SUPERVERBOSE or SEMIVERBOSE, as Ron suggested. (Keep them coming!)
We have Verbose mode, where you get full descriptions in a room. Then we have BRIEF where we get full descriptions for the first time in a room, then abbreviated onwards. Then we have SUPERBRIEF, where room descriptions are abbreviated regardless of first time or not.
So now I introduce the idea of superverbose! It’s basically BRIEF, with a change. Like BRIEF, it shows the room descriptions for the first time then abbreviated for the next time. But if the description ever changes, then the room practically becomes unvisited because the room shows full description the next time you enter it. (but it really doesn’t make it unvisited)
This would be codable (Codeable? Both spellings are an error.) in Inform7 by adding a value called ‘initial description’, which is the same as the description. Every turn the game will check if any initial description is different from the description. If not, it goes on as usual. Otherwise it shows the description in VERBOSE.
TADS would have a property, Quest would have an attribute in defaultroom, etc. etc.
It’s an interesting idea, but what type of game would make use of it? I believe verbose overtook brief as the default as IF and this community tended towards more literary/poetic works. This proposal seems to be geared more towards the old-school style of game, more exploratory-focused with relatively little change in environment over time. (It was also a paper- and time-saving device from a time when mainframes without monitors were common and games were brutally difficult, I believe.)
And, from an I7 perspective, if both Description and Initial Description of a room includes “[first time]A[or]B[cycling]”, for example, your implementation as described won’t be aware of the change and properly display the description each time.
I like it. Authors can achieve the effect by manually resetting their rooms to be unvisited after something has changed, but a system or extension might be more consistent.
I would think that the proposal would be best suited for an exploratory game with lots of subtle changes in the environment over time. I love exploration-based games!
Brief mode does have some other benefits. If it’s a sprawling exploration game and you find a new connection from one room, when you take the new route, you will know immediately whether or not you’ve already been to the destination room.
Furthermore, the traditional narrative meaning of the room description was that the protagonist was deliberately taking a moment to look around and survey his surroundings. When you take into account that the protagonist is not going to be paying as much attention when retracing his steps, the old-school style presents a very immersive narrative experience. Every block of text you see on the screen reresents the player character’s conscious experience. Using Verbose mode too gratuitously helps create a disconnect, where there is no longer a correlation between what we read and the experience of “you.” This is also why I’m skeptical of the practice of making “LOOK” and “EXAMINE” take no in-game time.
All this to say, I think this SEMI/SUPERVERBOSE idea has a lot of merit. It seems like the best of both worlds to me!
There’s no reason why the room description on entering a room must match what you get when you type LOOK. If you have dynamic room descriptions it would make a lot of sense for the entering-a-room text to tell you what the character notices is different.
My impression (and recollection) is that verbose got popular purely because screens were larger and computers were faster than in the Infocom era. If the whole room description can appear instantly and be visible as a single chunk, there’s no reason not to get it every time. (Plus there are scrollbars for when you do want to see older material.)
Then it took another ten years for the development systems to change their defaults. But that’s an indication of inertia.
You could take care of this by indexed text. Every time you look, convert the room description to indexed text, compare it to the last room description that you printed (also stored as indexed text), and if they’re different say something. Something like this, which has a fatal flaw:
[code]“Varying Room Descriptions in Semiverbose Mode”
Use BRIEF room descriptions, American dialect, and the serial comma.
A room has an indexed text called the old description. A room has an indexed text called the new description.
Carry out looking (this is the new room description body text rule):
if the location is unvisited: [the first time in the room we just print the description and put that exact text in our old/new description properties]
now the old description of the location is “[description of the location][line break]”;
now the new description of the location is the old description of the location;
say the new description of the location;
otherwise [the location is visited and we check for changes]:
now the old description of the location is the new description of the location;
now the new description of the location is “[description of the location][line break]”; [loading up a new instance of the description]
unless the new description of the location exactly matches the text old description of the location:
say “You notice something different here.[line break][new description of the location]”
The new room description body text rule is listed instead of the room description body text rule in the carry out looking rulebook.
Cave is a room. “The cave is [one of]dark[or]dank[purely at random].” Cavern is north of cave. “More description, la la.” The player carries a whatsit.
test me with “l/l/l/l/drop whatsit/n/s/n/s/n/s/n/s/take whatsit/l/n/s”.[/code]
…now the fatal flaw is that this won’t let you “Look” if the room description hasn’t changed, and BRIEF mode lets you do that. To get it to work you’d have to hook it into the describe room gone into rule, and probably also rules for entering and exiting. But I’m too lazy to do that now.
I like Dannii’s idea that the text printed when you go somewhere should be different from the room description but that would probably require a bit of handcoding of this rather than just a mode that does something automatic depending on whether the room description has changed.
Bainespal, I see what you’re saying about the experience of the player, but the problem with making “look” take game time is that if game time matters, the player will just scroll back to read the previous room description rather than looking. Kind of like why taking inventory takes no game time in nethack; an option that gratuitously gives advantages to note-takers won’t add to immersion in the end. I think the effect of “You’re just walking past these rooms and not looking” works best when you have long-distance travel commands (as in Counterfeit Monkey); if I’m going east the game doesn’t know whether I want to backtrack through a lot of rooms or I’m going here to take a careful look at what I can do. I suppose in games that involve lots of backtracking through many rooms brief mode could be more immersive because the added effort of typing “l” is less than the added effort of reading the room descriptions of the rooms you’re backtracking through, but I don’t enjoy that game design most of the time anyway. – I think you’re going to object to my apparent equation of “more effort” with “less immersion” but this kind of effort is not immersive, to me; it’s struggling with the interface when if I were really there I’d be able to see where I was with no effort.