Mystara Web Map

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Re: Mystara Web Map

Post by Khedrac » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:52 am

Thorf wrote:You make a good point about fantasy cartography trying to emulate decades-old maps, but you seem to be under some illusions as to what exactly fantasy cartography is. As it happens, I'm generally in agreement with you, which is to say that I would love it if fantasy cartography was much closer to real world cartography, but it's not — in fact it's a different beast altogether.

For a start, 99% or more of fantasy cartographers are in fact artists, not cartographers. Let's face it, it's not really cartography at all. Sure, we make "maps", but not really in the real world sense of the word — and certainly not in the modern conception of it. It would be more accurate to say that most fantasy cartographers make art that depicts areas. Our maps have much more in common with theme park pamphlets or maps in an atlas for young children than with modern real world maps. And yes, it's all designed for print.
I think this relates to the "is it a 'map' or a 'piece of art'?" debate, I'm just not sure on which side... the British National Parks are getting 'Tolkien-style maps' starting with the Yorkshire Dales - see ... e-42752158 for more details.
"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might just be a crow".

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Re: Mystara Web Map

Post by Big Mac » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:30 pm

Wangalade wrote:
Big Mac wrote: you might want to have a look at Anna Meyer's online Greyhawk maps (she has plenty of others) and have a look at some of the things that she has added to her maps.

I especially like the way that she has used heraldry and typefaces to "sell" the concept that certain areas have different sorts of cultures in them, although I'm not sure that same trick would work in a Mystara context.

Another feature of hers that I like is that you can use the roads and sea-lanes to see how a group of player characters can move around the world. and the different types of roads and sizes of city are fairly intuitive.

If you are going to go for an app, you can go beyond that sort of stuff and let people pull up all sorts of well as let people follow roads, from one city to another. Perhaps you could build in some sort of "route planning" feature that could plot a route from one side of Mystara to the other.
As far as Anna Meyer's maps are concerned, I think they are beautiful and obviously took a tremendous amount of dedication and work, but if I were playing in the world of Greyhawk, they wouldn't prove that useful to me. I don't want to sound pretentious, but most of the works of fantasy cartographers are not functionally impressive. They can be visually impressive, as in the case of Meyer's work, though not all of them are.
Anna's maps are not useful? Seriously? :o

Are you aware that Anna spent well over ten years crawling through obscure Greyhawk products to find things that were missing from the official maps? You can't get that stuff on the official maps. The data is missing. It just doesn't exist...except via her research.

I've been trying to find a way to get the money together to hire Anna Mayer to make me a map of a Spelljammer world. That's how good I think she is. (The only reason I haven't already done it is that I know I need to pay her quite a bit and give her a ton of research to get one done.) :)

I don't know Mystara too well, but from what I've seen of the various D&D worlds I've looked at, they all have a lack of data in the maps. One thing I do know, from following people like Thorf is that there are problems with hex maps when they get closer to the poles, there are problems with some canon maps not lining up exactly with other canon maps and there are also some mathematical errors with Mystara's Polar Openings. That's all stuff that people wanting to make better maps (than the TSR ones) need to work some point.

I've been massively impressed by Thorf's tutorial about projection methods (and using G.Projector to help find and fix errors).

I'm really glad your project went well. If you want to expand, I think you might come up against these data discrepancies at some point.

I think that web versions of maps are very useful. (I know I like Anna's one.)
Wangalade wrote:Most fantasy maps also have terrible cartographic style, though I must say that Meyer's work is an exception and generally follows standard cartographic principles. But as far as functionality, fantasy cartography remain in the stone age. When the rest of the cartographic community is changing every six months, fantasy maps are still trying to emulate decades old maps. Even if new technology is used, the end result still looks the same as it always has, and doesn't improve on functionality. As a DM I want to be able to look at a map and know information about a population, infrastructure, local environments, and so much more. Essentially I want to be able to use a map in a fashion that will mitigate my need to look up information in my notes or some book.
The biggest problem I usually see is the "broken pole problem". TSR had a lot of that. Even the maps in WotC's Eberron Campaign Setting had broken poles. So it's not something that has gone away.

I think that interactivity is great. (I would love the Great Library of Greyhawk to have an interactive map designed by Anna that linked over to their encyclopedia articles for geographical places.)

But, you do have to deal with the fact that TSR's cartographers were just knocking out maps for the specific projects they were working on and didn't intend them to wrap onto globes and work. It's a basic "garbage in - garbage out" problem. If you don't address some point, you won't get meaningful output.
Wangalade wrote:This is part of the reason I am building a web map. I do want to include the features you suggested, such as routing, but I will probably only implement basic functionality before the end of the semester. Some of things I want to include are a travel routing system that takes speed and terrain and road condition into account, a hexagon layer with detailed info for each hexagon about climate, biome, etc, a dynamic trade system, point locations for monster lairs and population centers, detailed town and city maps(which would just be incorporated into the basemap), and a hill shaded elevation layer.
Have you considered trying to hook up with some of the cartographers that you don't seem to be especially impressed with, to see what they are up against?

You seem to be really good with the interactive stuff, but they have years of looking at the data. If you ignore their work, you are probably going to have to retread all of the steps they made (including the dead ends) to get where you would like to be.

I want to learn maps myself and I'm going to try to get a leg up from anyone who is doing the sort of thing that I am trying to do. :)
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