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Comments on the Demo Area

Name Entrance to the Description Manager demo area
@Desc Welcome to the Entrance of the Description Manager demo area. This is an OOC area to introduce you to how descriptions are used to give your character (and you) information about places your PC visits in Reality Fault. It will also show you how the level of detail can be controlled and how specific types of information can be accessed while you are playing. Once you have read the instructions, please proceed to the north and enter the demo area.
_details/closer A small featureless room. The floor is white, the walls are white and the ceiling is white. There is a barely discernible door in the east part of the north wall.
_details/dimensions You are in 10' NS by 15' EW room. There is a door on the North wall in the East-most 5' section.
Instructions In every room in this area, you can use these commands:
look reports the description of the room
look closer to see more details of the room
look dimensions to see the physical dimensions and features of the room
showexits turns on automatic 'Show Obvious Exits' when your PC enters a room
hideexits turns off the 'Obvious Exits' feature
exits show a list of all the obvious exits in the room
showthings turns on automatic 'Show Obvious Items' when your PC enters a room
hidethings turns off the 'Obvious Items' feature
items show a list of all the obvious items in the room

Each setting (and the associated commands) will be available to a PC throughout the system. In this area, there will often be 'OOCnotes' to look at. Places with them will have them showing in the Obvious Items area.

StyleGuide There are several things that may be presented to a character when they enter a room:
  • The NAME of the room
  • The DESCRIPTION of the room
  • The COMPLETE description of the room
  • All visible DETAILS in the room
  • All visible EXITS in the room
  • All visible CHARACTERS / PUPPETS and THINGS in the room

The NAME of the room is always read to the PC. It should be specific, descriptive and (if possible) reasonably unique. It should answer the question: "Where are you?"

The Lobby, A Rock, Porch, Grassy Plain

The Lobby of The Stygian Building, The big flat rock on the road to Esaurius, The Porch of the Hatfield Steading, The Donompoc Plain.

The DESCRIPTION of the room is always read to the PC. It should set the scene and provide directions without being verbose. It should answer the question: "What do I see?" in a broad fashion.


  • Run-on sentences.
  • No spell checking.
  • No logical clumping of similar items or features.
  • No sense-related clues.
  • Excessive use of parenthetical commentary or 'punctuation as rhythm.'
  • Huge, dense, undifferentiated blocks of text.

Should be approximately one to six lines long (no more than 500 characters), contain indications of the size of the room, pointers to obvious exits, and major areas or items of interest. Sense cues are appropriate, but should be kept to a minimum. For example:

The large office is sparsely furnished. The entire east wall is a window framed by curtains. Near the window, a massive desk of crystal and bronze faces the door. An area rug near the door sets off that half of the office as a reception area. The door in the west wall leads to the hallway.

The COMPLETE description is read to the PC only when they first visit the room. It should contain a complete, detailed description of everything that a PC can see without closely examining each feature or object. It should answer the questions: "What do I see?" in complete detail.

The date of their last visit is recorded and expires if the PC hasn't been to the room for a long period of time. If the 'last visit' counter is expired, the COMPLETE description is again read to the PC.

A good COMPLETE description should contain all of the specifics about the room; details about the floor or ground covering, what the walls look like, what is on the walls and ceiling, any windows, doors, furnishings (perhaps by area or intent), small objects, sense cues, impressions that the room might convey, etc. For example:

The room has a clean, polished hardwood floor in a dense, dark brown wood. There is a large area rug near the door on the west wall that covers nearly half of the room. The subtle cream and pale green pattern of the rug compliments the ash-blonde hardwood paneling that rises to shoulder height. The walls above the paneling are a pale aqua. Spaced around the room on the walls are small bronze and milk-glass lamps, reminiscent of orchids, that accent the desk.

The ceiling is high, rising away from the walls in three shallow steps. The recessed central area is filled with light and suffuses the room with a bright, even glow that casts no shadows.

The window in the east wall goes from floor to ceiling, wall to wall and is so clean you can almost feel the breeze outside. Tall, straight curtains frame the window like deep green columns. The window gives a lovely view of Pantheon Station and the train yard beyond.

On the north side of the area rug is a small couch and cocktail table. On the table is a statuette of a streamlined black panther with flickering emerald green eyes. To the south is a small, waist-high table under a very abstract print signed by Arthur Decco. On the table in a small pool of light is a small replica of Lantz's /Man Controlling Trade/ in unblemished marble.

...and so on...

The DETAILS in the room are not always read to the PC. These are descriptions of items in the room that are not THINGS in the database. These DETAILS are interesting features, but not separate from the room. Each DETAIL description should answer the question: "What do I see when I examine this item more closely?"

Since there is only one (defined) description for a DETAIL, it can be as complete as necessary. Also, the description of a DETAIL can lead players to examine other details:

lookat box

Guide to the Demo Area

Maybe we could put the instructions in an object that they can carry around, but doesn't leave the area?

Can we make the commands more flag oriented? I'm always leery of having multiple similar commands for a single set of stuff. I'd much rather document multiple usage on a single command than have to do a bunch of very similar commands. Keeping track of the See also list starts to become a real pain. It also helps users remember THE command that does this stuff, rather than having to remember which commands, plural. How about:

OOC visible [ OOC visible [
/describe [on | off] | [ + | - ]describe |
/complete [on | off] | [ + | - ]complete |
/details [on | off] | [ + | - ]details |
/things [on | off] | [ + | - ]things |
/exits [on | off] | [ + | - ]exits |
/characters [on | off] | [ + | - ]characters |
/all [on | off] | [ + | - ]all |
] ]

I realize that all of these may not be possible, but I'd like to (at least) keep all of them in mind. This structure would let players do something like:

OOC visible to turn everything on
OOC visible /all off to turn everything off
OOC visible /exits to just turn on exits
OOC visible /exits on /things off to toggle multiple flags.

And points to some obvious extensions of our lookat command:

lookat /exits
lookat /items (or /contents)

What does the look command do that lookat doesn't? Are we ready to just swap the lookat command for the look command yet?

Where does the "last visit" counter go? In the room object or in the PC object?

Let's say it expires on a ten-day schedule. Bob visits The Grotto on day one. The "last visit" counter is set to expire on day eleven. Bob comes back to The Grotto on day five and later on day twelve. Is the DETAILED description read at this time, or does the visit on day five push that back to day fifteen?

Copyright © 1998-Nov-14 Bob Simpson

Last modified: 2002-Jun-13 22:50:01

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