Daily Archives: October 14, 2009

Of Rooms and Rooms and Rooms

19,584 rooms, to trot out a very exact number.

That is how many rooms I have personally mapped over the years in TorilMUD using the ZMud mapping tool.  TorilMUD actually has many more rooms than that.  In fact, if I do the “world stat” command in Toril, I get the following answer:

Total number of zones in world:      319

Total number of rooms in world:    61457
Total number of different mobiles: 17490
Total number of living mobiles:    39889

Total number of different objects: 15725
Total number of existing objects:  56523

So I may have had a chance to map nearly a third of the 61,457 rooms currently in the game.

However, some of those rooms I have mapped are out of date or no longer exist in the game, but they still live on in the Jet database file that drives ZMud’s mapping feature which I can wander through with Microsoft Access.  So I may have mapped less than I think I have of the current game.

Before ZMud we used graph paper, a technique dating back to my mapping out all of the game Wizardry on my Apple II way back when. (I still have those maps, along with some AD&D campaign maps I drew out as well before then.  No wonder there is so much crap in my office at home.)

I do remember Xyd making some valiant attempts to draw the environs around Leuthilspar in MacDraw that made for some large and awkward print outs. (MacDraw was sort of stone-age Visio.)  I think I have lost those MacDraw maps over the years, though they could still be on the PowerMac 8500 in the back of the closet.

But then ZMud mapping came along and I was able to indulge my desire to explore and map without worrying quite so much as my knack for getting lost.  It became a mission for me to map all locations I could reach.  I even mapped some pretty unsafe areas by following behind groups running zones. (I saved at least one group a lot of trouble by being the place holder that prevented a zone repop when they wiped.)

And so I traveled through many rooms, some dangerous, but most mundane.  I learned how to get to many places and what roads lead where and the less well known paths around places like Waterdeep, important to know if you are playing a horde evil race character that is outcast from the city.

In a MUD, a room is a specific location.  It can be, literally, a room in a building, or a stretch of road, a segment of forest, different parts of a ship, or any other definable location the represents area and or space.  When you are in a room you can see other people if they are in the room with you, items, or NPCs.

Rooms are the essential “there” in a MUD.

Each has a name and a description.  As a mapper, I always think the best room names are unique.  But when you are creating a zone from scratch, coming up with unique names can be a challenge.  So the map database has, for example:

  • 94 rooms named “Inside a Large Grove of Shadows”
  • 79 rooms named “A Bend in a Passage”
  • 58 rooms named “An Abandoned Mine Tunnel”
  • 57 rooms named “A Wide Dirt Road”
  • 53 rooms named “A Passageway”
  • 36 rooms named “A Rocky Trail”
  • 29 rooms named “A Trail Through a Forest”
  • 22 rooms named “Dense Forest”

I don’t mind that much, except in some examples like Trollbark Forest which, I swear, only has about five room names for the whole zone.  It makes it tough for ZMud to keep track of your location when you are constantly moving through rooms named “A Marshy Patch of Trollbark Forest.”

What, another one?

What, another one?

Okay (Mark), I know that is part of the theme of Trollbark, being lost and uncertain where you really are, which is why all those teleport points exist around the edges.  But the reuse of names really stands out when you sort by name.

Looking through the list, there are lots of ends, 111 by my count, that illustrate the various locations a room can represent, including:

  • End of a Large Cavern
  • End of a Branch
  • End of a Dirty Mineshaft
  • End of a Frozen River
  • End of a Rocky Goat Trail
  • End of Sinister Trail
  • End of Sunflower Street
  • End of Abandoned Pier
  • End of the Alley of Shadows
  • End of the Caverns of Death
  • End of the Naval Pier
  • End of the Vinsaar Mountains

The end of a branch to the end of a mountain range is quite a variation.

And even more than ends, there are entrances, 141 showing up on my list like:

  • Entrance of a Filthy Village
  • Entrance to Okalnir, the Mead Hall of Brimir
  • Entrance to a Burrow
  • Entrance to a Bustling Salt Mine
  • Entrance to Akulab’s Lair
  • Entrance to Gynter’s Stirge Farm
  • Entrance to Selune’s Smile
  • Entrance to the Fiquesh Slave Den
  • Entrance to the House of Umberlee

I do wonder about some, like the 7 rooms named, “A Washroom.”  So many bathrooms.  I know where two of them are, but the other five I cannot recall.

And I feel I should remember places named things like, “An Emasculate Looking Apartment,” “An Extravagant Courtyard in the Citadel,” or “In a Beautiful, Gleaming Cell.”

Oddly enough, in sort of a full circle, the very first rooms in the database are from Leuthilspar, mapped out probably 12 years ago, while the most recent are from the area just outside of Leuthilspar, an area that got updated since I last played seriously and therefore needed to be remapped.

And each of these rooms has a description, a short paragraph of text describing the room, something like:

Before the Oak Tree Cottage

This is a pathway before the front of a large cottage which fills a clearing in the Faerie Forest.  The cottage is an interesting sight to behold.  Mammoth oak trees support the four corners of the cottage; the walls of the cottage seem to be grow right out of the oak trees. The branches of the four, towering oak trees, grow so close together they seem to form the roof of the cottage.  One cannot begin to fathom the time it must have took for this cottage to have been created. There is a small gravel pathway which extends around the cottage to the east and west.  The front door of the cottage is directly to the north.  To the south is the beginning of the clearing.

Sometimes I map with room descriptions on, and those too get stored in the database, but mostly I do not.  Room descriptions get repeated more often than room names, so for the sake of database size alone I have kept them off.  Of course, the database file is all of 23 megabytes in size, but that used to seem like a lot at one time.  That is something like 160 Apple II floppy disks worth of data.

But even beyond the repetition and size of room descriptions, I tend to not need them because my mind has been influenced by the name, the colors, and the events associated with many of the rooms I have passed through in the game.  A surprising number of rooms will generate, unbidden, an image in my brain of what that location looks like.

Which, frankly, is one of the magic aspects of games like this.  From the text we generate the pictures in our head, our own pictures that are guaranteed to be different than what anybody else sees.