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Greason Wolfe
01-03-2011, 10:08 PM
As part of my New Year's Resolutions, I've promised myself the following;



I will focus my attentions on only one map or project at a time.


With that in mind, I'm starting this WIP as a follow-up to the work I was doing on my New Dundock map for the December mapping challenge. There were a lot of things I liked about that particular map and the direction it was going. In fact, the only concern I had about that map was a negligible loss of coastal detail when shifting the world file back and forth between FTPro and Wilbur. Let me repeat, that loss of detail was negligible and something I can live with, however, I may have an alternative process that will reduce my dependency on Wilbur for certain parts of the editing process and allow me to work exclusively in FTPro. That is a bridge, though, that I'll cross when I get to it.

That being said, there are also a number of other ideas that I've come up with and/or adapted from other tutorials that I believe will give the end product of this WIP a more complete appearance. However, rather than trying to "reboot" the New Dundock map, I'm going to start with a fresh world and treat this not only as a WIP, but as a tutorial of sorts as well. If things turn out the way I think they will, I'll start working on a "true" and more detailed tutorial for what I've accomplished.

Anyways, enough of my talking, it's time for me to start walking the walk, as they say.

GW

P.S. Thaalmyn-Duhr is the ancient Dwarven name for the world, meaning "Heartbeat of Duhr"

Greason Wolfe
01-03-2011, 10:15 PM
Initial World Generation

In terms of random generation through FTPro, I've normally gone for larger land sizes and smaller sea percentages so that I could trim things down to where I wanted them. With this map, I'm doing just the opposite.

The very first tutorial I found when I came to the guild was Waldronate's FTPro Tutorial (http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/CGTutorial/index.html). To this day, it is still one of my favorite tutorials. After reading through it dozens of times, it struck me that it might be applied to even better effect on a random world that started out with smaller land masses and larger seas. The logic here is that there would be more room for shaping and expanding continental masses and oceans without things becoming too crowded.

Not wanting to go overboard, I tweaked the generation settings in FTPro a little bit at a time until things were close to what I wanted. Then it was just a matter of finding a world that inspired me. Honestly, I went through dozens upon dozens of worlds before I finally settled for this one;

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Several areas of this world caught my eye, four of which looked prime for development as major continents, including a pair that could be set up as a combination of continents similar to the combination of North and South America. There were also a few areas that I could see as developing into minor continents and/or island groupings. And, of course, there were those areas that could be left "unexplored" or "untamed" for the time being. So, I shifted the position of the North Pole such that what I saw as the major continental bodies would be generally centered, cranked up the editing resolution and set to work on the initial round of editing.

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GW

Greason Wolfe
01-03-2011, 10:27 PM
Initial Editing Phase Part One - Continental Shelves and Oceans

At this point, I strayed slightly from the previously mentioned tutorial. Rather than building up the land masses from the very beginning, I fired up the Prescale paintbrush and concentrated on expanding the continental shelves. I also worked on removing some of the lesser continental masses and digging some deeper oceans where they were needed in order to keep things from looking too crowded.

I took my time with this, spending somewhere between 3 and 4 hours just working on the continental shelves and oceans. I forced myself to take breaks every so often so that I wouldn't accidentally trap myself into an unconscious pattern of what and where things were expanded or dug deeper.

After all was said and done, I ended up with the four major continental masses I originally envisioned along with three minor continental masses and several island groupings. I'm not 100% on the islands just yet, and I'm thinking that I might trim down the eastern peninsula of the North America-like continent some to make things a little less crowded in that area. Perhaps I'll convert it into another island grouping or another minor continent.

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I've decided to leave the left and right edges of the map as unexplored areas for the time being. One of the reasons behind that has to do with using version 2.3 of FTPro. It tends to be a bit buggy about editing at the edges of the map. I tried the latest update a while back, but it gave me problems when shifting back and forth between FTPro and Wilbur which I may still need to do in the long run if my alternate methods don't work out the way I want them to.

In any event, the next major step is going to be filling in the continental masses with some nice, juicy terrain. I'm going to give things a rest for the remainder of the day, however, and just let it all stew in my head for the night to see if anything interesting comes to mind.

GW

P.S. Did I mention that I actually got a couple days off? We all did since a few of the other stores offered to step up and give us a break now that the holidays are over. Sleep . . . . Sleeeeeeep!

Greason Wolfe
01-04-2011, 11:05 AM
Initial Editing Phase - Part Two - Landfill

So I spent a few hours on this, working to fill in the continental masses I had developed. I also did a bit more work on the islands and tweaked a few things here and there. All things considered, I'm fairly happy with how things are going so far. I might have to work a few more mountains into the mix, or maybe make a few of them more pronounced. Likewise, I might do a little more trimming and/or build-up here and there.

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Having changed the coloring scheme and applied a climate image, the islands look a little better now, but, as I said, might still need a bit of work. The next phase of this project is going to be a bit more involved as I try to smooth things out and create some nice flat areas.

GW

Greason Wolfe
01-04-2011, 12:17 PM
Secondary Editing Phase - Part One - Smoothing Things Out

So now we're at the point where I need to smooth things out and start preparing for the routing of rivers and the placement (or replacement, if you will) of lakes. I've tried a number of different methods to smooth the terrain, but haven't settled on which one I like the best at this point.

Method 01 utilizes the scripting feature in FTPro. Although it's not perfect, the script I wrote for this attempts to simulate the Filter>>Mathematical>>Exponent feature in Wilbur by lowering the scale value slightly then smoothing both the scale and the land offset. Before each increment of lowering and smoothing, I run a quick basin fill, via the script, in an attempt to create plains-like areas.

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Method 02 is, for the most part, the same as Method 01. However, before running the script, I lower and smooth the roughness some, following the same increments that the script follows. The results are a little smoother in the "flat" areas and gives me a better transition from shores to highlands.

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Method 03 is a direct application of the Filter>>Mathematical>>Exponent feature in Wilbur. The actual process requires a manual fill of the existing lakes before applying the exponent, and then finishes off with a basin fill.

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Method 04 is a combination of Method 01 followed by Method 03. It holds on to a bit more terrain variation than Method 03 alone.

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Method 05 is a combination of Method 02 followed by Method 03. It holds on to a bit more terrain variation than Method 03 alone, but not quite as much as Method 04.

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Methods 03 through 05 result in a moderate loss of detail when zooming in for a more localized view of the terrain. However, those three methods would let me take advantage of Wilbur's erosion filters which, IMHO, produce better results than FTPro's incise flow feature alone. So the question I'm faced with is deciding which method to use.

As it stands right now, I'm leaning towards Method 02 since it preserves both detail and a certain level of terrain variety. Method 04 is a close second, and I might be able to crank up the editing resolution to some degree in FTPro, prior to exporting the world as an .mdr file. Still, I'd have to do this within the memory limits of my system and would still lose some portion of the detail on more localized levels.

I'm open to suggestions here. If anyone has any thoughts on which method looks best or a better way to approach this portion of the editing, I'd appreciate the input. For now, however, this will be the last update, at least for a couple of days while I try to make a decision about which method to use.

GW

ravells
01-04-2011, 01:10 PM
This is fascinating to watch GW. I must give Waldronate's tutorial a try..I kind of got lost in it when I tried it the first time.

Greason Wolfe
01-06-2011, 12:16 PM
Secondary Editing Phase - Part One-B - Smoothing Things Out

After spending a couple of days thinking about this and taking a closer look at the previous results, I came to the conclusion that I needed to re-work things just a little bit. I was, effectively wiping out most of my mountainous terrain with the previous attempts. With that in mind, I set about re-structuring my selection criteria for what would be scaled and smoothed and got a little more aggressive with my roughness editing in an effort to get an even better transition between the coastal regions and highlands moving towards the interiors of the continental masses. I also worked to combine the two processes into a smoother, if somewhat lengthier single process. Overall, the results are much closer to what I was hoping for, maintaining a number of good mountains and ridges while offering up plenty of plains-like areas to play with.

Localized Sample
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Full World View
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From here, I'll have to work my way around the edges of the continents to make sure any little lakes, ponds or pits that still exist are filled in before I start working with the Incise Flow and River Routing features. Of course, before that, in an attempt to make things moderately realistic, I'll have to take a look at the temperatures and rainfall amounts in an effort to create a wider variety of climate zones. Between now and then, however, and in the next post, I'll go into greater detail about how I achieved the current results for anyone who might be interested, though it may take me a day to get things worded in a way that makes sense.

GW

ravells
01-06-2011, 12:20 PM
Those mountains look really yummy, GW!!

Greason Wolfe
01-06-2011, 12:30 PM
Ugh, I hate power drops when I'm trying to upload . . . .

@ Ravells - Thanks, I'm hoping they'll look even yummier once I've edited the temperatures and rainfall amounts along with building a new climate image just for this world. Fun, fun, fun.

GW

Greason Wolfe
01-10-2011, 06:49 AM
Secondary Editing Phase - Part One-C - Re-Smoothing Things Out

So I've heard it said that a man isn't wise because he already knows everything, instead he is wise because he learns something new every day. As it happens, I'm a little bit wiser now, having learned something new back on Friday. More to the point, with this new knowledge, I've taken a step back to look at what I was doing and compare that to what I wanted to do. This, in turn, has forced me to re-vamp the scripting process I was using since, as it turns out, I was effectively doing the same thing twice without realizing it.

With all of that behind me now, I am, I think, on the final version of the script which has produced the following results;

Elevation Version
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Base Climate Version
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While things still aren't exactly where I want them in terms of overall elevation, they are close enough that I feel confident in moving forward with this project. I've got a fairly nice variety of terrain types to work with ranging from rough mountain ranges to smooth coastal regions. It's not particularly realistic in terms of geological development when considering such things as plate tectonics and continental drift, but it's workable, and, at least for now, I can live with it. Perhaps in the next go-round, I'll take a closer look at trying to develop a world that is more realistic in geological terms.

At this point, the next major step is going to be developing a better climate model in terms of temperature and rainfall distribution. Originally I was going to work with the incise flow feature and get some rivers in place, but then I realized that both of these things would be affected by the climate model. So, it's off to do a little bit of research and read through Geoff's Climate Cookbook (http://jc.tech-galaxy.com/bricka/climate_cookbook).

I know I said I would be going into greater detail about how I achieved the current results, and I still intend to do that. The wording, however, is being a real pain. In my head, I know what I am saying, but "on paper" it is a bit confusing. Hopefully I'll have that worked out shortly and can post it up in the next few days. For now, however, it is off to prepare for the "Big Storm." We're supposed to be getting a bunch of snow in the coming days, and, of course, there's that National Championship game to watch later today. Gotta go root for my Ducks!!!!

GW

Greason Wolfe
02-07-2011, 03:28 PM
Finally, an update to this project. I won't go into detail about the delays that plagued me other than to say that I had a bear of a time trying to get my temperatures and rainfall amounts to lock in where I wanted them. Then, of course, I had to go and rebuild the climate image. I'm not sure that I'm 100 percent happy with it yet. There are a few colors that seem just a bit off to me, but I may be asking too much of myself.

I did, in the long run, go back to using Wilbur to get my terrain where I wanted. As much as I liked what was happening via the scripting process, I just felt that working through Wilbur gave slightly better results in the long run. But such is life. I'll be focusing in on the rivers next which will call for some comparison renders between Wilbur and FTPro to see which results I like the best.

Until then, the latest WIP for this project.

GW

Greason Wolfe
02-08-2011, 11:49 AM
Finished up the first round of river/lake editing. It's not bad, but, deep down, I feel it could be just a little bit better. Then again, I'm only detailing out the major rivers and lakes at a continental level right now. The smaller lakes and rivers won't show up until I start working on a more regional and/or local level which will probably be rendered in Terragen thanks to an idea that ravells gave me a while back. The other thing that might make it look off is the fact that I'm using a flat color for the time being, and it doesn't match-up well where the rivers meet the oceans. Still, it's a bit of progress, and a bit is better than none at all.

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Thought I would throw a different version/render up here. Shifted to an orthographic projection and centered it on the part of the world I've been working on, just to see how things were actually laying out without so much distortion.

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On a side note, I went to the book store the other day and ended up spending way more than I intended. I had hoped to find "Mars Plus" by Fredrick Pohl (the sequel to "Man Plus"). Sadly, I didn't find that particular book, I did, however, find "Gilden Fire" by Stephen Donaldson (a back-story chapter that was cut from "The Illearth War") as well as "Time and Again" by Clifford Simak (a book I first read 35 years ago). You'd have thought I would be happy with that, but no, that simply wasn't enough. I checked out the RPG section of the store and found . . . half a dozen source material manuals for Hero Systems that I just couldn't pass up. So now, it looks like it's time to add a fifth book-shelf, if only I can find a place for it.

GW