The problem of pre-room-title reports

Does anyone else find that they accidentally miss reading reports that come before the room title, because the eye is so naturally drawn to the room title format as a starting point? Or that their beta testers do the same thing, missing messages that you’ve posted before the room title?
Well, I certainly do… and I’m just curious if anyone has input on how that ought to be addressed. I’ve just put together a solution that emboldens the first several words of the pre-room report, or else inserts spacing or symbols before the pre-room report, based on author’s preference. How would you react to that… would it be more distracting/unsightly than helpful?
At this point I guess I’m trying to figure out if I want to include it in my game. Unfortunately for anyone interested in a similar solution, my solution only applies to TADS3/adv3 at the moment.


There was a thread on just this a couple years ago. My suggestion was:


Yeah, it’s definitely come up for me, on the playing, authoring, and testing fronts. As an author, by usual strategy has been to either 1) put in a “press any key to continue” for stuff that’s really important for the player to notice, or 2) force myself to be OK with players potentially missing stuff if it isn’t sufficiently important to interrupt play. The bolding is a creative option – I’d be curious to see what it looks like in play (and might get a chance to do that when testing your game :slight_smile: )


I know you’ve already seen my solution (which has many limitations), but I’m putting it in here for discussion purposes:



Thanks for the input, guys.
In the only environment I know (TADS3/adv3), pre-room-title reports can be generated by several different mechanics, and there can potentially be three to six separate pre-room reports before a single room title (if you have following NPCs and so forth).
So I can’t really use a solution where I hard-code symbols or pause-for-key on any single report that I know might come before a room title, because things would get ugly and out of hand if more than one showed up on a turn.
That was what prompted me to the idea of searching to the first pre-room report, and emboldening the first several words (secondarily I would consider inserting a line of symbols, similar to @mathbrush 's example).
Just curious how players would feel about that, or which approach they’d prefer!

Is it possible for Inform to identify when all pre-room reports have been issued or when the room title is about to be issued? If so, the pause-for key could be put there. It would guarantee only one “continue” prompt per section, which probably makes more sense than having several appear on the same turn for no good reason.

Honestly, a lot of my pre reports aren’t critical, and I don’t really want to use pause globally. I hard-coded pauses into the ones that really need it. But that aside, I still don’t want players to routinely miss the other text, without being forced to hit the space bar every other time that they travel to a new location. It’s just kind of a tough situation for one fix-all!

My game has room titles “un-bold” by default, and players still miss the before text!

EDIT: Ah, but you were saying to basically skip the room title. Hm, I don’t know if that approach will really fit with my game style, but it’s a good idea…

This is something that occurred to me, so in QuestJS you can have the old text change colour. For example, everything that is new is in black, with everything from the previous turn now in grey.

Unfortunately I did not think of it for my only game so far, so no working example yet - and therefore no feedback with regards to whether it work.


I need to work within the limitations/capabilities of existing parser interpreters, although that would certainly fix the problem!

I can try to send you a patch to integrate it, so you can give me feedback!


I always miss the pre-room-title text (as you’ve probably noticed, through reams and reams of transcripts), really have to force myself to look up the screen and search for it, so any sort of pausing or emboldening or otherwise highlighting would be an improvement!


Sounds like a great solution - you’ll have to put it in your next game so we can be suitably impressed by it!

I did a lot of this in my latest game (A1RL0CK, Inform6/Punyinform) by actually including commentary on entering rooms for the first time at the beginning of the room description. Those appear only once and can’t be missed.
Don’t know if people liked them (room descriptions tended to become large) but no one complained, so…


Recently I’ve been putting the pre-room text as the precursor to the initial room description. It’s not optimal, because the room title is still listed over it and at the top of the interpreter window, but I think it reads more smoothly.

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I think early in development I had maybe experimented with something like that, but I think in my situation the text really should stay before the room titles…
I’m probably going to see how a few testers like the bold, and go from there!

My forthcoming game doesn’t use the traditional Room Name on a line by itself approach:

Jones approaches the Viking Building entryway, the dramatic façade towering over her.

Galaxy Jones is at the entry doorway. A glass revolving door leads into a large open space north of here. The speeder dock is to the south.

My idea was it would flow more like an actual story text. I don’t know if it has any effect on the pre-room title report problem. John Z. might be able to weigh in on that since he tested it.

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I don’t remember having any trouble catching your pre-room reports. I think it worked well. I think it’s a totally valid approach.
There are certain elements of nostalgia I think I’d like to keep in my particular game, though. I’ll probably stick with the room titles and hope for the best with the before text. We’ll see how folks like the bold…@rileypb

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Often, pre-room reports are in the “varnish and veneer” category, but gives ambiance; for example, entering in a kitchen around noon…:

opening the door to the kitchen, the smell of abundant well-cooked tasty food reminds you that you’re indeed in Italy…


(ok, I admit that my example is indeed nationalist…)

Best regards from, indeed, Italy,
Dott. Piergiorgio.