Inform 7 Home Page / Documentation

§7.6. Reading and talking

A few actions apply not to items alone, but also involve what might be called conversation. The first is the one used for looking things up in books (which is conversation of a kind, even if the author is not present): "consulting ... about ...". For example,

paste.png In the Grove is a book of sybilline verses.

After consulting the book about "grove", say "The Grove is a sacred yadda, yadda. There's a tree, that sort of thing. Wisdom."

After consulting the book about "future events", say "It's a bit, what's the word? Delphic."

Note that what follows "about" here is a piece of text in double-quotes, and not the name of something. It can be almost any text at all, and in fact we shall later see (in the chapter on "Understanding") that we can match complicated patterns of words, too.

Similar actions are used for conversing with people:

After asking the Sybil about "verses", say "She blushes."

After telling the Sybil about "persians", say "She nods gravely."

After answering the Sybil that "I am mad", say "She sighs."

These would be produced by commands like "ask sybil about verses", "tell sybil about persians" and "answer i am mad". Answering is little-used except that it also catches commands like "sybil, something unrecognized", which inexperienced players sometimes type. Asking and telling, however, are important actions and the difference between them is often worth preserving. If you would prefer to make "tell sybil about X" do the same as "ask sybil about X", the following rule would serve:

Instead of telling the Sybil about something, try asking the Sybil about it.

Games with a lot of conversation often involve great heaps of rules like the ones above, which can be repetitious to type out. We shall also later see (in the chapter on "Tables") that we can tabulate questions and answers in a much more concise way, if we prefer.

* See Topic columns for table-based ways to store and retrieve conversation

arrow-up.png Start of Chapter 7: Basic Actions
arrow-left.png Back to §7.5. After rules
arrow-right.png Onward to §7.7. The other four senses

*ExampleSybil 1
Direct all ASK, TELL, and ANSWER commands to ASK, and accept multiple words for certain cases.

Redirecting a question about one topic to ask about another.

**ExampleSybil 2

***ExampleCosta Rican Ornithology
A fully-implemented book, answering questions from a table of data, and responding to failed consultation with a custom message such as "You flip through the Guide to Central American Birds, but find no reference to penguins."