You can't see any such thing question

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J. J. Guest

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Nov 21, 2006, 8:55:46 AM11/21/06
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Does anyone else find the Inform library message "You can't see any
such thing" rather ugly? Is there some grammatical or semantic reason
why it was chosen over the simpler "You can see no such thing"?

J. J. Guest

Neil Cerutti

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Nov 21, 2006, 9:35:14 AM11/21/06
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I prefer the former; it's a case of, "You can't see XXX," where
XXX is, "any such thing." I prefer that to "You can see no XXX".

I'd prefer it if Inform were able to regurgitate my erroneous
noun-phrase back at me:

>EXAMINE MEAT LOAF
You can't see any meat loaf here.

But sadly, the parser isn't smart enough to get this right for
all noun-phrases. It can't guess proper articles, punctuation and
captilization for unknown objects.

>EXAMINE CAPTAIN SPAULDING
You can't see any captain spaulding here.

So I settle for:

>EXAMINE CAPTAIN SPAULDING
I don't know the word "captain".

...or the standard response, which some think deters the
deplorable practice of cheating-by-querying-the-dictionary.

--
Neil Cerutti

Jacek Pudlo

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Nov 21, 2006, 9:54:42 AM11/21/06
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"J. J. Guest"

> Does anyone else find the Inform library message "You can't see any
> such thing" rather ugly? Is there some grammatical or semantic reason
> why it was chosen over the simpler "You can see no such thing"?

I don't like it, not for stylistic reasons, but because it's inaccurate. It
makes the faulty presumtion that just because something isn't listed in the
game's vocabulary, it's invisible.

X GLOVES

The gloves protect your hands from the cold.

X HANDS

You can't see any such thing.


I prefer "It's not here or you can't see it or it's not important."


Robin Johnson

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:00:59 AM11/21/06
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J. J. Guest wrote:

To answer not quite the question you asked, I use "Nothing special"
instead.

This was the standard message in the two games that first got me in to
IF did ("Humbug" and "Jaccaranda Jim" by Graham Cluley), and ever
since, as a player, I've found "You can't see any such thing" more
jarring:

You are in an office. There is a desk with a coffee cup on it,
and a pot plant stands in a corner.
> X POT PLANT


You can't see any such thing

yoinks me right out of immersion, because the writing has directly
contradicted itself. On the other hand,

> X ELEPHANT
Nothing special

isn't, because you did the yoinking yourself when you tried to examine
something that wasn't there.

I've seen something like "That's either not here, or something that
isn't important," in Photopia I think, but I find that message a little
too windy.

None of this is an excuse not to implement scenery, of course.

To not quite answer the question you did ask, I agree that "You can see
no such thing" is less ugly - taking out the 'can' would make it less
ugly still - but I don't know if there is any reason "You can't see any
such thing" is used.
--
Robin Johnson
rj at robinjohnson dot f9 dot co dot uk
http://rdouglasjohnson.blogspot.com - http://www.versificator.co.uk

Mike Snyder

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:07:11 AM11/21/06
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"Jacek Pudlo" <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote in message
news:SqE8h.23891$E02....@newsb.telia.net...
> "J. J. Guest"

>
> X HANDS
>
> You can't see any such thing.
>
>
> I prefer "It's not here or you can't see it or it's not important."

How about the more honest "I don't know (or You don't need to use) the word
HANDS." ? I'm not sure which IF language that's a default for -- TADS,
maybe? I'd have to look at some transcripts. I don't know if I like that
better, personally. It's another way of not recognizing the word, but it has
a more game-like feel than the others.

--- Mike.


Mike Snyder

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:13:04 AM11/21/06
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"Robin Johnson" <r...@robinjohnson.f9.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1164121259....@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com...
>
> > X ELEPHANT
> Nothing special

I got smacked for that kind of thing in my DOS games. The criticism there is
did the game really understand the word, or didn't it? It's a short form of
"you see nothing special about the elephant", and I think players who are
familiar with the longer version will read that into the shorter version.

A couple other responses I've seen -- maybe in Hugo:

"You haven't encountered any "elephant"."
"You haven't seen anything like that."

Any of these are wrong if the thing *is* present and just not implemented,
of course.

---- Mike.


Robin Johnson

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:12:44 AM11/21/06
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The player will realise that that's what the game means anyway, so I
don't think there's any need to switch suddenly from a story to a game
in order to say it outright. What's needed is the least ugly, least
immersion-breaking way of saying *something* that the player will come
to understand as "okay, that's not implemented".

"You can't see any such thing" fails on immersion - you have almost
certainly just been told that you can see some such thing - and Jacek's
suggestion fails on ugliness, in my opinion.

Mike Snyder

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:18:26 AM11/21/06
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"Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> wrote in message news:qFE8h.45437> A

couple other responses I've seen -- maybe in Hugo:
>
> "You haven't encountered any "elephant"."
> "You haven't seen anything like that."

Correction (because I just checked). Hugo has four different default
messages, depending on the situation. As far as I can tell from a quick
check:

For a word that doesn't exist in the game at all:
>x blah
You don't need to use the word "blah".

For an object that exists, but hasn't been encountered yet:
>x key


You haven't seen anything like that.

For scenery that exists, but hasn't been encountered yet:
>x windmill
You haven't encountered anything like that.

For objects or scenery that have been encountered, but aren't here:
>x house
You don't see that.

---- Mike.


Robin Johnson

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:17:32 AM11/21/06
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Mike Snyder wrote:

> A couple other responses I've seen -- maybe in Hugo:
>
> "You haven't encountered any "elephant"."
> "You haven't seen anything like that."
>
> Any of these are wrong if the thing *is* present and just not implemented,
> of course.

But isn't that the most likely situation, since the player is trying to
examine the thing?

Mike Snyder

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:26:38 AM11/21/06
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"Robin Johnson" <r...@robinjohnson.f9.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1164122252.7...@b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...

> Mike Snyder wrote:
>
> > A couple other responses I've seen -- maybe in Hugo:
> >
> > "You haven't encountered any "elephant"."
> > "You haven't seen anything like that."
> >
> > Any of these are wrong if the thing *is* present and just not
implemented,
> > of course.
>
> But isn't that the most likely situation, since the player is trying to
> examine the thing?

Maybe. Typos are likely too. If I type "x housse" by mistake (and don't
notice -- not a good example, but that's the idea), then I wouldn't want to
be told that it looks ordinary if in fact there is something important about
the actual "house". If I don't catch the mistake, I might not try again for
a while, thereby missing something important. On this point, I might rather
be told that "housse" isn't a word I need to use. Granted, if the game has a
house and it's not implemented, I'd probably see the same thing. But, I'm
not sure that's a bad thing for my understanding of what's implemented and
what's not.

When I was beta-testing Legion, there were things that would tell me "you
don't need to refer to that" -- leading me to believe I didn't need to refer
to that thing in any situation. It turns out that certain verbs *would*
work, and I remember that being a bit of a frustration. The important thing
is probably to be consistent, and have rules that make sense. Players should
be able to know the difference between typos, things that just aren't
implemented, and things that are implemented but are not present. I'm not
sure there is a good way to tell the different between the first two.

--- Mike.


Mike Snyder

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:29:20 AM11/21/06
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"Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> wrote in message news:8SE8h.45474

> Players should
> be able to know the difference between typos, things that just aren't
> implemented, and things that are implemented but are not present. I'm not
> sure there is a good way to tell the different between the first two.

I take that back. There is a way. The author has to implement *everything*,
at least to say "that's not important". Then, everything else is the
player's typo.

--- Mike.


Cumberland Games & Diversions

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:38:38 AM11/21/06
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> How about the more honest "I don't know (or You don't need to use) the word
> HANDS." ?

I prefer more honest responses, too. "I'm not sure what you're
referring to / I don't know what that word means / You don't need to
use the word 'elbow' to complete this story / I am but a humbler parser
and you have flummoxed me", et multiple cetera.

One of my key projects, now, before moving on to developing my next
Inform 7 work beyond the "scribblings in a spiral notebook" stage, is
making extensive use of David Fisher's extension(s) for rewriting
standard responses ...

> I'm not sure which IF language that's a default for -- TADS,
> maybe? I'd have to look at some transcripts. I don't know if I like that
> better, personally. It's another way of not recognizing the word, but it has
> a more game-like feel than the others.

I'm but a humble newbie and know nothing of TADS (or even much of
Inform, yet) but that sort of response was common in a lot of the
Infocom titles (at least, in their later releases ... not sure about
the earliest ones). Some responses to "examine the elbow" in a few
games:

Wishbringer: (Sorry, but this story doesn't recognize the word
"elbow.")
Zork I: I don't know the world "elbow".
Zork III: I don't know the word "elbow."
AMFV: (I don't know the word "elbow.")

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:39:33 AM11/21/06
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Here, Neil Cerutti <hor...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> ...or the standard response, which some think deters the
> deplorable practice of cheating-by-querying-the-dictionary.

It's not really the cheating that annoys me. It's that the player
types "x house" and gets "I don't know the word 'house'", whereas "x
roof" produces "You don't see that here", and then what the hell? The
parser is being inconsistent. Can't you fix that?

Tracking objects the player has seen is a cute idea, but expensive --
you're tagging words as "known" every time they appear in scope. And
if the player walked past a roof two hours ago without really
noticing, the inconsistency returns.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
If the Bush administration hasn't thrown you in military prison without trial,
it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not because you're an American.

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:41:59 AM11/21/06
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Here, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Here, Neil Cerutti <hor...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > ...or the standard response, which some think deters the
> > deplorable practice of cheating-by-querying-the-dictionary.
>
> It's not really the cheating that annoys me.

Ok, I admit, the (potential for) cheating does annoy me.

Jacek Pudlo

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:48:37 AM11/21/06
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Mike Snyder

> "Jacek Pudlo" <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote in message
> news:SqE8h.23891$E02....@newsb.telia.net...
>> "J. J. Guest"
>>
>> X HANDS
>>
>> You can't see any such thing.
>>
>>
>> I prefer "It's not here or you can't see it or it's not important."
>
> How about the more honest "I don't know (or You don't need to use) the
> word
> HANDS."

Or even more honestly: "The word HANDS is not in the game's vocabulary."
More honestly still: "Probably because the author was too lazy to implement
it."

Immersion-wise, the problem here is that the game divulges too much of its
mechanics. Not only is the player informed of the absence of the object in a
partical location, but s/he is also told that no such object exists in the
*entire* game. Wanna find out if there are squirrels in the game? Just type
X SQUIRREL, at any moment, in any location. This is TADS's regrettable
strategy.

> ? I'm not sure which IF language that's a default for -- TADS,
> maybe?

Yepp.

> I'd have to look at some transcripts. I don't know if I like that
> better, personally. It's another way of not recognizing the word, but it
> has
> a more game-like feel than the others.

Game-like as in lets-not-pretend-this-isn't-a-game?


Robin Johnson

> "You can't see any such thing" fails on immersion - you have almost
> certainly just been told that you can see some such thing - and Jacek's
> suggestion fails on ugliness, in my opinion.

But attractive nonetheless. Its ugliness says, "I don't care if I'm pretty
or not. I have a message to convey, and I'm conveying it as clearly and
unambigously as I possibly can." Its uncompromising honesty reminds me of
myself. But I digress.


Cumberland Games & Diversions

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Nov 21, 2006, 10:55:28 AM11/21/06
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> Immersion-wise, the problem here is that the game divulges too much of its
> mechanics.

This is why I like versions of "I'm not sure what you're referring to"
most of all, especially if it's used for multiple kinds of errors
(object not present, object not in vocab, etc).

Neil Cerutti

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Nov 21, 2006, 11:26:17 AM11/21/06
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On 2006-11-21, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Here, Neil Cerutti <hor...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> ...or the standard response, which some think deters the
>> deplorable practice of cheating-by-querying-the-dictionary.
>
> It's not really the cheating that annoys me. It's that the
> player types "x house" and gets "I don't know the word
> 'house'", whereas "x roof" produces "You don't see that here",
> and then what the hell? The parser is being inconsistent. Can't
> you fix that?

Interesting.

Sometimes a word is not in the dictionary, but nevertheless the
game can understand it in some circumstance. Hmm... and the
obverse.

The standard error message is a pretty good compromise. Hugo's
system is pretty neat, though.

--
Neil Cerutti

L. Ross Raszewski

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Nov 21, 2006, 11:48:10 AM11/21/06
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I think an even more accurate thing to say would be the painfully
baroque "Nothing you can see can be referred to like that." I can
imagine contexts in which "You don't need to use the word X" would be
misleading or wrong.

d...@pobox.com

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Nov 21, 2006, 12:21:12 PM11/21/06
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On Nov 21, 4:48 pm, lraszew...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote:
> On Tue, 21 Nov 2006 09:07:11 -0600, Mike Snyder <w...@prowler-pro.com> wrote:
> >"Jacek Pudlo" <j...@jacek.jacek> wrote in message


> >news:SqE8h.23891$E02....@newsb.telia.net...
> >> "J. J. Guest"
>
> >> X HANDS
>
> >> You can't see any such thing.
>
> >> I prefer "It's not here or you can't see it or it's not important."
>
> >How about the more honest "I don't know (or You don't need to use) the word
> >HANDS." ? I'm not sure which IF language that's a default for -- TADS,
> >maybe? I'd have to look at some transcripts. I don't know if I like that
> >better, personally. It's another way of not recognizing the word, but it has
> >a more game-like feel than the others.
>
> >--- Mike.
> I think an even more accurate thing to say would be the painfully
> baroque "Nothing you can see can be referred to like that." I can
> imagine contexts in which "You don't need to use the word X" would be
> misleading or wrong.

Makes Scott Adams' response "CAN'T" seem like an economical wonder.

drj

Jacek Pudlo

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Nov 21, 2006, 12:57:49 PM11/21/06
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<d...@pobox.com>

I'm extending my suggestion to "It's not here or you can't see it or it's
not important or it's not a word or it's too vague." The last two provisions
provide for X DFGHJ and X SOMETHING, the last one of which I've always found
immensely immersion-jarring. Any suggestions to further elongate the
sentence? I'm not kidding -- I want this to be as precise and accurate as
humanly possible.

Neil Cerutti

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Nov 21, 2006, 1:04:28 PM11/21/06
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On 2006-11-21, L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
> I think an even more accurate thing to say would be the
> painfully baroque "Nothing you can see can be referred to like
> that." I can imagine contexts in which "You don't need to use
> the word X" would be misleading or wrong.

That's seems to be what I've been groping for. Nice!

--
Neil Cerutti

Richard Bos

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Nov 21, 2006, 5:19:59 PM11/21/06
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"Robin Johnson" <r...@robinjohnson.f9.co.uk> wrote:

> J. J. Guest wrote:
>
> > Does anyone else find the Inform library message "You can't see any
> > such thing" rather ugly? Is there some grammatical or semantic reason
> > why it was chosen over the simpler "You can see no such thing"?
>
> To answer not quite the question you asked, I use "Nothing special"
> instead.
>
> This was the standard message in the two games that first got me in to
> IF did ("Humbug" and "Jaccaranda Jim" by Graham Cluley), and ever
> since, as a player, I've found "You can't see any such thing" more
> jarring:
>
> You are in an office. There is a desk with a coffee cup on it,
> and a pot plant stands in a corner.
> > X POT PLANT
> You can't see any such thing
>
> yoinks me right out of immersion, because the writing has directly
> contradicted itself. On the other hand,
>
> > X ELEPHANT
> Nothing special
>
> isn't, because you did the yoinking yourself when you tried to examine
> something that wasn't there.

The problem with that comes when the player types "TAKE ELEPHANT". "You
can't see any such thing" is a correct response to that; "Nothing
special" is nonsensical.

Richard

Robin Johnson

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Nov 21, 2006, 5:48:47 PM11/21/06
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Richard Bos wrote:
> "Robin Johnson" <r...@robinjohnson.f9.co.uk> wrote:
> > > X ELEPHANT
> > Nothing special

>
> The problem with that comes when the player types "TAKE ELEPHANT". "You
> can't see any such thing" is a correct response to that; "Nothing
> special" is nonsensical.

Well, "Nothing special" is only for examining: the response to TAKE
ELEPHANT - in my Javascript system, and, I think, in the games that I
was most trying to imitate the feel of - is "Sorry, you can't get
that". For any other recognised verb it is "Sorry, you can't do that",
although "That's not something you can eat" is probably better.

As a player, I prefer these to "You can't see any such thing" for the
same reasons.

If I release games written in 'proper' IF languages in future, I'll
probably change the default responses to things like this anyway. If an
artist goes against his own judgement, he's lost.

bogus6...@mailinator.com

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Nov 22, 2006, 9:26:11 PM11/22/06
to

Honesty is not the same as truthfulness.
The game is being _honest_ when it tells you such a thing, but it is at
times not _true_ (for example, if the author forgot to include a
synonym).

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