Silly commands you try in parser games

Could y’all list the silly commands you usually try in parser games? Or commands that authors don’t often think of responses for, but that you like to see custom responses to? I’d like to work my way through checking these off, but I know there are many that I haven’t thought of, or that my testers didn’t try but that others will.


I often like to try and TASTE the scenery. Always LICKing doors and the like.

I’d be delighted to come across a tasty door frame one day.

And always JUMPing, SHOUTing and SINGing of course.


People always try magic words like “xyzzy” and “plugh”, and I usually forget to implement funny responses.


If this is for an Inform 7 game, the extension Object Response Tests by Juhana Leinonen is really helpful. You can use it to automatically try the standard verbs on the objects in your game.


We played @robinjohnson 's Gruesome at a Bay Area IF meetup. Someone suggested the command dance, which never would have occurred to me, and I was delighted by the response You get into the grueve.


Cry, shout, scream, pray, sing, dance, climb, jump, rest, sit, sleep, hit, attack, punch, pick, swimm, dive, touch, look or search behind or under, hear, smell, push, eat, drink, dig, think, remember, ask about, undress, kiss, piss, comfort, sniff, credits, about, help, hints, disassembly… and of course plugh, xyzzy.

The more crazy games I play, the more words I try… pry, grab, get on…


How do you pronounce this? I read it as “ploo”.

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For everything I write, I add responses to the usual magic words; and to things like FART. In Uninvited, you can die by farting on sources of ignition.


I found this at from Don Woods, one of the authors of Adventure:

From: Don Woods
Date: 1997/02/27
Subject: Re: XYZZY

Alas, Crowther was responsible for XYZZY and PLUGH. I think I remember him saying that he’d generated them at random, but I don’t remember how (or even if) he pronounced them.

For my part, I say “zizzy” and “ploog”. I’m actually rather
emphatic about the latter, since it’s supposed to be said in a hollow voice. I’ve heard some people pronounce it “plug”, “pluh”, or even “pluff”, and when I imagine the hollow voice trying to say those I keep thinking the poor voice is going to break down laughing… (A hollow laugh, naturally. :slight_smile:

On the other hand, PLOVER was my addition, and since it’s keyed to the name of the bird (“an emerald the size of a plover’s egg!”) it ought to be pronounced like the bird. But – aha! – being ignorant on the topic, I always thought the bird’s name was pronounced ploh-ver. It wasn’t until I saw the discussion here that I thought to look up the word, and found that both pluh-ver and ploh-ver are accepted, but pluh-ver is apparently preferred. Oh well. But if you pronounce it pluh-ver, don’t blame me if the magic doesn’t work!

– Don.

I pronounce it the same as you!


I like to start a game with a few one-word commands like DANCE, WHISTLE, SING. I like to just SMELL and I’m inordinately pleased with a response like “The air smells of freshly mown grass, with a hint of rosemary and thyme.” I also SMELL every object that might have a pleasant or disgusting arome.

I love getting a response to XYZZY (check out Sunset Over Savannah’s answer.) (Also: a collection of xyzzyspoilers here: XYZZY Responses (

I have also been known to CROUCH, CRAWL [direction], SCRATCH/PICK NOSE, FLY, LEVITATE.

And it’s always nice to get a view of the surroundings: X FLOOR, X SKY, X CEILING.


I bet Grunk had a response for this. But otherwise, have you ever gotten a custom reply?

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Well… I did playtest a game once that had a puzzle where you had to PLUG NOSE to avoid a smell. Unfortunately (or quite fortunately, for me as the tester), this meant that the nose was a sloppily implemented separate object that could be taken, dropped, put into backpack, thrown,…
Not scratched or picked though.


Some of the early games were pretty unmerciful. The frequent deaths would lead to play-testers swearing at the parsers. Some companies chose to implement responses to those insults/outbursts. Sierra’s Space Quest Series is a good example. Once 10-year-old me realized Space Quest II had a response to my insult, it was a dedicated search for every profane thing my young mind could conjure. So, I suppose you could implement responses for those sort of things. I still occasionally check modern if games for these sort of responses, so I would imagine other fans of old-school IF might do the same.


At the risk of self-promotion, The Eleusinian Miseries has a reasonably deeply-implemented nose.

I’ll second most of the actions listed above – I definitely like to try to sing and dance, drop and/or remove any starting inventory items or articles of clothing, smell, jump, and sleep. I also usually try to look under or behind things, and search things, but because I’m hoping to get an indication that I won’t need to do that and a simple EXAMINE will do the business.


As for other inane things I’ve tried… Spontaneously combust, drop dead, kill self, fly, dig, backflip, cartwheel, introspect, regret, burp, fart (already mentioned), sneeze, blink, scratch, break 4th wall, etc.


This just sounds wrong!


I’d be shocked if you didn’t allow those insufferable boys to pick their noses. And I’m disappointed in myself for not trying it.


Scott Adams related a funny story in Get Lamp. As a space-saving measure, only the first 3 letters of verbs were significant. There was an obstacle in one game meant to be overcome with scream at bear. Years later, a player commented to Adams about how uncharacteristic of his games that solution was. Adams had no idea what the person was talking about but it finally came out that the frustrated player had tried screw bear and it worked, so they had always thought that was the intended solution.


Quest For Glory was a series of Sierra graphical adventures with RPG elements. If you played as a thief, you would have lockpicks. If you typed “PICK NOSE” (or in later games, clicked the lockpick item on yourself), you would insert the lockpick into your nose and fiddle around with it. This could actually increase your lockpicking stat, but if you failed the check you would die!
nose 2


I have played games where Examine is not as thorough as Search. (probably was with some earlier games written in BASIC) Also Listen (to), Dive, Swim, Smoke/Puff.