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.