces digital works that can function in a few fields of the demoscene, electronic literature, video games and media art. The research conducted in the lab focuses on, among other things, local phenomena in the digital media field, e.g. strategies for cloning platforms in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the digital genres and their specific features in Central and Eastern Europe. The artists, programmers and scholars affiliated with the lab develop new genres and communication practices (technical reports, open notebook science) to describe the creative process in its widest definition in the era of digital textuality. The project has been made possible through the support of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education „National Programme for the Development of Humanities”.


Montfort, N. (2003). Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction. Cambridge: MIT Press. Christie, T. A. (2016). The Spectrum of Adventure: A Brief History of Interactive Fiction on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Castle House: Extremis Publishing Ltd.

Full size poster


Download the game:


(eng & pl)

ZX81 with ZXpand


Apple II


Raspberry Pi 3


Raspberry Pi 3


Amiga One