Archive for February, 2007|Monthly archive page

Do I luv graph paper that much?

Can I say that IFMapper knows how to zoom in? Brill.

I luv graph paper

In the process of building for Karinth I am remembering two things:

1. I love graph paper
2. There’s got to be a program that can do this.

Seriously, I love graph paper, and it’s an excellent break from sitting at the keyboard to go sit in my rocking chair (yes, I am 80 years old) with my folder and write (in pencil) in my area map pages.

However to give you an idea of why I wonder about (2) above let me tell you about how I go about building the area. First of course I think of about ten ideas and run it by the imps on the mud. We choose one and I send them a short proposal on that. When I get the go ahead I draw a rough (non-graphy) map and get an idea of exactly how many rooms. Then I ask for enough vnums (number of vnums = number of possible rooms) plus a little wiggle room.

Now I draw the map precisely on graph paper, usually drawing each room 2×2 on 4 sqs/inch (4 sqs/2.5cm) with connecting exits. I map the area on the mud and write in the vnums of each room on my graph.

But the mapping isn’t done yet. On any size area this 2×2/room map is fairly small. So I divide the map into reasonable sections and re-map at a larger scale (or smaller scale to be precise). For example, on my current area I have six pages of graph maps, including the overall 2x2sq/room map. On the section maps I add room names, special notes, mob repops, anything I would want to remember, or any idea that strikes me that I want to write down immediately.

As you can imagine this method, despite being fun for getting down into the physical artifacts of pencil and paper, has serious drawbacks and wastes some time over using a program that could zoom in, hold notes in a transferable form, etcetera. So I ask myself, where is this program?

It must be out there, if not as a mudding or RPG tool then as a general graphing or organizational application. I should take another look at the ascii map programs for muds, but I don’t remember them having the ability to zoom in a map to see all the fine detail at once — that’s what I really like about the method I use.

exit IF, enter MUD

Sometimes muds and IF advance like phases of different moons, at one point I’m ruled by one or the other. After playing Karinth for a while (why don’t I check — 75 hours, to be precise), I applied for a builder bit and so right now I’m deep into area design.

This means my IF game is on the back burner for the moment. If everything goes as planned I should be back on it next month. It does mean I’ll miss Spring Thing though — such is life — but Greg Boettcher did just announce that the deadline for Spring Thing has been extended, so why not give it a go if you can?

But I’m really getting into the area I’m building for Karinth. I have a few ideas about level flow and layout I want to try, see what happens. Also it’s always fun to push mob progs as far as they’ll go. It’s times like these I wish there was a fun ROM-like mud coupled with a full on IF language like TADS 3. Or why not I7? That would be a trick.

The Case of Hypertext

Grand Text Auto turned me on to a new hypertext, The Case of Randolph Carter, here, in Dead IF Lies Dreaming.

I don’t read a lot of hypertext but when I do it’s not very interesting, mostly because I don’t like looking at all the underlined links and each link usually takes you to a new page. I suppose you could get around the former, maybe, by defining your own style for the web page, but the latter problem is more intractable. I don’t know, maybe I’m just ignorant and these days hypertext interfaces are nothing like this. Perhaps someone could show me the light.

Gimcrack’d offers a way around the latter problem by using TiddlyWiki, but doesn’t solve the first problem, and I don’t like how the script rearranges and inserts text in the middle of the original running text.

This new hypertext by Josh Birk is kind of cool in how it goes about the interface. The script appends new text to the running text or inserts it before the last chunk; it seems to be instantiating a previously written transcript. You can click on any word in the text and that brings up a menu of choices; of course most words only present the options to ‘wait’ and ‘cancel’, but some words offer further options. The new text is set in a slightly larger size compared to the running text. When you finish a page, you page ahead with a ‘next page’ button outside the running text. If you want to look at a previous page (‘rewind’) you have to repeat your steps to move forward again.

I can see someone modifying the interace; maybe moving the menu to a sidebar that refreshes on a mouse click, adding an atmospheric image sidebar on the opposite side, and including the facility to move between pages at will; maybe presenting the running text in facing pages. Anyway, check it out:

The Case of Randolph Carter

New Workbench!

I just read on the TADS 3 list archive that Mike Roberts has released an alpha version of the new Workbench with an integrated editor.

Plus he’s using Scintilla/SciTE. This looks very promising. Go Mike!