Monday, December 20, 2010

Wiki, December 20, 2010

This last week I have again been working on maps, but moreso upon a character background generation machine in excel which, unfortunately for the general reader here, does not translate well to a blog page.  I have some vacation time over Christmas, so I hope to squeeze some space in between family and get up at least one of the periphery tables, the one that determines what your father taught you.

In the meantime, I offer on the wiki this week the meagre bit that I've added.  More cities tables (will they ever end?) for Poland and Sweden.  And five maps: Balkhash, the Altai Mountains, West Mongolia, the Selenge Basin and a mostly unfinished map that is part of Mongolia/northern China.

I have a reason for including these last four, all of which have large areas that are not finished.  This is the edge of the world as it stands right now.  I worked my way through these four maps last year, trying to map the source rivers for the Yenisey ... that's the part of my maps that isn't done here and here.  I've found that it is easier to map the lower river if the upper river is done.  The Yenisey, however, has several extensive sources, some of which are not even considered part of the origin of that river.  The Selenge River, which most readers will not have heard of, drains north central Mongolia, rising in a bunch of narrow river valleys that join together to flow out of Mongolia and into Lake Baykal.  The outflow for Baykal is the Angara, which then flows 1,100 miles before joining with the Yenisey and flowing into the Kara Sea.  Anyway, to map the Yenisey meant mapping the Angara, and to map the Angara meant mapping the Selenge, which meant working out the four maps above.  All this was done while I was 'on vacation' after my previous position went south when the magazine I was working for up to 2009 died with the recession.

Why bother to say all this?  I want to make it clear that the maps themselves, each being 30x35 hexes, are added as I follow political divisions or topographical features in this direction or that.  I needed to create the map that would allow the little corner of 'done' material that is in the upper left on the Unknown China map ... but I'm really uncertain what comprises the rest of that territory (the Gobi Desert, I think), so it remains unnamed.  It always gets me down a bit when what I'm doing requires 'one more map' - since it means identifying the elevation of every hex on that new map.  Believe me, it's not the sort of thing to be done piecemeal.

I'm not working on any of these maps right now.  I will eventually, and when I do I would like it if regular readers of the wiki would see that the process of building a world is done bit by bit.  Just add another province, and then another, until map after map is done.  That's how it goes.  It's what I recommend for people who design a world, and it's not new advice.  Just work around the edges of what you already have; don't worry about how much you're doing today, or this month ... because eventually what you will have to show will be a huge, sprawling map.

It is a question of having a clear idea of what makes your maps work, so that as you add and expand, you're not going back and doing the same maps over and over and over.

Though I've done that.  Oh yes, I have done that.  Once too many times, I can tell you.

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