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A New Journey begins……

Twenty years ago I started mapping the World of Greyhawk for my own campaign, and then decided to share my work on the then emerging Internet. The rest is an history most of you who read this already know about so instead of looking backwards I’m going to try and look forward. I’ve decided to start all over again. Yes I mean starting all over again with mapping the Flanaess, and its surroundings. What on Oerth can make me come to this conclusion?

I want to do this again for three different reasons. The first one is that I know have the experience needed to do it properly. Second, technology is now beginning to be powerful enough to make it possible to do it right. Thirdly I’m so passionate about it that when I see a way to make a much better job I just have to do it!

It took me more than five years of full time work last time, and to remake it the way I want to is not going to much easier. My estimate for this is for it to take around 5 years of work. How long that will actually take depends on how much time I can devote to it. If I do this as a hobby like last time it will be a decade or so. Thankfully there is a way for you to make it possible for me to devote more time to it, support my Patreon. With a little bit more support mapping the world of Greyhawk will be an ongoing project that I can treat as an commissioned project, with more support it can be my major project or maybe even a full time undertaking. We will see how that develop, it will be my hobby and passion anyway, and also be a big part of my research and development. so I will work on one way or the other.

So what are goals this time around?

Full elevation model with increased detail to 100/pixel. Enough to make it useful for outdoor adventures by visualizing what an area actually looks like. This can also serve as a solid base for city and encounter maps to be developed that will match the surrounding terrain. Below is an example of the difference in resolution and a proper elevation model.

Global Precision, the Flanaess needs to be accurately placed this time to make it possible to expand the project to cover other parts of Oerth as well.

Meta data part of the project from the start. I want to make use of modern GIS (Geographical Information System) standards to make it possible to keep track of things and form a base for better forms of presentation and varied use.

Presentation and format needs to be a major focus for this project. The current map is only top down in two formats, JPG and PDF. Next time the data needs to be usable in many more ways. I envision things like game engines, GIS tools, RPG campaign tools like Realm Works, webb based maps and more.

To go along with the data should be a set of graphical symbols 2D and 3D, graphical elements fonts and more specially designed to present the World of Greyhawk at its finest.

All my Greyhawk content have been free to download and published under the Creative Commons -by -nc license. This going to be the case going forward as well. If Wizard of the Coast changing their stance of Greyhawk fan created content, I might have to look into what they offer, but that is only hypothetical and my guess is that it will remain so for the foreseeable future. Creative Commons -by -nc, gives you the permission to use, alter and share the content for non commercial purposes as long as the source is indicated.

The main goal with this is that whatever comes out of this should be used by Greyhawk fans and others as much as possible and serve as a platform for anyone who wants to run games set in Greyhawk. That means that it needs to be accessible, modifiable and sharable.

How to try and tackle this huge undertaking?

I’m in the planning stage right now, and there are several bits and pieces that needs to fall in place before actual work can begin. This is what most of this year will be occupied with. 2018 revision of the existing map will be more thorough than previous years to make it more compatible with the future content. This is important since it will be years until all of it can be replaced with a new version, so the old have to live side by side with the new as good as possible. My existing map is also my main guide when mapping it again, and we want as good of a guide as possible.

The Oerth Geo Referencing project is what I will call my effort to try and place the Flanaess properly on Oerth. I will try and use all the data from Greyhawk canon sources as well as some of the great pieces written on the topic and try and implement them using GIS tools.

In order to set both standards and work-flow small test areas needs to be mapped. The first one out is the Lendore Isles. Islands are good pilot areas since they are separate from the mainland and can more easily be imported and merged with future content.

These three parts will probably keep me busy this year, and if there are time over there are always interesting tidbits to dig into. things like city sketches, heraldry and touch up other old stuff hidden in various places…

If you want to join me on this journey please consider supporting my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/annabmeyer

What I’m up to – January 2018

Time again for a blog post about what I’m up to for the moment and a look into what is on the horizon. First a huge thank you to all my Patreons who have decided to support me, it means a lot to me!

My second Patreon project – Islands, are moving into the final phase adding settlements, roads and other features of civilization. Which features will make it on the map will be decided by my my Patreons who have backed me at the Adventurer level or above. The results will be a set of seasonal islands mapped i exquisite detail, fully modeled in 3D. Perfect for adventures in need of an group of islands to explore. The poll close in 12 hours and at the moment the leading places are, hidden coves with and without pirate camps, the Inn of Lost Tales, Fortress Refuge and a small trading town.

I also keep a secret part of the list that will make it on for sure, that is a cartographers privilege, making sure my special favorite details make it on to the map. Delivery of the final maps will begin in about a weeks time after a final touch up. First the basic maps for all backers, followed by the advanced content that will take a little bit longer to create.

This is a busy time with a secret project for Kobold Project underway that I’m sure will please all the fans of Midgard. It will require me to dig deep into the toolbox and think big, really big. The results of this will if everything goes well play a part of launch of the new Midgard hardcover. It is also a first technology test for bringing old “flat maps” into the 3D realm, which will play a major role in a number of projects coming up.

 

Made an appearance a few days ago on Twitch Channel Return to Greyhawk run by DM Shane, you can see the interview here.

Next commission project coming up is the Curse of the Lost Memories by Griffon Lore Games. The Kickstarter just reached the funding goal, and the first stretch goal is to have me mapping the Wailmoor area. Please consider backing this Kickstarter, the gaming community needs more cool sandbox areas to adventure in made by dedicated gamers! If the Griffon Lore Kickstarter continues to be successful it will include more cartography and interior art by Tad Davis cover art by Oliver Wetter. The top stretch goal listed is the Regional Campaign Guide to Kingdom of Lothmar. I might be more or much more busy later this spring depending on the success of the Griffon Lore Games Kickstarter!

This year mark the 20th year anniversary of my fantasy mapping endeavors that started with my work on a map of the Flanaess. The oldest part of that map are from September 1998, so its time to go back and revisit Greyhawk where it all started for me. This will happen in several ways, most of it done through my Patreon. First out is a new look at the Lendore Isle with the help of Len Lakofka, which will be my next Patreon Project beginning in February.

Darlene have graciously accepted to be a Guest Creator on my Patreon, her artistic talent and expertise will bring some unique possibilities to work on projects loved by Greyhawk fans. This will be a great addition to the other Greyhawk themed projects I’m planning later this year. If my Patreon continues to be this successful I plan to dedicate a whole year to Patreon starting this fall and concentrate on my passion with the Flanaess and its surroundings as a way to both recharge my creative ability and to give back to all of you who are supporting me.

Thank you again for all your support!

You can find my Patreon here!

Flanaess Heraldry Collage

Made this as part of my Patreon – and now its time to make it available for everyone!

2018 – New Horizons and Old Turfs

Thank you all for all your help and support during 2017, a special thank you to all my Patreons. You made the start of Patreon a big step forward in my career as a fantasy cartographer.Its been a goal of mine for years to do this and now its finally coming true. Only one small project done so far, but its only been a couple of months, and the there are more to come, much more.
For those of you who haven’t looked at it yet please check it out at: https://www.patreon.com/annabmeyer

This time of year despite all the hectic preparations for festivities and family gatherings, it is still important for me to try and sum up my efforts and to set up my future goals.

This year has been mainly about Midgard, a huge undertaking that have keep me busy for over a year. Midgard have been the second biggest project of my career weighing in just after my Flanaess map. If you include the Southlands it is in many respects my biggest project to date that have spanned over the last three years. This year I’ve also managed to do about a dozen other small projects for novels, the computer screen, a number of adventures and a map of a real world resort!

Next year its time to leave Midgard, at least for a time, and come back to old familiar turfs. There is a special reason for this, my career as a fantasy cartographer started. It began very humbly when in 1996 I lay my hands on Bryce 3D and decided to try and learn to use it and create a map for my Greyhawk campaign. I struggled for a few years and started to get result I liked, something called the Internet came along and I decided to share my work some years later and the rest you know!

This is what my first mapped bits that are still part of the final Flanaess map looks like. It is a piece of the Wild Coast that I cherish not for the quality but for the memories of all the struggle it took to create it. It dates from October 1998.

After twenty years it is time to return to my roots and recharge my creativity byt doing what I love the most, mapping my campaign. Starting next fall my goal is to dedicate a whole year to Greyhawk mapping, and Patreon will be the place where things will be around with previews and decisions of what should be done!

Technically 2018 will probably be a year of big change, maybe not in the end result but in how to get there. New tools that are harnessing the capabilities of modern computer graphics are finally starting to arrive, and instead of gazing at small fuzzy preview ports that takes forever to update you can see things in almost full glory instantly. This will cut most of the wait and most of the guess work out of the equation, and I will not miss the minutes of waiting every time I make a change, just too see that the results are not what I intended.

The now old World Machine will get some needed competition in the race for best high quality terrain generation software. There are a number of contenders including World Machine itself, but I doubt that Stephen Schmitt will be able to ramp up his development to keep up with the others. Two new hot contenders are Gaea and Instant Terra, both make extensive use of GPU power and have a modern flexible UI. Terragen and Vue are still in the race for the best tool for CG terrain as well. A dark horse in this race are the game engine tools like World Creator for Unity.

I work with large worlds which means I have special needs that are not what most users who create for computer games or illustrations have. This is one of the main reasons I like World Machine so much and have stuck with it despite a lackluster development progress. Both Instant Terra and Gaea seem to be able to match or surpass World Machine in this critical aspect and they also have the fractal and advanced erosive pluming needed to create great looking landscapes. Gaea promises to take things further in a a way that I have always dreamt of, an artistic driven approach. Applied on top of the fractal mess and technical pluming that are needed, but throws me off target way too often, it can do wonders for my creative focus.

The other side of my work is the gaming side of things, to make the result more useful and inspiring. This is something that will be my main focus moving forward. In order to try and accomplish this I pledge to game more and regularly, as a player in others games but also to run my own games. My Greyhawk gaming have been on a three year hiatus and to start again as a part of mapping the world of Greyhawk again will go hand in hand. The first project will be Lendore Isle early next year.

The other goal for next year it to learn new tools, and advance my skills in a few of the ones I’m already using. When it comes to old tools Vue is highest on my list, its been in my inventory for eight years and still my skills are only basic. By the end of next year I want to bring my Vue mojo up to a professional level. The latest version of Vue also have better terrain generating capabilities which makes it even more interesting, and the rendering features are second to none. This has been my main reason to use Vue so far, but I want to expand the use as a foundation for future endeavors into more close up mapping. Things like locations, cities and battle maps are tasks that Vue can be a superb tool for.

Realm Works and Hero Lab deserves a special mention here since I have been using them a lot for several years as a player and in the background. Next year I will bring forth that work in the public light as a part of both my own games and how to use my maps.

New tools topping my list to learn are Gaea and Other World Mapper. Tools I will start to look into next year are Geographical Information Systems (GIS) both Open Source and commercial tools. My time and capacity to learn will probably be met and exceeded with this, but just in case there are more inspiration the game engine Unity have been in my sights for several years.

I love to keep myself busy, creating and pushing new boundaries. I need your help in this. both to make it possible to set other things aside and to keep me focused and inspired. Thank you again for all your help and support, I could not do this without you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years, together we can visit the most amazing places.

Anna