Ithania Rework Map Designing

Discussion in 'Faction Announcements' started by MonMarty, Sep 8, 2021.

  1. MonMarty

    MonMarty Thotdodger Staff Member Server Owner

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    This thread is aimed more as a "blog style" take on my thought processes through world making, to make sure there's more clear information available on plans (even though this information may not avail for long, as production is already quite far). I will try to tackle this matter one biome at a time and then some general thoughts at the beginning. These thoughts are all a bit incoherent and haphazard, as I've just come out of an almost 5 hour non-stop stream, but I hope someone finds it useful.

    Remake versus Touch-up
    The first question to ask was: Is this map worth touching up, or should a full remake be underway? Some might have argued that Touch-up is all that was required, but I would not say so. When inspecting the map, the layout and geography was even worse than I remembered it to be, our naive views of what maps used to be many years ago made me remember the swamps as more imposing, and the desert more gratifying to cross. Yet when I loaded up the map, the deserts looked as if tnt had erupted in them, and the vanilla trees in the swamps were just boring. In order to touch up this map correctly, I would have to strip the entire map of all its trees and the like, and re-assign them by hand through painstaking painting. Because the land itself does not use flow maps (a program that generates realistic water sediment erosion on mountains and the like) global operations that I use to paint cliffs based on steepness would not work, and would all have to be done manually. Most damning above all: We needed the map to be smaller. Tech has asked us to make maps smaller, and unfortunately this map was really big. We needed it to be at least 40% smaller to comply with requests from Tech to make 7k-6k maps (we went with 6k in the end, which will probably have 2 chunks of padding).

    Flat versus height difference
    One of the biggest things to consider when making geography is height. It is well known that pvp'ers hate height differences and prefer pvp on the most flat of flattest terrain as possible. I usually always declined requests for terrain to be made more flat, because I always reasoned that what is conventionally seen as "hardcore pvp" or the more pvp-focused gameplay styles, are a minority. Granted, skill limits also played a role, one can remember the first awful map I made (Teled Methen I think?) Which more often than not seemed to take "I don't like flat areas" to a whole new level. Qgmk made a really simple case to me for more flat territory however: "Terraformers would love it". And this got me thinking, pvp isn't a ubiquitous experience, but faction building is, because faction creation is a pre-condition to every other activity. I felt stupid for never looking at it that way, but either way, this map will feature some of the flattest areas yet (within reason. Areas near cliffs still have dramatic slopes and some hills can be found in the forests where PVP is sub-optimal anyway due to the lack of being able to enderpearl flee).

    Map Comparison
    A comparison between the maps at a high point. Obviously, we've already established that a rework in the exact same map shape would not happen for technological reasons. Recreating a map that is mostly just designed by random allocation of spherical brushes, with a complex program that generates geography and height maps, is nigh impossible. So I set the challenge "Create shape recognition, over exact size". Furthermore, Qgmk told me strictly "Less Water" - because it sucks for PVP, it sucks because you get less land to build on, you spent more time finding alternate ways to cross it, and the server has a render distance of 8 chunks, you can't even see the other side of the ocean. Oceans are rarely chosen for new faction land, and Ithania V2 was being made to solve the housing crisis in Survival.
    [​IMG]
    As you can see: the two most dominant shape recognition pieces are the waterways, and the cliffs to the south. These are, from my memory as a person who extensively played on Ithania, the most important geographical features. Furthermore, there was a strong request from the playerbase for "actual rivers". The previous map had the "suggestion" of rivers, with trenches in the land that seemed to imply rivers had once been there, but they were dry, or simply had intermitted amounts of water in them like they were in the process of drying up. I believe I succeeded well in maximizing the landmasses for player settlement, while keeping enough water and rivers intact to make the map recognizable. Here are some other observations:
    • Marty! Where are the islands! I have essentially come to the conclusion that islands deeply, deeply suck. They are beautiful to build on, but they are items of extreme envy. I witnessed half my friends group explode and quit the server because they were eye-ing up an island they wanted to settle on, but were beaten there by someone using traits to race during map release. The ensuing stand-off and their inability to get a reasonable exchange for the island caused them to become demotivated and quit. There is always only a limited supply of islands. Furthermore, all islands are either too small or too big. Too small to house a faction which then has to do some extreme terraforming to make more land, or too big to house the entire faction claim, resulting in empty claim-near land that is simply lost, including the water around it that cannot be settled on. Islands just suck.
    • Marty! Where are the mountains in the grass lands! Not done yet. This is an early screenshot. I'm planning to put a few sort-of slope hills in the grasslands, but nothing too spectacular. I think mountains suffer the same fate as islands, especially when they are large enough to be claimed by a single faction. But also, the mountains in the old map just deeply sucked design wise, I don't think it adds anything to the current map.
    • More roads! Yes. I think the old map was on the right path when it came to making roads, but didn't go far enough. I have the skill and technology to make interesting roads now, and we will send in world staff afterwards to build bridges to connect the roads crossing rivers that our programs cannot handle.
    • Random side thought: I want to build a Gates of Babylon style chinese-wall seperating part of the Desert from the Plains. This will have to built manually, and can be claimed/destroyed by players. Just thought it would make the map look neater.
    • The Desert is smaller! Yes, this is intentional. Deserts kind of suck. By nature, a desert must have very little in it, because it is a desert. But at the same time, I want this map to be engaging, so that some neat vista can be seen every 8 viewing chunks or so. I had to eventually sacrifice some desert land, besides the fact we already have desert on Essa with different biome objects.
      • Side tangeant, this map has some of the most advanced desert ruin placement in it, far advanced from the cursed "elven towers" of Teled Methen, which were just spammed into a round circle. I learn new techniques as time passes, and I also learn how to better place these objects. This map mostly features all-new bo2's, so very few bo2's from previous maps are re-used.
    BO2 Work!
    This brings us to the next point, Bo2's. The reason this map took so long, is because i've had to rebuild the entire Bo2 library, and a lot of that time was also spent procrastinating at the idea of having to rebuild 2000+ trees by hand. And then one day Qgmk said: "Marty, survivalists won't care that every tree looks different, they will just cut them down anyway". And that was kind of like another one of those revelations that I could not grasp before, because my mindset was stuck in Regalia building where nearly every tree we build in the city interior is built by hand. Note, this still does not mean that trees are just going to get copied from old maps, we still need to rework them. 1.16 implemented new rules for leaf decay, and in order to prevent lazy tree cutting (removing stem, but not cutting leaves, and making trees tree-feller friendly) all logs would need to be connected, and all leaves within 4 blocks, connected, to the same type log, not all-side-bark. All our old bo2's were made of all-side bark because Cayorion decided so years ago, so all these trees would lose their leaves when placed in a 1.16 and up world. However, instead of making 2000+ trees, I am now just making about 200, of which half are already done.

    Callout to Lore Staff here, they are pumping out trees like no tomorrow, @Carlit0o made an entire pack of about 30 trees almost by himself, and @Birdsfoot_Violet took care of another 15, with more to come. World Staff (mostly roleplayers as well) are also churning out trees, and especially @WaterDruppel @Patsie helped a lot with mushrooms and the ruins, while Lore Staff @Bellarmina and World Staff @SpunSugar worked on several fantasy inspired packs that were exported early on. If anything, this world is almost starting to shape up like a "Labor of love from Roleplay, for Survival", in a way, and I think that's neat.

    Biome review:
    [​IMG]
    This is a bit of an outdated map. Some changes have already occurred:
    • For some reason I clipped the Jungle, or maybe my explanation wasn't clear. Jungle biome will be present on the cliffside on the south side of the Desert. This land also extends further south, it was just clipped off.
    • The Redwood Forest on the west side is too big. About half of it is going to be reduced and replaced with (by request from survival discord) Blue Forest, Pink/Fairy Forest and maaaaaybe Hot springs. I'm not sure on that one yet, needs more thinking. I might also put the hot springs instead of the Snowy Redwood Forest. I rejected Dwarven Builds (the bo2's would take too long to make), Deep ravines (Essa already has some, and I'm not skilled enough yet for a biome with large open ravines), plains (already present elsewhere) Mineshafts (super hard to do with this program), more caves (already planned to cover the entire map).
    Anyway what to expect of the biomes:
    • Redwood Forest: Tall trees, gravel beaches, low vegetation, some really tall tall trees, hopefully some factions will make ewok villages up in the trees. Not much to say about this biome besides that it's probably hard to settle in if you want to live on the ground level.
    • Desert: Probably has some of the most intense detailing as of yet from algorithm generation. Will feature some waterfalls near the cliffs but I need to build those manually later. The desert is mostly flat, with an occasional hill and small Qadir town ruin, as well as roads and cypress trees lining them. The Desert Biome is completely done, see screenshots here:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    • Mushroom Forest: Featuring massive mushrooms, a far cry from the really ugly nether biome of Essalonia, which was made incredibly rushed and without much forethought. This mushroom biome is more focused around the idea of "giant mushrooms) as opposed to making it just mycelium. There is in fact, not a single block of Mycelium in the entire biome. There will also be these massive rotten tree stumps with mushrooms growing out of them, hopefully we see some factions settling inside these hollowed out tree stumps. I was also considering trying to make a massive fallen-over tree like a cave of sorts, but this is very much a maybe and a lot of work if I decide to go through with it. Not everyone loves Mushrooms, and that is okay. This is why the Mushroom Biome is so small. The Mushroom biome is completely done, see screenshots here:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    • Plains: Simple as. Designed to house the majority of the factions, relatively flat land, easy to cut trees, easy does it. This biome will not look particularly interesting beyond the normal expectation of forests.
    • Swamp: Same as the above, I will most likely re-use some stuff from the Essa Swamps, but I'm going to aim more for a dry swamp as opposed to a wet swamp. Maybe we will look at implementing some new warped bo2's if there is enough time left over.
    • Snowy Forest: Kind of actually just means tundra forest. A bit more faded than regular plans, with snow, but no snow formation (except on the trees I guess).
    • Pine Forest with select snow: Snow kind of only forms at a certain height, but I think there is plenty of snow to be expected here, though perhaps not as much as the old Ithania map. I want to reserve the heavy bo2 stuff for snow biomes in the later coming Lonia map which will feature more different types of cold biomes.
    Some changes bound to come. Will probably update this thread with more blog-like releases. I haven't worked on the caves at all yet, but 1-2 days are slotted out for them. I worked a bit on some new caves for a private project a while back, so I should have plenty of cave pre-mades ready to just paint onto the map, including some just empty rock-like caves. We made some stalagmites and stalagtite bo2's for them.

    May hold off on caves to see what the status of 1.17 update is for massive, I don't know how far along we are. I expect to have more clarity by the end of this week's meeting. Anyway because it is inevitably going to get asked, how far along am I?

    Since starting last Tuesday, I would say about 60% of the work is done. By this assumption, the world could be done as soon as next week, but I would prefer to pull out some more time for not only polish, but also Q/A. Then there's also the matter for implementation synchronization to consider. We could delay the map a bit, and release it with some other tech stuff y'all have been waiting for, for quite a while.

    Anyway, come by and watch me stream some time. It gets quite lonely when the majority of the stream watchers are roleplayers.
     
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  2. Ninja124r

    Ninja124r brainlag
    1. -={The Great Kingdom of SunKiss}=-

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    Releasing Kingdoms and the map together would be sick
     
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  3. _Vidaar

    _Vidaar Holy Emperor of Gryph

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    I gotta say, I am surprised with how the mushroom biome looks and am actually excited to explore it. Really appreciate a post like this to make everyone worry less. I think its easy for us to get antsy after waiting so long, and wanting to know more about the map. Will say that it is cool that a lot of work was put in by the roleplay community, maybe they'll be more inclined to come hang with the factions side some! :D Appreciate the work, cant wait to see the map in its finished state!
     
  4. _Vidaar

    _Vidaar Holy Emperor of Gryph

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    That would be the move, so long as waiting for kingdoms to be good to go didnt take longer than making the map.
     
  5. _Vidaar

    _Vidaar Holy Emperor of Gryph

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    Also is there any chance we could get screenshots in vanilla? Since most of us dont use massivecraft texture pack.
     
  6. Sir_Daragon

    Sir_Daragon Your Local Supremium

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    @MonMarty This isnt much of a comment for Ithania, but for future world.
    Most older worlds had a full ocean border, but with Essa and IthaniaV2 having land borders, wouldn't it be a nice touch that later maps, especially ones that cannonaly in lore are connected land, be actually connected in game. This could also help Marty/Map Makers get some idea/inspiration to release worlds that don't need to be unique, could simply be an "expansion" map of current maps.

    Obviously this would need a lot of discussion as it can be considered a big project. I remember seeing an old map of Aloria on Tumblr and always wondered why some worlds are connected in lore, but in game had huge ocean borders.

    Im writting this late at night, so sorry ahead of time if its giving readers headaches reading this.
     
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  7. _Vidaar

    _Vidaar Holy Emperor of Gryph

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    totally agree with this, would be really awesome from a lore standpoint
     
  8. EricKilla

    EricKilla Kaiser Supremium

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    [​IMG]

    Assuming you're talking about this ancient photo? FWIW I would love it if it would be possible to do this. Especially with Essa and places such as that - It doesn't really make much sense for Ithania in particular because Ithania borders other pre-existing worlds e.g. Daendroc. But For the "Essalonian" worlds, that's not the case, in lore they're all next to eachother and last I saw Essalonia was more or less purged from the Wiki for a rewrite and is geographically very much a blank canvas.

    The thing I would really really really love to see is a reflection of the map shapes of Essa in a collage like the picture I posted, being reflected in the RP geography maps. That'd be so lit.
     
  9. Sir_Daragon

    Sir_Daragon Your Local Supremium

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    no, this picture
     

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  10. EricKilla

    EricKilla Kaiser Supremium

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    Someone give @qgmk a Medal. Like literally, we need to like... get one of those online engravers to make him a medal that says "2021 MassiveCraft Staff Awards - First Place - Common Sense" or something. These are the changes we all needed.

    Yes, I was one of them. Loving what I see. It would have been nice to have a bit more coastal access for those folks who like to build ports, but that's fine there'll be other maps for them as well. All in all, 10/10 EricKilla approved.

    The gesture is appreciated. Hopefully that will serve as an extra incentive for you guys can come back. Chappers' gotta get his lore staff heads somehow ;)

    Otherwise:

    -Desert Biome: Looks great. Glad to see that the ruins have been more sparsely populated. They were a bit ridic in Essa. The wall idea sounds really interesting.
    -Mushroom Biome: Looks really good as well. So much better than in Essa.
    -Roads: Exciting to see! I'm in the Alorian Road Service, and it's exciting to see that most of our work will be done for us on this lol.
    -Other biomes: Look good.
    -Caves: IMHO I think we can just say "Screw 1.18" and just go with caves as they are now, e.g. like they are on Essa.
    -LONIA MAP NAME: NO DO NOT PLEASE NO NONONONO NO NO. NOOOOOOOOO. Please name it something else.

    LASTLY - holding to release with "desired plugin(s) we've been waiting for a while" aka Kingdoms - YES DO THAT PLEASE.

    Thanks Marty. All told, from what I see so far, I think, even objectively without the lens of nostalgia, this'll be one of the best survival maps released in a long time. Top shelf, Bra-vo.
     

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