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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » World Building Exercise

   
Author Topic: World Building Exercise
mikemunsil
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I searched the forums here and found quite a bit of discussion regarding world building, character development and so on, but no comprehensive examples. I need to do quite a bit of that to get a move on in a WIP, and I’d like to do it with other people also involved. Is anyone up for a world building exercise?

I propose to work with those of you who are interested in much the same manner as in the critiquing groups, taking turns, using forum messages and emails, posting results and comments on how we did things, what worked, what didn’t, etc to this forum. I would like to use various and sundry software tools as part of the world building exercises, and would also expect to post comments here regarding the experience, and the uefulness, or lack thereof.

Some tools that I have, and expect to use and evaluate in the process, include:

Anyone up for this? Any comments, ideas?

[Kathleen, if this forum is not the right place for this request, please either close this message, or move it and tell me where I should have placed it instead. Thanks]

[This message has been edited by mikemunsil because he is a hopeless typist (edited August 17, 2004).]

You know, in retrospect, that gave Kathleen a great opening to take advantage of, and she didn't. Thank you, KD-W!!

[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited August 19, 2004).]


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Survivor
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Do you mean something like a small group throwing ideas around to build a milieu, with no story as such?

I actually like those. We could go completely over the top like the guys at http://www.orionsarm.com/main.html .

Or not.

One thing, are you suggesting that everyone that participates should use the software you've listed, or just that you're interested in evaluations of worldbuilding software?


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Pyre Dynasty
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What you listed are powertools, don't forget the old tools like Paper and walls.

As for more powertools though, check out Fractal Terrains (When I find the ref I'll add it.) Also Netscape Composer, since webpages are a good way to sort information. (which is free with their communicator.)

Also check out Tracy Hickmans site ( http://www.trhickman.com ) He's got a whole section on worldbuilding.


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TruHero
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Two questions.
A. Are you talking world building, Sci-Fi or Fantasy, or anything?

2. Are you thinking of everybody putting in ideas to build one world or ideas for several? Or everybody works on their own thing, and just use each other as sounding boards.

Give us a better idea of what you are after. I might play.


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punahougirl84
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I don't have any of that software. I have WP, and now OpenOffice (so I can read MS stuff). I've seen the fractal one on-line, and played with an rpg terrain generator on-line as well.

I have read several interesting things on world-building, and would be happy to share what they were if so desired.

Not sure about my time, but I'll be interested to see the details.


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mikemunsil
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Survivor

quote:
Do you mean something like a small group throwing ideas around to build a milieu, with no story as such?

Yep, that's exactly what I mean. Either a shared world that we can later write to, or individual's own projects in support of their WIPs, or both. Whatever you guys think works best.

quote:
One thing, are you suggesting that everyone that participates should use the software you've listed, or just that you're interested in evaluations of world building software?


No way would I expect everyone to use what I have, and they might have something better! I thought we would just use what we have, and post our evaluations here for other's use.

--

Pyre Dynasty

quote:
What you listed are powertools, don't forget the old tools like Paper and walls.
As for more powertools though, check out Fractal Terrains (When I find the ref I'll add it.) Also Netscape Composer, since webpages are a good way to sort information. (which is free with their communicator.)

Yeah, you're right! And thanks, I'll check out the other tools. BTW, have you ever seen the book on using Post-It Notes(TM) for brainstorming and planning?

quote:
Also check out Tracy Hickmans site ( http://www.trhickman.com ) He's got a whole section on world building.

Will do!

--

TruHero

quote:
Two questions.
A. Are you talking world building, Sci-Fi or Fantasy, or anything?

I had thought we would do it in support of our WIPs and/or in support of a shared world that we might later use as settings. I'm up for anything: fantasy world, science fiction star maps, a single town or castle, etc.

quote:
2. Are you thinking of everybody putting in ideas to build one world or ideas for several? Or everybody works on their own thing, and just use each other as sounding boards.

Whatever we decide on. How about both?

quote:
Give us a better idea of what you are after. I might play.

How about if we try two concurrent approaches? 1) we work on our own worlds in support of our WIPs, and exchange feedback and new ideas, and 2) we work on a shared world that we could all use at a later date for story settings? That way more people would be likely to participate.

--

punahougirl84

quote:
I don't have any of that software. I have WP, and now OpenOffice (so I can read MS stuff). I've seen the fractal one on-line, and played with an rpg terrain generator on-line as well.
I have read several interesting things on world-building, and would be happy to share what they were if so desired.

I propose that we use whatever software we have at hand and compare and comment on their usefulness to the world building exercise? I would particularly like to see a comparison of Word/WP/Staroffice-Open Office (they should be nearly identical)/Roughdraft word processors.

quote:
Not sure about my time, but I'll be interested to see the details.

We're probably all strapped for time, but if we make this exercise broad enough, and if we focus on providing value to each other and the other Hatrackers, then I think we can find ways for everyone to participate at the level they desire. After all, your needs differ from mine, and you are probably better than I am in many areas. So, why not just participate in areas of interest and strength?

Thanks all!


[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited August 18, 2004).]


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mikemunsil
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Survivor

Checked out the Orion's Arm site. Amazing! They're not doing anything halfway, are they!

(BTW, is that last sentence punctuated correctly? I always have problems with questioning sentences that are meant to be comments more than questions. I think, that's what I mean)


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mikemunsil
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Pyre Dynasty

I checked out Hickman's website (cool navigator! I'm making one!) but it seems that the section on world building is under construction.


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rickfisher
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quote:
They're not doing anything halfway, are they! (BTW, is that last sentence punctuated correctly? . . . )
If it's a question, even a rhetorical one, you need a question mark. However, you can leave off the "are they" altogether, and avoid the problem.

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djvdakota
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This actually sounds kinda interesting. I'm game. So, how do we proceed?
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autumnmuse
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Me too. I love world-building.
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Pyre Dynasty
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Sorry about that, (it's creepy someone just said that on Tv as I wrote it!)

But construction means that he's adding to it


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RFLong
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There's also PC Wrede's Worldbuilder site which is pretty good

http://www.io.com/%7Eeighner/world_builder/world_builder_index.html


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mikemunsil
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Thanks, guys, for all the feedback.

Well, if we're going to do this, we have several decisions to make, and I have several questions for you.

1. Does it make good use of Hatrack's forum to continue here, or should we move the activity elsewhere and just post results (reviews and comments) here, as they become available?

Pros and Cons

In defense of continuing here, we are all used to making frequent visits to this forum and are comfortable with the environment. It works well for us. In defense of Hatrack's interests and their graciousness in providing this forum, we should not abuse our priviledges. I'm hoping that Kathleen will find time to weigh in on that. Finally, if we are going to do this, we will also need to be able to easily share images and files, which I believe this forum does not support. Thus we would have to email them to one another if we continue here. Fortunately, if we do not continue here, I can provide a similar private forum that WILL let us share files. The forum is every bit as secure as this one, if not more so, and it works much the way this one does.

2. Which of the various activities presented earlier do you support?

    a. sharing worldbuilding information for our WIPs, and critiquing each other's work?
    b. creating a shared world?
    c. a. and b. above?


Pros and Cons

In support of a. above, we won't get sidetracked on our WIPs, as the worldbuilding will support our personal efforts. In support of b. above, it would be an exciting and creative excercise and would result in a shared world for us to explore in our writing. In support of c. above, as this would be a long term effort, I believe that we should do both, to ensure not only that we are having fun, but to also provide the greatest value for those of us who participate, as some of us will wish to participate in one area, and some in others.

3. Do you agree with me that as part of this effort we should at least attempt to assess and review the various software tools at our disposal? I think that would be a good way to provide value to our fellow Hatrackers.

I think I've boiled this down fairly well, but please do comment as you see fit. I know you will anyway and I look forward to your comments.

Mike


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Lord Darkstorm
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Sounds interesting, I know I always liked reading books that had familiar references (gennerally from the same author). The d&d books based on thier worlds have that to a degree.

I have put some time into creating a sci fi univers...but it was gagged and bound to a story line and wasn't flexible. It can be very hard to be creative when bad ideas are inflexible. There are so many things that have to be determined, and some hinge of the others.

The main problem can be organizing information. If someone doesn't know a determined detail then they are probably going to conflict with something else. So you would need a discussion area as well as a place for finalized sections. Also remember that scifi can, and often does, include space/space travel. That would bring in more than one world.

If you are going to have groups building a world...why not do a scifi and fantasy world. I know that some people are more fantasy oriented, and other scifi. That would exclude some people if it wasn't their genre.

Just a few thoughts.

LDS


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mikemunsil
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Sure, why not? I have no real preference one way or the other should we decide to create a shared world. Why not create twin worlds? Similar geographies, planetary systems, climates, vegetation, etc. Then when we have reached that point, we split them into an sf-oriented world(s) and a f-oriented world. Then proceed to define cultures, sentients, etc as appropriate for each by genre. We might well find that we concentrate on multiple planetary systems for the sf, and on local geographies for the f.

And regarding making shared world data consistently available to us all, that is the purpose of using software and evaluating it. We might decide, for example, to use an OpenOffice spreadsheet and its database functions because OpenOffice is available for most (if not all) platforms and by that means we can all do searches. Or I could install a web-based relational database on my website for us all to use. Or not. I'm not tied to any one platform, except that although I have Windows and Linux I don't have Mac or easy access to one.

Comments?

[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited August 19, 2004).]


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Lord Darkstorm
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Web site could be the easiest. mysql can be used for free, since it isn't for profit. And most web hosting places support it and quite a variety of server side scripting languages. I might be able to help a bit, but I have to admit I am a bit busy. If it was kept simple then it wouldn't take that much time.

I'd love to help as well with the worlds, I should probably have more free time by the time it gets organized.


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QuantumLogic
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I'm interested in this but don't expect to have the time to participate extensively. So, if you have it off-site, I'd appreciate a Hatrack thread that semi-active participants could contribute to and read.

Oh, and I personally would be more interested in the group world-building activity.


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Survivor
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Yeah, if we want to do this, we would need to use another site. For one thing, it needs to be organized so that people can browse for specific information (which we can't do here), we might want maps and other graphic resources (same), we'll want to be easily able to control the shape of the overall contribution to eliminate redundancey and contradiction (same) and we'll probably take a fair amount of space (same).

I don't know that we really need to fool with mysql for a site as small as what we'll probably be doing, but if the project got that big I suppose it would be a useful option.

As for a split between an SF and a Fantasy world, I think that the main thing would be to come up with a "magic" system as part of the SF milieu and then particularize that to a single planet for the Fantasy milieu. In this case, we would allow pretty much anything allowed in the larger SF universe to be used in the Fantasy milieu except such things as regular space travel, industrial infrastructure, and other non-fantasyish things. That's my own prejudice, but certainly you can get a Fantasy using SF rules, you cannot get good SF using Fantasy rules.


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mikemunsil
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Points taken. The consensus seems to be that offsite will work. The rest can be hashed out later. Those of you who have already expressed an interest can expect to receive an email with instructions on how to join the other forum.

---

For those of you who haven't already expressed interest, You're Invited!

By means of this thread I invite anyone who is interested in actiely participated to email me with a request to be admitted to the world building forum. The site will be private and protected, and access will be by invitation only. That said, I have no interest in being exclusive, so, ask!

Mike et al


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Lord Darkstorm
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quote:
I don't know that we really need to fool with mysql for a site as small as what we'll probably be doing, but if the project got that big I suppose it would be a useful option.

I just know that most of the good web hosting places do have mysql installed and ready to use. Even if you need simple login capabilities, a db server is the best way to do it. The actual db server isn't an issue, but I mentioned mysql because it is the most popular for web hosting services...price reasons.

Anyways, let me know once you get things set up.

LDS


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Pyre Dynasty
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I was once part of a worldbuilding forum, but I had to quit because I was hacked at that site and the ads were getting offensive. (as in they would embarass Hugh Heifner) But it had an excellent setup. We each built a Nation and fit it into a map, then we wrote stories about it. It was fun while it lasted.

So WARNING: if you go here don't stay long:

http://pub32.ezboard.com/barwzworld

(That is is it even still exists.)

Also I think we can make the world Sf and F, just have them at different points in time. And if we go SF I think we should still focus on the single world, and if there are other planets we can just lightly brush upon them.


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mikemunsil
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I am sending out an email to invite people to join the worldbuilding exercise, but I have no email addresses for either punahougirl84 or QuantumLogic. So, if you are interested, please contact me.

Anyone else, too, of course.

Mike


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mikemunsil
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Lord Darkstorm

mySQL is available for free through my web hosting service. I must admit, however, to being mostly in the dark about databases. I thought that mySQL was the database engine, a 'server', so to speak, and that we would also need front end web-based software. Am I totally confused?


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punahougirl84
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Sorry Mike!

punahougirl84ATyahooDOTcom

Lee


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Lord Darkstorm
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quote:
and that we would also need front end web-based software.

Nope, you are not wrong, but I do believe that we have a few developers here as well. Also there is a large collection of open source tools that you can use for free. I have gotten into php, and databases are easy.

Maybe we can find the people with the skills and put together a nice group to create the site. I would probably be willing to sacrafice a bit more time for development of the site, since I could use more experience in it.

Either way, I do use both icq (473888) and msn (lorddarkstorm@hotmail.com).

LDS


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mikemunsil
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Here are the current forums I currently have set up for the World Building Exercise, with brief descriptions.

    World Building - Administrative
    Welcome, polls, discussions relating to how to move forward.

    World Building - Resources
    A place for links to resources of all kinds to assist us: software, worldbuilding sites, articles, et.

    World Building - Universe Level
    Universe level topics. Basic physical constants, physics that allow wormholes, etc. A god exists, or doesn't. And so on.

    World Building - Solar System Level
    Solar system and aspects of the universe as viewed from this solar system. eg visible planets, stars, galaxies, comets.

    World Building - Planetary Level
    Major features of the planet that affect all other aspects. Is is flat? Round? An oblate spheroid like Earth? Planetary tilt, orbits, moons, etc. Note: This is NOT the same as World level.

    World Building - World Level
    Essentially all macro physical aspects of the world as seen from orbit. Continents, tectonics, oceans and oceanic currents. Deserts, major climatic zones, atmospherics.

    World Building - Environment Level
    At this level we are working in specific environments. For example: - The temperate forests of the x continent - The north polar cap - shallow marine coral reef complex along the east side of the y continent

    World Building - Sentients Level
    Physical and emotional characteristics of sentient species, animal, plant, machine or otherwise, EXCEPT god level.

    World Building - Cultures Level
    Cultures that occupy this universe. Includes psycho-social features, religions, politics, etc.

    World Building - Shared History Timeline
    Shared events in history, that will NOT be amended, added to, etc in stories. These may include physical events, cultural events, celestial events, etc. For example: - asteroid strike in year 2,000,000 BP - ice ages, etc. We will probably establish a master timeline in Excel, or as a .pdf document, etc, for reference.

    World Building - Reference Characters
    Reference character creation. Characters created here 1) never figure as central characters, 2) and are principally referred to, in stories. A god can be a reference character, or a famous historian, or a revered athletic figure, etc.

The forums above are for shared worlds.

For those of you who are only interested in working on your own WIP, but with the help of others, I might build you individual forums, and you can tell me how, to whom, and where you want to provide access. Your forum can be visible to other registered members, if you wish, or only to those you decide should have access.

Mike


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bladeofwords
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shoot, that's pretty cool. I could get into this.

Jon


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mikemunsil
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Please do, we could use a keen blade. Or was that a clean blade? A queen blade? Oops. Sorry, didn't mean that. Please don't hurt me! No! Stop! Aghhhhh....
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