Darkness

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For the game by Richard Otter, see Darkness (game).


A pseudo-room that contains the PC when there is not enough light to see. In response to the command >LOOK, the player will not usually receive a full room description, but rather, a generic description such as "It is pitch dark here." The listing of objects and exits in the room is neglected. The player may be able to interact with objects with certain verbs (ASK ABOUT and TOUCH, but not SEARCH or EXAMINE) or may not be allowed to do anything except leave the way they came.

Code Compare

In Inform 6, darkness is the default state or a room. Something nearby (or "in scope") must be given a light attribute (such as the room or a light source which is held by the PC).

In TADS, rooms are lit by default and a special class of room (darkroom in TADS 2; DarkRoom in TADS 3) is used instead to represent a room without ambient light.

Dangers of the Dark

  • You may be eaten by a grue or other ravenous monster, miss your footing and fall to your death, or otherwise meet a clueless end. This is more likely in early games, notably Adventure and Zork.
  • You may just stumble around hopelessly, not being allowed to use any exits until you have light. (Sometimes an author will mess this up and not even allow you to retreat the way you came.)
  • You may be allowed to move around, but you just won't be able to do much without seeing anything, and you'll walk into a lot of walls while trying to find the exit; darkened areas effectively become mazes.
  • You are unlikely to be able to examine objects, and may not be allowed to interact with them at all. You may not be able to take inventory.
  • Dropped objects in a darkened room cannot always be retrieved. This may put the game into an unwinnable state.

Partial Darkness

Some games which use darkness extensively have modified or replaced the default behaviour to enable players to do more in the dark.

  • Low-light rooms rather than total darkness. The player will typically see a different description if the room is dark, probably with less detail and more ambiguity. Their interaction options with objects in the room may still be effectively disabled, or they may merely be reduced - so that a player could find and turn on a lamp, for instance.
  • Use of other senses. Touch has the widest applications here, but hearing and smell may also provide clues.

Dealing with Darkness

  • In all likelihood you will need to get rid of the darkness before you can do anything useful; normally this will involve retreating from the dark room the way you came, and looking for a portable light source. See light puzzle for varieties of light source.
  • Try moving around in the normal directions (but be prepared to UNDO). Sometimes dark rooms will lead to lit ones.
  • Use your other senses:
    • LISTEN. If you get a default response, abandon this approach; if not, you may be able to LISTEN TO specific things (though this is rare).
    • SMELL. Like listening, this is generally only good once per room - you may be able to SMELL specific objects, but don't rely on it.
    • TOUCH. A good place to start is the walls or the floor. If you start the game in darkness, you may also want to do this to yourself and to any inventory items.
  • Throw objects that you're willing to discard (pebbles, for instance). This might give you useful information - if there's a long pause followed by a plunk, chances are you don't want to wander around too much.
  • Darkness is sometimes used to focus the player's attention on conversation with an NPC. If this happens, trying to light the darkness is probably the wrong tack.