View Full Version : Newbie, Need input and advice

11-16-2009, 01:05 AM
Hey all,
This is my second post. I am a true cartographer enthusiast and a really big fan of RPG's - Ultima in particular.

I am interested in starting a majorly huge undertaking to reimagine Britannia. I want to consider:
Size and scaling of the continent
Political and demographic issues
Economy and trade routes
Geology and land formation

I intend on using this project as a means of teaching myself Photoshop, Terragen, L3dt, and others, and I suspect it will take a LOT of time. I would appreciate help and input, especially from other Ultima fans.
As a finished product I intend on producing:
A highly detailed heightmap (in 24kx24k pixels)
Nice renders and flybyes
A pretty photoshop map
A hand painted historical looking map done on true parchment (goat skin)

I have a question and a few pictures I would like some critique on.
First, the question. I want to make a thread where I can track my progress, but I am not really sure where the best place to start it is. Any advice?

Also, my progress.
The files:
1. - a mockup of a heightmap that I created by piecing together DEM's of malaysia and indonesia to create a HF of britannia (original is 8192x8192)
2/3 - Map A/Map B - these are concepts I made of shorelines. There are aspects of each that I like (I highlighted them) but ultimately I am not qualified to identify which appear to be geologically correct. Map A, to me, seems to have more character, and Map B seems to me to be more geologically correct, but I am not sure. pI ultimately intend to perhaps merge these. Any advice on what to change in either? The size I am shooting for is about 500 Miles for the continent. Thanks

11-16-2009, 11:18 AM
Looks good, and interested to see where this goes.

11-16-2009, 01:42 PM
Which map (A/B) do you like better?

11-16-2009, 02:15 PM
Here is a third option, some portions merged. I like it, but it looks a little frankenstein. Too much going on perhaps? I want to make sure there are noticeable trends like shoreline erosion from currents, etc. SOme of that might be lost here

11-16-2009, 02:18 PM
Here are some references:
Ultima Online (http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/m.dodge/cybergeography/atlas/ultima_large.jpg)

Ultima 7 cloth map (http://www.ultimainfo.net/Maps/Maps/U7Map.jpg)

Ultima 4 map, the original (http://www.ultimainfo.net/Maps/Maps/Micro-u4map_lg.jpg)

11-16-2009, 02:24 PM
I don't get it....isn't there an official version of a reasonably accurate map? It looks like all the maps in reference versions are different....so I guess the question is which one you want to emulate...or am I missing something?

Played Ultima in the '80s but have forgotten most of it now. Maybe we should ask Lord British....that was his name right?

11-16-2009, 04:36 PM
Hi. Good point. My main reasoning is this:
Britannia is the main setting for ultimas 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and online. In each of these games, the lay of the land is extremely different. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all scaled down neatly to crpg size. By this I mean around 2 to 4 miles in diameter, 8 to 10 towns and around 250 inhabitants. I also seriously doubt the game designers were referring to real maps when they made their first version back in 1984.

People often take a vast fictional land and scale it down for game purposes, cutting detail left and right. Take middle earth for example.
My goal is to do this in reverse by taking a game setting and scaling it up to reality level, adding details on the way. So in short, what I am trying to do isn't recreate existing maps, but rather reimagine Britannia by projecting existing information onto realistic forms of land, climate, politics and trade. One example: the game is set in a proto medieval setting driven by agriculture. For some reason there are no lords and manors, though so I will add these. The project will not accomplish my goals, however if I do things like make shoreline spits drift into the curent instead of with it, or if I unwittingly make river violations or apply erosion that isn't appropriate for the climate, etc.

So that is why I want to get communit input on which parts of my land forms adhere to the right set of rules. And I appreciate everyones help.

11-18-2009, 02:05 PM
your Z? que?

11-18-2009, 02:14 PM
Its spam and will be delt with in two microseconds....

11-18-2009, 10:07 PM
My first learning project was also Britannia, though my goal would be better described as a synthesis of the game maps than a re-imagining.


11-18-2009, 10:21 PM
Well some progress. I have been going through the old ultima maps, and numbers 4 and 5 (because of the dual scale world) really seemed to be scaled big, but not big enough.
By taking the size of a cell and setting it equal to a small town (say 500 ft), then multiply by 512 (number of cells) you get about 50 miles. I looked at google earth and have found no 50 mile islands with near enough mountain and shoreline detail that these maps have.

Because the continent contains multiple mountain chains, and is in the middle of the ocean, I surmise it must be much bigger. I am not finding mountain chains much shorter than 100 miles on Google earth, so scaling up, I think the smallest this continent can be is about 300 miles. It has too much feature for a coral atoll or a volcanic island, though there is some volcanic activity. That being said, how does the strange C-shape get created? I am postulating that the left hand side is of the island is formed by a plate tectonic convergence boundary. That leaves the possibility of some of the smaller islands being caused by andesite volcanics. I am working out how this can be possible and will make some sketches.

I also intend on taking a look at how major ocean currents behave. I found these neat map of new zealand currents. I will come up with something similar for this.
New Zealand Currents (http://www.nzetc.org/etexts/Bio20Tuat03/Bio20Tuat03_127a.jpg)

Anyhow, I compared all of the maps of britannia, and found that ultimas 4,5,6 and 7 actually agreed pretty well with each other as far as the shoreline. The other major features, rivers and mountain ranges, were very different however. I took the most detailed one (ultima 5 - also the largest scale) and made an outline of it so that I had a base to make notes on and tweak the shape.

11-18-2009, 10:30 PM
Thats neat - I like the art style, very clean. I am going to go for a similar level of detail, but with my scaled up content. It will show the roads, forests, and stuff in the same kind of way. I am going to do it by hand and try to copy the style of maps like those on this page, including the navigation rhumb lines (particularly the one on the bottom):


11-18-2009, 11:41 PM
Just found this sweet picture.
I will be using this to make my map.
Plate Tectonics puzzle (http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/research/deformation/modeling/teaching/puzzle/puzzle(A0).jpg)

Also turns out that there are 5 types of mountains:
Fold - Alps
Fault Block - Sierra Nevada
Volcanic - Iceland
Dome - Navajo mountain, Utah
Plateau - not really a mountain

Starting to think that the mountains near spiritwood will be fault blocks, of andesite volcanic, and serpents spine will obviously be fold mountains.

Some interesting rules I noticed about plate tectonics:
There are almost no plate boundaries that are on land. Almost all are under water.
Fold mountains can happen anywhere in the plate because plates arent rigid.
Plates apparently can move in multiple directions and not all boundaries have directly opposing motion. Interesting.

11-19-2009, 12:32 AM
Alright guys, don't know if anyone is reading these, but I have had a busy day and am turning in. This is my first guess at possible plate tectonics so I make sure there are believable mountain ranges. Shorelines will follow eventually. I have surmised that the mountain features are the most important part of a continent, almost like bones in a skeleton, and that perhaps it is best to start shaping a map by coming up with their placement first.

My major hypothesis is that there is some form of plate twist going on created by the center plate moving NW while it is getting pushed S by the upper right plate and NE by the left plate.

Tell me what you think. I think my notes are self explanatory, but tell me if anything isn't

Steel General
11-19-2009, 06:49 AM
While plate tectonics (and their effects) don't come into play in my maps all that much, I'm still interested to see how this turns out.

11-19-2009, 01:50 PM
Thanks for the note. I am starting to think that it doesn't matter for most maps, but when people crank out massive world maps without considering mountain formation, you get stuff like this:
Faerun (http://www.ovarus.com/lfr/images/lfr_fullsize.jpg)

I think they designed it by dropping dried macaroni on a paper and drawing a mountain range wherever a piece fell.