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Quick Start Tutorial
Quick Start Tutorial
First published in Bastion Rolero in Spanish by Roger Trobanoms. Edited by Kenny Considine
When we enter the Fantasy Map Generator, it shows us a random map by default. We can alter the configuration by accessing the menu in the left top, and then generate a map according to this configuration.
The menu is divided in different submenus: Layout, Style, Options, Customize and About. We will explain them briefly, although we will not go very in depth in this tutorial.
In this menu you can choose the type of layout for the map: Politics, Cultural, Height map or simply the Outline of the continents. Each type has a series of labels or layers that you can turn on or off:
- Heightmap (elevation of each Cell, that can be considered as county or lordship)
- Grid (borders between Cells)
- Overlay (hexagonal or square grid, type can be selected in the Style tab)
- Cultures (different from countries)
- Routes (by earth and sea)
- Borders (between Countries)
- Relief (icons for mountains, hills, forests and marshes)
- Labels (all types of map text)
- Burgs (settlements icons).
Each type of presentation has some labels activated and other deactivated by default. We can select which options we want, although usually the default option is the most optimal one.
Those with a flair for the fine arts will see that the map’s style easy to configure. You simply choose the element that you want to modify in “Select element”. For each element you can define a colour of the palette, a level of opacity, and a filter. The filters are:
- Blur with different degree of blurring
- Splotch (spotted texture)
- Shadow (add drop-shadow)
- Pencil (slightly distort layer to resemble handwriting)
- Turbulence (heavily distort layer).
Besides, you can apply one of the following filters to the entire map: Grayscale, Sepia, Dingy and Tint.
You can define a lot of options that will allow you to adapt the map to what you want. If you don’t want a parameter to be random, click to make the lock closed.
The main difference between this menu and the others is that, in order to see the changes made in this menu, you have to generate a new map (the 'New Map' button at the bottom of the menu). In Layout, Style, and Customize, you can make changes and see them in the map immediately.
The options that you have in this menu are the following:
Map size: allows you to indicate the height and width (in pixels) of the map. By default the map tries to fit the screen size
Map cell density: defines underlying graph size. Big sizes will make the map more detailed, but only the default size (1) works well with random maps and has good performance
Heightmap template: allows you to choose the type of heightmap that you want for your map. It can be Volcano, High Island, Low Island, Continents, Archipelago or Atoll
Burgs count and States count: allows you to define the number of settlements and countries that you want to be generated. The generator will place all if there is enough land space
States disbalance: allows you to establish the maximum size difference between countries (with a low value, all the countries will tend to have the same size)
Neutral distance: the distance between places considered neutral. With a low value there will be a lot of neutral space between countries
Cultures count: allows you to define the number of cultures to be generated. Cultures will be randomly selected from the default list of 13 currently available ones
Precipitation: the higher the value, the greater the number and size of rivers
Swampiness: the higher the value, the greater the number of marshes
Ocean layers: choosing more layers makes the ocean have more visual levels of depth. See the .gif
The options below work immediately after changing and control general parameters:
PNG resolution: set relative size of the downloaded .png image (screenshot). Big size is very detailed but can be slow on downloading and opening
Zoom extent: map zooming limits, the default minimum zoom is 1, maximum is 20.
This is, by far, the part that can require more work. It is not that difficult, but requires dedication. In the first part of the menu, under the title Customize, there are three submenus: Heightmap, Countries, and Scale.
On Heightmap click the customization options are getting displayed:
- Edit: change the current Heightmap. It has two sub-options: Clean up and Keep. Edit mode shows a colour for each cell which indicates its altitude above sea level (so-called heightmap)
General map customization rule is that the Heightmap should come first. If you have already started to work with secondary elements like burgs and countries, you can still edit the heightmap by selecting the Keep option, but you risk bugs or other issues appearing. So the better option is to select the Clean up option, which will erase all the secondary data and regenerate it on heightmap completion
Clear all: this erases all the heightmap and you will have to draw it from zero. Sincerely, I do not recommend it unless you want to start a map creation from the scratch
Complete: when you finish your height configuration, you have to click here.
Afterwards you have a series of tools that add some levels of complexity. We will not describe them one by one because this tutorial would quickly become 25 pages. As a summary, we will say that when you select the Edit button, you will see the map in the Heightmap mode. Then a box of tools will appear that allows us to alter cells altitude, in other words give them more or less height with respect to the sea level.
Finally, there are three special tools: an If that allows you to change the height using certain conditions; another that softens all height changes, and another that changes randomly all the cells’ altitudes.
For additional info see a dedicated wiki-page.
This is definitely an advanced feature. It allows you to modify the height templates mentioned above (Volcano, Island, etc.), so that the map is generated following these new instructions. We will not explain that here in this quick tutorial.
The interesting thing is that, if you configure a template, you can save it and use it in the future. This way you will not lose the work you have done.
Another advanced feature. It allows to load an image and turn it into a map. We won’t go into this either, but it is good to know that it is available, in case you have a map drawn and want to digitize it, or want to re-create a well-known fantasy world.
This feature does not seem me especially interesting since it apparently does not allow you to export the image with quality. We can see the map in perspective, but as I already said it doesn’t seem very interesting yet. Consider it a concept of a planned 3d preview feature.
When we go into this submenu a list with all the countries is displayed. For each country we have information on its color, name, capital, number of burgs, number of cells, area and population.
Almost every parameter is editable. In the lower part of the menu we have the controls that allow us to do many changes, which are outside of the scope of this tutorial.
Something to take into account is that we can download a list of all countries and related data as a .csv file. The file can be opened in MS Excel or even Notepad, and then you can edit it and then load to a generator to fetch data.
One more hidden jewel is the Burgs Editor, that is opened by clicking on the "circled bullet" icon (⦿) for any country. From this screen you can easily edit burg names, re-assign the capital, change population and so on.
This option works the same way as Countries Editor. For each culture we have information on its color, name, number of cells, area and namesbase. To edit a culture placement we can simply drag the displayed culture center circle, but this will not allow any precision. For small changes we can manually re-assign cultures using paint brush.
A namesbase is a thing that makes one culture different from others. Namesbase defines a set of data to be used for a procedural name generation. For example German base contains a list of citynames in real-world Germany and some basic generation rules like preferable name length and generation method. We can also create our own namesbase or edit an existing one.
Finally, we can change the unit of measurement, the distance represented by each pixel of the map (2 miles per pixel, for example), the population density and the degree of urbanization of the countries.
Export the map
At the bottom of the menu are the options New Map, Save as, Load and Reset Zoom.
You can save the map in the formats png and svg. I recommend the last because it is smaller in size and has a much better quality. It’s a vector format, so it can be losslessly rescaled to any size. To manipulate svg you can use the program Inkscape, that is completely free.
If you want to go back to edit the map in the future, you can save it in the map format. This way, you can go back to the page, load your map file and continue editing.
You can do the same with the modifications that you have done. As we already commented, you can download the data of the countries in format csv and the heightmap template.