So I spent a whole bunch of time last night trying to really get real with the Inform 7 manual, even referring to the website @type_ins on twitter gave me (intfiction.com) but I kept getting stuck on one stupid little thing.
I guess I should back up a little. I’ve been trying to make this game where you get stuck in a laboratory (see my previous post) and I’ve made it to the second scene where you wake up with your hands tied behind your back. Great. No problems yet. Now, to set the stage, I put a table in the corner with a box on it. Inside the box (if you examine it) are shards of a key. You will eventually (after some more reading on my part) be able to use that key to cut the nylon ropes that tie your arms together. For some stupid reason, I thought this would be THE EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD to program but, somehow, it was so, so complicated.
I first had to learn about how some things can be containers and how things can exist inside them, but the player can’t see them until the container is open. Okay, that all makes sense. Then I had to learn about how to make certain things into “scenery,” which basically means that Inform doesn’t describe them every time you step into a room and instead just treats them as “background noise,” so to speak. Here is where I ran in to my big issue.
I want the jewellery box to NOT be described by Inform when you enter the room because it’s already there in the room description. What I mean by this is, I’m trying to avoid the rule wherein Inform lists everything in the room when you enter it (the “scenery” trick doesn’t work here because you’re not allowed to manipulate scenery, which is something I definitely want the player to be able to do in this case). Right now, the description of the room mentions the jewellery box, but then at the end of the description, Inform takes it upon itself to say “There’s a jewellery box on the table (closed).” which makes me want to TEAR MY HAIR OUT STRAND BY FLIMSY STRAND because it’s just redundant to say it twice.
So far, I can’t find a single resource that can easily explain how to avoid this without going into things that are just way beyond what I’ve been introduced to so far, but I’ve just been informed by a reader named Mark that there’s a textbook called Inform Handbook by Jim Aiken that looks very accessible. The trouble with the manual provided by the software is that it really isn’t always aimed at brand-new programmers, which is something I thought was the whole point of Inform. Maybe not, who knows. Either way, I’m definitely going to give this handbook a read before jumping into another attempt to program my game.
Here’s a link to the handbook (PDF): http://www.musicwords.net/if/InformHandbook.pdf