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Making Your First Hold (By "The Red Hawk")
So, you're looking for a challenge? You've finished Dugan's and looking for something new to discover? And even if you haven't, come dive in to the exciting world of DROD Architecture.
(Okay, that sounded way too much like a television ad.)
Before even starting on your hold, I recommend that you have played at least the first few levels of Dugan's, and perhaps some user-made holds.
The first thing to do is to choose your type of hold. There are two things you can do - a themed hold, or one with simply miscellaneous puzzles. I prefer miscellaneous, because I find that themes can get a little boring after a few rooms, for both the player and the architect, unless they are very general. Then, decide on the size of your hold. My hold, called Deep Hold, is currently 21 levels and is planned to be 25. However, I think I probably would have done better to make a few smaller holds. Still, I'm really proud of it. If you plan on being really committed to DROD, you should probably lean slightly towards a higher number. However, there's nothing wrong with one or two level holds.
Then, choose a name - it should be something fairly catchy which doesn't necessarily have to reflect what your hold is. For example, Katon's Keep or King Reubus's Palace, both names of existing holds. Then, choose a difficulty. As a beginner, you should have a good grasp of the concept of how difficult King Dugan's Dungeon is relative to you unless you've only played the first few levels of the hold. Levels could then be grouped into difficulties, like easy, medium, or hard - easy is about level 1-3 in Dugan's, hard, 23-25, and medium is something in between, like 14, 16 and 18. You can use these levels to help you decide how hard you would like to make your hold appear to a person of similar skill, although remember that to more experienced players, the hold may appear easy, and vice-versa.
Now - for your first level, and any others that come after. The first thing you have to do is choose a floor colour. It's fine if you want to choose your favourite, but probably it’s better to change around a bit so that our eyes don't go blind staring at the same stuff. An equal number of at least a few of the styles would be best. I think that using different styles on the same levels, though, isn't very good as it doesn't look continuous when you slide in between.
You also have to choose a number of rooms - 9 is probably a good minimum number, and 25 is probably a good maximum. Any more than that, and your computer starts to slow down. If you like, you can have a general theme for some levels in your hold, but not too constraining. I believe Claythro Tower Sixth Story is an example, and Claythro has stated himself that he got tired of it after the fifth room or so. Before making the rooms, I always put in the entrances of each room, and green doors. I like making my levels linear, so that it isn't possible that anyone can miss a room. However, it's completely fine if it isn't. Level exits can come later, as they can take up quite a bit of space and therefore can be part of the puzzle.
For each room, you should have a different idea (unless the level is themed). User-made holds are the best places to get them. Don't feel that you will be violating the copyright of the owners, and they will be honoured that you picked their stuff. Even so, you shouldn't make exact copies. Try to do your own things. Add a bit, take out a bit - try to make it a little better. You can also get many ideas from Dugan's Dungeon, which is probably the best hold around. When I make a room, I first decide on an idea to use. In the early days, you will find you have a huge number of ideas. Don't risk forgetting them. Write them down.
Some sample ideas -
1. Manipulate a goblin through a bunch of monsters without killing it because you need it to kill a serpent at the end.
2. Beethro must stand outside a maze and pull a roach through out the entrance without it going into the force arrow traps.
3. A serpent timer, like in the Master Intellect Room (level 7 Dugan's).
Of course there are plenty of other things. When you are making a room, you should probably abide by some of the "rules" given in other articles on the site. If you don't, your hold might not be very good, and the forum members will tell it so.
If I find myself running out of ideas, often I simply look at the monster tab in the editor and pick a monster to base my puzzle on. Then I can lay down a few walls, and eventually something will emerge. If you pick two or three monsters, there's nothing wrong with that.
All right, so I think I said everything I wanted to say. Let's stick with that.
Good luck, everybody, and Happy Architecting!
"Red Hawk" is a regular on the DROD.net forum, and is the author of the Deep Hold, one of the largest user holds to date.