Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pondering item inscriptions

Right now I'm fiddling with various ways of making ADOM more accessible to newbies (due to a small creative block regarding the final touches to the domain of the ice queen… *sigh*). While paging through the ADOM forum and the various RFEs / bug reports I among other things stumbled upon the topic of item inscriptions.

I have to admit that I so far had no idea what an "item inscription" might be (I just thought it might be a textual note) but found some arcane reference to Angband item inscriptions.

Personally this looks to me like a typical power user features that nobody never ever would consider to use (given the arcane syntax and all).

Is there any community consensus regarding this kind of stuff? Please post your feedback in the comments.

(And please post links to useful documentation if you find certain systems of item inscriptions useful)


  1. Personally, when I talk inscription, I do NOT want anything like the above Angband link. The only thing I want (and I think this applies to many people) is a way to put a textual note in the un-ID'd item name. This is particularly important for herbs and wands (which do not always ID when zapped, but you still may know what they do).

    1. The most important questions regarding the note idea seem to be (to me at least):
      - what is a useful maximum length?
      - where and how should those notes be displayed? (considering the fact that the inventory lists already now can be pretty full)

    2. I think a sensible maximum length is going to be around 20 characters - I realize that's VERY long, but I think it will allow everyone to be as verbose as they want while only making an item name proceed onto the second line.

      I think it should just be displayed in the inventory list next to the item name, i.e.:
      I - heap of 6 strange herbs [12s]
      I - heap of 6 strange herbs {sick} [12s]

    3. Do we need to notes with identified items? Some identified items already now contain detail notes that carry them past the 80 characters possible per line...

    4. Or should the notes just be lost (like the details for items) if the texts get too long?

    5. I think you won't want to lose some notes on ID'd items - for example, if you've noted that an amulet burned you and is iron on a mist elf, ID'ing that amulet and removing the notation will mean you've lost said information, but the ID'd amulet still isn't obviously iron. On others you do want to lose it, so it's a tough question.

      Don't item names >80 characters just go onto the second line when in the inventory list (not when equipped)? I always recall that happening for me. In this case, I think it's fine to let them go onto the second line - if the player doesn't like it, they have to be verbose.

      I think maybe the solution is keep notes on ID'd items, but just make it really easy to clear notes - maybe something like the } key brings up all items with inscriptions and you can select a,b,c,d,etc. and exiting the screen clears inscriptions on every item checked.

    6. In fact you could use { to bring up inventory for inscription (all items) and } to clear inscriptions (only bring up items that are inscribed).

  2. Ideally, all that would prove handiest would be a notation in the Unidentified item in questions would be a line stating the location you first picked one up in and/or the circumstances in which you acquired it. Though I agree about being able to add a note as far as zapping things as per the above...unless that behavior can also be changed to be more definitive in the first place. Anything that approaches creating macros and whatnot....just no.

  3. In Nethack you can simply give a name to any object in your inventory, just as any monster -- which is possible in Adom already.

    In that herbalism case above, I think it would be too easy if you can pick more herbs to "heap of 6 strange herbs {sick} [12s]" after naming, just because there is a herbalism skill, but with potions or scrolls there is no problem. Gemology is also a case, and maybe there’s more. Worth of trying, I think.

    Totally wonderful would be learning skills by action, but that’s another case and another game.

    About easing new players’ gaming: It’s always good if game ask’s (Y/N) when player is going to do something totally stupid, like drinking unidentified potions or eating strange herbs. There’s also possibility that more experienced player was hitting wrong key by accident -- not saying that it isn’t very good lesson when that happends, but I liked more Nethack’s way to handle inventory with stable keys. Inventory system in Adom is better in all other aspects, and when that accident happends, it feels almost like written to purpose -- so; don’t ask if I carry herbs that I know they are dangerous. But that feeling -- it‘s really desirable, and asking (Y/N) in right time makes it a lot.

  4. Doesn't sound to me like a big deal. On the other hand, I'm used to playing ADOM all these years and can manage it without inscriptions.

    What I had in mind instead of inscriptions is a Player's Log, much like a saveable in-game text log where players get to keep notes about their progress, interesting places and generally everything they want.

    Victory/death logs would be more vivid to post (since they'd have been written during action and not as afterthoughts) and of course on can always write "found carrot room in D:12" or "don't wear grey amulet-it's made of iron!"

  5. I want to share my experience of using inscription when I play Angband. I played quite a lot of Angband and have extensively use simple inscription in the game. Please note that I just recently started playing ADOM, so I don't really know whether what I did with the Angband inscription have already been implemented and extensively used in ADOM.

    Basically, I used inscription extensively as a hotkey to cast spell, swap weapons/missiles, drink potions, or any other item-related things that I might be doing repeatedly. This kind of inscriptions is very handy because in Angband items are automatically sorted every time you picked an item you haven't already had in your backpack when you picked it. Thus, applying an inscription to an item would make you choose the right item for the action you want no matter what order the item is in your backpack.

    For example, to cast a spell in Angband you need to press (default settings) 'm', choose spellbook to cast from, then choose spell to cast. The problem here is that, the corresponding letter of the spellbook itself might change if you picked another spellbook, thus makes you choose the wrong spell to cast from. So, say to cast a spell 1 from spellbook X you need to type "ma1". Then, after you picked a new spellbook you might need to type "mb1" because the item order position of the spellbook X in your backpack has changed.

    In that case, I inscribe the inscription @m1 to the spellbook X to avoid choosing the wrong spellbook to cast the spell 1. Now, I can just type m11 to cast spell 1 from spellbook X without worrying the order of the spellbook X in my backpack.

    The thing with this feature in Angband is that I used it so much and have immediately thought that I need this feature so much as soon as i hit about dungeon level 5. It is especially true if you are a caster because casting is quite long winded to type and monsters in Angband are quite resistant to spells early in the game. Another case is probably if you are a miner since you have to swap you main weapon with a pick if you want to mine something.

    So, in a nutshell the inscription is a hotkey/shortcut/macro. It can be used as simple as that or as MLG as you want. In the case of Angband, it is pretty useful because of how actions are performed in the game, whether you are a new player or a seasoned veteran.

    By the way, I have read your post next to this one regarding item notes. In Angband items are automatically noted when you first picked it or when it has been in your backpack for a while (depends on your affinity with the item). These items have the {"adjective"} beside the item name. For example, common items will have {common} (or {regular}?) beside the name and magical items would have {magical}, etc. I don't think this kind of note can be user-edited (never done it anyway). But, the point is that it is not what Angband inscription is.