Saturday, July 18, 2015


In that last bout of Roodylib attachables improvement, playing around with the "Vault of Hugo" sample game made me check out some other things, too.  Specifically, I was reminded that Roodylib's doublespace formatting option worked imperfectly.  This is how it looked when it attempted the Vault of Hugo's "Object Room."

(there are no commands listed since it is the result of a recording playback)
As you can see, spacing is inconsistent, with no extra lines between the two items with short_desc's (and all of the non-short_desc-related objects are clumped together, too).

I set out to fix this- and not only that, as I also decided I wanted Roodylib to have an option for smart room descriptions if the player is in an object (I had gotten a test case of this working months ago but it still required some code clean-up and adapting to put it into Roodylib).

Not only this, but I also wanted to make sure that rooms printed properly with the LIST_F format option on.  This is the setting that does "tall" listings like those in Zork:

West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
The small mailbox contains:
  A leaflet

I can't remember how broke the alignment was before I started this latest wave of improvement.  Might have not been that broke, but with Hugo, "The small mailbox contains:" was indented once and the next line twice.  This was probably intentional, but to be honest, I prefer the Zork version.  Hugo also didn't capitalize the article for children like "A leaflet".  I've changed that, too, since again, I liked the Zork way.  If I had my druthers, I'd make both of these things optional but as it is, configuring DescribePlace to your needs is already going to be a bunch of global variable tinkering and flag setting.  Still, one day I might re-design the WhatsIn and ListObjects routines so they're much more configurable.

While I was at it, I also added my system for smarter listing when the player in a container in the room (it's possible to configure it to also do platforms, but it was hard to come up with a wording that'd work for all cases- if you're on a chair, do you really want to describe all other objects in the room as "off the chair"?).

FORMAT global set to DESCFORM_F and COOL_PARENTS flag set
FORMAT with LIST_F (you'll notice that I changed how Indent works with LIST_F just so the two systems use the same logic)
The cauldron and the grandstand listed are not in the original game.  I added them just to test the part of DescribePlace's code that lists the children of scenery items.

Now let's take a look at some of the behavior if the NEW_DESCRIBEPLACE flag is set.

NEW_DESCRIBEPLACE with doubles-pacing on
The new DescribePlace defaults to having children of scenery listed right away, right after children of parent-of-player.  I figured it's better for them to be closer to wherever they were mentioned in the room text.  Ideally, I'd have an extra check in there to list attachables-connected-to-scenery objects right up there, but I don't think that comes up enough to justify the extra work for now.

With double-spacing on, it only prints newlines (and the extra space) when it needs to.  All those extra spaces might look kind of ugly in that example right there (since that room has so many objects), but I'm fairly certain that it'll look quite nice in the average IF game.

I'm pretty happy with the different options I've given the DescribePlace system although the extra settings I've created could probably use some finessing.

Right now, there are the following additional Roodylib options:

  • Set the "COOL_PARENTS" flag (this gives the room better relative text when the player is in a container in the room)...  My gripe about this name is that it's close to my SMART_PARENTS flag (which gives better responses when a player tries to go in an unavailable direction while, like, sitting in a chair or something).
  • Give FORMAT the DESCFORM_I mask. DESCFORM_I gets rid of the extra new line before a room title is printed, based on Infocom layout (hence the I).  Just the same, the F in DESCFORM_F probably stands for "flag" so changing it to I is probably just confusing.
  • Set the "NEW_DESCRIBEPLACE" flag.  This gives the extra functionality of the new DescribePlace code.  I'm pretty fine with this one.
  • Give FORMAT the DESCFORM_D mask.  If the new DescribePlace system is on, this turns on double-spacing.
Beyond the probably-confusing names of my new masks and flags, I'm not sure I even want to expect new authors to know how to change this stuff- if I recall correctly, FORMAT masks are covered very briefly in the manual; pretty sure I learned most of what I know just by looking at hugolib.h.

I'd like to make it easier for authors by creating some routines that will set the game to the formatting they prefer, but even that is kind of a headache. *

* I was going to continue with the annoying aspects of trying to design and name helper routines, but I think I might have an idea I'd like to play with.  Stay tuned!

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