General overview of area building
*The Ultimate Rule* - Areas will be written within the TFC spirit from the outset - no huge hoards of cash, no 100-150 damage super weapons, and so on... Writing such things just wastes everyone's time.
a1. Mortals considering writing an area must contact the Area Coordinator
and have a level range assigned to them. Mortals must write the area to
that level range - they do not have a choice on it.
b1. Authors must submit a proposal of the area PRIOR to starting writing it. This proposal MUST include:
What level range you are targeting
What location you are thinking of
What theme you are thinking of
Any special objects you want to include
Any special tricks/traps/sneakiness involved
In short, the proposal should be about a page long and give me a broad overview of what I should expect. If it is omitted, the area will not be considered. Do not work on your proposed area until/unless it is accepted.
NO NEW CODE will be allowed. In other words, you are limited to the special functions in the approved lists. If there is an exceptional idea, this rule might be overlooked, but consider the fact that in all the first time author situations, only ONE ever received the approval for new code.
NO ILLOGICAL LINKS will be allowed without EXPRESSED prior approval.
An illogical link is defined as a link that combines 2 directions (north+west
NO WWP ITEMS WITH AFFECTS are allowed in new areas.
b2. If the proposal is accepted, you will then be assigned a Vnum range to work with, and a base filename. This will be the final filename (e.g. midgaard.are). You will not use this base filename directly, instead, each version you create and send to the Area Coordinator will use the base filename with a letter appended. The first draft would be midgaardA.are, the second would be midgaardB.are, etc. This allows the Area Coordinator to keep an archive of your progress. You are likely to get to around G.
c. You must submit ALL objects in the area for prior review. All changes requested by the Area Coordinator will be governed by rule 6 above.
d. ALL authors will spell check their areas prior to each submission. A makeshift way to do this is to load a copy of the .are file into a program that spellchecks such as Word, allow it to find errors, and then make the changes in the real file in the Muditor. It is generally a bad idea to let the program do the spellchecking automatically, as small changes in the .are file will cause the area not to load (And thus crash the test mud).
e. ALL authors will include a comment block in the Resets, or in a separate
email at the time of submission. This comment block will list the following
f. Any authors wanting new code will confer with the Area Coordinator as to what they want, and if it is approved, will work with the Area Coordinator to write it. (Read that as you will write your own 90% of the time.) Remember that for mortals and first time authors, new code is at best a long shot, and continues to be so until someone has written several areas or has reached God+ status.
g. When the area is approved, it will enter testing. Any bugs that are found in initial testing will be the author's responsibility to find and fix unless they bribe the Area Coordinator to do it (Elf maidens, pitiful looks, etc). The author is obliged, in this test phase, to give any and all immortals who care a tour of the area and its high points. During this initial tour and while testing is underway, the bug hunters will scour the area for blown exits, typos, and other problems which the author will fix unless, as stated before, he/she successfully bribes the Area Coordinator.
h. Once the area is out of testing, the Area Coordinator is free to make adjustments as necessary to fix problems that crop up, or upgrade it to new TFC standards. The area belongs to TFC, and you do not retain possession.
i. Installed areas will have your name in the author spot of the area
list, and on the boot installing it there is a 90% chance an associated
quest will be run for players to find it. Rule 2 governs your actions in
this quest and in people later asking directions to it - if you reveal
its location, the area will be instantly gone and deleted from TFC.
TFC world view: what kind of areas are allowed on TFC?
On the northern continent using Midgaard as a reference, far to the north are the cold mountains, east and west (as well as immediately north and south) are forests, far to the south are the deserts and the seas. There is some variation here and there, but that is the general geography in the defined zones.
South of the northern continent are the vast waters of the Maelmordian Seas. This is a very dangerous area with several sea monsters roaming about that could easily take down even a level 50 player. Scattered around the seas are islands, amoung them Mithas, Molotov Island, The Isle, Cannibal Island, Tier Sh'Halen, Skelos, and the Pirate Island. Most of the known island spots are claimed by authors, but the seas will be expanding along the northern and southern continent coastlines from time to time, and when that happens, new spaces for islands do emerge. There is also the possibility of writing undersea areas like the Sahuagin City.
On the far side of the seas from the northern continent lies the dark unknown...the southern continent. Starting from a coastline and moving inward to the mostly uncharted interiors, the south is a much wilder and less civilized place than the northern continent. The western side of the southern continent is the high ranges of the Oort mountains, and on the east are the forests and plains. Several rivers and lakes are to be found, and a scattering of towns and villages exist. There is only one large city, that of Safehaven on the coast where the Tiber meets the Maelmordian Seas. The landmass of the southern continent as currently laid out with connect zones is roughly six times the size of the northern continent, but it has half the areas within it, and therefore is open to quite a bit of development. We will not pile areas on top of areas, though, on the south, and areas that are proposed are reviewed not only for theme, but for the impact on the areas that would be adjacent to them.
Areas should be designed to fit in this world - both geographically and with respect to theme/genre. If they do not fit they won't go in...and making a fit is an integral part of the proposal process. Currently, the central corridor from the Whitefrost forest south through Midgaard to the oceans is closed to area development. Any areas designed must be placed elsewhere. Exceptions will only be made in cases where the author can show extreme need or usefulness. There will be opportunity to write areas to replace existing non-TFC specific areas. Should you be interested in doing this contact the Area Coordinator for the specific conditions and requirements involved.
Things that don't fit: Futuristic Areas, Modern 20th Century Areas,
Areas that are illogically laid out, Areas that unbalance the game or are
mis-rated, Areas that duplicate to a large extent other areas, and by ALL
means NO SMURFS! You get the idea. Again, these things are determined as
an integral part of the proposal process.
Area building tools
If you are editing the area file in anything other than the Muditor, be
sure to save it as pure ASCII text. Notepad works well for this on
Windows platforms, although older versions of Notepad will not be able
to handle the entire file if you are a verbose author.
Area building hints
1. Make a map. Not in your head, but on paper. It doesn't have to be to scale, but a diagram showing what room is where and how things connect will save you a world of pain in first writing the links and in debugging them later. The map of an area is the NUMBER ONE best aid you can create. Each room on the map should contain its vnum for best results.
2. Make a list of the objects and mobs with their vnums along side them. When writing the resets for the area, such a list will be invaluable. Or print out those sections of the area file before starting the resets.
3. Resets will take at least 1/4 of the writing time of your area - they look deceptively easy but they are the primary thing people screw up. A way to speed them up is to xerox your map and write in each room what mobs and objects go in it. If you are unclear as to how to reset something, ASK first - it is better to ask and get help before hand than to try and undo/fix resets later.
4. The rooms of your area will take the bulk of the writing time. At least 50% if not more of your time will be spent working directly on them. And a lot of this will not be in the description writing, but in the exits and doors making sure they are correctly set. Plan accordingly.
5. DON'T RUSH IT. It takes many hours to write an area, check it, get it approved, get it tested, and finally get it into play. Don't be discouraged if you catch on slow or it seems to be taking a long time. I have spent as few as 2 hours on an area and as many as 50, and have one in development that will probably take me 100 hours of coding and writing to complete (it is quite complicated). The idea is to start off with a simple area for your first one and grow from there...starting with a wicked and wild area as your first one will most probably raise your blood pressure, heighten your frustration, and totally discourage you. My best advice is to take is slow.
6. Learn to use a ASCII editor. You will need it and it will pay off
in time saved. Learning one that has a built in spell checker (like pico)
will kill two birds with one stone.
Definition of terms
specfun, special function:
Back to the area writer's guide page.
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