PDA

View Full Version : May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire



Master TMO
05-16-2011, 12:44 AM
This world as a whole is in the Bronze Age, although many less advanced areas are still using late Stone Age tools, and there might be one or two gifted areas experimenting with iron technology. The societies discussed here are roughly the equivalent of the Akkadian and Sumerian empires in 27-2300 BCE. Many areas between the cities are still wilderness, and the country boundaries represent the approximate areas actually controlled, rather than the modern-day method of claiming any and all land available, even if useless or hazardous. (Note that this doesn't mean the rulers don't have titles implying rulership of various far-flung lands. This is a habit rulers of these lands share with Earthly leaders.)


### Latest WIP ###

3585335840

Saythen Empire:The city of Sayth sits at the confluence of two major rivers, where the Falohani joins the Yawan. It lies roughly 100 miles inland from the coast, which spares it from the worst of the ravages from the aptly-named Sea of Storms. The city of Phaen has long been under the sway of Sayth, and a recent invasion has added the cities of Iardi and Kinar and the lands around the river Letusi to their Empire. This has put them into conflict with Iarti's former rival Turma, which has taken the opportunity to expand their territory at Iarti's expense.

The Serescrub Hills are sparsely populated due to the difficulty in farming the steep hills and slopes, and the ever-present danger of brushfire. Many dangerous and fell beasts roam the Hills as well, making even travel through them a hazardous proposal at best. And above and beyond the Hills, at the very edge of this map, lies a large arid expanse of mountainous terrain, meaning that even if one were inclined to brave the Hills, there would be very little reason to attempt the journey in the first place.

Steel General
05-16-2011, 07:43 AM
I corrected the thread title as it had '2001' instead of '2011'

Master TMO
05-16-2011, 09:46 AM
Thanks much! It was midnight when I finally posted this last night, and I was in the process of crashing when I finally hit submit. What's funny is I remember fixing that same error somewhere else as well. Or I fixed it here by typing the same thing in again.

Master TMO
05-16-2011, 10:23 AM
Oh, quick map question- what is the standard way of depicting Chapparal on maps? The Serescrub Hills is actually chapparal, similar to the hills of California and other places, not a regular deciduous forest like we would typically think of one. But someone pointed out to me that the coloration I put there would make one think it was a normal forest, at 10000'.

Master TMO
05-16-2011, 10:36 AM
Aaand, had to make a quick map substitution, as I realized I'd forgotten to update the name of the empire in the legend to the new one. Let's hear it for consistency!

Master TMO
05-16-2011, 02:36 PM
I decided to recolor the chapparal of the Serescrub Hills into a more typical brown hill coloration, and I didn't really like using an English word combination as the name of them, so I went ahead and renamed them as well. And to provide a bit of consistency, since I named the hills, I also gave names to the forests. I have not named the lakes and smaller rivers and towns to avoid cluttering the map.


This world as a whole is in the Bronze Age, although many less advanced areas are still using late Stone Age tools, and there might be one or two gifted areas experimenting with iron technology. The societies discussed here are roughly the equivalent of the Akkadian and Sumerian empires in 27-2300 BCE. Many areas between the cities are still wilderness, and the country boundaries represent the approximate areas actually controlled, rather than the modern-day method of claiming any and all land available, even if useless or hazardous. (Note that this doesn't mean the rulers don't have titles implying rulership of various far-flung lands. This is a habit rulers of these lands share with Earthly leaders.)



### Latest WIP ###

3585535856

Saythen Empire:The city of Sayth sits at the confluence of two major rivers, where the Falohani joins the Yawan. It lies roughly 100 miles inland from the coast, which spares it from the worst of the ravages from the aptly-named Sea of Storms. The city of Phaen has long been under the sway of Sayth, and a recent invasion has added the cities of Iardi and Kinar and the lands around the river Letusi to their Empire. This has put them into conflict with Iarti's former rival Turma, which has taken the opportunity to expand their territory at Iarti's expense.

The Gharoda Hills are sparsely populated due to the difficulty in farming the steep hills and slopes, and the ever-present danger of wildfires among the dry brush and scrub. Many dangerous and fell beasts roam the Hills as well, making even travel through them a hazardous proposal at best. And above and beyond the Hills, at the very edge of this map, lies a large arid expanse of mountainous terrain, meaning that even if one were inclined to brave the Hills, there would be very little reason to attempt the journey in the first place.

Ascension
05-16-2011, 03:52 PM
Chapparal is sort of like a desert with small trees and shrubs and sparse grasses like the American southwest (think Joshua Tree National Park). So I'd make it the color of a desert but with a tad more green and less tan/yellow or maybe greenish dots.

Master TMO
05-17-2011, 04:41 PM
Reading through the rules for the challenge again, I noticed something - work on the map is supposed to be started during this month only. I had built the world map before this month, but all work on this national map was done in this month, specifically for the challenge. While this kind of mapping was the next thing on my to-do list, I had put further work temporarily on hold and hadn't started anything.

Hopefully the fact that I built the world previously won't disqualify me from the competition. From a reading of the rules, I don't think so, but I could easily be wrong.

Not that I have much of a chance of winning though. ;) There be some awesome maps showing up in this challenge. Good luck to all, and congrats in advance to the winner.

Ascension
05-17-2011, 07:12 PM
You're good, man. No problemos.

Master TMO
05-17-2011, 08:46 PM
On the drive home I realized that the scalebar was created before this month. And it's ugly. :) So I'll create a better looking one later.

Master TMO
05-18-2011, 01:36 PM
A couple moments of indecision and doubt on my map after looking at the other entrants. I wonder if I'm not overdoing the Photoshop effects a bit, especially around the text. The original purpose of the outer glows was to improve legibility of the text against the terrain shading. I've started experimenting with Inkscape a bit to see if I can do a better job of labelling and marking cities and towns in it.

I'm also looking at the national borders - is the current hard 3D-ish line good, or would something softer be more effective with the landscape style? I've played around with different PS effects and come up with this variant, but I'm not sure if it's better, worse, or merely different.

35891

The outside burn definitely highlights the country itself, but at the expense of obscuring the underlying terrain.

Alternatively, I can do a flat line, something like this:
35892

A single borderline gets lost visually amidst the terrain effects, but a dual like this seems to be visible.

I will keep playing with styles and see if I can come up with something that looks better. Previewing this post I can tell that the burn is definitely much more visible when the map is in thumbnail form. The borderline is practically invisible.

Master TMO
05-18-2011, 10:55 PM
This might be more what I was wanting to do originally. I'll have to give it a bit of time to settle in and see if it's good or if it's just 'neat' right now and it the neatness will fade out the more I look at it.

35908

I added more texture to it - the trees, the water, the hills, and I brought back the terrain shading to full force.

Master TMO
05-19-2011, 11:03 AM
*evil laugh* I have finally figured out how to port these files into a 3D format. Now if only I could figure out how to operate the silly 3D program so that the center of the view is actually on the map rather than beside it...

35913

The water is an easy fix, and is due to how I exported the elevation data originally. I have about a week to get the bugs out of this process enough to submit it.

ravells
05-19-2011, 12:25 PM
Looks great in 3d? What 3d app are you using to render out the hightmap? One the problems I have with FT Pro when I import the the heighmap into Bryce is that I get a terracing effect as Bryce only uses 255 levels of greyscale (8 bit colour). You seem to have got some lovely definition to yours though.

Master TMO
05-19-2011, 12:37 PM
I'm using World Machine to do the 3D render. One of the layers I exported out of FTPro was the elevation using a custom color scale going from #000000 to #FFFFFF using all 256 color steps. World Machine seems to accept a bitmap version of that just fine as a heightmap file.

The water effect is because I also put a scale on underwater terrain when I exported in case I ever wanted it. I just need to cover the water up with black in the heightmap to erase that.

I'm only using 255 levels also, so I'm not sure what the difference between this and Bryce is. It could be a matter of scale, since I'm not zoomed in really close on the map. Each pixel of the original image is about 2/3 of a mile.

Master TMO
05-19-2011, 03:48 PM
Rav - One thought I had, and I don't know if it's an issue or not, is what map you exported from FTPro. If you exported the whole world in a single file and then zoomed in to a region you would get lots of terraces because each pixel in the global map is the equivalent of several miles in size. I have FTPro export a lot of map slices (a 30x30 overlapping grid of them). The area covered in this whole map I'm using is a single one of those grid slices. So each one of my pixels is 1/30th the size of a global pixel (technically 1/900th if you measure by area rather than just width). That could explain the difference in resolution we're seeing.

However, exporting that many map slices is time consuming. FTPro can do a single map slice in about a minute on my machine. To do this it builds 926 separate images (it makes some higher-level regional images too). 926 minutes is ~ 15 hours. And that's per layer I export - climate, water, elevation, rainfall, temperature, terrain shading, etc. I can see why most people don't take the time to mess with it in this way. In order to support this 3D I'm having to re-export the heightmap file to fix the water issue. It will finish in about another 12 hours.

Master TMO
05-22-2011, 03:02 AM
Well, for a beginner I'm reasonably competent at World Machine now, at least for my purposes. I'm only on the Basic version so my output files are limited in their resolution unfortunately. I'm still working on rebuilding all the effects I had in the last WIP I loaded, but I should finish that tomorrow, then I can start work on finalizing it. I have proved that I can add a 3D border to the terrain, but I'm not sure I like how it actually looks in practice.

35963

ravells
05-22-2011, 04:23 AM
Ah thanks Master TMO, that might be it. I'll have a play around with exporting by map slices and that should help with the terracing!

Master TMO
05-22-2011, 01:09 PM
Another thing you can do, which I've actually moved to on this latest model, is zoom in to the view you want, and do your export based on the Current View. It may just be my machine, but I have to play with the view settings quite a bit to get what I actually want in the export file, as the image saved is not exactly what is shown in my FT window. Just do low-res image saves until it's the area you want shown, and then do a high-res version.

Master TMO
05-23-2011, 12:52 AM
I think I've migrated this through most every graphics program I have. :D It started in Fractal Terrain Pro, then to Photoshop, to World Machine, back to Photoshop, back to World Machine, and then to Inkscape.

This is not a finished product yet, there's still some work to do. It's not as stylish, subtle or artistic as a some of the other ones, mostly due to some of the compromises I've had to make along the way. It's hard to put artistic touches onto a computer-produced 3D terrain and map, but the cgi is my style of choice. I just need to keep building maps to develop my own style and techniques further through trial and error.

### Latest WIP ###
35976

Master TMO
05-23-2011, 12:51 PM
So, then it occurs to me this morning... I have this huge wealth of information and data on the area - rainfall, temperature, elevation, vegetation, the ability to rotate and view the map in 3 dimensions, why am I restricting myself to a single view that has had it's size and resolution restricted? So I'm working on a larger collage of images. Not sure how well it will turn out or how far I'll get in the time left to me, but we will have to see. I'll post something up later today hopefully.

Master TMO
05-23-2011, 02:53 PM
Oh... argggg! World Machine doesn't save the camera angles used. I've been editing the images across all 3 programs back and forth to get the right looks, using file links so that a change in the PS file output is reflected in the other two without having to continually re-import and place every time I update something. Same thing for the WM, I had views set up for each angle I was using in the collage in Inkscape, so that I could place the labels and text there and not have to worry about it changing. It turns out that if I close and reopen WM, the views I had are now losts, and I'll have to try and manually match them back up to what I had, OR do new ones and manually rearrange all the labels to the right places. *mutter, grumble*

Master TMO
05-24-2011, 12:23 AM
Behold! The Collage! I'll probably add some text to the map, whack out a legend or something. But even if I don't do anything further I think it's worth submitting as is.

### Latest WIP ###
36021

RjBeals
05-24-2011, 12:32 PM
hey I like that - nice work.

Master TMO
05-25-2011, 10:03 AM
Unless I find an error, I think this is the final submission. I leave it up to your imagination who, what, or how is viewing this information...

### Latest WIP ###
36057

Update: Of course, 5 minutes later, I found an error.... *facepalm*
Update 2: Some minor formatting changes, nothing major.

Djekspek
05-25-2011, 01:44 PM
That's looking very good! Great idea to get all these zoom-levels and different angles in. cheers, DJ

Master TMO
05-29-2011, 12:33 AM
NEW VERY FINAL FINAL VERSION! THE MOST FINAL OF ALL FINAL VERSIONS! THIS IS THE LAST FINAL VERSION! THERE WILL BE NO MORE FINAL VERSIONS AFTER THIS FINAL VERSION!


Heehee.. I feel like I've posted about 6 'final' versions of the map. But this is really the final final version. Unless I find a mistake, which has happened before. :D However, that's probably not real surprising considering that in the process of creating this I installed and used two completely new programs. The learning curve on both of those added an extra level of difficulty. I may wind up looking back on this after a few months or years and thinking it's a totally crude newbie creation, but right now I'm really pleased with it.

I like the pseudo-photo-realistic style (or photo-unrealistic as I've taken to calling it). I'll probably wind up paying for the regular World Machine program to get rid of the resolution limits.

Best of luck to the rest of the entries!! I don't know yet who I'll be voting for.

### Latest WIP ###
36143

Ascension
05-29-2011, 02:40 AM
Looks pretty good. Can't wait for the next update. :)

Master TMO
05-29-2011, 08:10 AM
Looks pretty good. Can't wait for the next update. :)

I keel you! Keel you ded!

Steel General
05-29-2011, 08:40 AM
NEW VERY FINAL FINAL VERSION! THE MOST FINAL OF ALL FINAL VERSIONS! THIS IS THE LAST FINAL VERSION! THERE WILL BE NO MORE FINAL VERSIONS AFTER THIS FINAL VERSION!

So... I guess your done with this then, huh?

jtougas
05-29-2011, 02:27 PM
When is the next final version coming? hehe. Looks very good. :)