Goodness; a whole (active!) forum of talented mapping enthusiasts. And just think, a few hours ago I was despairing of ever putting together a decent map on my own.
Starting around $100, clearly negotiable since I have no idea what an appropriate standard rate would be for such work. Payment method would be your choice; the first options that come to mind are PayPal and cashier's check.
Time Frame -
My project is probably six months from release (hopefully not more), and I can fit a final media drop in even close to the end. So, call it six months.
The game I'm developing uses an ancient Roman theme and posits an expedition where Our Hero sails to an uncharted land and begins exploring. "Exploring" takes the form of battles (naturally--it's Roman after all), where each battle occurs in a distinct region of the new land. Upon winning that battle, any neighboring regions in the map would be revealed (typically one to three), allowing the player to tackle one of those nearby territories next as he works through the continent.
I'm pacing the game to have about 100 such battles in the full campaign, so the map would need to be divided into roughly 100 separable regions, probably collected into two major land masses with perhaps some islands separating them. (Progress pinch points--like passing through a mountain range or onto an island before moving to another major territory, allow me to programmatically enforce that the player has tackled all the regions Behind before moving Ahead.)
Terrain--to the extent that you choose to represent it on the map at all that is--might include mountains, forests, grasslands, deserts, lava, swamps, rivers and coves. Each distinct region for a battle should be predominantly composed of one or two types of terrain (which probably goes without saying; hard to have lava and swamps intermixed with mountains and desert all in the same square mile).
My lack of artistic talent extends to a lack of creativity in fantasy-world organization: I have no hand-drawn mockup map from which to work. I would therefore be relying on you to invent the shapes and sizes of the land masses and individual separable regions within them.
When your own artwork is as bad as mine, anything is an improvement. Given a preference, I'd hope for a semi-professional caliber and a hand-drawn, ancient look; muted colors on parchment, perhaps light navigational marks and other non-essentials to beautify things. Labels are unnecessary unless you have an inspiration or two handy.
Flexible, probably on the order of 2000 x 2000 pixels, raster layout, preferably .PNG format (though I can convert from just about anything: no artistic talent doesn't mean I'm not a fair hand with a few tools). The rendering software can pan and scale, and the first-release hardware has a native display of 480x800 (cell phone) with likely additional hardware targets being desktop and potentially Xbox another year down the road.
I would require sufficient rights to use the map in this project, across multiple hardware platforms, including potentially using portions for relevant advertising (web site, retail box). You are welcome to retain full copyright--including commercial benefit as you see fit--provided my own use is not restricted thereby.
The Catch -
I suspect that the hard part in this project will be the incremental reveal aspect. When the player first reaches the new land's shores, I want to reveal only the single region where the first battle must take place--meaning that I will need some form of feathered alpha mask that I can selectively enable over each region to blot each out until the player has reached them. I'm pretty competent with PSP--can't draw anything except stick figures but I'm good with complex layering--and can work with you to help get (or maybe just describe) the effect I'm looking for, but I'd love suggestions on how to accomplish it.
Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com (no spam warnings; I get that anyway). I've instructed my spam filter to ensure passage of any mails that include "cartographer" in the subject. I'll also watch this thread for replies, so feel free to ask questions here and I'll try to answer them.
Thanks for your consideration!