Map and GO TO Preferences

Hey All–

So I have a rather large map in my game-- at least 40 locations, all known beforehand to the PC, mostly in a house laid out in a pretty easy grid. I love love love making my own maps; finding out what’s in the next room is one of my favorite things about playing IF. But I don’t think everybody does. Should I include a map of the game if players want to use it? Or not? What are everybody’s preferences here?

I’ve also considered implementing a GO TO command in such a large map, but there won’t be a lot of back and forth, y’know, like figure out on the first floor that you need the stuffed bear, then make 20 moves to the far corner of the third floor to get the bear, then back down to the first floor kitchen to put the bear in the blender. Oof, does that kind of play annoy me. I’ve gated the game pretty well so that you are restricted to smaller areas at first, then allowed to explore more, and I’ve kept later sections in pretty tight areas. So it feels like only pretty uncommitted players would need GO TO. But I could add it in if that’s a general preference.


include a map, yes.


Is this not a built-in thing? If it’s easy to add, then maybe add it. How does “go to” work when there’s something in the way. For example a troll that stops you crossing a bridge, or an electric floor that will kill you if stepped on.

1 Like

I really, really like having go to room and remember object to be told where I last saw it for a large game. I found their absence in Anchorhead pretty painful.

1 Like

Making a map is pretty straightforward nowadays, thanks to automappers like Trizbort. But, I think a pre-made map can also be a cool opportunity to set the tone, like the tourist map in Counterfeit Monkey.

So I’d say, include it if you want it to be a feelie and set the vibe of your world, but no need to include it if it’s just the default output from Inform or Trizbort. Players can make that kind of map themselves easily enough.

For GO TO, I appreciate having it as a general convenience, at least to visit already-known rooms.


That’s why it’s not a built-in thing. :) It’s easy if your game doesn’t have any barriers or significant movement rules. If the game does, you have to start thinking about it.

(HL required a lot of thinking. But that’s an extreme case.)

1 Like

I enjoy drawing my own maps. It’s all part of the adventuring experience. It’s also the best way to make sure that you’ve checked every exit. You can add notes and objects found there and so on. I wouldn’t use a map, even if it was provided.

However, I know that modern-day adventurers are lazy and they want everything given to them on a plate. So, they want maps and walkthroughs. So, give them maps and walkthroughs. Real adventurers (like me) won’t use them.

Regarding GO TO, I’ve never used it either as a player or an author. I think you’ll find that the same people that want GO TO are the same ones that don’t draw a map. If you’ve drawn a map, you don’t need GO TO. It’s certainly quicker and easier to type N.E.S.E than to type GO TO ENTRY FOYER. The latter means you have to create objects for all those locations (but you’ve probably done that anyway) and you have to implement path-finding algorithms and do all the checks for whether the location has been visited (you shouldn’t be able to go somewhere that you haven’t discovered in the current playing session) and barriers like doors and broken bridges and trolls and passages blocked by cave-ins and…

1 Like

Kids these days, amirite?

I don’t use maps or GO TO as a player either, but I also know that evolution is a thing and it’s OK to roll with change. So if a lot of people want those things, I’ll do it.


I really like the convenience of GO TO as a player, and I think it’s really useful to program it.

It brings up questions like “which areas are shut off? Which areas should be shut off?”

THerer are of course possibilities for exploits, but you can say

a room can be gotoable. a room is usually gotoable.

check gotoing a room:
    if noun is not visited, say "No." instead;
    if noun is not gotoable, say "No." instead;

If nothing else, I think it helped me grow as a programmer to write this feature.


I was thinking of having a MAP command and an in-game map. If I have time to make it. That seems most convenient.

I feel like for the sake of canon and player consistency, a map should be included, if it contains locations that the player character would already know. If anything, it’s handy to start my own mapping file with once the game begins.

If someone really like exploration, then they can pretend that their character has been afflicted with sudden spatial amnesia, and skip the included map.

I really love exploration, and would play a game without puzzles if it just had a bunch of cool places to find. However, if I’m getting context clues in-game that my character knows this environment better than I do, I’m gonna wonder why a map wasn’t included, even if I would enjoy exploring.

However, if there are locations that the player doesn’t know, then keep those off the map so I can excitedly clap my hands when I reach unknown areas! :smiley:

If you’re writing in Inform 7, Emily Short’s extension Approaches adds a GO TO command that takes into account obstructions like locked doors. I’ve used it in a couple of my games.


My opinion is probably going to be all over the map on this topic. I obviously love creating my own maps, but it is cool to see maps as feelies in some games. As others have said, if the player-character is well-familiar with the geography, it makes sense to provide a map to the player so they’re on the same page, as it were.

Even if the player-character does not know the geography, a map might be a pleasant bonus. The in-game maps of, say, Bobby and Bonnie or The Dessert Island, were delightful. I remember another game where the map was a password-locked PDF, and when you found the map within the game, you were told the password for the map. And the styling of the map fit perfectly with the tone of the game. A map can be a very nice touch for the esthetics.

But I don’t always want a map and I love the exploration aspect of IF. Sometimes author’s maps leave off little secrets, though, and that’s something to consider too. You can get a good idea of the general scope and range of the game’s geography but still not know everything.

GO TO is really a whole other discussion. Sometimes the author wants to do away with compass directions and would rather you say GO TO KITCHEN or just KITCHEN to get there, and that’s a stylistic choice, and that’s fine, but I personally get a bit confused with the layout when the compass directions aren’t there.

And GO TO is potentially a lot of work for the author to add and get right. With many games, I don’t think it’s needed. But if your game has 30 locations or more, you should maybe think about it, and if you’ve got 80 locations or more, you should consider it. I used GO TO a lot while playing Hadean Lands, and I wish it had been provided in Birmingham IV.

And, y’know, there’s also games where GO TO might be a bad idea because there’s too many complications, or it kinda matters how the player-character moves around the game. GO TO would’ve been quite pointless to provide in Threediopolis.

So, um, to summarize:

  • I like author’s maps if they match the style of the game.
  • I don’t always want a map, but it’s fine if it makes sense to be provided.
  • A map can be incomplete.
  • I’m gonna make my own maps anyway, no matter what.
  • GO TO is more trouble than it’s worth for small games, unless it’s a style choice.
  • GO TO becomes more desirable as the number of locations in a game increases.
  • If GO TO is provided, I will use it.
  • In some weird cases, GO TO might be a bad idea.

Oh, and if we could stop doing ASCII art maps, that would be cool. Those things can be impossible to read, sometimes. Use normal graphics, please and thank you.


Most definitely.

1 Like

I’ve sometimes used Infocom’s maps for hints when stuck but would prefer to draw my own. Even with Counterfeit Monkey, its onscreen map and its desire for map making to be unnecessary, I found that drawing a map was useful.

I’ve used this in a small game and it was no trouble at all. The text describing the journey is all provided automatically by the extension. It gives an odd response to unseen places but that could presumably be customised.

> go to kitchen
You go northeast to Landing, down to the hallway, northwest to Playroom and northwest again to Kitchen.

The kitchen is a small room with a silver fridge-freezer. There is always a small table and chairs, but the table seems to have disappeared. There is a door to the northwest and the playroom is back to the southeast.

> go to garden
That noun did not make sense in this context.

This feels like a necessary evil for a lot of us, at least on the parser side if we are new to this, because for Inform, you have to type “insert x.png” or whatever. If the map changes, you’d need a new x2.png.

I used ASCII maps a lot because I thought, well, it’s a text adventure, shouldn’t it have text maps? Isn’t it a retro hat-tip? But that’s kind of a false question. It’s sort of like saying, we’re using the Z-machine, so shouldn’t we use all the default verbs in some way in our game? We’re restricting ourselves.

A problem really arises if you have 5 rooms that can be shut off or on – that’d mean 32 unless you used Glimmr or Vorple! I know others have posted that Vorple works, and we’ve seen it work aesthetically and mechanically with Dessert Island, so that’s a great sign going forward.

My own experience with this is with A Roiling Original (yes, I still need to put out the final release there)–I put in a map for the Store W area using Glimmr that unfolds and marks off rooms as you go through them. It’s … functional, with little squares turning different colors if you visit them, and passages turning colors if you defeat the guardians. The code isn’t too bad, but learning new extensions can be time-consuming. So if there’s a time limit and the choice is between an ASCII map or nothing, ASCII map it is. Graphic map in the post-comp release. Learn to walk, then to run.

rule for printing a parser error when the latest error is the noun did not make sense in this context error:
    say "The verb worked okay, but you may need a different subject.";

(This can be tweaked to detect GOTOing as an action – Zarf had a really nice answer to a post I made that included “Action-to-be” that uses minimal I6 but I can’t dig it up right now.)

1 Like

I’d agree an Inform-made map is too raw in both info and aesthetics, but there’s nothing wrong with a Trizbort map. And I don’t think they can be said to be IFComp-User-Grade easy to make. The app is built PC-only to start with, and it’s non-trivial to use the automap features and/or to finesse the results. So if the author wants to supply a map and they only have Trizbort with which to make it, I would use it and include it.



If you’re using Inform (or anything else with similar testing tools) there’s an obscure little fringe benefit for authors to having GO TO in your game.

When you write test commands, instead of having a bit where you write

n/n/e/n/ne/u/e/s/get lamp/n/w/d/sw/s/w/s/s

you can instead write

go to study/get lamp/go to kitchen

It’s easier to write and to read and produces a much shorter transcript.



Also, GO TO should take the same number of turns as if you’d typed the individual directions. Otherwise, it affects scoring, passing of time, the operation of timers and daemons, and allows the player to “cheat”.

You don’t need to roll your own GO TO for this purpose, though; Inform already provides the testing command GONEAR.

Which raises the question, should you provide GO NEAR as well as GO TO? I was reading GO TO as GO TO <room name>, whereas GO NEAR is GO NEAR <object name>.