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§7.16. Repeated actions
We come at last to the final thing which can be specified about an action, and appropriately enough it must be specified with the final words of the description. This is the way to talk about repeated activity:
Instead of examining the tapestry for the third time, say "All right, so it's a masterpiece, but is this really the time to make a detailed study?"
Instead of examining the urn at least twice, say "It's an urn. What do you want from me?"
Instead of going nowhere for the 20th time, say "Do stop walking into walls, there's a good fellow."
Note that we are allowed to spell out numbers up to twelve in English words, but beyond that must use digits (thus "twelfth" is allowed but not "thirteenth": "13th" should be used instead). The following example is instructive:
Instead of taking something for the fourth time, say "No. I'm capricious."
This means that it is the fourth time a "taking..." action has been tried, and does not mean that the same item was taken each time. Also, note that we are counting the number of times the action has been tried, not the number of times it succeeded.
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Y ask Y?
Suppose we'd like to watch for signs that the player is floundering, and if we see them, recommend that he try the hints. There are probably more sophisticated diagnostics, but as a first cut, let's assume that a player who repeatedly reviews descriptions of objects he's already seen, looks around the room, and takes inventory, is at a loss for more productive activities. So then...
And now we write a scenario which will, alas, rather encourage even a deft and clueful player to play as though he were hopelessly confused:
Food is a kind of thing. Food is always edible. In the Yurt are a yam and a dish of yakitori. The yam and the yakitori are food. The description of food is "Well, at least it's not [a random edible thing which is not the item described]."
if a random chance of 1 in 2 succeeds and something is examined:
say "Your eye is attracted by some kind of surreptitious movement from [the random examined thing].";
otherwise if the player carries something and a random chance of 1 in 3 succeeds:
say "[The random thing carried by the player] tries to slip from your grasp."
And finally a little dollop of perversity from a later chapter:
A Day For Fresh Sushi
The following is an almost-completely-faithful rewrite of Emily Short's "A Day for Fresh Sushi", which was originally written using the (very different) Inform 6 programming language. The -- let us be honest and call it a gimmick -- of this game is the evil fish, who has some unpleasant remark to offer on pretty much every action. But the effect would wear off fast if he repeated himself, so these comments need to be single-use only.
Inform 7's repeated action syntax makes it much tidier to write the same scenario, so:
The Studio is a room. "[if visited]Decorated with Britney's signature flair. It was her innate sense of style that first made you forgive her that ludicrous name. And here it is displayed to the fullest: deep-hued drapes on the walls, the windows flung open with their stunning view of old Vienna, the faint smell of coffee that clings to everything. Her easel stands over by the windows, where the light is brightest.[otherwise]This is Britney's studio. You haven't been around here for a while, because of how busy you've been with work, and she's made a few changes -- the aquarium in the corner, for instance. But it still brings back a certain emotional sweetness from the days when you had just met for the first time... when you used to spend hours on the sofa...
The cabinet is an openable closed container in the Studio. It is fixed in place. "A huge cabinet, in the guise of an armoire, stands between the windows." The description is "Large, and with a bit of an Art Nouveau theme going on in the shape of the doors." Understand "armoire" as the cabinet.
Instead of looking under the cabinet for the first time:
say "'Dustbunnies,' predicts the fish, with telling accuracy. It executes what for all the world looks like a fishy shudder. 'Lemme tell you, one time I accidentally flopped outta the tank, and I was TWO HOURS on the floor with those things STARING ME IN THE NOSE. It was frightening.'"
After closing the cabinet for the first time:
if the fish food is not found, say "'Ooh, what do you think, Bob? I think we're going to have to dock the girl a few points. HAVE ANOTHER LOOK, sweetcakes, there's a doll.'"
After taking the paints for the first time:
say "'Boy,' says the fish, apparently to himself, 'I sure hope that's some food she's finding for me in there. You know, the yummy food in the ORANGE CAN.'"
The description of the cloths is "Various colors of drapery that Britney uses to set up backgrounds and clothe her models. She does a lot of portraiture, so this comes in handy. It's all a big messy wad at the moment. Organized is not her middle name." Understand "drapery" or "cloth" as the cloths. The indefinite article of the cloths is "a heap of". [see 3.17]
Instead of searching or looking under the cloths for the first time:
now the player is carrying the fish food;
now the fish food is found;
say "Poking around the cloths reveals -- ha HA! -- a vehemently orange can of fish food."
Instead of showing the cloths to the fish:
say "'What are you, some kind of sadist? I don't want to see a bunch of cloths! What kind of f'ing good, 'scuse my French, is that supposed to do me? I don't even wear pants for God's sake!'
The description of the painting is "Only partway finished, but you can tell what it is: Britney's mother. You only met the old woman once, before she faded out of existence in a little hospice in Salzburg.
In the picture, her hands are grasping tightly at a small grey bottle, the pills to which she became addicted in her old age, and strange, gargoyle-like forms clutch at her arms and whisper in her ears.
Before examining the painting for the first time:
say "A ferocious banging from the aquarium attracts your attention as you go to look at the painting. 'Hey!' screams the fish. 'She doesn't like strangers looking at her paintings before they're DOONNNE!'
The window is scenery in the Studio. The window can be openable. The window can be open. It is openable and closed. Understand "windows" as the window. The description of the window is "[if open]Through the windows you get a lovely view of the street outside. At the moment, the glass is thrown open, and a light breeze is blowing through.[otherwise]Through the windows, you get a lovely view of the street outside -- the little fountain on the corner, the slightly dilapidated but nonetheless magnificent Jugendstil architecture of the facing building. The glass itself is shut, however.[end if]"
The description of the table is "A monstrosity of poor taste and bad design: made of some heavy, French-empire sort of wood, with a single pillar for a central leg, carved in the image of Poseidon surrounded by nymphs. It's all scaley, and whenever you sit down, the trident has a tendency to stab you in the knee. But Britney assures you it's worth a fortune." The description of the vase is "A huge vase -- what you saw once described in a Regency romance as an epergne, maybe -- something so big that it would block someone sitting at the table from seeing anyone else also sitting at the table. But it does function nicely as a receptacle for hugeass bouquets of flowers."
Instead of looking under the table for the first time:
say "'You're not going to find anything down there,' whines the fish. 'I mean, c'mon. It's the fricking floor. Please tell me you can see that. I can see that. I'm a myopic fish in a tank ten feet away and I can tell you there is nothing there but floor.'"
The description of the telegram is "A telegram, apparently. And dated three days ago. [fixed letter spacing]TRIUMPH OURS STOP BACK SOON STOP BE SURE TO FEED FISH STOP[variable letter spacing]". [For printing options see 4.13.] Understand "yellow paper" as the telegram.
Table of Insulting Fish Comments
"'Yeah, yeah,' says the fish. 'You having some trouble with the message, there? Confused? Something I could clear up for you?'"
"'Oookay, genius kid has some troubles in the reading comprehension department.' The fish taps his head meaningfully against the side of the tank. 'I'm so hungry I could eat my way out, you get my meaning?'"
"'I'll translate for you,' screams the fish in toothy fury. 'It says GIVE FOOD TO FISH!! How much more HELP do you NEED???"
The description of the chef hat is "A big white chef hat of the kind worn by chefs. In this case, you. Just goes to show what a hurry you were in on the way out of the restaurant." Understand "big" or "white" or "chefs" or "chef's" as the chef hat. [Inform knows that this is clothing because the player starts out wearing it, so there's no need to say so separately.]
The aquarium is a transparent open container in the Studio. It is not openable. "In one corner of the room, a large aquarium bubbles in menacing fashion." The description of the aquarium is "A very roomy aquarium, large enough to hold quite a variety of colorful sealife -- if any yet survived." Understand "tank" as the aquarium.
The aquarium contains some gravel and some seaweed. Understand "little rocks" as the gravel. Understand "weed" as the seaweed. The description of the gravel is "A lot of very small grey rocks." The description of the seaweed is "Fake plastic seaweed of the kind generally bought in stores for exactly this purpose."
The aquarium contains an animal called an evil fish. The description of the fish is "Even if you had had no prior experience with him, you would be able to see at a glance that this is an evil fish. From his sharkish nose to his razor fins, every inch of his compact body exudes hatred and danger."
Instead of taking the evil fish:
say "The fish swims adroitly out of range of your bare hand. 'Hey,' he says, and the bubbles of his breath brush against your fingers. 'Count yourself lucky I don't bite you right now, you stinking mammal.'"
"'Hey, nice SKIN TONE,' shouts the evil fish. His words reach you in a spitting gurgle of aquarium water. 'You gone over to a pure eggplant diet these days?'"
"The evil fish is floating belly up! ...oh, curse. He was toying with you. As soon as he sees you looking, he goes back to swimming around."
"The evil fish darts to the bottom of the tank and moves the gravel around with his nose."
"The evil fish is swimming around the tank in lazy circles."
"The evil fish begins to butt his pointy nose against the glass walls of the tank."
The description of the bouquet is "Okay, so it's silly and sentimental and no doubt a waste of money, of which there is never really enough, but: you miss her. You've missed her since ten seconds after she stepped aboard the shuttle to Luna Prime, and when you saw these -- her favorites, pure golden tulips like springtime -- you had to have them." Understand "flowers" or "tulip" or "tulips" as the bouquet.
Instead of smelling the bouquet for the first time:
say "'Mmm-mm,' says the fish. 'Damn, I sure wish I had olfactory abilities. Hey, if I did, I might be even better at noticing the presence or absence of FOOD.'"
The description of the lingerie bag is "You grant yourself the satisfaction of a little peek inside. You went with a pale, silky ivory this time -- it has that kind of sophisticated innocence, and it goes well with the purple of your skin. A small smirk of anticipation crosses your lips."
After examining the lingerie bag for the first time:
say "'What's in THERE?' asks the fish. 'Didja bring me take-out? I don't mind Chinese. They eat a lot of carp, but what do I care? I'm not a carp. Live and let live is what I s--'
Carry out feeding:
increment the score;
say "Triumphantly, you dump the remaining contents of the canister of fish food into the tank. It floats on the surface like scum, but the fish for once stops jawing and starts eating. Like a normal fish. Blub, blub.[paragraph break]";
say "[bold type] *** TWO HOURS LATER ***[roman type][paragraph break]'So,' Britney says, tucking a strand of hair behind your ear, 'where shall we go for dinner? Since I made the big bucks on this trip, it's my treat. Anywhere you like.'[paragraph break]'I've had a hankering all day,' you admit, as the two of you turn from the shuttle platform and head toward the bank of taxis. 'I could really go for some sashimi right now.'";
end the story finally.
When play begins:
say "You're on the run. You've got a million errands to do -- your apartment to get cleaned up, the fish to feed, lingerie to buy, Britney's shuttle to meet-- [paragraph break]The fish. You almost forgot. And it's in the studio, halfway across town from anywhere else you have to do. Oh well, you'll just zip over, take care of it, and hop back on the El. This'll be over in no time.[paragraph break]Don't you just hate days where you wake up the wrong color?[paragraph break]".