Discussions about interactive fiction

Should containers list contents when examined?

More a playing preference than anything else for a WIP.

How do people feel about examining a sack object (in Inform terms) and
being given a description but not a list of contents?  This is the default
behaviour, but would people prefer having Examine return a list of the
contents, in addition to the "search" or "look in" verbs?


Michael Coyne

http://turthalion.blogspot.com

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posted by admin in Uncategorized and have Comments (4)

4 Responses to “Should containers list contents when examined?”

  1. admin says:

    On Dec 2, 10:11 am, "Michael Coyne" <coyn…@mtsDOT.net> wrote:

    > More a playing preference than anything else for a WIP.

    > How do people feel about examining a sack object (in Inform terms) and
    > being given a description but not a list of contents?  This is the default
    > behaviour, but would people prefer having Examine return a list of the
    > contents, in addition to the "search" or "look in" verbs?

    > —
    > Michael Coynehttp://turthalion.blogspot.com

    I would prefer that in most cases, yes. It’s like examining a note –
    it should tell you what it says, not just what it looks like.

    In certain circumstances, it’d be good to be careful about this
    behavior, though, particularly if the container has to be open in
    order to see what’s in it. I could envision something like a magic
    lamp or a vial full of poison gas that you wouldn’t want to
    automatically open upon examination.

    ~Reiko

  2. admin says:

    On Tue, 02 Dec 2008 16:11:27 GMT, "Michael Coyne" <coyn…@mtsDOT.net>
    wrote:

    >How do people feel about examining a sack object (in Inform terms) and
    >being given a description but not a list of contents?  This is the default
    >behaviour, but would people prefer having Examine return a list of the
    >contents, in addition to the "search" or "look in" verbs?

    A related topic: a display case. You can see into the case even if it is
    closed and locked.

    When you look into the room, should it list the contents of the display case
    or do you have to specifically look at the display case?

    Jeffrey McArthur
    cell: 610-389-0734
    home: 610-450-6115
    email: jeffmcart…@comcast.net
    http://www.jeffreymcarthur.com

  3. admin says:

    Here, Jeffrey McArthur <jeffmcart…@comcast.net> wrote:

    > On Tue, 02 Dec 2008 16:11:27 GMT, "Michael Coyne" <coyn…@mtsDOT.net>
    > wrote:

    > >How do people feel about examining a sack object (in Inform terms) and
    > >being given a description but not a list of contents?  This is the default
    > >behaviour, but would people prefer having Examine return a list of the
    > >contents, in addition to the "search" or "look in" verbs?

    Since it’s a sack object, I would absolutely want a list of contents.

    (Terminology: the Inform "sack object" is the container that you
    automatically put inventory items into, if the game has an inventory
    limit. Therefore, everything in there is stuff that the protagonist
    *put* there, but the player *didn’t* — it’s a knowledge division
    which shouldn’t exist, and so the game ought to lean in the direction
    of healing it whenever possible.)

    > A related topic: a display case. You can see into the case even if
    > it is closed and locked.

    > When you look into the room, should it list the contents of the
    > display case or do you have to specifically look at the display
    > case?

    I say that depends on how prominent and how important the case’s
    contents are, in the overall room experience. (Note "prominent" and
    "important" are different criteria.)

    - If it’s just a little display case over on the side, and you’re only
    going to interact with it a couple of times in the game, then don’t
    display the contents.

    - If it’s the most interesting thing in the room when you first walk
    in, but you’re not going to mess with it constantly, then you might
    *mention* the contents but not detail them — attract the player to
    examine the case. (Interactivity is good, if it doesn’t get
    repetitive.)

    - If the case is a constant feature of gameplay (like the Zork 1
    trophy case), then detail the contents in the room description.

    –Z


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

  4. admin says:

    On Tue, 02 Dec 2008 18:43:24 +0000, Andrew Plotkin said to the parser:

    > Here, Jeffrey McArthur <jeffmcart…@comcast.net> wrote:
    >> On Tue, 02 Dec 2008 16:11:27 GMT, "Michael Coyne" <coyn…@mtsDOT.net>
    >> wrote:

    >> >How do people feel about examining a sack object (in Inform terms) and
    >> >being given a description but not a list of contents?  This is the default
    >> >behaviour, but would people prefer having Examine return a list of the
    >> >contents, in addition to the "search" or "look in" verbs?

    > Since it’s a sack object, I would absolutely want a list of contents.
    > [snip]

    Thanks everybody for the input, I’m going with printing the description
    of the sack object, followed by spitting out the contents (when it’s open,
    of course).

    On with the coding…


    Michael Coyne

    http://turthalion.blogspot.com

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