Stylistics ( part 2 )|
May 2, 2006
Disclaimer: The opinions herein belong solely to Ephera. Some games look
for different things when building, but overall any zone made by these
rules should be good for most muds. A lot of the building philosophy
within is somewhat personal and in some cases very picky. Not everyone
will agree with all points, but if one follows the rules laid out here,
they will make an excellent zone, albeit of a particular style.
The Polish (I.E. Picky Stuff)
Do not use the word 'is' in descriptions. It's generally accepted by
the literary community that the active voice is more powerful and
eloquent. Dodging the use of this word enriches descriptions in another
way as well as forcing you to use the active voice. It's easy to describe
something as it is red, it is big, it is heavy... and the word 'is'
Do not to use the word 'you' in descriptions. It creates almost 90% of
direction bias and movement method errors, as well as the classic "telling
the player how to think or feel". In any case, the small percent of
innocent uses of the word 'you' are easily written with other terms, and
getting used to writing descs without it means you don't have to
constantly be on guard for these three blunders.
Never tell a player how they feel. If you want a sad description, don't
tell someone they're sad, write the description to make them weep. The
same goes for scary, happy, disgusted, etc. You name it, make them feel
it. Do not simply say they are.
Be extremely careful when building with color. Especially if you're
adding it to your room descriptions. Try not to use more than one, and
usually you shouldn't use them in the text at all, only in the room title.
On objects and mobs this rule is more relaxed, but if it's part of what
the player automatically sees when entering a room, it's probably best
that it not be too colorful and should only have 1 alternate color in it.
Color is the hardest thing for many good builders to learn how to use
properly. Don't be disheartened or surprised if asked to change even a
minor amount of color. If you use color, -always- terminate the color
correctly according to your mud's system.
Never put a period at the end of a room title. Write all titles as you
would the title of a book, capitalizing all words except for a, the, and
the few excluded prepositions like 'of'. Short descs on mobs and objects
should always include the article or a measure word like 'some'. Long
descs must have the keyword of the object in it. In fact, it's usually
best to write the keywords -after- writing the short and long descs. A
player should never have to guess what the keyword is to affect an item.
If they can see it, they should be able to refer to it.
Never describe a mob that's loaded into a room in the room description,
and if the mob's sentient (like a humanoid or race), it simply must be a
mob and cannot appear in the room description. An example such is
butterflies circling a bush. That's fine if the butterflies are not
supposed to be sentient and are not loaded into the room. You should never
describe drunks at a bar in the room description of the bar, instead put
them there as mobs.
Always write extra descriptions and ALWAYS add at least one extra desc
to all objects including all of the general keywords so that the player
can look at whatever they pick up. Always. If your game supports a certain
type of description in addition to the typical ones, such as exit
descriptions, use them consistently.
Any noun in the room description that cannot be adequately described
should either have an extra description in the room or outright exist as
an object to represent it. This goes even if the idea of the object being
of use is a mere smokescreen.
When building streets or any other generic structure with a name, give
it a meaningful or fanciful name. The Main Street is boring and overused
in almost all cities. Each city on a mud should have streets with unique
names. Same goes for the "Central Building" or " West Wall".
If you describe an object, mob, or anything else in the room desc, do
not add it to the room and vice versa. This means if I describe a table in
the room desc, it should not be a visible object for the player to see in
the room. The reason for this goes back to the idea that you should never
Try not to describe objects that a mob is wearing in their look desc,
and never do it if you're actually going to load the eq onto the mob. The
player will see it twice when looking at the mob.
Do not write about the considerations of a player or thought
processes. Don't ask questions in a room desc. Try to describe the looks
of the mob you're writing about in the look-desc. The trick of making a
mob say something when looked at can be handled with scripts, and a player
should be able to see what they look at as if they're doing so in real
life. Remember that your job with descriptions is to create an interactive
environment that the player sees, hears, etc. This means that your number
one goal is to be eloquently descriptive, but to do it in such a way as to
simulate natural input as well as possible.
Never just describe the important things in a room, always try to
describe the room in its entirety, given the acceptable space. Do not
focus only on the information a player needs to know. Things that are
important, like that special hammer, or the doorway behind the painting
should be found not because they are the only thing the player sees, but
because of hints or thought based on everything they see. For example, if
I walk into a room and see blank walls and a description that simply
screams 'This object is important, more important than anything else at
all!', people won't think on what they're seeing and will loose a great
deal of the point of descriptions in the first place. In addition, do not
do the opposite and make something else seem of importance that is not
while trying to hide the true answer. Such misdirection will lead to
player dissatisfaction... the thing that we are trying to avoid wherever
Room titles should be original in nature. This means for the most
part, do not copy room titles. A person should be able to look, and by
title alone, know exactly where they are. There are exceptions (like
roads), but try not to make them to common, and you can break those room
titles up with prepositions, etc, as well. Ex: Thistledon Road by a Willow
Room titles should pick out the most important thing in the room or
give the room a name to go by. For example, 'By a Patch of Daisies' if
daisies are the most prominent thing or a name such as 'The Green Room'.
Try not to describe the title in the description of the room as the only
item in the room. In some cases, if the room has a name, try not
redescribe the title with the same words. For example, if the room title
is 'By a Patch of Daisies' there really is little need to add the daisies
to the room desc. It is acceptable to do so, but be descriptive in these
instances instead of repetitive.
It's important to be neat and orderly. Even if the players don't know
where things are, you should probably have a good system for finding them
and know your zone inside and out. Some MUDs are very good about indexing
through code, but not all of them. I highly suggest you come up with a
good comment system and use it, and if you can get a programmer to support
you in adding one - awesome (A lot of muds use @comment or something ed
descs, but it's best if a programmer makes those inaccessible to players).
One way or another, there are some "trouble spots" people often find when
building. I've included a tidbit I wrote for TBA and The Inquisition (my
own mud) about keys here, because they're a personal pet peeve. I'm sure
every builder will find their own.
Here are a few simple guidelines for making keys:
If your mud has a commentary section for objects, always use it to
describe the purpose of the key. Include the following:
- The purpose of the key
- Where the key can be found if it can be gained in a zone
- What the key opens (use real words to describe this as well
- Pertinent vnums in relation to the key
If your game does not have a commentary, it may be reasonable to use
@imm or @comment
and make a notation in a beginning room of your zone (usually where
people put the
zone overview) that this is the syntax you used.
Always do a vnum obj key and use a unique name for the key. There is
no reason to have 200 "simple iron key" objects laying around your
mud. Most people who own keys know which key is which on sight.
The key's description should give a hint to the player about its use.
I know this was a long read - 5 pages in Word. but I hope you got
something out of it that will improve your game. As with my things on TBA,
feel free to use these documents where you see fit. Please, however, if
you change them to suit your MUD, write your changes in and copy the
original document somewhere that your imms can link to and note in
brackets that there was a change to the original text. This will give me
credit for my work and not put words into my mouth. Something like this
This is the original text of the document. (Edit),
Or, if in help files, this could be the original text with a reference.
(See help ORIGINAL)
All grammar errors and so on are my own, and I'd love to hear feedback
either here or at email@example.com - or you can visit us on The
About the Author
Ephera is the owner of The Inquisition, a Role-Play Enforced MUD. The
articles submitted to MudConnector are available on her MUD forums at
www.theinquisition.org/forums, but expanded for general MUD consumption.
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