I’ve been pondering the universe more than usual in the last few days. And by that I mean I have poured over the Generals front and back looking for cracks in the foundation. Not to exploit, but to mend. I prefer to exploit solid rules. I was testing alternate interpretations against the June route instructions to see if it held up and avoided weak spots.
Some of the rules in the Generals are simple and clear. Some are confusing or lumpy. Lumpy? That’s a rule that almost did the job and then a problem was noticed so the cooks just dropped another word or two into the pot as a fix. That pot hasn’t been stirred since 2007. Yes, I was among those in the kitchen at the time.
I challenge you to read the first two sentences of section 4.1 and say the words “that is perfectly clear” in a believable manner.
4.1 A route instruction may have multiple actions and may also have multiple ACTION POINT(s). Execute each route instruction at its first possible ACTION POINT(s).
That looks pretty harmless. Multiple actions and ACTION POINTs are allowed, correct? Is it possible for a route instruction to have no action or ACTION POINT? Can the number of actions be different from the number of ACTION POINTs? I’ll suggest that the last question might be answered by the language used in the first sentence. I think that was probably the intent. If the action quantity was lockstep with the ACTION POINT count, the “may also have” would not be needed. Still wouldn’t be perfectly clear.
Route instructions are meant to be logical and readable (special terms and definitions aside). We can easily understand the instruction RIGHT AT SIGNAL PAUSE 30 and accept it as legitimate. It has two actions [RIGHT] and [PAUSE] doesn’t it? And they occur at the same ACTION POINT, so this may help answer the question of differing quantities and does so more clearly, if the example holds. If you want to raise your hand and ask about 4.5, you’re reading ahead in the Generals. Just back the truck up. We’ll get there soon enough. Until then, your punishment is to think about whether or not PAUSE is really an action. I assure you that its definition makes no convincing argument.
Which conveniently brings us back to the first question: can a route instruction have no action and/or ACTION POINT? Yes, and no. I have come to the understanding that the no action condition must be acceptable and yet there must be at least one ACTION POINT. To make things worse, the ACTION POINT can also be invisible, hypothetical, or fictional. You might hear people speak of an implied action. That is weak sauce. We use things like OBSERVE “NEXT EXIT” on almost every event. Sometimes it is just “NEXT EXIT”. Is there a need to imply OBSERVE? Is a lonely “NEXT EXIT” an executable instruction? I posit that it is fully compliant with 4.3.2. There is no change of direction specified but there is a REFERENCE, so the instruction should be executed AT the REFERENCE. The ACTION POINT is AT the REFERENCE, because 4.3.2 told us where to execute and 4.3 labels that an ACTION POINT. The only action that took place was the completion of the instruction. Woof. Invisible, hypothetical, and fictional ACTION POINTs are mentioned only to emphasize that while we’ve used 4.3 to identify the ACTION POINT(s) where execution actually took place, the definition in section 8 reads “can be…”
I’ll tear apart the second sentence of 4.1 in a future rant.
You, in the back having your 4.5 fit, wanted to ask how RIGHT AT SIGNAL PAUSE 30 is allowed when 4.5 reads
4.5 The same ACTION POINT will not be used simultaneously for two route instructions.
RIGHT and PAUSE are two actions (argument for another time) of the same route instruction, not two route instructions. This is an important distinction. It is part of the reason the first sentence of 4.1 specifically mentions multiple actions and ACTION POINTs. This example is considered two actions at a single ACTION POINT. I’ll let you stew over 6.7 for a bit.
I’ll end for now with a summary of how FOOTZ interprets the following instructions:
- SIGNAL – no action, one ACTION POINT
- RIGHT AT SIGNAL – one action, one ACTION POINT
- RIGHT AT SIGNAL AFTER SIGNAL – one action, two ACTION POINTs (maybe, really tough to justify)
- RIGHT AT 2ND SIGNAL – one action, one ACTION POINT
- OBSERVE SIGNAL THEN RIGHT AT SIGNAL – two actions, two ACTION POINTs