LPC Basics
                      Written by Descartes of Borg
                      first edition: 23 april 1993
                      second edition: 25 may 1993

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Coding Environment
Chapter 2: The LPC Program
Chapter 3: LPC Data Types
Chapter 4: Functions
Chapter 5: The Basics of Inheritance
Chapter 6: Variable Handling
Chapter 7: Flow Control
Chapter 8: The Data Type Object

               This manual, how to use it, and its terms

I have seen a lot of requests lately on USENET for LPC manuals.  In addition,
the immortals on my mud have been telling how good the building documentation
of Nightmare is, but that there was just no adequate explanation of the
LPC programming language.  So I decided to try my hand at writing a manual.
Some things you should keep in mind.
LPC is a very easy programming language to learn, and it has real
value in that place most of us know as the real world.  I began playing
muds in 1991, and in the space of a month created an unimpressive area
and musician's guild on the original Bates College MUD called Orlith.
After that, I moved to Los Angeles for a year and had no contact with
mudding or computers.  In June of 1992, I was back on the internet and
a wizard of Igor.  In September of 1992 I began coding the Nightmare
mudlib for our use, and then later decided to distribute it due to there
not being any mudlibs for MudOS at the time that a person could just throw
up a running mud with (now, that of course is not the case :)).
So, I have been doing serious coding for less than a year.  As a
Philosophy major in a world of Computer Science majors, I just want to
make clear that it is not at all required that you have ever done anything
with your computer than log into a mud in order for you to really come
to understand LPC coding.  This manual makes the following assumptions:
Someone has taught you basic UNIX commands like ls, cd, mkdir, mv, rm, etc.
You know how to enter your mud's editor and write a file.  No other
assumptions are made.  If you know C, you are handicapped in that LPC
looks a lot like C, but it is not C.  Your preconceptions about
modular programming development will be a hinderence you will have to
overcome.  If you have never heard of the C programming language (like
me in May of 1991), then you are only missing an understanding of the
simple constructs of C like the flow of program execution and logical
operators and such.  So a C guru has no real advantage over you, since
what they know from C which is applicable to LPC is easy to pick up.
The stuff they know about C which makes them a guru is irrelevant to
The chapters of this manual are meant to be read in order.  Starting with
the introduction, going sequentially through the chapter numbers as
ordered in the contents file.  Each chapter begins with a paragraph or
two explaining what you should have come to understand by that point
in your studies.  After those introductory paragraphs, the chapter then
begins to discuss its subject matter in nauseating detail.  At the end
of the chapter is a briefly worded summary of what you should understand
from that chapter if I have been successful.  Following that may or may
not be some sidenotes relevant to the subject at hand, but not necessary
to its understanding.
If at any time you get to a chapter intro, and you have read the preceeding
chapters thoroughly and you do not understand what it says you should
understand by that point, please mail me!  Clearly, I have failed at that
point and I need to know where it is I have gone wrong so I can revise
it properly.  Similarly, if you do not understand what the chapter summary
says you should, please mail me.  If your mumud is on the MudOS intermud
system, mail descartes@nightmare.  Otherwise mail borg@hebron.connected.com.
Some basic terms this manual uses:
This is the C program which is the game.  It accepts incoming sockets
(links to other computers), interprets LPC code defined by the mudlib,
keeps mud objects in memory, makes periodic attempts to clean unused
mud objects from memory, makes periodic calls to objects, and so on.
LPC code which defines the world in which you are in.  The driver of itself
is not a game.  It is just a program which allows the creation of a
multi-user environment.  In some sense, the driver is like an LPC
compiler, and the mudlib is like a compiler's library (a very loose
analogy).  The mudlib defines basic objects which will likely be used
over and over again by people creating in the mud world.  Examples of
such objects are /std/room (or /room/room), /std/user.c (or /obj/player.c),
and so on.
area or castle:
Specific creator coded objects which often use a feature of LPC called
inheritance to make use of the properties of basic mudlib objects and
turn them into specific objects to be used by players in the game
a room, a weapon, a monster, a player, a bag, etc.  More importantly,
every individual file with a .c extension is an object.  Objects are
used in different ways.  Objects like /std/living.c are inherited by
objects like monster.c and user.c.  Others are cloned, which means a
duplicate of that code is loaded into memory.  And still others are
simply loaded into memory to be referenced by other objects.
native and compat:
these two terms refer to two popular flavours of drivers.  Native mode
mudlibs make use of on the design of LPMud driver 3.0 and later.  You may
have a 3.0 driver however, but have a 2.4.5 style mudlib.  This is what
is meant by compat mode.  Mudlibs which are native mode are any for
MudOS, CD, and LPMud mudlibs that
are listed as native.  Compat mudlibs are any LPMud mudlib before 3.0 and
those which are 3.* compat mudlibs.  I believe Amylaar's is compat.

CHAPTER 1: Introduction to the Coding Environment

1.1 UNIX file structure
LPMuds use basic UNIX commands and its file structure.  If you know
UNIX commands already, then note (with a few exceptions) options are
not available to the commands.  Like DOS, UNIX is heirarchical.  The
root directory of which all directories are sub-directories is called
root(/).  And from those sub-directories you may have further
sub-directories.  A directory may be referred to in two different ways:
1) by its full name, or absolute name, or 2) by its relative name.
Absolute name refers to the directory's full path starting from / winding
down the directory tree until you name the directory in question.  For


refers to the directory monster which is a sub-directory of obj which
is a sub-directory of descartes which is a sub-directory of players
which is a sudirectory of /.

The relative name refers to the name relative to another directory.
The above example is called monster relative to /players/descartes/obj,
but it is also called obj/monster relative to /players/descartes,
descartes/obj/monster relative to /players, and finally
players/descartes/obj/monster relative to /.  You can tell the
difference between absolute names and relative names because absolute
names always start with /.  In order to know exactly which directory
is being named by a relative name, you naturally must know what
directory it is relative to.

A directory contains sub-directories and files.  LPMuds only use text files
inside the mudlib.  Like directories, files have both absolute and
relative names.  The most basic relative name is often referred to as the file
name, with the rest of the absolute name being referred to as the path.  So,
for the file: /players/descartes/castle.c, castle.c is the file name, and
/players/descartes is the path.

On some muds, a file with a file name beginning with a . (like .plan) is
not visible when you list files with the regular file listing command.

1.2 UNIX Commands
Along with the UNIX file structure, LPMuds use many UNIX commands.  Typical
UNIX commands on most muds are:
pwd, cd, ls, rm, mv, cp, mkdir, rmdir, more, head, cat, ed
If you have never before seen UNIX commands, you probably are thinking this
is all nonsense.  Well, it is, but you got to use them.  Before getting
into what they mean though, first a discussion of current directory.
If you know DOS, then you know what a current working directory is.
At any given point, you are considered to be "in" some directory.  This
means that any relative file or directory names you give in UNIX commands
are relative to that directory.  For example, if my current directory is
/players/descartes and I type "ed castle.c" (ed is the command to edit),
then it assumes I mean the file /players/descartes/castle.c

pwd: shows you your current working directory
cd: changes your current working directory.  You may give either relative
    or absolute path names.  With no arguments, it changes to your home
ls: lists all files in the directory named.  If no directory is named,
    it lists the files of the current working directory
rm: deletes the file named
mv: renames the file named
cp: copies the file named
mkdir: makes a new directory
rmdir: deletes a directory.  All files must have been first removed.
more: pages the file named so that the file appears on your screen one
    page at a time.
cat: shows the whole file to you at once
head: shows you the first several lines of a file
tail: shows you the last several lines of a file
ed: allows you to edit a file using the mud editor

1.3 Chapter Summary
UNIX uses a heirarchical file structure with the root of the tree being
named /.  Other directories branch off from that root directory and
in turn have their own sub-directories.  All directories may contain
directories and files.  Directories and files are referred to either
by their absolute name, which always begins with /, or by their relative
name which gives the file's name relative to a particular directory.
In order to get around in the UNIX files structure, you have the
typical UNIX commands for listing files, your current directory, etc.
On your mud, all of the above commands should have detailed help commands
to help you explore exactly what they do.  In addition, there should
be a very detailed file on your mud's editor.  If you are unfamiliar
with ed, you should go over this convoluted file.

CHAPTER 2: The LPC Program

2.1 About programs
The title of this chapter of the textbook is actually poorly named, since
one does not write programs in LPC.  An LPC coder instead writes *objects*.
What is the difference?  Well, for our purposes now, the difference is
in the way the file is executed.  When you "run" a program, execution
begins at a definite place in the program.  In other words, there
is a place in all programs that is noted as the beginning where program
execution starts.  In addition, programs have definite end points,
so that when execution reaches that point, the execution of the program
terminates.  So, in short, execution of a program runs from a definite
beginning point through to a definite end point.  This is not so with
LPC objects.

With muds, LPC objects are simply distinct parts of the C program which
is running the game (the driver).  In other words, execution of the mud
program begins and ends in the driver.  But the driver in fact does
very little in the way of creating the world you know when you play
a mud.  Instead, the driver relies heavily on the code created in LPC,
executing lines of the objects in the mud as needed.  LPC objects thus
have no place that is necessarily the beginning point, nor do they
have a definite ending point.

Like other programming languages, an LPC "program" may be made up of
one or more files.  For an LPC object to get executed, it simple
needs to be loaded into the driver's memory.  The driver will call lines
from the object as it needs according to a structure which will be
defined throughout this textbook.  The important thing you need to
understand at this point is that there is no "beginning" to an LPC
object in terms of execution, and there is no "end".

2.2 Driver-mudlib interaction
As I have mentioned earlier, the driver is the C program that runs on
the host machine.  It connects you into the game and processes LPC code.
Note that this is one theory of mud programming, and not necessarily
better than others.  It could be that the entire game is written in C.
Such a game would be much faster, but it would be less flexible in
that wizards could not add things to the game while it was running. This
is the theory behind DikuMUDs.  Instead, LPMUDs run on the theory that
the driver should in no define the nature of the game, that the nature
of the game is to be decided by the individuals involved, and that
you should be able to add to the game *as it is being played*.  This
is why LPMUDs make use of the LPC programming language.  It allows
you to define the nature of the game in LPC for the driver to read and
execute as needed.  It is also a much simpler language to understand
than C, thus making the process of world creation open to a greater
number of people.

Once you have written a file in LPC (assuming it is corrent LPC ), it justs
sits there on the host machine's hard drive until something in the game
makes reference to it.  When something in the game finally does make
reference to the object, a copy of the file is loaded into memory and
a special *function* of that object is called in order to initialize
the values of the variables in the object.  Now, do not be concerned
if that last sentence went right over your head, since someone brand
new to programming would not know what the hell a function or a variable
is.  The important thing to understand right now is that a copy of the
object file is taken by the driver from the machine's hard drive and
stored into memory (since it is a copy, multiple versions of that
object may exist).  You will later understand what a function is, what
a variable is, and exactly how it is something in the game made reference
to your object.

2.3 Loading an object into memory
Although there is no particular place in an object code that must exist
in order for the driver to begin executing it, there is a place for which
the driver will search in order to initialize the object.  On compat 
drivers, it is the function called reset().  On native muds it is the
function called create().

LPC objects are made up of variables (values which can change) and
functions which are used to manipulate those variables.  Functions
manipulate variables through the use of LPC grammatical structures,
which include calling other functions, using externally defined
functions (efuns), and basic LPC expressions and flow control 

Does that sound convoluted?  First lets start with a variable.  A
variable might be something like: level.  It can "vary" from sitation
to situation in value, and different things use the value of the player's
level to make different things happen.  For instance, if you are a
level 19 player, the value of the variable level will be 19.  Now
if your mud is on the old LPMud 2.4.5 system where levels 1-19 are
players and 20+ are wizards, things can ask for your level value to
see if you can perform wizard type actions.  Basically, each object
in LPC is a pile of variables with values which change over time.
Things happen to these objects based on what values its variables
hold.  Often, then things that happen cause the variables to change.

So, whenever an object in LPC is referenced by another object currently
in memory, the driver searches to see what places for values the
object has (but they have no values yet).  Once that is done, the driver
calls a function in the object called reset() or create() (depending
on your driver) which will set up the starting values for the object's
variables.  It is thus through *calls* to *functions* that variable
values get manipulated.

But create() or reset() is NOT the starting place of LPC code, although
it is where most LPC code execution does begin.  The fact is, those
functions need not exist.  If your object does just fine with its
starting values all being NULL pointers (meaning, for our purposes
here, 0), then you do not need a create() or reset() function.  Thus
the first bit of execution of the object's code may begin somewhere
completely different.

Now we get to what this chapter is all about.  The question: What
consists a complete LPC object?  Well, an LPC object is simply
one or more functions grouped together manipulating 0 or more
variables.  The order in which functions are placed in an object
relative to one another is irrelevant.  In other words:

void init() { add_action("smile", "smile"); }

void create() { return; }

int smile(string str) { return 0; }

is exactly the same as:

void create() { return; }

int smile(string str) { return 0; }

void init() { add_action("smile", "smile"); }

Also important to note, the object containing only:

void nonsense() {}

is a valid, but trivial object, although it probably would not interact
properly with other objects on your mud since such an object has no
weight, is invisible, etc..

2.4 Chapter summary
LPC code has no beginning point or ending point, since LPC code is used
to create objects to be used by the driver program rather than create
individual programs.  LPC objects consist of one or more functions whose
order in the code is irrelevant, as well as of zero or more variables whose
values are manipulated inside those functions.  LPC objects simply sit
on the host machine's hard driver until referenced by another object in
the game (in other words, they do not really exist).  Once the object
is referenced, it is loaded into the machine's memory with empty
values for the variables.  The function reset() in compat muds or
create() in native muds is called in that object if it exists to allow
the variables to take on initial values.  Other functions in the object
are used by the driver and other objects in the game to allow interaction
among objects and the manipulation of the LPC variables.

A note on reset() and create():
create() is only used by muds in native mode (see the textbook Introduction
for more information on native mode vs. compat mode).  It is only used
to initialize newly referenced objects.

reset() is used by both muds in compat mode and native mode.  In compat
mode, reset() performs two functions.  First, it is used to initialize
newly referenced objects.  In addition, however, compat mode muds use
reset() to "reset" the object.  In other words, return it to its initial
state of affairs.  This allows monsters to regenerate in a room and doors
to start back in the shut position, etc..  Native mode muds use reset()
to perform the second function (as its name implies).

So there are two important things which happen in LP style muds which
cause the driver to make calls to functions in objects.  The first is
the creation of the object.  At this time, the driver calls a function
to initalize the values in the object.  For compat mode muds, this
is performed by the function named reset() (with an argument of 0,
more on this later though).  For muds running in native mode, this is
performed by the function create().

The second is the returning of the room to some base state of affairs.
This base set of affairs may or may not be different from the initial
state of affairs, and certainly you would not want to take up time
doing redundant things (like resetting variables that never change).
Compat mode muds nevertheless use the same function that was used to
create the object to reset it, that being reset().  Native mode muds,
who use create() to create the room, instead use reset() to reset it.
All is not lost in compat mode though, as there is a way to tell the
difference between creation and resetting.  For reset purposes, the
driver passes either 1 or the reset number as an argument to reset()
in compat mode.  Now this is meaningless to you now, but just keep in
mind that you can in fact tell the difference in compat mode.  Also
keep in mind that the argment in the creation use of reset is 0 and
the argument in the reset use is a nonzero number.

CHAPTER 3: LPC Data Types

3.1 What you should know by now
LPC object are made up of zero or more variables manipulated by one or
more functions.  The order in which these functions appear in code is
irrelevant.  The driver uses the LPC code you write by loading copies of
it into memory whenever it is first referenced and additional copies
through cloning.  When each object is loaded into memory, all the variables
initially point to no value.  The reset() function in compat muds, and
create() in native muds are used to give initial values to variables in
objects.  The function for creation is called immediately after the object
is loaded into memory.  However, if you are reading this textbook with no
prior programming experience, you may not know what a function is or how
it gets called.  And even if you have programming experience, you may
be wondering how the process of functions calling each other gets started
in newly created objects.  Before any of these questions get answered,
however, you need to know more about what it is the functions are
manipulating.  You therefore should thouroughly come to know the concept
behind LPC data types.  Certainly the most boring subject in this manual,
yet it is the most crucial, as 90% of all errors (excepting misplaced
{} and ()) involve the improper usage of LPC data types.  So bear through
this important chapter, because it is my feeling that understanding this
chapter alone can help you find coding much, much easier.

3.2 Communicating with the computer
You possibly already know that computers cannot understand the letters
and numbers used by humans.  Instead, the "language" spoken by computers
consists of an "alphabet" of 0's and 1's.  Certainly you know computers
do not understand natural human languages.  But in fact, they do not
understand the computer languages we write for them either.  Computer
languages like BASIC, C, C++, Pascal, etc. are all intermediate
languages.  They allow you to structure your thoughts more coherently
for translation into the 0's and 1's of the computer's languages.

There are two methods in which translation is done: compilation and
interpretation.  These simply are differences betweem when the 
programming language is translated into computer language.  With
compiled languages, the programmer writes the code then uses a program
called a compiler to translate the program into the computer's
language.  This translation occurs before the program is run.  With
interpreted languages however, the process of translation occurs as
the program is being run.  Since the translation of the program is
occurring during the time of the program's running in interpreted
languages, interpreted languages make much slower programs than
compiled languages.

The bottom line is, no matter what language you are writing in, at
some point this has to be changed into 0's and 1's which can be
understood by the computer.  But the variables which you store in
memory are not simply 0's and 1's.  So you have to have a way in
your programming languages of telling the computer whether or not
the 0's and 1's should be treated as decimal numbers or characters or
strings or anything else.  You do this through the use of data types.

For example, say you have a variable which you call 'x' and you give
it the decimal whole number value 65.  In LPC you would do this through
the statement:

x = 65;

You can later do things like:

write(x+"\n");        /* \n is symbolically represents a carriage return */
y = x + 5;

The first line allows you to send 65 and a carriage return to someone's screen.
The second line lets you set the value of y to 70.
The problem for the computer is that it does not know what '65' means when
you tell it x = 65;.  What you think of 65, it might think of as:
But, also, to the computer, the letter 'A' is represented as:
So, whenever you instruct the computer write(x+"\n");, it must have some
way of knowing that you want to see '65' and not 'A'.

The computer can tell the difference between '65' and 'A' through the use
of data types.  A data types simply says what type of data is being stored
by the memory location pointed to by a given variable.  Thus, each LPC
variable has a variable type which guides conversions.  In the example
given above, you would have had the following line somewhere in the
code *before* the lines shown above:

int x;

This one line tells the driver that whatever value x points to, it will
be used as the data type "int", which is short for integer, or whole
number.  So you have a basic introduction into the reason why data types
exist.  They exist so the driver can make sense of the 0's and 1's that
the computer is storing in memory.

3.3 The data types of LPC
All LPMud drivers have the following data types:

void, status, int, string, object, int *, string *, object *, mixed *

Many drivers, but not all have the following important data types which
are important to discuss:

float, mapping, float *, mapping *

And there are a few drivers with the following rarely used data types
which are not important to discuss:

function, enum, struct, char

3.4 Simple data types
This introductory textbook will deal with the data types void, status,
int, float, string, object, mand mixed.  You can find out about the
more complex data types like mappings and arrays in the intermediate
textbook.  This chapter deals with the two simplest data types (from the
point of view of the LPC coder), int and string.

An int is any whole number.  Thus 1, 42, -17, 0, -10000023 are all type int.
A string is one or more alphanumeric characters.  Thus "a", "we are borg",
"42", "This is a string" are all strings.  Note that strings are always
enclosed in "" to allow the driver to distinguish between the int 42 and
the string "42" as well as to distinguish between variable names (like x)
and strings by the same names (like "x").

When you use a variable in code, you must first let the driver know
what type of data to which that variable points.  This process is
called *declaration*.  You do this at the beginning of the function
or at the beginning of the object code (outside of functions before all
functions which use it).  This is done by placing the name of the data type
before the name of the variable like in the following example:

void add_two_and_two() {
    int x;
    int y;

    x = 2;
    y = x + x;

Now, this is a complete function.  The name of the function is 
add_two_and_two().  The function begins with the declaration of an
int variable named x followed by the declaration of an in variable
named y.  So now, at this point, the driver now has two variables which
point to NULL values, and it expects what ever values end up there to be
of type int.

A note about the data types void and status:
Void is a trivial data type which points to nothing.  It is not used
with respect to variables, but instead with respect to functions.  You
will come to understand this better later.  For now, you need only
understand that it points to no value.  

The data type status is a boolean data type.  That is, it can only have
1 or 0 as a value.  This is often referred to as being true or false.

3.5 Chapter summary
For variables, the driver needs to know how the 0's and 1's the computer
stores in memory get converted into the forms in which you intend them
to be used.  The simplest LPC data types are void, status, int, and string.
You do not user variables of type void, but the data type does come
into play with respect to functions.  In addition to being used for
translation from one form to the next, data types are used in determining
what rules the driver uses for such operations as +, -, etc.  For example,
in the expression 5+5, the driver knows to add the values of 5 and 5
together to make 10.  With strings however, the rules for int addition
make no sense.  So instead, with "a"+"b", it appends "b" to the string "a"
so that the final string is "ab".  Errors can thus result if you mistakenly
try to add "5"+5.  Since int addition makes no sense with strings, the
driver will convert the second 5 to "5" and use string addition.  The final
result would be "55".  If you were looking for 10, you would therefore
have ended up with erroneous code.  Keep in mind, however, that in most
instances, the driver will not do something so useful as coming up with
"55".  It comes up with "55" cause it has a rule for adding a string
to an int, namely to treat the int as a string.  In most cases, if you
use a data type for which an operation or function is not defined
(like if you tried to divide "this is" by "nonsense", "this is"/"nonsense"),
the driver will barf and report an error to you.

CHAPTER 4: Functions

4.1 Review
By this point, you should be aware that LPC objects consist of functions
which manipulate variables.  The functions manipulate variables when they
are executed, and they get executed through *calls* to those functions.
The order in which the functions are placed in a file does not matter.
Inside a function, the variables get manipulated.  They are stored in
computer memory and used by the computer as 0's and 1's which
get translated to and from useable output and input through a device
called data typing.  String data types tell the driver that the
data should appear to you and come from you in the form of alphanumeric
characters.  Variables of type int are represented to you as whole
number values.  Type status is represented to you as either 1 or 0.
And finally type void has no value to you or the machine, and is not
really used with variable data types.

4.2 What is a function?
Like math functions, LPC functions take input and return output.
Languages like Pascal distinguish between the concept of proceedure abd
the concept of function.  LPC does not, however, it is useful to
understand this distinction.  What Pascal calls a proceedure, LPC
calls a function of type void.  In other words, a proceedure, or function
of type void returns no output.  What Pascal calls a function differs
in that it does return output.  In LPC, the most trivial, correct
function is:

void do_nothing() { }

This function accepts no input, performs no instructions, and returns no

There are three parts to every properly written LPC function:
1) The declaration
2) The definition
3) The call

Like with variables, functions must be declared.  This will allow the
driver to know 1) what type of data the function is returning as output,
and 2) how many input(s) and of what type those input(s) are.  The
more common word for input is parameters.
A function declaration therefore consists of:
type name(parameter1, parameter2, ..., parameterN);
The declaration of a function called drink_water() which accepts a string as
input and an int as output would thus look like this:

int drink_water(string str);

where str is the name of the input as it will be used inside the function.

The function definition is the code which describes what the function actually
does with the input sent to it.  
The call is any place in other functions which invokes the execution of the
function in question.  For two functions write_vals() and add(), you thus
might have the following bit of code:

/* First, function declarations.  They usually appear at the beginning
   of object code. 
void write_vals();
int add(int x, int y);

/* Next, the definition of the function write_vals().  We assume that
   this function is going to be called from outside the object
void write_vals() {
    int x;

    /*N Now we assign x the value of the output of add() through a call */
    x = add(2, 2);

/* Finally, the definition of add() */
int add(int x, int y) {
    return (x + y);

Remember, it does not matter which function definition appears first in the
code.  This is because functions are not executed consecutively.  Instead,
functions are executed as called.  The only requirement is that the
declaration of a function appear before its definition and before the
definition of any function which makes a call to it.

4.3 Efuns
Perhaps you have heard people refer to efuns.  They are externally defined
functions.  Namely, they are defined by the mud driver.  If you have
played around at all with coding in LPC, you have probably found some
expressions you were told to use like this_player(), write(), say(),
this_object(), etc. look a lot like functions.  That is because they are
efuns.  The value of efuns is that they are much faster than LPC functions,
since they already exist in the binary form the computer understands.

In the function write_vals() above, two functions calls were made.  The first was to
the functions add(), which you declared and defined.  The second call, however,
was to a function called write(), and efun.  The driver has already declared
and defined this function for you.  You needs only to make calls to it.

Efuns are created to hanldle common, every day function calls, to handle
input/output to the internet sockets, and other matters difficult to be
dealt with in LPC.  They are written in C in the game driver and compiled
along with the driver before the mud comes up, making them much faster
in execution.  But for your purposes, efun calls are just like calls
made to your functions.  Still, it is important to know two things of any
efun: 1) what return type does it have, and 2) what parameters of what
types does it take.

Information on efuns such as input parameters and return types is often
found in a directory called /doc/efun on your mud.  I cannot
detail efuns here, because efuns vary from driver to driver.  However,
you can often access this information using the commands "man" or "help"
depending on your mudlib.  For instance, the command "man write" would
give you information on the write efun.  But if all else fails,
"more /doc/efun/write" should work.

By looking it up, you will find write is declared as follows:

void write(string);

This tells you an appropriate call to write expects no return value and
passes a single parameter of type string.

4.4 Defining your own functions
Although ordering your functions within the file does not matter, ordering
the code which defines a function is most important.  Once a function
has been called, function code is executed in the order it appears
in the function definition.  In write_vals() above, the instruction:
x = add(2, 2);

Must come before the write() efun call if you want to see the appropriate
value of x used in write().  

With respect to values returned by function, this is done through the "return"
instruction followed by a value of the same data type as the function.  In
add() above, the instruction is "return (x+y);", where the value of (x+y)
is the value returned to write_vals() and assigned to x.  On a more
general level, "return" halts the execution of a function and returns
code execution to the function which called that function.  In addition,
it returns to the calling function the value of any expression that follows.
To stop the execution of a function of type void out of order, use
"return"; without any value following.  Once again, remember, the data
type of the value of any expression returned using "return" MUST be the
same as the data type of the function itself.

4.5 Chapter Summary
The files which define LPC objects are made of of functions.  Functions, in
turn, are made up of three parts:
    1) The declaration
    2) The definition
    3) The call
Function declarations generally appear at the top of the file before any
defintions, although the requirement is that the declaration must appear
before the function definition and before the definition of any function
which calls it.
Function definitions may appear in the file in any order so long as they
come after their declaration.  In addition, you may not define one function
inside another function.
Function calls appear inside the definition of other functions where you
want the code to begin execution of your function.  They may also appear
within the definition of the function itself, but this is not recommended
for new coders, as it can easily lead to infinite loops.

The function definition consists of the following in this order:
    1) function return type
    2) function name
    3) opening ( followed by a parameter list and a closing )
    4) an opening { instructing the driver that execution begins here
    5) declarations of any variables to be used only in that function
    6) instructions, expressions, and calls to other functions as needed
    7) a closing } stating that the function code ends here and, if no
       "return" instruction has been given at this point (type void functions
       only), execution returns to the calling function as if a r"return"
       instruction was given

The trivial function would thus be:

void do_nothing() {}

since this function does not accept any input, perform any instructions, or
return any output.

Any function which is not of type void MUST return a value of a data type
matching the function's data type.

Each driver has a set of functions already defined for you called efuns
These you need neither need to declare nor define since it has already
been done for you.  Furthermore, execution of these functions is faster
than the execution of your functions since efuns are in the driver.
In addition, each mudlib has special functions like efuns in that they
are already defined and declared for you, but different in that they
are defined in the mudlib and in LPC.  They are called simul_efuns, or
simulated efuns.  You can find out all about each of these as they are
listed in the /doc/efun directory on most muds.  In addition many
muds have a command called "man" or a "help" command which allows you
simply to call up the info files on them.

Note on style:
Some drivers may not require you to declare your functions, and some
may not require you to specify the return type of the function in its
definition.  Regardless of this fact, you should never omit this information
for the following reasons:
    1) It is easier for other people (and you at later dates) to read your
       code and understand what is meant.  This is particularly useful
       for debugging, where a large portion of errors (outside of misplaced
       parentheses and brackets) involve problems with data types (Ever
       gotten "Bad arg 1 to foo() line 32"?).
    2) It is simply considered good coding form.

CHAPTER 5: The Basics of Inheritance

5.1 Review
You should now understand the basic workings of functions.  You should be
able to declare and call one.  In addition, you should be able to recognize
function definitions, although, if this is your first experience with LPC,
it is unlikely that you will as yet be able to define your own functions.
There functions form the basic building blocks of LPC objects.  Code
in them is executed when another function makes a call to them.  In making
a call, input is passed from the calling function into the execution of
the called one.  The called function then executes and returns a value
of a certain data type to the calling function.  Functions which return
no value are of type void.

After examining your workroom code, it might look something like this
(depending on the mudlib):

inherit "/std/room";

void create() {
    set_property("light", 2);
    set_property("indoors", 1);
    set("short", "Descartes' Workroom");
    set("long", "This is where Descartes works.\nIt is a cube.\n");
    set_exits( ({ "/d/standard/square" }), ({ "square" }) );

If you understand the entire textbook to this point, you should recognize
of the code the following:
    1) create() is the definition of a function (hey! he did not declare it)
    2) It makes calls to set_property(), set(), and set_exits(), none
       of which are declared or defined in the code.
    3) There is a line at the top that is no variable or function declaration
       nor is it a function definition!

This chapter will seek to answer the questions that should be in your head
at this point:
    1) Why is there no declaration of create()?
    2) Where are the functions set_property(), set(), and set_exits() declared
       and defined?
    3) What the hell is that line at the top of the file?

5.2 Object oriented programming
Inheritance is one of the properties which define true object oriented
programming (OOP).  It allows you to create generic code which can be used
in many different ways by many different programs.  What a mudlib does is
create these generalized files (objects) which you use to make very specific

If you had to write the code necessary for you to define the workroom above,
you would have to write about 1000 lines of code to get all the functionality
of the room above.  Clearly that is a waste of disk space.  In addition,
such code does not interact well with players and other rooms since every
creator is making up his or her own functions to perform the functionality
of a room.  Thus, what you might use to write out the room's long description,
query_long(), another wizard might be calling long().  This is the primary
reason mudlibs are not compatible, since they use different protocols for
object interaction.

OOP overcomes these problems.  In the above workroom, you inherit the
functions already defined in a file called "/std/room.c".  It has all
the functions which are commonly needed by all rooms defined in it.  When
you get to make a specific room, you are taking the general functionality
of that room file and making a unique room by adding your own function,

5.3 How inheritance works
As you might have guessed by now, the line:

inherit "/std/room";

has you inherit the functionality of the room "/std/room.c".  By inheriting
the functionality, it means that you can use the functions which have
been declared and defined in the file "/std/room.c"  In the Nightmare Mudlib,
"/std/room.c" has, among other functions, set_property(), set(), and
set_exits() declared and defined.  In your function create(), you are
making calls to those functions in order to set values you want your
room to start with.  These values make your room different from others, yet
able to interact well with other objects in memory.

In actual practice, each mudlib is different, and thus requires you to use
a different set of standard functions, often to do the same thing.  It is
therefore beyond the scope of this textbook even to describe what
functions exist and what they do.  If your mudlib is well documented,
however, then (probably in /doc/build) you will have tutorials on how
to use the inheritable files to create such objects.  These tutorials
should tell you what functions exist, what input they take, the data
type of their output, and what they do.

5.4 Chapter summary
This is far from a complete explanation of the complex subject of inheritance.
The idea here is for you to be able to understand how to use inheritance in
creating your objects.  A full discussion will follow in a later textbook.
Right now you should know the following:
    1) Each mudlib has a library of generic objects with their own general
       functions used by creators through inheritance to make coding objects
       easier and to make interaction between objects smoother.
    2) The functions in the inheritable files of a mudlib vary from mudlib
       to mudlib.  There should exist documentation on your mud on how to
       use each inheritable file.  If you are unaware what functions are
       available, then there is simply no way for you to use them.  Always
       pay special attention to the data types of the input and the data
       types of ay output.
    3) You inherit the functionality of another object through the line:

inherit "filename";
       where filename is the name of the file of the object to be inherited.
       This line goes at the beginning of your code.

You may see the syntax ::create() or ::init() or ::reset() in places.
You do not need fully to understand at this point the full nuances of this,
but you should have a clue as to what it is. The "::" operator is a way
to call a function specifically in an inherited object (called the scope
resolution operator).  For instance, most muds' room.c has a function
called create().  When you inherit room.c and configure it, you are doing
what is called overriding the create() function in room.c.  This means
that whenever ANYTHING calls create(), it will call *your* version and not
the one in room.c.  However, there may be important stuff in the room.c
version of create().  The :: operator allows you to call the create() in
room.c instead of your create().
An example:


inherit "/std/room";

void create() { create(); }


inherit "/std/room";

void create() { ::create(); }

Example 1 is a horror.  When loaded, the driver calls create(), and then
create() calls create(), which calls create(), which calls create()...
In other words, all create() does is keep calling itself until the driver
detects a too deep recursion and exits.

Example 2 is basically just a waste of RAM, as it is no different from room.c
functionally.  With it, the driver calls its create(), which in turn calls
::create(), the create() in room.c.  Otherwise it is functionally
exactly the same as room.c.

CHAPTER 6: Variable Handling

6.1 Review
By now you should be able to code some simple objects using your muds standard
object library.  Inheritance allows you to use functions defined in those
objects without having to go and define yourself.  In addition,
you should know how to declare your own functions.  This
chapter will teach you about the basic elements of LPC which will allow you to
define your own functions using the manipulation of variables.

6.2 Values and objects
Basically, what makes objects on the mud different are two things:
1) Some have different functions
2) All have different values

Now, all player objects have the same functions.  They are therefore
differentiated by the values they hold.  For instance, the player
named "Forlock" is different from "Descartes" *at least* in that they
have different values for the variable true_name, those being
"descartes" and "forlock".

Therefore, changes in the game involve changes in the values of the objects
in the game.  Functions are used to name specific process for manipulating
values.  For instance, the create() function is the function whose
process is specifically to initialize the values of an object.
Within a function, it is specifically things called instructions which are
responsible for the direct manipulation of variables.

6.3 Local and global variables
Like variables in most programming language, LPC variables may be declared
as variables "local" to a specific function, or "globally" available
to all functions.  Local variables are declared inside the function which
will use them.  No other function knows about their existence, since
the values are only stored in memory while that function is being executed.
A global variable is available to any function which comes after its
declaration in the object code.  Since global variables take up RAM for
the entire existence of the object, you should use them only when
you need a value stored for the entire existence of the object.
Have a look at the following 2 bits of code:

int x;

int query_x() { return x; }

void set_x(int y) { x = y; }

void set_x(int y) {
    int x;

    x = y;
    write("x is set to x"+x+" and will now be forgotten.\n");

In the first example, x is declared outside of any functions, and therefore
will be available to any function declared after it.  In that example,
x is a global variable.
In the second example, x is declared inside the function set_x().  It
only exists while the function set_x() is being executed.  Afterwards,
it ceases to exist.  In that example, x is a local variable.

6.4 Manipulating the values of variables
Instructions to the driver are used to manipulate the values of variables.
An example of an instruction would be:

x = 5;

The above instruction is self-explanatory.  It assigns to the variable
x the value 5.  However, there are some important concepts in involved
in that instruction which are involved in instructions in general.
The first involves the concept of an expression.  An expression is
any series of symbols which have a value.  In the above instruction,
the variable x is assigned the value of the expression 5.  Constant
values are the simplest forms in which expressions can be put.  A constant
is a value that never changes like the int 5 or the string "hello".
The last concept is the concept of an operator.  In the above example,
the assignment operator = is used.

There are however many more operators in LPC, and expressions can get
quite complex.  If we go up one level of complexity, we get:

y = 5;
x = y +2;

The first instruction uses the assignment operator to assign the value
of the constant expression 5 to the variable y.  The second one
uses the assignment operator to assign to x the value of the expression
(y+2) which uses the addition operator to come up with a value which
is the sum of the value of y and the value of the constant expression 2.
Sound like a lot of hot air?

In another manner of speaking, operators can be used to form complex
expressions.  In the above example, there are two expressions in the
one instruction x = y + 2;:
    1) the expression y+2
    2) the expression x = y + 2
As stated before, all expressions have a value.  The expression
y+2 has the value of the sum of y and 2 (here, 7);
The expression x = y + 2 *also* has the value of 7.
So operators have to important tasks:
    1) They *may* act upon input like a function
    2) They evaluate as having a value themselves.
Now, not all operators do what 1 does.  The = operators does act upon
the value of 7 on its right by assigning that value to x.  The operator
+ however does nothing.  They both, however, have their own values.

6.5 Complex expressions
As you may have noticed above, the expression x = 5 *itself* has a value
of 5.  In fact, since LPC operators themselves have value as expressions,
they cal allow you to write some really convoluted looking nonsense like:
    i = ( (x=sizeof(tmp=users())) ? --x : sizeof(tmp=children("/std/monster"))-1)
which says basically:
    assing to tmp the array returned by the efun users(), then assign to x
    the value equal to the number of elements to that array.  If the value
    of the expression assigning the value to x is true (not 0), then assign
    x by 1 and assign the value of x-1 to i.  If x is false though,
    then set tmp to the array returned by the efun children(), and then
    assign to i the value of the number of members in the array tmp -1.
Would you ever use the above statement? I doubt it.  However you might
see or use expressions similar to it, since the ability to consolidate
so much information into one single line helps to speed up the execution of
your code.  A more often used version of this property of LPC operators
would be something like:
    x = sizeof(tmp = users());
    while(i--) write((string)tmp[i]->query_name()+"\n");
instead of writing something like:
    tmp = users();
    x = sizeof(tmp);
    for(i=0; iquery_name()+"\n");
Things like for(), while(), arrays and such will be explained later.
But the first bit of code is more concise and it executed faster.

NOTE: A detailed description of all basic LPC operators follows the chapter

6.6 Chapter Summary
You now know how to declare variables and understand the difference between
declaring and using them globally or locally.  Once you become familiar
with your driver's efuns, you can display those values in many different
ways.  In addition, through the LPC operators, you know how to change
and evaluate the values contained in variables.  This is useful of course
in that it allows you to do something like count how many apples have
been picked from a tree, so that once all apples have been picked, no
players can pick more.  Unfortunately, you do not know how to have
code executed in anything other than a linera fashion.  In other words,
hold off on that apple until the next chapter, cause you do not know
how to check if the apples picked is equal to the number of apples in the
tree.  You also do not know about the special function init() where you
give new commands to players.  But you are almost ready to code a nice,
fairly complex area.

6.7 LPC operators
This section contains a detailed listing of the simpler LPC operators,
including what they do to the values they use (if anything) and the value
that they have.

The operators described here are:
=    +    -    *    /    %    +=    -=    *=    /=    %=
--    ++    ==    !=    >    <    >=    <=    !    &&    ||
->    ? :

Those operators are all described in a rather dry manner below, but it is best
to at least look at each one, since some may not behave *exactly* as
you think.  But it should make a rather good reference guide.

= assignment operator:
    example: x = 5;
    value: the value of the variable on the *left* after its function is done
    explanation: It takes the value of any expression on the *right* and
      assigns it to the variable on the *left*.  Note that you must use
      a single variable on the left, as you cannot assign values to 
      constants or complex expressions.

+ addition operator:
    example: x + 7
    value: The sum of the value on the left and the value on the right
    exaplanation: It takes the value of the expression on the right and
      adds it to the value of the expression on the left. For values
      of type int, this means the numerical sum.  For strings,
      it means that the value on the right is stuck onto the value on
      the left ("ab" is the value of "a"+"b").  This operator does not
      modify any of the original values (i.e. the variable x from
      above retains its old value).

- subtraction operator:
    example: x - 7
    value: the value of the expression on the left reduced by the right
    explanation:  Same characteristics as addition, except it subtracts.
      With strings: "a" is the value of "ab" - "b"

* multiplication operator:
    example: x*7
    value and explanation: same as with adding and subtracting except
      this one performs the math of multiplication

/ division operator:
    example: x/7
    value and explanation: see above

+= additive assignment operator:
    example: x += 5
    value: the same as x + 5
    exaplanation: It takes the value of the variable on the left
      and the value of the expression on the right, adds them together
      and assigns the sum to the variable on the left.
      example: if x = 2... x += 5 assigns the value
        7 to the variable x.  The whole expression
        has the value of 7.

-= subtraction assignment operator
    example: x-=7
    value: the value of the left value reduced by the right value
    examplanation: The same as += except for subtraction.

*= multiplicative assignment operator
    example: x *= 7
    value: the value of the left value multiplied by the right
    explanation: Similar to -= and += except for addition.

/= division assignment operator
    example: x /= 7
    value: the value of the variable on the left divided by the right value
    explanation: similar to above, except with division

++ post/pre-increment operators
    examples: i++ or ++i
      i++ has the value of i
      ++i has the value of i+1
    explanation: ++ changes the value of i by increasing it by 1.
      However, the value of the expression depends on where you
      place the ++.  ++i is the pre-increment operator.  This means
      that it performs the increment *before* giving a value.
      i++ is the post-ncrement operator.  It evalutes before incrementing
      i.  What is the point?  Well, it does not much matter to you at
      this point, but you should recognize what it means.

-- post/pre-decrement operators
    examples: i-- or --i
      i-- the value of i
      --i the value of i reduced by 1
    explanation: like ++ except for subtraction

== equality operator
    example: x == 5
    value: true or false (not 0 or 0)
    explanation: it does nothing to either value, but
      it returns true if the 2 values are the same.
      It returns false if they are not equal.

!= inequality operator
    example: x != 5
    value: true or false
    explanation returns true if the left expression is not equal to the right
      expression.  It returns fals if they are equal

> greater than operator
    example: x > 5
    value: true or false
    explanation: true only if x has a value greater than 5
      false if the value is equal or less

< less than operator
>= greater than or equal to operator
<= less than or equal to operator
    examples: x < y    x >= y    x <= y
    values: true or false
    explanation: similar as to > except
      < true if left is less than right
      >= true if left is greater than *or equal to* right
      <= true if the left is less than *or equal to* the right

&& logical and operator
|| logical or operator
    examples: x && y      x || y
    values: true or false
    explanation: If the right value and left value are non-zero, && is true.
      If either are false, then && is false.
      For ||, only one of the values must be true for it to evaluate
      as true.  It is only false if both values indeed
      are false

! negation operator
    example: !x
    value: true or false
    explanation: If x is true, then !x is false
      If x is false, !x is true.

A pair of more complicated ones that are here just for the sake of being
here.  Do not worry if they utterly confuse you.

-> the call other operator
    example: this_player()->query_name()
    value: The value returned by the function being called
    explanation:  It calls the function which is on the right in the object
      on the left side of the operator.  The left expression *must* be
      an object, and the right expression *must* be the name of a function.
      If not such function exists in the object, it will return 0 (or
      more correctly, undefined).

? : conditional operator
    example: x ? y : z
    values: in the above example, if x is try, the value is y
      if x is false, the value of the expression is z
    explanation: If the leftmost value is true, it will give the expression as
      a whole the value of the middle expression.  Else, it will give the
      expression as a whole the value of the rightmost expression.

A note on equality:  A very nasty error people make that is VERY difficult
to debug is the error of placing = where you mean ==.  Since
operators return values, they both make sense when being evaluated.
In other words, no error occurs.  But they have very different values.  For example:
  if(x == 5)    if(x = 5)
The value of x == 5 is true if the value of x is 5, false othewise.
The value of x = 5 is 5 (and therefore always true).
The if statement is looking for the expression in () to be either true or false,
so if you had = and meant ==, you would end up with an expression that is
always true.  And you would pull your hair out trying to figure out
why things were not happening like they should :)

CHAPTER 7: Flow Control

7.1 Review of variables
Variables may be manipulated by assigning or changing values with the
expressions =, +=, -=, ++, --.  Those expressions may be combined with
the expressions -, +, *, /, %.  However, so far, you have only been
shown how to use a function to do these in a linear way.  For example:
int hello(int x) {
    write("Hello, x is "+x+".\n");
    return x;
is a function you should know how to write and understand.  But what
if you wanted to write the value of x only if x = 1?  Or what if
you wanted it to keep writing x over and over until x = 1 before
returning?  LPC uses flow control in exactly the same way as C and C++.

7.2 The LPC flow control statements
LPC uses the following expressions:
if(expression) instruction;
if(expression) instruction;
else instruction;
if(expression) instruction;
else if(expression) instruction;
else instruction;
while(expression) instruction;
do { instruction; } while(expression);
switch(expression) {
    case (expression): instruction; break;
    default: instruction;
Before we discuss these, first something on what is meant by expression and
instruction.  An expression is anything with a value like a variable,
a comparison (like x>5, where if x is 6 or more, the value is 1, else the
value is 0), or an assignment(like x += 2).  An instruction can be any
single line of lpc code like a function call, a value assignment or
modification, etc.
You should know also the operators &&, ||, ==, !=, and !.  These are the
logical operators.  They return a nonzero value when true, and 0 when false.
Make note of the values of the following expressions:
(1 && 1) value: 1   (1 and 1)
(1 && 0) value: 0   (1 and 0)
(1 || 0) value: 1   (1 or 0)
(1 == 1) value: 1   (1 is equal to 1)
(1 != 1) value: 0   (1 is not equal to 1)
(!1) value: 0       (not 1)
(!0) value: 1       (not 0)
In expressions using &&, if the value of the first item being compared
is 0, the second is never tested even.  When using ||, if the first is
true (1), then the second is not tested.
7.3 if()
The first expression to look at that alters flow control is if().  Take
a look at the following example:
1 void reset() {
2     int x;
4     ::reset();
5     x = random(10);
6     if(x > 50) set_search_func("floorboards", "search_floor");
7 }
The line numbers are for reference only.
In line 2, of course we declare a variable of type int called x.  Line 3
is aethetic whitespace to clearly show where the declarations end and the
function code begins.  The variable x is only available to the function
Line 4 makes a call to the room.c version of reset().
Line 5 uses the driver efun random() to return a random number between
0 and the parameter minus 1.  So here we are looking for a number between
0 and 99.
In line 6, we test the value of the expression (x>50) to see if it is true
or false.  If it is true, then it makes a call to the room.c function
set_search_func().  If it is false, the call to set_search_func() is never
In line 7, the function returns driver control to the calling function
(the driver itself in this case) without returning any value.
If you had wanted to execute multiple instructions instead of just the one,
you would have done it in the following manner:
if(x>50) {
    set_search_func("floorboards", "search_floor");
    if(!present("beggar", this_object())) make_beggar();
Notice the {} encapsulate the instructions to be executed if the test
expression is true.  In the example, again we call the room.c function
which sets a function (search_floor()) that you will later define yourself
to be called when the player types "search floorboards" (NOTE: This is
highly mudlib dependent.  Nightmare mudlibs have this function call.
Others may have something similar, while others may not have this feature
under any name).  Next, there is another if() expression that tests the
truth of the expression (!present("beggar",this_object())).  The ! in the
test expression changes the truth of the expression which follows it.  In
this case, it changes the truth of the efun present(), which will return
the object that is a beggar if it is in the room (this_object()), or it
will return 0 if there is no beggar in the room.  So if there is a beggar
still living in the room, (present("beggar", this_object())) will have
a value equal to the beggar object (data type object), otherwise it will
be 0.  The ! will change a 0 to a 1, or any nonzero value (like the
beggar object) to a 0.  Therefore, the expression
(!present("beggar", this_object())) is true if there is no beggar in the
room, and false if there is.  So, if there is no beggar in the room,
then it calls the function you define in your room code that makes a
new beggar and puts it in the room. (If there is a beggar in the room,
we do not want to add yet another one :))
Of course, if()'s often comes with ands or buts :).  In LPC, the formal
reading of the if() statement is:
if(expression) { set of intructions }
else if(expression) { set of instructions }
else { set of instructions }
This means:
If expression is true, then do these instructions.
Otherise, if this second expression is true, do this second set.
And if none of those were true, then do this last set.
You can have if() alone:
if(x>5) write("Foo,\n");
with an else if():
if(x > 5) write("X is greater than 5.\n");
else if(x >2) write("X is less than 6, but greater than 2.\n");
with an else:
if(x>5) write("X is greater than 5.\n");
else write("X is less than 6.\n");
or the whole lot of them as listed above.  You can have any number of
else if()'s in the expression, but you must have one and only one
if() and at most one else.  Of course, as with the beggar example,
you may nest if() statements inside if() instructions. (For example,
    if(x>5) {
        if(x==7) write("Lucky number!\n");
        else write("Roll again.\n");
    else write("You lose.\n");
7.4 The statements: while() and do {} while()
while(expression) { set of instructions }
do { set of instructions } while(expression);
These allow you to create a set of instructions which continue to
execute so long as some expression is true.  Suppose you wanted to
set a variable equal to a player's level and keep subtracting random
amounts of either money or hp from a player until that variable equals
0 (so that player's of higher levels would lose more).  You might do it
this way:
1    int x;
3    x = (int)this_player()->query_level();  /* this has yet to be explained */
4    while(x > 0) {
5        if(random(2)) this_player()->add_money("silver", -random(50));
6        else this_player()->add_hp(-(random(10));
7        x--;
8    }
The expression this_player()->query_level() calIn line 4, we start a
 loop that executes so long as x is greater than 0.
    Another way we could have done this line would be:
        while(x) {
    The problem with that would be if we later made a change to the funtion
y anywhere between 0 and 49 coins.
In line 6, if instead it returns 0, we call the add_hp() function in the
    player which reduces the player's hit points anywhere between 0 and 9 hp.
In line 7, we reduce x by 1.
At line 8, the execution comes to the end of the while() instructions and
    goes back up to line 4 to see if x is still greater than 0.  This
    loop will keep executing until x is finally less than 1.
You might, however, want to test an expression *after* you execute some
instructions.  For instance, in the above, if you wanted to execute
the instructions at least once for everyone, even if their level is
below the test level:
    int x;
    x = (int)this_player()->query_level();
    do {
        if(random(2)) this_player()->add_money("silver", -random(50));
        else this_player()->add_hp(-random(10));
    } while(x > 0);
This is a rather bizarre example, being as few muds have level 0 players.
And even still, you could have done it using the original loop with
a different test.  Nevertheless, it is intended to show how a do{} while()
works.  As you see, instead of initiating the test at the beginning of the
loop (which would immediately exclude some values of x), it tests after
the loop has been executed.  This assures that the instructions of the loop
get executed at least one time, no matter what x is.
7.5 for() loops
for(initialize values ; test expression ; instruction) { instructions }
initialize values:
This allows you to set starting values of variables which will be used
in the loop.  This part is optional.
test expression:
Same as the expression in if() and while().  The loop is executed
as long as this expression (or expressions) is true. You must have a
test expression.
An expression (or expressions) which is to be executed at the end of each
loop.  This is optional.
for(;expression;) {}
while(expression) {}
1    int x;
3    for(x= (int)this_player()->query_level(); x>0; x--) {
4        if(random(2)) this_player()->add_money("silver", -random(50));
5        else this_player()->add_hp(-random(10));
6    }
This for() loop behaves EXACTLY like the while() example.
Additionally, if you wanted to initialize 2 variables:
for(x=0, y=random(20); x7.6 The statement: switch()
switch(expression) {
    case constant: instructions
    case constant: instructions
    case constant: instructions
    default: instructions
This is functionally much like if() expressions, and much nicer to the
CPU, however most rarely used because it looks so damn complicated.
But it is not.
First off, the expression is not a test.  The cases are tests.  A English
sounding way to read:
1    int x;
3    x = random(5);
4    switch(x) {
5        case 1: write("X is 1.\n");
6        case 2: x++;
7        default: x--;
8    }
9    write(x+"\n");
set variable x to a random number between 0 and 4.
In case 1 of variable x write its value add 1 to it and subtract 1.
In case 2 of variable x, add 1 to its value and then subtract 1.
In other cases subtract 1.
Write the value of x.
switch(x) basically tells the driver that the variable x is the value
we are trying to match to a case.
Once the driver finds a case which matches, that case *and all following
cases* will be acted upon.  You may break out of the switch statement
as well as any other flow control statement with a break instruction in
order only to execute a single case.  But that will be explained later.
The default statement is one that will be executed for any value of
x so long as the switch() flow has not been broken.  You may use any
data type in a switch statement:
string name;
name = (string)this_player()->query_name();
switch(name) {
    case "descartes": write("You borg.\n");
    case "flamme":
    case "forlock":
    case "shadowwolf": write("You are a Nightmare head arch.\n");
    default: write("You exist.\n");
For me, I would see:
You borg.
You are a Nightmare head arch.
You exist.
Flamme, Forlock, or Shadowwolf would see:
You are a Nightmare head arch.
You exist.
Everyone else would see:
You exist.
7.7 Altering the flow of functions and flow control statements
The following instructions:
return    continue    break
alter the natural flow of things as described above.
First of all,
no matter where it occurs in a function, will cease the execution of that
function and return control to the function which called the one the
return statement is in.  If the function is NOT of type void, then a
value must follow the return statement, and that value must be of a
type matching the function.  An absolute value function would look
like this:
int absolute_value(int x) {
    if(x>-1) return x;
    else return -x;
In the second line, the function ceases execution and returns to the calling
function because the desired value has been found if x is a positive
continue is most often used in for() and while statements.  It serves
to stop the execution of the current loop and send the execution back
to the beginning of the loop.  For instance, say you wanted to avoid
division by 0:
x= 4;
while( x > -5) {
    if(!x) continue;
You would see the following output:
To avoid an error, it checks in each loop to make sure x is not 0.
If x is zero, then it starts back with the test expression without
finishing its current loop.
In a for() expression
 for(x=3; x>-5; x--) {
    if(!x) continue;
It works much the same way.  Note this gives exactly the same output
as before. At x=1, it tests to see if x is zero, it is not, so it
writes 100/x, then goes back to the top, subtracts one from x, checks to
see if it is zero again, and it is zero, so it goes back to the top
and subtracts 1 again.
This one ceases the function of a flow control statement.  No matter
where you are in the statement, the control of the program will go
to the end of the loop.  So, if in the above examples, we had
used break instead of continue, the output would have looked like this:
continue is most often used with the for() and while() statements.
break however is mostly used with switch()
switch(name) {
    case "descartes": write("You are borg.\n"); break;
    case "flamme": write("You are flamme.\n"); break;
    case "forlock": write("You are forlock.\n"); break;
    case "shadowwolf": write("You are shadowwolf.\n"); break;
    default: write("You will be assimilated.\n");
This functions just like:
if(name == "descartes") write("You are borg.\n");
else if(name == "flamme") write("You are flamme.\n");
else if(name == "forlock") write("You are forlock.\n");
else if(name == "shadowwolf") write("You are shadowwolf.\n");
else write("You will be assimilated.\n");
except the switch statement is much better on the CPU.
If any of these are placed in nested statements, then they alter the
flow of the most immediate statement.
7.8 Chapter summary
This chapter covered one hell of a lot, but it was stuff that needed to
be seen all at once.  You should now completely understand if() for()
while() do{} while() and switch(), as well as how to alter their flow
using return, continue, and break.  Effeciency says if it can be done in
a natural way using switch() instead of a lot of if() else if()'s, then
by all means do it.  You were also introduced to the idea of calling
functions in other objects.  That however, is a topic to be detailed later.
You now should be completely at ease writing simple rooms (if you have
read your mudlib's room building document), simple monsters, and
other sorts of simple objects.

CHAPTER 8: The data type "object"

8.1 Review
You should now be able to do anything so long as you stick to calling
functions within your own object.  You should also know, that at the
bare minimum you can get the create() (or reset()) function in your object
called to start just by loading it into memory, and that your reset()
function will be called every now and then so that you may write the
code necessary to refresh your room.  Note that neither of these
functions MUST be in your object.  The driver checks to see if the
function exists in your object first.  If it does not, then it does not
bother.  You are also acquainted with the data types void, int, and string.
8.2 Objects as data types
In this chapter you will be acquainted with a more complex data type,
object.  An object variable points to a real object loaded into the
driver's memory.  You declare it in the same manner as other data types:
    object ob;
It differs in that you cannot use +, -, +=, -=, *, or / (what would it
mean to divide a monster by another monster?).  And since efuns like
say() and write() only want strings or ints, you cannot write() or
say() them (again, what would it mean to say a monster?).
But you can use them with some other of the most important efuns on any
8.3 The efun: this_object()
This is an efun which returns an object in which the function being executed
exists.  In other words, in a file, this_object() refers to the object your
file is in whether the file gets cloned itself or inherted by another file.
It is often useful when you are writing a file which is getting inherited
by another file.  Say you are writing your own living.c which gets
inherited by user.c and monster.c, but never used alone.  You want to log
the function set_level() it is a player's level being set (but you do not
care if it is a monster.
You might do this:
void set_level(int x) {
    if(this_object()->is_player()) log_file("levels", "foo\n");
    level = x;
Since is_player() is not defined in living.c or anything it inherits,
just saying if(is_player()) will result in an error since the driver
does not find that function in your file or anything it inherits.
this_object() allows you to access functions which may or may not be
present in any final products because your file is inherited by others
without resulting in an error.
8.4 Calling functions in other objects
This of course introduces us to the most important characteristic of
the object data type.  It allows us to access functions in other objects.
In previous examples you have been able to find out about a player's level,
reduce the money they have, and how much hp they have.
Calls to functions in other objects may be done in two ways:
call_other(object, "function", parameters);
this_player()->add_money("silver", -5);
call_other(this_player(), "add_money", "silver", -5);
In some (very loose sense), the game is just a chain reaction of function
calls initiated by player commands.  When a player initiates a chain of
function calls, that player is the object which is returned by
the efun this_player().  So, since this_player() can change depending
on who initiated the sequence of events, you want to be very careful
as to where you place calls to functions in this_player().  The most common
place you do this is through the last important lfun (we have mentioned
create() and reset()) init().
8.5 The lfun: init()
Any time a living thing encounters an object (enters a new room, or enters
the same room as a certain other object), init() is called in all of
the objects the living being newly encounters.  It is at this point
that you can add commands the player can issue in order to act.
Here is a sample init() function in a flower.
void init() {
    add_action("smell_flower", "smell");
Ito smell_flower().  So you should have smell_flower() look like this:
1 int smell_flower(string str);        /* action functions are type int */
3 int smell_flower(string str) {
4    if(str != "flower") return 0;     /* it is not the flower being smelled */
5    write("You sniff the flower.\n");
6    say((string)this_player()->query_cap_name()+" smells the flower.\n");
7    this_player()->add_hp(random(5));
8    return 1;
9 }
In line 1, we have our function declared.
In line 3, smell_flower() begins.  str becomes whatever comes after the
    players command (not including the first white space).
In line 4, it checks to see if the player had typed "smell flower".  If
    the player had typed "smell cheese", then str would be "cheese".  If
    it is not in fact "flower" which is being smelled, then 0 is returned,
    letting the driver know that this was not the function which should
    have been called.  If in fact the player had a piece of cheese as well
    which had a smell command to it, the driver would then call the function
    for smelling in that object.  The driver will keep calling all functions
    tied to smell commands until one of them returns 1.  If they all return
    0, then the player sees "What?"
In line 5, the efun write() is called.  write() prints the string which
    is passed to it to this_player().  So whoever typed the command here
    sees "You sniff the flower."
In line 6, the efun say() is called.  say() prints the string which is
    doing the sniffing, we have to call the query_cap_name() function
    in this_player().  That way if the player is invis, it will say
    "Someone" (or something like that), and it will also be properly
In line 7, we call the add_hp() function in the this_player() object,
    since we want to do a little healing for the sniff (Note: do not
    code this object on your mud, whoever balances your mud will shoot you).
In line 8, we return control of the game to the driver, returning 1 to
    let it know that this was in fact the right function to call.
8.6 Adding objects to your rooms
And now, using the data type object, you can add monsters to your rooms:
void create() {
    set_property("light", 3);
    set("short", "Krasna Square");
    set("long", "Welcome to the Central Square of the town of Praxis.\n");
    set_exits( ({ "d/standard/hall" }), ({ "east" }) );
void reset() {
    object ob;
    if(present("guard")) return;     /* Do not want to add a guard if */
    ob = new("/std/monster");        /* one is already here           */
    ob->set("id", ({ "guard", "town guard" }) );
    ob->set("short", "Town guard");
    ob->set("long", "He guards Praxis from nothingness.\n");
    ob->set_wielding_limbs( ({ "right hand", "left hand" }) );
Now, this will be wildly different on most muds.  Some, as noted before,
in that object so you have a uniquely configured monster object.  The
last act in native muds is to call move() in the monster object to move
it to this room (this_object()).  In compat muds, you call the efun
move_object() which takes two parameters, the object to be moved, and the
object into which it is being moved.
8.7 Chapter summary
At this point, you now have enough knowledge to code some really nice
stuff.  Of course, as I have been stressing all along, you really need
to read the documents on building for your mud, as they detail which
functions exist in which types of objects for you to call.  No matter
what your knowledge of the mudlib is, you have enough know-how to
give a player extra things to do like sniffing flowers or glue or whatever.
At this point you should get busy coding stuff.  But the moment things
even look to become tedious, that means it is time for you to move to
the next level and do more.  Right now code yourself a small area.
Make extensive use of the special functions coded in your mud's
room.c (search the docs for obscure ones no one else seems to use).
Add lots o' neat actions.  Create weapons which have magic powers which
gradually fade away.  All of this you should be able to do now.  Once
this becomes routine for you, it will be time to move on to intermediate
stuff.  Note that few people actually get to the intermediate stuff.
If you have played at all, you notice there are few areas on the mud
which do what I just told you you should be able to do.  It is not
because it is hard, but because there is a lot of arrogance out there
on the part of people who have gotten beyond this point, and very little
communicating of that knowledge.  The trick is to push yourself and
think of something you want to do that is impossible.  If you ask someone
in the know how to do X, and they say that is impossible, find out
youself how to code it by experimenting.

George Reese
Descartes of Borg
12 july 1993
Descartes@Nightmare (intermud)
Descartes@Igor (not intermud)

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