All good things start with an idea! Dreams are no exception to this. Working with a team of other players gives you different vantages and helps you narrow down what you want out of your Dream. You can have a brainstorming session to discuss what the Dream should be about and what features should be included.
A good starting point is asking: What needs do you want your Dream to meet? Most Dreams need chat areas, or social spaces for players to talk. You might also want things like classrooms, staff areas, large meeting spots, roleplay scenes, games, rides, quests, upload areas, stages, and who knows what else!
It's smart to plan before you start Dreamweaving so your Dream has good traffic flow. For example, cities that grow too quickly without prior planning often have confusing layouts. A pre-planned design will help players navigate your Dream easily and reduce the time you spend making structural adjustments later on.
If you include too much of your Dream's story in the beginning, you will end up with too much to do and large areas that are mostly unpopulated. A new Dream should probably be no more than 100x100 tiles in the walkable areas.
Players like having other people around, as we are all inherently social creatures. If your visitors wander around in an empty Dream, it doesn't matter how nice it looks or how interesting it is, they won't stick around. Keep it small and make it very easy for them to find the main hangout spot!
You can always expand your Dream later as it becomes more populated and there is a need for it. With that in mind, you can make a maximum sized map from the beginning but only build in the center of the Dream. This gives you growing room on all sides.
The main things you need in a beginning Dream are a chat area or two, possibly a large meeting area for events, and a few activities. Although chatting is the most common activity in Furcadia, your Dream will need something else for players to do or else they may not stay for long. Roleplay, sparring, games, events, rides, home building, story telling, etc. The list is endless. Incorporate both multiplayer and singleplayer activities so players can enjoy themselves even if you are not present!
You are telling a story with each scene in the map you build. Every scene should be about the size of the Furcadia screen and set the mood. This includes what you want people to do there and how you want them to present themselves. You are essentially setting the stage, except that the audience is onstage with you. That's why it's important to make sure there's room for the audience too. Everyone should be able to see everyone else.
You can also think of players who visit your Dream as being your customers. While you may need to have an area or two where only staff can go, keep it unobtrusive. After all, how often do you see restricted areas at Disneyland?
Blueprints are a great starting point to help you plan where walkways go and overall traffic flow through the map. However blueprints are just the beginning; you can always change things as you go!
To ensure traffic doesn't clog in your Dream, main pathways, doorways, teleports, and other entries should be three squares wide. Don't forget to edge pathways with walkable objects so players can get around.
Many players won't follow your paths and will just walk in straight lines around the Dream. Unless you need rivers and landmarks to block areas off, make your objects walkable for easier navigation.
This same idea applies to enclosed rooms: give plenty of moving places between furniture. Players will sit anywhere that is walkable, unintentionally blocking areas, so make it easy to get around them. Even better, you can make rooms a bit more open-sided so players can sit along the edges, if needed.
Landing spots are where players land when they enter your Dream. On main maps these come in three flavors: Moving landing spots, multiple landing spots, and single landing spots with flash crowd DS.
If you want everyone starting in one spot, you will need to add in crowd dispersing DS in case a crowd enters your Dream all at once. Normally, players land at the crossroads and can read signs and move on from there. However, when a news announcement goes out and suddenly 100 players are all trying to enter the same spot, you have chaos and many will just leave.
On some main maps this is handled with a command that is turned on just before an announcement. This DS makes the designated start area much larger and spreads the players out enough that they can move along. You are only likely to need this if you've asked for a news announcement!
If you have a Dream layout that works for it, you can just choose several spots for players to land. Be careful that the players don't get stuck someplace they will be lost!
Other things to keep in mind about landing spots include making them large enough, central to what's going on, and well labeled. Big event Dreams should have players land in the center with ways to go exploring clearly marked. If you have a quest or roleplay Dream you may want to start them at one end and let them explore through.
Now that they are landed, they will need to know where to go, what to do, and how to get there easily. Entry text is invaluable for this!
Entry text tells your visitors what the Dream is about, why they want to stay there, what to do next, how to get there, and any URLs that give further information. The nice thing about entry text is that it can be changed on the fly. So if there's a special event going on, specific instructions can be given right away.
Along with the entry text, signs are useful in informing players what is down which path. Label all of the main areas in your Dream so it will assist in telling the story. Think of clever names for buildings and areas so they will feel like real places and increase the odds of players coming back.
You can also use colored squares across the path, NPCs, or other obvious objects such as signs. However, if it is really important information, have the DS emit it to them no matter where they walk. Not every player will bump a sign.
Teleports can also be used to get players around the map fast. You can use an iconic item such as a boat, portal, or booth for transportation. You can also give a list of teleport commands, which can give more information but are more difficult for the players. DragonSpeak buttons are also often used as teleports around your Dream, but remember to use the tooltips on them, too!
No matter where you send players, they are going to want to get back to where they started from if they get lost. The time honored F3 spots come in handy for this. Pressing F3 or control-U with nothing in your paws will take you back to the main starting spot of most main maps. Pressing multiple times will take you to various places of interest and popularity around the Dreams. This is also a handy teleport system! You could use DS buttons for this as well.
Each Chat area is a little social scene where players can have conversations or roleplay sessions with each other. Remember from earlier how to set scenes and create a stage where everyone can hear everyone else? Well, when dealing with Chat Areas, this is extremely important!
As the Dreamweaver, your job is to facilitate this flow of talk. Whatever your area is; a bar, livingroom, campfire, water hole, etc., be sure to create a cozy, comfortable spot with the props needed to encourage the behaviors you want for the area. It is conducive to chatting if you have something for players to focus on, such as greenery, water, or fire in view of the Chat Area.
Despite the fact that the Dream editor can expand to full screen, the Furcadia view screen has not changed. Use the transparent rectangle viewport in the Dream Editor to set the size of each scene appropriately. You can check this by moving the cursor over each seat and seeing if all other seats in the area are within the rectangle. (Make sure you have the "Furcadia Field of View" turned on in DreamEd.)
While everyone needs to be able to hear everyone else on the screen, you also need to make sure that players don't hear other Chat Areas. Use buffer zones between each chat area so that one area can't hear half of the conversation from another. Measure these out and keep them in mind when making your blueprint. You can see how the chat areas, denoted by red pillows, are separated in this image.
These buffers don't have to be black zones, either. Trees, paths, rivers, hallways, etc. work well as a buffer!
A stage, meeting room, or auditorium only needs those giving the presentation to be seen by everyone watching, so these areas can be bigger than a normal Chat area.
Going back a bit to landing spots, also keep in mind that players don't like to move far from where they land in a Dream. You can increase your Dream population if you have a friendly group of players in a Chat Area near the beginning of the Dream, who welcome players in and make conversation.
Those who visit your Dream are your customers, so help them have a comfortable and positive experience. Having a good layout, well designed scenes, interesting activities, and the information players need to enjoy themselves readily available to them, will help you increase the number of players who visit your Dream. And creating a good story and entertaining these players will make them love the Dream enough to make it their home.