Area Building Hints

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Area writing is much like writing a short story or a novel in that you must create characters, objects, and an environment by words alone. A story of sorts arises from these items each and every time the area is played. What you are writing, then, is the stage on which these stories are played out and the characters who come alive in the story. The good thing is that even if one doesn't have great writing talent, they can still make a fine area. What it all comes down to is planning and thinking things through BEFORE starting the area. To aid you, here are some helpful hints to follow when writing an area, but most especially for when writing your first one.

  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.