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§4.13. Values that never vary

It's sometimes useful to name even values which don't change. For example, suppose the story involves driving, and the same speed limit value comes up in many places. Rather than typing "55" (say) every time it comes up, we might prefer to write:

The speed limit is always 55.

at the start of the source text, and then talk about "the speed limit" every time we would otherwise have typed "55". Just as the word "initially" alerts Inform that we want the named value to change during play, the word "always" tells it that we don't.

This might seem pointless, because "speed limit" only means the same thing as "55" and takes more typing. But there are two reasons why authors might want to use this feature anyway. One is that it's easier for a human reader to understand the significance of a line like:

if the speed is greater than the speed limit, ...

Another is that it makes it easier to change our minds about the value, because if we decide we want 70 as the limit and not 55, we only need to make one change at the start of the source text:

The speed limit is always 70.

which is much easier than combing through a long source text trying to find many individual things which need changing.

"Speed limit" is then a number constant. Any attempt to set this elsewhere, or change its value, will result in a Problem message, and moreover it can be used in contexts where only constant values are allowed. For example,

The generic male appearance is always "He is a dude."

Trevor is a man. The description of Trevor is the generic male appearance.

means that the SHOWME TREVOR testing command produces, among other data:

description: "He is a dude."

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