Thursday, September 10, 2009

Building the Foregate

Recently on the Sea of Storms the staff has been reviewing an area called the Foregate. This new addition to the game has been a trying experience for me personally in two ways. The most painful of which was a hard drive failure leading to the loss of a portion of the area as well as the near complete loss of almost 4 months of work on another area. The less painful of which has been my personal laziness to complete it. This area has actually taken me longer to complete then I have been a staff member on the game, just to put it into prospective.

However, in early august I finally got over my aversion to finishing the area and began in earnest. Upon what was most likely my 242nd attempt to complete the area in the last six years, I realized why it is I always ended up not doing so. The place is a bloody mess! It’s no secret the Foregate has been passed amongst several builders before arriving on my doorstep. One can not imagine the amount of different issues with the area upon final review.

Normally a single builder for a MUD has a certain style. They also have certain weaknesses. I’m a little iffy on my grammar as you may notice during the course of this blog. So when I build an area, I can expect to have to edit room descriptions from time to time. Well that’s just my personal weakness when it comes to area building. This area has been through several people before me, so now imagine four different problem areas for the whole area.

I’ll admit the review process of this area has been a lot more work then I’d hoped. I was originally only required to do 25 rooms or so of the area to complete it. Yes, It took me almost five years to do 25 rooms. Of course even after completing those rooms in early August, myself and Luthien have been reviewing the area ever since.

The review process is pretty straight forward. A sign that we don’t like to let an area sit to long in a complete state without implementing it on the live server. First we go through all the rooms of the area, and by we I mean Luthien. He reads the room descriptions and makes sure they’re grammatically correct and coherent. If they’re not he might put a note up with the rooms VNUM (virtual number) or simply do some immediate triage on it himself.

The next stage is dealing with MOBs (Mobile Objects) or more commonly known as NPCs by the average roleplayer. I just want to tell you that the Sea of Storms has a custom race listing and MOBs are completely customizable. That being said the MOBs in the Foregate were all Aiel and had 2’s for all their stats. Most if not all had no equipment. Still the greatest sin of all was that one of the previous builders had made these mobs active. So you can imagine me at 3:00 am in the morning chasing down errant NPCs to make edits to them or zap them with a sentinel command to make them stand still long enough to fix them. I can tell you it was not a fun experience to have to hunt mobiles that seemed sentient and intent on avoid me despite my impressive array of commands on the builder port.

Eventually I ended up stealing the mobs directly from their area into a special room with no exits. I don’t have to mention how creepy this can be for someone running on coffee in the early morning hours but I will say I started to question my ability to be a good stalker…

Despite all of this, and I do mean IN SPITE of all of this, Luthien and I have managed to bring the area to near completion. I just need to kidnap some more innocent MOBs back to my dark lair for editing and the area will be ready to go live! (Forces Vandread to backup the server just in case!)

- Jeshin

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