On Building a World

To date I’ve been focusing on making my little zone with little regard for the world around it. Till now it’s been acceptable to know just the prime locale of the zone, but it’s been niggling at me that I don’t know it’s location on a world map, it’s climate, or even the location of the sun. Apparently there is software out there that can build an entire world for you; and so, I finally bit the bullet and downloaded a copy of Fractal Terrains 3 and the mapping software Campaign Cartographer.

Between the two packages I will be able to create a world, to give my locations a home, and work up some pretty nifty looking maps for them to boot.

It took about a week of scrabbling around with Fractal Terrains 3 before I came up with a world that I generally like. It has decent land mass, good climate and enough detail for me to zoom right into an area and export it into World Machine, keeping it’s overall shape and coastline detail. It looks a little like this:

Cloud Shatter

Once I scouted out where I wanted my main zones to be I simply needed to raise a little bit of extra land there and try and ensure it was an appropriate size. That get’s fed into my World Machine, massaged till it’s in the shape I want and I end up with something along these lines.

Dwm 2013-03-25 03-41-45-91

It’s not quite right yet, but it’s coming along. I’ve lost part of it’s shape, and thus the coastline, due to changes I’ve been having to make ensure a player can’t stare off into land that isn’t there (this will be a 3×3 grid 12km x 12km in size). Colouring also needs some more work as I want a black rock for the top half of the volcano.

I’ve learnt a few things as I pick this up, but most important seems to be ‘do not underestimate how long you think something will take’. It’ll be a while yet before I get the terrain I really want – but there’s no rush, not when the journey is this good.


An ambivalent, disconnected, hermit with a fine love of irony and a wit like a Scottish Terrier - currently fulfilling all the clichés of a digital citizen.

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Posted in Games, Terrain
2 comments on “On Building a World
  1. Very cool… Certainly a far cry from the randomly squiggled borders in the opening pages of most fantasy novels.

    • Ivan Hawkes says:

      Thanks! It takes surprisingly more work to achieve that than I expected, but it’s worth it. Back to the tools, this terrain isn’t going to finish modelling itself😀

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