I’m very new and have just started working on my first game, but I’m having difficulty doing something which I feel should be quite simple.
When describing a room, Inform also lists all of the objects in the room, and all of the objects on this objects, leading to long and cluttered descriptions of the room. Is there any way I can turn some of this off?
Ideally I would like the room description to be present upon entering a room, the objects to be listed when examining the room, and the objects on/in other objects (the books on the bookshelf) to be listed when examining the container/surface.
It seems weird to walk into a room and be told not only is there a bookshelf, but what books are on it before you’ve looked.
I would advise against concealing the objects present until you examine the room; the standard way for the player to look at what’s in the room itself is through the “look” command, which simply prints the room description. If your room is called (say) The Library, very few players will think of typing “x library.”
Making them examine things that are discussed in the room description is usually fair game, though. If your supporters are scenery (see section 3.8), then you can just remove the rule that makes the room description print the things that are on scenery supporters, thus:
The describe what's on scenery supporters in room descriptions rule is not listed in any rulebook.
If you have supporters that aren’t scenery, then I think this should work:
Rule for printing the name of a supporter when listing nondescript items:
say "[printed name of the item described]";
omit contents in listing.
See sections 17.10 and 17.23 for more about what’s happening there. Something similar should work for containers, I think.
You should be a little careful about this – players have been known to get annoyed when the room description lists a table but not a plot-critical vase that’s on the table, when the vase is in plain sight too.
I’ll look into that, thanks.
It seems that simply marking things as scenery may be what I was after. I had not discovered ‘scenery’ yet.
Definitely look into the documentation for scenery – the idea is that, if something’s non-portable and it’s already mentioned in the room description, you don’t want it to show up again after the description. If you make it scenery, it won’t get one of those little paragraphs.
This doesn’t work so well for things that can move around, since you don’t want to bake them into the room description; you can’t write a room description that says “Three glowing orbs are in the middle of the floor” if the player can take the orbs. But there are other things you can do here; you can look at “writing a paragraph about” (section 17.22) which helps you lump the portable objects together in interesting ways, and also the initial appearance of an object (section 3.11) which determines what the game says about a portable object in the room description before you pick it up.
You might also want to look into Emily Short’s extensions Room Description Control and Single Paragraph Description, though I’ve never used them.
ETA: Whoops, posted without seeing your last one.
Rule for listing nondescript items: do nothing.
should make that list disappear, I think. But it’s a pretty radical solution.
You need to be sure to mention anything that needs mention (i.e. most anything) in your room descriptions!
As mattw remarked, that can be tricky if the player moves things around …
Use brief room descriptions.
will force the player to LOOK to see the room description of rooms they have been in before.