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Thread: Is there such a monster?

  1. #21
      ravells is offline
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    By then we'll be hiding in bunkers and looking for ways to take down Skynet.

  2. #22
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    Just to be fair in the discussiion, here's a current link to the Random City Map Generator 5.4, free software used to create fairly realistic village/city map creation as a 'push button' operation. I even use it for developing city layout ideas. I emulate some of it's street placements in my actual map designs, though I never use it verbatim.

    Random City Map Generator.
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  3. #23
      ravells is offline
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    I really wish that the writer of that software had continued with it. If he had incorporated an L-system method of doing the streets with proper T-junctions and vector output this would be an absolutely superb bit of kit. Still, you can't argue with free.

  4. #24
      waldronate is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    Still, you can't argue with free.
    Of course you can! For example, the biggest defect in the random city generator is that its streets don't appear to do anything in the way of self-avoidance or leaving much in the way of spaces between streets. In the real worlds, streets are there for a reason: they connect places of interest in a way that can be navigated efficiently by a mode of transport. If your mode of transport is foot traffic and your streets are evolving from cowpaths, then streets will tend to be curvy, convergng things that follow the terrain pretty well. If your streets are laid out beforehand with cart traffic in mind, then there is likely to be a grid involved and moderately wide streets. If the town has two high-volume points of interest, there is likely to be a wide avenue connecting the two directly. The random city generator doesn't take any of that into account.

  5. #25
      Larb is offline
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    That has always been the thing with the city generator stuff when I've seen it. The streets just never "look right". They seem far too random and for no real reason.

    Also they never take into account particular industries, religious sites, random class/caste based or quirky laws passed by the rulers regarding city development and all that. While initial sites are often chosen according to particular resources in the area, the longer a settlement exists, the more things like that will come into play. Whimsical building projects and laws passed along ideological/religious lines are not far from the norm in history. And then there's disasters, natural and manmade, that can change the face of a city or part of it. Also external threats that force a halt to development because a wall needed to be thrown up.

    I just can't see how a random generator is ever going to be able to take all those kinds of factors into account. I'm not saying they aren't useful or they don't have a place, but I don't think they'll ever be as "authentic" as someone who has put the time and thought into the city they are drawing.

  6. #26
      waldronate is offline
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    Getting moderately plausible maps is possible with a fairly simple generator. Most people don't know enough about what a city looks like or how the world works to know why (or even if, in many cases) what they're looking at is "wrong". Maps also tend to have lots of areas of low detail that the brain fills in with what it wants to see. As an example, the classic fractal fractional Brownian motion terrains look plausible at first glance to most humans. But they are physically implausible. Despite being implausible, they can still be useful in many ways for mapmakers, especially to add a little bit of irregular detail to an otherwise flat space.

    The way to get physically plausible results is with a simulation or set of simulations. Even those are fairly primitive at this stage. CityEngine, for example, is a tool based on simulation that interact with other simulations under the guidance of a human - it can generate quite plausible road maps and buildings under those constraints. However, the human still does the overall planning and lets the machine do the gruntwork of fleshing out details. Would CityEngine ever generate the craziness of Brasilia, the oddly disjointed nature of Lisbon after the reconstruction following the earthquake of 1755, or the total change in cahracter of London following the great fire of 1666? No, because that's not its goal. For the foreseeable future, humans are probably going to do the top-level direction and let the software handle the masses of fiddly details.

    Another example of a simulation that fails is the terrain parts in Wilbur. The results are visually appealing in many cases, but they are still physically implausible to due to the limitations of the simulations. In the real world, erosion isn't dependent solely on the difference between altitudes except in a very few cases. The real world isn't broken into a rectangular grid of square blocks that connect only to their nearest 4 or 8 neighbors. The real world isn't populated by a single manic eroder that goes very, very fast over and over again. But even with these limitations, Wilbur can generate some visually appealing results for some types of maps.

    Software is getting better and better at handling very specialized tasks. But the tools are only as good as the people handling them. Tools can go a long, long way to getting a good result, but for best results at this point in time, most people are better off hiring a specialist than trying to do that task themselves. If people insist on doing the task themselves, then they'll get the pride of the DIYer at the cost of the results of a DIYer (and I'd like to point out that I've seen DIYers get better results than some professionals, but it often takes longer and costs more than just having a professional do it). Software will continue to get better and that will make the lives of the professionals easier as well as the class of folks who want something that looks pretty but who don't care too much about the consistency of the results.

  7. #27
      xoxos is offline
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    random generators can take more into account than you might think. for one thing, they don't always exhibit human limitations or biases, if the programmer includes a forgiving tolerance for the otherwise. w.s. burroughs is often quoted for saying "when you cut into the present, the future leaks through" in regards to his experiments with "cut-up" randomisation (both experiments and observations being well documented), which sounds like a load of cobblers until you experience it, but this delves into regions that could be interpreted as religion so i'll stop there.


    i spent part of my youth living at arcosanti.. the prototype arcology. futures were envisioned with significantly different cultural norms, eg. a predominant techno nomadism, entirely feasible for dreamers. and i have increasingly been living in a manner i prefer rather than waiting for a sensible culture to sweep over me. i don't mean to declaim you, but when you talk about what people "should" do (which is always fine, just fine when sufficiently subjectively qualified..), and, "to make sure everyone gets paid" to me, you are living in some unrealistic mode. being an artist, being skilled or talented, capable, practiced, accomplished, is not a license for income, which capitalists tell me is based on demand. really you are using a subjective envaluation for all your statements. whether it's right or wrong, people don't care about what you care about. if that weren't true, you wouldn't have had to tell the original poster how important you and your profession were.

    art is art, skill is skill. take pride in yourself if you will, but when your pride expects your skill to earn food and a table to eat it off, you're likely to discover that the world is constantly changing unless you are significantly insulated from it. examine what technology did to the swiss watch industry, the epitome of craft.

    professions advance and decline. when imaging and interface is advanced enough, cartography will die out, it won't matter how much love anyone puts into it. it could take centuries, eg. for humans to move on from grouping it with gunsmithing and other "heritage endeavours", but cartography is not immortal.

    i do entirely understand that monetization and being "honoured" for your accomplishments by station of career is very real and inclusive to you. the dream of a polite, civilised society is so appealing.. but utterly impracticable as politeness requires conformity.

    perhaps what you will consider to be most important, i don't get paid much at all for what i do, monetarily, as cultural redaction is my requisite form of income.

    for some of us, or at least often for me, generative algorithms are that careful, vital craft, that can hold the breath of being. i make it that way. if you were to apply your knowledge to generative code, perhaps you'd consider it a serious option.



    whatever anybody does, if they're not setting out to shank nobody, it's okay. remember that.

  8. #28
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    I don't think there's a professional RPG cartographer in existence that does so full time (maybe), almost all have some other day-time job doing something else. I don't think any of us depends upon RPG map-making as a means of putting food on the table, I know I don't. Cartography is only a hobby that sometimes pays, if you're art is sought after in any degree.

    Add to that, my other sideline, which is developing RPG campaign settings as a co-publisher, while the products are 'for sale' items, they hardly provide any kind of consistent income that would allow me to quit my daytime job. Even my "RPG map printing business" is the tiniest percentage of my daytime graphics design/digital print studio daytime business. None of my RPG related income streams, even added together provides enough as a full time income.

    I didn't decide to participate in the RPG industry as a means to make serious money, rather it's a hobby I love that gives me some opportunities to bring gaming material to a fanbase, with a simple goal of paying for itself only, and maybe a little more.

    Am I a capitalist? I am an entrepreneur, so I suppose I am, but that doesn't mean I'd ever intend to 'shank anyone' (I haven't needed to so far). I provide needed services that are paid for, that's all. You're welcome to whatever lifestyle or belief system, you prefer, but I'm certainly not ashamed of what I do.
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  9. #29
      xoxos is offline
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    most people aren't, at least while they're doing it.

    no worries. i've certainly expressed my perspective exhaustively and as always it's only a lack of common experience that produces any discussion.

    i've seen plenty of professional, multimillion products with maps that were probably developed from napkin stains. the idea of people thinking that a marketplace has any reverence for ethics or craft... lol, no way.... i've seen too many guys preach about being moral in business to slow down their competition and then using the most direct route to accomplish the minimum. anyone going into the marketplace expecting ethical treatment from their fellows is at a disadvantage.

    the methods for making a map or accomplishing anything are always what they are.. what comes to the artificer.. we both think romantically about our endeavours.. i expect eg. god or world building aliens would have as much of a chuckle about you saying your handwoven processes are more authentic than procedural processes as you do with the more rudimentary generators. humility.

    ?

  10. #30
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    Which is the beauty of Patron based products through Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and other platforms (like Open Design's inhouse system). Products being developed at a more grass roots level, especially among tabletop RPG creators, small groups of freelancers mostly combining their talents to create RPG material that get paid for as a donation/pre-order, with opportunities to contribute to the ruleset as game designers. It's not created by big publishing houses, doesn't expect multimillion sales, just a way of getting a printed product to game store shelves, essentially created by hobbyist/professionals.

    So, many bigger companies might have a greater propensity for being unethical, doesn't equate to capitalism being inherently flawed. I'm quite satisfied, yet hopeful for the final results of my Kaidan Kickstarter project.
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