If a game incorporates a compass rose, how necessary is it to integrate exits into the room descriptions? Or should only the more important ones be mentioned, and the rest left for the player to map out?
Depends to some extent on your chosen language. I include status-line exit lists in most of my z-code games, for example, but some 'terps can’t display the full-featured version of the status line correctly, so I include complete exits in the text just in case.
Implementing an “exits” command, which lists the exits when the player asks, is another way to make sure the player can always get the exits in text form, if you feel you can write better room descriptions without always listing them.
I suppose blind players would appreciate it if there’s a textual description of the exits somewhere. I’d probably appreciate it too – I usually don’t like looking up at the status line for necessary information. (Though I didn’t mind it in The Hours.)
Ghalev’s suggestion of an exits command is a good idea – especially if you can turn it on and off, so you can be in a mode where the exits from a room are automatically listed after the description. I think at least one of the Exit Lister extensions does this.
As everybody else said, it’s dangerous to assume that the status line will be displayed, that if it’s displayed people will be able to see it, or that if they can see it they’ll notice it.
Another thing is, I think it feels organic to mention the room exits in the description and it helps people understand the exits intellectually, or just better. Catalogueing what’s in a room but explicitly avoiding mention of doors can look weird, more so the longer the descriptions are.
If you still want to set them off a bit, you can put the exit descriptions in a paragraph on their own after the main room description. I did it this way in Six.
Thanks, everyone. I think I needed some confirmation before I went ahead. (I hope that doesn’t make me insecure.)
I agree that including the exits at the end of the description, whether automatically or manually, is a much better option than solely relying on the compass. I thought about the differences in interpreters and screens, but thanks for the reminder about blind players!
Exits in descriptions also can serve to direct the player. For example, let’s say your player is in a large room that as a programmer you want to split up into regions. Take a stage for example that doesn’t necessarily have physical doors. You could describe it thusly:
“You’re in the backstage left area. To the east you see stage left, and further to the east you see the middle stage. To the north are the dressing rooms.”