How to Play IF
The instructions on this page are also available within The Dreamhold. Type “help”, and then hit enter, to display it. To read more, type “help” followed by whatever it is you want to get help on.
All of these topics are general information on playing IF. If you are stuck on a particular puzzle in The Dreamhold, type “help hint” for a single hint on what to try next.
These are the commands you will use most often.
- “look” or “l”: Look around the room -- repeat the description of everything you see.
- “examine thing” or “x thing”: Look more closely at something -- learn more about it.
- “inventory” or “i”: List everything you’re carrying.
- “north”, “south”, “east”, “west”, etc., or “n”, “s”, “e”, “w”, etc.: Walk in some direction.
For more about these commands -- or any command used in this game -- type “help” followed by the command word. For example, “help look”. You might want to start by looking at the help information for all of these basic commands.
These are the most common ways of interacting with the game’s world. It’s usually worth trying these, in almost any situation. You never know what might happen -- or what you might learn.
These commands do what they say. Common sense applies. There are many more possibilities -- every game has its own variations, depending on what actions make sense in a particular situation.
- “get thing”, “drop thing”
- “put this in that”, “put this on that”, “throw this at that”
- “push thing”, “pull thing”, “turn thing”
- “open thing”, “close thing”
- “lock this with that”, “unlock this with that”
- “touch thing”, “smell thing”, “listen to thing”
- “eat thing”, “drink thing”
- “wear thing”, “remove thing”
- “search thing”, “look in thing”, “look under thing”, “look behind thing”
- “enter thing”, “sit on thing”, “climb thing”
- “get in thing”, “get off thing”, “get out of thing”
- “break thing”, “cut thing”, “crush thing”
Communicating with other characters is a tricky topic. Different games handle it in different ways. One approach is to present you with a menu -- when you meet someone, you can choose what to say from a list of phrases or questions.
Other games leave the interaction up to you. The game tells you that there’s another person in the room, and then presents you with the usual command prompt. The possible commands will vary from game to game, but these are usually available:
- “talk to person”
- “ask person about topic”
- “tell person about topic”
- “say word to person”
- “ask person for thing”
- “give thing to person”
- “show thing to person”
You can also talk to a person by typing “person, phrase”. (The comma is important.) For example, to answer a question, you could type “morgan, yes” or “morgan, no”. Saying “pirate, hello” can begin an interesting conversation -- or a deadly one. To order someone around, you could use a command like “jeeves, get my umbrella” or “ensign rosen, stop the ship”. (Naturally, not everyone will be willing to obey your commands!)
These commands help you manage your playing experience. (They’re not actions you take inside the game world.)
- “save”: Save a file containing your current game position.
- “restore”: Restore a saved game; return to the saved position.
- “quit”: End the game.
- “restart”: Start the game over from the beginning.
- “undo”: Take back your last move.
- “again”: Repeat your last move.
- “script”: Begin saving a transcript file of your game session.
- “script off”: Turn off “script” mode.
This is a somewhat miscellaneous grab-bag of commands which help you in playing a game. Not all games will support all of them, or handle them all the same way!
- “about”: Read a brief introduction to the game.
- “verbose”: See a detailed description of each room you enter, every time.
- “brief”: Turn off “verbose”.
- “score”: Measure your progress in the game.
- “help”: Learn about playing interactive fiction.
- “tutorial off”: Stop the Tutorial Voice from giving you helpful comments as you play.
- “tutorial on”: Turn the Tutorial Voice back on.
StrategyEvery text adventure is different. But here are some simple ideas which will help you in nearly any game.
- Examine everything. (Type “help examine” for more on this command.) Even if there are many things in the room, try to examine each one, at least once. Be systematic.
- Notice which objects the game is focussing your attention on, and which seem to be background or scenery. (If it looks like the most important thing in the room, it probably is. If the game says it’s not important, it probably isn’t.)
- Try to interact with things. Use common sense. If you see a button, push it. If you find a flute, play it. And “take” anything that you can possibly lift.
- If you try a command on an object, and you get a distinctive response, your ears should perk up. It means you’re on the right track. Maybe you have to try a related command, or change something else in the environment, or bring a second object in somehow. Maybe you won’t be able to complete the action until later in the game. But it’s important.
- Notice when the game is leading you towards a specific command. If the game says “You could probably bend the bars,” then “bend bars” is worth trying.
- Pay attention to common elements. If you find rubies and emeralds, look for red and green places to sell, put, or drop them. If a machine is made of brass, look for a brass part to add to it. If a door is barred by shimmering silver light, look for anything that magically glows with a similar light.
- When you find something which moves by itself, hang out and watch it for a while. You may need to understand its entire range of movement.
And remember, the game world is a world. It has its own logic -- whimsy or dream logic perhaps, but still sense. Find the game’s time and reason, and follow it. You will find a way through.