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§7.15. Kinds of action
Especially when people need to react to events going on around them, it is helpful to be able to categorise actions into whole areas of behaviour. For instance:
Kissing Mr Carr is unmaidenly behaviour.
Doing something to the painting is unmaidenly behaviour.
Instead of unmaidenly behaviour in the Inn, say "How unmaidenly!"
Here a new kind of action called "unmaidenly behaviour" has been created and then used in the description of an instead rule. The convenience of this approach is that when further actions suddenly occur to us as also being unmaidenly - say, attacking Mr Carr - we only need to add a single line:
Attacking Mr Carr is unmaidenly behaviour.
And this will automatically be reflected in any rules which concern the consequences of failing to be ladylike.
(Note that we were only allowed to say that "Kissing Mr Carr is unmaidenly behaviour." because Inform already knew from earlier sentences - see the example below - that Mr Carr was a person, and therefore that "kissing Mr Carr" made sense as a description of an action.)
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Dearth and the Maiden
The following example, indebted to the late Georgette Heyer, is suggestive:
A man called Mr Carr is in the Inn. "Standing bashfully aside is one Mr Carr, who we have been led to understand is by profession a Highwayman (yet whose visage oddly recalls Lord John Carstares, disgraced eldest son of the Earl of Wyncham)."
Suppose we want to add a sense of some conversational flow, so that the player is forced to acknowledge the presence of people before beginning detailed conversations with them. We collect all speech actions into a single category:
And then write a general rule.
One complication is that "asking someone to try doing something", which describes commands such as FRED, GO SOUTH, cannot be made into a kind of action. This requires its own rule:
Now we define what greetings are going to look like:
Because of the way we've defined the command, this will now also work if the player waves.
And now the scenario:
The International Convention of Mimes is a room. Lester, Harold, Geoff, Kwame, and Peter are men in the Convention. Elouise is a woman in the Convention. The Invisible Box is an enterable container in the Convention. "You can detect, from the way people keep leaning on it, an invisible box in the middle of the room."
To describe poor reception:
if the player is in the Invisible box,
say "Everyone convulses with silent laughter as you try to shout from within the invisible box.";
say "You attempt to convey your meaning with gesture and interpretive dance, but [the list of visible other people] scorn[if the number of visible other people is 1]s[end if] your performance, refusing to respond."