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§3.25. The location of something

The model world created by Inform is partitioned into rooms. This means that everything which exists in the model world, exists in one of the rooms. If we write a sentence such as

Professor Wilderspin is a man.

and say nothing more about Wilderspin, then he does not physically exist at the start of the story: he is said to be "out of play", and stays that way until we move him into one of the rooms. A better metaphor might be that he is waiting in the wings, ready to come onto the stage.

Every thing is either out of play, or can be found in one of the rooms, and the property "location of X" gives us the room in question. The following condition tests, in effect, whether Wilderspin is in play:

if the location of Wilderspin is a room, ...

Which uses a new phrase:

location of (object) ... room

This phrase produces the room which, perhaps indirectly, contains the object given. Example: if the player stands in Biblioll College and wears a waistcoat, inside which is a fob watch, then

location of the fob watch

is Biblioll College. In general, a thing cannot be in two rooms at once, but there are two exceptions: two-sided doors, present on both sides, and backdrops. The "location of" a door is its front side, but a backdrop has no location. (Objects which are not things at all, such as rooms and directions, also have no location.)

We very often want to know the location of the player, and this is more simply called just "the location". (This is actually a value that varies rather than a phrase, but that's a technicality we can ignore here.)

The idea of indirect containment is useful enough to have a name: Inform calls it "enclosure". A thing encloses whatever is a part of itself, or inside itself, or on top of itself, and it also encloses anything that they enclose. And when something moves around, anything it encloses will move with it. In the example above, Biblioll College (a room) and the player (a person) both enclose the fob watch and the waistcoat. (The small print: a door is enclosed by the rooms on both sides; a backdrop is never enclosed.)

Enclosure is only useful when being used as a question. So the following is fine:

if the player encloses the fob watch, ...

But these will produce problem messages:

The player encloses the fob watch. The location of the trilobite is the Museum.

because they are too vague. Inform needs to know exactly where the fob watch and the trilobite will begin the story, whereas these sentences leave room for doubt about who or what is actually holding them.

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**ExampleVan Helsing
A character who approaches the player, then follows him from room to room.