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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sometimes you just have to vent...

This isn't about housing. This is about roleplay. It isn't a nice piece about roleplay, either. If you don't care about roleplay, don't read further. If you don't want to hear me rant about a situation that happened to me, skip this post.

I've purposely left off names, including the name of the establishment. If you do figure out who and where I'm talking about, leave them alone. While I appreciate that you guys are protective of me, it's not necessary. I'm choosing to let this go. I just need to vent.

For the most part, I spend my time decorating. If I'm not decorating, I'm roleplaying. In general, I have fun roleplaying. I get to put on a persona and pretend to be something I'm not, while other people do the same.

Other times, roleplay isn't so fun. That happens most often when people take in character action for what they perceive as an out of character slight.

It all began when I decided to attend a venue with a name that can be taken as either innocent, descriptive, or naughty. If we were talking about a restaurant, I'd think of a family style barbecue restaurant reminiscent of a summertime barbecue in the yard. But a bar? Like it or not, a bar is more likely to call to mind sexual innuendo. It's something to do with alcohol and how it loosens inhibitions.

I invited a guildmate to come along. Rosaphina was eager to go, as she's still setting up her persona. She's a stuck-up Koada'Dal, and not afraid to show it. We entered the home and went upstairs to the bar, where we ordered drinks.

We had a little bit of private conversation about the bartender's mustache. Jazabelle thought it was to attract human females--perhaps more hair convinced them that the male was more virile? Rosaphina agreed that it was a possibility. Simple, silly banter between co-workers.

The trouble started when Rosaphina referenced that conversation in /say. She informed Jazabelle that their suppositions appeared true. Jazabelle pointed out that there were no human females present. Rosaphina shot back that not all whorehouses only have humans.

The proprietress corrected Rosaphina. The establishment is just a bar, not a whorehouse. Jazabelle pointed out that "the name implies a certain degree of sexual promiscuity on the premises, but perhaps that was unintentional." She then added, "A <removed to preserve anonymity of the establishment> may also imply a family style establishment, as in a <removed to preserve anonymity of the establishment>." That was the last Jazabelle spoke on the matter, aside from an inept apology for the incorrect assumption.

Rosaphina said a few more things, mostly explaining why she came to the assumption that there might be a whorehouse associated with the bar. She then apologized. Finished, right?

Not really.

As you see, I talk about Jazabelle in the third person when I talk about roleplay. Why? Because I am not the one making these assumptions. I knew very well that the establishment was just a bar, even though the name called to mind something naughty. Jazabelle isn't good at interacting with others. You might even say she's socially inept. She's learning, and it's been a learning process over the last few years of roleplaying her. But one thing she's not shy about is discussing mating habits of various intelligent species. She isn't a sexual creature, and finds the mating rituals of others worth study. She doesn't understand why they do it, and she wants to understand. Plus it gives me a reason to take a socially inept character to a bar. What better place to watch intelligent species engage in mating rituals?

I chose to go this route with her because it allows me to be funny while appearing to be completely serious. Jazabelle rarely jokes. For the most part, she's very serious. She takes everything seriously, and says some of the weirdest or dumbest things completely seriously. Deadpan is my preferred form of comic relief.

But that didn't happen here. She wasn't the one who said it was a whorehouse, although that's what it came off sounding like when Rosaphina spoke up about their private conversation. In fact, Jazabelle was the one who pointed out that the phrase used as the name can refer to something completely innocent.

Jazabelle dismissed the conversation after her own inept apology. She and Rosaphina moved on to discussing a "situation" at the office.

Rosaphina is--as I said--a stuck-up Koada'Dal. She's sharing office space with a bumbling, lewd, crude human pirate named Jadirah. Jadirah has a gas problem. Jadirah also has a potty mouth. Rosaphina took the time to complain about sharing an office with her.

Jazabelle pointed out that Jadirah is a filing clerk, and needs to be near the secretary to do her work effectively. She also pointed out that Jadirah is an investment--she's an inventor, and her inventions (when they're not exploding) bring the company good money. They also more than pay for the desks and chairs she routinely destroys.

Of course, not all of this was said. This is guild roleplay that was alluded to while we were talking.

Rosaphina and Jazabelle have a less-than-amiable relationship. Rosaphina hides it well, but she hates her employer in the same measure that she enjoys working with her. Working for Jazabelle allows Rosaphina to exercise skills she wouldn't otherwise be able to exercise. But she resents having to work in the first place.

Jazabelle was very firm in explaining to Rosaphina that she should simply give detailed instructions to Jadirah, and that office assignments would not switch, because that office was the best place for Jadirah.

Then things finally went bad.

See, the conversation earlier apparently upset the proprietress. She was roleplaying about being angry. Jazabelle ignored her, figuring the apologies had been enough. You can't help the assumptions you make, and it's not like they tried to hire whores or anything--not that either character would be interested in that. Jazabelle is not a sexual creature, as I said before, and Rosaphina is a prude. Besides, I assumed her anger was completely in character. Which it might have been, but there are just certain lines you don't cross if you're trying to run a venue.

But then one of the other customers said, "This hussy next to me seems rather mouthy, am I allowed to slap people?"

To be honest, I was extremely confused. I scrolled up and reread all of the nearby chat, wondering what I'd missed. Proprietress being angry? Nope, that can't be the mouthy hussy. Men talking. Probably not the mouthy hussy. Another woman saying the words "dirty wench?" No, that probably wasn't it. Maybe she was talking about Rosaphina, who was mouthing off to her boss about Jadirah? I sat back to see what would happen.

And then the proprietress crossed that line, and told the customer that she was free to slap people. So the customer "/e eats a few dragonflies and slaps Jazabelle across the face hard." Then said, "Quit treatin your client like crap heffer!"

I sat there in shock. First, when you take action against another character, it's generally polite to /e attempts to slap so-and-so. It's considered minor "god modding" to not give someone a chance to counter your action. Second, Jazabelle wasn't speaking to a client. Third, while Jazabelle was firm, she was polite to Rosaphina. Fourth, the proprietress encouraged the customer to take action against another customer.

So I chose to have Jazabelle "evade" the slap and inform the other customer that it was none of her business. Jazabelle wasn't talking to a client.

The customer compounded her rudeness by telling Rosaphina that "You are one of her little city whores, Rosa!" At the time, I had absolutely no idea where any of this came from.

I'm a firm believer in keeping in character issues in character, and not letting it affect out of character. I can easily roleplay an angry person when I'm happy, or roleplay a happy person with someone I detest. I try to avoid the second situation if I can, but I can do it. This however, felt like the proprietress and her friends were ganging up on me, both in character and out.

Not only did the proprietress give the customer permission to act out violence upon my character, but the bartender encouraged it, and took the customer's side when I spoke to Rosaphina about leaving since the venue apparently allowed violence. We'd been unaware of that when we entered.

I couldn't figure out what I'd done to gain their ire. Sure, Jazabelle bumbled a bit socially. Yes, her employee assumed it was a whorehouse. No, Jazabelle didn't assume it was a whorehouse, but perhaps I didn't make that clear in my roleplay. Jazabelle pointed out that it could be assumed based on the name, but that it could also imply wholesome, family style entertainment.

Then I realized that earlier today, after someone complimented my name in a public, out of character channel, the proprietress brought up the fact that my name is very similar to Jezebel. She further insisted that they have the same root. I pointed out to her that while Jazabelle is similar to Jezebel, that wasn't where my name came from. Several other people jumped to my defense. Eventually, the proprietress claimed to love the name, but to hate the base meaning (despite that I had pointed out that Jazabelle is not Jezebel, although the look is similar). "Belle" is the feminine version of the adjective meaning "beautiful" in French. There were a variety of reasons for me choosing "Jaza" as the prefix to "belle." I didn't go into any of that in the chat with the proprietress. I just left it that Jazabelle was not Jezebel.

The name Jazabelle does not appear on any baby-naming websites (or at least, did not when I chose the name about eight years ago in another game). It is a recent name, and each individual who has the name was given it for different reasons. It does not have the history associated with it that Jezebel does. Fine. The proprietress is welcome to think whatever she wants to about my character's name. That doesn't make what she thinks true. If she refuses to take my word for the fact that my name is not based off of Jezebel and the religious references tied to that name, there isn't anything I can do about it.

From her reaction this evening, I'm beginning to think she took it to be my fault that people defended my name. I exchanged a total of one sentence with her (my explanation about Jazabelle not being Jezebel), and left the conversation to the others. I didn't want her to feel like I was encouraging people to gang up on her by participating, especially since I choose my character's names for me, not for other people. I don't care if she thinks it's similar to Jezebel, just don't imply that I am similar to Jezebel.

Then of course, there is the fact that a few days ago, the proprietress advertised a clothing-optional event in a hot tub. I've since been told that that event may have caused quite a few people to accuse the proprietress of running a whorehouse. I wasn't aware of this when I went to the event, nor was Rosaphina. I found out about it later. They may have thought that Rosaphina was using in character as a chance to slander them. If that's the case, why did they attack me?

The proprietress even asked someone to "bounce" me, when I hadn't done a thing to anyone, and had in fact been the recipient of violence at her encouragement. I chose to leave the bar, rather than deal with people ganging up on me. I felt it was the mature thing to do. As I was leaving, she encouraged the customer who'd attempted to /slap my character to stay.

I'm told that once I left, the customer who tried to slap Jazabelle (and would have slapped her, had I not taken offense at the god modding) bragged about "running the hussy off."

It's no wonder that I tend to only roleplay with my friends, unless dragged out to bars. One of the rare times I decide to attend a bar of my own volition, the lack of maturity sends me right back to my houses.

I won't be attending that establishment again. I choose not to interact with any of the individuals who participated in encouraging someone to treat my character poorly.

Am I allowing in character actions to color out of character actions? Yes. In this case, when it appears that out of character actions were allowed to color their in character actions, I choose to end any association with these people. My play time is too valuable to be spent letting other people act nasty to me or my character (without my agreement and permission).

I have had raging in character fights with people, while happily discussing other things out of character. The difference between those situations and this one is that in those cases, warning and permission were given out of character before anything occurred. This was not like that.

Perhaps Rosaphina's player said it best. "This person is running a public venue, and chose to treat someone like shit based on their own OOC perceptions of that person. Even when I was tending my own venue, I tried to treat everyone with respect, even those who upset me. The venue is there for the public, not for the proprietor to wank over RPing with their approved circle."

This is exactly why I will not be attending this event again, and why I will not be interacting with those individuals again. If they choose to use the venue to stroke their own egos, I will choose to attend other venues where I do not have to deal with that level of immaturity.

All right, I'm done venting. Back to your regularly scheduled book and house discussions!

Iosabella's Apartment -- Collaboration

In early March, Hopsalong posted an awesome apartment on the Leaderboards. She didn't advertise it much, but she did mention it to me in guild.

Morive's Ruby Sunset Apartment by Hopsalong.
I visited, and immediately demanded that the only other person on my friend's list who was online at the time come see. So Iosabella popped into the apartment with me, and we wandered around, praising the house to each other.

Then Iosabella said, "I could so see Iosabella living here. Maybe not in these colors, but I can see it. Blue, I think. Neriak marble."

So I said to Hopsalong, "My friend really likes your apartment. Would you be willing to let me build an apartment for her, inspired by yours? I would give you credit, of course."

To which Hopsalong replied, "Do you want me to send you the layout?"

I said yes. I figured that since Iosabella just wanted the apartment but in blue, having the layout would make this a 1-2 day job. Have Iosabella gather the materials, replace the red marble with blue in the layout, and load.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. While the blue was pretty, it was even darker than the red apartment. A "Sapphire Apartment" sounded neat, but the Neriak marble just didn't work. The two of us looked around. We tapped our fingers and chewed on our lips as we tried material after material for the ceiling, walls, and floor. At this point, I was doing most of the work, with Iosa giving her opinion. She didn't have much experience with housing, and had no experience with the layout editor at all.

Iosabella's Apartment.
Finally, after several days of testing out materials, we decided on the default wood for the wainscoting (just like Hops) and ceiling (not like Hops) in the living room, and the various Drunder tiles as wallpaper throughout. I wound up completely redoing the walls, since Hopsalong had used various scaled tiles to do the walls in the Ruby Sunset, which wouldn't work with the Drunder tiles. The Drunder tiles all had to be the same scale.

I set up the walls in the living room, the stained glass windows in all of the windows, and some of the walls in the kitchen/dining room/bedroom/bathroom. I set up the bathtub in the bathroom, based on Hopsalong's, but with a few tweaks of my own. Then I stopped working on the apartment. I had other projects to do, and because I was doing this "for fun," it wasn't high on my priority list. Iosabella had said that whenever I got it done would be fine with her, since she wasn't expecting it at all. This was my gift to her.

View from the door to the left of Iosabella's apartment.
Of course, she turned around and bought me something off of the Marketplace as a "thank you," so it was sort of a commission, too...

After a while, Iosabella started working on another house of hers. She asked me for some lessons in the layout editor, and I taught her how to panel with tiles. She picked it up quick. A few lessons involving tricks of the trade, and she was tiling floors and walls like a pro. She already has a good eye for arranging furniture.

Art nook and door in Iosabella's Apartment.
Once she'd spent some time on this other house, she came back to the Apartment. She looked around. I'd done barely any work in a month. She asked me if I'd be offended if she moved some things around, since she didn't want to mess up what I'd done. I pointed out that it's her apartment, and she's free to do what she wants with it. If this were a commission, I might be upset that she was touching things when I wasn't done. But this was "just" a house for a friend. So she started moving things around. She looked at how I'd tiled the walls in the living room. She went into the kitchen, with its mostly bare walls. She went back to the living room. She asked me where the Drunder tiles come from. I explained the quest to her. She logged on a level 90 crafter and ran the DoV crafting quests so that she could craft the tiles. She churned out the tiles I'd need for the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom, and stuck them in the crate.

Iosabella's kitchen, done by Iosabella. Based on Morive's Apartment.
Then she waited a week.

I didn't do anything.

She waited a few more days.

I didn't do anything.

She went into the kitchen and dining room, and tried to tile them herself. She succeeded. So she went to the bathroom and the bedroom, and did those, too. Then she looked at the half-done kitchen counters, and tried her hand at those. She asked me for advice on counters and colors. She tried out my suggestions and liked them. I came to take a look, and was impressed by what she'd done. I was also a little ashamed, because I'd neglected to continue working on her home. She waved it off, but I insisted on putting in some crown molding in the kitchen and dining room area, to make it look more "finished."

Iosabella's version of Norrathian recessed lighting.
She asked for my help on the ceiling over the window in the kitchen. I tried a few things, but couldn't come up with something we liked. I took a break on it, and went to work on another project. A day later, I received a tell. "I figured it out! I put up a recessed ceiling, and it looks nice! And oooooh, I came up with some really cool recessed lighting! I'm so excited!"

I immediately popped over to take a look. Yep, she'd come up with some really cool recessed lighting. Not only that, but it only took two items per light! You can't beat that for custom built lights. I'm definitely stealing the lighting if I ever need recessed lighting.

I tweaked the wainscoting to match her current ceiling configuration, and helped her fix a few alignment errors. I moved the doors into their door frames for her. She was having trouble with the dining area in the kitchen. The space is small, which makes it difficult to have a dining area and still have space to move around easily. I suggested a dining nook, since that can be shoved into a corner. Plus it's custom built, so roleplayers can sit at the table and roleplay.

Don't mind the angry Iosa on the couch. I asked her to pose!
We decided on a dining nook based on my Tudor Farmhouse's nook, but with leather stitched cushions insead of damask. It came out rather nice, I think.

Then I wandered off to work on my own projects and commissions.

She went to the bathroom and started working on that. She took the tub that I'd modified from Hopsalong, and modified it further. I came to take a look. I loved it. I made a suggestion or two, and helped her to align a few items better, then left her at it again.

Iosabella's tub.
The rest of it is all Iosa. She did the bedroom, and put in the little pieces of furniture. She arranged the knicknacks in the kitchen, and several of the items on the shelves. She's the one who looked around and said, "Yes, my home is finally complete!"

Congratulations, Iosabella, on a home well done. Based on Hopsalong's design it might have been, but you've turned it into your own space. Bravo!

Another view of the bathroom.

Iosa came up with the taps and the drain. I'm definitely stealing those.

What home is complete without a bedroom?
Especially one that has girlish stars pasted on the ceiling!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Remodeling Homes and Tomes

On June 3rd, I received a text from a friend that she'd gotten sucked into decorating. On its own, that's not a bad thing. She always swears she doesn't decorate, while I take great delight in proving her wrong. Unfortunately, she sent me the text at 8 AM on a Sunday morning! Now, I don't know about anyone else, but some Sundays, I like to sleep in late. 9 or 10 AM doesn't sound too bad. I also can't operate at anything higher than zombie mode if I don't get at least 8 hours of sleep.

Those are the worst words a carpenter can hear from a friend.
This particular Sunday morning, I'd had 6 hours of sleep. You'd think I'd text back with, "That's nice," and roll over to sleep another two hours. Unfortunately for me, she said the magic words.

I can't stand the thought of friends buying carpenter items off the broker, when I can save them platinum by crafting the items myself. So I found myself shooting out of bed and scrabbling to turn on the computer as fast as I could. I logged in and rushed over to her guild hall.

She and her guild leader were building offices for the officers. Mostly my job consisted of standing around, dispensing advice when asked. I stole control for a moment or two to fix a few things that were bugging me (I like to say I don't have OCD, but I do have OCD tendencies...). After about three hours, they had most of the three offices set up, and I was incredibly hungry.

I was also jealous.

You see, shortly before building blocks were announced--and by shortly, I mean probably about two days before--I started to build offices in Homes and Tomes. At that point, I had my choice of tiles or dividers to work with. I prefer tiles, because they're more versatile. However, they're also very item intensive. I'd started to build our offices, but then building blocks were announced. I stopped. And the guild hall sat there with a torn up room and half built offices for months. And months. And months. My guildies grew tired of the half-finished, torn up section of the hall, but I persisted in leaving it undone.

Then building blocks came out.

And the guild hall sat there unfinished for more months. In this case, I had an excuse (or ten!). I was working on the Cathedral. But after the Cathedral was finished, why didn't I start on the hall? Well, then I had a library to tear up and redo! But shortly after the library's structure was finished (and long before the library's books were shelved), I received that 8 AM text.

My jealousy grew. Those offices looked good. They looked nice. They looked classy. And to be honest, I'd always envisioned the Homes and Tomes guild hall as the corporate headquarters of a company by that name. In fact, that's what I roleplay. Jazabelle owns a company called Homes and Tomes. They specialize in construction and interior design, although they have their fingers in a lot of different pies. So why did I put dorms into the original Homes and Tomes hall? I have no idea. But I did, and when I tore them out, I had a mostly-empty room with the shells of offices.

So I saw what offices built out of building blocks could look like. And I saw how little item count they took, as opposed to my tile-wall offices. By the time I'd finished making myself brunch, I was determined to finish the offices.

The offices on June 4th, a little over 24 hours after I tore up the old offices.
I packed up the old offices and sat down to churn out a bunch of dividers. I started with ten. Then I used those up, and made ten more. I used those up. I made another ten. This went on for a while as I built the structure and played with the layout, trying to figure out the best balance of office space and waiting room.

Luckily, before I could go insane crafting, Poine heard that I'd started a new project, and asked me if she could help with the crafting. She loves crafting. While I don't mind crafting, I hate hate hate repeatedly crafting the same object a hundred times. I happily foisted my crafting off onto her, while I went back to wrestling with my dividers.

I went through several different layouts. At one point, there wasn't a big open area, it was a hall lined with doors. At another point, the area where the stairs are were also offices. But eventually I decided on four small offices (two upstairs, two down), one big office, and a consultation room. I wanted my guildmates to be able to roleplay taking on a job with someone if they wanted to. The offices felt too small for that. A larger consultation room would take care of that. Anyone could use it, and it was large enough that a couple of characters sitting around in there wouldn't feel cramped.

The screenshot shows two signs per door. When I logged out June 3rd, there were actually three signs per door, and the signs were the much-less-rare Qeynos sign. Unfortunately, even at three to an office, when I woke up June 4th, I realized that I'd forgotten some people. We're a small guild, but even we have more than 12 active members. They're almost never on all at once, but they do exist!

Luckily, by the time I logged in on the 4th, Cheribomb, Degaahr, and Thumador were online. They loved the idea of the offices, and were enthusiastic in offering their help. It was at that point that I realized why I love decorating a guild hall for decorators. I didn't have to craft the items!

Degaahr is the one responsible for the partitions in the offices. I'd left them empty, and Degaahr looked around. For those that don't know, Degaahr is played by Hopsalong. She told me, "Degaahr likes his privacy," and immediately dropped a woodworking table in the office. She crafted up a divider and plunked it down in the middle of the room that I'd assigned her to share with Cheribomb.

I liked the idea of the divider, but the three to an office would have been too crowded.

After some consideration, we decided the best bet would be to tear up the crafting room and have offices over there as well. That way, it wouldn't be quite so crowded, and the office theme would carry throughout the hall.

I quickly set my guildmates to the task of crafting the various items I'd need to turn the crafting room into office space. Then I bemoaned my lack of eucalyptus. If I had more eucalyptus, I griped, I could make Neriak signs for the signs by the doors. They would look so much better than the Qeynos ones!

Before I could complain any more, my guildmates flooded me with eucalyptus and Neriak signs. The same thing happened when I realized I was out of Neriak doors, and when I realized I needed more black marble. I always forget that decorating a guild hall doesn't have to be a solo task. My guildmates reminded me of that quite handily! It doesn't matter that I was the one doing the majority of the decorating. They were perfectly happy to help in whatever way they could.

East wing from near the door, with a view of the offices.
Once they'd made everything I'd need to turn the other wing of the hall into more offices, I ...went afk. Yep, I had life to attend to. When I came back much later in the day, I went on to wrestle with the offices in the East wing.

Maebyte and Froggen had logged in while I was offline. Cheribomb, Degaahr, and Thumador all made repeat appearances.

I decided to keep the crafting table. Mostly, that was because when I brought up getting rid of it, the universal response was "Nooooooooooooooooooo!" Even when I informed them that I'd be keeping the crafting function on whatever else I built, I was told that the crafting table was preferred. So I left it alone, and packed up the room around it. Then I put up the offices.

East wing from the back, over by the offices.
The original plan was to mirror the other side exactly. However, there were two problems with that. One, when I mirrored it, there were some glitches due to the fact that the guild hall isn't centered at 0,0, and I acted like it was. (It's actually off by approximately 0.237. Yes, I really did figure out how far it's off by three decimal places. Sometimes those OCD tendencies really shine through.) The second problem was that it just felt cramped having the balcony when the crafting table was there. So I modified the rooms. Instead of four small rooms and two big ones, the East wing has three small rooms. These rooms make up for being in the less pretty section of the hall by having taller ceilings. That was a special request by Cheribomb. She mentioned wanting to build a window in her office.

Lazy NPCs taking a break at the table at the end of the hall in the East wing.
When the new offices and new signs were completed, I erased all room assignments (except my own. No one is allowed to take my office! Well, and the person who RPs a filing clerk, and the other person who RPs as Jazabelle's secretary. They have offices near Jazabelle's.) and informed the guildies that it was first come, first served. Everyone could pick their own offices, but the sooner they picked them, the more likely it was that they'd get the office they wanted.

There was a lot of running around while people tried to choose where they wanted to "bunk." Eventually, it was settled. There are still a couple of people who haven't gotten offices yet, but the majority have theirs.

Degaahr's office. AKA Hopsalong.
Degaahr was one of the first to choose an office. It's definitely creepy, but probably only because I've visited the Ghastly Druid's Den, and so know a little bit of the story behind Degahr/Degaahr.

Degaahr also has some awesome books up on those bookshelves. The books on the desk are all lists of the houses Hopsalong has built over the years. If you've ever wanted to see everything by her, now you can find all the addresses in one location!

Froggen's cool pad.
Maebyte and Froggen chose to share an office. I'm not surprised, as they're good friends, and came from Everfrost to Antonia Bayle together.

Froggen went with a green, swampy theme. Yes, the fan works!

Maebyte's office isn't shown, because she's not done yet. But her office is being done up in reds, and is very elegant (if a bit run down. Also, that coffin is creepy, Maebyte...). The contrast between the green swampy office, and the red elegant but cobwebby office is perfect!

We like to joke that I collect decorators. Gracey created Skitle. Casiphia came from Guk. Twinklin and Cheribomb (who is also known as Dawnstrike on the forums) came to Antonia Bayle to join our decorating community. Blazewolf came from Permafrost. Froggen, Maebyte, Thumador, and Sentheles came from Everfrost (and there are a few more from Everfrost who are inactive at the moment). Pizazz's mains are in another guild, but I stole the second-most important alt--the grotto and cityfest alt! I even have Afista, Aurelis (although she's stopped playing) and Jesdyr alts. And a lot of the people from other servers brought friends!
Ayemia to the left, Veiylin to the right.
Pizazz's alt Ayemia's office flew together fairly quickly. Then he showed the office to Hisvet. Hisvet liked the offices so much, that the guild gained another member. (That, and I collect decorators, remember?) Welcome, Veiylin!

Veiylin and Ayemia have matching offices. It looks to me like Veiylin is Ayemia's secretary, but what do I know?

Veiylin's office is nice and toasty thanks to this custom built fireplace.
Veilyn has an adorable, tongue-in-cheek decorating advice book written by Hisvet on her desk, while Ayemia has a much more serious (and vastly more informative, sorry Hisvet!) book on decorating by Pizazz. Pizazz's book also includes a list of the homes he's decorated.

It's amazing how large their offices feel, considering the space constraints.

Oh yes, and all of this was done with under 20 items per office!

Where's the cheese? Don't touch the gold! DON'T TOUCH THE CHEESE!
Skitle was one of the first people to join the guild. She's the Antonia Bayle alt of Gracey from Crushbone. She and Rakuno were instrumental in helping me get the guild going in the early days. As one of "the originals," she had a bedroom. Displayed there was the first gold Skitle ever earned.

When she heard I was redoing the guild hall (months and months and months ago) and turning the dorm rooms into offices, Gracey requested that her gold be hung on the wall of her office. Gracey, I did as you requested, and put the gold above your desk! All of the items in the room (except the pillows, I donated those) are the original items that Skitle had in her dorm room. Can you find the cheese?

Sentheles' first completed project!
The last of the small offices that have been completed is Sentheles'. He's very new to decorating (in fact, this office marks his first completed project. Go Sentheles!) but already has a good eye. His place is cozy and put together nicely.

We introduced him to the wonders of and, and he spent quite a while browsing the sites looking for the perfect furniture. Unfortunately, he dislocated his wrist partway through, and then his desk fell apart (in real life). Despite the setbacks, he managed to put together his office. Now that's dedication.

The bookshelf in the back will be filled with books as he writes them. I can't wait! Especially since he's promised me copies for the Library...

Personalized office desk.
Alas, I couldn't buy one of the SC executive desks and use that in my office, so I had to build my own.

One of the perks of being guild leader is that despite forcing everyone else to try and stay under 15 items for their offices, I got to go overboard. The desk itself used 21 items! I do like how it turned out, but could wish it was a bit fancier. I may see about using player-written books to trim the edges or something.
Do you know why I called you in here? *angry Jaz*

If they ever allow SC items in guild halls, that desk will be the first thing to go.

Even if I do look awesome sitting behind it...

The chairs were custom built specifically so that they could be sat upon without causing the character to float. They're a little large, but not ridiculously so. It's just an oversized armchair! The boss gets all sorts of perks, like the super comfy chairs...

Cow butt on the books. Ugh!
Unfortunately, the boss also has to deal with sassy cows like Jadirah defiling her desk with their posteriors! And no, Jadirah doesn't mind being called a cow. It's a running joke with the guild. Froggen is greeted with "Froak!" when she logs in. Jadirah is greeted with "Moo!"...

At about the time I finished up my office, I realized we were much closer to item cap than I'd anticipated. Then again, I hadn't thought about having to build my own desk when I planned how many items each person would be allotted. Pizazz and I ran through the hall, figuring out this or that minute change to bring down the item count. By the time we were done, we'd freed up nearly 50 slots, and the overall look of the hall hadn't really changed.

Jaz and Pizazz resting after shifting the fireplace up.
Our first step was to raise the fireplace to be in line with the rest of the floor. That freed up about nine items. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to raise the ceiling, to make up for the Grandfather clock/fireplace now being 1.5 units higher.

Then we removed the side table with the cup of cocoa and plate of cookies, and replaced them with a map table. That cut down the items by two, while still maintaining the "in use" feel of the area by the fireplace.

The trim on the wainscoting really makes the room.
After further debate, Pizazz suggested lowering the entire front room. In the original hall, the floor was raised up, and it took three steps to reach it. Lowering the hall down so that it only took one step would cut the item count by nearly fifteen. I lowered the floor, but decided to leave the walls and ceiling where they were, effectively raising the ceiling without ever moving it. As I was lowering the floor, I realized the paineel bookcases had a black trim. Earlier in the week, I'd switched out the plain sumac dividers for tall sumac dividers (as well as switching the pretty-but-useless wantia chairs for the not-quite-as-pretty-but-actually-useful wantia end tables to act as stools). I liked the lip-free look of the tall dividers, but it looked unfinished. I realized that if I tweaked the ceiling a little bit, I could use the black trim of the bookcases to trim the edges of the wainscoting!

Not many tomes in Homes and Tomes...
Finally, the fountain in the West wing had to go. To be honest, the fountain was actually removed much earlier on. The seating in the waiting area had twelve sides, to match the fountain. Without the fountain, there didn't need to be so many seats. I cut it down to eight, freeing up yet another eight slots (four pillows, four blocks to act as the bench under the pillows).

Most of us are taking the offices pretty seriously. We're using the guild hall as a centralized location to post a full list of the various homes we've done, as well as homes under construction. I personally spent a couple of hours this evening hunting down old posts and even older screenshots, figuring out what projects I did, when they were completed, who they were for, what address they were at.... you know what? Let me show you instead.

Pages 1 and 2 of the book of homes I've done that are open for tour.
Each house in this book gets its own page. It goes on for pages like this.
Pages 1 and 2 of the book of homes I've done that no longer exist.
Some of the homes do exist, but the homeowners left the game.
Not only did I hunt up old posts, but I transported the post to this blog, so that if SoE ever takes down the forums, I have a record of what I posted. Then I went through and made tinyurls for each one, so I could stick them in the book. Lastly, I added links to the Facebook albums that contain more images that I usually don't wind up posting in the thread on the forums. Things like work in progress shots, or various angles I decide are too redundant, but that might show off details that the posted shots don't.

The good news is, I'm pretty much done with that. I need to make a couple of Facebook albums, and I need to run around taking screenshots of some of the projects to flesh out their albums, but for the most part I discovered that I've done approximately 25 unique houses (many of them for the same homeowners, but a complete overhaul of the house) and 5 minor remodels. That's not counting the projects I'm currently working on. It does count the projects I've put on hold, though. And here I thought I'd only done four or five houses! My brain is apparently stuck back in 2008.

Yep, we even have a directory.
So come on by to Homes and Tomes' guild hall in New Halas. Poke around the offices and see what's going on! There are still some rooms under construction (Offices B1, 1A, 2B1, and 2C1), but the main hall is complete. We'd love to have you. And just maybe you'll see something you like, or you'll browse the list of homes several of us have posted, and it'll remind you of the good ol' days of decorating.

Oh yeah, and fair warning. We'll be hosting an open house once all of the offices under construction are completed. You're all invited!

To see the screenshots I didn't post here (as well as any screenshots I decide to add in the future), click here. This will take you to the facebook album where the majority of these screenshots are stored.