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Thread: Haevenstad Harbor and the Ydisian Coast

  1. #1
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    Wip Haevenstad Harbor and the Ydisian Coast

    Project Background

    The Hævenstadt (pronounced : HIE-ven-stawd) Harbor Project actually started about a year ago under a different name (Keresk Harbor) as a result of a short story I was writing at the time. The story called for a coastal area that was particularly rough in landform and brutal for sea travel in much the same way the coastal regions of the U.S. Northwest are. In particular, the shoreline needed to be dominated by sea cliffs and jutting rock formations that made passage and landing by sailing vessels particularly miserable. To make matters worse, the entire region needed to be subject to gale-like storms that, more often than not, struck without warning and left the devastation of flooding and landslides in their wake. It wouldn't be an easy place to make a life in, but for cultures (based strongly on old Norse Mythology) that included Humans, Alfar (elfs), Dvergar (dwarfs) and giants of various sorts, such conditions wouldn't be enough to keep them from trying. Hævenstadt Harbor became one of the very rare locales that found itself naturally sheltered from these conditions to a certain degree.

    Since that time, the short story has blossomed into the beginnings of a novel and I discovered a need to further develop not only the harbor itself, but the region surrounding it. When the January Challenge started up, I saw it as an opportunity to work on the project and, if I was lucky enough to get the majority of the votes, end up with a nice wall version of the map from Gameprinter. Much to my consternation, however, a number of events have derailed that plan. But they haven't derailed the entire project.

    Having officially dropped out of the Challenge at this point, I'm no longer weighed down by the burden of the submission deadline, and this will, or so I hope, free me to work on it at a more leisurely pace. It may very well have saved what little hair I have left as well. LOL! In any event, I'm now presenting the Hævenstadt Harbor Project here as a WIP thread and look forward to comments and suggestions from fellow cartographers in an effort to create something that is a bit more complete as far as the mapping aspect of the project goes.

    One of the challenges faced in this project comes from the fact that I am attempting to render these maps in Terragen. Terragen allows me to take a look at things from a character's point of view. It's not just a matter of seeing pretty colors and/or symbols on a map and knowing that they represent mountains, forests, lakes and cities. It is a matter of seeing those things as if you were looking at them from inside the world itself. It isn't just a symbol that represents a mountain, it is the way it towers above you. It isn't just a color that represents an ocean, it is the waves crashing up against the shore. With this "in the world" view, I find myself better able to describe what the characters are seeing as they gaze about.

    The benefit of that perspective, however, comes at a cost. It is a time consuming process on both the editing and rendering sides of the coin. And then there are the textures, the Surface Maps and the Distribution Masks, not to mention the need to come up with names for places of interest. All in all, it is one heck of an undertaking, but it is one that, at least for me, should be well worth the effort and, or so I hope, offer a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I've finished.

    With all of that said, I'll begin this thread, or rather, continue this thread with some details regarding the early development process, back when things were still being crafted for the purposes of a short story.

    GW
    When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.

  2. #2
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    Wip

    Early Development

    As I stated earlier, Hævenstadt Harbor started as something smaller than what it is now becoming. Originally I had dubbed it Keresk Harbor and worked up an initial elevation file to show only the harbor itself. This included both an Upper and Lower portion of the city/town, naturally occurring docks, an engineered promenade between the two portions of the city/town and a short span of the sea cliffs that dominated the region.

    The original idea was that all of these land forms came about naturally, except for the Promenade leading from Lower Hævenstadt to Upper Hævenstadt. That is still somewhat true. The problem with that original concept was the fact that the lower portion of Hævenstadt was simply a bit too unique given it's sole existence along a six hundred some odd mile length of coast. Why in the world would Hævenstadt be the only place where those sea cliffs were broken by one tiny little area that was located at sea level?

    For a while, I didn't have an answer other than to say that "the gods made it so." For the characters, this answer might be enough, but from a geological stand point, it just wasn't enough for me. I needed something more, an origin that could have at least some foundation in reality. To that end, I let things simmer in the back of my mind as I worked on other projects, figuring an answer would come to me at some point in time. And that's exactly what happened.

    I've mentioned before, that I grew up along the Oregon coast, Florence in particular. One of the big attractions in that area is a place called Sea Lion Caves. Sea Lion Caves (actually a singular cave) is (according to the Guiness Book of Records) the largest sea cave in the world, soaring to the height of a 12-story building and stretching the length of a football (American) field. It is also the only year-round, mainland habitat for Stellar Sea Lions.

    It's a pretty awesome sight, by the way, and if you ever have a chance to visit, you should jump on the opportunity.
    During a recent trip home to visit with family, I happened by Sea Lion Caves and got struck by an epiphany. What would happen if the caves collapsed? How would it change the appearance of the lands above the caves? What could cause them to collapse? The more I thought about it, the clearer the picture became.

    A massive earthquake . . . Collapse of the caves . . . The land above the caves crashing down to sea level . . .

    I had my answer. It was still a bit far fetched, but it could, at least in theory, work.

    Millions of years of erosion have slowly dug away the underlying bedrock beneath the area of Hævenstadt. Unbeknownst to the locals, the land, over that time, has cracked and started to slip, resulting in small earthquakes that have been attributed to the anger of the gods. Then a massive earthquake hits. All those cracks finally give way and a portion of Hævenstadt collapses, falling not quite into the sea, but far enough to put it at sea level. As for why it hasn't happened in other areas . . . Maybe the bedrock in this particular location wasn't quite as dense as it is in other locations, or maybe the erosion was helped along by a natural existence of the caves to begin with. Like I said, still a bit far fetched, but workable.

    Now it was simply a matter of extrapolation. How could the people of Hævenstadt turn a rough, rocky grave into a viable piece of land again? A little engineering help from the Dvergar. Sure, it would take several years, decades, probably, but it could be done. And, of course, there'd likely be a bit of magic involved, but all of that could wait for a detailed write-up from a literary stand point. I now had enough to work with from a mapping point of view, so it was off to the drawing board.

    At first, I did things "by hand," intending to import my manufactured elevation file into Terragen. I wasn't looking for extreme detail at this point, just some basics. I figured that, as part of the engineering and excavation process, some of the material culled from the collapsed area would be used to create "natural" docks and/or jetties. They'd also have to create a staircase (or Promenade) leading from the lower portion of Hævenstadt to the upper portion. That meant a little more work when it came to creating the elevation model, but it still was a pretty basic process that resulted in;



    I plugged this into Terragen, added a few Surface Maps for some general coloring and rendered up a couple of quick images just to see where I was at. A birds eye view gave me a basic idea of what the area looked like on a whole;



    But just to be sure things were working out the way I wanted them to, I took a look at the Promenade leading from Lower Hævenstadt to Upper Hævenstadt;



    It wasn't pretty, but it was enough to start working with. Armed with a general idea of how things looked, I buried myself in the writing process for a time. As the story became a bit more involved and needed to expand into other areas, I realized I was going to have to do more with the mapping process. Like many things in my creative life, however, the project hit a brick wall when the professional and personal aspects of my life came calling. To that end, the project, as a whole, sat on a back-burner for quite some time.

    One day, not too long ago, I got to looking for something online for FTPro. Well, actually, I was looking for my registration key. A major computer melt-down put me in a position where I had to install a new hard drive. Fortunately the people at Profantasy were able to help me out and, in the process, I happened across this forum.

    In hindsight, I think I always knew about the Cartographers Guild, but I'd never taken the time to look into it. Now I'm kicking myself for that. In any event, I joined the forum, saw some great work and then caught the Challenge Bug. How nice would it be to have one of my own maps (one that will hopefully become known in the literary world as well) professionally produced as a wall map and available as a feature map on a professional site? It'd be great! So I launched myself into the January Challenge.

    GW
    When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.

  3. #3
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    Recent Development

    To make a long story short, when the January Mapping Challenge started, I thought it'd be pretty cool to have one of my maps professionally printed and hanging on my wall. If I'd been smart about it, I'd have focused strictly on the town of Hævenstadt instead of trying to develop both the town and the region surrounding it. And, of course, it didn't help when family emergencies and work related problems pulled me away from the project. But I still tried to give it my best shot and as much effort as I could spare. Unfortunately time has worked against me and forced me to pull out of the challenge. But that isn't going to stop me from working on the development. Like a number of creative folks I know, the project has consumed me so to speak, and I feel this need to see it through to the end. Besides the sense of accomplishment for finishing it up, it will give me an even better idea of what the story based characters are seeing as they travel in and around Hævenstadt.

    So I've put in quite a bit of work on the regional development over the last few weeks, finding a world in FTPro for Hævenstadt to exist in, editing that world to a point and then realizing that Hævenstadt would fit well in another world I've been working on. Of course, that means more world editing in FTPro on my part, and it might mean some slight changes to the regional map of Hævenstadt, but, on a whole, it should remain fairly close to what I've already developed. In the long run, I'll probably end up with two versions of everything, one rendered in Terragen for an "in-world" view point and one rendered by hand or in PSP for a more global, "out-of-world" view point.

    To that end, this thread will continue with the aspects of both view points in mind and, at times, a mixture of both processes with Terragen rendering some of those "out-of-world" views such as this;



    A larger, slightly more detailed version of the above is available for viewing in the Challenge Forum
    At this point, I am going to continue focusing on regional development and look forward to any comments made by you, my fellow cartographers, whether they be compliments, criticisms or helpful suggestions. Different sets of eyes see different things, and sometimes, I get so focused on the trees that I forget about the forest as a whole.

    GW
    When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.

  4. #4
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    Backtracking

    So one of my bad habits is as follows;

    Step 1 : Generate some raw data

    Step 2a : Smooth out the elevation model
    Step 2b : Trim off the excess fat and define the major continents

    Step 3 : Start building up the main mountain chains

    "Oh wait. Look at those cute little islands, they just need to be loved and hugged and developed and nurtured, let's do that instead."

    Step 4 : Re-start building up the main mountain chains
    Step 5 : Start eroding things a bit.

    "Oh, damn it, I just messed up those little islands I worked so hard on . . . "

    You can probably guess the rest at this point.

    So, in trying to avoid this disaster, I decided to take a couple steps backwards and finalize the foundations of the world I'm working on with the intent of pulling in a couple of side projects that I've been working on that would fit well with the overall world concept.

    To that end, I went back to Step 1, and regenerated the world as a whole with a few revamped generation settings. Then it was off to steps 2a and 2b. Once they were taken care of, I readied myself for Step 3, reminding myself not to jump ahead. But as I was looking at the world as a whole, I was struck by the thought that something seemed a bit odd or, maybe, a bit out of place.

    Now it could just be me since I am peculiar about things, but I thought that this might be a good point to involve another set of eyes (or several sets of eyes for that matter) and find out if things looked odd or out of place to anyone else. So I've included three attachments;

    Attachment One is the raw results from FTPro without any editing what so ever.

    Attachment Two is the result after smoothing the elevation model to cut the mountains down. And yes, I know it means I will just have to rebuild them, but I've never quite liked the way FTPro always places them near the center of the land masses. To me, that just seems so very odd.

    Attachment Three is the result after trimming down the fat and defining the major continental land masses. This is the point where things seem a bit odd. I think it is the central land mass that is bugging me. At this point, it gives the impression of being two major continents (like North and South America) and I have this feeling that it should be three major continents (i.e. North, South and Central America). Again, maybe it is just me. In any event, if anyone has time and wants to offer their opinions or suggestions, I'd welcome them.

    GW
    When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.

  5. #5
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    World Creation - Sometimes you just have to take a few steps back to get 1 step toward your goal....

    or

    World Creation - Sometimes it's a drag!
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.



  6. #6
      Jkaen is offline
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    I would have thought if you take in the bay thats about 2/3 up the centre continent on the east, and have it eat into the land a bit more due east then you should end up with the 3 distinct continents you are after.

  7. #7
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jkaen View Post
    I would have thought if you take in the bay thats about 2/3 up the centre continent on the east, and have it eat into the land a bit more due east then you should end up with the 3 distinct continents you are after.
    I'm not specifically after three distinct continents. My concern is whether or not it should be three continents or not. Part of me says it is just fine as two continents and part of me says it should be three. And, of course, I can be indecisive as all get out sometimes.

    Anyways, I'm a gonna bomb the tar out of the world with some asteroids and meteors and see if that suggests anything as far as reshaping the continents goes.

    GW
    When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.

  8. #8
    Guild Adept joão paulo's Avatar
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    Leave the Final Judgment happen
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  9. #9
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    A little side trip . . .

    Given the fact that I'm a little frustrated with the elevation model at the moment, I decided to take a break from that and slip over to the Terragen side of things and do a little work with my texture masks. They're still in their early stages and, at least for the time being, I'm concentrating my efforts on developing a few good forest textures.

    All the light green, yellow and tan aside, this first render should give an idea of where I'm trying to head. The darker green areas are my main concern at the moment. I think they are almost there, as far as having a tree canopy feel to them, but, as always, other eyes might see things differently, so I'm open to opinions and suggestions.

    GW
    When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.

  10. #10
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    Hard for me to tell (at that scale), but it definitely looks like your headed in the right direction.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.



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