Interacting with Backdrops

Backdrops seem to be fickle things. I’m using a backdrop to represent a thing I want to be present in several rooms at once, which as I understand it is what they’re for. I also know you can look at a backdrop and get a description. So for instance if my backdrop is the water. From any room where it’s present, I can say “look at the water” and get the description of the water. I made sure this works, I’ve tested it.

The problem comes when I want one room to behave differently. In one room I have “Instead of looking at the water”, and it’s telling me “Problem. You wrote ‘Instead of looking at the water’, which seems to introduce a rule taking effect only if the action is ‘looking at the water’. But that did not make sense as a description of an action. I am unable to place this rule into any rulebook. See the manual: 7.1 > 7.1.Actions”

So it knows what to do when I tell it to look at the backdrop, but then if I say instead of looking at the backdrop it goes “Woah, woah, what do you mean, ‘look at the backdrop’?” Am I missing something here? Is there a better way to accomplish this?

The name of the action is “examining”, not “looking at”. Each action only has one internal name in Inform for simplicity’s sake, which all others map to. So “look at”, “examine”, “x”, etc all map to the “examining” action.

To find out the official internal name of the action you’re trying to write a rule for, you can either look at the Index under Actions or go to your game, type “actions,” and then type your command, like this:

Instead of examining the water when the location is Top of Tower: say "From up here, the water looks more greenish than bluish like in every other area."; rule succeeds.


The water is a backdrop.  It is everywhere.  The description is "[if the location is Top of Tower]It actually looks kind of greenish from up here.[otherwise]It looks kind of bluish.[end if]"