Now call me old fashion, but I started at MUD - and, having already built the space, imagined what it ouwl dbe like to be there. Decided arbritrarly that standing at the front of the barn and looking towards it was NORTH, then SWE is fixed - useful when describing surrounding details. I then fired up my wordprocessor [let's face it, writing tools are writing tools, and my spolling is not whert it used to be, then again, it probably never was] but had to dumb it down - font to COURIERNEW, 8 point, maxxed out the margins, set up a ruler:
...and began the process of textually describing the rooms, one by one. Now my MUD convention is to include a juicy descriptive paragraph [maybe 5 lines, 80chars long] on what it is like to be there, what it looks like, what smells and sounds are detectable, sometimes an attempted interpretation of what is being seen, and sometimes allusions to the available ways you can travel from this point. The descriptions I wrote [ linked here, for your convenience ] were very satisfying and in may cases exceed 10 lines - if reasoned that the textualisations provide vital clues for the user to gain an impression of their surroundings - therefore teh richer I made the text, the more vivid the mental imagery I would create. Initially I thought this decision was fraught with writers block and waffle, but on reading them back they are rich and representative of what I wanted to say - certainly what I currently imagine. Knowing back-story can be an empowering thing for a writer - the minutae that will be used later make good writing fodder, well, that is my experience at least. As I composed a room description, I tweaked it to fit in 80 char chunks [a pain, but that is how they are delivered in-game] and then composed append statements to get them to stick to my current room:
*app You stand in the main body of a cavernous timber barn, old straw crunching
*app under your feet. A dim oil lantern flickers overhead casting odd shadows
*app that seem to dance amongst the hand-hewn timbers of the roof space. The barn
*app runs roughly west-east, with a stock enclosure to the east, fresh manure
*app gently steaming in the cool damp air. Saddle and harness gear is visible to
*app the northwest and the straw is swept clear of a timber trapdoor set into the
*app floor, a large rusted iron ring providing its handle. An unsophisticated
*app pane glass window is set into the east wall, it's glass frosted with grime
*app and age, allowing a shaft of eerie light in from outside, visible only
*app because of the swirls of dust kicked up as you walk around. Soft noises
*app from penned livestock makes you feel comfortable and safe.
..then pasted the block into the room, *saving my progress as I went. The resultant environment already has the feel of a dreary farmhouse and surrounds, and that interests me, because the text produces clear pictures in my head.
Experiencing the environment through a client [pictured is SimpleMU] the space is tangible and delicious.
Given that I now had textual descriptions of the world I am building, it made sense to add these also to the MOO version of the scenario. Fortunately, MOO and MUD are similar enough that, with a little minor tweaking [good old search and replace], I was able to use command-line to quickly add the same textual descriptions to the same rooms:
@set here.description to "You stand in the main body of a cavernous timber barn, old straw crunching under your feet. A dim oil lantern flickers overhead casting odd shadows that seem to dance amongst the hand-hewn timbers of the roof space. The barn runs roughly west-east, with a stock enclosure to the east, fresh manure gently steaming in the cool damp air. Saddle and harness gear is visible to the northwest and the straw is swept clear of a timber trapdoor set into the floor, a large rusted iron ring providing its handle. An unsophisticated pane glass window is set into the east wall, it's glass frosted with grime and age, allowing a shaft of eerie light in from outside, visible only because of the swirls of dust kicked up as you walk around. Soft noises from penned livestock makes you feel comfortable and safe."
I had already been in SecondLife and done a virtual photoshoot to capture images or views of each of the places in MOO/MUD scenarios, so the pictures and textualisations marry to provide a multi-modal representation of teh space [like how I slipped in an "English" term? subtle hey, will spare you the priviledging of the discourse as my dominance is fading :P].
After a ripper post-marking and reporting afternoon discussion over a cup of tea with Dearest Mrs Noisy [a co-consirator and fellow loony], we brainstormed plot points and discovered that there were conceivably actually four  viable suspects in this drama - all of them will be represented and clues leading to them will also be embedded - what was clear to me was that the trial process actually applied in 1826 began with teh conclusion and worked backwards - now correct me if I am wrong that that is arse-about. My sceario will require players [dang, what do i call participants?] to collect the evidence before jumping to an informed conclusion. We also discovered possibilities of introducing another cultural group - The Romany [as english "Gypsies" preferred to be called] is a rich and diverse culture, with well organised social structure and, surprising, strict moral code ... can we use that, yes we can.
So what is next? Making the monsters [oops, automated characters] and objects [or artifacts] they add richness and interactivity. I took Mrs Noisy for a little wander in the MUD, and show her how monsters can talk, act independently, trade interactively, follow a script of pre-determined actions, be richly descriptive [and also kill you if you are a noob] so that for MUD at least offers some fascinating richness opportunities also. MOO bots will use the same conversation engines I build for MUD, and SecondLife will use modified script versions of the same conversation engines as well - this co-development thing is interesting as many elements can be utilised across platforms [allbeit obeying local syntax and within local limitations].
Had to laugh, returned to my SecondLife scenario to find a visitor had parked a helicopter and a hover board on ym hillock, and I could not move them as I am not the owner of the land. In a related issue, I find I cannot place vegetation where I want it, again because I do not own the land. I will, when my bandwidth is less restricted, create some flexi-primis and map some tree foliage to their bumpmaps so they actually look like trees - unlike the hilarious lollipop-like things I currently have as placemarkers for major trees. need some hedges and dry-stone walls, will experiment on aesthetics when the mechanics are more complete.
I will keep you [my adoring readers] posted..... tap tap tap ... is this thing on?