descriptions: concise or comlete, which do you think it should be?

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Benjamin Kenward

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Jan 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/30/98
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hello all,

time for me to stop lurking and ask people what they think about something i
feel quite strongly about. it annoys me a fair bit when i read nouns described
in rooms descriptions, which on examination give 'You can't see that' or
somthing similar. conversely im very impressed when every noun in the room
description is actually present and described. and now i have started to write
games, i feel that 'you dont need to refer to that in the course of the game'
just isn't good enough. i really think that games where everything is
described are superior in terms of providing atmosphere and helping the player
to 'suspend disbelief'

so maybe you think im just too nit-picking? Is it possible to give to much
information in the form of scenery descriptions? id be interested to hear.

ben.

TenthStone

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Feb 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/3/98
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some...@sable.ox.ac.uk (Benjamin Kenward) caused this to appear in our collective minds on 30 Jan 1998 14:51:21 GMT:

I agree, but then, I'm just making fun of my own foible. It really is just a thing
of style; missing objects from room descriptions is pretty bad, but the concise
view of the universe has its merits. The main reason why describing every
meaningless object in the desciriptions isn't done as often as it should is that
it really takes a toll on the author; sometimes, I find myself a prisoner to my own
over-generosity in the room descriptions -- and I rarely let myself remove any objects
from them, because I know that I put them in the descriptions because it made
sense for them to be there, and their absence would detract. What it comes down
to is whether or not the author is willing to sacrifice his valuable time for something
so pointless that it hurts to even type it in.

I enjoy long descriptions, and I despise et ceteras. Unfortunately, I know too well the
feeling of wasting my time (Adventure660+ comes to mind)
-- TenthStone
tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@erols.com a987...@titan.vcu.edu

Kathy I. Morgan

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Feb 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/3/98
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Benjamin Kenward <some...@sable.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

> nouns described
> in rooms descriptions, which on examination give 'You can't see that' or
> somthing similar.

Well, yes, it is annoying to enter a room and be told there's a picture
on the wall, but when you try to examine it you're told "You can't see
that."

> conversely im very impressed when every noun in the room
> description is actually present and described. and now i have started to write
> games, i feel that 'you dont need to refer to that in the course of the game'
> just isn't good enough. i really think that games where everything is
> described are superior in terms of providing atmosphere and helping the player
> to 'suspend disbelief'

Descriptions are nice for providing atmosphere, but if it's an object
with which you can't interact I'd like to be told that. An eloquent
description is likely to make me think the object could be picked up,
rolled, pushed, moved, stood on or whatever unless the description also
mentions that I can't use it. I find it really frustrating to play guess
the verb when there is no verb. :-/

kathy

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/3/98
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Kathy I. Morgan (kmo...@polarnet.com) wrote:
> Benjamin Kenward <some...@sable.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

> > nouns described
> > in rooms descriptions, which on examination give 'You can't see that' or
> > somthing similar.

> Well, yes, it is annoying to enter a room and be told there's a picture
> on the wall, but when you try to examine it you're told "You can't see
> that."
>

> Descriptions are nice for providing atmosphere, but if it's an object
> with which you can't interact I'd like to be told that. An eloquent
> description is likely to make me think the object could be picked up,
> rolled, pushed, moved, stood on or whatever unless the description also
> mentions that I can't use it. I find it really frustrating to play guess
> the verb when there is no verb. :-/

This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
whatever) as an object in scope?

This comes up because, at one point, I stuck in a line about itching.
A beta-tester naturally tried "scratch arm" (or "leg" or something) and
got "You can't see any such thing." Well, great. I can easily put in some
limb objects with add_to_scope.

But what then? Then, since they're *there*, there is another whole set of
actions. "Put arm in hole". That muddies about half a dozen important
scenes. "Shoot leg" (which is not necessarily the same as "shoot me".
What if I've written a response which starts "You put the gun in your
mouth and fire."?)

I could put in a broad warning: "You don't need to explicitly refer to
your limbs in this game." But I've been avoiding that in this particular
game, for various reasons.

I could put in a verb "scratch" which *doesn't* take an object, so that
"scratch limbs" returns "I only understood you as far as wanting to
scratch", and then "scratch" by itself says something sensible.

I could leave the limbs out entirely, and write "no" on that particular
bug report.

I haven't decided yet.

--Z

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borogoves..."

Chris [Steve] Piuma

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Feb 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/3/98
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
Plotkin) wrote:
> Nobody reads info screens. This is going to cause me plenty problem
> already.

Can I just say that I read info screens? Always. You offer me an info
screen, and I'll read it, even if it's just another explanation of what
"superbreif" means.

It's sort of like going back and doing silly things just so that you can
see all the text in the game. With a "type INFO for more information about
how to play this game" suggestion, well, how am I going to turn down such
an easy method of getting more text?

--
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I hope I-0 wins all the Xyzzy awards that it's up for. That's all I have to say.

Brock Kevin Nambo

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Feb 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/3/98
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Andrew Plotkin wrote in message ...
>Nobody reads info screens.

I guess that makes it official.

Hello, everybody?

I AM A NOBODY.
(andrew plotkin says so)


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David Leong

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Feb 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/3/98
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> On Wed, 4 Feb 1998 01:25:40 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)

> wrote:
>
>
> >Nobody reads info screens.


The first thing I do is try both 'info' and 'help' to get the ground rules
for the game.

Best,

Dave

Jason C Penney

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:

: Kathy I. Morgan (kmo...@polarnet.com) wrote:
: > Benjamin Kenward <some...@sable.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

: > > nouns described
: > > in rooms descriptions, which on examination give 'You can't see that' or
: > > somthing similar.

: > Well, yes, it is annoying to enter a room and be told there's a picture
: > on the wall, but when you try to examine it you're told "You can't see
: > that."
: >
: > Descriptions are nice for providing atmosphere, but if it's an object
: > with which you can't interact I'd like to be told that. An eloquent
: > description is likely to make me think the object could be picked up,
: > rolled, pushed, moved, stood on or whatever unless the description also
: > mentions that I can't use it. I find it really frustrating to play guess
: > the verb when there is no verb. :-/

: This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
: question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
: whatever) as an object in scope?

I would. It bothers me to get get games that respond like:

> HIT BOB
With what?

> FIST
You don't have that

> OH, DON'T I?
You seem to want to talk to someone, but I can't see whom.

> YELL
You yell at the top of your lungs. Bob looks confused for a minute
before he pummels you into the ground.

*** You Have Died ***

Maybe you should try a more physical approach.

I also don't really mind all sorts of extra things in the
game that aren't important. I'd rather have everything well
described and useless, then to keep getting lots of "you can't do
that" type messages. Of course, this is a lot more work for the
author, but if you keep the descriptions of "useless" objects short,
then they should appear less interesting to the player.

You can't please everyone...

: But what then? Then, since they're *there*, there is another whole set of


: actions. "Put arm in hole". That muddies about half a dozen important
: scenes. "Shoot leg" (which is not necessarily the same as "shoot me".
: What if I've written a response which starts "You put the gun in your
: mouth and fire."?)

Change the response? :)

: I could put in a broad warning: "You don't need to explicitly refer to

: your limbs in this game." But I've been avoiding that in this particular
: game, for various reasons.

Well, if I was worried about something like this, I'd put a "Just
because you can refer to it in the game, doesn't mean it's important,"
message in some sort of info screen.

: I haven't decided yet.

I'll try to remember to dig this up again whenever whatever it is
comes out. Of course you've now made so I'll have to play this game.

Jay
(Who can't seem to beat "A Change in the Weather", but doesn't want to
get any hints. It's something fun to do when life gets frustrating,
odd as that sounds)

----
Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) Xarton Dragon -=<UDIC>=-
<http://www.cs.uml.edu/~jpenney/>
"The trouble with computers of course, is that they're very
sophisticated idiots." -- The Doctor

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:

> : This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
> : question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
> : whatever) as an object in scope?

> I would. It bothers me to get get games that respond like:

> > HIT BOB
> With what?
> > FIST
> You don't have that

But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
implies that you used your fist. If you type "hit bob with dagger" then
it's a different matter.

> I also don't really mind all sorts of extra things in the
> game that aren't important. I'd rather have everything well
> described and useless, then to keep getting lots of "you can't do
> that" type messages.

This is a non sequitur to me. How does a missing object cause a "you
can't do that" message?

I'm not talking about leaving objects *out*; I'm talking about leaving
them *implied*, or default, or grouped into larger objects.

Or look at it this way: if I implement objects at a finer granularity,
I'm creating *more* "failure" or "that's meaningless" responses, while
not adding any new *success* responses. The game already *works*; it is
possible to assault Bob.

> : I could put in a broad warning: "You don't need to explicitly refer to
> : your limbs in this game." But I've been avoiding that in this particular
> : game, for various reasons.

> Well, if I was worried about something like this, I'd put a "Just
> because you can refer to it in the game, doesn't mean it's important,"
> message in some sort of info screen.

Nobody reads info screens. This is going to cause me plenty problem
already.

--Z

FemaleDeer

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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>From: erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
>Date: Tue, Feb 3, 1998 18:01 EST

>This comes up because, at one point, I stuck in a line about itching.
>A beta-tester naturally tried "scratch arm" (or "leg" or something) and
>got "You can't see any such thing." Well, great. I can easily put in some
>limb objects with add_to_scope.

>But what then? Then, since they're *there*, there is another whole set of


>actions. "Put arm in hole". That muddies about half a dozen important
>scenes. "Shoot leg" (which is not necessarily the same as "shoot me".

Tough one. I had to put the player's feet and hands in one game otherwise what
I wanted to do wouldn't work. The best way is to trap for actions in the before
of the hands and feet (and other body parts) with something like, "You have no
desire to hurt yourself."

But maybe in your case, scratch would be best, as in scratch self or scratch
itch.

FD :-)
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concealing how much we think of ourselves and how
little we think of the other person." Mark Twain

Lelah Conrad

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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On Wed, 4 Feb 1998 01:25:40 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
wrote:


>Nobody reads info screens.

I read info screens, actually more now than I used to. It seems that
with IF authors trying more and different things it has become
necessary to check out their supplemental stuff. I didn't used to,
since Infocom was pretty predictable, but present day writers have all
sorts of new ideas about what actions are acceptable, how you'll score
or move or interact.

Maybe these are just the IF equivalent of prefaces, introductions,
footnotes, etc. But then, I've always read alot of those too!

Lelah


Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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> On Wed, 4 Feb 1998 01:25:40 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
> wrote:
>
> >Nobody reads info screens.

Lelah Conrad (lco...@lane.k12.or.us) wrote:

> I read info screens, actually more now than I used to.

Chris [Steve] Piuma (caf...@brainlink.com) wrote:

> Can I just say that I read info screens? Always.

Oh! Ok. Neat!

My cynicism was jumping unwarrantedly out of its cage again.

I read info screens myself, although I tend to skip the "introduction to
standard IF-ese" sections.

Jason C Penney

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:

: Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:

: > : This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
: > : question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
: > : whatever) as an object in scope?

: > I would. It bothers me to get get games that respond like:

: > > HIT BOB
: > With what?
: > > FIST
: > You don't have that

: But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
: implies that you used your fist. If you type "hit bob with dagger" then
: it's a different matter.

Ok, good. Does HIT BOB WITH FIST|HAND work?

: > I also don't really mind all sorts of extra things in the


: > game that aren't important. I'd rather have everything well
: > described and useless, then to keep getting lots of "you can't do
: > that" type messages.

: This is a non sequitur to me. How does a missing object cause a "you
: can't do that" message?

: I'm not talking about leaving objects *out*; I'm talking about leaving
: them *implied*, or default, or grouped into larger objects.

This seems to be annother case of me failing to be very clear and
confusing you again. Sorry (twice in one day)! I was making a
general comment about the thread, and not offering you direct advice
(who am *I* to advise *you* anyhow). I was also clumping messages
together under "you can't do that". If an object is missing, and i
try to look at it, I can't do that.

: Or look at it this way: if I implement objects at a finer granularity,

: I'm creating *more* "failure" or "that's meaningless" responses, while
: not adding any new *success* responses. The game already *works*; it is
: possible to assault Bob.

That was really part of my point. I like this extra failure. I like
the diversity it provides, instead of standard failure messages. Like
I said, it's a lot more work for the author though. :(

: > Well, if I was worried about something like this, I'd put a "Just


: > because you can refer to it in the game, doesn't mean it's important,"
: > message in some sort of info screen.

: Nobody reads info screens. This is going to cause me plenty problem
: already.

I think I've read all the Info Screens on every Z-Machine game that
has them on GMD, and I haven't played through many of them. You've
already lost this argument ("Nobody reads...") anyway. :)

Jay
(hoping he was clearer this time, but doubting it considering he's
falling asleep at the keyboard...)

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:
> : But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
> : implies that you used your fist. If you type "hit bob with dagger" then
> : it's a different matter.

> Ok, good. Does HIT BOB WITH FIST|HAND work?

No, because those words aren't recognized. I'm debating adding that kind
of thing, and I don't want to.

(Admittedly, the Inform "You can't see that here" idiom is confusing in
this instance, although I much prefer it in general. Fortunately, or
unfortunately, Inform game players are used to it.)

> : Or look at it this way: if I implement objects at a finer granularity,
> : I'm creating *more* "failure" or "that's meaningless" responses, while
> : not adding any new *success* responses. The game already *works*; it is
> : possible to assault Bob.

> That was really part of my point. I like this extra failure. I like
> the diversity it provides, instead of standard failure messages. Like
> I said, it's a lot more work for the author though. :(

*And* it's more work for the player. I don't mind doing extra work
myself, although I minimize it, but I don't want to make things harder
for the player.

When I don't mean to.

:-)

Benjamin Kenward

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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Kathy I. Morgan (kmo...@polarnet.com) wrote:
: Descriptions are nice for providing atmosphere, but if it's an object
: with which you can't interact I'd like to be told that. An eloquent
: description is likely to make me think the object could be picked up,
: rolled, pushed, moved, stood on or whatever unless the description also
: mentions that I can't use it. I find it really frustrating to play guess
: the verb when there is no verb. :-/

: kathy


seeing as we seem to have now established that at least some people read info
screens, id say its definitely safe to have spurious objects, if you warn the
player. you can just say "i wanted to give this game a bit of atmosphere, so
there are things you can interact with that arent vital to finishing the game.
for instance, you can drink from the fountain in the courtyard, but its not
going to do anything except let you drink" if your puzzles are coded in a
manner consistent with the plot, then to solve puzzles the player should have
to do what seems logical, rather than do something just because he can. for
example, if the player is told he is desparate for a cup of tea and provided
with tea making materials, he should be able to drink water before it is
boiled, make tea and throw it away, make tea and let it get cold, etcetera,
even though to solve the puzzle he has to make the tea and drink it while its
warm.

i hope this makes some kind some kind of sense

ben (who now feels a strange need to code a tea making puzzle) ;)

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Brent VanFossen

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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On 30 Jan 1998 14:51:21 GMT, some...@sable.ox.ac.uk (Benjamin
Kenward) wrote:

>time for me to stop lurking and ask people what they think about something i

>feel quite strongly about. it annoys me a fair bit when i read nouns described
>in rooms descriptions, which on examination give 'You can't see that' or
>somthing similar. conversely im very impressed when every noun in the room


>description is actually present and described. and now i have started to write
>games, i feel that 'you dont need to refer to that in the course of the game'
>just isn't good enough. i really think that games where everything is
>described are superior in terms of providing atmosphere and helping the player
>to 'suspend disbelief'
>

>so maybe you think im just too nit-picking? Is it possible to give to much
>information in the form of scenery descriptions? id be interested to hear.

I think anything in a description that feels like it ought to be
described ought to have a description. How's that for an ambiguous
answer?

The problem is that this creates a huge overhead of objects for the
player to try to manipulate when stuck on a puzzle. The message "You
don't need to refer to that..." immediately tells the player to stop
trying things with that object, but it also breaks mimesis, the
feeling that the game world is a real world. The solution I used in
Spring was to create those objects with descriptions, but to tell the
player if he tried anything else with one of those objects that the
object was unimportant. Like so:

Class Unimportant
with
before
[; if(action ~=##Examine)
{print (The) self;
if(self has pluralname) print " are ";
else print " is ";
"not important to the game.";}
],
life
[; print (The) self;
if(self has pluralname) print " are ";
else print " is ";
"not important to the game.";
];

Object grass "grass"
class unimportant,
with description
"The grass has turned to gold, dried by the summer sun
long past and swaying in the gentle autumn air.",
name "grass" "grasses",
found_in Meadow Meadow_West Meadow_East Meadow_North,
has scenery;

I did this until I ran out of time or interest. The rest of the
mentioned objects I just stuck in the room's name property. That
means they will give the default "That's not something..." message,
and I will be fixing those for the next release. I think this is a
good compromise from the player's point of view, but it's more work
for the author.

Brent VanFossen

Daryl McCullough

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) says...

>> I also don't really mind all sorts of extra things in the
>> game that aren't important. I'd rather have everything well
>> described and useless, then to keep getting lots of "you can't do
>> that" type messages.
>
>This is a non sequitur to me. How does a missing object cause a "you
>can't do that" message?

If the player types something like "Put hand in mousehole" or
"push rock with foot" the game will respond with something like
"You can't see any such thing", right?

>I'm not talking about leaving objects *out*; I'm talking about leaving
>them *implied*, or default, or grouped into larger objects.

That's fine if it's clear to the player how to phrase things so
that body parts are not explicitly mentioned. I remember playing
some game (maybe it was Gareth Rees' _Magic Toyshop_) where something
rolled into a mousehole, and I found it very frustrating that I
couldn't stick my hand into the hole to try to get it.

>Or look at it this way: if I implement objects at a finer granularity,
>I'm creating *more* "failure" or "that's meaningless" responses, while
>not adding any new *success* responses. The game already *works*; it is
>possible to assault Bob.

I'm not sure how you're counting "failures" and "successes". If you
implement hands, then "Hit Bob with hand" will generate a success.
If you don't implement hands, it will generate a failure.

Maybe body parts could all be done in the parser---that is, the
command "Hit Bob with hand" could generate the same action as "Hit
Bob". The advantage to doing this is that you wouldn't have to
worry about coding things to make sure that the player never leaves
his hands behind.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Joe Mason

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>
>This comes up because, at one point, I stuck in a line about itching.
>A beta-tester naturally tried "scratch arm" (or "leg" or something) and
>got "You can't see any such thing." Well, great. I can easily put in some
>limb objects with add_to_scope.
>
>But what then? Then, since they're *there*, there is another whole set of
>actions. "Put arm in hole". That muddies about half a dozen important
>scenes. "Shoot leg" (which is not necessarily the same as "shoot me".
>What if I've written a response which starts "You put the gun in your
>mouth and fire."?)

I'm running into the same dilemma, with the additional problem that I've
described in detail one of the NPC's, right down to the bandage on his hand.
So of course, to be complete, I should implement his hands, his bandage, the
sword he's carrying, etc... Especially since I've implemented the sword of a
different NPC, because one of the puzzles involves getting it away from him.

So now I'm stuck having to add, not just my arms/legs/etc, but everybody's!

Joe


Joe Mason

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>
>> > HIT BOB
>> With what?
>> > FIST
>> You don't have that
>
>But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
>implies that you used your fist. If you type "hit bob with dagger" then
>it's a different matter.

My handling of this is that "HIT BOB" makes a best guess - if you're carrying
a dagger, you get

> HIT BOB
(with the dagger)

If not you get

> HIT BOB
(with your fist)

Which is odd, since I haven't actually implemented a fist. (I print the
message by hand in AttackSub.) Since you can override it with

> HIT BOB WITH DAGGER

I figured that would be acceptible. But it just occurred to me that that
would mean you can't hit Bob with your fist if you're carrying the dagger:

> HIT BOB WITH FIST

won't work. So I guess I'm going to have to code that fist after all...

Joe

Lucian Paul Smith

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:

: This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
: question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
: whatever) as an object in scope?

: This comes up because, at one point, I stuck in a line about itching.


: A beta-tester naturally tried "scratch arm" (or "leg" or something) and
: got "You can't see any such thing."

As you said in another post, it all depends on the granularity you want.
The simplest method (and the method I used in 'Edifice') is to just put
'arm' 'leg' 'arms' 'legs', etc., in the 'name' property of your player
object. I even did this for clothes, and no-one seemed to mind (and if
you did mind, shame on you for not e-mailing me! ;-)

Another option, specifically for 'scratch', would be:

Verb 'scratch'
* noun ->Scratch
* topic ->ScratchGeneric;

[ScratchGenericSub;
"You scratch, but it doesn't help.";
];

I used this for the verb 'play' in Edifice, again, and again haven't
received any complaints, though in this case I think it was because no-one
tried it ;-)

The point is just to acknowledge that the player tried something, but to
try to give a generic enough response that they are trained away from
trying it again.

-Lucian

Brad O`Donnell

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>
> I'm not talking about leaving objects *out*; I'm talking about leaving
> them *implied*, or default, or grouped into larger objects.

Please, no implied objects.
If I remember right, the question is
about handling an itch. Now, if the location of the itch is
important, then you're in big trouble about what to do about that
location (arm, leg, etc.), especially if it's important to the
game. But if the location isn't important, then you could just
say that the character is itching, and SCRATCHing would just give
you some message which doesn't state which part is itching.
If you really need to say which part is itching, then you could
create an 'itch' object, which is only in scope while the player
is itching, with nouns "itch" and "arm", etc., and you could
probably rig up the following:

Your arm is itching.
>X LEFT ARM

There is a great, red rash on your arm.

>X RIGHT ARM

You can't see any such thing.

>SCRATCH ARM (or RASH, or ITCH)

Scratching only makes it worse.

>X RASH

There is a great, bloody, red rash on your arm.

>X HAND



You can't see any such thing.

I would prefer this to having the parts of the body implied,
since if I discovered the body parts before or
after the points where they were useful, they would drive me
nuts throughout the game: "I wonder if I have to use my arms here..."
They would be perceived (by me) as unusually cruel red herrings.
Now, of course, after all this discussion, I will remember "In
Zarf's next game, I can refer to my arms, but they're not important."


> Nobody reads info screens. This is going to cause me plenty problem
> already.

Hey! I read info screens. In fact, I'm very disappointed if a
game doesn't have one. Having the information "You never have to
refer to your body parts (such as your arms) directly to complete
this game, but they
are present anyway, for small effects." in your info screen would
work fine for me.


--
Brad O'Donnell
"A story is a string of moments, held together by memory."

Julian Arnold

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, Andrew Plotkin
<URL:mailto:erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

> Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:
>
> > : This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
> > : question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
> > : whatever) as an object in scope?
>
> > I would. It bothers me to get get games that respond like:
>
> > > HIT BOB
> > With what?
> > > FIST
> > You don't have that
>
> But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
> implies that you used your fist.

It does? To me it implies that the game wants more info (an indirect
object) before it will attempt the command.

Implementing body parts is no fun though (you always miss one, or have
too low a resolution), so the command "hit bob" should be accepted, with
"fist" being the (probably unspecifiable explicitly) default indirect
object.

> Nobody reads info screens. This is going to cause me plenty problem
> already.

Haha.

Jools
--
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from
ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"


Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

Daryl McCullough (da...@cogentex.com) wrote:
> erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) says...

> >> I also don't really mind all sorts of extra things in the
> >> game that aren't important. I'd rather have everything well
> >> described and useless, then to keep getting lots of "you can't do
> >> that" type messages.
> >
> >This is a non sequitur to me. How does a missing object cause a "you
> >can't do that" message?

> If the player types something like "Put hand in mousehole" or
> "push rock with foot" the game will respond with something like

> "You can't see any such thing", right?

Ok, yes. As I said in some earlier post, in this one case I really *do*
want an "I don't know the word 'hand'" message.

> >I'm not talking about leaving objects *out*; I'm talking about leaving
> >them *implied*, or default, or grouped into larger objects.

> That's fine if it's clear to the player how to phrase things so


> that body parts are not explicitly mentioned. I remember playing
> some game (maybe it was Gareth Rees' _Magic Toyshop_) where something
> rolled into a mousehole, and I found it very frustrating that I
> couldn't stick my hand into the hole to try to get it.

I'm avoiding that kind of situation.

> >Or look at it this way: if I implement objects at a finer granularity,
> >I'm creating *more* "failure" or "that's meaningless" responses, while
> >not adding any new *success* responses. The game already *works*; it is
> >possible to assault Bob.

> I'm not sure how you're counting "failures" and "successes". If you
> implement hands, then "Hit Bob with hand" will generate a success.
> If you don't implement hands, it will generate a failure.

If there are no hands in the game *and the player knows it*, the player
won't try "Hit Bob with hand". I'm counting failures and successes over
the range of what the player will want to do.

> Maybe body parts could all be done in the parser---that is, the
> command "Hit Bob with hand" could generate the same action as "Hit
> Bob". The advantage to doing this is that you wouldn't have to
> worry about coding things to make sure that the player never leaves
> his hands behind.

The disadvantage is that "examine hand" won't work, and the variance
between that and "hit bob with hand" is likely to be confusing.

On the other hand (ahem), I did exactly this in _So Far_. "clap hands"
works as a synonym for "clap" or "applaud", but "clap" can't take any
other nouns, and "hands" is not really a noun. Nobody complained.

However, the "with" in "hit bob with hand" makes this more problematic --
it's harder to pretend that "with hand" isn't a preposition-noun phrase.

Andrew Plotkin

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
> In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, Andrew Plotkin
> <URL:mailto:erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
> > Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:
> >
> > > : This is a good point. Right now I'm struggling with a minor design
> > > : question: should I include the player's body parts (arms, legs, head,
> > > : whatever) as an object in scope?
> >
> > > I would. It bothers me to get get games that respond like:
> >
> > > > HIT BOB
> > > With what?
> > > > FIST
> > > You don't have that
> >
> > But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
> > implies that you used your fist.

> It does?

Sure it does. The response is (on the order of) "You bury your first in
Bob's stomach..."

My game does *not* say "What do you want to it Bob with?" That was part
of Jason Penney's post.

Daryl McCullough

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

jcm...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) says...

>Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>>
>>This comes up because, at one point, I stuck in a line about itching.
>>A beta-tester naturally tried "scratch arm" (or "leg" or something) and

>>got "You can't see any such thing." Well, great. I can easily put in some
>>limb objects with add_to_scope.
>>
>>But what then? Then, since they're *there*, there is another whole set of
>>actions. "Put arm in hole". That muddies about half a dozen important
>>scenes. "Shoot leg" (which is not necessarily the same as "shoot me".
>>What if I've written a response which starts "You put the gun in your
>>mouth and fire."?)
>
>I'm running into the same dilemma, with the additional problem that I've
>described in detail one of the NPC's, right down to the bandage on his hand.

[stuff deleted]

This reminds me of the discussion about adverbs some number of months back.
There is no reason that the parser couldn't handle commands such as "Open door
quickly" or "Slowly put vase on table". The problem with allowing such commands
is that the game author then has to figure, for each action, all the possible
adverbs that might affect the outcome, and write special code for each.
Alternatively, you could just ignore the adverb, but then you run into the risk
that the response might not make sense. For example, if the response to "Slowly
put vase on table" is "You drop the vase, and it cracks into a million pieces"
then they player is likely to get mad. This is the same sort of case as Andrew's
"shoot leg".

In the case of adverbs, a solution is just to not parse sentences involving
adverbs. But in the case of other ways that a command can have nuances, this
solution may not work. "Hit Bob with feather pillow" should parse (provided that
the player has a feather pillow) and it should do something different than "Hit
Bob" (where it is assumed that you use your fists).

I think I can state the general problem:

1. There are a number of commands that are all variants of
some basic command, but have great or small differences
of nuance.

2. The programmer doesn't want to code each command separately
(and besides that, the programmer doesn't want his or her
poor player to have to go through every possible paraphrase
and variant of a command in order to find out which one
produces the desired outcome.

Jason C Penney

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:

: The disadvantage is that "examine hand" won't work, and the variance


: between that and "hit bob with hand" is likely to be confusing.

Hmm... Maybe you could have some sort of thing where it replies to
looking at any body part being something like "It looks like your
hand, what did you expect?" Or not...

: However, the "with" in "hit bob with hand" makes this more problematic --

: it's harder to pretend that "with hand" isn't a preposition-noun phrase.

So are you glad I mentioned it now, or do you wish I'd kept my mouth
shut??

Jay

Jason C Penney

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to

Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:

: Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
: > In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, Andrew Plotkin
: > <URL:mailto:erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
: > > Jason C Penney (jpe...@cs.uml.edu) wrote:
: > >
: > > > > HIT BOB

: > > > With what?
: > > > > FIST
: > > > You don't have that
: > >
: > > But the point is, I've *already* implemented "hit bob" and the response
: > > implies that you used your fist.

: > It does?

: Sure it does. The response is (on the order of) "You bury your first in
: Bob's stomach..."

: My game does *not* say "What do you want to it Bob with?" That was part
: of Jason Penney's post.

Yeah, but the part where I was attempting to be funny got
snipped...

IF

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Feb 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/4/98
to


FemaleDeer wrote:

> >From: Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk>
> >Date: Mon, May 4, 1998 08:30 EDT
> ^^^^^
>
> Okay, I give. How come a lot of you, at least 4 I think, are up to MAY already?
> Did I fall asleep and miss a month? Hmmmm.... Graham is actually the collective
> Net psuedonym for a group of authors (an odd group, too, surprised they
> socialize with each other) and several people are living in an alternative time
> stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
> weird...
>
> FD Replay that "Twilight Zone" theme! Hey, maybe you can tell me the lottery
> numbers for last month (Feb.). :-)
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>

Or at least the winners of the XYZZY Awards ;)

Ian Finley


FemaleDeer

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

Hmmm, Jan., Feb., March, April, MAY, hey that's three months ahead!!! I must be
the one in the alternative time stream! How do I get out? Help?!

FD :-) What can I say, I am very tired, my computing skills go off-line when I
need sleep.

FemaleDeer

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

>From: Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk>
>Date: Mon, May 4, 1998 08:30 EDT
^^^^^

Okay, I give. How come a lot of you, at least 4 I think, are up to MAY already?
Did I fall asleep and miss a month? Hmmmm.... Graham is actually the collective
Net psuedonym for a group of authors (an odd group, too, surprised they
socialize with each other) and several people are living in an alternative time
stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
weird...

FD Replay that "Twilight Zone" theme! Hey, maybe you can tell me the lottery
numbers for last month (Feb.). :-)

Andy Wright

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

FemaleDeer wrote:
> >From: Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk>
> >Date: Mon, May 4, 1998 08:30 EDT
> ^^^^^
> Okay, I give. How come a lot of you, at least 4 I think, are up to MAY already?
> Did I fall asleep and miss a month? Hmmmm.... Graham is actually the collective
> Net psuedonym for a group of authors (an odd group, too, surprised they
> socialize with each other) and several people are living in an alternative time
> stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
> weird...
> FD

Well, you remember that time-travel post from a few weeks back..?

Andy

Julian Arnold

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

In article <19980205024...@ladder03.news.aol.com>, FemaleDeer

<URL:mailto:femal...@aol.com> wrote:
> >From: Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk>
> >Date: Mon, May 4, 1998 08:30 EDT
> ^^^^^
>
> Okay, I give. How come a lot of you, at least 4 I think, are up to MAY already?
> Did I fall asleep and miss a month? Hmmmm.... Graham is actually the collective
> Net psuedonym for a group of authors (an odd group, too, surprised they
> socialize with each other) and several people are living in an alternative time
> stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
> weird...

You're living in April 1998 and you think *we're* odd!

Anyway, last week I sent off my $70 and here I am. Or rather, tomorrow
I'll send off my $70 and there I was. Or something.

Julian Arnold

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

In article <Env5F...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>, Joe Mason

<URL:mailto:jcm...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
> My handling of this is that "HIT BOB" makes a best guess - if you're carrying
> a dagger, you get
>
> > HIT BOB
> (with the dagger)
>
> If not you get
>
> > HIT BOB
> (with your fist)
>
> Which is odd, since I haven't actually implemented a fist. (I print the
> message by hand in AttackSub.) Since you can override it with

How about getting rid of the parenthetical fist message? Then player's
don't have so much reason to complain when "hit bob with fist" isn't
accepted, so you don't have to code a fist.

Jools, who wonders why we cant just "talk with bob"

Joe Mason

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

In article <ant05152...@arnod.demon.co.uk>,

Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>> > HIT BOB
>> (with your fist)
>>
>> Which is odd, since I haven't actually implemented a fist. (I print the
>> message by hand in AttackSub.) Since you can override it with
>
>How about getting rid of the parenthetical fist message? Then player's
>don't have so much reason to complain when "hit bob with fist" isn't
>accepted, so you don't have to code a fist.

Puzzle design. One puzzle requires knowing you can pick different items to
attack with (you need to improvise a weapon). I felt that it was more fair to
new players to have that message, since it emphasizes without being blatant
that there are more options for attacking.

Joe

Joe Mason

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

In article <19980205024...@ladder03.news.aol.com>,
FemaleDeer <femal...@aol.com> wrote:

>Okay, I give. How come a lot of you, at least 4 I think, are up to MAY already?
>Did I fall asleep and miss a month? Hmmmm.... Graham is actually the collective
>Net psuedonym for a group of authors (an odd group, too, surprised they
>socialize with each other) and several people are living in an alternative time
>stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
>weird...

Not only that, but YOU'RE apparently living in an alternate reality where the
months of March and April don't exist... Or are those just figments of my
imagination? Maybe the CIA has been playing with my mind again...

Joe

Supplicant: "Oh, great Oracle - I just travelled back in time to the
Pleistocene and accidently stepped on an insect! Everything ok up there?"

The Internet Oracle: "Everything seems fine to me. By the way, what's an
insect?"


FemaleDeer

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

>From: Andy Wright <a...@soton.ac.uk>
>Date: Thu, Feb 5, 1998 12:37 EST

>several people are living in an alternative time
>> stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
>> weird...

>> FD
>
>Well, you remember that time-travel post from a few weeks back..?
>
>Andy

Aha!!! Hehehe. Well obviously there is something odd about my newsreader since
now MY messages have the wrong date. But for awhile there I thought I was
missing some kind of "raify" inside joke (you know how that feels, when the
comments and winks go completely over your head and as a result you feel
ostrasized and stupid).

Although, I am not sure that I don't prefer the alternative time stream
explanation better...

FD :-) Seems a bit early for the 2000 problem.

Brock Kevin Nambo

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Feb 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/5/98
to

FemaleDeer wrote in message
<19980205024...@ladder03.news.aol.com>...

>>From: Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk>
>>Date: Mon, May 4, 1998 08:30 EDT
> ^^^^^
>
>Okay, I give. How come a lot of you, at least 4 I think, are up to MAY
already?
>Did I fall asleep and miss a month? Hmmmm.... Graham is actually the
collective
>Net psuedonym for a group of authors (an odd group, too, surprised they
>socialize with each other) and several people are living in an alternative

time
>stream where they are a month ahead of the rest of us... this IS getting
>weird...
>
>FD Replay that "Twilight Zone" theme! Hey, maybe you can tell me the
lottery
>numbers for last month (Feb.). :-)

Ya sure it's not your clock? My version of Jools's letter has a normal date
on it..

(...however, I have been getting two-year-old ICQ messages from my sister
who got a computer two months ago...)

??BKNambo
--
http://come.to/brocks.place | World Domination Through Trivia!
What games are on? Check out The Schedule!
http://members.xoom.com/mozilla/monster.html
"Lemming is the eternal force of life." --from the online weeding of Dee-Bee
and Br_Lee_Luuuuuurve

Dylan O'Donnell

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
to

In article <Enx2y...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>,

(barehanded), maybe? If you're printing it manually (no pun intended),
there shouldn't be any need for it to be in the "(with <object>)" format.

--
: Dylan O'Donnell : "What scourge, what scourge I bear, from :
: Southend Slave Deck, : what red star/ So near to happiness, :
: Demon Internet Ltd : and yet so far?" :
: http://www.fysh.org/~psmith/ : -- Andrew Plotkin, "So Far" :

Maynard Case

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:
> > On Wed, 4 Feb 1998 01:25:40 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
> > wrote:
> >
> > >Nobody reads info screens.
>
> Lelah Conrad (lco...@lane.k12.or.us) wrote:
>
> > I read info screens, actually more now than I used to.
>
> Chris [Steve] Piuma (caf...@brainlink.com) wrote:
>
> > Can I just say that I read info screens? Always.
>
> Oh! Ok. Neat!
>
> My cynicism was jumping unwarrantedly out of its cage again.
>
> I read info screens myself, although I tend to skip the "introduction to
> standard IF-ese" sections.
>

I tend to read info screens in the faint hope that there may be a hint buried
in there somewhere...

Maynard

--
m...@dcs.ed.ac.uk http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/~mc
3rd Year Computer Science Undergraduate, Edinburgh University
Creator of ATOM

Julian Arnold

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
to

In article <Enx2y...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>, Joe Mason
<URL:mailto:jcm...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
> In article <ant05152...@arnod.demon.co.uk>,
> Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> >> > HIT BOB
> >> (with your fist)
> >>
> >> Which is odd, since I haven't actually implemented a fist. (I print the
> >> message by hand in AttackSub.) Since you can override it with
> >
> >How about getting rid of the parenthetical fist message? Then player's
> >don't have so much reason to complain when "hit bob with fist" isn't
> >accepted, so you don't have to code a fist.
>
> Puzzle design. One puzzle requires knowing you can pick different items to
> attack with (you need to improvise a weapon). I felt that it was more fair to
> new players to have that message, since it emphasizes without being blatant
> that there are more options for attacking.

Fair enough. Looks like you'd better code up that fist. :) Thing is, do
you then add verbs "punch <npc>," "slap <npc>," etc.?

Jools

Joe Mason

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Feb 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/6/98
to

In article <6beifr$d06$1...@crucigera.fysh.org>,

Dylan O'Donnell <dyl...@demon.net> wrote:
>
>(barehanded), maybe? If you're printing it manually (no pun intended),
>there shouldn't be any need for it to be in the "(with <object>)" format.

Good one! That'll go in, unless I end up coding body parts for other reasons.

Joe

Stuart Adair

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Feb 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/13/98
to

David Leong wrote in message ...

>> On Wed, 4 Feb 1998 01:25:40 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin)
>> wrote:
>>
>>
>> >Nobody reads info screens.
>
>
>The first thing I do is try both 'info' and 'help' to get the ground rules
>for the game.


The first thing I do is try 'xyzzy'. Maybe that's just me though. :)

Stuart

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