Much Ado About Nothing

The null object

In Quest code, null has two slightly different meanings. It can be an empty object; that is, an object with no attributes and of the special type “null”.

obj = player msg(TypeOf(obj)) -> “object” obj = null msg(TypeOf(obj)) -> “null”

The variable obj is set to point to the built-in object, null, which is of the type “null”.

Some functions will check if a parameter is null, some do not. Look at the HasString function. It takes an object and a string (the attribute name). It checks if the object is null, and gives a helpful error message if that is not the case.

obj = player msg(HasString(obj, “name”)) -> True obj = null msg(HasString(obj, “name”)) -> Error running script: Error evaluating expression ‘HasString(obj, “name”)’: HasString function expected object parameter but was passed ‘null’ msg(HasString(player, obj)) -> Error running script: Error compiling expression ‘HasString(player, obj)’: FunctionCallElement: Could find not function ‘HasString(Element, Object)’

Attributes set to null

However, null also means nothing. If you set an attribute to null, then the attribute no longer exists.

player.equipped = null msg(HasAttribute(player, “equipped”)) -> False

Setting an attribute to null is a useful way to remove a script. Perhaps an object does something weird when picked up. You could give it a script that fires. However, later in the game, the curse is removed, perhaps, and the script is set to null; now the default script runs.

Note that if the object is of a certain type, and the type has a value for the attribute, then setting the attribute to null will reset it to the value in the type. Suppose bob is of the type “male”…

msg(bob.gender) -> “he” bob.gender = “she” msg(bob.gender) -> “she” bob.gender = null msg(bob.gender) -> “he”

In fact, behind the scenes, what happens is that when we try to access bob.gender, Quest first checks if Bob has that attribute, and if not, it then looks for it in the types associated with Bob.

Compared to null

You can test if most things are null, but not integers.

obj.att = “somestring” msg (obj.att = null) -> False obj.att = player msg (obj.att = null) -> False obj.att = 42 msg (obj.att = null) -> Error running script: Error compiling expression ‘obj.att = null’: CompareElement: Operation ‘Equal’ is not defined for types ‘Int32’ and ‘Null’

If you are not sure what it may be, the safe way is to use the Equal function:

obj.att = 42 msg (Equal(obj.att, null)) -> False

Or compare the type first):

obj.att = 42 msg (TypeOf(obj.att) = “null”) -> False