It’s been a couple months since I put one of these out. I could wait a little while longer and have more of a finished product, but I do want to let you guys know what’s happening. (TL;DR at the end)
At the moment:
- Gallants has restarted, over on SSLF, and the first campaign (likely to be Monoliths of the Ancient) is almost underway.
- Production work on Dead Run is nearing completion.
What the last bullet means is that the outline of the plot is done, and the next stage (that I should probably name by now) is almost done, but I need some time to let the ideas gestate. It’s not something like the outline that I can just sit and craft/sculpt until it’s good.
In that time, I’ve decided that I’ll pick up 3D modelling. Well, I’ve actually been working on composing/recording/mixing/mastering for my song cycle The Radio, and then to give myself a break I’ve been playing some Skyrim. You know what has a great map? Skyrim. Here’s a refresher, or for those who haven’t wasted their lives away, a look:
That’s the center of Skyrim’s map, without any names or icons. It’s a really great map, right? You can see roads, rivers, towns, mountains, and pretty much everything to help get you around. Full disclosure, I got that from UESP, which has a great interactive map. If you play Skyrim and you’re not using it, find it here. Anyway–back to my point. A great map has all these things, major landmarks, roads, rivers, etc. to help navigation, whether you’re playing a game or reading a book. I felt like my previous attempts at maps didn’t have that.
I’ve tried projection maps and the standard fantasy maps that look like they’re hand-drawn on parchment to try and illustrate the worlds of In Extremis, but I often felt they were missing something. It wasn’t until I sat down and played Skyrim for the first time in months that I realized how truly great Skyrim’s map is. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but Skyrim’s map is a fantastic hybrid of the Google maps that we’re all used to, based off of in-game models and renders so that nothing is lost in translation from map to game, while the icons on the map still feel reminiscent of the great fantasy maps from novels and games of years past.
So, I set out to figure out how to make my own Skyrim’s map. I knew that it was made using essentially several screenshots of the actual world itself (the in game map has clouds where they actually are), so I tried to find the easiest process to make some 3D mountains from scratch. This led me to find out that height maps are key, and that you can displace a flat surface into some mountains in Blender based on their colour. I broke up my test map into a bunch of hi-res squares just like in Skyrim and turned the fantasy map into a height map.
Now, I’m at the stage of converting the height maps into 3D models and then painting/texturing them. Here’s a live look in:
The process is repeated for each square, and then I’ll reduce them back down to 2D files to produce flat images that everyone can access in their browsers.
Eventually the goal is to build something similar to UESP’s Skyrim map (linked above). This map features zooming, the ability to search for certain locales, and switching from night to day renders. The next process after learning all that code and securing all that webspace would be building viewable 3D models accessible from the web to build my own Google Earth, essentially. A Google Omneutta, if you will. I think that I will have the first map done in this style some time in June, so keep watch for it then.
TL;DR: I don’t like the lack of detail in my previous maps, and now I’m making maps similar to Skyrim’s map which is built off of 3D models. I’ll have the first one done some time in June.