Is there such a monster?
I am new here, and just read through the tutorial. Now, before I dive in an download the GIMP software, I noticed there were some other programs preferred, but I know very little about what methods people use. So, I'll appeal to one of you who knows the ropes well...
The reason I came here was because I was hoping to discover software that would generate a random map that I could then tweak and modify, and add cities, towns, labels, etc, to. I am not interested in drawing it with the computer - what I'm looking for is a program that has "add it" buttons. Before I download GIMP and play around, I thought I'd post this real quick just in case someone knows of just the thing for me. If not, tips are always appreciated.
Well, one of our members (xoxos) has been working on this. Not sure if that fits you requirements or not, but it might be worth the look.
I don't know a program offhand that will automatically generate the full set of towns, roads, labels, etc.
There are lots of programs that will generate a base map image (http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/software.html has such a package, for example, with a fair number of tutorials hereabouts) and it's pretty straightforward to generate such a map using the noise functions built into most drawing packages. The software mentioned can also generate basic vector contour output for use in third-party packages such as Inkscape if you're more of a vector-type person.
Thanks for your comments.
I'll be more specific if that helps narrow it down a little. What I'm looking for is a program that will generate a random terrain, minus the villages and settlements. The only requirement that I'd have is it has to be enclosed by a forest and I have some ideas where the lakes and major features are. This might be the standard software in the introduction package, but like I said earlier, I have little time available to learn something new. Anyway, again, I appreciate your suggestions and feedback!
i'd go with wilbur to start with. or perhaps use some stochastic method (generate noise, threshold to create shoreline.. can be done very quickly) in gimp et c.
mine does world maps at 4096 * 2048, so not so cool for regional maps. still doesn't do more than render a height field atm (added bmp output to the version i think i linked, but that's all..)
there was another guy here with the same intent.. an app to generate the lot, nations, cities, roads, for people who want arbitrary planets.. his last blog entry is 4/10..
Not to seem sarcastic, but I read threads like this all the time. Would you as a creative writer agree that your job requires careful thought, planning, an understanding of logic, composition, active vs. passive text, and a host of other thought provoking detail requirements to create meaningful fictional content? Including more than likely a college degree?
You're asking for software to automatically generate meaningful terrain, geologically sound, with logical placement of roads, communities, farms, labels, etc, is almost the same as if I as a professional cartographer want to create a publication, but I don't want to pay a writer to do it. I want software to automatically generate the compelling fiction accurately, so I can provide the maps and sell it as a product. You and I both know, that such a request is silly, even irresponsible.
Your request for automatic, believeable map generation is just as insane, in my opinion. In order to create a believeable map, you need a human, a skilled cartographer to do that, especially something for publication.
While there certainly exists software for random city generation, random terrain generation, even software that will place rivers that are geologically sound based on erosion alogrythms to depict a realistic terrain - it's going to be random, or even with user intervention using scanned height maps, etc - it will not duplicate the cartographic thinking required to make a sound map. Such software can certainly help you create the directions for a decent map - you still require a cartographer to accurately finish the map to a usable format.
I don't think you realize what you're asking.
When a creative writer doesn't realize that art, illustration and cartography are just as vital to fictional creation as the writing itself, and actually requires direct human participation - there's something wrong with your concept... Do you understand where I'm coming from?
I think you'd be far better off, asking for a paid cartographer to do what you're asking.
So basically...no, it doesn't really exist. There are some things that can sort of mimic the variables using mathematics but you still have to have a brain behind it so that it makes sense. Even then we are always catching one another doing things that don't happen in nature. (See 'River Police' :))
Check out some of the items mentioned above for those generators.
While GP's post seems a bit of tough love he also makes some valid points. I think a majority of us here are basically artists who make maps. Some use a lot of math and others just go with what their gut tells them. A few here have actual jobs making maps in the real world. As for me, I'm an artist who's day job just doesn't have anything to do with art. This is probably where a lot of us come from.
The reason I mention all this is so you might understand how the question raised might come across.
If I had to boil it down it would go something like this:
Hey all you artists, I would like to know if you know of a robot that can replace all of you because I am not an artist, don't have time to learn how to be one, and yet I want some art.
If there was such a robot I'm not sure how most of us would feel about it, LOL. I imagine the day a computer can paint stuff better than I can is the day I'm hanging up my crayons.
Really, I'm not insulted by your request, and don't mean to come off as being upset or anything like that - sorry for the 'tough love'. I just find it surprising that writers (you're not alone, many writers start similar threads like this one) think their work requires serious effort, while the art or maps is a 'push button' solution. I find it mind boggling that you'd think so.
Especially since I am a writer as well, and fully know the amount of work required in both writing and cartography for a professional job. Neither are 'push button' tasks. The amount of work and preparation to create 5000 to 10,000 words of meaningful fictional text is equivalent to a single mapped region, village or dungeon (depending, of course, on your particular skillsets, competency and speed of workflow).
as a non-hostile reply to gamerprinter -
we live in a culture where envaluation is highly influenced by monetization, and.. if i can say it to you in turn, "i see your kind of protest all the time.."
it's not an unreasonable request. computers allow for an immense amount of procedural development, and the primary point which you ought to appreciate is that there are many many many users in the world who do not have your standards, and are going to be okay with a blob with a few dots and squiggly lines on it. it's not an insult to your craft, it's a matter of less involvement. there's pop music and there's classical.
i think waldronate can offer a similar perspective on procedurality as i... most gamers are quite happy with the proceduralism of simplifying a combat round to a dice throw outcome. as a melee enthusiast, i could quite happily amend this simulation with many layers of complexity. if i wished, i could also act scornful and say that the simplification of a melee round to a dice throw is offensive to someone with my skills to complicate the simulation..
..in fact, if there were many "complex melee simulators" we would get together and roam the internet in gangs arguing that people respect our practice and accept that a quality outcome requires our level of involvement. but as you can appreciate, a single dice throw is just fine for people who couldn't care less and don't know any better.
where i'm coming from.. i've spent a decade physical modeling musical instruments.. these models are superior to sampled instruments (the other primary technology in instrumental simulation) due to the degrees of articulation. timbral fidelity is usually inferior. some of my models have really sucked.. but never enough to make me use samples.
(and you can generally spot the industry professionals in the reviews of my plugins.. like my vibes model phybes.. fairly simple simulation, good enough for most users.. the guy who posts a half page and talks about my ancestry and the functionality of my rational faculties? he sells vibraphone sample sets lol)
both envaluations have strengths and weaknesses.. instant procedural worlds would rock for (a very narrow range of role playing events, such as dimension travelling or whatever..)
*even if some of the rivers were in the wrong place* >:)
perhaps the aspirations of myself and other pursuants are misguided. i think there is an application, a niche if you like... it's like transhumansists vs. organics.. while more or less diametrically opposed, both have some values, and ideally it would be fine if both could follow their progress without the need for declamation.
i see what you're saying... i've done a lot of work that others don't appreciate.
but, i'd never expect others to. it's my work.
it's not an idle question.. if someone with some resources (say stanford) put an instant generator together it'd be a fair bit more realistic than some penniless schmo who has barely hacked his way into the win32 sdk, and, like some tosser making physical modeled instruments, would probably be balked by unscrupulous, jealous, and greedy persons who earn their income from the alternative.
i've run into a lot of those kinds.. not that that's where you're coming from. some of them will try and take out anything that challenges their perceived wellbeing, and that is such a drag for those of us who are only interested in improvement.
and i'm going to add, for emphasis..
i really, really hate money... it turns creativity and joy into need. suddenly the artificer has to defend the social peception of their activity. i can't think of a faster, more effective way to turn people against each other.