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Chapter 7: Other Characters

§7.1. Getting Acquainted; §7.2. Liveliness; §7.3. Reactive Characters; §7.4. Barter and Exchange; §7.5. Combat and Death; §7.6. Getting Started with Conversation; §7.7. Saying Simple Things; §7.8. Saying Complicated Things; §7.9. The Flow of Conversation; §7.10. Character Emotion; §7.11. Character Knowledge and Reasoning; §7.12. Characters Following a Script; §7.13. Traveling Characters; §7.14. Obedient Characters; §7.15. Goal-Seeking Characters; §7.16. Social Groups

arrow-up-left.png Contents of The Inform Recipe Book
arrow-left.png Chapter 6: Commands
arrow-right.png Chapter 8: Vehicles, Animals and Furniture
arrow-down-right.png Indexes of the examples

§7.1. Getting Acquainted

Talking about characters presents some special challenges. For one thing, some characters are referred to by a proper name, but others are not: so the story might want to talk about "Jack" but also about "the drunk pedestrian". In the absence of other information, Inform attempts to divine our intentions based on the words with which we defined a new character: but we can always override its guess with an explicit statement, such as

The Great Malefactor is proper-named.

Belfry demonstrates further how titles are set at the start of play.

The relation between the player and the other characters is not always static, however. Sometimes we want the player to learn a character's name part-way through play, and start referring to "the drunk pedestrian" as "Fernando". Similarly, the status of another character may change due to some twist of the plot. Gopher-wood shows how to change the name of a character mid-story, and Peers handles changing the character's rank.

Alternatively, of course, the player character may already know some of the other characters when the story begins, even if the player does not. In that case, we may want to add a tag-line or so of identification to a character's name when he first appears in the story. A Humble Wayside Flower shows one way of doing this.

Another occasional challenge is dealing with such commands as EXAMINE DR. THISBY. The problem here is that Inform by default will understand the full stop after "Dr" to be the end of one command and the beginning of another, and will try to interpret "Thisby" as a verb. If we do have a story populated by such formally-addressed characters, we may turn to Punctuation Removal, which provides a phrase to remove the full stops in standard titles before attempting to interpret the command.

Other characters have physical characteristics as well as names, of course, and Meet Market demonstrates one way of implementing people with notable features.

Finally, in some IF, the roles of characters may change from playing to playing. If we are writing a replayable murder mystery, we might want to select a new culprit each time the story starts; for this, see Clueless.

* See The Human Body for more on body parts and physical description

* See Memory and Knowledge for a way to refer to characters whom the player knows about but who aren't currently in the room

arrow-up.png Start of Chapter 7: Other Characters
arrow-left.png Back to Chapter 6: Commands: §6.18. Alternatives To Standard Parsing
arrow-right.png Onward to §7.2. Liveliness

You can see a bat, a bell, some woodworm, William Snelson, the sexton's wife, a bellringer and your local vicar here.

A murderer for the mystery is selected randomly at the beginning of the game.

*ExampleMeet Market
A case in which relations give characters multiple values of the same kind.

Changing the name of a character in the middle of play, removing the article.

The peers of the English realm come in six flavours - Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquess, Duke and Prince - and must always be addressed properly. While a peerage is for life, it may at the royal pleasure be promoted.

***ExampleA Humble Wayside Flower
Relations track the relationships between one character and another. Whenever the player meets a relative of someone he already knows, he receives a brief introduction.