New Year – New Horizons 2017

Another year is coming to an end and it is the usual time to reflect and try to look forward. 2016 will in many ways go down in history as a very tumultuous year with big shifts in the world which is thankfully something this is not a blog about, this blog post will be about my mapping.

At the start of 2016 I had great plans as I recently had finished both my Flanaess map and the Southlands project for Kobold Press, but the future had other plans. This year I had to split my time between working on my maps and working with politics, and as the election heated up I had less and less time to devote to mapping. This was a bit of a setback that is now behind me and I can again devote a lot of time to map work.

Most of this years work have been dedicated to learning new tricks and advance my work fully into the 3D realm. To kick this off I invested in a new computer dedicated to this task which was both expensive and took some time to set up. You take a little bit of a beating if you want to bee in the forefront of technology. But after a few weeks I had a new work-horse with Nvidia Quadro Graphics and a ton of RAM and up and running along side my old desktop computer that is still fairly powerful.

I’ve invested in new software tools in the form of Terragen and a new version of VUE to complement the now rather uncertain but still great World Machine. Still have so much to learn about the new tools as well as the programs I’ve been using for years, there seems to always be room for improvement. To learn new programs is both a boon and a curse in my line of work, you get to play with a lot of super cool toys but also quickly learn the limitations. What I still struggle to accomplish is to create terrains of any reasonably size. There are now a lot of cool new terrain generating software coming out, but one common feature they all seem to have in common is to focus on tiny bits of terrain at the time. Even the smallest of campaign worlds are many thousands of square miles unlike the usual computer game level. Most of my effort is trying to best work around that limitation. World Machine, Terragen and VUE are the best in class since they support whole planets in one go, but to do that and create all the natural variations found in a fantasy world are enough to bring even the best hardware and software to its knees. To split up the task into manageable chunks are the trick, but figuring out a acceptable way to do it has taken me a couple of years and I’m still improving it.

Enough tech talk now to the actual work! My plans for 2016 was to set up a more formal Map Service, start a Patreon , create a series of example maps and start work on a new commercial project. In the end I’ve only managed to accomplish one example map and to start the new commercial project. For the last two months I’ve worked hard on a new project for Kobold Press, and just like the Southlands it is set in Midgard. That is all I can say at the moment, Kobold Press will announce more later. My examples series are so far only a single area the Hold of Ulthek from Ratik in the Flanaess.

Overall an in-between year with some advancement and progress, but mainly behind the scenes and not in areas visible to all of you who follow my work. My mapping endeavors are getting more and more recognition both in the form of general attention thorough email and on social media. I have a whole batch of emails to respond to, so if I haven’t gotten to yours yet I’m truly sorry.

2016 was the third time I attended Gen Con and the second year I worked at the Lone Wolf Development Booths. This year was also the second time I was nominated for an ENnie, for the Southlands map this time. The Southlands didn’t win Best Cartography but it won the Silver ENnie in the Best Setting Category so I got a chance to bask on stage with the whole Kobold Crew that evening.

Three main professional goals will be on my agenda for 2017. That is fewer than I’ve had before, which is probably a testament to me trying to learn from mistakes and overreaching in the past.

The first priority is to finish the Midgard project for Kobold Press this spring. It is a huge project that have kept me busy for several months now and will continue to do so for several months to come. It gives me direction and experience and to have big commercial projects to work on The drawback is that it keeps me locked up working on things that only later becomes public.

The second goal next year is to st up a Patron as a way to fund and organize my work. It is the second priority when it comes to timing, in most other ways it is my biggest goal. My friend and colleague Thorfinn Tait just started a Patreon to fund his mapping efforts which is a similar endeavor but concentrating on the World of Calidar. Thorfinn has some fantastic ideas and techniques that are in my opinion some of the best in the industry.

My Patreon will have a similar approach with pledges per map release and not per month. My target is to have 10 releases per year. Patreon will in many ways become my custom mapping service, and the way I plan to handle most projects. This will give a better and more transparent way for those who want to support me to tell me what they want me to work on. My Patreons will be able to directly influence what I work on and also receive perks in the form of additional content released only for backer of my Patreon. This will hopefully be an easier way for large ongoing fan projects to be sustained over time.

2017 will also be the year when Realm Works Content Market will open and my maps will be there. First will be a special Realm Works adaption of my Flanaess map, that will be available for free. Realm Works Content Market will probably become one of my standard places to find my work in the future, with specialized version of a lot of future projects.

Digital Content markets are already establishing themselves as major ways for gamers to acquire gaming materials like rules, source books, adventures etc. I think this trend will grow, but never replace printed books and modules that we are used to. My guess is that print and digital will live side by side and fill different roles. Printed game items will become more focused on inspiration and to be desirable for collectors. Beautiful to look at and full of inspirational long for text and glorious graphics with high quality print and binding. Digital will be geared towards use at the gaming table (physical or online) with a focus on reference, record keeping and visual representation of the game board. My goal is to try and create maps that can have a place in both these mediums.

By the end of 2017 my plan is to have successfully finished my second Midgard project, launched my Patron and have my first sets of maps on the new Content Markets. I also want to attend more conventions, Gary Con, Paizo, Con and others as well as Gen Con would be a real treat to attend. Budgetary constraints will prevent me from attending all of them but a with a bit of planning and luck I will get to some of them.

Thank you all for all your help and support, I’m looking forward to work with you on bringing worlds together this year!

Anna