Idea: WHILE in input

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chris markwyn

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Aug 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/30/97
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One thing I've been wondering about (and I don't have any thoughts on how to
actually implement it, but I'm an ideas man, I leave details for other people
:) ) is using WHILE in a player's input. I think this would be primarily
useful in situations with NPCs around, as in the following example:

Outside the Mansion
Hordes of armed men are running towards you. There is a path providing
some cover to the northwest.
Jim is here, holding an AK-47.

> JIM, SHOOT THE MEN WHILE I GO NORTHWEST

Or if the player had to do two things at the same time, like...I can't think of
anything at the moment, but something involving precise timing. Like pushing
two buttons at the same time, or opening a door, tossing a grenade through, and
closing the door. Basically, I guess this involves some way to do multiple
actions (either by the player alone of the player and a NPC) on one turn.

Is there any use for this? Would it be difficult to implement in, say, Inform?
Or does it destroy the whole turn-based setup of IF?

Hope this made some vague amount of sense,

--Chris Markwyn

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/30/97
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chris markwyn (mark...@carleton.edu) wrote:

> Outside the Mansion
> Hordes of armed men are running towards you. There is a path providing
> some cover to the northwest.
> Jim is here, holding an AK-47.

> > JIM, SHOOT THE MEN WHILE I GO NORTHWEST

> Or if the player had to do two things at the same time, like...I can't think of
> anything at the moment, but something involving precise timing. Like pushing
> two buttons at the same time, or opening a door, tossing a grenade through, and
> closing the door. Basically, I guess this involves some way to do multiple
> actions (either by the player alone of the player and a NPC) on one turn.

> Is there any use for this? Would it be difficult to implement in, say, Inform?
> Or does it destroy the whole turn-based setup of IF?

The turn-based setup is pretty flexible already. I think if I was writing
a game where your first example was relevant, it would accept

> JIM, SHOOT THE MEN
"Ok; I'll cover you." Jim starts firing.
> NW
You run...

That is, the "puzzle" is to think of the overall picture; he's shooting,
you're running. I wouldn't want to *also* require the player to specify
that they happen *at the same time.*

The latter set of problems, the player doing two things at the same time,
has generally been dealt with by avoiding it. There's a point in
Bureaucracy where you have to do "MOVE X AND Y", but I didn't like it.

The problems, as usual, are that (1) if you accept "do x and y
simultaneously" (with whatever syntax), you suddenly have to write a
whole lot more special cases than you did before. All over the game, not
just in whatever scene it's relevant. And (2) the player has this extra
dimension of command, which is just a pain in the ass. He has twice as
many ways to express what he wants, or the square as many or something,
most of which don't do anything new -- but one time they do.

I say "as usual" because the same objections exist for, say, adverbs.
There isn't a big desire for scenes where "push door" fails and "push door
hard" succeeds. Yes, it's more expressive, but this makes life harder
instead of easier.

Just to be contrary, I could see a two-window setup, where you're entering
commands in both windows independently, controlling two characters.
Hitting return in one windows executes its command; hitting (say)
shift-return executes both commands, simultaneously if this is important,
otherwise sequentially (but without any user-perceptible pause between
them.)

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

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