Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
seem to be working fine with no side effects. You're pumped
and ready to kill some bugs for God, planet and country.
>
￿
You are carrying:
a combat suit (being worn)
a waterproof boots (being worn)
a helmet (being worn)
a set of night vision goggles (being worn)
a belt of ammo clips (being worn)
a backpack (being worn and closed)
Charlene
You get up to speed pretty quickly by examining yourself and then looking at what
you're carrying (and wearing). The order of the inventory isn't accidental, either.
Controlling when items are mentioned in lists and descriptions is one of the ways an
IF author can draw attention to the more interactive items. Here, all of the combat
gear tends to group into a collective, since it all kind of looks the same, and rightfully
so. Then comes a surprise, “Charlene”—what?
>
￿ ￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿
This is Charlene, your plasma rifle.
You know every dent and
scratch on her curved metal body.
>
￿￿￿￿￿￿ ￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿
You prefer to polish Charlene in the privacy of your
quarters.
There was a recent argument on the newsgroup as to whether players should now
feel obligated to type “x me” and “i” (“inventory”—the command for listing one's
possessions) at the start of the game even if they'd rather do other things because they
might “miss out” on information the author intends them to know—and, conversely,
whether authors are now obligated to make sure those commands print something
useful because many players now are trained to try them automatically.
I usually come down on the side of letting authors do what they like and tell their
stories however they want to, but, as a player, I think I lose a tiny amount of faith in
the author when I type “x me” and see the generic result, which is, “You look about
the same as always.”
As for how you write the code to do this, the player character in IF games is
always, at a basic level, just another game object like everything else and has a de-
scription property just like everything else. It can also be conditional and change
based on variables. The PC might go through a bunch of different looks as the story
wears on. And I note, one more time, that “x me” is by nature a reflexive action:
it's the character giving his own self-assessment, describing himself, which is a deeply
subjective act. There have been a few experiments in having unreliable narrators in IF
(I'd tell you what they are, but that would constitute spoilers, wouldn't it?)—stories
where seeing the world from that particular PC's perspective leads the player to make
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