Also see the Story Authoring guide for creating Actors with interactive dialogue (quests tasks).

Builder Guide

Island Forge is all about player-created content and creativity:

Create Islands with Stories for Others to Explore!

The Island Builder (built into the Island Forge game) allows you to create and publish your own islands into the world for others to experience.

Building your island involves two activities:

  • Island Design: Placing Terrain, Scenery, and Shops
  • Story Authoring: Writing dialogue for Actors and creating quest goals and story logic

First, create an island, as described below. You start with a blank canvas of open ocean. Use the tools to paint the terrain and scenery. Every island has a town area with shops and an expedition area (outside the town's Gatehouse). Players arrive at your town via the Dock and go on expeditions via the Gatehouse. The town area must be separated from the expedition area by non-navigable tiles (such as walls, trees, water, or other scenery). The Gatehouse must be the only way between your town area and the expedition area.

All players who arrive on your island (at the Dock) share the town space together. Expeditions, on the other hand, are instances, in which only a solo adventurer or an expedition party are present. Parties are formed, and expeditions launched, at the Gatehouse. Any number of expedition instances may be going on at the same time, but members of each expedition will never see each other (each instance is isolated, allowing you to explore at your own pace).

Creating an Island

After logging into the game, select the Islands tab. You will see your available island slots, each of which can hold an island. New island slots become available over time.

To create your first island, click one of the empty slot's buttons to create a new island. When creating an island, any (valid) name will do. You can change the name of your island before publishing it to the world.

Once you've named and created your island, you will see it in your list of islands (on the Islands tab). Notice the globe icon, indicating that the island is not yet published. An island is not available for anyone to explored until published to the world.

Before you publish your island, you must proceed to the editor to design the landscape (and optional story). Click the island's edit button to open the island builder.

Getting Started

The island builder tool contains a controls on the left and your island on the right (you can maximize the game's window for more editing space). At first, your island does not exist, and all you have is an open square of ocean. This is your canvas on which to create your island.

Notice the minimap view in the lower-left corner. This always shows the entire space you have for designing your island. Your islands does not need to fill this space. It can be as big or small as you like, within this area of ocean.

To draw your island, click (and drag) with the mouse in the right-hand view. Notice the four tabs near the top of the controls (Terrain, Scenery, Town, Actors). Terrain is already selected, as well as the first terrain tile (Beach). Choose different terrain and scenery to design your island's landscaping.

Notice that as you draw, the minimap shows a small view of your island. You can click (and drag) within the minimap to move the current view. Near the minimap, the zoom buttons are helpful for viewing a larger area (also zoom with the mouse wheel). If you have painted yourself into a corner, you can shift your entire island with the arrow buttons (it will not allow you to shift any part of your island off the edge of the map).

Controls

The builder's toolbar contains essential controls, explained in more detail below.

Notice that the island's name has be removed from this image for clarity.

Save

To save your island, click the save button (the first button at the top of the controls). You may save your island at any time (and should do so regularly). Saving does not publish your island to the world. Saving safely stores your island on the server.

Tip: Because islands are stored on the server, you do not need to worry about any saved files on your computer. You do not even need to be on the same computer to edit your islands. You can edit any of your islands by logging in to the Island Forge game on any computer.

Validate

You have creative flexibility to design your island, but a few rules are checked. The validate button checks whether your island is fit for publication.

Note: The validation tool checks the structural correctness of your island, but it is your responsibility to never publish inappropriate content, as stipulated in the Terms of Service.

Following are examples of common and important validation rules to understand, when designing your island.

Dock Validation

Every town must have a Dock. The Dock must be on the edge of the land. Furthermore, there must be an open ocean path from the Dock to the edge of the map. The example picture shows a Dock that is landlocked (with no path to ocean).

Notice that simply putting the Dock on the edge of an enclosed body of water does not count. Imagine that there must be a way for ships to leave the Dock and off the edge of your map!

Gatehouse Validation

Along with the Dock, the Gatehouse is the most important shop in every town. The Dock and the Gatehouse must both be reachable between each other. This area defines the Town itself. Outside the Gatehouse lies the wild areas of your map, with fog to explore and creatures to fight. The Gatehouse must be the only way to go between your town area and out-of-town area.

Tip: Your town can be surrounded by any tiles that are non-navigable (those that characters cannot walk through). For example, bodies of water and trees can form natural boundaries for your town, as well as walls and other obstacles.
Tip: Turn on the Yellow/Blue/Red highlights to show the Town/Wild/Unreachable areas of your map. Any space that shows up red cannot be reached in any way.

Actor Validation

Actors that you place onto your island must obey a few rules. For one, all actors must be reachable on the map. That is, they must be placed in a location that characters can get to. The example picture shows an unreachable actor error.

Tip: Notice the warning that a Healer is recommended in this example image. Some shops are not strictly required, but are (strongly) recommended. You really should include these to provide a complete island for others to enjoy, but in these cases it's ultimately left up to you to decide.

Other actor validations include checks to ensure that your story logic does not create any logical loops. Consider a branch node that leads to a task node that leads back to the same branch node. If this causes an infinite loop, island validation will not pass.

Publish

The Publish button publishes your island to the world, making it available for others to explore! Publication includes a mandatory validation (you cannot publish an invalid island).

When you publish an island for the first time, it will become available shortly to others via the Dock.

Once you publish an island, you cannot un-publish it, but you can still make changes. As you continue to edit your island, no changes will be visible in the world until you publish the island again.

There are some things to be aware of when re-publishing an island. When you re-publish an island, it might not be available in the world immediately. Particularly, the game server will continue to provide the old version while players are actively visiting your island.

Players who logged out while on your island do not prevent your new version from being updated (logged out users are not considered to be actively visiting your island). However, this brings up two scenarios: players who logged out in town, and those who logged out out-of-town (on an expedition instance). For those who logged out in town, when they return to the world, they will find themselves in the new version. Those on an expedition will find themselves exactly where they left off, on the old version, until they return to town.

If you have updated your story logic (quest tasks, branches, and such), you do run the risk of breaking the story for those who are already part way through your plot. The reason is that each character records its own progress through your story (via the quest tasks you've assigned). It is possible for you to change the tasks and logic in such a way that no longer functions with the old tasks. To overcome this, players can always leave your island and return (thus clearing their story state).

Tip: Island authors should avoid extreme updates, as it can make your island difficult for others to appreciate. If you desire a radically different island design, we encourage you to create a whole new island, so players can continue to explore the island you've already published. Overall, we do not yet impose a specific policy on this, and leave it to the author to use the update capability responsibly.

Please don't hesitate to update your island when it adds benefit to those who are playing it. Also feel free to publish preliminary versions of your island even before your overall plan is complete (consider making a note to this effect on the island's Bulletin Board).

Bulletin Board Message

Every island has a Bulletin Board, which is designed to display a welcome message to players. Here, you can customize your welcome message.

Tip: Some authors prefer to stay in character and post a welcome message as if part of their island's story or setting. Alternately, you could post a message explaining what your island is all about, maybe including updates you've made (more like a blog post). As with most aspects, we leave it to you to decide how you'd like to present your island.

Add Actor

This button adds an actor (also known as a Non-Player Character, NPC, in many games). You will see a new empty actor in the Actors tab.

Click the actor's icon to place the actor in the world.

Click the Edit Actor button to open the Story Editor for this actor.

Test Story

Help

The Help button will toggle the help viewer, which is also available online at: http://islandforge.com/tome/

Save & Exit

The Save & Exit button will save your island to the server and exit the builder, taking you back to the welcome screen.

WARNING: At this time, if you close the Island Forge application without first saving your island, your latest edits might be lost. Always Save & Exit to leave the builder.
builder.txt · Last modified: 2012/12/06 07:49 by neb
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