Project Guidelines


Below are tips and help on creating your own Realms Project on the Internet. See the REALMS-L registered projects page for current active projects.


Tips on How to Build a Project

CC2/CM Map Conversions

Packaging your Project for the Internet

Making your Project Results available to Internet Users

Tips on How to Build a Project:

Contributed by Erskine Fincher
Contributing member, Forgotten Realms Projects List

1) Think long-term. A small project might easily take 6-12 months to complete. Larger projects will take a lot longer.

I don't think any project could be better organized than the Arylon Project, but if my own experience is an indication, they have about a three-month delay between the time when they receive a submission and when they actually post it to the list. Not every project will have the same considerations as the Arylon Project, but don't count on being able to start and complete your project over the semester break. J

2) Start small. Try your hand at a small project before you tackle a large one. If you have your heart set on a large project break it down into smaller parts and start with one of those.

Size is measured in both breadth and depth. The Arylon Project only covers one medium sized city of the Realms, but it is a large project due to the amount of depth that the creators are giving it. They seem to be going more in-depth even than the City of Splendors box set. The NPC Database is a project with a lot of breadth, spanning as it does all of the characters of Realms lore, as well as DM-created characters. This project seems to have struggled with the problem of depth, and the organizers have wisely come down on the side of limiting the amount of information they include on official NPCs. BEWARE of projects that have both breadth and depth, ye will surely drown in them.

3) Get yourself organizized. Energy spent on organization will save a lot more energy in the long run.

Organizing the project is critical. If your desk (like mine) looks like it was organized by hurricane Earl, it may be possible that you're not the best person for running a project. I am an extremely unorganized person, and I suffer for it daily. This is why I've yet to stick my neck out to run a project. You don't have to run projects, though, to make a contribution. If you are among the organizationally-challenged be content to do what you can where you can, don't feel like you're obliged to run projects just because you're subscribed to the project-list.

Erskine Fincher

CC2/CM Map Conversions

By Mark Oliva
Moderator, FR Zone Mailing List at Onelist
Based on suggestions from the staff of the Forgotten Times

The great majority of the maps made to accompany project work are created either by the Campaign Cartographer 2 program from ProFantasy Software Ltd or the CampaignMapper program produced by ProFantasy for Wizards of the Coast and included in the Advanced Dungons & Dragons® Core Rules 2 CD-ROM.

When you use one of these two programs to make maps for your project, you also should consider in what form these maps should be offered in the Internet.

1) Who Needs What?

People who download your project maps from the Internet will fall in one of three categories:

Download CC2 Viewer 6.2N (1.5 MB)

2) Choosing a Format

Before you begin converting your maps, you need to pick a format. Here are some ideas on the differences:

As you can see, one seems to have the devil's choice. If CC2/CM maps are converted directly into GIF graphics with most simpler graphical programs, unacceptable color shifts will occur, and most people will be unhappy with what you have given them to download. If you make a high resolution JPG conversion, no one will complain about quality, but a lot of people will simply give up, because downloading your material will take a lot of time and cost considerable online fees.

However, there is a relatively little known method for producing genuinely small GIF graphics that maintain 100% resolution fidelity and also provide high quality color conversions by letting you select which of your map colors will be converted and eliminating other colors from the palette that you haven't used in your maps.

3) Choosing the Right Programs

One of the best programs for making good CC2/CM conversions is Corel PhotoPaint in the versions 7, 8 and 9. If you have one of these versions and have mastered it, we suggest you use PhotoPaint, rather than the programs in our example. For these who lack Corel PhotoPaint or a similar program or who haven't mastered these programs yet, we recommend the combination of Microsoft Paint, which is a part of Windows 95, Windows 98/98 SE, Windows NT and Windows 2000, along with the Microsoft Photo Editor program delivered with Microsoft Office 97 and Office 2000. If you have neither Microsoft PhotoEditor nor Corel PhotoPaint, you'll need to seek out a similar program that allows you to adjust the settings for creating GIF files.

4) Loading the Software

Assuming you have the necessary software, you should start out by loading all three programs, preferably in the following sequence:

5) Copying With Campaign Cartographer

For the next step, the Campaign Cartographer 2 needs to be open on your screen with the map loaded that you want to convert. We plan to copy this map into the Windows Clipboard. Before we do that, however, we need to make an adjustment with Campaign Cartographer 2. We have to activate the following menu options: Edit/Clipboard/Options.

With these menu options, we open a dialog box called Clipboard Specifications. Below, under Options, please activate the selection Paint Background Color. In the upper part of the dialog box is a section called Bitmaps with a field for Horizontal Pixels and another for Vertical Pixels. Which combination of settings you choose here is dependent upon the content of your map:

After making these settings, you're ready to use Campaign Cartographer 2 to copy your map into the Windows Clipboard. Follow these steps:

With this last step, the work with Campaign Cartographer 2 is ended for the time being.

6) Converting and Editing With Microsoft Paint

Without closing Campaign Cartographer 2, click the Paint symbol in the Task Bar at the bottom of your Windows screen. Once Paint is open, do the following steps:

With this last step, the work with Paint is ended for the time being.

7) Final Conversion With Microsoft PhotoEditor*

Without closing Paint, click the PhotoEditor symbol in the Task Bar at the bottom of your Windows screen. Once PhotoEditor is open, do the following steps:

With this last step, the conversion is complete.

Packaging Your Project for the Internet

By Mark Oliva

1) Collating Your File Types.

Before uploading your project files onto your web site, your work should already be in the proper file foremats, or it should be converted. In general, your project files should be available in universal formats:

2) Picking a Packer.

Your download files in Internet should almost always be compressed. There are many reasons for those. If you offer all of your material unpacked for downloading, the download costs will be prohibitive for some people, and you may find that you need more web space for your material than your provider offers.

Beyond that, however, is the problem that some systems are capable of downloading only certain file types. If you don't stick to universal solutions, you may offer some people who would like to have your work nothing more than insurmountable problems.

Therefore, it's always advisable to compress or pack your files into the universal ZIP-Format. Almost all Internet browsers are capable of downloading ZIP files without problems, and compressing your work into ZIP files minimizes their sizes and the time it takes to download them

The most popular compression program for 32-Bit Windows is WinZip 7.0. This compression program also comes out higher in PC maagzine stests than any other compression. You can download WinZip 7.0 free as shareware.

Download WinZip 7.0

Making Your Project Results Available to Internet Users

By Mark Oliva

1) Plan not only your project but also how you will make your project results available to other Realms gamers on a fulltime basis!

Many list members do excellent work on a time-consuming basis and then post their results once to the Forgotten Realms Mailing List at TSR's Oracle. This is a questionable application of your time, beyond the benefits your work may produce for your own personal campaign. Postings to the mailing lists are of very fleeting value. The only gamers who get any benefit whatsoever from your posting are those who see it on the mailing list and then actually archive it in some way for later use. In other words, all of your hard work probably will be of benefit to a tiny number of other gamers, if, indeed, to any at all. Once you've done your project, get it into the Internet and leave it there! It's then available to all of the people all of the time, and they also can find it rather easily, even if they don't know it's there.

How? Once you've registered your project with the Forgotten Realms Projects List at iMagic Online, your project is automatically included in the Internet Forgotten Realms Projects Database. And once your project has a homepage on the Internet, you can list it here in the database. This database is in turn registered with several Internet search machines, so when a gamer who knows nothing of your project, this database or the mailing lists searches, for instance, for sites dealing with TSR's Forgotten Realms, he or she also is likely to come upon both the database and your project.

What you need to do next then is to pick both a method for creating a homepage and an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Internet service who will play host to your project. The good news is, you can use modern and easy software that costs nothing to produce your homepage in little time, and there are a number of ISPs and Internet services who are just waiting to give you space for your project, at no cost whatsoever.

2) Picking a system to make your homepages

If you're reading this section, you no doubt are not an experienced HTML or DHTML programmer, and you no longer have to be to successfully produce a representative home page. There are an incredible number of home page editors available, many of them free. Two free tools are the following:

If you are on the Internet, the chances are outstandingly good that you already have one or both of these programs installed on your computer. If you have Microsoft® Windows® 98 as your operating system, Microsoft FrontPage Express was installed on your hard drive along with the rest of Windows 98. Here's how you can find the homepage editor on your computer, if you work with Netscape or the Microsoft Internet Explorer:

If you use the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape, but you're unable to find the options we've described, then you have either an old software version or an incomplete installation. As of this writing (February 1999), the current versions were Netscape Communicator 4.5 (some ISPs already are providing Version 4.7) and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 SP1. (Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 was still in beta testing.) If your version is current, please use your installation CD and install the missing elements. If you use Windows 98, this may be your Windows 98 CD. If you have no CD or your version is out of date, you can find the current versions on CDs that come with most PC magazines, or you can download the current versions free:

A TIP: Give your starting page the name index.html. Many Internet services require that the starting page has this name!

3) Getting a free web host for your project

Once you've made the pages for your Internet site, you need to locate a web site provider who will give you space for your project (at no cost).

If, like most Realms project groups and authors, you want to manage your own web site, you'll find you have a wide variety of Internet services willing to give you a homepage address at no charge. The service probably most frequently used by list members is GeoCities, but there are a number of interesting alternatives. If you want a really reliable web site, and you have the time to administer it, you're best advised to set up a mirror site at a second home page provider with cross hyperlinks - a so-called mirror site. People who want to use your site then can switch to the mirror if the main site is overloaded or having problems, not an infrequent occurrence on the internet.

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