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Despite the distaste normally associated with stock muds, there is hope for each and every one of them. The development of a concrete, expansive, believable world is possible to all of you out there without the resources to build 50 original stock areas before opening. The key word here is layout and infrastructure.
A river to join up the parts of your country.
Anyone who has run a mud has encountered the lack of people willing to build quality zones in a timely manner. Some advice for those of you who are out there struggling to build a world, begin by laying down a structure that will provide originality for your mud immediately. The infrastructure of a mud world is every bit as important as original areas and code. A layout unique to your mud will provide even the players familiar with the stock areas something to think about and stimulate them to explore the world more extensively. Building a network of roads and rivers provides believability, makes the world stand out as original and sets down a foundation for further evolution.
The main problem for muds with stock areas (the author considers downloadable areas stock) is the placement and availability for placement of these zones. Let's take for example a stock Rom mud. To the east lies New Thalos, The Crossroads, Gnome Village, Smurf Village, out the south gate of Midgaard lies the Miden'nir, to the west is Haon Dor and to the north lies the Plains and Olympus. Ask yourself these questions: Why would a town as large and as powerful as Midgaard allow the goblins to reside so close to the Southern Gates? Why would the gods themselves be so close to mere mortals? Some of the stock areas are definitely worth keeping. Finding the ones that fit with the planned theme of the mud and the placement of these zones is the beginning to a new world, one that is unique despite stock areas. By adding infrastructure and placing these areas in a logical (terrain) wise manner the "stock" world will begin to take on a new light to the experienced mudder and still entrap the new one.
List the zones you want to keep and their terrain type.
Pull out some grid paper and place your major cities.
Determine the terrain around each city.
Map the major roads connecting the cities.
Map the rivers (this is optional but adds for a nice bit of reality if the rivers travel through the land and eventually end up at the ocean)
Determine the boundaries of your world (these can always be extended)
Put in logical terrain features between all cities and extending to the boundaries.
Begin to place areas in a manner befitting their terrain and level range (putting a newbie area at the furthest point away from your starting city is not wise).
Tear out the current connections (this task is easier if the mud is closed or a separate build port is running).
Following the grid, build the road and river structure making sure the number of moves is very close if two ways exist to travel from city to city.
Continue to add in terrain as the infrastructure develops. Making the roads and rivers travel through fields and hills and crossing rivers.
Once the general layout for the road and river system is in place, begin to connect the areas adding small flavorful rooms leading to the entrances of these areas.
Convert the areas so that more than one entrance to each one exists, remember to connect to the river system if water is present in the zone.
This phase is the hardest but well worth the end result. Begin with the roads and rivers since these will be the routes of travel between cities and areas. Use your grid to make the roads connect logically between the areas. Connect the areas in more than one place, either to adjacent trails or the river system. Set aside vnums for the main roads and rivers, a couple hundred should probably be enough. Use the remaining vnums of the areas to make small introduction connectors. A bit of forest between an area and a room can make all of the difference when attempting to produce believability. Move the areas around, don't be afraid to move something to a totally new location unrelated to where it was previously located. This world is supposed to be yours, design it how you want it to be. The main purpose is to make a world that makes sense to someone walking around in it. What sense is it to build a beautiful 100 room area if you have no place to put it? When building a house, start with the foundation. When building a world, start with the infrastructure.
December 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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