Hi everyone! I'm Amit, a lurker who finally registered.
I've always loved maps, both of the real world and of fantasy worlds (usually games). Early in life I drew maps on paper to go along with the worlds I created. Later in life I learned programming, and started creating algorithms for map generation.
My main interest is in world generation algorithms for computer games. Some games (SimCity, Civilization, Minecraft) start with worlds purely generated by algorithm. Other games (such as RPGs) can use algorithms to help designers build the world. I'm interested in both purely automated and computer-assisted world creation.
However, I've also found that maps are my achilles' heel: if I'm working on a project and there's a map involved, it will grab most of my attention. From 1994-1998 I was working on a real-time strategy game involving environmental effects (water flow, forest fires, dams/levees), and ended up spending all my time on map generation (volcanism, rainfall, erosion, towns, roads, etc.), and never got around to combat. Fail! From that point on, I tried to be careful about getting sucked into map generation. It consumes me.
More recently, some friends of mine were writing a game and asked me to make some maps. I started with the techniques I already knew (noise, erosion, rain shadows) to make some simple maps (described here), but I wasn't happy with the results, and this reignited my love of maps. I spent several months trying out ideas and ended up with maps based on voronoi polygons. I knew this would consume me so I limited myself to four months, published what I had come up with so far, then gave myself a year off to do other things.
A year has passed. The itch is back. I just have to be careful. :)
I think I'll learn a lot here. I'm especially interested in generating maps of civilizations (from empires down to individual buildings) and algorithms for rendering beautiful maps. For use in games, realism isn't the top priority for me, but rather interestingness, balance, and ease of understanding.