Collaborative projects can be difficult to set up, and this can also be very true for Age building. Whether it be different creative ideas, scope, or just plain distance between all parties concerned, working with others on something as large as a full Age can be challenging.
One of the more ambitious projects started years ago (not by me) is Ahra Pahts, an Age specifically designed as a collaborative effort.
An entire city’s framework, complete with districts, was developed at the start. You’ll notice a triangular theme to things, as that’s not only the shape of the shells, but the entire city.
The unique part of the project was you could request a small portion of one of the districts (called a shell) to work on at your leisure and, when completed, it could be added to the main downloadable Age files in updates.
While each district has a suggested theme, you could essentially put almost anything within the confines of these shells (within reason). In total, there are 150 shells, with some still unregistered, and only a handful officially completed. There were a few rules to follow, but they were mostly for avoiding naming and coding conflicts with other shells.
Since the city is rather large, navigating it on foot can be a bit of a pain. For this, a Nexus of sorts was added called Prin Pahts. The city has books all around to this separate Age (although technically, it’s a sub-Age within the Ahra files) and following the map on the floor of Prin will take you to the part of the city you prefer.
I myself reserved a shell years back (specifically 114 in the White District). This was the second project I started (after Eder Rastekesh). As you can see, much like Rastekesh, the shell’s structures and textures need quite a bit of work.
Fans of the new Guild of Messengers Pub may see this as a proto version of that. This shell was meant as a bit of an “outdoor cafe”, and even has a bar, tables and chairs, and, unlike the Pub, a stage for entertainment. At some point, I may pick the shell back up and upgrade it…a LOT.
Ahra Pahts itself looks fantastic with some well-done textures, although there are a few things that need to eventually be updated. For one, the water isn’t animated (from what I gathered, it was created before animated textures or wavesets were fully developed in PyPRP), which is explained away by the water being “frozen”.
Another issue is that, if you DO travel the city on foot, you’ll notice when you cross certain thresholds…and even upon first Linking in…there will be a long pause in the game. While I don’t completely understand the process, I understand this is the Age “paging” parts of the city in and out as you move. This was done to help performance, as having the full Age rendered at once (at least back then) would have choked most computers’ performance (think Obduction today).
VisRegions…areas that can “disappear” or “reappear” parts of the Age that are not in immediate view instantly as you enter certain regions…would probably help solve this loading pause. Er’cana does similar for its rather expansive vistas and complex machinery.
I’m not sure if the team behind the Age is still active, but if and when fan Ages are added to MOULa, I could see Pahts, or something like it, really bringing Age builders, new and veteran, together to build something quite impressive.
If you’d like to try the Age, you can visit it on the Deep Island shard or download it for offline URU at the Deep Island URU Age Manager website (scroll down for Ahra Pahts). Don’t forget to use the map to see some of the excellent work others have done with their shells already!