Here’s a question along the lines of newbie-friendliness:
Are there any extensions that improve the parser’s handling of pronouns? My current project makes use of Plurality to make something “ambiguously plural.” Unfortunately, much later in the game, if someone tries to do something with “them,” meaning all objects referred to in the previous command, it interprets the noun as the long-gone ambiguously plural thing.
I’m experimenting with some of the newbie-friendly extensions such as “Extended Grammar” and now “Smarter Parser,” but I didn’t see anything listed in the extensions that appears to help with pronouns.
If I’m understanding you right, you want “them” at some points in the game to refer to individual objects with plural names (like “the flowers” or “the gloves”), but at other points to refer to a whole list of objects. This is not something that Inform’s pronoun handling is set up to deal with – ALL copes with multiple objects, but pronouns are always assumed to refer to at most one world-model object.
There are probably ways to hack around this, but they wouldn’t be entirely trivial. One way that occurs to me is to keep a list of objects that varies, updated from turn to turn every time some list is reported to the player, and then use an entry point where we’re printing a parser error (“You can’t see them (‘the shoes’) any more…”) to instead queue up a series of action attempts on the items in that list.
When you bring it up, this feels like a big oversight in the parser, yet it’s not something I think I’ve ever heard anyone mention as an issue before. (Perhaps experienced IF players don’t use pronouns that much, or have carefully trained ideas about what they ought to be able to do? Not sure.)
I think pronouns is another IF newbie issue - I avoid them as a player because I’m never sure what the parser will do with them. Although it would be nice to have the parser remember the last grouping of items in a player’s command, simply replacing the “not here any more” message with something like “I couldn’t figure out what you meant by ‘them’.”
As they say, it’s better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.