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Durakken

World Maps & city design

12 posts in this topic

How do you come up with these? I've tried to make world maps and they always turn out horrible. And cities what I see in games always seems small to me and I always wish I could explore more, but i have never been able to figure out how to lay out a world that doesn't seem just made up and small. [Edited by - Durakken on January 2, 2009 3:58:05 PM]
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The same way you write good stories. Get out and experience. If you want to make cities that feel right, get out and live in a few. Look at maps of them and try to understand how they grew through the decades. City layout is an organic thing.

Puzzles take a certain amount of talent but experience goes a long way. In that case though you are looking to work with many different kinds of puzzles. You may still be deriving your puzzles from others you have worked, but there will be a much bigger base to pull from.
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What do you mean by a horrible world map? Do you have an example I could see?
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http://durakkenstudios.com/muyzielmap.bmp

I consider that fairly bad...dunno what others think but it just doesn't seem like a world map
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Quote:
Original post by Durakken
http://durakkenstudios.com/muyzielmap.bmp

I consider that fairly bad...dunno what others think but it just doesn't seem like a world map


One thing I noticed is that the countries or w.e they are have a lot of jaggedy lines or w.e on the edges, it doesnt look natural. And just keep practicing, as you make more and more you will find yourself making better and better maps because you wont be making the same mistakes you made on your others.
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I think it just takes time to get used to it, because the "correct" world map is stuck in people's head.

Your world map would look more real if it is not on a 2D grid. If you project it like this it would look better. It looks small when you fit it on a 2D grid, because our brains are conditioned to interpret it as just a small section of the surface of a sphere.

A way to stick with 2D grid is this. This is easier to draw because the cells are still orthogonal. Note that the overall map is rectangular, not square. Longitudes span 360 degrees, lattitudes only span 180 degrees. So in your original style, the overall map should have a 2:1 length to height ratio, with land near the top and bottom edges stretched. You original worldmap appears to be missing half of the world.

[Edited by - Wai on January 2, 2009 5:06:28 PM]
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Any city (even town) you do in a game is really just a caricature of anything real. Few people want to take the effort to match the size and detail of reality (even if they could afford to). The important thing is to get many of the elements/landmarks that make up a town/city/village to be present. Usually after that it is mostly repetition anyway (which usually wont add anything to the story/plot).

You could use procedural programming to 'grow' a city from sets of the basic elements, but depending on your templates it starts looking repetitious immediately. Hierarchical templates for element features can allow combinatorics to make things look less the same. Unfortunately you start needing MANY templates to vary item and NPC behavior details and alot of logic to validate and make cohesive scenes.
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In terms of world map, I suggest taking a look and playing around with this.

In terms of city layout, consider recent "real life", or how much of North America was settled hundreds of years ago. When settlers reach a new area, they immediately look for reliable sources of natural resource (water, forest, mineral deposits, gold, arable land, game hunting, etc). A pioneer will settle nearby this resource. Following this initial settlement, the pioneer will establish his base of sustenance so he can survive.

Given the natural resources mentioned above, water means fishing, mills, and water-borne traders. Forest means construction lumber, furniture, firewood, and maple syrup. Mineral deposits mean rock quarries, and salt/coal mines. Gold means gold rush. :) Arable land means livestock and farming. Game hunting means hides, fur and meat.

Traders who travel from settlement to settlement collecting these odds and ends eventually form roads, making travel to the settlements easier. This brings in other pioneers who bring with them various trades or skills which might be desired or complimentary to the initial settler's trade or skill. Rinse and repeat, and you eventually have a small town.
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Quote:
Original post by Durakken
http://durakkenstudios.com/muyzielmap.bmp

I consider that fairly bad...dunno what others think but it just doesn't seem like a world map




Not too bad (rivers need a little work)
Its only the start of what would be needed. Think 50 layers of detail beyond that...


Contours
Weather/Climates
Flora
Fauna
Inhabitants
Gross Social structures (political entities)
Fine Social structures (communities)

Plot devices




If you are random generating maps for a game (runtime) then it can be much harder as all your validation rules have to work and you have to make it develope the cohesive aspects of the elements to match real patterns. If you are hand (pre) generating the map you can guide the preocess yourself (still using the generaing tools) and you can redo bits that are wrong/look bad.

On the fly generating of subsections usually doesnt work because the cohesion with adjacent sections doesnt holdup. Ive done this before but only with (hand) pregenerated seedmaps for the entire gameworld where the larger patterns are already worked out.
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yeah just take some time and study some maps.Especially old maps with rivers + deltas and mountains + hills on them.See how rivers flow from mountains our large plains usually in the center our close.irregular shaped bays and inlets ect...

like well this Image Hosted by ImageShack.us<br/>

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I'm a writer, and there I find myself with the same problem. The best method I've heard is to take a piece of paper, and chop it into irregular pieces, then shuffle the pieces together. Where the pieces meet, place mountain ranges. Then decide where the sun is going to hit this planet (it may well be the axis of rotation, rather than perpendicular to it) to determine climate ranges. Then grab a basic geography book for tips as to where to place things like deserts (usually opposite a mountain range) and plains and such. Make some rivers, and place forests and other such environments around them (in the appropriate climates).

For manmade things, start at any random place (probably plains, near a river) make a city, then branch off. Divvy up the settled land into nations and vwalla. You should probably clear any forests near the human/humanlike developments, unless they're something like elves.

It's an engaging process, but it works quite well for campaigns (Dungeons and Dragons), books, and video games. The other alternative is quite simple, and in some cases more effective: make what you need and branch out from there. In this way, the world will fit the story/game. This method is easier, but often it creates worlds that feel artificial.
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The first thing that looked obvious to me is that your world map lacks ice poles. That gives the feeling that what we see is just a small part of the world.

Other people pointed out that the lack of projection distortion gives this feeling too. The usual projection we use for ol' good Earth maps is cylindrical. One of the effects is that we are used to a world map twice wider than it is high. Your map is squared, this also gives an impression of it being a fragment.

I would add another oddity : presuming that your world is about the same size of ours, you shouldn't put rivers on the map. At this scale, usually, it is not worth the trouble.

If you want to keep things realistic, you should be very aware of the scale you are using. The big lake I see on your map is as big as the Black Sea. If it is, as I presume, a mountain lake, this is a highly improbable feature. Most of your rivers seem to be as long or longer than the Nile itself, maybe you would like to look into that.

A final advice on world maps : we react to our worlds map because we put a real meaning behind the lands of Africa, Russia, America, Europe, Japan. Older maps used to put symbolic pictures inside of countries to illustrate them. A Zulu warrior in Africa, a Tuareg in the Sahara, a Mandarin in China, Apaches in America. If you want people to relate to your map, there should be such clichés available for each continent. An island is less expressive than an island with a drakar drawn next to it. ("they may not be just peaceful fishers")

About cities : walk in a big city and you'll see that 80% of the town is not a very interesting place. It is an environment where stuff can happen but this is just a setting, like a forest or a mountain path. There are key points in cities : business centers, commercial hubs, railroad stations or airports, nightlife centers. For technical and human reason, it is often not desirable to make a whole city explorable. But if you wish to give an idea of its size, putting several disconnected "zones" on a map of the city can have players acknowledge of its grand size.
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