New Year – New Horizons

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This time of year media of all sorts are full of predictions and plans, so let me join the fray. Best to ground this adventure with a short look at the year that passed. This first year I can truly consider myself a professional cartographer two things stand out, upgrades of all sorts and the Southlands.

First the great pride and joy of being part of the Southlands project, thank you so much to Wolfgang Baur and the Kobold Press Crew for that one. It was my first big professional project and after a lot of hard work it became something I’m very proud of. I worked on the Southlands for months and really got drawn into to its deserts, jungles, mountains and stories. The Southlands was not only my first big commercial project, it was also a huge step in how I work. Everything I had previously had been done using old software from the 90’s, now I stepped into the era of modern digital tools.

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The other big thing this year was “getting things in order”. My whole workplace needed a major overhaul to support a more productive environment. When you do maps for your own pleasure as a hobby, you don’t need to worry so much about how long things take or of your posture will hurt you in the long run. So I started the year with building myself a new adjustable desk big enough to accommodate three 30 inch screens. Two new PC’s powerful enough to be able to handle huge images and plenty of power for rendering have given me the workplace of my dreams. Now I have both the horsepower and the visual space to work on larger maps on one computer while the other one is crunching out renders.

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To work with fractals and 3D the way I do a large part of it is more like software development which means it takes time and are prone to setbacks. That is probably the biggest reason there are so few of us stubborn enough to do this kind of work in the first place. After months of trial an error, and I must admit mostly errors (that is how I learn!), I figured out how to start getting the results I wanted. To work on the basics are tedious and boring, but the worst part for me are the fact that there is very little to show from all the effort. Its not until you get to the more artistic parts of actually creating content that things gets interesting for anyone except eccentric map makers.

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Now when most of the basics are in place a more interesting future opens up, so what have I planned?

Here are the things I have planned to work with for 2016:

Commercial Project
A big commercial project that is already under way but not yet announced. It will cause some heads to turn when it’s being announced. I don’t know when that is going to happen yet so until then nothing more to say on that topic I’m afraid.

Custom Map Service
Most of the programming is in place, what is needed are a few good examples, pricing, and orderforms. How to order are one of the cornerstones and what I will deal with next. The key is to find a way for you to be able to provide me with a sketch and all the information I need in a way that is easy for you to do, and easy for me to use. I detailed this in an earlier blog post you can read here

Generic maps for sale
Along with examples I will work on a generic themes maps to sell on various content markets, as detailed in this blog post.

Website overhaul
My website have been looking the same for years now and is not doing a proper job anymore. My mapping business will move to a new website using the URL: annabmeyer.com and ghmaps.net will be kept for my Greyhawk work. I need a website that is more dedicated to map making and not filled with Greyhawk references. I also think that ghmaps.net could be better used if it was more of a repository for all my Greyhawk work. That will be my guiding philosophy when I go to work on it. I still haven’t decided what web technology to use. Now I’m using WordPress which is great to work with but limiting in what you can do, but my ability to learn new things are limited so I might stay with WordPress.

Patreon
I have had crowdfunding in the back of my mind for years now, and through the Southlands been part of one. Until now I haven’t found a project that are ideally suited for “traditional” crowdfunding like a Kickstarter. But Patreon might be a good way to fund those fan based mapping projects that would otherwise not be possible. Later next year when the other projects for 2016 are under way it’s time to flesh out the details, but you are all very welcome to tell me your thoughts!

Those are the planned projects for 2016 and will keep me more than busy the whole year and be the mainstay of my business efforts. But like to set long term goals and aim high, so I also have a few development projects I will spend time on now and then. More of the studying kind to see where they go, might be a towards a dead end, but like a true adventurer I have to try!

First on my development agenda is to get better at coding, so I have signed up for a course in C centered on gaming and graphics. To to visually code in World Wachine took me almost three years and I have no illusions about C, this is a five years long project at least. I see it as necessary for my professional development. Now I’m making maps, but in the future I will probably move more and more into teaching others how to do this and eventually into making tools for users to be able to create the kind of maps I do. Todays tools Like World-Machine, Vue, Blender and the others I use are more like development tools than something for end users to play with. That can be changed! I envision a simpler interface and ready made terrain types and any gamer could do what I do. The other missing component in this are computing power, you need a pretty hefty computer (or two!) in order to create the kind of maps I do. Thanks to Moore’s law and even more cloud computing that will take care of power needs in the future. Cloud Computing will be for demanding software applications what Dropbox are for storage today.

Digital tools for RPG’s are reshaping the hobby in a number of ways. How games and its content are being published, how we prepare and play the games. A large number of digital gaming tools are appearing, and I have adopted a few of them to make my gaming completely digital. There are still holes to be filled I have a number of applications I want to develop that could enhance how maps are used in roleplaying games, and other uses as well. I will work on these ideas and maybe a few of them are good enough to see the light of day eventually.

Another thing I will try to do more is write, as most of you who have had the not so sure pleasure of reading what I write can see, I’m no writer. But I have a lot of ideas and thoughts abouts maps, gaming and other things and I will try and share more of them.

One of the most important of my New Year promises are to game more. My goal are to play regularly at least twice a week and also to start running games again. It gives me more chances to socialize with my favorite kind of people, gamers, and it also inspires (read: forces me) to create maps for my own games. And to dust off my Greyhawk tomes are a sure thing to get my creative juices flowing.

Another little pet project that need to get going is a projector mount for game tables. I have the projector and specially ordered front reflecting mirrors, now I just need to spend some time experimenting. It will provide a good practical diversion when I get stuck in my digital endeavors.

Thank you so much for your support, it has made this into an fantastic year for me

I wish you the best of Holidays and a Happy New Year full of great adventures!