Here's my basic plot of area design & review. This is still a rough draft, but most of the major points are here.
Also, before you get me to do a review, you should do your own. Go through, vnum by vnum, and look over your rooms, mobs, everything.
Lastly, if you have any suggestions for this file, send them along to me, and I'll incorporate them. (feel free to just edit the sheet and send it back, just mark your changes in bold, or something else that's easy to pick out)
(last revision 7/21/04)
There are 5 major sections: Rooms, Mobs, Objects, Progs/Scripts & Quests, and Overall.
When I review, I move in the order listed, with the exception of the overall notes, which I check at the beginning and the end of a review.
A room description should only be about the room. Basically, when you write a room desc, you want to lay down a scene, and let the players draw their own conclusions about that scene. You're laying a backdrop about whatever may occur in this room.
Do not use the word "You" (or any variant thereof) in a room description. The desc should be about the room, not anyone's reaction to that room. Room descriptions should be in the 3rd person.
Do not tell people what they do in the room, or what's happening to them there. If you want something to happen there, use a prog.
Don't use sizes/distances relative to character size. For example,
"fist-sized" and "waist-deep" mean vastly different things, depending on whether a character is an ogre or a halfling.
Don't describe mobs in the room either. Room descs that describe a mob look stupid if the mob isn't there. Also, If you want the mob to do something, or take any sort of action, give it a prog.
Do use lots of keywords. Giving people extra stuff to look at is good. Extra details add lots to room.
Make sure your rooms "flow." Do they look good the first time a person enters? Does the room still look good the 8th time you enter it? the 18th? Also, does it make sense if I enter from any direction. Rooms should make sense whether you're entering into the area, or exiting the area. (So phrases such as "heading toward" are bad)
Exits. Give them descs. Adds interest.
Deathtraps are bad.
Lastly, rooms are the hardest part to do, and to review. Because a change in a room desc, often causes changes in the mobs, & objects found in that room.
First, and foremost, do the mobs belong? Do they fit in with the theme of the area? And, do they make sense in the rooms they load into.
Mob power - Are the mobs levels fairly consistant? Too much variation in an area is frustrating, esp with aggro mobs. Too little makes things boring.
Variation - There should be lots of different mobs in an area. Loading 100s of the same mob is BORING. On the other hand, don't over do it.
Do ALL the mob stats. Make sure you set a class, race, and all that sort of stuff. And make sure your mob desc meshes well with the mobs settings.
Are your mobs interesting? Do they have good descs?
Also, a quick note on progs, I like mobs that do stuff. Even if it's just a random emote every so often. Give your mobs a little life to make them interesting. (But don't go overboard... it's the difference between a little extra paint, and using the whole bucket)
Do we need this object? What sort of purpose does <any-given-object> serve? Even decoration is an acceptable answer. Each object needs to have a purpose, a reason to exist.
Mobs and objects - If a mob has an object, it should use it (IMNSHO). They should wear armor, wield weapons, etc. Also, make sure the items match up with the mobs & the general area in which it's found.
Interest - Just like mobs or rooms, make them interesting. A sword is just a sword. But a black rune-engraved broadsword is something completely different. Just a few extra words can mean a lot of difference.
Usability - What use is this item to players? Obvious ones are weapons and armor. Others include keys and/or quest items.
Descs - keywords, short descs and long descs need to 'agree.' This means that things that show up in the short and long descs need to be in the keywords. (so people can see the item on the ground, or in their inventory, and easily act with that item) If you don't have enough room to say all you want, add and ed.
Long descs - These need to make sense for an item on the ground or in your inventory. (You can cheat this with an ed. Use the long desc for the item as it appears on the ground, then create an ed with the keywords of the item for general details of the item). Long descs should be complete sentences, since items are part of a room's "scene" when the item is on the ground (even if the item's just been dropped).
Do *not* make any items, other than weapons, that can be enchantable via the "enchant weapon" spell. If you give something a type of "weapon," it needs to be wieldable. Some powerful weapons are allowed, but must have something serious to balance them. (See the bloody war axe in hammerheim. It's mean, it's poisoned, it's a pain to get, and has a short timer. But, it's good enough to make it worth it... The "scale" should be almost balanced, one way or the other.)
Read Lok's Balance Guide - it's a good introduction to game balance. (Basically, an item gets lbc points per its bonuses, more or less depending on what type of bonus. The command "LB C" - a space between the b and the c - will show you the total lbc points on any given item. Lok says there should be a certain # of points per level of the item. We run about 3x or 4x his numbers.)
A word about item balance & LB C's - Weapons & armor shouldn't add more bonuses than similar level items in other areas.
Does it crash the mud? Sounds silly... but some progs crash us, hardcore. And, as you can probably guess... crashing is bad.
Does it work? This sounds dumb, but test your progs. And make sure they don't crash us. (remember your endif's) It helps if you break your progs up into manageable parts.
Timing - You may want to break up your prog into parts so that it will come up in readable segments. Getting a page of information without breaks is hard to do... Break the information up into paragraphs (10 lines max), that players can easily read, and keep up with.
Length - Keep it short. While, your script may be funny. If it takes 30 minutes to watch, it's annoying. Good way to test: After you've written your prog, sit down, and watch the entire prog. If you get bored, so will everyone else.
Make sure information can be repeated. Ever listen to a mort try and get an imm to reset a quest? Annoying isn't it?
What is the point of this quest? Make sure the quest makes sense, and works well (as a concept) within the area. The quest should enhance the area. It shouldn't exist, just for the sake of having a quest. (You don't need to put a quest in every area.)
Is this quest able to be accomplished? Can someone (of the levels listed for the area) finish the quest without being slaughtered? I don't mean 'make the quest easy,' I mean 'don't make it impossible.'
SPELLING - bad spelling makes your area look terrible. And slang doesn't work well at all. I fix spelling errors when I see them, but the more I fix, the more annoyed I get. And an annoyed reviewer isn't something you want.
GRAMMAR - ditto. C.A. uses the english language, deal with it. So, stay within the accepted rules of english grammar.
Details are good. We like details. Don't flood us with useless information, but a well detailed area is interesting, and will make people go there. This includes adding keywords, progs, and scripts to make things interesting.
Things that will automatically get the area sent back for revision:
Personal rooms - phousing exists now, use that.
Stuff that only you can acquire (via progs, or whatnot)
Superweapons that can be used/acquired by player characters.
For an item or mob name, make sure at least one of your keywords is clearly visible in the short & long descs. Especially if someone is going to interact with that object. Also, multiple keywords for an
object can help. Instead of naming our black rune-etched broadsword
"Stormbringer", name it "black sword broadsword stormbringer". Then,
one can use multiple names to interact with it.
Just make sure your resets are correct, so don't overload
items/mobs... whatever. This is more of a technical item. So, it
either works or it doesn't. You need to be careful when doing them,
because it's extremely sensitive to the order things are in...
If you don't understand them, get help. These are really a pain, but can be extremely useful. (This is a good rule of thumb overall actually: If you don't know how to do something, ask someone who does.)
Keeping us up to date:
Every so often, the main builder should leave a progress report note
to: confidential, ceivar & grumble. In this note, it should
have these general points:
Name of the Area
Name of Head Builder
Estimated Amount Complete
Estimated Completion Date
Any problems (like progs, resets, anything you can't figure out) -
we'll try to help you out with any problems if we can. Getting them
done early saves a lot of work later.
And any other thoughts about your area. You never know what'll be