A tutorial lost?

Hey all,

I’ve been working on room descriptions lately. It’s been fun, but I now feel the need for a fresh perspective. I caught a few references to a tutorial written by Jeff Nyman which dealt exclusively with the subject. However, I can’t seem to find the actual article. Is it still available online in some shape or form? I believe it might be tremendously beneficial to newbies such as I, particularly when it comes to the creation of dynamic rooms.

A quick Google search revealed little, aside from the fact that the genuinetesting.com domain has been down for some time. I would email Mr. Nyman about this myself, but I’m aware that many of the big names in the community have little enough time as it is. More to the point, he still has a blog, and may have deliberately taken it off the web, in which case a reminder might be seen as nagging.

Does anyone know?

I posted a request over at raif for you. The thread is here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/browse_thread/thread/145b79963dfaee32#. I would have just emailed Jeff, but I’m not sure he uses that gmail account. I don’t know him personally, but from what I do know, I’m sure he wouldn’t consider it “nagging.” :slight_smile:

Wow, thanks! You certainly didn’t have to go to such lengths, but I’m certainly grateful for it.

Now, while I wait for him to reply, I think I’ll do my best to make every mistake there is on the subject, so as to… uh… “learn by doing.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry I don’t have anything helpful to add, but modifying the default way room descriptions work is a headache-inducing experience (or at least I found it to be so). Please keep us all updated if you come across any novel techniques in your research into the issue, as I for one would certainly be interested in reading anything new rather than trying to study the abstruse “Activities” chapter of the Inform manual for the 7034th time. :slight_smile:

Oh, I’ll definitely do that. I may have hit upon a few techniques already while brainstorming, but my greatest worry is that the source might end up being too elaborate for a useful forum post.

OTOH, if that is the case I could just PM it to whoever feels curiosity on the matter. Blithely assuming it’ll work at all, of course. :stuck_out_tongue:

Is the Recipe Book material on this topic unhelpful (under Place > Room Descriptions)? This is an area that I’ve revised a bunch of times, because what it’s trying to explain is so complex, but further feedback is welcome.


That page’s been helpful, to a point. It’s certainly let me glean a basic understanding. Still, I feel it tries to explain too much in too small a space. The information, while densely packed, also gives a meandering impression to me: it mentions a lot of things, but seems to avoid going into detail. I’m left slightly overwhelmed as well as wondering whether it’s all an introduction to further in-depth explanation.

Also, given my limited experience with I7, I’m hard-pressed to distil the techniques of these mostly rather specific examples into generic code. I feel strong unease at the notion of starting in on a project featuring functionality I can’t abstract and reuse as needed. The first few times I read through the Low Light example, for instance, it left me convinced that it would require each object in the location to have its own actions and hand-coded functionality. I’ve since slowly begun working out how this might not be the cause.

Of these examples, Copper River was probably the most useful. It sold me on the possibility of elegant, reusable techniques for overarching control of descriptions. Since everything with Inform is still quite new and different to me, it was reassuring knowing what’s possible and what isn’t. Without knowing which of my ingrained principles I can rely on, I doubt I’d be able to code anything.

Plus, of course, Copper River was funny.

A caveat to my critique seems necessary: I have ADD, or attention-deficit disorder, so I have a hard time parsing a multitude of seemingly unrelated facts. Indeed the natural language approach seems in some ways to be quite the challenge to me. It may be that the manual works well as it is, but simply teaches in a way that gives me difficulty absorbing its lessons.

You should also check out Jim Aikin’s The Inform 7 Handbook.

As you say, it too is a good book, and I’ve been reading it off and on these last weeks. I took to it easier in some ways, but I still feel it’s overly wedded to the idea of world-building by exception (i.e. reliance on Instead rules and unique behaviour).
Mainly, however, I think I’m not so much having trouble with these book as just looking for yet another perspective. I usually learn much by watching how different people approach a task, which usually helps in illuminating the dimensions of a given problem as well.

Gah. After reading my latest posts here, I fear I’ve sounded like a bit of a pretentious code monkey at times. If so, it wasn’t my intention.
While I enjoy programming, I’m aware that Inform isn’t TADS3 (which I hear can hold its own, I’m not knocking it) so I’m really not trying to bring it closer to C++ (or into a shiny ever-complex mechanical toy, for that matter). And while I don’t know I7 all that well, as far as I can tell its main strength (related, yes, to its natural language) lies in giving a writer the tools to describe the world and the game as opposed to coding it, largely untroubled by what happens under the hood.
I like that. Creating a person by saying “this is a person” is difficult to beat in terms of brevity and precision.