View Full Version : Northern Gun Map (Rifts RPG). Seeking advice/opinion.

04-01-2014, 12:42 AM
Hey, all.

I did a good bit of work on a map based on the Rifts RPG over the holidays, but I came to a point where I had trouble deciding a few key issues. Here's the map: http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac332/willerwin/UPMasterMap_zps0265309a.png (http://s913.photobucket.com/user/willerwin/media/UPMasterMap_zps0265309a.png.html)
(Note: the actual image size is larger than this, but the website won't allow a 3300x2600 map to show up in all its glory. Neither will Photobucket, but it shows enough for you to get the idea. Sorry if some of the labels are a little hard to read)

Here are the design issues I'm having:
1. The most-glaring one deals with the blue glowy lines and spots. In Rifts, these are important areas known as ley lines, and a points of intersection is an especially important place called a nexus. There is a pair of ley line nexuses in neighboring Wisconsin that I placed on the map based on text from the game, but I can't find any canon references on the actual ley lines that intersect there (where they go, how long they are). I like their look, but without intersecting ley lines, the map just feels incomplete. Do I invent ley lines and slap them in, or do I just delete the nexuses?

2. I haven't done any kind of border art for the map. Rifts is a kitchen sink game, and many different themes could work, but I'm not sure which, if any, to run with. A fancy painting frame? A beat-up Northern Gun computer display? A Coalition intel file? A magic map from the Lazlo Council of Learning's archives? Or should I just stick with a minimalist approach, keeping the focus on the terrain itself and allowing people who want a hard copy to adjust and print without having to worry about having to crop here and there?

3. The map lacks a legend and compass rose, which I've held off on until the previous issue is resolved, since I'd want those features to match the theme of the frame, if I do one. Of course, since up is north on this map, it seems a bit redundant. How important is the legend and compass rose to you?

4. The water. I've experimented with a few different techniques for doing water in previous maps; the one I have for NG right now works, but it's a bit plain. Do I go for a flowing, textured look that doesn't really convey any practical information but looks cool, an underwater topography render that might have some utility for underseas types but tends not to look as good, or do I stick with something simple to help accentuate all the land details I've done? Or should I try something new?

5. Although it looks good on a computer screen, the map is not yet optimized for physical printing; it would probably come out way too dark at this point. Do I optimize for print or for screen display? Is it feasible to optimize for both?

6. Should I keep the color in Mantistique's logo, or should I keep it black and white, like the other two?

7. How is the color? I have a minor color vision impediment when it comes to greens. I can see them, but it can be hard to judge the right levels of saturation.

Of course, any other suggestions or critiques would be welcome.

04-01-2014, 01:30 AM
Definitely keep the leylines and nexuses and invent whatever you need to keep them in place, what's a rifts map without any rifts?

For border work I'd go with the high tech look as is the most common form of information storage and display in Rifts (even if there are plenty of other options as you mention, even the introduction style reports by whoshernameerinsomething are usually listed as being on some sort of data disk) and your map looks more digital anyhow.

A key in that same style can have a very simplified digital compass indicating predictably that north and up are one in the same without taking up much space or attention.

The water question depends on your target audience as does the print question. Aquatic adventures have not been a common thing in my circle of friends despite us loving the books for the water themes.

As a 35 year old gamer in my experience more people will show off maps on a computer than bother printing them, but that's a single persons experience so not a lot of data points to go on.

I like the colored logo, it doesn't introduce many new colors to the map or I might feel it was a bit much.

The green all looks good to me.

I like your choice of my birth state for a map, in a totally non-biased way of course. Your islands have a some what blobby look to them in places, like the ring of them along the southern edge of the U.P. Looking very good over all!

04-01-2014, 12:28 PM
Thanks for the feedback. You make a number of excellent points. The blobby islands are something of an issue (I quite agree with your assessment), but that was driven by my decision to try to conform as much as possible to published Rifts books. I made their coasts a bit more choppy on a small, zoomed-in scale, but maybe I should toss the canon island shapes and give them a more natural look.

04-01-2014, 01:08 PM
Not much you can do about cannon material. I'd suggest that they are unlikely to further develop the small local maps for the area so there will be little you could do that will directly contradict the cannon material. Things that look blobby zoomed out will be expected to be more detailed on a different scale of map.

04-01-2014, 02:41 PM
Part of it, too, is WILBUR, the program I use for erosion and rivers. It makes for a nice product for larger land-masses, but the little coastal rivers can give a humped look to the shores of the small islands. Your point is well-taken; I'll have to think on how I can re-work these islands.

04-27-2014, 10:16 PM
Now that I finished the Atlantis map project, it's time to get this one finished. I took a stab at re-doing the land outline by adding HSV noise, throwing in a gaussian blur, and then using the threshold function to get a nice, randomized shape. After running it through WILBUR again and re-doing my color gradients, the islands look a lot less blobby, especially when I zoom in.

I also added in some water effects, shooting for a similar effect to what I had in my Atlantis map, made the city icons solid objects, similar to the icons they name, and added in more lay lines to justify the nexuses.

I welcome any thoughts/critiques you might have.

I still have some finishing touches to do: a compass rose, legend, and frame.

04-29-2014, 07:57 AM
A few more changes for today's draft:
+I made a new compass rose for this map. I went for a more angular look with the ring, and I used the NG logo as the central symbol.
+I re-balanced some of the water effects and lightened the water. I still need to look at ways to suggest the deep spots.
+I added some color effects to the national borders.

05-01-2014, 12:48 AM

I wanted a steel frame for this map, but my first attempt was too clean and boring, so I tried using a scratched steel texture, but the rough look clashed with the style of the map, so I tried my hand at creating a damascus steel texture for the frame. I'll probably use more of the same texture for the legend.

05-01-2014, 04:19 PM
Part of it, too, is WILBUR, the program I use for erosion and rivers. It makes for a nice product for larger land-masses, but the little coastal rivers can give a humped look to the shores of the small islands. Your point is well-taken; I'll have to think on how I can re-work these islands. I've played with wilber with some success . You can make selections to "mask" areas from Affects and then invert that Selection and run different settings on those areas.

05-01-2014, 05:22 PM
Interesting idea; I'll try that the next time I do small islands. Thanks!

05-01-2014, 11:12 PM
All the intended map elements are now in place. If you've the time and inclination, I'd appreciate suggestions and opinions before I do my final polish.

I also made a natural geography version that has a few labels which had to be cut for the icons/political labels.

05-01-2014, 11:35 PM
Very good. If I had any criticism left it would be that your town symbols seem to sit a bit far above the map for my taste, it makes them integrate less readily with the purely 2d political labels. Very fun to see an rifts map, especially one of my birth state.

05-02-2014, 10:55 AM
Labels and icons are an interesting aspect of cartography to me. What I've been going for lately is having transparent regional labels, which allow the viewer to see more of the terrain, mixed with solid icons for settlements, whose locations and natures (city, town, capital) are more important than the relatively small amount of space they take up.

I like the look of the solid icons, but you make an interesting point. Perhaps I could give them less of a dropped shadow? I'll think on it.