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Introduction to Programming

So you've got your head round the basics of building Places and now you want to try something a little more advanced. You've seen it as an option in your sidebar and wondered about it. You want to try your hand at Programming!! But what is it and how do you go about doing it?

If rooms and pages are the skeleton of you Place, and the descriptions are the skin and hair, the visual parts of your Place, then programs provide the muscles. Programs add zest to your Place. They can be used to create one way doors and secret doors. They can add background texture to your Rooms, those pretty pictures of trees or rain that you've probably noticed around. They can be used to guide players around your Place in a desired loop, or make your Place change according to the weather or the time of day. They can make your Place dynamic. Programs make things happen.

Where it all happens: Logic Grids

So how do you go about making and using programs? In your Place, on the left-hand side, under the heading 'Keybearer Options' there is a button marked 'Programs' which you've possibly already noticed. Click on it. You'll get a list of all the Rooms and Pages that you've built in your Place, and next to each one a link to click entitled 'Create New'. By the way, you don't need to be in the Room that relates to the Program that you're editing. So you can sit in the Kitchen and edit the program for the Library.

Now you're presented with a 'Logic Grid' of squares (see picture below). Think of a Logic Grid as the blank canvas on which programs are built. There doesn't seem to be much you can do? Expand the Grid by a row or a column or rename the Grid is about it, huh? That's because you've only got the blank canvas. You haven't got any of the blocks to put on this canvas to make a program. Those blocks are called 'Contraptions' and 'Contrivances'. We'll deal with those next, after the picture of a blank grid you were just promised and a few notes about it:1)

An empty logic grid

First thing to notice: There're two little text boxes beneath the grid marked: 'Unnamed Program' and 'Change Program Name'. To change the name of your program to something more memorable, type the new name (e.g. 'My First Program, Whoo.') into the left hand box ('UnNamed Program') and then click the right hand box ('Change Program Name').

Don't worry about expanding the grid yet. That's for when you're merrily programming away, making larger and larger programs and run out of space. By the time you have a use for them, it will be easier to see what they do.

Keep in mind that Programs don't apply to Places as a whole, but to particular Rooms and Pages within Places. Making a door into a one way door, for example, isn't a property of the whole Place but of the two Rooms which the door connects. So if you create a program in one room, don't expect it to work everywhere in the Place. (Unless your Place is just one room.)

The Building Blocks: Contraptions and Contrivances (C&Cs)

These are the blocks that you make your program out of. Roughly speaking:

Contraptions are used to do things while Contrivances are used to ask questions.

What this really means will become clear as you use them, but that's a good mantra to keep in mind.

You obtain these building blocks, in the first place, from the scrapyard up in Cyber City 404. Enter the scrapyard and start looking around for scrap. At each attempt you'll find a random Contraption or Contrivance which you can either keep or throw away. Looking costs stamina, and getting into the scrapyard costs 10 cigarettes, so make sure that you've maximized your stamina and emptied your backpack first to get the most for your cigarettes.

Some examples of what you might find:

A Contrivance that asks the question: is this player a member of a particular Clan?


A Contraption that does the action: lock a Door that would otherwise be unlocked.

On your first attempt, with an empty advanced backpack, and a belly full of the best food you can get, a day's foraging for scrap shouldn't fill your backpack, so keep everything. This will change as your skill level in 'Scrap Scavenging' increases however.

Contraptions and Contrivances are kept in your backpack or can be transfered into a Place's inventory for safe keeping.

If you defeat the Drive with Contraptions or Contrivances in your backpack, then they will disappear along with everything else. Store them in a Place's inventory before you go Drive hunting.

For a complete list of C&C's in the game, see here.

So which C&C's do you put where to do what? How do you put them there? And what are all those parameter thingummies as well? Well that's the essence of programming and that's what these tutorials are for. These can be used on a 'monkey see monkey do' basis, but to really get to grips with programming and to be able to write your own programs it is advised that you read these in order. These tutorials come in a series starting with the very simple, and slowly progressing on, introducing new concepts with each stage. I've tried to be as slow and gentle as I can with these, and at the very least they provide useful examples that you may wish to use in your own Place. Tutorial pages often have extra notes carefully labelled as "Notes for budding programmers" about things to notice, and what it is intended that you'll learn from that page.

Don't kid yourself that you've mastered an example until you've done it yourself without help and feel confident that you could do it again. The best way to learn pretty much anything is to get stuck in and do it. Reading about it provides abstract theoretical knowledge, actually doing it provides practical skill.

REMEMBER: Contraptions are used to do things while Contrivances are used to ask questions.

Most importantly: Have fun!

Go to the first tutorial.
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places/progelements.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/28 03:54 (external edit)