Discussions about interactive fiction

Archive for June, 2012

allowing actions only on the second attempt

My WIP includes a number of actions which the PC would rather not take.
In my original design, if the player tried to take one of these actions,
the PC would object, but if the player tried again, she would give in.
Since most of these actions change the plot significantly (or
occasionally end the game prematurely) it seemed like a good way to ask
the player, "Are you *sure* you want to do that?" without it coming
across too much like "Are you *sure* you want to take this Important
Game-Changing Decision?"

Since then, though, I’ve heard a few things which made me reconsider. I
think I remember Emily Short saying somewhere that she used this
technique in Metamorphoses, and it was problematic – people assumed that
the first refusal was a complete refusal, and didn’t think to try again.
Also, I think I recently read a complaint from a player about a game
that did this.

So I tried cutting the first refusals from my WIP, but I’m not
comfortable with it. It bothers me that a player could just be poking at
things and make an Important Game-Changing Decision perhaps without even
realising that s/he made any decision at all. Besides, the PC is already
enough of an Everygirl.

So I’m not sure what to do. I could use yes/no questions to check
whether the player is sure s/he wants to do that, but I really don’t
like that idea; it seems to me to give far too much weight to the
decision. (This is not a game where the fate of the world is at stake –
far from it.) Or I could allow the action first time, but note the PC’s
attitude towards it, so that the player gets a gentle hint that s/he has
done something important and can undo if s/he wants to. This could work.
It covers the PC characterisation issue, anyway. Or I could go back to
my original plan, which is what I’m leaning towards at the moment.

So. Any advice? Which of these possibilities do you think would be best?
And, supposing I did go with my original plan, what would be the best
way to let the player know s/he could try again? Writing the refusals in
such a way that they don’t sound final would be important, of course. I
could mention it in the About text, but not all players read the About
text. Any other ideas?


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[Tads3] Autosave update

I have just uploaded an update to my TADS 3 extension "Autosave" to the
IF-Archive.  It should eventually find its way to the
"if-archive/programming/tads3/library/contributions" directory, where it
will replace the current version.

Autosave is a module that allows the player to restore the game to an
earlier state determined by the game itself, like "undo", except that the
story is brought back to a specific point rather than one turn backwards.

This update is a cosmetic one.  Previously, the player was always asked for
confirmation before restoring an auto-saved position, whether the restore
was requested via a an end-of-game option or via a regular game command.  In
this version, the end-of-game option no longer asks for confirmation,
consistently with the behavior of the other end-of-game options predefined
in the Adv3 Library.

Thanks to Greg Boettcher for suggesting this improvement.


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I7-Glulx: Animation extension + multimedia examples

I have recently finished an update to my Graphical Window Animation
extension for Inform 7 Glulx, as well as a few examples that show the
extension in use. Because the examples are multimedia, I have put made
them available for download at:


I will probably submit the package to the IF Archive when I7 reaches
the public release stage, but for now sendspace seems like a good

The Graphical Window Animation extension allows an author to animate
images in a Glulx graphics window, using Inform 7′s new-ish list
capabilities to create "reels" that allow for flexible definition of
image sequences.

The examples I’ve put up for download show how to code simple event-
driven animations, maps that animate the player’s comings and goings,
animations that run the entire time that a player is in a room, and
the use of sprites (images overlaid over a background), including very
basic display of animated sprites using a coordinate system.

I work on Mac OS X and haven’t been able to do much testing on Windows
or other platforms, so any feedback about performance on various
interpreters would be of great interest. Likewise, I haven’t yet
submitted the extension to the extensions librarian, so for the next
few days, this also serves as a beta for the extension, should anyone
wish to try it out.

Finally, thanks to Mike Tarbert, JDC, and vaporware for their help
with concrete coding ideas and explanations related to this version of
the extension!

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I7: Namespace conflict

I don’t know if this is really a namespace problem; I’m using the term
loosely. It’s a terminology problem, let’s put it that way.

I drafted a long message about this, but it would make your eyes cross,
so let’s cut to the chase. I need to have backdrops called "left" and
"right", which are present everywhere, and I also need to use "left" and
"right" as possible values for a value called table-position, which is
then used as a property of some widgets (as shown in Example 45) and
allows the widgets to be referred to as "the left widget" or "the right

The compiler doesn’t want to do that.

I’ve tried a couple of kludgy workarounds, and they wouldn’t compile
either, so I’m stuck. How can I arm-wrestle the compiler into letting me
use the words "left" and "right" in the two separate ways that I need to?


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I7: Printed Names In Lists

I have a character whose description is along these lines: "Bob is a
tall man wearing [a list of things worn by Bob]."

As it happens, Bob is wearing several things, one of which is not
normally considered a garment. He’s wearing a rubber chicken on his
head. But the output created by the lister is, "Bob is a tall man
wearing bermuda shorts, a Che Guevara tee-shirt, and a rubber chicken."

I tried modifying the printed name of the rubber chicken as "rubber
chicken[if the rubber chicken is worn by Bob] on his head", but that
didn’t work. Evidently it’s not the printed name that’s used by this
listing rule. So how can I cause the listing rule to modify its mention
of the rubber chicken?



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How to use single-letter keyboard input in I7

Well, I tried, I really did. I checked out DM4 and look a good long
heavy look at Emily Short’s "Menus" extension, figuring "Hey, it uses
single-key navigational arrow input. What I want *has* to be in there
somewhere." I’m sure it is, but I give up, I can’t seem to *get* it.

What I’d like is a way to navigate the map using the keypad (*not* the
nav arrows), similar to Beyond Zork. This is because I’ve set up a
nice, toggleable, ASCII automap, and as long as it’s open, navigation
with the keypad seems much more comfortable and natural.

To show my ineptness in this general area, here’s the little tibdit
I’d come up with:

To decide what number is the chosen letter:
        (- GetKey() -)

Every turn when the chosen letter is 153: try going north.

What I’d *really* like, of course, is an extension faciliating the use
of keypad, function keys, and etc, but that’ll have to wait until
someone who feels like doing it comes along. In the meantime, could
anyone tell me how do I achieve the keypad navigation thing?

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history question: what was the first IF to support UNDO?

From the spotty documentation that comes with "Lost Treasures of
Infocom", Beyond Zork appeared to support UNDO in 1987, but I can’t
find anything earlier.  Anything before that?


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Potentially good idea for if game?

I was wondering if this has been done before, a game where you
interact with the player character as though he/she were an
independent person, so it’s in first person rather than second person,
and if they don’t think whatever you’ve suggested is a good idea or
whatever they might just not do it, I’m pretty new to if, so I have no
idea how complicated programming such a game would be (or any game,
for that matter) but I think if done well it could be really


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