By Archy Vial

There is really no need for a preface to this installment.

   - A. Vial


I have been amazed since starting this column by the overwhelming outpouring of enthusiastic support for and interest in this series-or rather, the lack thereof. My good hosts Wedge and Choryoth, whom I have never met except in electronic form, so I don't know if they're boys or girls or how old they are or anything, have always been good enough to offer to forward any email messages that might have been directed to their "hopocus" site. I admit that I had become fairly skeptical of their goodwill since I had not received a single message of greeting or chagrin in all the time I've been at work on the preceding three installments of what I hope will be a long-lasting, even immortal, series. (If the series is immortal that means that I will be immortal, and that seems like a good thing to me. I do not condone freezing your head and putting it in storage to be revived in 500 years, however. Parents who are afraid that their children might encounter advice of this sort in my column should look into a web-based censorship device. I have installed one in my own browser in order to avoid all distractions and temptation, but unfortunately I have not yet forgotten the password, so I'm not sure that it is working.) But it turns out there is a fairly simple reason why I have not received any email: I have not had an email address.

Until now.

Readers of the previous three installments will be delighted to learn that I can now be reached at While I have had email accounts at my various places of employment, it seemed unprofessional to link them to my columns, especially since the game industry is so unstable at the present time that prevailing industry conditions have forced me from no less than four level design positions (at no less than four game companies) in the last year or so. But I have been led to believe that is a stable, viable enterprise, and after much soul-searching I have decided to bestow my email business upon it. I apologize to Yahoo, but I have trouble picturing the word "Yahoo," with all its connotations of a "rube" or "hayseed," coming after my name-especially when I am dedicated to establishing a safe place for the discussion of serious mapping issues.

With the institution of this email address, I would like to make myself available to answer your technical questions regarding mapping, starting a Q&A section as it were. And as this great work continues to grow, I might even from time to time provide actual instructions and tutorials in the mapping process, for the benefit of beginners or even seasoned pros who might feel they have lost their way in a morass of entities and multimanagers. Mr. (or Ms.) Choryoth has actually prevailed on me to make sample (or "demo") maps available for download, and as time permits I think that such a fine idea as this cannot be completely disregarded.

Although I cannot promise timely, or indeed any, response to email tendered to, I do solemnly swear to read and give whatever amount of thought seems appropriate to any incoming message. Yes, there is a real person here, reading your messages. A person who calls himself Archie Vial. A person who wears his hat on his head and puts his pants on one leg at a time like everybody else, and does the socks before the shoes and not the other way around. I will read your messages, and from time to time I might even make them the subject of a column, or quote from them, or do other things I can't think of yet with them.

That address again:
Don't be a stranger.