I didn’t post this in the projects thread since this isn’t really a discussion about projects but more an idea of what steps we should take going forward. Currently we have done four large regions on Ardacraft (ignoring the Shire/Bree or Lindon), and I think I’ve noticed a recurring issue.
Fine because it’s a ruin
Planning and research was done on an individual level/case to case basis, and we weren’t really thinking about history or architectural periods while building. Obviously, it’s an old build, but still.
-Individual villages are stylistically disjointed. Research was sparse in the beginning of the project and the larger project had no forethought in mind, people just wanted to begin immediately; as such leadership was shaky, and Rohan’s technology level was not in mind when the project had begun. While stylistically differences are fine, it’s almost like you’re going through multiple eras as you go from village to village. You can’t really tell history of the region because every settlement is so segregated by both period and architecture.
(granted, I’m not saying the beorning builds look bad; just that they are disjointed and as a collective region don’t feel internally consistent. There’s no real way to explain this regarding migration patterns either, as there is no stylistic overlap of elements between towns. For a ‘test’ area it’s fine because we hadn’t really delved into the style yet, but the issue remains.
-Regions are stylistically disjointed. Research on the Folde only began when a second village was already completed. In the Westfold, leadership was almost entirely absent, and while research was done on an individual level, very little was actually done. Obviously it’s too late to change this at this point, but such issues are still evident.
(Haven’t included dwarven projects in this list because the nature of subterranean projects is very different to terrestrial projects)
In most of the latter three, there’s a common thread tying them together. We have all these ‘inspiration threads’, but in reality, they are really just visual references that can be interpreted in multiple ways, not actual research. In all of the regions, (I am of fault with this as well), we have ultimately rushed in without putting in proper forethought on actual realism. Eaglz tried in the Folde, but too little too late honestly because he had already rushed in and started.
Inspiration threads aren’t really enough for regional planning and internal consistency for a culture; they’re honestly good starting points, but something needs to change in the way we go about larger projects and regions. Rushing in and starting a region because we wanted lore locations or larger areas on the map, while those look good, only lead to the smaller projects losing internal consistency with the larger ones, and ultimately causing the illusion of realism to fall flat on its face from a larger scope or viewpoint.
In Lorien, this partially wasn’t the case because of how insular it was, and also how well defined our ideas for the settlements were in the first village. That conception carried the project.
In the past, I’ve heard people blame this partially on us wanting to do the ‘big cool projects’ first. Partially this could be to blame, but i think the issue runs deeper than that. It’s a lack in proper forethought and planning.
This needs to change for the rest of Rhovanion, and Gondor.
I think we should plan Gondor starting relatively early by compiling research threads as a community based on multiple cultures; Gondor for instance would take heavy inspiration from Egypt, Byzantium, Rome, and Babylon. In such a research thread, we as a community would collectively put in work to research those civilizations in-depth regarding both architecture and in some cases culture. Then work can be done to collectively put forth architectural periods based on the lore itself of the area and assumptions made by lore buffs like Fornad or Calion. Such periods, once decided and rough concepts made, would be mapped onto a mock map of greater Gondor (probably with transparency so layers of style could overlap similar to real life locations), and as such each area would fall under either one architectural period or multiple in one village or town or city. Obviously, area to area there would be variations in style and material use etc., but this will give Gondor both a sense of realism, internal consistency, and honestly cause the overal builds to look better as well.
This would all happen as a community before we even have Gondor on the map or build in it, and have regional leaders assigned to Gondor as well. As such, individual project leaders will have a wealth of sources to mine from, and our map will be more realistic.
Obviously, this is just an opinion, but I’d like to see the community’s thoughts on this idea.
**EDIT 1: Ahorn has also pointed out to me that Lossoth settlments also followed the same pattern. They were started without proper planning/research initially, then research was done by Ahorn/Ori. Due to the remote locations of these settlements the divide is less evident, but the issue remains.
**EDIT 2: Concepts and different takes on stuff would also be included in the researching period, either in copying architectural elements of a culture IRL or coming up with the style for the middle earth location. Differing opinions would be healthily encouraged at this stage in development simply since nothing would be serious yet.