View Full Version : December Entry: Most 'Excel'-lent!

Master TMO
12-08-2011, 12:05 AM
A totally spur-of-the-moment idea. Probably has very little chance of winning the coveted Golden Compass, but I think it might score some points for novelty. 8)

I decided to go old-school with my mapping software... No, not pen and paper - that's the Light Challenge. EXCEL!!! Woohoo!!! Party Time! Excellent!

Using a Surface Chart and a bunch of random numbers and formulas, here is a prospective view of a part of the floor of a cavern. Note that because it's using random numbers in there, the final version is guaranteed to actually look nothing like this. This is mostly just proof of concept.
### Latest WIP ###

12-08-2011, 12:27 AM
You definitely get Novelty points! Very different. Be interesting to see how this turns out.

12-08-2011, 12:32 AM
Novelty points, geek points, and no doubt insanity points. I can not WAIT to see how this winds up.


12-08-2011, 01:52 AM
:D - very cool...

12-08-2011, 03:38 AM
Number crunchy! :)

12-08-2011, 08:34 AM
Very cool idea! Looking forward to seeing this one fly!

12-08-2011, 09:45 AM
hehe looks good, fun idea... I remember once seeing a portrait done with excell - that is after rotating the graphs in 3D space the portrait appeared :)

Master TMO
12-08-2011, 02:50 PM
I don't know if I've ever tried this stunt before or not. If I have, it was a VERY long time ago. I am a self-proclaimed Excel Expert though, so if I can't do it, it will take someone better than me to do it. ;)

Planning: I'll do a scale of 1 point = 1'

Hurdle #1: Excel Surface charts have a limit of 4000 points, which is approximately 63x63 if I go square. For simplicity's sake, I will use 50'x50' tiles.

Hurdle #2: Surface charts use category axes, not numeric, so I can't define the chart axis min/maxes and then stack multiple charts with transparency and expect them to line up.

Solution: Create a Master Grid that is clear, except for gridlines, at the proper rotation. Export the individual charts into images, then line up and resize them to fit in the Master Grid.

Hurdle #3: Surface Charts do not do holes or gaps. If I want to overlap or not have boundaries right at the tile edges this is a problem.

Solution: I'll have to erase parts by hand, or set the color to white and let the transparency handle it somehow. I'll have to figure it out differently for each instance where I want a hole or gap for overlaying purposes.

Hurdle #4: With this amount of preplanning needed, I can't just slap a grid of formulas together as I had originally planned and see what happens. I'll have to lay out the size and general direction of the lair in order to determine the number of tiles and best rotation to use.

12-08-2011, 06:34 PM
I MUST see how this turns out. You have a very creative and interesting idea there.

Master TMO
12-09-2011, 10:26 AM
Using a 4x5 Master Grid, so there will be 20 50x50 tiles. Might be a touch excessive, but better to overshoot than under. Actually, more than 20 tiles. Probably more like 30-35, since some of the grids will require more than one tile.

I'm starting out with a water tile as a simple starting point. There will be 4 of them along the front as the edge of a river. At the moment it looks rather jagged, so I'm going to see if I can't smooth it out some, but if not, not. Jagged water may fit in quite nicely with the probable jaggedness of the rest of the map.

I've already found some things I can do to make it easier. Surface Charts don't do gaps, but I can set certain elevation ranges to transparent fill.

Master TMO
12-09-2011, 03:15 PM
Going to have some perspective issues to make the tiles lay out on the Master Grid properly. But...

### LATEST WIP ###

2 different layers, 1 water, 1 surface land, overlaid in Photoshop. *dances with glee*

After the perspective issues are solved, I can start laying out the interior caverns and carve a hole in the surface layer for the entrance.

Steel General
12-10-2011, 08:35 AM
Nice to see that abomination of a program (can you tell I hate it :)) turn out to be good for something.

Master TMO
12-12-2011, 03:27 PM
For some reason, I like Excel, and am rather good at it. *shrug* To each their own, I suppose.

At any rate, it is the tiling and layers that is the stumbling block now, but I think I know how to get around it. It's just a matter of finding and applying the time needed to fix it. Although, come to think of it... all I'm getting done so far is just the exterior. I haven't even started on the actual lair itself yet. *facepalm+sigh*

The overall geological concept is that this is a series of caverns in a cliff. At the top of the cliffs is a sinkhole where water has been draining down into the ground, carving these caverns. As the water fell from above, it deepened the vertical channel, and then water run-off carved horizontal tunnels on it's way out to the cliffside and then down. Periodically, the vertical channel would get enough deeper than the horizontal channel that it would find a weak spot and start carving a new outlet horizontal tunnel. When the new tunnel opened up enough, the old tunnel was no longer draining any water, and would remain mostly dry. I am planning on 3 tunnels. 2 upper dry tunnels, probably linking up before they exit to the cliffside, and 1 lower, water-filled tunnel, where the waterfall currently drains out of. All three tunnels open onto the waterfall's vertical channel.

Master TMO
12-13-2011, 02:48 PM
Current Overview Map:
### LATEST WIP ###

What we have here is a 4x5 grid of map tiles, laid out in roughly the right positions. The Cliff section is repeated 3 times, with the 3 different color scales: Beach, Cliff, & Cap. I have not yet built the Sinkhole color scheme, so it is not shown here. Depending on time, I may or may not carve a stream leading to the sinkhole that provides the waterfall that did all the cavern carving.

After the sinkhole coloration, I really need to get started on plotting out the caverns and waterfall. But I needed to do this- the 'easy' part- first to learn the tricks I'd need to do the harder portion of the map.

Note: The water at the bottom will lay over the beach just above it. Also, the image is so shrunk you lose some of the details of the terrain, unfortunately. Final version will fix that, at least.

Master TMO
12-24-2011, 05:29 PM
A week at Disney World will wreak havoc on one's energy and time to spend on mapping. ;)

12-25-2011, 12:44 AM
Hope you have time and strength to finish.

Master TMO
12-28-2011, 02:05 PM
Me too. For some reason, I seem to have hit a block on doing the actual lair itself. *sigh* Only a few days left, hope I can get something out there...

Master TMO
12-31-2011, 12:00 PM
I'm not going to make it, I'm afraid. I have side-stepped the mental block part of the work I think, but just don't have enough time left to get it completed while still on vacation.

I will see if I can finish it up this next month and post it as an interesting oddball one-shot map. "One-shot" meaning: "Hell no, I'm not going to try this stunt again!" :D