Pathfinder MMO

Its not often I write about non Greyhawk things on my site but Paizo and Goblinworks are on their last day to fund their Kickstarter so I wanted to lend them whatever help I can by urging you to consider supporting them and pledge, here is a link to the page: Pathfinder Online: A Fantasy Sandbox MMO

I think what they are up to will become a great MMO that I’m looking forward to play!

Dim Forest and the Valley of the Mage preview

I’m working on Dim Forest and the Upper end of the Valley of the Mage trying to give them the right feel. Both are famous (or infamous?) locations for most Greyhawk gamers, like fighting the Reptile Cult in the Rushmoors south of the village Orlane.Vale of the Mage

This is my second pass of basic editing, adjusting terrain and placing things. Soon I hope to be able to move on to touch up and trying to make things look right, not only be in the right place. Area map 57 covering Bissel and the northern part of Gran March will be out in a couple of days.
Then I’ll move continue down the Sheldomar Valley to cover Geoff, Sterich, the rest of Keoland and finally Yeomanry. This is the most mountainous area of the Flanaess and very rich in history which makes it a challenge that takes some extra time both to research and then to map.

Thank you for your support!

Funding

I have gathered $1,600 already, I’m humbled by the support, thank you all so much. I have ordered the first set of parts, SSD’s and a controller card so I can open and save document in 10 seconds rather than 10 minutes. This will make my work sessions more effective.

Happy New Year, and some news!

I hope you’re having fun celebrating right now, myself I couldn’t stay away from one of my favorite place at my computer.

I just received the latest newsletter from Lone Wolf Development, as most of you know the company that makes Hero Lab. They have a new tool for GM under development called Realm Works. It looks very promising and I have tried to get on the beta testing team but not been accepted. Anyway they are going to have a Kickstarter (who isn’t these days ;)) to try and get funds for added functions and faster release. It seems like I might be able to get on the beta team after all if I back them. Its not up yet but I intend to back them so I can try and make Greyhawk maps for their online repository, so GM’s running Greyhawk campaigns can have Greyhawk content easily available.

Maybe other fans can contribute their specialties and we can make high quality Greyhawk material available for Realm Works early on. I’ve wanted a tool like Real Works since I got my first computer many years ago, so I’m really interested to see what it’s like. After some getting used to Hero Labs and I can cooperate really well, especially for use as a player. You can read about Realm works here: Lone Wolf Development

Happy New Year everyone and thank you all for all the help and support you’ve offered me!

Anna

Bryce screenshots

Bryce view 291212

 

Here comes a couple of screenshots from the latest terrain building spree in Bryce. as you can see most of the Flanaess have gone through at least a first round of terrain construction. It consists of a bit over one thousand terrain objects each having around half a million polygons, my version thereby consists of roughly 5,000,000,000 polygons this far into the project.

 

 

Bryce view 291212renderThe next screenshot is a preview render centered over the Sheldomar Valley showing my work to try shaping the extensive and mighty mountain chains of the west. The southern parts are just the same terrain object copied, moved a bit and then pasted again. I do that first to get the general position right. Then comes the process of “handcraft” each terrain object to portray how that part of the Flanaess are shaped. I use the term handcrafted since what I do is I “paint” things like altitude, various different algorithms to build things like gentle rolling hills, mighty alps, canyons. Then I apply erosion or sharpen the features to get the landscape I want. When this part is done there are the  plains of the west, Sea of Dust, the Ameido and Hepmonaland left.

Road Map 2013

Time to write down goals and ideas I have for the future, but first some thoughts of the past. I’ve been working on mapping the Greyhawk campaign setting since the mid 90’s. During all these years the task seemed to grow and becoming almost impossible, and I have many times feared that I wasn’t up to it. This year my goal was to overcome those limits and progress from a passionate hobbyist to become a professional. I have spent many many hours researching, sketching and finally trying to create what I think the world of Greyhawk looks like. Now I feet confident it is possible to finish this project. Mapping the Flanaess has brought my interest and skills in fantasy cartography and computer graphics from a novice to a professional level.

State of the the Atlas of the Flanaess project

A year ago I wrote that 2011 was the most successful year, and that is even more true this year. 2012 I’ve managed to cover as much as I did during all the previous years combined. All in all I have done roughly 80% of the project to map the entire Flanaess.

What I have left to do are parts of the Sheldomar Valley, the Tillvanot Peninsula and Hepmonaland, the far west with Zief and the southwest with Ameido and the Sea of Dust. It is a large area but large parts require comparatively little research. The labor intensive areas left are the Sheldomar Valley, Tilvanot Peninsula, Ull and Zeif.

A public presentation of the map will be held during 2013. Not decided when and where yet, but hopefully we can have a gathering of Greyhawk fans and show off our beloved setting at GenCon or at some other big convention.

 

My intention is to make the high resolution files needed for print available for everybody to download under the Creative Commons non commercial license. That will require more resources to cover cost for hosting, creation of various formats and versions to be able to print wall maps and books. I haven’t gone over the exact sums yet, but I have almost a thousand people interested in this project and if all of you support me with $5 each the sky is the limit. I can host the big files in different versions for you to download and use digitally of for print and tweak the way you like. If this turn out well I can use this model to finance future projects as well.

 Publishing

As a professional comes the inevitable part of trying to make some money to cover expenses and making it possible for me to devote lots of time to devote to map making. There are several different ways for me to publish my work and that way laying the foundation for more maps. here are some of my thoughts about various forms of publishing what I do.

 Commissioned work
I have several projects under discussion and one or more will probably be set in motion. Its a great way of getting payed for making maps. The drawbacks are that I don’t get a chance to work on my pet projects – making more Greyhawk maps.

Online sale
Though sites like Drivethru RPG or virtual table top tools like Roll20.net or d20pro.com. This is a excellent way of selling fantasy maps and I’m sure I will use it for some projects. IP issues have to be considered so Greyhawk content is not to be published this way.

Physical products
Even in digital times like these there is still a market for printed maps in various forms. Wall maps, books or for use on the gaming table. Some of my work will be published this way, and again IP is a consideration here as well.

Kickstarter funding
This is a great way to both figure out if there are enough interest for a project and also to gather the funds for it. I’ve talked to some other Kickstarter veterans and the trickiest part is to set the pledge rewards right so they don’t increase the cost too much and they don’t force me to devote time away from the project designing T-shirts, baseball camps or other things. Intellectual Property rights also make Greyhawk related work ill suited for a Kickstarter funding.

Donation funding
It is a haphazard way and not very reliable, and might be unfair and problematic if the goals aren’t met. The positive with this type of funding is that it makes it possible to fund Greyhawk projects. This method makes it possible for me to concentrate on creating content, rather then manage sales or to do commission work in order to earn money.

Future Projects

Next year will be very exiting when my work will go into a new phase. First the publishing of the Flanaess maps, then to set new goals and working out what ideas to bring to life.

A big map of the world is lovely to have but when you’re running your game what you need more than anything else are maps for use in all the the encounters your party has. That means high quality re-usable, informative and above all inspirational maps that gives life to everything from a street fight to the epic struggle in the dragons lair. There are lots of maps on the market to try and cover this and some of them look great. But I’m of the firm opinion that there are room for some more and new innovative styles as well. I have a whole set of ideas how to make sets of tiles that can be created to cover different types of terrain like country roads, the village, castle, orc lair, underdark, forest, hills, winter, city walls and many more.

I want to make special tiles to cover famous locations from Greyhawk and other places that will work together with the other tiles making it possible to cover large areas for big battles of in depth exploration.

Maps of cities and villages and other locations of fame are another type of maps that I have many pet project ideas. One of my end goal would be to have tiles that could be combined to make a particular place in a city, but also be a part of another city.

When it comes to Greyhawk some of my ideas are city maps where the city of Greyhawk are one, but also Stoink, Rel Deven, Rauxes, Irongate or why not Highport or Dorakaa. Then we have places of special fame like the Passage of Slerotin, Vault of the Drow or one of my favorites the Gibbering Gate. The adventures of forever would be great to play with full color battle maps.

For me every day I can work on a fantasy map is making a dream coming true. Thank you all for making that possible!

I hope that you have a great Christmas and New Year and don’t forget Needfest.

I also hope you want to come with me on many future adventures.

Anna B Meyer

 

Podcast fame

A short while a go I was interviewed by the guys making the podcast Roll For Initiative . So if you’re interested in hearing me and the great hosts talk about maps Greyhawk you can download the episode here: Volume 3 Special Insert 2 – The Maps of Greyhawk

Roll For Initiative is podcast specializing in 1st Edition D&D and old style gaming that comes out weekly. Thank you guys for doing a great podcast and covering Greyhawk, fantasy map making and me in your podcast.

 

Mess in the west, a screenshot of what I’m up to

Screenshot of terrain in the making

Screenshot of terrain in the making

Here is a screenshot of what I’m working on at the moment, Valley of the Mage, Barrier Peaks, Ull and the northern part of the Sheldomar Valley. It is a very rough preview Bryce render.

This is stage one of the actual mapping, trying to find where to put features like mountains and lowlands. When I have found where to place things I’m trying to find what texture to use on it. Then comes the tedious job of working out all the details and making all the pieces to fit by making the edges blend. It is often a trial and error trying to find what combination of fractals to use to create what I’m after. How much erosion or sharpness to apply and then get the height right to match the surrounding terrain.
When I got an area right it is time to zoom in and render, which means let Bryce create detailed jpg’s of that area a piece at a time. So far I have rendered 1,265 of these images each 2400 x 1450 pixels. Then I stitch them together with the previous ones in my large Photoshop file of the whole terrain.

The next step is to touch up and add some more details and variation using Photoshop. Then the terrain is ready for symbols and heraldry in CorelDraw. Often there are errors or things I missed that make me go back and redo parts all over again. That takes a lot of extra effort so extensive research are important, but its impossible for me to get everything right so I often have to go back and forth at least five to six times and on some areas over fifteen times before everything is right.

Index page

I’ve added an index page that lists all the tags alphabetically. So now you can use the list to find maps covering a special area or topic. Everything on this site including the maps are tagged with keywords that are used for the index, and they also appear in the tag cloud on the right hand side of most pages.

My site is slowly but steadily growing in functionality to become what I’m always wanted, the best place to come for Greyhawk maps. In the future my ambition is to also include a lot of generic maps as well.

How I make my maps, a short tutorial

I often get the question how I make my maps, and what software I’m using. To try and answer that I made a short tutorial explaining how I use Bryce to create and render the terrain. Its a 6 page PDF file with screenshots and text to explain how I make the terrain.

You can download the PDF here: Bryce tutorial1