Building Department Proposal
In other words:
What kind of programming skills are involved in building an area? We've put up a sample area file, that while not complete by any means, it should serve to give you a rough idea of what you would be creating from a blank file. Many of the areas on LegendMUD are well over 200k text files.
LegendMUD's maintainers also agree to the following principles concerning copyright of areas:
1) Copyright ownership remains with the author(s) of an area.Like the immort code of conduct, if you do not agree with these principles, you will not be accepted as a member of the immortal staff.
2) The author(s) grants the maintainers of LegendMUD (hereafter referred to as simply LegendMUD) a permanent, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use and modify as needed the version installed into the public running version of LegendMUD as well as all subsequent versions submitted for installation.
3) Under no circumstances will the author(s) retain the right to dictate the continued use of or the way an installed area is used by LegendMUD.
However, any and all modifications to an installed area, whether by the original author(s) or another member of LegendMUD's immortal staff, are to be done in a manner that preserves the original intent and feel of the area. Modifications -- other than immediately required changes to stop the game from crashing or to limit exploitation of unbalancing elements -- done by a LegendMUD staff member other than the original author(s) will done with a reasonable attempt made to contact the author(s) concerning the necessity for such modifications when current contact information is known, unless ongoing maintenance of the area has been turned over to LegendMUD by the author(s).
The author(s) will be credited for their work on areas via the areas command. The author(s) may request that their credit to be altered to "original implementation by ...." in the area's areainfo section if they feel that their intent and vision for the area has not been maintained to their satisfaction.
All areas installed should be compliant with the spirit of LegendMUD's Immortal Code of Conduct. If they are not, modifications to make them so, follow the same provisions.
4) Conversely, LegendMUD claims no right to exclusivity. The author(s) is free to use his or her work at his or her discretion outside of LegendMUD, unless used in conjunction with an unauthorized copy/derivative of the LegendMUD software engine.
5) LegendMUD will never distribute areas unless specific permission to do so is granted by the author(s), and will refer any requests for same to the author(s), when current contact information is known. If current contact information is not known for the author(s) and permission not previously granted, such areas will not be distributed.
You should already have read about this process, but if not, please do so now.
Some of the questions submitted to you during the "Reading & Commenting" phase may have to do with your willingness to change parts of your area proposal that are unworkable. If these changes are of a modest scope, and/or the imms can suggest to you how to fix the problem, this gives you a chance to improve your proposal in mid-process. You should not feel pressured to agree to any suggested changes you dislike or which go against your vision for the area, however. While the questions and suggestions imms have for you may help you improve your proposal, they also just help us find out more about you and your area in general... questions should not be treated like a laundry list of "if you do these things we will immort you".
If your proposal is accepted, you are informed by the head builder, and will undergo a few stages of "immortalization", which includes the change to level 52, orientation about your new commands and responsibilities as an imm, and specific orientation about the building tools and documentation. You begin work on your area as soon as you have enough information to do so.
There are a series of stages that an area goes through on its road to completion. These stages are PRE-ALPHA, ALPHA, BETA, REVIEW, and FINAL. The goal for area building is to show consistent progress at a level that qualifies you for being an active building imm. Obviously we'd like good areas as fast as we can get them, but we are pragmatists (and we know how long some of our own areas have taken). Any problems you have as far as needing new code to make a new area function should be brought to the attention of the head builder who will get these things installed for you. The stages are as follows:
What follows is a description of all parts that should be included in an area proposal.
The geographical location and time period will tell you much about the type of area that it will become. Are the people close to nature or are they environmentally incorrect? Is there a strong tradition of magic in the time period you want? How civilized were the people then? What level of technology did they use? Was the culture warlike? After you've decided on when and where you want to make an area, the next choice is 'Who is this area for?' If the bulk of your area is a town you may want to consider offering it up as a hometown.
If you, the head builder or the imp decides a hometown isn't what the mud needs
right now your job is actually much easier and more flexible. You can decide to
have an area that people quake in their boots when they hear the mere mention
of its name. But it should be obviously so, and well marked at the entrance at
such. That way you're covered. if people decide to ingore your warnings, you
don't have to even consider reimbursing them for their own folly. Or your could
make an area that is heavy on quests and puzzles. You could chose for the NPCs
there to be either totally pacifists or just not have the quest completable for
long extended periods of time if a vital mob is killed. Don't plan an area that
is all quests or all hack n slash, however, as that simply means you are
choosing to leave players out; you want your area to have enough depth to
appeal to all sorts of players.
(*Currently, we are not adding any new hometowns to the game. You may choose to design your proposal so your area is hometown-eligible, however.)
You'll probably want a mix of the two. But in either case you should decide on the overall moral quality of the inhabitants. Are they all good, law abiding citizens? A den of cut-throats and thieves bent on only their own evil ways? Or are they all boring run of the mill every day folk who are neither inherently good nor inherently evil? or maybe they just have a few tendencies in one direction or the other. You'll most likely end up with a mix of alignments, with saints, demons and joe average, just like real life.
The easiest and most over-looked is probably the room descriptions.
Another consideration is the SCALE of the place. Are players going to have to walk thru room after room of similiar places like Along the Great Wall of China for too long? There are other ways than repeating rooms to convey great distances. Long room descriptions can make for crowded, busy rooms, or a sense of time taken to travel the distance of the room. When combined with a higher move cost the illusion of a larger distance is compacted into fewer rooms.
This leads right into variety. You want a variety of rooms so that people don't get too bored that first time they read your room descriptions. Also, a flat gridded map is more predictable and calls for less use of skills than a varied, "three-dimensional" map which is harder to map on paper but provides many more nooks and crannies and interesting places to hide, explore and escape.
Mazes are often rendered ridiculous. We're not immune to that either. But plain garden variety hedge mazes also get boring and predictable. Perhaps you could add elements of surprise by incorporating false leads, traps, hidden exits, and unsuspected twists and turns. Repetition of room titles, descriptions and exits does not a good maze necessarily make.
But if every NPC had the same number of hit points, same pat responses, and approach, players would quickly become bored.
When designing your area you should make a list of all possible NPCs, probably a few more than you think is feasible just to have something to choose from, or even work on later. Areas on the whole should be open to anyone, but recommended level ranges are not unheard of. You should try to spread out levels represented as well as alignments unless your area is undeniable skewed in one direction or the other. Also don't just load 20 of the same mobs and figure it's good enough. Variety is the spice of any adventurer's life - Mobiles with different fight tactics, or ones that are more or less susceptible to different tactics are more attractive to everyone, and won't cater to just one specific character type.
New equipment should vary as well as balance with what's already there. Say the average plain sword in the game does an average of 1d10 damage and weighs 10 kg. You shouldn't necessarily think to yourself, 'Bah, that's silly. My sword is going to be MUCH better than that.' Guidelines are such for a reason, helping provide stability and a degree of predicatability to the game that otherwise escalates in a twisted game of one-up-manship. Powerful does mean popular, but doesn't mean it should be widely available. It should be powerful because it's special, not everyone has one, and goes beyond the ordinary in some fashion. But the average should be kept within the established guidelines, not continually exceed them.
When deciding how widely available a given item should be you need to consider if it can or even should be sold in shops or to them. If it's a quest item that you expect people to get for themselves, it probably shouldn't be auctionable. Also, you can limit long term usefulness by making items timed. If you really think the item will be the equivalent of dynamite in players' hands, you can opt to make it immune to the preservation spell.
Give everyone something to do! Almost anything you come up with can be worked out in MOB ACTS or ROOM ACTS. If not, we'll either make an addition to the code so you can, or help you come up with a way to work around the problem and get the same effect.
Find uses for those nasty skills you regretted learning as a mortal! Make the steps unique! Let the mobs choose from a variety of options that will set the quest in motion, complete a step, or signal completion. Have it only accept one at a time. Make it so people must work their way through the quest themselves and not have it done for them so that they have earned the rewards, not just jumped through the hoops that someone else held up for them. Give the quest random or different endings. Quests with random elements, especially if the reward is very good, will be preferred over a quest that a person can be lead through, or easily use cheat pages for.
Try to make sure the reward matches the difficulty of the quest. If you want your reward to be the most powerful piece of equipment in the game, it best be DAMN hard to get and not be able to be gotten for just anyone. And once they get one? Should they REALLY be able to get another to sell to all their friends and newcomers?
A good example of an ASCII map are the hometown maps in the game already. Stop and take a look at one if you're unsure of how to make yours.
Short Description: What the mob looks like when doing an action.
Long Description: What the mob looks like when you see him/her in a room.
Extended Description: What a mob looks like when you look at them.
Level of the Mobile:
History of the Mobile:
Function of the Mobile:
Any Special Acts or Skills:
What, If Anything, Does This Mob Teach:
Another list of mobs, the frequency of occurances (how many there will be at any given time), their level and whatnot may also be given. But again, at least 5 mobs shou ld be detailed as above.
Short Description: What it looks like in actions and while worn.
Long Description: What it looks like while laying on the ground.
Extended Description: What it looks like when you examine it.
Effects: What effects, if any, does this item have.
You may wish to include very mundane items in this, ones that have no stat bonuses, in order to convey a sense of what the generic objects in the area might feel like. Mundane items can be attractive to players that frequently make use of mundane coupons. You may wish to refrain from giving specific numbers in the effects section, but a general feel for what the item might do, as you do not yet know the guidelines under which items are designed. Name any housing accessories you may wish to include in your area as well.
Some things you might want to think about:
[ ] mobs that use talk/say/ask/whisper/etc in act_arrives/randoms should check for NONHUMAN and break out of the act where appropriate so you don't see a human mob flirting with a cat
[ ] for all scavengers, add acts so there is a reasonable delay before they eat the items they picked up. You can attach limbo procs to do this, and modify them so the delay is whatever you prefer.
[ ] if the number of secondary housing rooms or their restrictions (NO_ADDITIONS, ABOVE_GROUND, etc) limits the total number of secondary rooms you can fit in to expand, set that as the MAX_SIZE on the primary room, for accurate reporting to build query
[ ] there ought to be a way to ask shopkeepers what hours they are open
[ ] add is_follow flags on all exp rooms so only leaders get it
Best of luck with your proposals!
-This Proposing Text File by Kaige and Ptah, with Additions by Rufus and Sandra.
For more information send e-mail to LadyAce.