Scenes vs Rooms

I am new to using Scenes instead of writing with Rooms, where the player goes from room description to room description. With Scenes, time is of the essence, and objects move on- and off-stage. I’m looking for anyone with experience using this IF7 mode.

1 Like

A lot of people on here have experience with scenes, some medium (like me) and others advanced. What’s your specific question you have about them?

A Scene is a different type of entity than a room (in Inform terms), and can be used along with Locations/Rooms - they are not mutually exclusive. For example, one might have a recurring scene that happens every ten turns to move a train object into and out of a “Train Station” location so it appears to arrive and disembark on a schedule.

I don’t believe you can write a game in I7 just composed of scenes as you would in a choice narrative, because I7 requires at least one location in the world model. Scenes are used to affect the world model and rules in different ways while they are occurring.


Well, that’s true but I7 narratives also encompass at least one scene (the Entire Game) even if it’s not specified in the source text.

Most IF consists of a physical map within a constant, unchanging scene. The narrative is nearly always in part paced by blocking off areas of the map until certain conditions or met- traditionally, a (sometimes interlocking) sequence of puzzles to be solved. Gradually, by gaining access to all areas of the map, the narrative is unfolded and the story completed. In this paradigm, time or the passage of time, often has little meaning and the parameters of ‘how the world works’ remain constant- the protagonist’s evolving options are governed by the acquisition of objects, and the opening-up of new areas of the map.

It’s possible to turn this concept on its side, and envisage a narrative which takes place in a single location, but access to new events (rather than new areas of the map) is controlled by certain conditions being met, and thus the narrative is progressed. These ‘events’ would be represented in Inform by scenes, and, like scenes in a play, might involve changes in scenery, introducing new objects or information through exploring new scenes rather than new areas on the map. Although there’s no reason why the world can’t work differently in different regions of a map, this is rarely done, but changing scenes perhaps offers a stronger invitation to tinker with the rules… Obviously, as in a play, there’s no reason why a change of scene can’t mean a change of location, and the two approaches can be intermingled as much as you like.


I remember that Inform 7 scenes became less confusing to me when I started to think of them as just global variables. That is really all they are, booleans that can be true (the scene is happening) or false (not happening), along with a special mechanism to fire rules when a scene switches state. There is a little more to them than that (they can end in different ways, they can be repeatable or not), but not a lot.


Oh, right - you could certainly do a “one room” game with scene mechanisms that handle everything like stage machinery, or even an actual choice narrative with an extension with Hybrid Choices and a lot of tricky programming, but the answer to the general question for a new author “how do I use scenes instead of rooms” requires a bit more understanding and planning as you’ve explained. Scenes aren’t a direct substitute for locations and the world model in the sense of one-or-the-other.

“Scenes” in Inform don’t correspond to “scene” the same way there are plot events in a movie - writing a series of scenes without a world model actually would in many cases be better served by a choice-narrative engine such as Twine.

No, but the world-model is largely independent of locations.

Locations chiefly govern which elements of the world-model (largely objects and their interactions) are accessible to the protagonist at any given time (or in Inform-speak, in scope). The elements of the world-model which are available can be governed instead by changes of scene rather than changes of location.

Inform is admittedly somewhat asymmetric in this regard as it provides easy means to situate objects in locations but less so in scenes. Similarly, it has simpler inbuilt methods for navigating between locations (directions, map connections, route-finding etc.) and restricting navigation (e.g. doors) As you suggest, any scene-changing machinery has to be more hand-built. But within a scene, the world can go on in much the same way and scene-changes can be triggered by any set of conditions, rather than a reductive ‘Choose A to move on to scene X, otherwise choose B to move on to scene Y’. Although you could consider even that just the scene-based equivalent of ‘Choose to go east to enter the witch’s cottage or west to explore the forest’.

Thanks for this insight. It was helpful.

Thanks for this, and to HanonO. Fortunately, I do have multiple locations. If I am correct, I can use scenes to change timeframes AND change locations. The time triggers the action, but the player also triggers events within the scene (and rooms). I will try that approach.

1 Like