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Old 04-22-2003, 09:08 AM   #1
Taniquetil
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Been thinking a lot about the issue of guidelines for building, in perticular room guidelines. Of course, some general rules are needed, like you shouldn't decribe a action or feeling for a player. We all know these things, their pretty basic. But, really why stick to tightly to the "other rules" (describing only what you see, hear (which also could be wrong), smell (see above when you could create something a bit different (read poetic or likewise). I changed my views during my building years a lot, first I was very strict, sticking with the rules whatever. Then I started working on a savannah area and I read some interessting things about a special savannah tree called baobab tree. So I added it as an extra, but I wanted players to see what I found interessting when reading it, so I added a little story instead of a desc

"The baobab was among the first trees to appear on the land. Next came the slender, graceful palm tree. When the baobab saw the palm tree, it cried out that it wanted to be taller. Then the beautiful flame tree appeared with its red flower and the baobab was envious for flower blossoms. When the baobab saw the magnificent fig tree, it prayed for
fruit as well. The gods became angry with the tree and pulled it up by its roots, then replanted it upside down to keep it quiet."

So, comments or suggestions, would this be bad or good?
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Old 04-22-2003, 09:57 AM   #2
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I'd say the story gives a bit more life to the tree than just
[code] A baobab tree, it's twisted root-like branches reaching to the sky.[/quote]
--Which ultimately would be what you'd see in most muds outthere.
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Old 04-22-2003, 11:24 AM   #3
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Putting history with mobs/objects/rooms is pretty controversal, but something that, I agree, puts a lot of character in an area. It's probably the only 'implanting of information' that I'd really allow.

Your only alternative is to have it in a book or scroll somewhere, if people were doing research on such things. But most people won't take the effort, and it's nice to have information readily available.

There have been several occasions where I've put a slight history in a mobs description, because honestly, the information wouldn't really be anywhere else. Not to mention it provides more opportunity for possible storylines.

So it's really a matter of preference, either provide the history there or in a book or another mob that could provide the information. Either seems alright with me.
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Old 04-22-2003, 11:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Been thinking a lot about the issue of guidelines for building, in perticular room guidelines. Of course, some general rules are needed, like you shouldn't decribe a action or feeling for a player. We all know these things, their pretty basic.
The guidelines for one mud won't necessarily apply to another. The only "needed" rules are those associated with good spelling and grammar - anything concerning the content of the descriptions should be a matter of personal taste, and specified by the owner of the mud. Personally I have no problem with describing an action or feeling, only with providing potentially incorrect information (within reasonable limits).

I've heard of a mud which provided a sort of historical story throughout an area, but I can't recall the name of it now. It's a nice idea, and could provide an interesting change of pace, although personally I'd rather provide such information through the use of helpfiles and documentation.

It may well be suitable for your mud though - as I said before, the guidelines for one mud won't necessarily apply to another.
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Old 04-22-2003, 07:18 PM   #5
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I frequently use the trick with telling small stories or legends in the room descs. Or giving info about the country and the people in it. It definitely adds some flavour and depth to the zone in my opinion, even though it may not be totally orthodox.

Some builders claim that you should only describe what you see in a room. But this would make the descriptions very boring in large zones where many rooms are of similar type, for instance a large forest, or a long road. After all, there are only a limited number of ways in which you could describe a forest or a road. But add a bit of ecology, economy, history, myth etc. to those descs and the zone gets a lot more interesting.

Below are some examples from a zone I am working on right now, set in Ancient Greece. It's a very large grid zone, about 600 rooms, and there is a main road in it, that's about 100 rooms long. So, for that road I mix traditional descs about the surroundings with anecdotes and myths.

"Greek women are strong, tough and enduring. They are used to walking long distances, carrying heavy burdens on their heads, and to working long hours in stony fields. They have to, because Greek men prefer to spend most of the day in the cafe, drinking ouzo and bragging about their own strength."

"The pale dusty track threads the hillsides, and down below is the sea, deep blue and green, washing the feet of the dark crags. Silver leafed olive trees grow on the terraced slopes along the road. Under the gnarled old trees animals graze and rest in the dappled shadow."

"If you should meet a Greek man and woman on the road, you can be sure that the woman is carrying the burden. If you should meet a Greek man and woman with a donkey on the road, you can be sure that the woman is the one on foot. Most likely she'll be carrying the burden too."
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Old 04-24-2003, 03:41 PM   #6
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To me, guidelines are just that, guides and not something that should be etched in stone. I enjoy reading a bit of history, ecology or poetic lyric in a well-written description regardless of fact or fantasy. The real key is context and how you present the information to the casual passer-by. Even I’m guilty of writing rooms that somehow magically “inform” you of rumors, facts or fantasy, as if some person or thing was implanting the ideas into your head.

Usually, I find signs, placards or even a helpful sage-like mob with a few interactive scripts to ease the transition between what you experience in a room to what you learn from the room. Extra descriptions are a good tool to expand the topic started in the room because specifically focused on that one thing. Hmm, let me try and do this as a lark.

At the Lone Tree
Arriving at this lone landmark in the otherwise barren plain of arid rock and forlorn plant life, the lone tree seems to scream for attention. The smooth, pinkish-gray bark of the old Baobab tree stretches both to the right and the left as its diameter is beyond a normal arm span. A full compliment of leaves adorn the thin, twisting branches it has for arms as well as some flowers bespeckled among the leaves. A large, old scar at the base of the tree has split and makes a tall yet narrow opening in the trunk. Slight rustling sounds from inside indicate the opening is occupied and so probably best left alone unless discovering a scorpion is fun. The brushvelt signal grass is greener directly below the arms of the tree since below the open canopy it is cooler.
A small man sits here under the cooling leaves and contemplates the tree.

<Look Baobab>
Faintly glossy, the smooth bark has a few lumps and bumps that resemble hardened wax. Long, violin shaped leaves seem to grow like hands from the tiny twigs sprouting from the thin branches. Occasional blotches of white flower break the monotony of leaf and branch.
The small man notices you looking (if look and target =baobab mecho) at the baobab.
“This is a wondrous tree and has a history,” he says, “would you like to hear of it?”
yes/no response indicated
“Surely I will tell you,” says the small man as he adjusted his robes, “<insert text>”

"The baobab was among the first trees to appear on the land. Next came the slender, graceful palm tree. When the baobab saw the palm tree, it cried out that it wanted to be taller. Then the beautiful flame tree appeared with its red flower and the baobab was envious for flower blossoms. When the baobab saw the magnificent fig tree, it prayed for
fruit as well. The gods became angry with the tree and pulled it up by its roots, then replanted it upside down to keep it quiet."

<Look Flower>
Almost larger than your palm, these waxy, white blossoms are rather succulent with a crumbly appearance as if someone has squished it before but left on the branch.
The small man notices you looking (if look and target =baobab mecho) at the baobab flower.
“Those flowers are the tree’s tears and the fruit is poison but may have some use in potions.”

Credit for the basic redit goes to our builder Rhiannon but I highly modified it. The point being is the transition is a sound way to convey information without the “magical” implantation into your brain inferred or forced. BTW, I didn’t expand on all the needed extras in this demonstration obviously.

Like KaVir said, it depends on the standards of your head builder or owner, but a resourceful builder can always find a way. I personally give builders free reign as long as they master the art of contextual transition.
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Old 04-25-2003, 07:15 PM   #7
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Illuvatar’s post is illustrating the other side of the coin. As a builder you have two general problems, paradoxically enough totally contrary: You either have too little to say about a room, or too much.

The former is usually a case in very large areas, with a lot of similarly typed rooms, type forest, desert, savannah, etc. In this case you need to economise with whatever descriptions you’ve got, to spread them out over as many rooms as possible and avoid repetitive descs if possible. This is where info about topography, ecology, climate, geology, vegetation animal life etc. comes in handy, as well as the myths and stories, which help to break the monotony a bit. Usually you don’t bother much with extra descs in those rooms, since they are mostly transport areas, which most players pass swiftly on their way to a specific goal, like a castle or a landmark of some kind.

The latter applies for special rooms, like a ballroom in a castle – or of course Taniquetil’s baobab room. It stands to reason that there is a lot more to view in a place like this, but a main desc that scrolls you out of the screen is generally not a good thing. In this case the extra descs are perfect to keep the main desc from swelling out too much, and to flesh the room out. In my opinion the main descs should not be TOO long, because that can easily get spammy and just encourages players to put the ‘brief’ mode on - a habit which all Builders deplore.

It is important to remember that a zone is meant to move about in. And while you are on the move it looks nice and gives a nice rhythm, if all descs are about equal in length. In the ‘special’ rooms players tend to move slower and more carefully, so the descs there can be a bit longer. I usually try to keep the descs in ‘travel area’ around 4 lines, and the ones in ‘special’ and indoor rooms around 7-10 lines in length. Anything above that I take to extra descs.

In our mud we don’t just have the usual option of ‘look noun’ descs, we also have added several other descs to the OLC, so that you can listen and smell in a room, and also look behind, under and above objects. It was a pretty simple code addition to the OLC, but it vastly adds to the possibilities of the Builders. We also have climbable and descendable objects, and several different types of portals that don’t look like portals at all. Instead you enter a hole, a shrubbery, a well, a secret passage – and of course get the appropriate room message for each type. Since these portals can be made not to show up as objects in the room, the players need to read the room descs to find them. They are not like the ‘hidden’ doors, where all you need to do is type ’search’ a number of times.

Extra descs are particularly good for adding info about quests, for instance a note hidden behind a picture or a trap door concealed under a bed. The power players rush right past them, and miss the best stuff; the careful players pay attention to any hints in the main desc, and start looking for more in the room. We have made it a rule, that if there is hidden stuff in a room, there should always be some sort of hint, usually in either the main desc or the ‘look direction’ descs. Sometimes we bury it a bit deeper, using the listen and smell descs, but the hint is always there, for the ones that care to read. This has developed to a culture among all our Builders, by now they all make full use of all the extra options, even if it means a lot of extra work with the zone.

And the encouraging thing is that eventually the culture spreads to all the players too. Most of our newbies start out like common power players, killing anything in sight, but after a while they notice that other players have stuff that they didn’t even know existed. And that’s when they start to ask questions, find out about the extra descs and hopefully go through our Quest Academy, to get some hints about what to look for in the zones. And eventually the power player has turned into a full-fledged Questor, talking politely to mobs, and poking around under beds and behind cupboards. (It can be fun to fill in the behind/under/above descs even though you don’t put any quest hints there, for instance with sentences like ‘A lot of dust – this place needs a better cleaning woman’ or ‘Ouch! Someone forgot to empty the chamber pot!’ But there is of course always a limit where you shy away from the extra work, unless it is actually used for something in the zone).

To return to Taniquetil’s baobab tree, I would probably have made it a climbable object, landing you in a new room, which would be the crown of the tree. And in that crown you could place anything from an annoying monkey or aggressive leopard to a message, carved into the rind of the trunk. Or a cache in a knothole, where someone hid a useful object.

It seems a waste not to use a nice ‘special’ room like this for something special.
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Old 04-26-2003, 07:26 AM   #8
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Talking

I was a bit unclear.

The rdesc look like this:

The rolling grassland terrain extends in all directions towards the far-off horizon. Pale-yellow and green bermuda grass covers the rough, yet leveled terrain of this sparsely populated area. A sprinkling of flat-topped acacia trees provide necessary shade fur both carnivores and
herbivores. The blazing sunrays pour down onto the unfriendly savanna, eliminating the chance of cooling. Another tree-type dominates the northern section, the Baobab tree, with branches that resembles a normal
trees roots, leafless. Animals, whom gaze the savanna, have kept most sections of the grass low, except random spots where the grass grows high.

with the extra as first message
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