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How To Run A Town

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SW City Network


I write this guide in hope to encourage more towns in Active Worlds. To the best of my knowledge, at the time I write this, there are only 2 active cities in AW - us and Off World. If you're reading this and say "hey you forgot _____!", by all means, please tell me about it. I'm always on the lookout for new towns, but you should really make your town more known, which this article covers later on.

Note: This guide is all just in my opinion, and you may not agree with everything I say.


In my opinion, you need 3 basic skills to run a successful town. Before I list them, my opinion on a successful town is one that can survive active for a long enough time to be recognizable by some of AW's community, has a stable, active resident base, and a steady rate of development. The 3 skills need are:

  1. Some building skills in order to create a welcome environment for your people.
  2. Long-term commitment towards it, since towns are a life long project (your AW cit's life, anyway :P)
  3. Social skills to get and keep a stable community.

I'll cover all 3 of these areas in detail now.

Building Skills

If you're going to build a town, you have got to love building. You will own the most builds and objects within the town, compared to the residents. One of the most effective way of expanding your community is to build an awesome environment for them to build in. When you do this, they'll ask you for land, versus you asking them to build there, which by the way is more likely to give you committed, devoted residents.

Don't think your environment is impressive? Well, make it better :P

Don't know how? It's just a matter of looking at it....look at it...look at it...think of ways to improve it. Try looking at pictures of real life cities to get some ideas for ways to detail it, for example. Always try new styles and ideas out. The more successful ideas you make, the more you can mix and match them together to create new builds.

Mass expansion can become a problem. If your building your town and are gobbling up land at a pretty fast rate, chances are your leaving behind a trail of not-too-interesting land. Spend lots of time in one area of town. Building isn't all about building, it's about brainstorming and trying out ideas to see what works best.

On a related note, city layout and infrastructure is pretty important to plan ahead. You might want to get your roads just how you like them, because they're difficult to modify later, if buildings are surrounding them. Mayor Syntax, for example, never places residents right up the road. He'll put them one coord from the road, which gives some breathing room for future modifications.

Your resident's building skills

If you've ever ran a town before, you probably have been bitten by the really bad builder before. I don't want to sound mean here, but it's just the truth. Ugly textures, major building errors like cracks, missing walls, you name it. However, they may be the nicest people you ever met too, and are willing to learn. So town ownership may have a 4th skill - teaching. I've had to teach my residents on numerous occasions, and they and your neighbors will thank for for it.

However, that's not going to cut it. Statistically, at least half of AW's population can't complete a build to save their life. You'd be best to realize this fact when distribute land to people you don't know too well. For example, don't give a stranger a slice of your best real estate, for you risk a huge eye sore in the middle of paradise, ruining what you've worked so hard on. You might want to consider an area of town specially designed for new residents that you don't know about. Save your best real estate for veteran residents, and people you trust.


One thing that bugs me is people who abandon their town. But the thing that REALLY bugs me is people that abandon within a month because "nobody would join" or "it doesn't look good".

Unless you already have a ring of friends, or access to some really good advertising, building up a town and community takes time. Which is one reason why you have to love building - during the era before you have a stable community, you'll be building, which you love doing anyway.

If you lose you're motivation and interest, it's your own fault. AW's content is created by you after all. For example, in my early days of AW, all I built were the basics - shops and houses. Gets boring after awhile. I just took on other types of builds - industry, games, nature, etc. Each requiring a different type of creativity and style.

And the part you don't want to hear - self discipline - forcing yourself to complete builds for the sake of the environment. I know I know...that's no fun, and AW is made for fun, right? I guess it depends on how serious you towards AW though ;)

Social skills

This one is a given. Naturally, if you want to run a community, you're probably already a people person, and I don't have to say much to you. Just a word of caution though - as your town becomes more and more recognized, you, the mayor (or whatever your title is), will be more "attached" to the city. So be on your best behavior while out in public. People will associate you with your community, and more than likely make a decision right there if they would consider joining it or not.

Acquiring residents

I feel a lil' sorry for town's today. It's so much harder to get a community going, due to AW's small userbase. Back when SW City started, it was so easy to get residents, we had to put in real strict rules on how to become a staff member because so many people wanted to be onboard. Now'a'days, towns have to do more advertising than most people are willing to do. I sort of blame AWI for not allowing easy communication to AW, like a universal or world chat channel for example.

A 5th skill may also be needed - graphical design, or, get someone else to do it for you. Make some nice ads for your town. Here's some valuable resources for getting your town recognized:

The AW Forums. Post an introduction thread. And for heaven's sake, please remember to use spell check :P Seriously, you should maintain a level of professionalism with your public announcements. People don't like low effort, crappy advertisements. They won't take you seriously. After that, only post about your town once in awhile. If every other post there is about your town, people will get annoyed. Only post news you think people outside your community will find interesting. is becoming more and more popular, so you might want to post an introduction article there too. Same thing though, don't submit too many articles.

AWGate and AWGZ ads. Email Flagg, the community liason, with your picture ad, and they'll hang it up there. I wouldn't rely on AWGZ and AWGate people too much though. From my experience, a majority of these folks don't seem to be all that interested in joining town communities. They do, however, make good visitors and explorers. And, while I don't personally recommend advertising at these places through plain text chat advertisement, if you do, make sure your "sales pitch" is well typed and clear, not annoying and not ALL IN CAPS.

Keep an eye out for new upcoming cities. It's a good idea to associate with active cities, because they're going to have the kind of people your looking for. There's nothing wrong with residents being part of more than one city, and it'll help you a ton with getting the word out about your community. On a related note, you should consider asking other mayors and organization leaders to put up an ad for you. Most people will be willing to do so.

Maintaining a Community

There are two kinds of people in your commmunity - builders and residents. Builders just build, then leave. Residents will become involved with your community. Core residents, for that matter, are what I call people who devote all their AW time towards the community.

People will only become a regular, devoted member of your community if they have friends there. Just like in real life, you'll have to put in effort to make friends. Spend time with them, etc.

Naturally, a community needs communication to stay glued together. A forum like this is a great way to let everybody know everybody.

Last, you may want to telegram people who were sorta involved with your community, and then know, try to get them back involved and stuff; like a lost sheep from the herd :P


  • "Someone vandalized my town!" - contact GET
  • "I've ran into stuff that's preventing expansion". Again, try GET, but they'll only remove stray objects. They sometimes tend to delete unused fields of ground cover. You should try to contact the owner first, though, chances are they've long since left AW. You may have to somehow work it into your town.

Other Tips

  • If you like building nature, you should put that to use for building natural borders for your town. For examples, rivers and water bodies, hills and mountains make much more distinguished borders for your town than a simple change of grass texture.
  • A written form of government is a good idea if you want to maintain a long term staff. Just be careful of complicated governments with long "rank" hierarchies. You don't want it to look like some power-hungry organization.
  • Keep active, or, pay attention to AW news related resources to keep an eye our for organizations or events that may benefit your town in some way. Like I said earlier, other towns are a good way to get the attention from the type of people your looking for.
  • Be very careful with your city's ground cover. You'll want to form a clean layer of ground cover using 10x10m walks. If you make even one overlap or crack in the grid, you'll start causing an avalanche of misalignments later on...take it from us...we learned the hard way X_X SW City's island is hundreds of coords big (like 600 coords long I think). However, it has tons of ground cover grids that don't line up with each other, and much of it can all be traced to one petty overlap near the beginning of the town.
  • Learning how to use bots can go a long way. You can make greeter bots at town square, bots to make backups, to make maps for your town, to make games, etc.
  • For awkward areas of town that probably won't ever house a building, you should consider putting some landscape there, or, city stuff like a billboard. It only takes a few minutes to do, if even that.
  • You should definitely work on your landscaping skills (unless the town's theme is against it). Trees, bushes, and flowers are the ultimate way to make large areas of town look good in the least amount of time.
Page last modified on December 24, 2006, at 03:58 AM
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