The lines the antagonist NPCs use seem over the top, but I imagine sales conferences can be about that self centered. And I note that that Macrotus did finally get it right, just one conference too late to make good.
Years ago (around 2005) I had a conversation with Commodore in which I asked him why he was still interested in ZZT. Back then we all knew the platform was well past its expiration date and introspective questions like this seemed natural. He told me that he was attracted to ZZT for its storytelling capacity. Perhaps because I had played so many tedious plot-heavy ZZT games, I did not appreciate his response at the time. It seemed to me more the case that the storytelling side of ZZT games got in the way of what could otherwise be an enjoyable experience. Was scrolling through walls of text what made ZZT special? It wasn't until years later that I came to understand Commodore's observation.
After 20 years, ZZT became... interesting. Unlike the 90s and early aughts, the ZZTers of the last decade have more often been adults returning to the platform after gaining experiences and becoming experts in their professions. They bring interesting ideas and talents and approach it like artists purposefully selecting the ideal medium to convey their ideas. In this mode of creation, ZZT is not an empty blue box to fill with text, but a world with a unique set of sounds, symbols, and actions which, when purposefully arranged, afford a unique kind of storytelling. This, I believe is what Commodore saw in ZZT.
International Jetpack Conference is modern ZZT game in this sense. It is created by two veteran ZZTers who went on to become successful creative professionals, and for whatever reason, decided to make another ZZT game. The result is wonderful. It is short and sweet, surreal and stunning.
As soon as you see the title screen animation, you know you are in for a treat. The words "INTERNATIONAL JETPACK CONFERENCE" appear on the screen in beautifully stylized letters, while a person flies vertically in a jetpack and a striking soundtrack plays. The first board ("Establishing Shot") is one of the most stunning boards I have seen in ZZT. Every now and then I see a board that does not look like it would be possible to make in ZZT. That's this board. It's beautiful, and it gives a wonderful (and hilarious) introduction to the game, complete with some of the best background animations I've seen.
International Jetpack Conference uses simple ZZT mechanics in an effective way to tell a fun and engaging story about "freelance journalism, the military-industrial complex, and the spirit of music" (quoted from its description on its IGF page). The game includes classic ZZT elements, like a dark cave and a slider puzzle, yet leverages them as for their metaphorical import. It's smart and refreshing and left me feeling inspired.
Artistic media go in and out of vogue, but they never completely lose their value insofar as they retain their ability to tell stories in unique ways. International Jetpack Conference is a testament to the fact that ZZT is as fresh a medium as it ever was, and always will be for those with vision and creativity.