Tuesday, November 20, 2012

H&T Tile Inlay

I'm not the one who came up with the tile inlay in the Homes and Tomes hall. That was Pizazz. But it's one of the most asked-about features of our hall. On the old forum, Pizazz was kind enough to post the instructions in the thread about the Corporate Headquarters of Homes and Tomes. However, since we don't know how long the old forums will continue to exist, I've copied his instructions here. Enjoy!

4 white tiles, 4 red tiles, and 1 gold coin tile in 3 layers. Everything is at the same X, Y coordinate but the layers are at different Z coordinates
Layer 1:
  • 2 white, 2 red - scale as desired.
  • Rotate the red tiles 45
  • Rotate the white tiles -45 
  • Roll 1 red and 1 white tile 179.25 and roll the other 1 red and 1 white tile -179.25
Layer 2:
  • 2 white, 2 red - scale to 1/2 of layer 1. 
  • Rotate the white tiles 45
  • Rotate the red tiles -45
  • Roll 1 red and 1 white tile 179.25 and roll the other 1 red and 1 white tile -179.25
  • raise the layer 0.010 - I might be off on how far to raise it 

Layer 3:
  • 1 gold coin tile
  • scale to layer 1 scale + small amount - I think in the case of this example the gold is 0.10 larger than layer 1
  • Rotate the gold coin tile 45 degrees.
  • raise or lower the tile to get the desired border effect.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Housing Colors

Every once in a while, someone in Homeshow will ask why the various houses on the Leaderboards have titles of different colors.

Each time a home reaches a landmark award, the title changes colors. Invariably, the next question is what those awards are.


If there's a color beyond light purple, we haven't reached it yet.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 2012 SoE Gamer of the Month?

On October 25th, I received an email that I never expected to receive. I had been chosen as November's SoE Gamer of the Month.

I admit that when I first saw the email title, I almost sent it to the spam folder. Me? SoE's Gamer of the Month? It sounded like a phishing email. I knew from Aurelis' stint as Gamer of the Month that people usually submit themselves. They fill out a questionnaire, including why they should be picked as Gamer of the Month. I hadn't done anything of the sort, so how had I been picked as SoE's Gamer of the Month?

However, certain things didn't add up to this being a phishing email. For one, the email came from an actual name, not the word "Congratulations!" or something like that. For another, all of the links in the email appeared to direct me to exactly what they said they would. Third, they weren't asking for my login information. Fourth, they addressed me as "Jazabelle," not by my email address. Then I looked at the signature. The email definitely appeared to be from a legit SoE employee. My hands started to shake. I was really chosen to be the SoE Gamer of the Month?

People who have been around me for a while know that I tend to be a pretty private person. I don't like flaunting myself. I still become terrified about speaking in public before any sort of group, to the point where I swear it feels like I'm having an out-of-body experience when I actually do talk. My head goes all floaty, and I can never clearly remember exactly what I said while I was speaking. Interviews, even written ones, do the same thing to me. Aurelis interviewed me back when BiblioNorrath was a thriving website, and we bibliophiles hadn't been regulated to a small subsection of the housing community. We roleplayed out the interview in-game, and my hands shook so badly the entire time, I had to retype each answer several times before it made sense.

So being the SoE Gamer of the Month really shook me up. It made a little more sense when I replied to the email, asking for some clarifications on some of the questions. I'd been nominated by one of the Community members who has begun spending more time on the Homeshow forums. It was likely the layout editing classes that really did it.

Now, I wasn't the first to think of layout editing classes. Gracey taught classes on the Test_Copy server, and before that, I and several other people offered private lessons whenever someone needed to learn some aspect of the editor. I'd even helped Gracey teach her classes in the beginning, and stepped in a few times to "sub" when she couldn't make it. But people had been requesting classes from me for a while, and I finally decided that I might as well go through with it and teach the layout editor basics, not just aspects of the editor. I haven't started those classes yet, since I'm still putting together the picture tutorials to go along with the classes. Sometimes it's just easier to be able to see exactly what you need to do when you're trying to learn how to do something new.

Being chosen as the Gamer of the Month really made me look back on my EQ2 experience. I wanted to really do the interview right. I wanted my answers to be clear, carefully thought-out, and interesting. I decided that for once, I could be less private about myself, and share who I was and how I came to be.

I've never set out to be "someone" in the games I play. I'm uncomfortable with attention, and even more uncomfortable drawing attention to myself. I've learned why when I've praised other people in the past, they acted uncomfortable--I too am uncomfortable with the praise. It often makes me feel like a fraud. The homes I build are easy for me. They seem simple and plain, nothing special to write home about. Even the Cathedral, with its vaulted and ribbed ceiling is actually quite simple when broken down into its component parts. It's nothing like Jesdyr's chapel, with its elaborate architecture.

However, the response to the article has proven to me that no matter how much I feel like a fraud, other people don't see me as such. For the most part, the comments on the Facebook page have been positive. The tells I received in-game were positive. The messages I received in-game were also positive. And when I mentioned to Zhadowsee in bewilderment that someone had told me it was well-deserved recognition, he informed me that yes, it was. He isn't the sort to hold my hand. On the rare occasions that I start to act haughty for whatever reason, he brings me down to earth by gently mocking me about being "the Jazabelle." I never want to be the Jazabelle. I'm just Jazabelle, that crazy person who's a little bit obsessive about the alignment of the items in her home, who knows the layout editor well enough to teach it to others, and who writes the occasional picture tutorial to go along with it. So if Zhadowsee and others say it's well-deserved recognition, I suppose it must be.

Overall, I mostly feel bewildered and honored beyond belief. I'm still not really sure how this happened.

The article, for anyone wishing to read it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stupid Facebook!

I should have realized that linking images from Facebook wouldn't be a safe thing to do. A lot of my posts now have missing images due to Facebook apparently deciding to change the URLs for those images. I'm not sure why some changed and some didn't, but I won't be cross-linking to Facebook anymore.

I did check and ensure that the tutorials are all fine. I'll be fixing other posts as I find the time.

So sorry for the inconvenience!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Chapel Maze to Anashti Sul (Prizes October 6 - November 17)

Somewhere hidden amongst Freeport's streets
A temple to the Forgotten sleeps.
Every Nights of the Dead it awakes,
Mortal life it forever forsakes.
If for prizes death you would cheat,
Proceed to Jazabelle's to partake!

Apologies for the horrible poetry, but last year's maze set a precedent, and I didn't have anyone to write the poetry for me this year.

Important information: This was originally set to run from October 6 - November 10th. Unfortunately, I fell ill in the weeks prior to November 10th, and was unable to promote the maze. In the interest of fairness, I've extended the event for a week. Those 24 individuals who completed the maze prior to November 10th will still receive their prizes on November 11th. Anyone else is welcome to run the maze and answer the riddle. If you do so, your prize will be mailed to you on November 18th.

When: October 6 - November 17, 2012

Where: Jazabelle's Lavastorm home in Freeport on the Antonia Bayle server. Alternatively, you may visit The Chapel to Anashti Sul on the Leaderboards, under the Hall of Fame.

Why?: Because Nights of the Dead is awesome, but sometimes you need to take a break from grinding for the house items! So instead you can run a maze and answer a riddle for prizes (I know, I know, not that different...).

Prizes?: Yep! Prizes will be awarded through the 18th of November. Details can be found in the book inside the chapel.

Other servers offering prizes:
All other servers are eligible for prizes, as we have one kind person on Freeport taking care of prizes there, and a kind person from AB offering SC prizes to those who complete the maze and riddle. If you'd like to offer prizes for your server, please do feel free to contact me (I'm blown away by your generosity, guys!). You still have to travel to Antonia Bayle to run the maze and see the riddle, but you can receive awards on your main character.

Other NotD fun:
The MazeMansion from 2011 is open again, and offering token prizes to anyone who completes it!

(For those interested in seeing a photo album of the construction of the zones, click here. Don't worry, there are no spoilers.)


  1. Lunshea (of Freeport)
  2. Liily (of Freeport)
  3. Qaia
  4. Kiosha
  5. Ashinor
  6. Nihke
  7. Sedeck (of Oasis)
  8. Facemeats
  9. Immauri
  10. Lealani
  11. Atmu
  12. Blazewolf
  13. Savriel
  14. Teoh
  15. Chikkin
  16. Senya (of Crushbone)
  17. Kaian
  18. Melago
  19. Kiuf
  20. Locomotive
  21. Lowgan
  22. Zazoo
  23. Kasumie
  24. Ughucork (of Freeport)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beginner Layout Editing Classes

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. By popular demand, beginner's layout editing classes will be returning to EQ2.

(Link to the thread on the Homeshow forums for if you want to post questions, comments, or opinions!)


Where will the classes be held?
Cloudrat was generous enough to donate a guild and guild hall on the Test server. The Norrathian Decorators Academy is now in session!
For those who cannot reach the Test server for whatever reason, I am willing to hold the occasional lesson on the Antonia Bayle server. Please send me an email if you'd like to arrange a lesson on Antonia Bayle. Do keep in mind that it may take a few days to arrange a lesson. Sending me a tell or mail in-game, or a PM on these forums is not a guaranteed method of contacting me. Email is. You can find out how to email me further down this Q&A.

When will the classes be held?
Dates and times will vary. I'm aiming for every two weeks, but realistically, it'll probably be more like once a month. Dates and times will be posted in this thread. I will update the thread name as well as this post to reflect the planned class time. Be warned! I'm mildly pedantic (I know, how can you only be mildly pedantic?) and expect class to start at the time posted. If there is no one there at class time, I'll simply log out of the test server and go do something else. I will not wait around for you. Do not log in at the class time. Log in at least five minutes before. Better would be to give yourself ten minutes, so that if anything goes wrong with the test client, you have time to fix it. If you can't get in, log on the live server and send me a tell. Don't mess around with the server for half an hour, log in twenty minutes late, and expect a class to be there. There's the possibility that no one else showed up, and I logged back to the live server. So send a tell to either /tell Test.Jazabelle or /tell Test.Jazabella, depending on who I'm on.

But what if I contact you beforehand and let you know I'm going to be late?
All right, I'm not completely heartless. If you contact me beforehand, I'll stick around. I understand that real life can be rather annoying, and might keep you away from the game. I can be flexible, but I expect the courtesy of being informed beforehand that you'll be late. If you don't bother to let me know, I can't guarantee that there'll be a class in session when you log in. And if something comes up and you have no way of letting me know, you'll just have to try and either arrange a private lesson with me, or you'll have to wait for the next class.

How can I contact you for private lessons/lessons on Antonia Bayle?
Follow this link to my Blogger profile. On the lefthand side you should see a heading that says "Contact me." Under that is another link that says "email." Click the word "email," and you should be able to email me.
If, when you click the link, a window pops up telling you that there's no program associated with that action, click "Okay." Then right-click the word "email," and go to "copy email address." Now you can paste my email address into the email program of your choice to email me.
If you still can't find it, try (my character's name).(my character's last name without any punctuation)@gmail.com

Why are you making it so hard to email you? Why can't you just type it out here?
I'm not deliberately making it hard to contact me. It's just that the more places your email address is, the more likely it is that you'll wind up with spam. Since this email address is spam free so far, and I'd like to keep it that way, I'm not posting the actual address.

Yes, there will be a little bit of math. No, it won't be more than a little addition and subtraction. If you're not good at doing math in your head, the calculator program that comes with your computer will be enough to take care of it.

But I heard something about trig?
That's for advanced layout editing, and you don't really need to use trig. There are websites that do all the math for you, and I'll provide you a link to a website when you're advanced enough to use it. Until then, I'm not going to, because I don't want to scare you (and there's no reason to be scared, anyway!_)

Do I need to know anything coming into the class?
Nope! These are beginning layout editing classes for a reason. Eventually, I'll have picture tutorials up on my blog to go along with the classes, but I haven't gotten there yet.

Picture tutorials?
Yep! Here's a link to my layout editor tutorial page. I don't yet have beginning tutorials up, but when I do I'll include a direct link to them here.

How do I get to the Test server?
I'll include a picture tutorial for that, too, in a bit. But for now, follow these steps. Do not do this a few minutes before class. Do not do this half an hour before class. Give yourself at least an hour for the first time you log in to the Test server just in case something goes wrong. In fact, I wouldn't even do this on the same day as the layout editing class. I'd do this several days before, so that if you can't get it working, you have time to ask people for help. If you frantically contact me the day of the layout editing class, saying you're still copying files over and can I please hold class for you, I'm sorry, but the answer will be no. Either arrange a private lesson, come late, or wait for the next class to be held.
  1. Find the EQ2 icon on your desktop.
  2. Right-click it.
  3. Click Open file location.
  4. Create a new folder in this folder, and name it TestServer. That isn't a typo. There is no space between the word test and the word server in the name of the folder.
  5. Select everything in your EQ2 folder except the TestServer folder, the logincache folder, the cache folder, the screenshots folder, the logs folder, and the eq2_default.ini file. The easiest way to do that is to select everything in the folder, then hold down ctrl and click each of the folders and file I named above. That will unselect them while leaving everything else selected.
  6. Copy the files. You can do that by right-clicking after you've selected them, and clicking the option to copy, or holding down ctrl and c.
  7. Open the TestServer folder.
  8. Paste the files you copied. You can do that by right-clicking and selecting paste, or by holding down ctrl and v.
  9. Open the EQ2 launcher like you normally do.
  10. In the upper lefthand corner of the launcher, you will see a section that says Version: US English (or whatever version of EQ2 you're running).  Click the US English (or whatever yours says after Version). The lower half of the launcher should change to something that says Advanced Settings on the left and Select Game Version on the right.
  11. Under Select Game Version, there's a dropdown box. Select Public Test.
  12. Make sure that Full Download is UNSELECTED. That's right, you don't want it to be clicked. Not unless you want to wait several hours while the game downloads the entire test client.
  13. Click the green Apply button. The client should now patch. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes, but depending on how different the Test server's client is from the Live client, it might take a bit longer.

You're now ready to log in to the Test server!

Why the Test server?
I understand that we have free accounts now. I also understand that some people don't like to make free accounts. The Test server allows people to play on their main account, without counting against their character total on the Live servers. I also understand that some people can't log in to the Test server, which is why I'm willing to offer private lessons/small lessons on the Antonia Bayle server.

Wait, the characters on the Test server don't take up character slots?
They do take up character slots, but they have a separate count from the Live servers. If you have twenty character slots on the Live servers, you also have twenty character slots on the Test server.

Okay, so I started the Test client. Now what do I do? I don't have any characters here!
Create a brand new character. The easiest place for you to start is in New Halas, because that's where the guild hall is. Race and class don't matter, so make whatever you want to make. Contact Jazabelle/Jazabella or anyone in Norrathian Decorators Academy for an invite to the guild.

How will lessons be conducted?
Lessons will be conducted in /say. They will be step-by-step, and I will explain everything that's going on. Don't be afraid to speak up if you have a question. If you're too embarrassed to do so in /say, go ahead and send me a /tell. But we're all there to learn, so there's really no need to be embarrassed!

Lessons won't be in voice chat?
No. Lessons will not be in voice chat. For one, lessons in /say have the benefit of being caught by EQ2's /log option. For another, not everyone plays with sound or microphones. I don't want to leave anyone out.

But I learn best when I hear instructions instead of reading them! You're leaving ME out!
Then arrange a private lesson with me. Public lessons will be in /say, and that's that.

How long will these classes take?
Class length depends on how many students there are, and how quickly people are picking it up. Some people just learn things a little slower than others, and if there are a lot of people, classes can take a while. Set aside at least an hour for the class. When Gracey was running classes, they usually took anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours. If the class is taking longer than usual, I may call an end and schedule a followup class for the next week.

So how much are these classes going to cost me?
Absolutely nothing. These classes are free! I only ask that you "pass it on," and help someone else out in the future. The more of us passing on our knowledge, the better.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jazabelle's Everfrost Office

The old arched windows of the Everfrost portal hub.
From the moment I understood how prestige housing portals would work--and I admit it took me a few days and a bit of research before I was positive I understood it properly--I was determined to put together a portal hub.

My first attempt at a portal hub took the arched windows I'd constructed for Dolthaic back in April of 2011, and turned them into "windows" into the different homes. I liked the idea, but there wasn't enough room for expansion.

The round portal/transport room.
And ringing a room with ten windows meant over 100 items for the "windows" alone. With the low item count of the Everfrost house, that didn't leave me much room for decorating the rest of the house.

Regretfully, I put my office on hold and worked on other projects. I just couldn't seem to figure out a setup for my portal hub that would work for me. I accumulated portals in the meantime, tossing them into the Everfrost house wherever the mood struck me.

Framed portal "painting" at H&T.
Then in early June of 2012, I revamped the guild hall. Afista had used tiles frame the portals in her portal hub. I used the same idea for the portals in my guild's hall, but tweaked the design a little bit--I included paintings to frame the tile and give it a more finished look, much as she framed tiles in her portal hub to showcase them. The result was a framed "painting" of a portal hub that received quite a few compliments from guildmates and visitors alike.

Not long after that, sometime in mid-June, Hopsalong built her portal hub. She took the idea Afista came up with that I tweaked, and also tweaked it. The result was an elegant portal hub with plenty of room for lots of portals, and a very easy method of expansion.

Hopsalong's portal hub.
I admit that Hops' portal hub made me insanely jealous. It was gorgeous! And if I were the sort of person who bought layouts from other people, I would have snapped up her hub in an instant. But I'm not. Besides, I don't own a Felwithe house, which is what her portal hub is in.

Hopsalong's hub spurred me to start working on my own again. I went through several attempts to build a suitable layout. The first was very similar to both my original hub and Hopsalongs--a hallway that terminated in a round room, then branched off into other rooms. While it was nice, I felt too much like I was copying Hopsalong rather than being inspired by her. It also didn't help that I went exclusively sumac, without the trim and color Hopsalong has in her hub to cut back on the "sumac poisoning."

A baseboard and some crown molding would do a lot to cut back on the overwhelming sumac feel.

I struggled with the hub for several days, popping back and forth between Hopsalong's hub and my own. No matter what I did, I didn't like it.

It was while I was running circles around Hopsalong's hub, trying to think of materials other than black marble building blocks (which I didn't have, and refused to spend SC on) that I really looked at the paintings lining her walls. Gold and sumac, opulent, easily sized--the paintings would make a perfect baseboard!

I immediately crafted several and popped into my portal hub. But no matter how I tried, the shape of the rooms and the paintings meant that they just wouldn't work as baseboards. I couldn't sink the paintings low enough to act as a baseboard. If I angled the painting and hid most of it in the wall, by the time the sides of the painting stopped poking through, the bottom did, too.

The first time I actually liked where the hub was going.
Eventually, I realized I was trying to stay too close to Hopsalong's work. Her work was "safe"--I'd already seen how it turned out, and really liked it. If I wanted the paintings to work with my house, I'd have to do something different.

Luckily, it turned out I didn't have to do too much different. I could keep the front hall that opened up into a large room. However, I went with a square room because of the patterns I wanted for the paintings. I kept the sumac walls, but ditched the sumac floors. And I definitely wasn't going to go with a stained glass ceiling--while I adore Hops' hub, I'm not a rainbow person. I'm also not big on stained glass. I feel that it should be used to accent. With Hops' hub, it works. All that sumac means that the stained glass isn't overwhelming, especially since it's a focal point. That wouldn't work in my house. So I went with a plain white ceiling, and jazzed it up with more gold.

The front hall opening up into the center room.
Confession time: I'm not really a gold person, either. If I were to see something like what I built for my Everfrost hub in real life, I'd look at it and think it's pretty, but much too ornate for me. But in-game, this works. Part of why I enjoy decorating in-game is it allows me to step outside my comfort zone with furnishings and architecture.

Back to my portal hub! I left the hub pretty much undone for the rest of July and August. I'd done the front hall, but was stuck on how I wanted it to transition into the large center room. Plus I was out of town in July, and by the time I came home in August, I'd lost my drive to work on the hub.

But on September 1st, I went back to working on it, and I worked hard. It was like a mental block had cleared, and I had more ideas than I could build! There were some rough patches, and plenty of ideas that I worked on for hours, then scrapped completely. I moved my teleportation objects around the hub several times a day, trying to find a good spot for them.

Eventually I had the layout set up how I wanted it. And then I moved my office from my guild hall to the Everfrost hub. I decided it wasn't fair that my office used over a hundred items, while everyone else was limited to 20. With my office in my Everfrost hub, people would be able to expand their customization of their offices in the guild hall.

Because it was an extension of the guild hall in my mind, I included some similar items, like the circular seating in the center of the large room. I went with a different color scheme, but kept the idea of seats arranged around a planter.

I actually spent the least amount of time decorating my office in the hub, although it probably looks like I spent a really long time working on it. For the most part, I just transported the layout from the guild hall to the Everfrost hub.

The office desk, transported from the guild hall.
Everything on the blue carpet is exactly as it was in the guild hall. The changes were made to the sides of the room and the fishtank--where in my old office I had a single bookshelf and a small set of shelves on the wall for trophies, I wanted more space in the Everfrost office. I also wanted to make sure that my portal objects didn't look odd displayed around the room. That meant building a set of shelving units to house any portal objects that didn't hang on the walls. I also needed space to display random other items--like the Community Cushion, and the prize for submitting a home to the NotD contest (I'm still sad I didn't win, but not too sad. I got my present and my scare "crow," and that's really the only reason I entered in the first place!).

Shelving unit and portal paintings.
While it's a little bit annoying to not have the portal objects right in the front room when I zone in, it's not bad enough that I'd move them back there. The portal objects being at the front are nice, but this way I get more use out of my office. I have to run back there each time I want to teleport to one of the DoV zones.

The biggest difference between this office and the one in my guild hall is the aquarium.

Yes, I like to do the stereotypical aquarium. There seem to be two types of people--those who like them, and those who don't. In real life, I'm not a fan. The wet, fishy smell irritates me. But I enjoy looking at fish, and I enjoy the artwork that people turn their aquariums into.

Shark tank! Don't go swimming in there...
So in-game, I build them. This one was partially inspired by my own shark tank in my Kelethin home, and partially inspired by Tock's tank in The Spider. I liked how the water in the back with a misty tile turned out for Tock. It's an idea I'd been playing with using since the first time I saw the misty tiles. However, I hadn't had a chance to build an aquarium since they came out. When I saw what Tock had done, and how well it turned out, I decided it was time to put my own attempt into play.

Jazabelle has a thing for sharks. She loves them. It has absolutely nothing to do with an easy way to dispose of evidence, I swear! So that meant another shark tank. But when I put together the tank, I realized that sharks alone are a little bland. So I tossed in a sea turtle and some slugs. Then I added in a few other items to add motion, such as the seafarer's float net, the doomed prisoner, and the new crafted Withering Lands flowers. The spores from the flowers float slowly, and really give the impression of being under water. The tank looks much better in person, with the swaying, the rippling, and the flickering blue light (Thanks for reminding me to put those in, Tock!).

If you'd like to visit, feel free to stop by Jazabelle's Everfrost Summer Home in Qeynos, on the Antonia Bayle server.

For more screenshots of the home that weren't included in the blog, as well as expanded captions on most screenshots, click here to visit the Facebook photo album.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To Commission Or Not

The Cathedral -- probably my most well-known project.
On occasion, I'll get a tell out of the blue, asking if I do commissions.

Sometimes the tell starts with flattery. The person contacting me offers praise, and specific examples of their favorite aspects of my work.

Other times, they've heard about me from a friend, or maybe they've seen a single home I've done. They aren't sure how to approach me. House decorating isn't their thing, and while they want a nice looking home, they really don't know what to say to one of those crazy decorators.

People come to me with awesome ideas, ordinary ideas, or no ideas. The one thing that everyone approaching me has in common is that they've decided that I'm the decorator who should work for them.

What do I tell them when they ask to hire me? The short answer to that question is "maybe." As I mentioned in the Cathedral blog post, I'm terrible about doing commissions in a timely manner. If it's not life biting me in the rear, it's me becoming distracted doing something else. I should say no to people, because honestly, it's not fair to make someone wait six months to a year while I hammer out a house. However, I have a hard time saying no when asked.

Do I like doing commissions?

Nope. I really don't. I love the ideas that people come up with, and I love trying to capture those ideas. But I don't like decorating for someone (see note at the end of the article). It's one reason why I had such a great time building my Tudor Farmhouse and then putting the layout up for sale. I got to build what I wanted, when I wanted, with no stress about finishing in a timely manner. Putting it up for sale as a layout like that also means that any time someone wants the layout (with or without modifications), I can easily just pop in to the house and load it up. It means no waiting for either party.

The Tudor Farmhouse -- I should have waited for building blocks!
There's also the issue of the homeowner's vision versus my own. Some homeowners are great to work for. They let me do what I want, and only pop in to say things like, "I'm not really that fond of the centerpiece you built. Do you think you could switch it to something else?" I'm okay with being told that what I've done doesn't mesh with the vision someone has for a project. It's their home, after all. However, I like to be given the freedom to do what I want. Sure, I'll discuss it with the person. I'll ask them what they were hoping for, so that I have an idea of what to aim for.

If the house is meant for roleplay, I'll ask what sort of roleplay, and tailor the home to that. When I did the Cathedral, I knew that the home would be used as a venue for speeches. Much like a real life house of worship, the people roleplaying followers of Innoruuk would be gathering there for sermons. That meant that I had to ensure that the benches I used could be sat on, and with as little fiddling around with positioning as possible. Little details like that are what make a good project great, in my opinion.

Menan's Manor. I don't think the homeowner plays anymore.
Unfortunately, for every homeowner I've worked for who has been awesome, I've had a homeowner who insisted on moving things around on me or "helping" me decorate. I don't play nice with others when it comes to decorating a space. If you've asked me to decorate your house, and then you come in behind me and tweak things right and left, I start to feel like I shouldn't even bother. After all, you've shown that you have the ability and the inclination to decorate, so why am I here?

If a homeowner comes in after I'm done and I've been paid, I could care less if they move things around, tear things down, add things in, or just pack up the house (all right, I might be peeved if they packed up the house). I did what was asked, and I've received my compensation. Besides, it's their home. But if a homeowner does this while I'm working on a home, I start to become annoyed.

Occasionally, when someone hires me, they start to feel like they're better than I am. They've hired me to do a job. That means that no matter how much they admire me or my work, they're in a class above me. I'm working for them, after all. It doesn't matter that my $15 a month for my Gold subscription is just as good as their $15 a month. It doesn't matter that decorating is just as valid a play style as combat or raiding. I'm not "really" playing the game as it's meant to be played, so I'm not as good as they are. (Don't get me wrong. I respect all other play styles. Just because it's not my cup of tea doesn't mean that I don't respect it. However, this is the attitude that I've had thrust upon me more than once simply because I prefer the non-combat aspects of the game, and am working for someone.)

Then of course, there's the problem of cost. What do you charge someone who's asking you to build something? Especially something as individual as a house?

My guild's hall, and the only guild hall I'll ever decorate.
It's only recently that I've learned to save my platinum. I've been playing since late 2005, and my platinum amount across my account fluctuated from between no money to maybe, if I was lucky, thirty platinum. At one point, I had to sell some of the gear I'd saved for appearances in order to afford the price of the boat (back when the boat cost money in Freeport and Qeynos) in order to go out questing.

A house one year ago would cost me approximately sixty to eighty platinum to decorate. Today, I can drop sixty platinum on a stable. Not an entire house, just a stable. This doesn't take into account the amount of time a house takes me. Even when I'm obsessed with completing a project and work on it nonstop (and this doesn't happen often), it still takes me upwards of 40 hours of gameplay to finish. It's not that I'm slow at decorating. I'm actually pretty fast about getting the structure up and into place. The problem is that I'm also compulsively detail oriented, and will tweak items until they are lined up to the pixel. Shifting items by 0.0001 units is not uncommon for me.

Back to platinum and gameplay--in 2 hours of gameplay, questing in a level 90 zone I've never been to before, I can make probably 20 platinum. Questing in a zone where I do know the zone and quests, I can make more than that.

So if I were questing rather than decorating, I could make 400 platinum or more in the amount of time it takes to build a house.

The Norrathian Research Library is perhaps one of my favorites.
However, as I said, it's only recently that I've begun to actually save platinum. 400 platinum sounds like an obscene expense to me. And when you do projects, you're supposed to come out ahead, not just break even. That means that to "come out ahead," I'd need to charge more than 400 platinum. I understand that there are people out there who wouldn't blink twice to drop 400 platinum on a house. I wouldn't drop that on a house, and I'm the one building the house!

Then we need to take into consideration reputation. I don't believe I'm that good. Yes, my houses are close to flawless from an alignment standpoint. My textures line up the best I can make them, and if it's a tossup between a wall with varying sizes of building blocks that only takes three items, and a wall of identically sized building blocks of twenty items, I'll go for the twenty items because it looks better. But for the most part, the homes I build are simple homes. The Tudor Farmhouse? It's just a house. My Kelethin cottage? Once again, just a house. The Cathedral isn't, but that one was done on commission. And when you come right down to it, the Cathedral isn't actually that architecturally impressive. It's a rectangle. A pretty rectangle, but still just a rectangle. There are plenty of people out there with the vision to put together architecturally impressive pieces of work that I'd love to have for my own. They may not line things up as nicely as I do, or have flawless textures, but their work is more intricate than mine.

So should I be charging what I feel I'm worth, or what other people feel I'm worth? Especially when the amount I feel I'm worth is very different from the amount that other people seem to be willing to pay?

But not all people think my work is worth much. In quiet times, I've had people request houses. We discussed the house they were interested in very seriously, right up until we got to price.

There are people who think they're doing me a favor by offering me an empty house to decorate, and expect that I should do it for free. Of course they'll cover the fuel costs. They're keeping the house, after all. But I should be honored that they're offering me an empty house to indulge in my silly decorating pastime!

I've never had so much traffic during construction as I did with the Cathedral.
Then there are the people who would like a house, but don't have a lot of platinum. For them, a couple of hundred platinum for a house is outside the bounds of reasonable. They'd have to save for a year or two to see it.

And then, I've been offered upwards of 4000 platinum to build a home.

I turned them down.


When it comes right down to it--stress.

I decorate in EQ2 for a variety of reasons. I play because I love decorating--I've done it everywhere from The Sims to SWG. I decorate because it's a form of art, and the fastest and easiest method I've found to express my artistic side in a method that people can interact with and enjoy. I decorate because it's stress relief. I become absorbed in the numbers of the editor, in the placement of items, in trying to get reality to match my vision. Yes, there can be times when it's frustrating, especially if something isn't working out, but overall it's much less stressful than anything else life can throw at me.

Stress is a big problem for me. In Homeshow, I've mentioned a few times (all right, probably more often than I should--I do tend to whine about it) that I suffer from food allergies. I've mentioned that the foods trigger migraines for me.

What I haven't mentioned is that the food triggers are only one set of triggers. Stress, weather, sudden exposure to light--the list goes on. And I don't just get migraines. I have what one neurologist likes to call "intractable chronic debilitating migraines." In layman's terms, that means that I come down with migraines so bad, I'm put out of commission for days or weeks at a time. And it happens a lot. And they don't respond to medication.

Did I mention that stress is a big problem for me? I think I did. Even thinking about being stressed causes me minor migraines. Actually stressing out can send me to bed with the curtains drawn and the covers over my head.

Decorating is a sort of meditation for me. You don't need to use (much) math with the layout editor, but to get things lined up precisely, it helps to know how to do it. Math is also a form of meditation for me. It keeps me calm, even when the numbers aren't adding up right. I use more math than the average decorator because of that. Not only do I use it to ensure that things line up perfectly, but it's soothing for me.

It's one of the few things I can do even with a migraine. And while it doesn't help the pain, it allows me to mostly ignore it.

The real answer to "to commission or not?" is "I really shouldn't." I'll do it, especially if I really like an idea that someone has, but I shouldn't.

Note: Thank you to Niami for reminding me of this. I wanted to add it on, but forgot to before I posted.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that this is mostly about people I don't know approaching me with commission projects. When people I know approach me, it's a different story. This is especially true when they understand chronic conditions.

I like to do projects for friends and close acquaintances. Strangers are different. Strangers may say they understand chronic issues, but chances are that they'll become frustrated if their home isn't done within a month. I've had it happen time and again. I tell people that it'll be a while before I can start on their project, and once I do, they may not see a lot of progress. I tell them they can expect the project to take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year from when I start. They say they're okay with it, and then they become pushier and pushier if it's not completed quickly once work starts.

Friends understand that I've had periods of time where I disappear from the game for a month or more, and that when I do, I'm probably flat on my back in bed, desperately wishing for a migraine cure. Close acquaintances have the potential to become friends, and oftentimes it's a decorating project that does it. I enjoy those sorts of projects. It's much less stressful for me when a friend and I can negotiate a price, instead of the onus being on me.

So feel free to approach me about a project, but understand that I may say no. And if I say yes, please understand that I will take my time. It's not that I don't like you. It's not that I'd rather work on other projects. It's that I do what's best for my stress levels at the moment, and if I'm not feeling like your project is one I can handle at the moment, I may work on others, or I may not decorate at all.

Happy decorating!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zhadowsee's Birthday Stables

Yes, I'm still around. Life just caught up with me (I took a trip out to visit Z, and coming home has been an adjustment. Then migraines and other facets of life hit, and gaming took a backburner to everything else). But I'm here now.

Just in time for Zhadowsee's birthday, in fact.

I bought Zhadowsee a mount for his birthday. Meet Compass, the drake. However, it seemed a little cheap of me just to get Z a mount for his birthday. Your birthday is only once a year, and unlike the grandfather clock and sweet note he gave me, I couldn't be sure that he'd like the drake. After all, I'd raved about how much I adore grandfather clocks, and built several in-game before they came out with the station cash one. Plus, the station cash one has a dragon on it! Anyone who's spent a bit of time with me knows that I'm dragon crazy.

Then I decided that I would build him some stables to go with the mount. I've never actually decorated a full house for Z. I've done rooms, partial homes, partially completed homes, but I've never finished anything for him. Part of it is that he likes to decorate on his own. Part of it is that out of the two of us, he's the storyteller. Decorating is telling stories with scenery, but it's a very slow method of storytelling, and I'm better at vingettes than telling a full story. His decorating is more organic--he once did an RP scene for me, in which objects in the house kept moving. He had several layouts, plus what he moved by hand. Depending on what I noticed, what happened next changed. So I've never done a house for him, leaving him to set them up himself.

The first thing I did was to sneak onto his account. Unlike me, Z doesn't have a ton of empty houses waiting for use. He had exactly three houses, and all three of them are already in use.

Well, that was no good for my purposes. I immediately tabbed back to Jazabelle and started touring prestige houses. I knew I wanted the house to be a prestige house, for the portals. The stable was going to connect to his home in Neriak, whether he wanted it to or not!

It was as I was browsing houses that I realized that the Secluded Sanctum has an item count of 800, and costs only 1000 SC! All other 800 item count houses cost 1350 or so. Plus the Secluded Sanctum has a very wide open front room, which was perfect for my purposes.

I added the Secluded Sanctum to Zhadowsee's gift, tabbed back to Zhadowsee, and claimed the house. Then I snagged the mount out of the mail, dumped it in the house, and set Jazabelle trustee. Carefully, I positioned Zhadowsee exactly back where I found him, and logged him out.

Then I feverishly set to work.

The front doors, minus the door frames. Those came later.
I had seven hours to complete the house, not counting the time off I would have to take for food and housework, if I wanted to finish it up before Zhadowsee got home and logged on.

The first step was to build the walls of the stable. The Secluded Sanctum is rotated 22.5 degrees off of the cardinal directions, so I had to figure out how I was going to cover the existing ground in the Sanctum, while keeping to the shape of the stables that I wanted. Luckily, it wasn't too hard. The center pathway of the Sanctum is 12 units wide--exactly the width I wanted the stable's main hallway to be. And with the rotate group around point tool, it was a simple matter to build the stable on a straight East/West axis, then rotate everything around the first tile to line it up to the house. With that figured out, I really got down to business.

Unfortunately, I didn't reach my self-imposed goal of finishing before Zhadowsee got home.

I gave him some very firm instructions. I'd done my best to ensure that he wouldn't be able to find the house, except that I'd gone ahead and dropped a portal into his Neriak house, so that I wouldn't have to do it later. He was very good about not sneaking into the work in progress.
The final view of the stable doors.

Happily, he had plans away from the keyboard (I know you're not supposed to say that about your significant other, but sometimes you just need that privacy to get things done! I didn't want to feel like I was ignoring him in order to finish up his present, so the fact that he had things to do was perfect). So, given another couple of hours to get things done, I went to work even harder!

Originally, I'd set up the stable with 8 stalls. I had five mounts on me that I wouldn't mind missing or were easy to replace (The Gorowyn, Neriak, and Kelethin destriers, the quested Gryphon from DoV, and the Winter Wolf mount). That left two empty stalls--stalls which Zhadowsee could put any of his own spare mounts into.

View from the front of the stable.
I divided the stalls up into meat eaters on one side, grain eaters on the other. Yes, normally that would be a bad idea. Having the poor horses face predators would probably stress the animals unduly. However, this is a fantasy game, and horses stand around calmly next to predators all the time. (I really do put that much thought into layout and position.)

The stable itself was very easy to build, once I'd decided on how I wanted to do it. The stall doors are taller than I'd like, but we don't have any half dividers. If we ever do get half dividers, I'll switch them out and make things a bit more realistic in there. As it is, Zhadowsee's stable has really tall walls.

I built one stall, then duplicated it three times. I'd made sure that the stall was 7.5 units long, so it was a simple matter of moving each new stall 7.5 units further down the line than the stall before it.

Then I took everything I'd made so far, and I mirrored it around the E/W axis. That gave me all eight stalls with minimal work.

Zhadowsee meeting Compass. I'm not sure they like each other.
Unlike my usual method of construction, where I build the structure first, then go through and add in major structural details, then go through for minor structural details, and finally end with putting in decorative details, I built this stable in phases.

I could have allowed Zhadowsee to peek the minute he got home. The structure was up, the mounts were in their stalls, and it looked vaguely stable-like. But for the most part, it was a bunch of empty boxes with mounts standing in them. Not exactly an awesome birthday present. However, I continued that method of decorating, putting in waves of details, both decorative and structural alike (mounts count as decorative. The rails for the doors to slide on are structural details. The rails showed up in phase three or four of decorating. The stops at the ends of the rails showed up in phase six or seven). I didn't know when he'd be getting home--I had an approximate idea of how many hours I'd have, but not a definite one--so I wanted to be sure that the stable would be ready for viewing the instant he got home. I could go in later and add more details. The idea was to give the appropriate impression of a stable, no matter when he walked in.
Compass in his stall. This was before the rail stops were added in.

Zhadowsee showed up after I'd gotten most of the details down that I wanted to. I still hadn't added flavor (like muck in the muck cart), but I had a lot of the little bits in, like the hay for the animals, the food and water bins, and nests for the drake and gryphon. I'd put in a couple of hay bales in the hay bin, but hadn't yet put in the number I wanted. But once again, it gave the impression that I wanted it to.

The tour of the stables started in Zhadowsee's Neriak house. When he logged in, I demanded that he head directly to the house. There, I'd left a book under three roses. Roses are a thing with Jazabelle--stereotypical, I know, but I personally adore roses, and when roleplay took Jazabelle in that direction, I ran with it. I'm the one playing her, after all.

Click it to read it.
So Zhadowsee found a note in his house. In my head, I'd constructed a story for the appearance of the stables and the mount, and I wanted to share it with Zhadowsee. My idea at first had been that I'd do all of this the night before his birthday, and he'd wake up and log in to find himself standing on the note and flowers. That didn't happen--I fell asleep at the computer while planning what I was going to do. But I liked the idea of the note and flowers.

The idea then changed that he'd get home from work, log in, and find the note and flowers. That didn't happen either. But I really wanted that note and those flowers in there! So when he logged in in the evening after doing his AFK things, I'd set down the note and flowers, tweaking the story I was telling him just a tad to fit the series of events better.

The warg's stall. Z dropped this one himself.
It's not really a long scene, and I didn't even need to be there for it. But sometimes it's fun to see what people do when they look at what you've built. So I followed him through the doors and watched him wander around. He had a fun time avoiding the stall with the drake--at the time, the drake's stall was the only stall with an open door, so it was pretty easy to tell which stall was the focus. He stopped at the stall beside the drake's, and pretended that it was the one he was supposed to be looking at. He really is very silly.

But eventually he did walk over to Compass' stall, and we hung out and chatted for a bit. He was happy with what I'd done for him, and had some story ideas already for the space. He seemed especially pleased by the fact that he could fill it with whatever mounts he chose, and that I could easily extend the space by several more stalls if he wanted.

Yep, I really did put muck in the muck cart.
After he went to bed, I did another two phases of decorating. I added another pair of stalls (mostly to test how easy it actually would be to do--quite easy, as it turns out) and fleshed out the details in the rest of the stable. Muck in the muck cart, for example!

The rail stops were also added in at this point, as were the hitching rings for the halters.

We don't have a large selection of rope, so I wound up using the Othmir Hanging Lamp in order to have some sort of rope hanging from the hitching rings.

Hitching rings with rope hanging, waiting to be tied onto a halter or bridle.

Someone needs to clean this horse's stall.

Finally, right before I went to bed, I popped into Zhadowsee's Neriak house and built a connecting door to the stable. Then I moved the note and roses to the step in front of the stable door, and crashed in bed.

The door to the stable. Don't bring mounts into the house!
I'll probably continue to add details as I think of them, and tweak things until they make me happy. Right now, I'm going to go and fix some of the ropes so that they hang better.

Over all, the stables took me under eight hours of decorating to complete, and most of that time was spent crafting items. The decorating itself went incredibly fast. This is, to date, my fastest project ever. Details will change as I think of them, but for now it's good!

If you'd like to see any updated or added screenshots, or any screenshots that I didn't post in this blog, please click here. This will take you to my Facebook album, which has all of the images.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tinkered Building Blocks on Test!

I woke up to a rather awesome Facebook wall post this morning from Niami Denmother informing me that our dream of tinkered building blocks is true!

That's right, tinkered building blocks in impacted metal and rhodium plating are coming with Tinkerfest. Metal building blocks that don't have to be purchased with SC, and can be used in guild halls! Pardon me, I feel the urge to dance around the house.

Read Niami's (very brief) preview on EQ2 Traders Corner. She includes a screenshot of a few of the pieces.

She's hoping to have the full Tinkerfest write-up up by next week (but we won't begrudge her the time if it takes her longer, considering how helpful and fun all of her write-ups always are!).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How To: Create Spiral Staircases

(Updated June 23, 2012 for use with layout editor version

This tutorial is for use with version of the layout editor. If you don't have this version, I highly suggest you download it now. Because this tutorial was written before, some of the details on the screenshots may be different than the windows you see. However, the important parts of the windows are the same (the parts boxed in red), so I have not updated the screenshots. If that ever changes, I will update the screenshots to match the most current editor.

I also suggest reading the How To: Use The Diff Button tutorial before continuing further. This tutorial was written with the assumption that you have read and understand the Diff Button as explained by Jazabelle (that would be me).

So, you want to create a staircase. Not just any staircase, but a spiral staircase! You've heard that one of the features of the layout editor can do it for you, (almost) no math required. But no matter how hard you try, you can't quite figure out what all the different boxes on the different tools mean.

That's where this tutorial comes in. And just to make sure you fully understand how this works, there's also a video at the end of this post, showing building staircases in action!

Don't be intimidated by this tutorial's length. The Circle or Spiral tool is a complex, versatile tool. However, once you get the hang of it, it's actually very easy to use.

Our first step is going to be to put all if the items we want to use to build our stairs into the moving crate. That's right, you don't want to have the items out in the house. You want them in the moving crate. In our case, we're going to be making stairs out of "black marble half block"s.

In game, once the items are in the moving crate, we're going to click our WITH macro.

Next, we'll open up the layout editor.

As always, make sure that the UID column is visible on the right-hand side of the layout editor window.

Go to File -> Open, and open your WITH layout.

Once your WITH layout is open, go to Tools -> Create Objects -> Circle or Spiral.

At this point, a very scary window should pop up. There are empty boxes waiting for your input everywhere! But don't worry. We'll go through and demystify this window one row at a time.

The first two lines go together. The Create new group check box tells the layout editor one of two things.

  1. If the box is checked, the layout editor knows to make a new group in the groups tab. The new group will be named whatever you type into the Group Name box.
  2. If the box is unchecked, the layout editor knows to arrange the items in the Main tab. It will not create a group, but will instead put the items directly into the main tab, to be saved as part of master layout file. The Group Name line will be grayed out if the box is unchecked.

I prefer to work in groups, so I tend to leave the Create new group box checked.

You can name the group whatever you wish. Something descriptive is usually a good idea. For this tutorial, I'm just going to leave it as the default name of "New," but usually I would name it something like "Spiral staircase."

Next is the Select the 2D plane box. This one has three scary options--XY Plane, XZ Plane, and YZ Plane. Luckily, Jesdyr has been kind enough to include (floor), (East/West), and (North/South).

XY Plane (floor) means your circle will be on the floor. Another way to think of this is that if you were standing on the floor, the circle would surround you.

XZ Plane (East/West) means that the circle will be on either the East or West wall of a house. This would be good if you were building a clock, for example, and wanted it on either the East or West wall.

YZ Plane (North/South) means that the circle will be on either the North or South wall of a house. Using the clock example from before, the clock would either be on the North or South wall, depending on what other information you put into the layout editor.

Because we're doing a spiral staircase, we're going to leave the editor on its default setting--XY Plane (floor).

The next line contains three boxes. Center Point is the center of your circle. It is the point around which the layout editor will align your items.

If I am standing in the middle of the circle, my /loc is the Center Point. The easiest way to find your Center Point is to stand about where you want the center of your circle (or spiral staircase, in this case) and type /loc in game. The first number is your X value. The second number is your Z value. The third number is your Y value.

I am standing at the Center Point.

In this case, we're going to use the /loc of 20.5, -7, -121.5.

Number of Steps makes sense in this case--it's the number of items that you want to use to make your steps. We want a spiral staircase with 10 steps, so I've input the number 10 in the Number of Steps box.

IMPORTANT! Make sure that the Number of Steps does not exceed the number of items you're planning to use and have in the moving crate! If you make the number larger than the number of items in the moving crate, the game will randomly use items of that type that are already out in the house. For example, you built a spiral staircase out of Black Marble Half Blocks. You want to build a second staircase out of Black Marble Half Blocks. If you have 10 blocks in the crate, and set your Number of Steps to 11, the game will pull a block from the staircase you'd already built. This can be a pain in the rear to fix.

total angle is how much of a circle I want my staircase to be. If I wanted a curving staircase in a half circle, I'd put 180 in the box (half of 360). A spiral staircase that winds around twice would have a total angle of 720 (360 * 2). In this case, I just want the spiral staircase to go around once, so I'll put in a total angle of 360.

A positive angle in the total angle box will create a staircase that goes up counterclockwise. That means if I run up a staircase made with a total angle of 360 degrees, I will wind up running counterclockwise.

negative angle in the total angle box will create a staircase that goes up clockwiseIf I run up a staircase made with a total angle of -360 degrees, I will wind up running clockwise.

Quick and dirty example of a 360 degree total angle.
Spirals counterclockwise.

Quick and dirty example of a -360 degree total angle.
Spirals clockwise.

The next box causes no end of confusion for some people. The Start Angle is where the first item in your spiral starts at. The most confusing aspect of this is that there is a typo. The layout editor tells us that if we leave the Start Angle box with an angle of 0, the first item will start to the North of our center point. This is untrue. A 0 angle actually starts us to the West of our center point. As of layout editor, this typo has been fixed. It now correctly displays W = 0. 

West = 0
South West = 45
South = 90
South East = 135
East = 180
North East = 225 or -135
North = 270 or -90
North West = 315 or -45

For the purposes of this tutorial, we're going to set the Start Angle at -90, so that our staircase actually does start to the North of our center point. It will spiral counterclockwise since we have a positive angle in total angle.

This is a screenshot of layout editor version
In layout editor version, "N = 0" has been replaced.
It now correctly shows "W = 0."

Now we come to our Radius. This is how far each item is from the center point. Remember that an item's location is determined by the point it rotates around. So an item like a half block of marble (the item I'm using for this tutorial) has its rotation point on the bottom of the block, in the middle. An item like a painting usually has its rotation point on the back of the painting, near the top. This spot is different for almost every item type, so you may have to play around with numbers until you figure out the distance that's good for you.

Keep in mind that one unit is equal to the length of a normal crafted tile set to scale 0.5. So if you set your Radius to 1, the distance from the center point of your spiral to the center point of your item will be 1 unit. The edge of the item won't be 1 unit away. The point it rotates around will be 1 unit away. For the purpose of this tutorial, we'll set our Radius to 2 units.

Just like total angle, if you choose to make this number negative, the layout editor will create the circle in the opposite direction from default. Default is to build counterclockwise. Putting in a negative Radius will cause it to build clockwise.

Because we're doing a spiral staircase, the next box is very important. The Z increase is how high we want our spiral to go.

There are two ways we can do this.

The first is to put in a total Z increase. This is the default setting for the circle and spiral tool. That means that if we put in a number (10, for example), the layout editor would take our original Z and add 10 to it. In this case, that would put it at 3. Then the layout editor would space your items evenly from -7 (our original Z) to 3. It doesn't matter how many items we had, the layout editor would evenly space them between those 10 units.

If we had two items, the layout editor would space them evenly between -7 and 3. The distance between the two items would be large, but the layout editor would do it.

If we told the layout editor to build a spiral with 100 items, the layout editor would still space those 100 items evenly between -7 and 3. In that case, we might wind up with something almost more of a ramp than a staircase. So many items spaced in so small an area would raise only a tiny bit from item to item, in order to fit all 100 items between -7 and 3.

This method is good if we know exactly how tall we want our staircase, but we don't care about how high each step is.

To do this, we would input our number into the Z increase box, and leave the Per Step? check box unchecked. The Per Step? box does not appear until we input a number in the Z increase box, and then navigate to another box.

The second method is to put in a Z increase per step. That means that we put in the height we want each item to be above the item before it. This is my preferred method, since I find that steps of about 0.5 make for a comfortable balance between height and item count.

To do this, set your Z increase to the distance you want between each individual step. Click in one of the other boxes so that the Per Step? box appears, and check the Per Step? check box.

For both methods of using the Z increase box, a negative number will cause the layout editor to build down instead of building up. For example, if I wanted to build from my second floor down to my first, I could instead put in a Z increase of -0.5, and check the Per Step? box.

Radius increase works the same way as Z increase, except instead of telling the editor to move your items up and down, it tells the editor to move your items further away from the center point. In this case, we want a simple spiral staircase, so we're going to leave Radius increase at 0. If we were to change it to a number other than 0, other options would appear. Since we're not doing that, we're not going to concern ourselves with those options.

For a simple spiral staircase, just ignore this option!

Next are the two lines that tell you and the editor which items to use.

Item Name does not matter. I repeat, it does not matter. You can put anything you want right here. You can copy the name of the item as it appears in game. You can put in a descriptive name, like "spiral staircase steps." You could call it George. It does not matter. This is just for your benefit, so that you know what goes here. The game doesn't care, and neither does the layout editor. I've put blocks as an easy, descriptive name letting me know what item I used as my steps.

Item ID is the important line. The easiest way to find out the Item ID of the items you want to use is to go to the Crate tab of the layout editor. Find the items you want to use. Look at the left hand column. That column is the Item ID column. If you copy that number, you can then paste it into the Create Object - Circles and Spirals window.

The next box tells the layout editor whether to use the UIDs of items from the crate, or to just create "fake" UIDs. I tend to always make sure this is checked, since I always make sure the items I'm using for my stairs are in the moving crate already. This way, the game won't steal other items from around my house when I load the layout.

The last several boxes are very similar to normal layout editing. Item Start rotations are just to inform the layout editor whether you want your items pitched (X), rotated (Z), or rolled (Y) from their default locations when placed in game.

If you look back up at the images that show the quick and dirty spiral staircases I did to demonstrate spiraling clockwise and counterclockwise, you'll notice that my blocks have created stairs that are longer than they are wide. Traditional stairs are wider than they are long. With that in mind, I know that I need to have all of my stairs rotated 90 degrees more than they are now.

Instead of doing that manually, I can tell the spiral tool to do it for me. I just have to change the Z (rotate) number to 90.

I also felt that my steps were a little bit small, so I'll change my Item Scale from 1 to 2. This is the size of your item. For most items, this number can be anywhere from 0.5 - 3. Floor tiles usually go from 0.5 - 6. Some items, like building blocks, go from 0.5 - 12. A very few items go as small as 0.3. A few may even go as small as 0.1, but I'm not positive. For the most part though, chances are your items can scale from 0.5 - 3.

These four boxes are the boxes you'll most likely have to play with a bit to get your items to do what you want. Experimentation is key here, and don't get frustrated that the staircase doesn't do what you want the first time you try. I've been using this tool to build spiral staircases for as long as Jesdyr has had it in the layout editor, and I still need to play around with numbers a little bit to get the stairs I want.

And with all that said, we can now click Create!


If we've done everything properly, our layout editor should have something that looks sort of like this:

If it does, then we can go ahead and hit the Save Group button, then hit our LOAD WORKING macro in game.

And then we should finally have a spiral staircase in game!

Oh thank goodness. I'm so happy it's done!

Here's a video of building a spiral staircase, just in case the picture tutorial didn't quite convey how to do it.