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Author Topic: Looking for random map generator.  (Read 10025 times)

Ordstrin

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Looking for random map generator.
« on: January 10, 2009, 02:09:49 AM »
First off... I'm not about to ask anyone to make this (even though I do want it to do specific things).

(pre-rambling breakdown: want to know if anyone knows of a good random map generator that i can use to help write a novel)

Now, down to business.. sort of.
Occasionally I decide to be un-lazy and actually write up one of the many stories that go through my mind.
This time I've decided to make a semi-decent attempt at it, however that means I want a "physical" map to use to help me with layout of events.
So..
I'm after a random map generator. More specifically, something along the lines of the one found in Sid Meier's Alpha Centuri; and if that's impossible even something like that found in (the original) Age of Empires game.

I did spend some time searching on google, but I didn't really find anything I was happy with. (there's even a surprising lack of the stuff out there.. that i could find anyway.)

The closest I found to what I want was this here _link_ and I'm none too sure that, that program even generates.. or if it's just another editor.
Unfortunately the download appears to be for a non-windows platform. (I run XP)

Truthfully I'd be downloading and trying more than the 3 I have (presuming I found more), if my internet wasn't close to being Speed Capped.

Hope I put this in the right place... >.>

Thanks in advance for any help that comes.. (although I suspect that this isn't something that's just lying under ever virtual rock).

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.

~Ordstrin

PS. Does the newbish feeling of the first few posts on a new forum ever go away?

Shades

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2009, 09:39:17 AM »
About the feeling: it shouldn't.  :)

Some (free) map generators:
- PriMap
- Greenfish
- Map generator for CIV4
- MapGen

Or go for the tools that players/creators of fantasy tabletop games use to generate maps. They are normally a creative and productive bunch ;)

Dormouse

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2009, 09:43:33 AM »
Why do you want it to generate random maps?

What sorts of images/features/terrain do you want it to show?

Ordstrin

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 04:31:05 PM »
Why do you want it to generate random maps?

What sorts of images/features/terrain do you want it to show?
I want a map of the land my story is taking place in.
That'll help when doing stuff like working out the route for the main characters to take, etc.
I also plan on putting in towns, cities, etc. after the map is generated. (I feel I have decent enough knowledge of where humans would build things, according to landscape)
With a map to refer to, I can worry less about things like "How does this person get from A to B, and will they meet that person who is on their way from D to E?"
I'm starting to think this might not be as easy to explain as I thought it would be...


To look at it from a different angle..
Ever read a novel that had a map inside the front cover? It makes it easier for you to follow the story; you can look at the map and say "Oh, that's where that is.. and they want to go there.. so they'll have to pass that lake first."
Basically I want to be able to do that as I write the story.

My story doesn't have any "hard coded landscape settings" so to speak, so I don't need to make a map from scratch (and would really rather avoid such a thing, I was never that brilliant at map making).


As for the images/features..
I'm looking for landscape things only. Rivers, lakes, mountains, hills, plateaus, trees, grass, snow, desserts, beaches, oceans and any other landscape feature.
What I'm not looking for (and would rather avoid), is signs of habitation, of any kind. Eg. buildings, ruins, shrines, cities, towns, farms, etc.


About the feeling: it shouldn't.  :)

Some (free) map generators:
- PriMap
- Greenfish
- Map generator for CIV4
- MapGen

Or go for the tools that players/creators of fantasy tabletop games use to generate maps. They are normally a creative and productive bunch ;)

Thanks, I'll look at these.. as best I can without running my internet into dial-up speeds.. (I really hate speed capping)
I'll make sure to download and try out (hopefully) at least one of them, once my 'net is reset.
*mutters dark and ugly things about ISPs*
*mutters darker and uglier things about Australian ISPs*
*sighs*
I suppose, at least I have broadband.. sort of... Lots of people don't even have dial-up.

About the feeling: it shouldn't.  :)
Kinda expected that reply... hoped otherwise though. This must at least my 12th forum by now... probably been on more than that though. I still get nerves in new MMOs too.. and I've been in over half a dozen..


Sorry about the half mile post...
~Ordstrin

Dormouse

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2009, 04:57:03 PM »
OK.

In my experience, random map generators aren't that good so I would tend to avoid them - though it does depend on the quality you want.
I do understand you not wanting to do it yourself - though it would not be that difficult.
In that case, I suggest that you borrow/pinch one from someone else that they have already done. It should not be difficult to get permission to use maps from most non-commercial map makers.
Two sites you might look at are Cartographers Guild and RPGMapShare. The first will contain plenty of links to other sites you might try.

Ordstrin

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2009, 05:28:11 PM »
Thanks for the advice & links Dormouse.

I've got some housework to do but I'll be sure to look at those after.

*curses ISP again, for good measure*
<.<
>.>
*hugs the DC server*
Nice DC, niiice DC. *pats the server*
:)

Shades

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2009, 06:40:07 PM »
There used to be a tool called: "Campaign Cartographer". It's intended use was for tabletop game campaigns, like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, etc.

This one was rather costly the last time I looked at it (which is easily 8 years ago) but it was a CAD program with a lot of libraries for terrain, their associated vegetation and also habitation. All to be used at your own discretion.

It is good to see that the software survived all this time, it has expanded quite a lot(!)...the mapmaker alone is 45 USD but if you want "the whole shebang" it will cost 537 USD. The package deal is way overkill for your intends and purposes.

Actually I should thank you for a trip to memory lane when researching this piece of software  :)

Ordstrin

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2009, 08:34:38 PM »
Thanks Shade
I did find Campaign Cartographer, thanks to the links provided in the posts above yours.
I didn't however think to look for a price >.>
That's...... very expensive.
(although I must admit I almost gave a "fangirl squee" when I saw some of the screenies)

Once my internet is back (3 more days and it resets! yay!) I'll be downloading demos galore.
That reminds me... I gotta go bug Mum so I can get an online bank account set up >.>
I wanna donate xD
I did look at the donation chart thingy (the scientific one) and I found it quite painful to see what I supposedly should be donating... (not enough!)
Unfortunately, considering the difference in currencies (and other things), I'll probably have to donate that much all the same. :(

Dormouse

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2009, 10:14:29 PM »
Hmmm. I suspect that if you start taking an interest in the mapmaking and software, a lot of potential writing time will be occupied with that.

If you want to use the software to make maps, you must first gather your images/textures. Can be done free but there are also libraries available for $$$.

RPG mapping progs, as Shades suggests, are probably the cheapest and easiest way to go.

CC3 combines vector graphics and bitmaps which means it is very good at scaling from small to very large areas. Best software if you will want to switch between different levels of detail. Fractal Mapper is also good for continents etc.

Free programs at this scale have idiosyncracies or aren't as easy to work with.
AutoRealm is not the easiest to use, but does come with a library of symbols.
MapX has a few idiosyncracies (eg no undo), but can be made to produce almost any type of map if you have the images available.

An alternative approach is to use Image Editing programs such as PhotoShop or The GIMP.

There are many subtle techniques for making very impressive maps as you will see from the CG site or Dundjinni Map Competitions. You can spend years just playing around with these, as I suspect many people do.

I would still suggest that you get yourself a map and concentrate on writing, if that's what your ultimate output is going to be.



raybeere

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2009, 11:00:22 PM »
Yes, I know this is a software forum, and you asked about software, but... I'm a writer. And software is a great tool if you have the right stuff and know how to use it, but if you've never used it you're likely to lose the momentum to go ahead and write the story. Google "worldbuilding" and you'll find some great tips on creating your own random map by doodling. Holly Lisle's written some good stuff, although I forget how much is in her free tips and how much in one of her e-books. (I'm an affiliate, but I'm not posting my link, so I've got nothing to gain - the disclaimer is just to get it all out in the open.) Orson Scott Card wrote something cool about mapmaking (in re: a book which mentioned "Hart's Hope" if you want to Google that phrase - I'm not sure if it was the title of the book, though), too, but I don't know if that's online. But there are other tips - and you don't need to be good at drawing. The key is to be random, and use that very randomness as inspiration.

Most of the writers I know who use software use Campaign Cartographer - if they can afford it - it is highly recommended. The ones who can't afford it use AutoRealm - freeware, but the learning curve is awfully steep, the documentation awful, and it won't randomly generate maps as far as I know. Most of the stuff you're looking at, for on-screen games, is not scaled well, and it will actually lead you to make mistakes in your story. You'll misjudge distances / travel times, etc. And there is another problem with randomly generated maps: they won't follow the rules of weather, etc. you need to make your story plausible. Google "worldbuilding" and "geography" and you'll get an idea what I mean. Random maps stick tundra next to desert half the time... Either way, I hope you manage to write your story, and good luck!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2009, 11:02:31 PM by raybeere »

steeladept

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2009, 03:51:56 AM »
May be a little late here, but I was just looking at the various proposals, and while I only started, I must say for your plans, something like primap MapCreator 2.0 personal might be very useful - especially if you just take a cut of any part of the world as shown, export it to one of the formats, then run it through some sort of picture distortion software.  That would allow you to start with all the terrain features from any given part of the world and change them semi-randomly so it doesn't look like our world as we know it at all.  Just a thought.

Jimdoria

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2009, 09:33:25 AM »
This might be a little wide of what you're after, but you might want to look at Terragen which is a photorealistic landscape generator. You can use the program to generate random "terrains" then modify them, combine them, etc.

Even if you never use the photorealistic rendering options, it could be a nice creativity booster.
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

Ordstrin

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2009, 03:17:21 AM »
So much advice!
I'm positively swimming in advice now!
Thank you all. I'm sure there's a solution here by now *looks at all the posts and calmly puts eyes in again after they pop out*
Once again, thank you all.
~Ordstrin

raybeere

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2009, 07:21:23 PM »
I just stumbled across FracPlanet, and thought of this thread. Before you read the page, see that it was written for Linux, and despair - note that it has been ported to Java so there is a platform-independent version available. There is a link to that page, or search on TerraJ - and good luck!

PaladinMJ

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2009, 02:11:05 PM »
There used to be a tool called: "Campaign Cartographer". It's intended use was for tabletop game campaigns, like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, etc.

This one was rather costly the last time I looked at it (which is easily 8 years ago) but it was a CAD program with a lot of libraries for terrain, their associated vegetation and also habitation. All to be used at your own discretion.

It is good to see that the software survived all this time, it has expanded quite a lot(!)...the mapmaker alone is 45 USD but if you want "the whole shebang" it will cost 537 USD. The package deal is way overkill for your intends and purposes.

Actually I should thank you for a trip to memory lane when researching this piece of software  :)
I own CC3 Pro and I can tell you it is AWESOMENESS incarnate.you can make any maptype you want from topographical to star maps, floor plans to zone planning to street level. you can even make your own "symbols". the rub: has a steep steep learning curve to get good results.

How ever the company is FANTASTIC about communicating and helping the users. The dev's are all over the mailing lists asking for improvements that we need or helping us figure out how to reach a goal. Its a commercial version of DC almost hehehe
When I have a mission, it consumes me; I will not be satisfied until the job is done. I have a strong sense of duty, and a strong sense of direction. Changes in the tide don't phase me - I always know which way the wind blows, and I know how to compensate for it. I get on poorly with people like myself.

PaladinMJ

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2009, 02:15:00 PM »
Ordstrin: I have a copy of campaign cartographer 2 that i am not using that i might be persuaded to off er you at a discount if you find it is something you'll use alot.
When I have a mission, it consumes me; I will not be satisfied until the job is done. I have a strong sense of duty, and a strong sense of direction. Changes in the tide don't phase me - I always know which way the wind blows, and I know how to compensate for it. I get on poorly with people like myself.

Ordstrin

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Re: Looking for random map generator.
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2009, 12:12:31 AM »
PaladinMJ:
Thank you for the offer, however I've decided to go with the other suggestion (using pre-made maps). I've also "commissioned" (read bullied into :P) my best friend to make maps for me if/when I get desperate.

(OOC: Wow I just got an email notification for something that looks for all the world like a phishing attack, with a spoofed address "belonging" to my email provider; I guess there is a first for everything after all.)