Variable Time Control by Eric Eve Search for other extensions by this author Approved for the Public Library


Download version 4/150410For Inform 7 6L38



Allows individual actions to take a different number of seconds, or no time at all. Also allows the standard time taken per turn to be defined as so many seconds, which can be varied during the course of play.

Tags time


The standard behaviour for Inform 7 is to advance the time of day by one minute for each turn taken. There may be times when we'd like to vary this, perhaps because the player is up against a timed puzzle but we don't want certain actions to count too heavily against that time, or because we don't want our story to reach dawn or dusk too fast. This extension allows us to change the time taken per turn both on a global basis and for individual actions. The passage of time per turn can be changed by changing the global variable seconds_per_turn (which is 60 by default). E.g. if we wanted two turns per minute, we could define: now seconds_per_turn is 30 To make individual actions take something other than this standard time we can use the phrases: take n secs/sec/seconds/second take n secs/sec/seconds/second in/-- all/total/only For example: take 3 secs take 1 sec take 20 secs in all These phrases can be used in any of the rules relating to the action (or anything used by any of those rules, such as "to" or "to say" phrase). The difference between the two forms "take n secs" and "take n secs in all" is that the first is additive and the second is not. That means that if an action triggers several rules, and more than one of these rules contains a "take n secs" phrase, the time from each of them will be added to the action, whereas if the phrase "take n secs only" (or one of its variants) is encountered in a rule, then the action will take this number of seconds, the time from previous rules for that action being ignored. Equivalent to say phrases are also available, e.g.: "[3 secs]" "[20 secs total]" This makes it easy to write rules like: Instead of taking the delicate vase in the presence of Aunt Veronica: say "[2 secs]Aunt Veronica's ferocius glare warns you to leave the vase well alone." After dropping the knife: say "[1 sec total]The knife falls from your grasp and clatters on the floor." With all the above phrases, the turn count will still be increased by one. To have no time taken at all and the turn count not advanced, we can use the phrases: take no time "[no-time]" This can be especially useful when the response to an action is effectively a refusal to act, and we don't want the refusal to count either against the elapsed time or the turn count. For example: Instead of taking Nelson's Column: say "[no-time]You lack the strength to lift it." Or, more generally: Check taking something fixed in place: take no time. Finally the phrase "[sec-time]" can be used to display the time of day in the format hh:mm:ss am/pm, for example: *: When play begins: now the right hand status line is " [sec-time]"; Note that internally, the variable time of day is still only held to the nearest minute. This extension keeps track of a second variable, called seconds, which is used to decide when the time of day should be advanced. One further note: where the various phrases defined above have potentially contradictory effects (e.g. take no time and take 5 seconds used on the same turn), it's the last phrase executed that takes effect. Example: * Museum of Curiosities - Actions taking variable amounts of time. In this example we make each turn take 30 seconds by default, but change this for certain actions. Here we'll assume that taking or dropping something normally only takes 1 second, and that taking inventory takes 1 second, so we write additional carry out rules accordingly. Since various actions with the exhibits are forbidden altogether, we won't let attempting them take any time at all, or even any turns. Various objects take various lengths of time to examine (depending on the amount of detail to be absorbed), so we'll use "[n secs]" phrases in their descriptions to vary the length of time taken to look at them. Finally, we'll make the bag of crisps awkward to take the first time, and override the standard 1 second taking time with "[40 secs in all]". A test script is provided, but you may find it runs too fast for you to see what's going on. It may be more useful to enter commands manually, one at a time, and watch the status line to see the effect. *: "Museum of Curiosities" by Eric Eve Include Variable Time Control by Eric Eve. When play begins: now the right hand status line is " [turn count]/[sec-time]"; now seconds_per_turn is 30. An exhibit is a kind of thing. An exhibit is usually scenery. Instead of taking or pushing or pulling or touching or attacking an exhibit: say "[no-time]The signs round the room strictly warn you to leave the exhibits alone." Carry out taking something: take 1 second. Carry out dropping something: take 1 second. Carry out taking inventory: take 1 second. The player carries a leaflet. The description of the leaflet is "[60 secs]The leaflet describes some of the main exhibits in the museum and explains that they were donated by Sir Robin Lightfinger." The Museum is a room. "This large hall contains a number of fascinating exhibits, which signs dotted round the room strictly tell you not to touch on pain of a £1,000 fine. The exhibits include a stuffed dodo, Codex Sinaiticus and an unexploded bomb." The signs are scenery in the Museum. The description is "[5 secs]The signs warn that the penalty for interfering with the exhibits in any way is £1,000." The stuffed dodo is an exhibit in the Museum. The description is "[2 secs]It doesn't look very lively." Codex Sinaiticus is a proper-named exhibit in the Museum. The description is "[120 secs]It's one of the oldest surviving Greek manuscripts of the entire bible, containing both Old and New Testaments. You spend some time trying to read the Greek text." The unexploded bomb is a proper-named exhibit in the Museum. The description is "It's an unexploded bomb of World War II vintage, apparently dug up from a street in the East End in 1941 and never disposed of since." Instead of listening to the unexploded bomb: say "[2 secs]It seems to be ticking." The bag of crisps is in the Museum. "A discarded bag of crisps lies on the floor." Understand "discarded" as the bag of crisps when the bag of crisps is not handled. After taking the bag of crisps for the first time: say "[40 secs in all]As you pick up the bag, some of the crisps spill out onto the floor, so you have to scrabble around picking them all up." Test me with "take crisps/i/x leaflet/drop it/take it/take dodo/x signs/x codex/x bomb/listen to bomb/break bomb"