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§9.7. Painting and Labeling Devices

Writing on something is only one way a player can change its visual appearance. IF authors have long been wary of paint brushes, because a sufficiently motivated player could go through a whole landscape like a graffiti artist with a railway bridge. We want to give the player the illusion of freedom of action, while avoiding a situation where unlimited numbers of different decorations might be needed - that would need a table of potentially unlimited size.

One approach is to limit the number of items which can be decorated. In Palette, only the canvas can be painted, and each image overlays the last. Early Childhood increases the range to allow a whole kind ("block") to be painted, and also shows how the changing colours can be used to distinguish between otherwise identical objects.

Brown finds a different way to limit the number of simultaneous decorations: almost anything can have a red sticky label attached, but there is only one red sticky label. (So to decorate a new item, the player must first un-decorate an old one.)

* See Electricity and Magnetism for another form of stickiness

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An artist's workshop in which the canvas can be painted in any colour, and where painterly names for pigments ("cerulean") are accepted alongside everyday ones ("blue").

A red sticky label which can be attached to anything in the game, or removed again.

***ExampleEarly Childhood
A child's set of building blocks, which come in three different colours - red, green and blue - but which can be repainted during play.