View Full Version : The initial research

07-02-2012, 05:30 PM
I will begin working on my game setting once I receive the Profantasy software. However, to get started I am posting this WIP research to find out what other options and tools may be necessary for my project. As I begin work on each respective map I will review thread relevant to the type of map I am working on. Some threads I have found already and am book marking them for later reference. To start though I will post this initial research goals list here.

Types of maps to make:
1) Physical Map: A physical map that shows the physical landscape features of the game world. It will in general show things like mountains, deserts, canyons, rivers and lakes , forests and prairies along with other parts of the geography that is of interest.

2)Political Map: A political map not showing any topographic features. It instead focuses solely on the state and national boundaries of a place. This will include the locations of cities - both large and small.

3) Economic or Resource Map: An economic or resource map the shows the specific type of economic activity or natural resources present in an area through the use of different symbols or colors depending on what needs to be shown on the map. This would only contain KNOWN areas where resources are located.

4) Physical Map/Road Map: A physical map used to display all information needed to develop adventures. This map would show all known locations of importance that players may have knowledge of. The map would have a classic hex pattern overlay for quick travel reference.

5) Enhanced DM only Map: This map would simply be a combination of the maps mentioned above. It would also contain locations, borders and other information that would NOT be known to players, in general. Such information might be where the rough borders are between the various non-human races. Locations of natural resources that are UNKNOWN to the worlds races and are as of yet, untapped.

6) Topographic/Climate Map: A topographic map is similar to a physical map in that it shows different physical landscape features. They are different however because they use contour lines instead of colors to show changes in the landscape. Also I would like to incorporate a climate map into this. A climate map showing information about the climate of an area. It would show things like the specific climatic zones of an area based on the temperature, the amount of snow an area receives or average number of cloudy days. This part of the maps design would be incorporated into the topo map. Through the use of color coding I can quick ref this map for daily information or compare it to real world climate to give exposition on the weather.

As you can see this is going to be a massive project. I am sure I can not do everything with just the Profantasy software. So some of the questions I have are:

1) What do people use to make these various types of maps?
2) What software is used to work or convert data from a Physical map into a topographical map? or vice versa?

Thanks for looking at the initial concepts direction. I look forward to hearing feedback on where to go from here.

07-04-2012, 06:11 AM
It sounds like you might be getting into the realm where GIS would actually be a good idea than massive overkill. Campaign Cartographer and friends are essentially just specialized graphics editors. Real life maps are largely produced with GIS software, though finishing touches may be done with graphics or layout tools. A GIS allows for shifting data layers around, altering their symbolizaton, and overlaying them to produce new data (such as intersecting temperature and moisture to get an aggregate climate layer.)

Probably the hardest part is going to be the DEM (Digital elevation model). Making a DEM that looks good is a lot of work and need yet more specialized tools. There are a lot of quick and dirty DEM/Heightfield generators out there but they all suffer from well, looking like quick and dirty terrain generators. They generally rely on various kinds of recursive noise generators based on fractals or the Perlin algorithm which all give overly consistent and unnatural looking results. In particular, they don't vary in frequency the way real landforms do. They also lack tectonic effects and usually erosion effects as well.

I've written a partial introduction to QuantumGIS (an Open Source GIS) in the tutorials section if you want to give it a try: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?17469-Some-pointers-for-using-GIS

07-05-2012, 08:10 PM
Just started receiving my Profantasy software today. Looks like I got everything but the Campaign Cartographer 3 disc, of course. That will not arrive until Monday of next week.

@Hai-etik: Thanks for the info. GIS sounds a little more in-depth than I need to go. As this project is currently for my own personal use and not public. I will probably not get that far. The elevation map is more for me as a DM/game referee. Being somewhat familiar with what differing climates occur at elevation it is more of a storytelling tool than needed for the verisimilitude of the world. I do however love the tutorial you have given. If I were a more technically minded individual I would give it a try.

If I understand correctly, Fractal Terrains is one of the types of noise generating programs you are talking about. Part of my plan is to get the general outline of the world completed. Block off the varying terrain types and then use FT3 to build the noise map. I have had a few suggestions as to how to use the noise map and an image editing program to generate a basic contour map.

Coming SOON!

I will start doing some more hand drawn outlines for scanning tomorrow and will start posting some general information as the terrain types develop.

07-24-2012, 09:54 PM
Here I have done the first hand drawn map layout. This contains the basic outlines of land masses. I plan on using this map to stage out some of the larger details of the world. This would include mountain ranges, major rivers, canyons, volcanic activity as well as the various climates.

10-02-2012, 12:24 AM
Are you still working on this project?

10-08-2012, 04:47 PM
Yes, I am. I will post up the tests and some of the other images form the work.

10-26-2012, 12:32 AM
Just asking because I too did a political, physical, bathymetric, tectonic, river system, climate, and height map, as well as a planetary model. It took a long time, and you know what? I'm sad that I'm done! Of course, I can keep on working on it. I will be looking forward to seeing how your project progresses.

10-30-2012, 09:04 AM
Hi manofsteel, I am a geography teacher and my class here in utah its working on a map project similar to what you did, and I was wondering if I could have your permission to print off a couple of your maps to show them what their finished maps should look like. They will just have hand drawn maps of course but at least they will/could have a good reference to look at if you approve. The ones I would like to print are the political, physical, and climate map.

Thanks for your consideration, Bossman

11-02-2012, 12:45 AM

Thank you for asking permission, and you may certainly use my maps in your class. I would be very interested to hear what your students think of them and if any of the students wish to share a glimpse of what they've done I would love to see the results.