I like the skein. I don’t get why I should use the transcript when I can just change the source code, but I like the skeins ability to both get me to any point in the gameplay I’d like to be, and to generate solutions.
…but I don’t want it to write new skeins every single time I play, for two reasons:
First it clutters up the skein with nonsense, that I have to trim away before I want to use the locked ones.
Secondly, writing a new skein or transcript, seems to change the project file, so I get that annoying star next to the project name that tells me that I’ve made changes to it and should save it and restart the game to get the latest changes in-game, if I so much as type “hello” in-game.
…so I’ve searched for ways to turn skein recording off in its pages, and in the preferences, and it seems that there’s no way. (There’s a “transcript” testing command in-game, but that’s something different.)
…so if you’re reading this, Graham, could you add a turn-off feature to it? 99 of a 100 playthroughs is just nonsense testing that’s not worth recording.
Yes, and there’s also an option (“Trim”) to delete every thread that isn’t specifically locked. That’s not what I’m asking. As soon as I play another game, a new thread is created, and then another, and another. I don’t want to have to trim the skein every time I need to use it, and I don’t want it to confuse me whether or not I’m playing the latest version of the source code. I want to turn it off so that it doesn’t create threads in the first place.
Yes, but two hours later, after you’ve tested the game fourty times, you’ll have a hard time finding it, as it’s pressed away to the left somewhere, by the fourty threads you didn’t ask for.
(In before “trim”.)
If you want to request the Inform Powers to add a feature (and I agree that this could be a useful feature to have), you should head over to the uservoice forums. They should see those requests eventually.
I don’t know what blessing does, but I’ve been using it to make sure I don’t break anything when I add a big new feature. Recently I tried to add Threaded Conversation to a WiP, and suddenly the walkthrough in the skein failed on the fifth move (I still don’t know why, it seems to have blocked all my after deciding the scope rules). Without it I might have kept going for quite a while before the problem showed itself.
In my experience, the true usefulness of the skein is situational. It’s greatest function is for testing code which can produce a variety of outcomes based on the player’s actions. (For example, what will happen if the player character approaches a particular situation when tired? Hungry? Encumbered by a heavy inventory? All of the above?) Using multiple branches in the skein allows you to repeatedly test these kind of variations.
Blessing is useful when you want to test branches of the skein for text or behavior changes. When inform runs down the skein, it will compare the new output to the previously blessed output, then highlight any differences found. This can be a good way to locate which parts of the game are affected by changes in the source.
The “play all” button on the skein is tied to blessing. If multiple branches of the skein contain blessed entries, Play All will make I7 run through each of them. It’s a quick way to test multiple aspects of your game’s behavior.
The one downside of the skein and blessing is that they can become broken by games with a lot of random chance. You can work around this by checking in the “make random outcomes predictable” feature, but that isn’t always a great option to enable when play-testing a very random game.