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§12.17. Visible vs touchable vs carried
To recap, actions are created like so:
Photographing is an action applying to one visible thing and requiring light.
Depositing it in is an action applying to two things.
Taking inventory is an action applying to nothing.
Actions can involve up to two different things. We can place additional requirements on any of these things by describing them as a "visible thing", "touchable thing" or "carried thing". (If we simply say "thing" or "things", as in the second example, Inform assumes the requirement to be "touchable".) These three conditions are increasingly strong:
- To be "visible", something needs only to be possible to refer to by the player, which in practice means that it must be visible to the player-character. The noun or second noun produced by any action resulting from a command at the keyboard will always satisfy this minimal condition.
- To be "touchable", the player-character must be able to physically touch the thing in question: this normally means that it must be in the same room, and there must be no physical barriers in between.
- To be "carried", the player-character must (directly) carry the thing in question. (But if the player types a command using an action requiring something "carried", like WEAR HAT, the thing in question - the hat - will sometimes be picked up automatically. This is called "implicit taking", and results in text like "(first taking the top hat)" being printed.)
If an action involves two things, they need not have the same requirement as each other:
Waving it at is an action applying to one carried thing and one visible thing.
Thus to "wave magic wand at banyan tree", the player must be holding the wand, but need only be able to see the tree.
Note one special case. Requirements on touchability are waived in the case of "try" actions applied to people other than the player where the things they would need to touch are doors or backdrops. (This is a compromise to avoid difficulties arising from the ambiguous locations of such items.)
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