Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Feelie Creation

I've spent a portion of the last month working on the game map. I've had a general layout in mind for awhile, but I'm trying to firm things up a bit so I have a clear mental picture. Feelies are nice for writers in the same way they're nice for readers - they help set the mood. Especially maps.

A lot of my time has been spent at the Fantasy Cartographer's Guild, trying to figure out how people make maps. (At least, how artistically challenged people make maps - I assume it's easier for those with artistic inclinations to begin with.) Guess what? Map making is hard. Even with tips, things look wrong more often than they look right, and many things don't look okay until you've layered them with a hundred other things.

Today I added a yellowish background to the map. It was originally parchment textured, but I wasn't feeling the texture. I think that'll be one of the last things I do, since it kind of messes with everything. But I love the saturated yellow light the background gives to the map - it's warm, and takes out some of that "LOOK! WHITE SPACE!" feeling.

I'm making the map on a very large scale - much larger than most people will want, but one that lets me get in close and do detail work if I feel like it. The farm and city are close to scale; other things are larger - the main river is not actually 150 feet across - to emphasize landmarks, or important bits of landscape. Making it all to scale just wasn't feeling right. I've tried more foresting techniques than I can shake a stick at. The one I'm liking currently isn't to scale, and it's a pain to implement, but the overall impression is one I like. Each tree is mildly silly looking, no more than one or two sponge-y clicks with a trunk silhouette, but in conglomerate . . . it's kind of foresty. (Except the conifers, which are looking sort of silly. I'm working on it.)

The nice thing is that as a sort of eclectic approach, it doesn't feel really ancient or futuristic, which is good because I want to leave that open for now.

It's not a terribly professional approach - some things are top down, some aren't, some are too big, some are carefully scaled, the color scheme is getting made up more or less on the fly - but it's a nice break from (not) programming. I'm especially proud of the color of the lake. It took me a long time to get that color.

There's still (obviously) a lot of work to do, but considering my art level, I'm pretty pleased with how it's going.

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