Do you use the word "it" when playing IF adventure games?

I never used to, but I picked up the habit after watching a friend always use ‘it’ when playing. I suppose it saves a few seconds typing.

Occasionally. Not with any consistency.

I always do. Same for “him,” “her” and “them.”

I use pronouns almost all the time.

Pretty frequently.

Not too often. “Him” and “her” probably more.

All the time: “x book”, “take it” would be a completely standard series of commands for me.

All the time. Except for “them”, because I’ve noticed many authors implement a plural-type object (like “cabinets”) as singular. The sequence often goes “x cabinets [get description]. open them [game doesn’t know what the pronoun is set to]. open it [cabinets are opened].”

I use pronouns these days, after I noticed other people doing it.

During last IFComp, I received transcripts of my game where I saw people playing using pronouns all the time (Emerald from this thread was one of them). As a programmer who’d never thought about them before, that made me go ‘Holy crap!’ — and I now start to at least have pronoun issues on my mind when I start programming a game. Because they don’t take care of themselves 100% on their own, and if you’ve given them no thought, you might have to later do a pass over your whole game looking for places where they might not be working optimally.

A good example of what you may have to attend to manually if you are really dotting your I’s is as per what Peter said while I was typing my message: If you want your game to be totally on the ball, you will most likely need to attend to overlapping singular/plural cases yourself. This could consist of making sure plural objects really are plural so that ‘them’ is set correctly, or maybe tucking hidden singular versions of the object into the room, too.

  • Wade

I suppose that’s compounded by the fact that you may create cabinet as an alias for cabinets.

I guess it makes sense that Emerald is most likely to use “It.”

But yeah, pronouns don’t really come naturally to me, I just picked up on them because I see them popping up in other folks’ transcripts. Which is probably healthy, because if I ever program something big I’ll need to take them into account more than I would if I were just following my natural playing style.

BTW, I think the out-of-the-box solution for overlapping singular/plural cases is to use Emily Short’s Plurality and make the object “ambiguously plural.”


Well, in Inform 7, anyways.

I’m not even sure how often I use pronouns. That is not something I tend to think about as I type commands, although I know that I do use them from time to time. I also use “him” and “her” for NPCs.

My command prompt habits are probably confused, because I play boths MUDs and IF. Every so often in an IF game, I forget that I’m not playing a MUD and enter a command like “REM COAT” or “PUT PEN DRAWER”. (Almost all MUDs allow at least the verbs to be abbreviated, and prepositions like “in” are optional.) Then, when I’m playing a MUD, I will forget that I’m not playing IF and use a pronoun.

Pronouns are a nuisance. I use Plurality because many of my objects turn out to be ambiguously plural. Fact is, at The 700th Object you start losing your will to test everything.

I rarely use pronouns when playing. Only while testing.

Here’s a peripheral question. Back in the I6 era, Inform developed the habit of setting pronouns every time you do “look” or “inventory” – “it” becomes the last item listed. I never liked this and hacked it out of some of my games (but not all of them).

The “standard” (i.e. 1980s) convention is for “it” to refer to the last thing the player typed, not the last thing the game referred to. What do people think of this change? Are you even aware of it?

I certainly am. And I much prefer the standard convention.

I did notice that in I7 that secondary setting of pronouns (last thing listed) is optional and can still be used. I find it a hindrance, and it would be more useful if the PLAYER rather than the AUTHOR could toggle it (much like verbose/brief).

Mind you, when Inform first started doing it, it was a cool feature. We’ve just learned from experience (well, some of us) that it hinders more than it helps.

Manual pronouns all the way.

Silly bug I just found when looking at the Plurality extension. With manual pronouns off, try “EXAMINE FLOWERS. EXAMINE TICKET. PRONOUNS. X IT” (says that “it” refers to the ticket, then has “x it” examine the flowers.)
Or “EXAMINE FLOWERS. X PAPERS. X THEM. PRONOUNS.” (“x them” meant the papers, but pronouns said “them” mean the flowers.)

They’re both caused by “pronouns” changing the values while it’s working.

Yeah? How? I can’t find it, and I’m looking at the library source code.

(I thought it was in there too. Maybe it went away in the past couple of releases?)

…Okay, this is more convoluted than I thought. I7 dropped the “use inventory to set pronouns” rule in 6E59. It retains the “set pronouns from items in room descriptions” rule, and a subsidiary bit of code that fires when doing one of those show-contents-of-a-supporter-in-the-room-description lists. Neither is conditional.

EDIT-ADD: I see an “ifdef MANUAL_PRONOUNS” in the PronounNoticeHeldObjects() function. But this function is deprecated, and nothing calls it. I imagine it was the utility behind the “use inventory to set pronouns” rule, which no longer exists.

Funny this should come up, it’s been discussed quite a few times. I find that they can be useful especially when there a object with long names. I go by the principle that if an object name has more than 6 letters in it the it needs a shorter synonym. These posts might be of interest.

You can set pronouns manually with this code.

To set the/-- pronoun it to (O - an object): (- SetPronoun('it',{O}); -). To set the/-- pronoun him to (O - an object): (- SetPronoun('him',{O}); -). To set the/-- pronoun her to (O - an object): (- SetPronoun('her',{O}); -). To set the/-- pronoun them to (O - an object): (- SetPronoun('them',{O}); -).

Then you can use this.

set the it pronoun to (the item); set the him pronoun to (the item); set the her pronoun to (the item); set the them pronoun to (the item);