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Old 09-15-2003, 03:29 PM   #1
Sidmouth
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Alright, I'm building a big city area on a mud that has tons and *tons* of cool options for putting dynamic descriptions in the rooms. I'm really excited about using these features and making my area really dynamic with respect to time of day, time of year, current weather, etc..., but I'm also a little worried about going overboard.

The first problem is that it takes a lot of time. On the one hand, it's mostly needed for places outside, and probably not more than half of my area is outside (roads, parks, etc...), on the other hand, you can spend a good half an hour describing a single room if you write 40 lines of if checks to figure out whether it's light or dark, raining or snowing, winter or summer, hot or cold, dry or wet, and so on.

The second problem is a little more aesthetic... I'm worried that using dynamic descriptions breaks up the fluidity of a room's desc. I just made a room where it combines statements from a couple of if checks and then throws in a stock phrase or two that will always appear, and it's alright, but it's just a tad choppy.

So for anyone out there who has some experience in this area: how do you find a balance? Do you just concentrate on certain things (night/day, seasons)? Use it thoroughly now and then but for the most part just not talk about the weather in most rooms? Another way to deal with it?

I'm leaning towards going all out to a certain extent and biting the bullet, as I don't have too many outside rooms to worry about anyways (well, 160 or so ) but I'd like some more feedback.
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Old 09-15-2003, 10:21 PM   #2
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Of course, you're assuming that players will read and re-read descriptions of rooms as the weather changes and the time of day changes. Its a sad fact (sad for us builders anyway) that most players skim room descripts at best, and only really read those rooms where clues to quests are embedded.

Personally, I think an appended line describing the weather and time of day is all you need--just don't make any references to weather and time in the room description itself.
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Old 09-16-2003, 03:40 AM   #3
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If your able to customise it so it will print out a unique message depending on time and weather then that would get rid of the choppiness (dunno if it's possible with your codebase though). However if all your doing is interspersing stock messages throughout the room it's most likely going to sound jarring and you might as well not bother (I'd prefer a good static fluid room then a choppy, half-stock dynamic room).

This is as a player

Oh, and I do read rooms descriptions as it is intergral to atmosphere and I get really sucked in with good descriptions.
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Old 09-16-2003, 03:47 AM   #4
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I think you should not worry if there will no many people read detailed room description. Some will and it whould  be nice feature to play and to research how to implement it
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Old 09-16-2003, 11:37 AM   #5
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I would worry about it, personally. I realize that a majority of players do not read room descriptions, but every mud has people who do.

It sounds to me, having not seen the code you are refering to, that it just isnt put together very well. I base that solely on the fact that you say that it cannot be used and have the description still be fluid, so I mean no disrespect to whoever wrote it.

At the end of the day, if the descriptions dont look good when using the dynamic stuff, why do it?

Maybe you could write a few descriptions using the dynamic stuff and post them here for us to take a look at. I really shouldnt be commenting when I havent even seen the product.
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Old 09-16-2003, 11:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
It sounds to me, having not seen the code you are refering to, that it just isnt put together very well.  I base that solely on the fact that you say that it cannot be used and have the description still be fluid, so I mean no disrespect to whoever wrote it.
No, this is entirely not code related.  The point I was trying to make is that if I make a description wherein it asks the mud for 10 different variables and comes up with something based on a bunch of sentences that I put in there for each of those variables, the thing is likely to be a little choppy.  That's because I'm not about to sit there, frankly, and make sure that all 324 permutations of my sentences are brilliant.  It's hardly a code problem.

I might go grab something later, but the general idea looks like this:

if timeofday==night
Whoa dude, it's totally dark out!
else
Whoa, the light is so bright!
endif
if temperature==hot
Global warming is killing us all slowly.
else
It feels fine outside.
endif
.
.
.
.
.

So if it's night and hot, the player sees:

Whoa dude, it's totally dark out!  Global warming is killing us all slowly. (whatever other phrases you put outside the if functions here)

That was just four sentence combination, my worry about choppiness came from situations in where I was creating considerably more permutations for myself.

EDIT: Ok, for clarification, cause I see where the confusion is. The mud is not generating any stock phrases here. I am writing the phrases and giving the mud the conditions under which it should use them. My complaint about choppiness has to do with situations wherein the mud could combine my phrases in say, 20 different ways. There's no way to eliminate possible awkward sounding combinations. And very slightly awkward I should add, it's not like you're going to get a desc that says "The sun is bright in this absolutely dark room". I'm actually more interested in the time problem and the general "how do I know when I'm going totally overboard" question than in the question of fluidity.
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Old 09-16-2003, 12:53 PM   #7
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Yes, I was definitely confused where the phrases were coming from. Thanks for the clarification.

I would think, then, that the key is to write your dymanic messages in such a way that they flow together based on the various combinations of text that could occur. Certainly not a simple task, but it could be very rewarding when done properly.

You mention the mud assembling your messages in 20 different ways - arent you in control of what circumstances cause messages?

For example, if you wanted to do time of day and weather. Instead of doing 5 messages for time of day and 5 messages for weather, do combination messages. That is:

if ((time==morning) && (temp==cold)) {
A bitter chill bites at your senses as the sun appears on the horizon.
}

You end up having to write more messages, but the end result will be much better. That is, assuming you can do combinations like this.

This is pretty cool stuff, actually. I've always avoided references of this nature in room descriptions. It would be great to make something like this work. The problem is coders and builders dont always think the same way.
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Old 09-16-2003, 12:56 PM   #8
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Bingo treestump. That is exactly how it works, and that is exactly what I'm doing right now. Boy is it ever a lot of work

I'm sort of compromising with myself. Every other room or so has quite a lot of dynamic material in it, and almost every room has at least a little dynamic material in it. In some rooms I just talk about the time of day or the season, and in other rooms there's a bunch of detail about the current temperature, humidty level, etc... So not every room has everything, but walking through the area, a player will get the idea, I hope.
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Old 09-16-2003, 01:08 PM   #9
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Excellent. I'm glad to see someone putting that level of effort into their room descriptions.

Perhaps you could come have a chat with our builders?
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Old 09-16-2003, 06:22 PM   #10
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We use dynamic descriptions heavily, and have found that, for our purposes, the best method is to leave most standard "global" dynamic descriptions out of the room. If people want to see what time of day it is, they can always look up. Scents can always be observed with the "sniff" command, and sounds can be "listen"ed to.

As for earlier comments that players won't read descriptions anyway, that's true only if the descriptions on your MUD don't matter.
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Old 09-16-2003, 06:43 PM   #11
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If you arent using time of day, smells, etc, what sort of information are you using dynamically in room descriptions?
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Old 09-16-2003, 07:17 PM   #12
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Relative descriptions (all size descriptions on our MUD, for instance, are relative (an ogre may see a shortword while a gnome sees the same weapon as a claymore)) and special case descriptions . All dynamic descs that show up in the main description of the room (with the exception of the light level) are specific to that room (e.g., the varying level of activity in the marketplace at a given time of day, or perhaps the way the light reflects off of a bronze statue at various times).

What Sidmouth seemed to be describing are generic descriptions that will show up in every single room. These are what I meant by "global" dynamic descriptions.
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Old 09-17-2003, 12:28 AM   #13
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Very interesting, thanks. Its nice to hear multiple implimentations of the same general idea.
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Old 09-17-2003, 05:23 AM   #14
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Dynamic descriptions are one of my favourite features, as I feel they can add a lot of flavour to a mud. You don't need to make everything dynamic - but it does allow you to include things in the room description that would normally be considered bad practice within a static description.

For example, you don't need to refer to the weather in every description - but in some cases you might want to mention the sunlight shining through the windows, or the moonlight reflecting off the lake, or the dead autumn leaves crunching beneath your boots. In these cases you need to know that it's daytime, or that the moon is up, or that it is autumn, or what the viewer is wearing on their feet, and that's just the sort of information that dynamic descriptions can provide.

I've not really used hand-written dynamic descriptions much for rooms (as I prefer to automate that part of the mud), but I do find them very useful for help files. Not only does this give the help files a more personalised touch, it can also provide the player with the exact information they need without them having to do calculations themselves, as well as use data specific to the character in order to provide examples that the player can better relate to, for example:

http://520006811875-0001.bei.t-onlin...ples/help1.txt

http://520006811875-0001.bei.t-onlin...ples/help2.txt

http://520006811875-0001.bei.t-onlin...ples/help3.txt

In particular, note the way the second help file uses one of my character's actual weapons in order to provide an example of how damage is calculated.

Obviously the same sort of strategy can be applied to room descriptions.
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