Think as a Standard Verb

So, I’m trying to get an idea of what would be worth a standard hint, specifically for a parser game.

Regardless of if you’re coming from Inform, TADS, Quest, etc: would you naturally try to use “THINK” or “THINK ABOUT TOPIC” as a verb?

Before the game starts, I offer “VERBS” as a command (inspired by @AmandaB ) which lists the special verbs I’ve added or modified specifically for the game, but I don’t know if THINK is a common one in non-TADS games (or TADS games at all). THINK is mentioned in the results of the VERBS command, at the moment.

I guess, what I’m trying to get at, is if it’s worth a VERBS entry, or a hint/mention of its own at the start, both, or neither.

I’m taking a note out of @Eric_Eve’s book, and using THINK to remind the player of their current set of goals, and then THINK ABOUT TOPIC will be for getting bits of bonus context or lore about the environment. It’s not essential for solving any puzzles, but it’s a little quality-of-life touch.

Mainly concerned because a lot of parser games are made with Inform, and I do notice that the parser and usual verbs differ from TADS adv3Lite, so I’m trying to figure out how to set player expectations for people who are likely used to Inform.


It’s valid, but that’s a nonstandard verb and a mechanic you definitely should inform a player about either directly or via clever tutorialization. I would be so mad if I played most of the game and didn’t realize I could do that.

I’d also synonym-ize CONSIDER which reads a bit better than THINK MAP.



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Maybe also REMEMBER. If I need reminding about my goals, that would be the intuitive command for me to use.

I’ve had tons of positive feedback about VERBS. Glad you’re doing it!


I’d say anything that Inform (or TADS or Dialog or…) doesn’t provide by default, you should hint in the game’s text or documentation. If your work is aimed at new players who don’t have a lot of parser experience, you should hint the standard ones too.

When I pick up a parser game I generally assume I can EXAMINE, TAKE, etc, but I’m not going to assume I can THINK ABOUT something unless the game points me in that direction somehow.



Gosh, I was trying to think of synonyms, but I missed all of these! Thank you for another excellent one!!

And yeah, the VERBS command is such an excellent idea! I remember when it first showed up in The Lonely Troll, and I was blown away because it’s such a handy reference mechanic, especially for games that have a lot of unique mechanics verbs!

Great idea! I’m going to add “think” to my game designs as part of the help system.

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I do think VERBS is a good idea. Is the point to introduce verbs specific to that game, or also to introduce newcomers to EXAMINE and the rest? I worry the latter might be a rather intimidating wall of text.

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I think adv3Lite comes with a few built-in tutorials of varying levels of depth, depending on how new you are to IF or parser games specifically. I was checking these out to see what blanks I might need to fill as well.

Those built-ins are also how I learned that the hints system is separate from the “extras” on/off system, which I assume is for automatic hints/guidance?

Credit goes to Eric Eve! Got the idea of from Nightfall!

VERBS is specifically for verbs that deviate from the standard expectation, or verbs where the function has changed enough to warrant clarification for non-beginner players.

Indeed, the tutorial printout that comes with adv3Lite is a wall of text, so you’re given the option to save it to a transcript, view it in full, or view the quick reference version.

Cool, that makes sense! I’d definitely flag that in the startup or ABOUT text, though – my default assumption is that VERBS will be all of the verbs the game recognizes/requires to win, so my thought process upon hearing there’s a VERBS option is usually 1) “I dunno if I should check that out, it might be more fun to discover the required actions in play”; 2) “I guess the author wouldn’t have put it there unless I was meant to look at it, so let’s give it a try even though I’m worried about spoiling the joy of discovery”; 3) “Well that was a giant wall of text and I retained basically none of it, so I suppose I’m good?” If it’s narrowly-tailored to just a small set of nonstandard verbs, that’s much more appealing (though if that’s a small list, you could also consider just including the info in the ABOUT text – folks usually flag how conversation works there, for example, since there can be a fair bit of variation on that front even within TADS or Inform games).


Absolutely! Right now, it prints something along the lines of “Use the VERBS command to see a short list of verbs specifically added for this game. Use HELP if you’re new to interactive fiction!”, and this appears right when you load up the game.

The list itself is short, but each verb also comes with an explanation and an example, so it’s enough to keep within the VERBS command, I think.

Also, that is an excellent idea to point out how conversation works! I remember reading an article from Emily Short during my research that pointed out the many many many ways that conversation works in IF. I will be noting this down on the to-do list!


I’ve used VERBS as a guide for new players-- giving them every verb they need to win the game, plus things like XYZZY. But those were games that I specifically meant to be friendly for new players.


For fun, you could include PONDER.


Cogitate, surmise, ruminate…

I do believe COGITATE was the hint system in Castle Ralf. Not that it helped anyone win.

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Those are good, They might require some prepositional synonymization madness-



@AmandaB and @HanonO, I am adding one of these as the third easter egg verb in the game tonight. This is hilarious.

Reminds me of when I tried writing my own IF parser in BASIC when I was…idk, 11 or 12 years old? I was convinced that my synonyms needed to be EXHAUSTIVE, so I pulled out the thesaurus and started plugging words in, and I was adding stuff like this in there before my mom asked me if I was crazy, lol.


Joey, also I implement a think verb for the same scope you gave, that is, THINK w/o object about the broad goals, THINK ABOUT object or topic for not only context and lore, but also as a hint mechanism)

On VERB, I think that the standard implementation ought to be a text rendition of Zarf’s playing card, of course, a more “tactful” one (as everyone known, I’m of the opinion that TOUCH and FEEL ought to be different verbs)

As THINKing synonyms, I think :wink: that the major ones should be PONDER and CONSIDER, leaving REMEMBER in its proper context, that is, recalling prior events/interaction/scenes &c; note that REMEMBER can even be a solid entry point for flashback scenes.

for sure, ABOUT is the natural place for pointing to major nonstandard verb, so I agree on the point.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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Lately I’ve been breaking VERBS down into standard action verbs, OPTIONS and META. META being meta-commands like ABOUT and CREDITS and SCORE and, yes, THINK, as you use it. Otherwise, VERBS can get too cluttered for me.

I’ve recently gone in for very stripped-down parsers, but THINK is useful as a “help! What do I do here?” and it feels less cheaty than HINT, because the connotation is that you’re helping yourself or seeing what you already know and not asking for help. It took me a while to use THINK because the default “What a good idea” is … well, not very helpful.

One thing I really like doing with THINK is tracking cases where the player had the right idea but did so too early. For instance, in Shuffling Around, you had to change LIVERS to a SLIVER then SILVER. If you tried SILVER first, then THINK would say “Hey! You tried SILVER, but it didn’t quite work. Maybe later?” So you have hints without spoilers.

Of course that can be extended to where the player has 80% of the right idea and you don’t want them going off on another tangent.


As a player, I often use THINK if I get desperate, but I don’t recall ever getting a useful response.

As an author, I usually replace the default response for THINK (in the case of Inform 6) or add one (in the case of Adventuron).

Now that I think about it, THINK (without an object) could be a synonym for HINT if the hints were worded appropriately.

My games tend to be traditional text adventures - exploration, examination and manipulation of things in order to solve puzzles. No touchy, feely or emotional stuff. For something more cerebral, THINK ABOUT would be good to include, along with all those synonyms suggested by others.

On the side issue of VERBS, I’ve never used this myself, because I feel that the game should give you all the in-game hinting that you need to solve the game. My games typically have over 200 verbs, so you don’t want to list all those. Lots of verbs are there just in case someone tries something weird (like THINK, PRAY, SING, DANCE and, of course, XYZZY) or try to do something in a different way (e.g. SHOOT ALIEN WITH LASER vs FIRE LASER AT ALIEN, or GIVE MEAT TO DOG vs FEED DOG WITH MEAT). I do write extensive instructions outside the game and have started including a brief reminder via HELP. If you use unusual verbs, then they definitely need to be highlighted in instructions, in-game hinting and/or a VERBS command.

EDIT: I’ve just been playing Peter Langston’s ‘Castle’, which is believed to be the first adventure ever written, pre-dating even Crowther’s ADVENT. In this game, you start out with a ‘Wander instruction guide’ in your inventory. (Wander is the system that was used to write the game.) This serves as your in-game help manual.

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Yeah, I’m thinking there are some verbs that I might not put in the VERBS list because they should be really obvious, or I’m gonna hint it when it’s relevant. I think it’s still a handy little reference for commands that got repurposed or are not used very often, though. Like, HANG is on the VERBS list, but I think I might remove that because it feels like the player would intuitively know to type “HANG TOWEL ON RAIL”, should it ever come up.

Meanwhile, I changed how YELL works, and turned it into a stim, so it has an entry in VERBS informing the player that the action can be used in some in a few situations for stress management. I might keep that there.

It’s mostly a just-in-case thing, specifically for players who saved the game, don’t play for a bit, and come back. It’s probably easier to remember to type in “VERBS” to refresh yourself than it is to try and remember any other specifics in detail.