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Designing the Text

Although Xconq is primarily a graphical game system, it is complex enough that the graphics alone are insufficient to describe what is going on.

All text that players see is issued by text generators, which are objects that, when given appropriate inputs, produce text fragments that can be used by the interface to produce a textual display. Each text generator has a number of parameters that may be used to select one of several rules [etc]

Describing Objects

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Describing Events

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Generating Names

One of Xconq's special features is its extensive machinery for generating names of things. You can generate names for sides, units, and geographical features. The possibilities range from a simple list of strings up to context-free grammars and arbitrary code modules. Naming happens throughout the game, as nameable objects are created, but is mostly done during initialization.

Grammar Examples

Here is a very simple grammar:

(namer (grammar root 40
  (root (or 1 (the animal in the thing)))
  (animal (or cat dog sheep))
  (thing (or hat umbrella fold))

It makes phrases like "the cat in the hat", "the dog in the umbrella", and "the sheep in the hat".

This example is more realistic:

;;; German-like place name generator.

;;; Conventional combos most common, random syllables rare.
;;; Needs more conventional words to combine?

(namer german-place-names (grammar root 50
  (root (or 95 (name)
             5 ("Bad " name)
  (name (or 40 (prefix suffix)
            20 (both suffix)
            20 (prefix both)
             5 (prefix both suffix)
            10 (syll suffix)
            10 (prefix syll suffix)
  (prefix (or
        schwarz blau grun gelb rot roth braun weiss
        wolf neu alt alten salz hoch uber nieder gross klein
        west ost nord sud
        ;; from real names
        frank dussel chem stras mut
  (suffix (or
        dorf torf heim holz hof burg stedt haus hausen
        bruck brueck bach tal thal furt
        ;; these aren't so great
        ach ingen nitz
  (both (or
        feld stadt stein see schwein schloss wasser eisen berg
  ;; Generate random syllables
  (syll (or 40 (startsyll vowel endsyll) 5 (vowel endsyll)))
  (startsyll (or 30 startcons 10 startdiph))
  (startcons (or b k d f g l m n r 5 s 3 t))
  (startdiph (or bl kl fl gl 5 sl 3 sch 2 schl
                 br dr kr fr gr 2 schr 3 tr 2 th 2 thr))
  (vowel (or 6 a ae 2 au 5 e 2 ei 2 ie 6 i 3 o oe 2 u ue))
  (endsyll (or 4 b 5 l 3 n 4 r 4 t
               bs ls ns rs ts 3 ch 3 ck
               lb lck lch lk lz ln lt lth ltz
               rb rck rch rn rt rth rtz
               ss sz 2 th tz

This generator usually takes normal German words and glues a couple together, making names like "Schwarzburg", "Nordbruck", and "Bad Salzwasser", but it will occasionally make a completely random syllable using common German phonemes, then glue it into a name, resulting in names like "Biefeld" and "Salzgloelthach". Yes, that last one is unpronounceable even for Germans, but the generator doesn't know that!

Since there is no special handling to ensure non-garbled names, it generally does not work particularly well to try to build names from vowels and consonants. Either random selection from a list or putting together syllables seems to do better, with perhaps a single totally random syllable thrown in. Don't forget that this is a generator, not a recognizer or parser, so you don't have to be able to handle every possible name; just enough to make an interesting variety.

Recursive rules, where a symbol expands into a sequence mentioning that same symbol, will work, but they are not recommended. Although the generator has a builtin limiter to keep from looping forever, in general there is no way to avoid getting awful names like "Feldbruckbruckbruck". Instead, you can just add extra rules, one for each desired length, so for instance you have a rule for 2-syllable names, one for 3-syllable names, one for 4 syllables, etc. Another advantage is that you can set the probability of each length of name separately, and thus lower the probability of longer names, so that they only appear once in a while and you save the poor players from being continuously tongue-tangled!

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