[MUD-Dev] Re: darkness/visibility

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Fri Jun 12 17:47:07 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Thu, 11 Jun 1998, Oliver Jowett wrote:
> Any suggestions on handling darkness and visibility well? The classic
> either-you-see-it-or-you-don't system doesn't work too well..
> > l
> You are in a large well-lit room. There is a switch on the wall.
> > flip switch
> You flip the switch. The lights go off.
> > l
> It is very dark! You might be eaten by a grue.
> > flip switch
> You don't see anything like that here.
> I experimented with a system of tactile descriptions and keywords, which
> works reasonably well for carried objects but not so well for any objects
> that the character doesn't have direct access to. 
> The problem, I think, is one of character memory: if you just turned off
> the light switch, you should know it's there to turn on again (at least
> for a while), barring sadistic puzzles involving moving switches.. 
> Conversely, if you just walked into the room, you know nothing about a
> light switch (although searching for one by feel is feasible). 
> I don't have a good solution for this. Suggestions?

This is a tough one.  Certainly simulating different light levels and eye
sensivities isn't *too* difficult, but the above (forgeting instantly
about the switch) is a major stumbling block to that.

I don't have a *good* solution, but one sort of proxy-solution that
occured to me just now is that the object 'memory' for players might
actually help alliviate the worst of this.  Usually this is shown as:

% get sword
You pick up the sword.
% examine it
You examine the sword closely.

In this case, as long as you didn't do anything else to manipulate another
object in between, you could turn the light back on:

% flip switch
The lights go out.
% flip it
The lights come on.


% flip switch
The lights go out.
% flip switch on flashlight
You flip the switch, but nothing happens.  Batteries must be dead.
% flip it
You flip the switch, but nothing happens.  Batteries must be dead.

Ie, you've "forgotten" about the switch on the wall.
Note I'm assuming here that things in your possession are always visible
at least in form, even if you can't read them.  There's nothing sillier

  <worn on head>  a heavy gold crown encrusted with jewels

(lights go out)

  <worn on head> something.

At the very least I'd expect:

  <worn on head> a heavy crown


  <worn on head> something heavy and metallic

Here we get into defining object properties in realms other than vision,
which IMO is a good thing.  But if you don't feel like doing a markup
language or some other more advanced representation, a simple bit of code
could check the object's material, weight, and basic type and come up with
a name that the player could at least call it to get it off their head.


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