§3.2. Rooms and the map

Rooms are joined together at their edges by "map connections", most of which are pathways in one of the eight cardinal compass directions: north, northeast (written without a hyphen), east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest. We also have up and down, suitable for staircases or ladders. In real life, people are seldom conscious of their compass bearing when walking around buildings, but it makes a concise and unconfusing way for the player to say where to go next, so is generally accepted as a convention of the genre.

Two more directions are provided by Inform: "inside" and "outside". These are best used when one location is, say, a meadow and the other is a woodcutter's hut in the middle of it; we might then say

Inside from the Meadow is the woodcutter's hut.

The "from" is important, as it clarifies that we intend to link two different locations, not to create an item - the hut - in a single location - the meadow.

A problem which sometimes arises when laying out maps is that Inform allows short forms of room names to be used as abbreviations. This is usually a good idea, but has unfortunate results if we write:

The Airport Road is west of the Fish Packing Plant. The Airport is west of the Airport Road.

...because "Airport" is taken as a reference to "Airport Road", so Inform makes only two locations, one of which supernaturally leads to itself. We can avoid this by writing:

The Airport Road is west of the Fish Packing Plant. A room called the Airport is west of the Airport Road.

Using "called" is often a good way to specify something whose name might give rise to confusion otherwise. It always makes something new, and it is also neatly concise, because we can establish something's kind and name in the same sentence. As another example, suppose we want to create a room called "South of the Hut", to south of the Hut. We can't do so like this:

South of the Hut is a room. South of the Hut is south of the Hut.

...because Inform will read that first sentence as placing a (nameless) room to the south of a room called "Hut". Once again "called" can save the day:

South of the Hut is a room called South of the Hut.

It is best to use "called" in the simplest way possible, and in particular, best not to use "called" twice in the same sentence. Consider:

The kitchen cabinet contains a container called a mixing bowl and a portable supporter called a platter.

It is unlikely that anyone would want to name something "a mixing bowl and a portable supporter called a platter", but not impossible, and Inform tends not to be a good judge of what is likely.

(If we really want to get rid of this issue once and for all, starting the source text with the use option "Use unabbreviated object names." will do it, but the effect is drastic. This instructs Inform not to recognise names other than in full. For example:

West of the Kitchen is the Roaring Range. South of the Range is the Pantry.

is ordinarily read by Inform as constructing three rooms (Kitchen, Roaring Range, Pantry); but with this use option set, it makes four (Kitchen, Roaring Range, Range, Pantry), in two disconnected pieces of map. Handle with care.)

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*ExamplePort Royal 1
A partial implementation of Port Royal, Jamaica, set before the earthquake of 1692 demolished large portions of the city.


**ExampleUp and Up
Adding a short message as the player approaches a room, before the room description itself appears.


***ExampleStarry Void
Creating a booth that can be seen from the outside, opened and closed, and entered as a separate room.