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§11.17. Phrases to decide other things
A condition is a yes/no decision, but we can also take decisions where the result is a value. Suppose we want to create a concept of the "grand prize", which will have different values at different times in play. Each time the "grand prize" is referred to, Inform will have to decide what its value is, and the following tells Inform how to make that decision:
To decide which treasure is the grand prize:
if the Dark Room has been visited, decide on the silver bars;
decide on the plover's egg.
Note that we have to say what kind the answer will be: here it's a kind of thing called "treasure" (which we're supposing has already been created), and as it turns out only two treasures are ever eligible anyway (we're also supposing that the plover's egg and the silver bars are treasures already created, of course). And note also that the phrase must in all cases end with a "decide on ..." to say what the answer is:
decide on (value)
This phrase can only be used in the body of a definition of a phrase to decide a value. It causes the calculation to end immediately, with the outcome being the given value, which must be of the kind expected. Example:
Now that we have "grand prize" created, we can use it just as we would use any other value, so for instance:
if taking the grand prize, ...
As this is something of a dialect difference between English speakers, "what" and "which" are synonymous here, i.e., we could equally well write something like:
To decide what number is the target score: ...
(A phrase to decide if something-or-other is exactly the same thing as a phrase to decide a truth state, and indeed, if we want to then we can use "decide on T", where T is a truth state, in its definition. For instance:
To decide if time is short:
if the time of day is after 10 PM, decide on true;
decide on whether or not Jennifer is hurried.
"Decide on true" is exactly equivalent to the more normally used "decide yes", and of course it is optional. The last line is more interesting since it effectively delegates the answer to another condition.)
|Start of Chapter 11: Phrases|
|Back to §11.16. New conditions, new adjectives|
|Onward to §11.18. The value after and the value before|
The player carries a device called a Trifield Natural EMF Meter. The description of the Meter is "This cost a pretty penny off the internet, but it's worth it: according to the website it has been programmed by PhD physicists to ignore manmade sources of fields and to respond only to paranormal EMF changes.
It also features an optional Tone Alarm, which can be turned on to indicate when readings spike. If the alarm is off, the meter just reads out the magnetic and electric field levels on a scale from 0-100 microteslas, or 0-1000 V/m.
Since both fields are important, you keep the meter set to SUM mode. The meter has its own optional backlighting, so that you can see the reading even if your flashlight is off. Currently it is reading at [meter setting]." A Tone Alarm is part of the Meter. It is a device. The description of the Tone Alarm is "The Tone Alarm will make a noise, if the EMF picks up a spike."
Thirtieth Street Station is a room. "A huge, high, rectangular room with coffered ceilings, which looks grand but mostly makes you feel lonely and small. There are long benches in rows down the middle of the room, and an information desk with the train times, and a series of ticket windows, none of which matters very much at the moment."
The benches are an enterable supporter. They are scenery in the Station. The information desk is scenery in the Station. Some ticket windows are scenery in the Station. Instead of examining scenery in the Station: say "You're fairly sure that whatever is going on here has nothing to do with [the noun]." Understand "window" as ticket windows.
The mural is fixed in place in Thirtieth Street. "At the north side of the station is a particularly pointless and empty annex to the main room. It is dominated by a huge relief of sorts, and this is what you remember." Understand "metal" or "relief" or "huge" as the mural. The description of the mural is "It is both stylized and confusing, but you think it might be supposed to represent the various tasks and occupations of Philadelphia's population. The portions closer to the ground look as though they have recently been subjected to a light dusting of talcum powder. No unusual prints are evident."
The wind chimes are fixed in place in Thirtieth Street. "Carefully attached to the wall with a piece of duct tape and a hook is a light-weight set of wind chimes. Someone else has been here before you, it seems." The description is "Several of your friends use wind chimes as a sort of ghost alarm, since ghosts sometimes cause very localized movements of air when there is no natural breeze."
A Haughty Spirit
Suppose we have a game in which the player can climb through windows which overlook rooms below. We want him to be allowed to climb out windows to reach a room on the same level or at most one level lower than the one he's on; otherwise, he should get a refusal, saying that he would break his neck.
To figure out the height distance between the start room and the destination room, we might have a repeat loop look at all the directions one has to follow along the "best route" path between the two rooms, and record any ups and downs; then subtract the number of "up" steps from the number of "down" steps, and report what remains.
To decide what number is the distance (first place - a room) rises above (second place - a room):
let the total distance be the number of moves from the first place to the second place;
if the total distance is less than 1, decide on 0;
let count of down moves be 0;
let count of up moves be 0;
let next place be the first place;
repeat with counter running from 1 to the total distance:
let the way be the best route from the next place to the second place;
if the way is down, let count of down moves be the count of down moves plus 1;
if the way is up, let the count of up moves be the count of up moves plus 1;
let next place be the room the way from next place;
let the decision be the count of down moves minus the count of up moves;
decide on the decision.
Now we just have to create windows and some action rules for interacting with them...
Instead of entering a window:
if the noun overlooks a room (called the far side):
let fall be the distance the location rises above the far side;
if fall is greater than 1, say "You'd break your neck." instead;
say "You tumble into [the far side].";
move the player to the far side;
say "There's nowhere to go."
Here we must anticipate a little from the chapter on Relations, and provide ourselves with a way of keeping track of how windows and rooms relate to one another:
Overlooking relates various windows to various rooms. The verb to overlook means the overlooking relation. The initial appearance of a window is usually "[The item described] overlooks [the list of rooms overlooked by the item described]."
We could then add rules to allow the player to look through windows and see things in the rooms below, but that would require more material from later chapters.