Blackpanther's Guide to Building
Some people think of building as an art, others like to believe that it is a science, I will say that building is a combination of the two. Just as a doctor must first become knowledgeable about the body and learn all of it's processes, he must also learn the techniques of actually working on, and hopefully healing the body. We as builders often lack one of these two aspects. Some builders could answer any question about any aspect of OLC or LP (or any creation method.,) while others may be able to think up the most creative ideas, only limited by their skill level with the creation method their MU* uses. I'd like to share some of the ways that I've learned to help me create the best areas that I can.
The first thing that you need to have to create an area is an idea. This is the foundation of the area, and can even stimulate you to create an entire series of areas. I've seen many builders request an area, without any ideas what-so-ever, and as soon as they get their vnums, they embark on the creation of an area that has no meaning and is a multi-faceted dead end. Many things can help you find an idea for your MU*, one of my favorite thing to do, is snoop, or follow some of the mortal rper's around. Listening to their conversations sometimes helps me to start an area. After you've gotten your idea, make sure to approve it with your Head Builder, nothing is more heart breaking than having your area removed because it did not comply with the rules of the MU* or that is was not consistent with the theme.
Okay we now have our idea. The next step is to map out our area on paper (or on your computer in some graphical software such as MS paint.) I've found that this (as simple as it may sound) can help me evolve my ideas and make sure I know what I'm doing when I go to enter it into the computer. Not only does it help you to finalize your plans, but you'll find that you will be able to create your area faster than you normally would.
I generally start with the room names and then work to the descriptions. This helps me a lot, because I can now identify each room by something other than by it's vnum. From there I will generally create other types of exits, such as doors. The next step would be to create mobs, then objects, and finally resets. I find that this order makes not only for faster building, but allows me to make my areas stick to the theme. If I were to create the area room by room there is more chance that my theme will begin to change. Whether it be OLC, LP, or whatever it is that you use, don't try to rush your area. Rushing is the ultimate mistake, as you will, more than likely, forget something that is integral to your areas theme (perhaps even something as simple as a key!) Be sure to use the full extent of your building method, if you have mprogs, please use them, if it's scripts, again, these can make your area come to life and draw your players into your area, especially if it's an RP MU*. One thing that I find a lot of builders do not use are extra description. Every noun in every room should have an extra description, not only does this make your rooms seem more real, but it can force your players to read the descriptions you labored to write, so that they can find everything in your area. Also please make sure to check with your peers or Head Builder to see if there are any documents you need. If there are mob tables and object tables, please use them. It is one of the most annoying things as a Head Builder or Admin to have to delete or have another modify someone's area because that person created an unbalanced area. Please stick to the guide lines your employers provide. If you have problems remembering how something works, please look up a resource or ask one of your peers, I have a great (IMO) builder resource that I will e-mail you if you ask (see address at end of document.)
You've now finished entering your area into the computer. Now it's time to proof read our area. We all make typos from time to time so we need to check for this as well as to make sure everything is in it's proper place. We also need to check all of our exits to make sure they go were their supposed to. After you have checked your area, get one of your peers to do the same, this will ensure that your area is ready. I sometimes get a mortal (or log a test character) to test the experience gains from the mobs in my area, to make sure they are where I want them.
Well you now know all of my secrets, or most of them anyway. :P I hope that this article will help you to create better areas that you and your mortals will enjoy. If you need further help, email me for my OLC document.
A.K.A. Blackpanther, Tilbaran, Cylk