Use of Substitutions

What are your opinions on using text substitutions like the following:

say “[We] [decide] it isn’t worht it.”.

It seems like it is a lot of work to do this type of phrasing in projects outside of extensions and when the standard second person present form is used. For example, this approach could cause an accumulation of “To is a verb.” phrases that wouldn’t otherwise be needed. I guess that using such substitutions would allow you to copy and paste text into other projects, but if the phrase is game-specific, that won’t happen. Or maybe it isn’t much work after all; maybe I just need to get used to it.

So is it always a good idea to use these substitutions?


It depends. If you’re writing actual game text (rather than an extension), and you don’t plan to change tenses or anything like that, there’s nothing wrong with just writing “You decide it isn’t worth it.”

That said, there are various reasons why you would want to use substitutions in game text. If you write something like “[the noun] disintegrates”, then that will look somewhat strange if the player attempts to disintegrate a plural object (“the keys disintegrates”) or themselves (“yourself disintegrates”). Or if you want to change the pronouns used partway through, which some games have done.

Well, no. If the text will never vary when it’s displayed, and it has no practical reuse value, then adding the possibility to do so is mostly a waste of effort.

That said, there are some very good use cases outside extensions. The last game I wrote used substitutions for pronouns only (say “[We] decide it isn’t worth it.”): I wasn’t at first sure if I wanted to use first person or second person but I could start writing and make that decision later without rewriting everything. I could even try the early versions both ways and see which one I liked best.

Also, if you use anything other than second person present it’s still a good idea to add that as an option (unless it would really not work in second person present). Some people have a very strong preference for the “default” tense and person. It’s literally just a few lines of code to add that feature if you’ve used substitutions everywhere.