This is a generic set of instructions. Not all of these instructions will apply to all interactive fiction, and there are exceptions to every rule. Still, this section will help you get started in almost any work of IF.
You enter commands in more-or-less plain English at the input prompt. Most of your commands to the game will be imperatives, sentences you could use to tell someone to do something. You can use articles, words such as "the" and "an" in your sentence, but they are not necessary, and the game will ignore them.
Rooms and Travel
Games are divided into different locations, commonly called rooms. When you first enter a room, the game will describe your surroundings. To take another look at the room, type (appropriately enough) LOOK, which can be abbreviated to L in many games. You can reach most anything described in a room, so you won't need to move around within a room.
The room description will tell you what directions you can go. To move from one room to another, type the direction in which you wish to travel. Common directions are NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, NORTHEAST, SOUTHEAST, NORTHWEST, SOUTHWEST, UP, and DOWN. These can be abbreviated to N, S, E, W, NE, SE, NW, SW, U, and D.
You will find various items throughout the game. To do something with an item, tell the game what you wish to do in simple sentences. For example, if you find a wallet, you could OPEN THE WALLET or EMPTY THE WALLET. To pick up items, use the command TAKE (or GET).
You will use TAKE often, resulting in you carrying many things. The INVENTORY command lists the items you're carrying. In fact, INVENTORY is such a useful command that it can be abbreviated to I in most games.
Occasionally, items which are listed in room descriptions cannot be referred to in commands. For example, a room description may say, "Rain pours down from the sky." If the game doesn't know the word "sky," you can assume that it isn't important to the game and is in the room description only to make it more interesting.
Some example commands:
>GET THE SPIRAL CONCH
>MOVE THE RUG
>CLIMB UP THE LADDER
>OPEN THE BEAR TRAP
>SPREAD THE STRAWBERRY JELLY ON MY BURNT TOAST
>HIT JOHNNY WITH THE SAP
>PUSH BOX NORTH
>GET IN THE FLABBY INFLATABLE RAFT
You can use articles such as THE, but they're not necessary, so most players don't use them once they're comfortable with interactive fiction. You can perform a command on multiple objects by separating them by commas or the word AND.
>TAKE MOUSTACHE AND RUBBER NOSE
>PUT THE CAKE, THE CANDLES, AND THE MATCHES IN THE BOX
You can use the word ALL to apply a command to all applicable objects. To exclude certain words, use EXCEPT right after ALL.
>DROP ALL EXCEPT LARGE METAL SPHERE
>GET ALL FROM BOX
The words IT and THEM refer to the last object or objects used in a command.
>TAKE BOX. EXAMINE IT
>CLEAN THE BELL AND THE BOOK. DROP THEM
Notice that the last two examples contained multiple commands. You can include several commands on one line by separating them with periods, the word THEN, or a comma followed by the word AND.
>GET ALL. GO NORTH
>GET ON HARLEY THEN START IT
>CLIMB THE LADDER, AND OPEN THE WINDOW
Sometimes you will type a command which leaves out some information. The game will try to figure out what you mean. If there is only one object which makes sense with your command, the game will assume that you meant that object and go from there. For example,
(with the key)
The door unlocks with a click.
If there is more than one object which makes sense, the game will ask you which object you meant. You can answer by typing the missing information at the next prompt.
>TURN ON LIGHT
Which light do you mean, the flashlight or the ceiling light?
The room brightens noticeably.
What do you want to tie the rope to?
You loop the rope around the post and tie a passable square knot.
From time to time you will meet other people and creatures. You will be unable to converse with the people in plain English; instead, a more constrained system of communication is used. There are four common ways to talk to characters:
Ask them about an object.
>ASK PAUL ABOUT HIS BROTHER
>ASK GLINDA ABOUT RUBY SLIPPERS
Show them an object.
>SHOW WARRANT TO DRUG LORD
>SHOW BUCKET OF WATER TO EVIL WITCH
Tell them about an object.
>TELL ICE CREAM VENDOR ABOUT HIS
>TELL DOROTHY ABOUT FLYING MONKEYS
>TINY TIM, PUT THE UKELELE ON THE
>TIN MAN, GET UP. CARRY US
FREDDY, HELLO is not an actual command, but is phrased like one. (Note that not all games implement this command, but it's worth knowing just in case.) Notice that you can give characters more than one command on a line. In general, most characters will be less than responsive to commands.
Some games replace this system with another one; usually the game's about or help text will explain anything you need to know. If you're stuck, though, it's worth trying
>TALK TO FREDDYCommon Verbs The following is a short list of verbs common to many IF games, organized roughly by function (and from most useful to least):
|LOOK||EXAMINE [X]||SEARCH||LOOK UNDER|
|GO NORTH [N]||SOUTH [S]||EAST [E]||WEST [W]|
|UP [U]||DOWN [D]||IN||OUT|
|SWITCH ON||SWITCH OFF||SET||TURN|
|PUSH||PULL||PUSH [direction]||THROW AT|
|SHOW||ASK ABOUT||TELL ABOUT||TALK TO|
There are also some meta-commands for controlling the game:
VERBOSE, BRIEF, and SUPERBRIEF are only included in some games; where present, they determine when and how locations are described. In VERBOSE mode, the game will print full room descriptions at all times. In BRIEF, it will print the full description the first time you walk into a room, and subsequently abbreviate the description unless you type LOOK. In SUPERBRIEF, the abbreviated description is always used when entering a room, and the full description is only displayed if you type LOOK.
RESTART begins the game again, if you wish to start over. SAVE makes a disk file that contains a snapshot of your current game; RESTORE lets you return to that snapshot. Use SAVE to, in effect, place a bookmark in the game that you can go back to later with RESTORE. If you want to stop playing all together, use the QUIT command.
Sometimes you do something silly and want to take back your last action. UNDO lets you do just that: it undoes the last thing you did. Some games will let you UNDO more than once in a row, while others will only let you UNDO once.
AGAIN (abbreviated G) is the opposite: it repeats the command you just performed. This is convenient if it was something long, like TELL THE ANGRY MAN ABOUT WORLDCOM STOCK OPTIONS.
Finally, SCRIPT ON begins recording a copy, or transcript, of everything you do to a disk file. SCRIPT OFF turns off this recording.