Level Design in MMORPGs
In most MMORPGs, building new areas involves becoming a staff member of the company that owns the game. Iron Realms sheds the exclusivity of game design, offering equal opportunity to all players! For this article, I sat down with Daphne, an online level designer with several years’ worth of experience. My first question was, what inspired her to apply in the first place?
“I’m really anal about spelling and grammar,” Daphne laughed before adding, “but really, I love to write and wanted to fine-tune my abilities. I’ve met other builders in the game who joined for similar reasons. The first application I submitted was without any proofreading on my part, and they turned me down flat. What a HUGE blow to my ego! My third attempt was much more successful. Iron Realms isn’t kidding about applicants submitting error-free room descriptions.”
Daphne explained that, once selected, text gamers accepted into the building program sign a strict non-disclosure agreement prohibiting them from discussing projects with anyone, even other builders or the Divine! I couldn’t imagine working alone in seclusion, or putting hours into a project without getting any kind of recognition in return.
“Because my character in the game holds membership in many organizations, I actually welcome the seclusion and anonymity building provides. It’s a nice break. I don’t mind collaborating with other builders in the game, but I can work faster alone. And I know all the details about my area, whether it’s a serene landscape or a dank cavern. For instance, a rainbow llama farm east of a highway is likely visible from a hill to the west,” she stopped and chuckled. “That probably sounds crazy outside an RPG environment. Even though a lot of players claim that they don’t even read room descriptions in the text game, I smile when hearing favorable comments about something I wrote. But typos are a different story altogether!”
Just how forgiving are Divine about a builder’s spelling or grammar mistakes? “New builders start as apprentices, and the Divine are both patient and forgiving. I quickly learned the best way to avoid having my work corrected multiple times, was to adopt better writing habits in the first place. It’s made me a better writer in other areas of life outside the game. I feel bad for the Celani who had to pick apart my early work, though. It was pretty terrible compared to current building guidelines.”
Although given permission to talk about being a text game builder, Daphne refrained from sharing certain details. “I’ve done everything from writing basic item descriptions to using an Orb of Creation to build my own, unique area. I’ve worked on sections for places that considered my text game character an enemy, to the village where she’s a citizen. The challenge and variety are awesome, especially since it’s completely in text. I am working on something new,” she admitted with a wink. “But all I’ll say is that it offers equal opportunity for roleplay, hunting, and questing.”
As with guides, mortal builders receive payment for their work in the form of credits, the amount proportional to how complex the project is. “I’d have applied for mortal building even if there was no payment involved,” Daphne reflected. “It’s been an incredible opportunity, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The first time I saw changes I’d made go live in the text game, I felt a little swell of pride. Even though nobody knew it was my work, just knowing that I was able to give something back to a game I love is my biggest addiction...being able to make a genuine, positive impact on the text game itself...that’s the best reward.”
“Like most things, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. If you’re only applying as a way to get credits or hope for recognition, then don’t be surprised if you wind up disappointed or fizzle out of the program. Builders who last are the ones who enjoy building just for the sake of building, regardless of whether they receive payment or acknowledgment for their work or not.”
Many thanks to Daphne and all the mortal builders, mortal and Divine, past and present, who lend their own unique touches to the complex environment of Iron Realms array of addicting games!
Penelope Swain is a text game enthusiast who enjoys the most addicting games from Iron Reams!