Qualities of a Good Builder
I do not think I need to expand on that one.
Ask questions, lots of them! How do I do this? Can I do this? The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. Administrators generally like new builders who ask a lot of questions. They do not mind answering them. Some administrators enjoy it because it shows that the builder has a genuine interest. Answering the questions makes them look smart, too.
Patience is actually required in a couple of different ways when you are learning to build.
The chances are good that your first area will not be the "Area to End all Areas." Very few people submit an excellent first area. Building is a learning process. If you stick to it, you will master it.
The aforementioned administrators who love answering questions can sometimes be quite busy. When your work is at a stand still, wait even if it is hard to. Be patient, they usually get back to you as soon as they can.
Building a good area is a long sometime tedious process. Parts of it are not that much fun but are very necessary. If you take the time to do it right, other people will notice the difference.
Common sense, and pride:
Use what you disliked in areas to build guidelines for yourself. I.e., I hate when I am walking west in a hallway that assumes I am going east. My personal pet peeve is copied room descriptions; changing one line at the end does not make a difference in my book. There are players who look at everything in the description. Flush everything out with as much detail as you can. Take pride in your work. One new builder told me that most people do not pay attention to such things. I told him I do not build my areas for them, I build them for the people who do true exploration. Just because "most people" ignore the extra work does not mean it should remain undone. A player who only cares about the game will not notice the extra work if it is there; however, a player who notices and explores areas will notice if the extra details are not there. Take pride in your work, be thorough, and you will be a good builder.
Know your tools:
Building does have some things in common no matter which code base you are working with. A poorly written room description is still a poorly written room description. However, since the actual building processes can be very different, you should start by making a minimum of one room, one object, and one creature. A basic familiarity with the tools at hand is essential. It will help you to comprehend what is within the realm of possibility when you are building your area. If you do not completely understand something, ask about it. No one will think any question you ask is silly. The more questions you ask, the more you learn.
Invest in a Thesaurus:
Synonyms are part of the key to having rooms that could be repetitive look slightly different. They also help if you are searching for the perfect word. Sometimes, if I cannot find the word I am looking for using the thesaurus, I start looking up synonyms of the synonyms I have found. The results are slightly different.
Determine your mud's standards:
Every mud has different standards regarding rooms, creatures, and objects. It will save you a lot of time if you check the standards before you start building your area. Putting a lot of work into an area then having to redo elements that do not match your mud's standards can be frustrating. If you are building your first area for a mud, have an administrator check the first five to ten rooms you build to see if they measure up to their standard. Creature and object balance is difficult to determine on your own. Ask the administrators on your mud if they have documents that will help you determine this for your area. If they do not have those documents, ask if there is an area, or areas currently on your mud that they consider well balanced for the player levels that you are making the area for.
Grammar rules for the Unenlightened; or, how to write good
- Don't use no double negatives.
- Don't never use no triple negatives.
- No sentence fragments.
- Corollary: Complete sentences: Important.
- Stamp out and eliminate redundancy.
- Avoid cliches like the plague.
- All generalizations are bad.
- Corollary: All statements must be specific.
- Never listen to advice.
- Take care that your verb and subject is in agreement.
- A preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with.
- Down with categorical imperatives.
- Avoid those run-on sentences that just go on, and on, and on, they never stop, they just keep rambling, and you really wish the person would just shut up, but no, they just keep going, they're worse than the Energizer Bunny, they babble incessantly, and these sentences, they just never stop, they go on forever...if you get my drift...
- Never contradict yourself always.
- You should never use the second person.
- When dangling, watch your participles.
- Never go off on tangents, which are lines that intersect a curve at only one point and were discovered by Euclid, who lived in the sixth century, which was an era dominated by the Goths, who lived in what we now know as Poland...
- As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "I hate quotations."
- Excessive use of exclamation points can be disastrous!!!!!
- Remember to end each sentence with a period
- Don't use commas, which aren't necessary.
- Don't use question marks inappropriately?
- Don't be terse.
- Don't obfuscate your theses with extraneous verbiage.
- Never use that totally cool, radically groovy out-of-date slang.
- Avoid tumbling off the cliff of triteness into the black abyss of overused metaphors.
- Keep your ear to the grindstone, your nose to the ground, take the bull by the horns of a dilemma, and stop mixing your metaphors.
- Avoid those abysmally horrible, outrageously repellent exaggerations.
- Avoid any awful anachronistic aggravating antediluvian alliterations.
Important points to think of when building a new area in the game.
Begining a New Area Planning an area is one of the most important aspects of building it. Unfortunately, sometimes the planning stops once a builder has a general idea of what type of area they would like. It is easy to be excited about an idea and rush headlong into building it without having thought it through.
The first step in planning an area is to pick a topic. What, in general, will it be about? Once you have decided this, it may be tempting to jump into the editor, or file, and just start building. This is not a good idea. Each area should have a theme and history. A more fleshed out idea will be easier to build, and will produce better end results. Instead of saying this area is going to be a faerie area, for example, the area could be Tir Na Nog, a refuge for faeries from the world outside. Consider why they are where they are, and what they need to survive. Research an idea at a library, or on-line. Jot down notes as you go. After you have compiled a few pages of notes, take a small break. Look at the notes. What do you see that fits together? Just because something is cool, does not necessarily mean that it belongs in the area you are building. If you come up with something cool, that really does not fit the area you are working on currently, keep track of it for possible use in another area. Who knows perhaps it could spawn another complete area.
Write a short story about the area. Do not worry about perfect grammar at this point; just see where it takes you. Let one idea lead to another. It does not matter if the story lacks cohesiveness at this point. Write ALL of the ideas that come to mind. Some will be good, some will not. Some that do not seem good the day you do it may spark something good the next day. Do not be critical of yourself and stop yourself from writing. If you think it, write it.
Next try to answer practical questions like: What is the history of the area? How did the area get to be the way it is? How will the area evolve? What could it be like in one mud year? What could happen to get it there? How do the creatures interact with players? How do the creatures interact with other creatures? What happens if equipment is left on dead creatures? Does it just lie around on the ground cluttering the mud? Is there a creature that collects things and creates a treasure hoard? Do looters take it off the corpse, and sell it to shopkeepers? Will there be any quests as part of the area?
Review everything you have done up to this point. Now try to write a cohesive theme for the area. Add as much detail as you can. After doing this, you should be ready to begin mapping. Again, this is still not the time to rush into the editor. Map out your area on graph paper, or draw it by hand, or draw it in a graphics application. However you do it, make a visual representation that you can look at when you are building the area. Even if your area has trick rooms and exits, mapping helps to create a well-designed area, and makes for a smoother building process.
It is important to plan your area, not just build it. Areas that builders took the time to plan carefully generally appear more professional. They are easier to maintain and add to as well. Personally, I have never had an area that is completely done. Areas should evolve, just like code should. If an area is planned poorly, it may be difficult to follow the layout when the area is revised.
After you have mapped out your area, go through and do a skeleton or backbone of the area. Just make one room with the most common sector type, and copy it to all of the rooms you will need. I do not name room or create a description at this point. The reason for this is that in some code bases you cannot make an exit to a room that does not exist. It is easier to be able to make the exits when you make the room.
Once you have the backbone, there are two ways you can go about it. Some people go through and make the rooms first, then the creatures, the objects, then the shops. Personally, I go through and make each room completely before moving onto the next. That includes the creatures and objects that go there, and shops etc.
Whichever way you decide to use, I suggest that you finish a room, creature, or object completely (if possible) the first time you do it. It is much easier to add details then than to go through the whole area making sure you have gotten everything at the end. Do a thorough job the first time through. You will have fewer errors in your finished product that way.
A common cheat in building similar rooms is to copy the same three or four lines into the beginning of several rooms, and then to add a new line on the end of each room. The two rooms listed below could have easily been built by that method. Writing separate descriptions is better because no two rooms are exactly alike. They may be very similar, but they are rarely identical. Also, reading the same description over and over can get boring and monotonous. People play muds to have fun. An exception to the copy and paste rule is if the area is a maze. These types of areas use duplicated descriptions to disorientate the player.