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Thread: I like maps

  1. #1

    Default I like maps

    Really, who doesn't like maps? I guess I do like them a bit more then average... Just like you guys

    I've been interested in world building, because 'Why' is always the most important question, and maps are a great tool to answer that question... or to hide and obscure answers. I've been drawing maps since i was about 10 or so, starting with bored scribbles in school, via Felt outlines and oil on paper to computer assisted randomised charts. I dabble in programming, writing and dreaming, and I hope we can get along...

    BTW, anyone else seen the large world map from IKEA? That thing has a nice size/price ratio, but such a horrible projection choice


    edit: more details about me
    Last edited by BvG; 01-23-2014 at 05:48 PM.

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  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks


    There seem to be very few computer programs dedicated to map creation, that are also easy to use. why is that?
    Last edited by BvG; 02-04-2014 at 08:04 AM.

  4. #4
    Software Dev/Rep Gracious Donor waldronate's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BvG View Post
    There seem to be very few computer programs dedicated to map creation, that are also easy to use. why is that?
    I would hazard that there are few easy-to-use mapping packages because it's a small market and a fairly difficult problem. Everyone seems to want something different out of their maps: technical maps have a different set of needs than personal-use gaming maps, which are again different from the ones included with books or commercial games.

    End-users seem to agree that they would like to have a mapping tool that lets them scribble a couple of things and have a professional-grade map fall out. However, there are many technical issues and types of maps that need to dealt with (a quick battlemap is different than a whole-world overview, which is different than a city map).

    Take a whole-world map, for example: what's the geometry of the world? A spherical world is different than an ellipsoidal world, which is different than a cylindrical world, which is different than a flat world. Projecting the geometry of the world down to a flat piece of paper is a straightforward task, but it's amazing to me just how many folks come wandering through the guild with no notion that map projections even exist, much less how to do one. Even a simple thing like a tool to measure distance on a map works quite differently depending on the geometry of the world.

    After geometry, then there's style. Is it a classic 15th century map? A modern map? Should it look like it was sketched or woodcut or computer generated? Style is a pretty hard problem. I say this because it's an artistic endeavor and computers aren't very good at art yet. It's simple enough to put together a style that works for a kind of map (ProFantasy has their list of annuals that do precisely this), but coming up with the styles is a hard problem. And to make things even better, a style that may work well for a whole-world map might not work nearly as well for a regional or local map.

    There are many other items for map makers, some of which don't seem to relate to mapping (e.g. if you're making a world and would like to produce maps of particular areas, how do you manage these maps?)

    Anyhow, I'll stop rambling now. It's a problem that a lot of people have looked at and it has been solved reasonably well for a few simple cases. One thing that I've discovered over the last 20 years of playing at writing mapping software is that mapping programs tend to accrete features. Given enough time and enough features, even the simple starting program is no longer going to be simple.

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