Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chewing on Windows

This is just an attempt to figure out exactly what all windows entail, since it's kind of a weird nebulous thing.

* Windows are essentially holes in walls.
* In real life, some rooms have multiple windows.  For disambiguation reasons, I suspect it's easier to limit this to one per room, or possibly one per direction per room.  So a room on the corner of a house might have a window facing east and one facing south.
*  Windows are going to be automatically built as the house is.  Otherwise, it gets too complicated - the player could theoretically saw out a window of a wooden wall, but how the hell would it happen with brick or adobe or rock or practically any other building material?  Dynamite?)
*  This also lets me set windows up beforehand, which is nice and saves me time.
*  Windows can be glass paned or unpaned.  Other possibilities would be some weather proofing, semi-light permeable, nontransparent material, like oiled paper, but that gets complicated because paper maintenance is way different and would change a lot of internal bits, so for now, only two choices (Oil paper: shelved indefinitely).
* Windows can be broken, whole, or vacant.  These are probably definitions: whole windows have undamaged glass, broken windows have damaged glass, vacant windows have no glass.
*  Windows should probably ask for an appropriate number of glass panes upon construction, depending on size (shelved indefinitely).
*  Whole windows can be open or closed; the others are essentially stuck open for the purposes of weather, light, animal entrances, etc., although they need slightly different descriptions than whole windows that have been opened.
*  Heat escapes through open windows (shelved until fire/cold/interior temperature work).
*  All windows can be boarded up; doing so decreases loss of heat, prevents entry of unwanted animals, stops light, reduces or stops weather (effects shelved until each feature is implemented).
* Some weather (tornadoes, hail) and some predators (thieves) can break windows (shelved until those things are implemented).
* Accidents or neglected maintenance can break windows (shelved indefinitely).
* Windows can be broken directly and deliberately by the player via the attack command.
*  A slightly more upscale option to boarding would be shutters, which are permanently installed and can be opened or closed, reducing time and effort to cover windows.  (Shelved.)
* Windows open out onto another location (complete).
* Looking through a window provides a glimpse of the other room (complete)

* Looking through a window into a room where something exciting/awesome/horrifying is happening should alert the PC to the problem and print a description (shelved until exciting/awesome/horrifying things are added).
* Windows are too small for PC to fit through (with the exception of emergencies?).  They should have a rejection message for the attempt, though, and then possibly auto-send the PC to the proper room.
* Windows should get dirty over time, exacerbated by certain events, and be cleanable (shelved). 
* Work on atmospheric messages: light, rain, snow, wind through open windows and possibly onto things; catching sight of the outdoors through windows; mention of landmarks and major features that can be seen (ongoing, but a good start would be a couple variations of each of the above).
* Work on cluing and encyclopedia entry; create text snippets mentioning shutters, boarding, panes, etc. for appropriate books (ongoing, but simple entries should be easy to knock up).

*Think about: window sills - yay or nay?

In short: Glass vs. no glass, boarded vs. unboarded.
Glass: Open vs. closed, broken vs. unbroken
Implemented verbs: open, close, install (>INSTALL PANES IN WINDOW), fix (>FIX BROKEN WINDOW), board up, whatever the opposite of board up is (unboard? take down boards?), break, look out/through, wash.
Unimplemented, redirected verbs: climb from/out, jump from/out, throw from/out (defenestrate?), go through/out.

Check whether "of" is omitted from commands: is ">CLIMB OUT WINDOW" nominally equal to ">CLIMB OUT OF WINDOW"?

Consider the difficulties inherent in broken glass.  Should the player be allowed to use it for anything, or should it be theoretical?  (Leaning towards theoretical, but remember to handle attempts to get at the broken glass.)


  1. Open windows also allow for easy overhearing of things being discussed in adjacent areas (perhaps raising prickly issues of peepholes and door keyholes as window-like. Glory holes I'll leave as an exercise for the AIF authors.)

    Also of potential interest are stained-glass windows and one-way mirrors. (If you want to climb into that ring, there are of course also windows in most motor vehicles.)

    Papered-over windows or walls (like Japanese shoji screens) might allow perception of silhouettes of what's behind them, especially with rear illumination.

  2. Yeah, the social aspects of windows are a whole other bag. Something to make note of, whenever I'm feeling strong enough to think about NPC's.

    I like the silhouettes - great imagery even if they don't make it into the mechanics proper. A lot of potential for some very creepy stuff there.

    I like stained glass; I'm a little wary about what might be needed to do the staining bit.

    Motor vehicles are right out, at least for the player, due to how much I'd need to learn (or learn to fake convincingly). Also, they're potentially *very* gamebreaking - cars and such are nearly fire-like in their potential for destruction. Other tech is more limiting, but the sheer quantity of things you can do with a tractor boggles my mind. I could arbitrarily block actions in the vehicles, of course, but that takes a lot of the fun out of having them in the first place - sort of like a chainsaw you can never start.