Inform 7 Home Page / Documentation

§12.19. Changing visibility

Ordinarily, Inform has a simple model for visibility: it is either fully light or it is fully dark, and certain actions are impossible in the dark, such as examining something.

We first need to remember that darkness affects what actions are even tried, as far as the player's typed commands go. If the player is in a dark room, and there is a screwdriver on the floor, the command EXAMINE SCREWDRIVER will not try any action: the screwdriver is not "in scope", which means that the parser thinks the player does not have any means of knowing it exists. (The rules for scope can be modified - see the chapter on Activities.) But let's suppose that the player types EXAMINE BOOK, and is holding the book in question. The book is now "in scope", so the action "examining the book" is tried.

Some actions require light to be present, and "examining" is one of those. So Inform consults the visibility rules to see if it can go ahead. By default, there is only one visibility rule, which says "yes" in the light and "no" in darkness. Here, though, we create another one:

Visibility rule when in darkness:
    if examining the book:
        say "You have to squint. Still...";
        there is sufficient light;
    there is insufficient light.

A visibility rule must always conclude "there is sufficient light", or "there is insufficient light", or else do nothing and leave it to other rules to decide.

It is a possibly unexpected fact that "looking" does not require light, but instead behaves differently in darkness - it prints a pseudo-room-description such as

It is pitch dark, and you can't see a thing.

instead of printing the description of the player's current room. This means that the "looking" action is unaffected by visibility rules. All the same, what "looking" does in the dark can be changed by using the two activities "printing the name of a dark room" and "printing the description of a dark room" (see the Activities chapter for details).

arrow-up.png Start of Chapter 12: Advanced Actions
arrow-left.png Back to §12.18. Changing reachability
arrow-right.png Onward to §12.20. Stored actions

Visibility set so that looking under objects produces no result unless the player has a light source to shine there (regardless of the light level of the room).