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Old 05-12-2008, 09:20 PM   #1
Milawe
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Quick, short descriptions

Scenario: The mud in question is a mud based on modern gardening. It is roleplay enforced and completely in character at all times. I'm a builder whose task is to describe the various objects that may be used by the gardeners as roleplay props as well as leveling up their gardening skills, their garden, and their produce.

Question: I want to describe a bag of Miracle-Gro. (Assume that I've been allowed to use this item specifically by the copyright holders, so I am not breaking any copyright laws. Maybe they'll even pay me some advertising!) Which of the following two ways should I set the short description of the bag of Miracle-Gro (a fertilizer), and why would you pick that particular way?

1) Miracle-Gro

or

2) a green and yellow bag filled with fertilizer
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Old 05-12-2008, 09:40 PM   #2
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Scenario: The mud in question is a mud based on modern gardening. It is roleplay enforced and completely in character at all times. I'm a builder whose task is to describe the various objects that may be used by the gardeners as roleplay props as well as leveling up their gardening skills, their garden, and their produce.

Question: I want to describe a bag of Miracle-Gro. (Assume that I've been allowed to use this item specifically by the copyright holders, so I am not breaking any copyright laws. Maybe they'll even pay me some advertising!) Which of the following two ways should I set the short description of the bag of Miracle-Gro (a fertilizer), and why would you pick that particular way?

1) Miracle-Gro

or

2) a green and yellow bag filled with fertilizer
In your scenario, where all characters would (I assume) be ICly literate and familiar with brand names, I might go with #1.

Of course, I prefer #2, though I don't really like it either, because it indicates what can be found in the bag. I'd prefer, "a green and yellow plastic bag" that you could then look inside and see, "a bag contains: fertilizer."

Or maybe your sdescs can handle restringing to indicate contents, which would be fairly easily achievable and pretty cool. It could get clunky in the restringing if people filled the bags with lots of items:
a green and yellow bag filled with the remains of a dandelion which seems to be missing its root, the remains of a tuft of crabgrass, the remains of a hunk of clover.

Anyway, by handling bags and such via container objects instead of whole objects, it allows more flexibility from a player standpoint. That way if they want to empty the bag and fill it back up with their own organic compost or use it as a weed collector as in the above example, thus reusing the bags, they'd be able to do that (hey you might have some real treehuggers in such a mud. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Last edited by Bakha : 05-13-2008 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 05-12-2008, 09:49 PM   #3
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Neither. I'd call it "a green and yellow bag." Whether it's filled with Miracle-Gro, deadly poisonous grubs of death and destruction, or completely empty, isn't something that would be a constant. And if the bag is closed, you wouldn't have any idea -what- was in there, assuming something was in there. Which - if it was empty, would be - nothing.

Calling it Miracle-Gro just seems...too tacky and commercial. Like Tiger Woods wearing a Nike shirt. You know the only reason he wears it is because he's being paid to wear it. Not because he likes Nike shirts.
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:17 PM   #4
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Except that, in the real world, anyone can tell a bag full of fertilizer from an empty bag. Open or closed, the empty bag will look... you know... empty.

Does the bag have the words "Miracle Grow" printed on it? Maybe that's hard to miss even at a quick glance. Is it a plain, brown sack? Then anything might be in it. Unless I can read the printing I can't tell miracle grow from plain grass seed.

Can the user learn after examining something? It would be pretty cool if, the first time you see the bag, it's just a bag... but once you examine it you know from then on that it's a bag of Miracle Grow.
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:39 PM   #5
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

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Originally Posted by incognito9 View Post
Does the bag have the words "Miracle Grow" printed on it? Maybe that's hard to miss even at a quick glance. Is it a plain, brown sack? Then anything might be in it. Unless I can read the printing I can't tell miracle grow from plain grass seed.
However, there are plenty of trademarks used in the modern world that are as good... no better... than words. I bet if you show a can of Coke with no letters but only the device, better than 90% of the population would know what it is... or at least would know what it is *supposed* to be. The same is probably true of a number of others, like the McDonalds arches.

This might even be true across the globe. I was somewhat surprised at how ubiquitous our Western brands were when I traveled in India. Even somewhat rural India.

So it all depends...
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:51 AM   #6
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
1) Miracle-Gro
Icons FTW.

I do like incognito's idea about an introduction system for all objects, not just players.

Characters could have knowledge sets that define what objects they immediately identify.

Players could assign their own names to every object in the game.

"Oh, you call that a bonegnawer? I call that a bonemasher...though I hear the dwarves call it a bonegrinder."
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Old 05-13-2008, 03:07 AM   #7
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazuela View Post
Neither. I'd call it "a green and yellow bag." Whether it's filled with Miracle-Gro, deadly poisonous grubs of death and destruction, or completely empty, isn't something that would be a constant. And if the bag is closed, you wouldn't have any idea -what- was in there, assuming something was in there. Which - if it was empty, would be - nothing.
Really??? REALLY?

Are you telling me that you cannot tell the difference between a full bag of fertilizer and an empty one from looking at it? You really can't tell the difference between a crumpled heap of plastic and a big 40 lb bag of fertilizer?

And I don't know how things work at the stores in your neighborhood, but when I buy fertilizer, there is information written very clearly, in large text, all over the bags. The brand name, the stuff inside, etc. are all printed on the outside of the bag. At a quick glance, I can tell if something is a bag of fertilizer or not.

I am perplexed by this world you are envisioning where people cannot tell the difference between full and empty bags, and are completely oblivious to the writing on the outside of bags.
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:04 AM   #8
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

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Originally Posted by incognito9 View Post
Except that, in the real world, anyone can tell a bag full of fertilizer from an empty bag. Open or closed, the empty bag will look... you know... empty.
Yeah, it's kind of a toss-up in how much information you want to give in a short description before it's no longer short. I was sort of thinking that in this case, once you use up the bag of Miracle-Gro, the item would basically dest simply because it's used up. The bag is really no longer necessarily, but instead of making people RP the mundane aspects of gardening (such as throwing away the empty bag), I figured it would be better just to destroy the item as it's used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by incognito9 View Post
Does the bag have the words "Miracle Grow" printed on it? Maybe that's hard to miss even at a quick glance. Is it a plain, brown sack? Then anything might be in it. Unless I can read the printing I can't tell miracle grow from plain grass seed.
Yes. Anyone who gardens can identify a bag of Miracle-Gro from a long ways away, though lots of generic brands try to mimic the Miracle-Gro bag for marketing purposes. You only have to see the bag once to forever have it imprinted in your brain. (Well, that's how it was for me. I grew up with an avid gardener.) I'm having a hard time deciding on what I think is more appropriate. Sometimes, short descriptions are used to convey things that your character would know that you (the player) might not know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by incognito9 View Post
Can the user learn after examining something? It would be pretty cool if, the first time you see the bag, it's just a bag... but once you examine it you know from then on that it's a bag of Miracle Grow.
Now that's a really good idea. You need to see it once, and then you basically know it forever. (Assuming that there's no solid blows to the noggin.)
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:11 AM   #9
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhiroc View Post
However, there are plenty of trademarks used in the modern world that are as good... no better... than words. I bet if you show a can of Coke with no letters but only the device, better than 90% of the population would know what it is... or at least would know what it is *supposed* to be. The same is probably true of a number of others, like the McDonalds arches.
Very true. Part of the reason for creating these brands is so that they're recognizable in any language. When traveling through Thailand, all soft drink cans are printed in Thai, but all of them are highly recognizable. They don't even bother to print McDonalds anywhere in Thai or in English. You just see the arches from a mile away.

One of the points to establish in any game, I suppose, is when a certain thing has reached that kind of critical success in a game. For example, when is Excalibur known as Excalibur rather than "black-hilted longsword engraved with silver".

In my gardening case, the character would know Miracle-Gro as a specific brand of fertilizer, but do I need to convey it to the players differently? Does it need to be more like the following:

Miracle-Gro, a bag of fertilizer
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:35 AM   #10
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Very true. Part of the reason for creating these brands is so that they're recognizable in any language. When traveling through Thailand, all soft drink cans are printed in Thai, but all of them are highly recognizable. They don't even bother to print McDonalds anywhere in Thai or in English. You just see the arches from a mile away.

One of the points to establish in any game, I suppose, is when a certain thing has reached that kind of critical success in a game. For example, when is Excalibur known as Excalibur rather than "black-hilted longsword engraved with silver".

In my gardening case, the character would know Miracle-Gro as a specific brand of fertilizer, but do I need to convey it to the players differently? Does it need to be more like the following:

Miracle-Gro, a bag of fertilizer
Well, you do have Miracle Gro fertilizer as well as Miracle Gro potting soil and a variety of other specific products associated with the Miracle Gro brand.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:15 AM   #11
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Angry Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threshold View Post
Really??? REALLY?

Are you telling me that you cannot tell the difference between a full bag of fertilizer and an empty one from looking at it? You really can't tell the difference between a crumpled heap of plastic and a big 40 lb bag of fertilizer?

And I don't know how things work at the stores in your neighborhood, but when I buy fertilizer, there is information written very clearly, in large text, all over the bags. The brand name, the stuff inside, etc. are all printed on the outside of the bag. At a quick glance, I can tell if something is a bag of fertilizer or not.

I am perplexed by this world you are envisioning where people cannot tell the difference between full and empty bags, and are completely oblivious to the writing on the outside of bags.

You know, when this thread first got started it reeked of an attempt to throw more snark out about the way RPI do their short descs. This here.. just proved it.

Look, I know you two are not fond of the way RPI's do things. Yes, I know, we've had our laughs at Delerak and prof1515 because of the thing that have gone on here. I don't agree with everything the RPI games do, nor all of their (Delerak and prof1515) opinions. However, I did take the time to actually talk to them and find out more without the BS that was going on here. Honestly, they make a lot more sense.

However, continually making jabs after the conversation is over, is quite low really.

You both know how you would prefer to describe the object, and you both know that how to handle short descs is a matter of preference. This is nothing more than a way for you to have more to point and laugh at the RPI crowd about because they would prefer to not see the name, but merely a description of the bag, and then when you look in the bag you see fertilizer. This was made quite obvious when you, Threshold, lashed out at Jazuela like she's a fool for her preferred method of describing things.

You think the way RPI's do things is silly, we get it. There's no need to create a thread asking about which method is better and then rail against those that mention that they'd do it the RPI way.

Utterly ridiculous.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:21 AM   #12
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Very true. Part of the reason for creating these brands is so that they're recognizable in any language. When traveling through Thailand, all soft drink cans are printed in Thai, but all of them are highly recognizable. They don't even bother to print McDonalds anywhere in Thai or in English. You just see the arches from a mile away.

One of the points to establish in any game, I suppose, is when a certain thing has reached that kind of critical success in a game. For example, when is Excalibur known as Excalibur rather than "black-hilted longsword engraved with silver".

In my gardening case, the character would know Miracle-Gro as a specific brand of fertilizer, but do I need to convey it to the players differently? Does it need to be more like the following:

Miracle-Gro, a bag of fertilizer
The problem with this is that their are people who might not know about excalibur. Or people who don't see 'excalibur' they simply see a sword. No matter how much critical success or acclaim an item gets it should never be referred to as a name in game because you never know what type of characters might see the item and go "How the hell did I know that?"

On the topic of naming thing after you know what they are? I don't know too much about that one either. The whole point of keeping sdescs and not names for items is that it keeps it more realistic.

Besides the fact that you're using modern items as examples - miracle gro/soft drinks/mcdonalds as an example, think about the thousand other items that you couldn't use as an example, even if somebody names a sword or names a book, how can you justify naming that item in the game when their are character in the game who might not be able to read that title of the book? Or who might not know anything about that sword.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:16 PM   #13
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

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Originally Posted by ShadowsDawn View Post
You know, when this thread first got started it reeked of an attempt to throw more snark out about the way RPI do their short descs. This here.. just proved it.

Look, I know you two are not fond of the way RPI's do things. Yes, I know, we've had our laughs at Delerak and prof1515 because of the thing that have gone on here. I don't agree with everything the RPI games do, nor all of their (Delerak and prof1515) opinions. However, I did take the time to actually talk to them and find out more without the BS that was going on here. Honestly, they make a lot more sense.

However, continually making jabs after the conversation is over, is quite low really.

You both know how you would prefer to describe the object, and you both know that how to handle short descs is a matter of preference. This is nothing more than a way for you to have more to point and laugh at the RPI crowd about because they would prefer to not see the name, but merely a description of the bag, and then when you look in the bag you see fertilizer. This was made quite obvious when you, Threshold, lashed out at Jazuela like she's a fool for her preferred method of describing things.

You think the way RPI's do things is silly, we get it. There's no need to create a thread asking about which method is better and then rail against those that mention that they'd do it the RPI way.
Whoa. This has nothing to do with RPIs or how they do anything.

I'm in the process of making several very difficult decisions on how to describe certain things and when they become "famous", which is why Miracle-Gro was used as the example. Already, Bakha has pointed out something that needs to be considered in allowing players to "brand name" something, and though you may not find this thread useful, the input that others have given has been extremely valuable for decisions that I'm making at this very moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsDawn View Post
Utterly ridiculous.
No. What's utterly ridiculous is your post.

Not every discussion is about RPIs or whatever. Not everyone cares about what they do or how they do it. The discussions is long dead, and there's really no need to bring it up again. There's absolutely nothing to be gained by it. What is important is the individual preferences and the explanations behind them. I'm thankful that anyone bothered to respond in whatever way they chose to respond since decisions like this can be vital to your game. Obviously, I haven't made mine.

Can you please stop hi-jacking threads and making it about your preferred genre? I really don't care to discuss anything about RPIs any further. If I did, I would have titled this thread "Hey, how do RPIs do it?" I'll bet you anything that they do it in a million different ways as well.

Last edited by Milawe : 05-13-2008 at 12:26 PM. Reason: Removing unncessary words
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:23 PM   #14
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

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Originally Posted by Bakha View Post
Well, you do have Miracle Gro fertilizer as well as Miracle Gro potting soil and a variety of other specific products associated with the Miracle Gro brand.
Very true. That brings up a whole other question.

There are people who are able to recognize certain things based on the creator of the item. (Okay, Miracle-Gro would probably not be one of them.) For example, some people can just recognize things such as "This is Cartier watch" or " This is a Stradivarius." In order to possibly show that someone has achieved a level of fame, how jarring would it be in character to have a description such as "a Stradivarius violin" as the short?
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:25 PM   #15
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsDawn View Post
You know, when this thread first got started it reeked of an attempt to throw more snark out about the way RPI do their short descs. This here.. just proved it.

...

However, continually making jabs after the conversation is over, is quite low really.

You both know how you would prefer to describe the object, and you both know that how to handle short descs is a matter of preference. This is nothing more than a way for you to have more to point and laugh at the RPI crowd about because they would prefer to not see the name, but merely a description of the bag, and then when you look in the bag you see fertilizer. This was made quite obvious when you, Threshold, lashed out at Jazuela like she's a fool for her preferred method of describing things.
Woah. You really jumped to conclusions there. Though after all the vitriolic AFS threads I can understand why one might be tempted to assume later threads are lingering "after shocks." But I would like to note:

1) I did not start this thread. I replied because Jazuela said something that seemed a little excessive to me. I actually intended to post about the specific topic in the first post as well, but Jazuela's extreme post prompted a reply to her post first.

2) I am not familiar with the rules or conventions AFS muds have for short descriptions. So to claim that I was just looking for an opportunity to slag them for the way they do their descriptions is just incorrect. In all of those AFS threads, I do not even recall the matter of item short descriptions being discussed as one of their criterion.

3) I believe Milawe's intent is to actually get information. She is working on a new mud, and the people working on that mud want to "get things right."

Honestly, lets not look for the boogeyman in every shadow or under every bed. Not every thread or every discussion is secretly about AFS muds. This thread is about exactly what it claims to be about: discussing different ways to do short descriptions.

There are merits to a purely descriptive short description (a green and yellow bag of fertilizer), and there are merits to a more brief, concise description that sums up a lot of things in a short few words (a bag of Miracle-Gro). But neither method has anything to do inherently with AFS muds.

And as far as Jazuela's post: no matter which of those two methods you prefer, I don't think it is logical to say that a person would have no idea from a quick glance if a bag is full or empty. That is the kind of thing that is incredibly obvious right away, no? Also, if it has FERTILIZER printed in big letters on the bag, then I don't think requiring a detailed examination is necessary for a player to know it is something other than "grubs of death and destruction." Granted, the labeling could be wrong, but that is all the more reason for including the label information in the short desc.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:27 PM   #16
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

It depends on what kind of information you want to convey.

1. Miracle-Gro Fertilizer

This object guarantees that what they hold, is indeed, a bag full of Miracle-Gro product fertilizer.

2. a green and yellow bag

This object guarantees that what they hold is a bag with specific color markings, but is silent about the actual contents of the bag.

3. a green and yellow bag labeled 'Miracle-Gro'

This object guarantees that what they hold is a bag with specific color markings which was once filled with Miracle-Gro product, but is silent about the actual contents of the bag at present.

This is one of the differences between RPI's and other MUD's. The ambiguous short description encourages players not to make assumptions about objects, but to simply view them in the broadest way possible. If you intend for the bag to have other uses, or for there to be a reason why someone might want to put something other than Miracle-Gro into it (i.e. perhaps a sneaky neighbor wants their garden to look the best), I don't see a huge reason why you cannot call out the contents in the short description.

> a green and yellow plastic bag
> a green and yellow bag of fertilizer
> a green and yellow bag labeled 'Miracle-Gro'

However, it's similar to several types of containers we use in RPI's.

> a leather waterskin

It's a container. It's supposed to contain water, by the description, but it could feasibly hold any kind of liquid substance from water to wine to oil to syrup. That's why you can look inside it, sniff it, taste it, etc... It just depends what you want the bag to be used for and how much depth you want.

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Old 05-13-2008, 12:31 PM   #17
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
In my gardening case, the character would know Miracle-Gro as a specific brand of fertilizer, but do I need to convey it to the players differently? Does it need to be more like the following:

Miracle-Gro, a bag of fertilizer
I think this works best, for two reasons:
  1. As Bahka noted, Miracle-Gro makes things other than fertilizer, and they use the same distinctive package design.

  2. You are conveying information that is clearly printed on the outside of the bag. For me, short descriptions serve two purposes:
    1. They are the brief summary of what a person sees when they first look at an item.
    2. They provide reference identifiers so people can then look at the item for more detailed information.

So "Miracle-Gro, a bag of fertilizer" tells you what you would quickly see on the outside of the bag, and also gives you 3 good identifiers for examining it more closely ("look bag", "look fertilizer", "look Miracle-Gro").
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:44 PM   #18
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

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Originally Posted by LoD View Post
This is one of the differences between RPI's and other MUD's. The ambiguous short description encourages players not to make assumptions about objects, but to simply view them in the broadest way possible. If you intend for the bag to have other uses, or for there to be a reason why someone might want to put something other than Miracle-Gro into it (i.e. perhaps a sneaky neighbor wants their garden to look the best), I don't see a huge reason why you cannot call out the contents in the short description.

> a green and yellow plastic bag
> a green and yellow bag of fertilizer
> a green and yellow bag labeled 'Miracle-Gro'
To relate this to something Bakha mentioned about how Miracle-Gro has different products -- yes, that is true, but if the purpose of the sdesc is to say to the player 'This is Miracle-Gro', I would still argue for the sdesc 'A bag of Miracle-Gro'. When I hear 'Miracle-Gro', I think fertilizer. Maybe that's just me, but no, I am representative of all people! . Similarly, if the purpose of the sdesc is not to be ambiguous, you want to go for the eyeball-kick of product placement. Abstracting the referant to its most common icon is I think the most effective way to communicate the message here.

I think this still works in fantasy/medieval settings, but of course it depends on the flavor of the game.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:51 PM   #19
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

I guess I'm trying to pin-point exactly where it might be okay to use

a bag of Miracle-Gro

in the given situation and what that conveys to most players. The purpose is to quickly convey a LOT of information to the player in no more than 20-30 characters. A player could then examine it more closely including looking up the Wiki entry for Miracle-Gro if they want to know the company's history and background.
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:00 PM   #20
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Re: Quick, short descriptions

Consider how your sentences are constructed by the code. I know that I have our builders use an article (a, an, some, the, and others) before the word(s), but how it is handled can be codebase specific.
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