Faster Construction Using DA
I have just completed one hundred hours using DA. I think I have about a dozen building floors I have constructed in the program, most at the size of an 8.5×11 (A4) sheet of paper. I have probably made more bedrooms than anything else, but that will change as most assets become available. I want to pass along my best lessons learned so far to help others build building floors with Dungeon Alchemist.
I am a bit fussy about how the final product looks. So you may find that some of my techniques are unnecessary, but to each his own. It helps to have some familiarity with how the program’s AI works and what assets are available. To achieve this, I recommend that you turn the AI on and just build a few rooms. You select the icon in the top left, select a room type from the topics (castle, outdoor, tavern, mansion…) and fence out an area on the grid. If the rectangular area suits you, click on the check mark and the program thinks and drops in a room of the type you selected in the menu on the left had side of the page. If you want to add to your rectangle, just keep adding space and when you have the shape you like, click on the check mark.
The program will think and fill up the area with a sample of the room you wanted. Everything you see can be changed except the walls must be walls (more on that later) and the room perimeter is fixed. If you can’t live with either of these things you have to delete the room and try again. You may create open arches in the wall along the edge of the room, but this is just a disguise because within the program the “wall” is still there. You may also place doors or windows anywhere you want along the wall.
Once you have your first room, you may place other rooms. You may place them touching the existing room or not. You can fill in empty spaces later, if you like.
So this gets to my first tip. I build the rooms one by one and think about how I want everything to “fit together” before I go on to decorating the individual rooms. I have been well into a build when I realized I needed a couple squares to make things fit on one room or another. But now, to fix it, I have to delete two or more entire rooms. You want to “see” this before you have invested a great deal of time in filling out the details. So first off try to get the room placement right before you go into the details.
Now after you have familiarity with the program and the assets, if you want things to be decorated “just so” you will do better to turn the AI off when you start. The pause after you click on the “check mark” and the room is filled in by the program, is when the AI is thinking about how to decorate your room. If you’re going to change almost everything, then this just slows you down. But initially it helps to show you what assets are available and how the AI thinks they could be used. This is helpful, and this is why I would start with the AI on. You get to see what assets are available and some ideas on how to combine them.
With the AI off, room building placement goes quick. With AI on it slows down while the AI figures things out. It seems the AI takes much longer in a large room because the possibilities go up as a cube of the length of the sides of the room. With bigger rooms, more possibilities must be considered. It is not a linear relationship.
When building multiple rooms you will see the exterior wall is built room by room. Therefore the exterior wall doesn’t match along the outer wall, and I have to fix that. Usually I want a single type of wall around the outside of the whole building. Sometimes, for the kitchen, I want a masonry wall, but I want something else for the remainder of the building. So after I place the rooms, my first item to “clean up” is the perimeter wall. The wall menu is the third option down on the menu at the top left. It looks kinda like an arch door in a wall section. Select that and then select the top of the three options, Walls, Doors, Windows. Then from there you select Wood, Stone, Wallpaper/plaster, Iron Bars. Then with the type of wall you want, you can just point to a wall, hold down the left mouse button and “paint” the whole wall by dragging over it to change it to your option. Sometimes you accidentally touch an interior wall, which you may have to go back and ‘clean up’, but I find that I change most walls to suit me anyway. Now, the wall junction will appear with a sort of “pillar”. The pillar type is defined by the wall type that was there first. If you get the wrong type, you rebuild the walls that touch that junction in the right order, and then it will switch to match the “first wall.”
After I fix the outer walls, I fix the inner walls. You use the same process. While I am doing this I am deleting doors and windows I don’t want. I generally use one window type on the outside of the building throughout, but sometimes. like with a church, there are reasons to use multiple types. After I fix the walls and delete the unnecessary windows and doors, I place the windows and doors where I think they should go. After I have the windows and doors fixed/placed, I decide what floor covering I want in each room and I fix that. The floor covering menu is the last of the menus in the top left. Select floors, and then select wood or stone/tile, and then select the specific one you want. Paint the floors where you want them by clicking and holding down the left mouse button.
Now it is important to select the rugs you want and place them. You do this because placing them later can be a problem. They can be large or there may be plenty of furniture in your way. The menus for the rugs is in the objects menu at the top left. Then you select the first group at the top, and the rugs are the third option down. There are five standard rugs at this time. A square one is the last option. Some are longer and thinner, better used for hallway runners. Others are wider and better for the basic rooms. I think they all have a maximum size so you may not be able to cover a whole room floor with only one. There is also a trophy bear skin rug in another menu. With the walls, doors, windows, floors and carpets placed, you’re ready to get down to business.
Just remember, you can do these things in whatever order you want. I have just found that this is the fastest way to avoid having to rework some rooms later.
I always place the bed and the washstand in bedrooms first. I often place a trunk at the foot of the bed. I usually place a table and one or more chairs in a bedroom. For important people, I typically place a desk or a vanity dressing table. I place shelves, books, candles, a drinking cup and other things in bedrooms.
In a study I place a desk with a quill pen and a small water pot (used to rinse the quill pen). I place parchment paper for writing, a few books, a few scrolls and a candle on a stand near the desk. I usually have extra chairs in a study for visitors. I often place a table with 2-4 chairs, a candelabra, and drinking mugs or chalices, along with a pitcher for water or a wine bottle. I usually place a basket for waste paper.
If I have a library I often cover the walls with book shelves. As with the “wardrobe”, I reduce the height (width and depth) of the book shelves to be about the height of the wall. This also eliminates some conflicts with other objects.
There are so many different ways to decorate rooms, and there will be so many new objects, that I don’t want to spend more time talking specifics about that.
In summary, after you have experience with the program…
- Turn off the AI.
- Build each room to make sure they fit together as you want.
- Replace the outer walls with a single sort.
- Replace the inner walls as you like, while deleting the windows and doors.
- Place the windows and doors as you like so things are consistent.
- Place the floor covering as you like.
- Place rugs as you like.
- Begin building and decorating individual rooms.
- Consider saving as you go in case you want to go back and take a different direction.
- Once finished, delete the temporary saves.
- Have Loads of Fun!
I hope this helps some folks avoid reworking rooms and buildings so you get more done. Good luck.