Tag Archives: ZMud

Windows 10, ZMud, and Other Options

Having gotten the new system up and running and most everything transferred over, it was time to start looking into what was working and what was not.

Some things I opted to install over from scratch anyway.  The Zinstall transfer utility copied things to the matching drives on the new system, but since I had a small SSD there, meant really for Windows, the page file, and whatever absolutely HAD to go on the C drive, that meant some software I wanted on the new, 1TB SSD would need a fresh install.  World of Warcraft and EVE Online were the primary candidates for that.

WoW was, of course, easy.  It installed, found my settings, and got on with life.  EVE Online though… well, I got it going, but the profile options it gave me all seemed to be very old.  I was only really worried about my overview settings, and now I have something that is at least a year old, from the point when you could only have six overview tabs.  But at least the settings were basically there, I just have to remember to go in and check the box for ship types that were added since that time when I pull up a pre-set.

Other things could just live where they were placed, so long as they ran.  So, for example, Steam and all my games from that live on the 3TB D drive.  The same with an assortment of other MMOs that I do not play currently.  Most seemed to work, though the copy process seemed to have broken things from Daybreak.  EverQuest and EverQuest II won’t run, erroring out when the launcher comes up.  Such is life.

And then there were the oddball things.  I have dragged a lot of stuff forward from computer to computer over the years.  I’ve dug out stuff from the late 80s when sorting through archived directories.  Most of that is made up of documents.  I think there are a couple in there that I might have copied from my Apple //e to my MacSE way back in the day.

But there are some old apps that I have carried forward or acquired.  There is a copy of Civilization II – Gold Edition that I had to pick up on eBay when I moved to Win7 64-bit and found that support for 16-bit executables, like my original copy of Civ II, wasn’t a thing.

And then there is ZMud, which has been around for a while.

ZMud – Version 7.21 from October 2005

I have been running a copy of ZMud since the late 1990s.  Back when I was working on Macintosh products a friend at Apple got me the Windows compatibility card so I could run Windows in a window and ZMud in that.  It was such a giant leap ahead of the terminal emulator I was running on the Mac.

Later, when Apple looked to be dying and Michael Dell was suggesting that the company ought to liquidate and give the money to the investors and having Mac experience on your resume was just slightly better than McDonald’s, I managed to find a spot in a company that enterprise software on Windows NT based mostly on my experience with telephony, modems, and ISDN.

Since I prefer to have the same setup at home as the office, I too moved over to Windows, and have been there ever since.  And so I could run ZMud natively.  Since I was playing TorilMUD as my main game, I invested a lot of time in customizing ZMud with triggers and shortcuts and aliases and such.

But most of the value in the client was in the maps.  When I do posts about zones and such in TorilMUD you can see screen shots of the maps.

Kobold Village – Surface Map

In a MUD you cannot “see” the terrain, you can only see what is in the room with you and the exits.  It can be hard to keep your orientation, especially when a wily zone designer doesn’t stick to an absolute perfect grid.  And while long experience with some zones means I have some paths memorized, a lot of my ability to get around in the world of TorilMUD depends on those maps.

So you can imagine the sick feeling I had when ZMud wouldn’t run on the new system.

Okay, I knew it wouldn’t run straight out of the box.  It is from a different era of computing.  But I had fixed it up and gotten it running before, the last time being less than a year back.  All I had to do was set it to run as Administrator and set the compatibility profile for Windows XP SP2 and I ought to have been set.

But then it still wouldn’t run.  It was throwing MDAC, or Microsoft Data Access Components, errors.  That was a different problem altogether.

ZMud keeps its maps and its character database in what we used to call the Microsoft Jet Database format.  That, too, is some pretty ancient technology and has long since been superseded in the Microsoft lineup, but the backward compatibility used to always be there.

Database problems are not my area of expertise.  I am the person they make the GUI admin tool for.  But I figured somebody else must have had this problem before, so started the Google trek to find a solution.  A few hours and several utilities later however, things did not look good.  I went to bed thinking all that data was lost.

However, something I did seemed to have done the trick and the one final shut down and boot made it take effect, because when I resumed the next day the client launched and I was able to log in.

Still, I feel I am on borrowed time with ZMud.  While I managed to get the MDAC error solved by whatever means, it still doesn’t launch correctly every time.  I suspect there is some conflict that comes with another app loads a particular DLL, though I have to narrow that down.  It does seem to run if I do a reboot and launch it first.

Zugg came out with a replacement for ZMud called CMud, which itself is now more than a decade old.  I have tried to move over to it, as you’re supposed to be able to transition your data from ZMud, however I have not been successful with that on a few attempts over the years.

One client out there I want to take a look into is Mudlet.  It looks a little more modern, but more importantly it looks like there is a path that allows you to move your ZMud maps and such into it.

And, if nothing else, TorilMUD has actually added some level of in-game maps.

The new map in the Hive of the Manscorpions

For now though I am setup again with ZMud so I can finish off a few more posts about zones I want to remember.

Reviving ZMud 7.21

Posting something from my long, ongoing series of memories about TorilMUD always brings out a few of the usual suspects, and my tale of the economy of Waterdeep was no exception.

Xyd, who got me into TorilMUD back in 1993 asked when I was going to post about the zone known as the Elemental Glades.  A strange but essential part of the Leuthilspar Tales series, I have meant to get to that for some time.

The request set me on a path again, but I did not have enough information.  Memory is fleeting and it has been more than a decade since I probably did anything in that zone.  I could sketch a basic outline of the zone, the role it played for us as young elves on Evermeet, early attempts to crack into what the zone really was, and the eventual successful discovery of what the place was really about.

But, for me, a story like that needs details.  It is often the little things that trigger more memories and add depth to a tale.  And to get those details I would have to return to TorilMUD and visit the zone, walk through the rooms, and rediscover the clues left for us.

Actually logging in wasn’t a big deal.  I use Cygwin every day from my Windows box at work to log into our linux servers to run installs, grab logs, and what not.  The command line interface isn’t dead, it isn’t even resting yet.  So getting to the TorilMUD is as easy as typing in:

telnet torilmud.com 9999

The TorilMUD site tells you about it.  I even remember my login credentials.  Piece of cake.

The problem is, again, one of memory.  The mechanics of simply getting into the game are easy.  Finding things in the world… more difficult.  Much more difficult.

Individual rooms in the game can be quite memorable.  Even a few routes, like the one from Finn to Anna’s cottage, are etched into my memory.   But general navigation of the world can be a chore.  People who make MUDs aren’t always very creative with room names.  As I pointed out in a post about eight years ago, there can be a lot of repetition in room names.  Examples from the ZMud map database in that post:

  • 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”

So a lot of the time you’re just sitting there with a room name, some info about the size of the room, and the exits.

The Pathway of Peace
Room size: Large (L:30 ft W:75 ft H:500 ft)
Exits: -N -E -S

That wasn’t a ton of help on its own when I was playing the game every day.  A decade after I last did anything serious there and it might as well just say, “Yet Another Room!”

I could piece together how to get to the Elemental Glades, but I would be wandering essentially at random in a zone where there was some danger for even a high level character.

So I felt I had to get ZMud back up and running and with it all of the maps I so carefully made over the years.

In a timely coincidence (I had already written the Waterdeep post but, it not being time sensitive, I actually queued it up to post more than a week later) an old member of the Shades of Twilight guild, Oteb for those who might remember, dropped me a note asking if I still had the stash of information that once outraged the MUD, it being posted openly on the internet, as mentioned in yet another old post of mine.

That got me digging through some external drives in search of some pretty old files.

I did not find the files Oteb asked about, but I did dig out a backup copy of ZMud I had archived away.

Liked being able to connect to TorilMUD, having a copy of ZMud isn’t exactly a challenge.  Good old Zugg still has his site up and you can still download/buy a copy of ZMud or the newer CMud.  Not bad for a little company that has been selling a MUD client since 1995 or so.

The configuration files and, most importantly, the map database file were a big deal.  And it was ZMud 7.21, the final version of the client, so it seemed likely to be somewhat up to date.

I dragged that over to my main drive to see if I could get that going.

The first thing it wanted was a registration code, the 30 day free trial period having ended a long, long time ago.  I am not even sure that ZMud includes that trial any more, given how much Zugg is trying to push people onto CMud.  If you buy a copy of ZMud today you get a copy of CMud in the bargain.  It is a pity that my attempts to migrate to CMud have all failed on the maps part.  And without maps there is no point in moving.

I couldn’t find the license key, but Zugg has a way to recover it on his site.  I also couldn’t remember my password, but you can recover that too.  Fortunately I still have the email address I was using back in 2002 when I bought my current copy.  (I had to rebuy it in a similar situation back then because I did not have the previous email address.)

I was able to run through that and register my copy of ZMud again, but when I went to actually run it, it errored out on a memory addressing issue.  And, of course, Zugg has been very clear on support for ZMud on Windows 7 and beyond:

Because of the new release of Windows 7, we are getting more and more questions about this. So I wanted to make a sticky topic to make this perfectly clear:

zMUD is not supported on Vista, or Windows 7, or any other future version of Windows. Use CMUD instead.

zMUD was originally written for Windows 3.1, then Windows 95. zMUD was kludged to run on Windows XP. Some people might be able to force zMUD to run on Vista and Windows 7, but it is not supported. Beyond just installation and running problems, there are other severe memory limits and other problems with zMUD on newer versions of Windows.

The newer CMUD client was written from scratch specifically for Windows XP, Vista, and newer versions of Windows. CMUD is the only client that is fully supported by Zugg Software at this time.

But I was not deterred.  I have made it run on Win7 before.  I set it up for WinXP compatibility and, when that did not do the trick, set it to run as Administrator, the usual “make it work” solution for older software.

Just work, would you?

That was enough to get it going and I was able to launch, log in, and get the mapper running so I could find my way around.

ZMud lives!

Man, that UI is straight out of 1997, but it works!

And with that I was set.  I could run out to the Elemental Glades and begin work on that post.

So there it is, probably a new low in writing, a post about the work I did so I could write another post.

But I am happy to have ZMud up and running again and there is always the temptation to start playing TorilMUD some more.  We shall see.  First I need an xp group because I deliberately died a bunch of times at one point and dropped from level 50 to level 47.  Those last levels were easy to lose back in the day (you no longer lose levels now) but hard to get back, and you need a group to do it.

drag pcorpse enter moonwell

Probably the hardest thing about going back to visit TorilMUD is remembering the odd syntax that used to be second nature to me at one time.

The first two items on the list are:

  • Do not hit return to bring up the cursor in the typing buffer… it is already there waiting for me.  And it remembers my last command, so hitting return will just do that again.
  • Do not put a forward slash in front of every command.  This is the habit ingrained by a dozen years of 3D MMORPGs.  I need to type “say” and not “/say.”

Those two I picked up pretty quickly.  After that, it started to become a challenge.

The weekend kicked off with Gaff’s conjurer Nerral dying.

Yes, I got him killed by the Tako Demon, but that was later, after we sort of got ourselves back into the groove of the game.  That was preceded by some “getting back on the bicycle” antics.

It started with an IM from him tell me he had died in the Faerie Forest and asking if I could help him get his corpse.

I had to chuckle because Nerral is a level 50 conjurer and the Faerie Forest is… a bit tame.  Oh, there are things in the Faerie Forest that can kill any player going at them solo and unprepared, but I didn’t think he was going after Finn or his ilk, which pretty much left Lubberkins and Flower Fairies.

No exit on this map

Welcome to the Faerie Forest

I logged on with my druid and caught up with him at the Leuthilspar gate, which was closed and locked.  He was waiting for it to open.  I had to remind him that you can just say the magic word (“peace”) and it unlocks.

That was once we learned how to speak again (see above bit about forward slash) and not incessantly repeat the last thing we said/did (and the bit about not hitting return).  Once we got past that, he explained that he had summoned an elemental, the conjurer’s stock in trade, and it had turned aggro on him.  These things happen, one of the perils of the profession, and which is something a conjurer can usually deal.

Unless, of course, the conjurer doesn’t remember any of his combat spell, in which case an angry elemental is likely to beat him into the ground, which is exactly what happened.

So he wanted to know if I could run and get his corpse, in case the elemental was still lurking.

And then we stood there for a minute while I tried to remember how to form a group.  Finally I said, “consent me,” which he did, and then I could type in, “group Nerral” which formed the group.  Having him “follow” me would have also allowed me to form a group, but I also needed consent just in case I needed to move his corpse.

That accomplished, I left him there while I ran off to the Faerie Forest.  It was dark and he didn’t have a light source, so he was kind of stuck there.  Thanks to innate infravision, he could see the room exits, but he couldn’t see anything in the room.

I started looking around for his corpse, which he helpfully described as “near a lubberkin.”  That is like saying something is “near a parking meter” in your average downtown setting.  Still, there aren’t that many rooms in the Faerie Forest.  I just had to run through about two thirds of them before I found his corpse.

At his corpse, I immediately cast my spell “moonwell,” which opens a portal between two people on the prime material plane, so long as they are in rooms that all teleportation.  The devs love to limit your options by flagging rooms !teleport.  Leuthilspar, for example, has only one room within it where I can cast moonwell as I recall.

This is why I left him out on the road outside of Leuthilspar, so I could open a moonwell to him.  My expectation was that he could then hop through the moonwell and grab deal with his corpse.

Unfortunately, it was night time, he was in a room without a light, so he couldn’t see the moonwell and thus could not enter it.  I had to bring the corpse to him.  This meant a bit of thinking to come up with the right syntax.

A player corpse can be dragged to move it from room to room, and can be indicated by the player name or the generic name “pcorpse.”  The syntax for that, which I recalled pretty quickly, is “drag pcorpse west” to move the corpse out of the west exit.  But into a moonwell, that took a bit more digging in the unused spaces in my memory before I came up with the right set of commands.

They are the title of this post.  Drag pcorpse enter moonwell.

That finally remembered, I was able to open another moonwell to him and drag his corpse through.

After that, we decided to warm up in Kobold Village.  That seemed like a good place to warm up.  And we know how that turned out.

Still, that forced us to remember the rudiments of the game.

Now I have to remember what all the scripts, triggers, and short cuts I programmed into ZMud over the years actually do.

Unity Live on TorilMUD

TorilMUD, the MUD I was playing back in 1993 is still going and still getting updated.

They have some new ANSI color at login

While work has been ongoing for almost a decade straight at this point, since the last big pwipe, with a lot of focus on making the game align with D&D 3.5/4.0 rules and lore (the whole thing was based on D&D 2.0 back when I started), the changes have been mostly evolutionary, tuning and improving what had gone before.

Not that some aspects haven’t changed a lot since 1993.

A lot of what passes for user interface in a text only game is more informative.  For example, you can now see as a simple percentage how far you are into a given level.  In the past you had to run to your guild leader, and he or she would only give you a cryptic message that changed every 10% you advanced.  But much of the game nuts and bolts of the game look and feel as they have for nearly a decade.

The major exception has been new zones, which have continued to come online throughout the life of the game, constantly breathing new life into the game and expanding it to its current enormous size.

Now, however, things they are a changing.  A new Unity update has gone live on Toril MUD which includes the following.

  • All racial grouping and spell casting restrictions have been lifted.
  • Dayblind has been replaced with a reflexive Daylight Adaptation power for all Underdark races. This power will allow them to see during the day in exchange for a hit roll penalty. This penalty is gone by level 20.
  • Half-Orcs have been added as a new PC race. They can be any class except Psionicists.
  • Vision code has been overhauled and restored to its previous state.
  • Mountain Dwarves and Grey Elves have been renamed Shield Dwarves and Moon Elves, respectively.
  • Trolls’ in-combat regeneration rate has been restored to what it was prior to this January, when it was accidentally downgraded.

Out of that, there are two big items.  The first is racial unification, the “unity” after which this update has been named.

Racial Unification

All races and classes can group together freely in Unity. NPCs will respond to good and evil races in the same manner, and equipment can still be restricted to either side, but all characters are welcome to group with whomever they choose.

While role-play and theme are very important to us at TorilMUD we’ve decided that it is time to break the artificial barrier of the Race wars. Just as in tabletop D&D, your character is your character and you can now role play them as you see fit. All player characters are by definition extraordinary individuals who may find themselves in extraordinary situations that wouldn’t be appropriate for normal people. We hope everyone will enjoy this opportunity to forge your character’s own path.

Mixing of the races is a huge change from the old days.  There was a time when one of my characters, a halfelf druid, was banished from all good aligned cities because he was caught casting a heal on an evil race character.

Now, while being an outcast kicked off a time that included some of my best adventures in the game, it was meant to be a punishment, a warning to others.  If I had wanted to get back in the good graces of the gods and be once again able to walk to streets of Waterdeep, there was a set of demanding tasks I would have had to perform.  Lucky for me I was having more fun running with the evil characters, living in the neutral city of Baldur’s Gate, and generally seeing more of the game than I ever had.

And the other big deal is a new race.

Half-Orcs

To celebrate the unification of the races, we’ve added a brand new player race called Half-Orcs. Here are some pertinent details:

  • Hometown in Baldur’s Gate
  • Can be any class except Psionicist
  • Small boosts to Strength and Agility
  • Small penalties to Intelligence and Wisdom
  • Innate power: Furious Assault
  • Can wear both evilrace and goodrace gear.

As was speculated about elsewhere, the penalty to intelligence and wisdom no doubt reflects genetics passing down genes from somebody who thought mating with an orc was a good idea.

But a new race is a rare thing indeed.  I believe it has been more than 8 years since the last new race, orcs, came on the scene.

All of this made me want to log back on and just look around.  But that lead me to another change they put in place a while back.  Accounts.

For the first 17 or so years, each character was an account unto itself.  Now, each player has a single account to which he can attach all of his characters.

Making a new account was easy.

Recalling passwords, some a decade old, was not.

I used to keep some of the passwords on my Palm IIIc back in the day.  However, that device finally died about two years back, the battery unable to keep a charge.  And the data management application that lets you read and edit what has been sync’d to your computer does not appear to run under Windows 7.

However, I did keep all the sync files, and have dragged them from computer to computer over the years.  I was able to open up the memo pad data in Notepad++ and retrieve the password for my main character, Zouve.

The other character I am likely to play, a paladin with a holy avenger, is more recent than my last backup of the memo pad though.  His password is encrypted in ZMud.  I am going to have to figure out a way to get ZMud to spit that out so I can associate him with my account.

But TorilMUD still lives.  There were about 50 people online when I finally got logged into the game.  A far cry from a busy night in the old days, but a respectable number of players for such an old school game in the age of FarmVille.

Related Nostalgic Links

And, of course, just about anything else using the TorilMUD tag here.

 

Meanwhile, ZMud Runs Fine On Windows 7 Pro

Opting for Windows 7 Professional just about paid for itself.

ZMud, which according to Zuggsoft is absolutely not supported on Windows Vista or Windows 7, seems to run just fine once I opened up the properties for the ZMud executable and set the ZMud to run in Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode.

Your Win 7 Pro Compatibility Choices

With that set, I was able to log in and wander around.  Triggers, scripts, buttons, and aliases all seemed to work fine.

Peeking at my TorilMUD Pally

Of course, I know and fully accept that if there is some incompatibility it will not be the fault of Zuggsoft and I have no expectation that I will get any help.

But opting for Windows 7 Professional cost me $40 more than Windows 7 Home, but it has saved me $30 already since I won’t have to buy a copy of CMud, the Zuggsoft replacement for ZMud for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Not that I would begrudge Zuggsoft the money.  But I already have two licenses for ZMud.  I’ve done my bit to support them.

So I am 1 for 2 tonight.

SOE, You’re Losing Me

With a fresh new system, less than a month old, I have been naturally keen to try old games as well as new.

World of Warcraft, runs like a champ.

Lord of the Rings Online, a fresh download install from Turbine runs flawlessly.

Likewise, grabbing the latest installer for EVE Online yielded a fine experience.

Heck, even Civilization V runs well on the new system.  Very well indeed.

And then I decided to try EverQuest II.  It is autumn after all, about time to go visit Norrath once again.

I did the digital download for the last expansion, so I decided not to drag out old CDs, but rather just let Station Launcher install it for me.

A foolish choice I suppose.

I let the install run over night earlier in the week.  10+ GB of data to download.

I went to try and run the game after that and I ended up with this.


And the Station launcher does try again… and again… and again ad infinitum probably if I let it.

Fine.  Maybe something went wrong with the download and install.  I let it download fresh again.

Another 10+ GB download overnight.

The next day, the same thing.

Okay, the backup plan with Station Launcher is just to launch the game executable directly.  So I went and found EverQuest2.exe and tried to launch from there.

That got me a new error.


Bleh.  This is because they felt they needed to build a browser into the game.  And you cannot just go and borrow that DLL from Firefox because it will then just say the next DLL it is looking for is missing.  And once you chase down the final DLL, it will become clear that these are not the DLLs you are looking for.

So I head off to the Station.com EQII Knowledge Base.

I search on “eq2ui_mainhud_tutorial.xml”,  no matches found for my problem.  There is an entry on what to do if I install customer UI elements and it screws things up, but I am not that far along.

I search on “xul.dll”, and again, no matches found at all.

This isn’t a problem SOE know about, or at least hasn’t gotten around to documenting.

Looking at general installation issues yields some information on what to do if I have a bad CD or DVD, but nothing to about my problem.

So I submitted a ticket explaining my issue, including the screen shots I have here.

That was, of course, and example of pure optimism.  Over the last decade I have gotten a response to about half of such tickets.  Not that I submit many, but that makes the fact that they seem to get routed to dev/null half the time more noticeable, not less.  And I hesitate to guess at what the percentage would be if I only counted responses that were at all helpful.

Searching for answers via Google was not all that helpful.  I ran into a couple of people who had similar issues, but there were no resolutions that I had not tried, aside from the standard response to all Windows 7 issues, which is to run the executable as the administrator.

No luck with that either.

I suppose I should learn that the idea of nostalgia is often better than the reality.

I think I’ll see if I can get ZMud to work under Windows 7.  If I’m going to face failure, I might as well do it against real odds with a program that is categorically not supported under the new OS.

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.