Cartography

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Infragris
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Cartography

Postby Infragris » 16 Oct 2014, 19:10

Overview and discussion of our claim map, the geography of Cyrodiil, and the settlements and locations we wish to include. The current project map is an amazing piece of work (major props to Wollibeebee and everybody who contributed to it), but suffers from some inconsistencies and minor mistakes (mostly spelling and missing bodies of water). I'd like to start this topic as a place for worldbuilding, analysis, and long-term planning, and as a source for the most up-to-date information regarding the physical layout of Cyrodiil.

First, our resources:

The new map (click to enlarge):
Spoiler: show

(For some reason, the utter right part of the image is cut off. Might just be on my system though: the image itself is fine.)

As you can see, I added the heightmap and the other provinces as a means to illustrate our geography, making it easier to visualize the place of specific landmarks. Currently, the only information included are regions, cities, villages, roads, and waterways, which are the aspects I'd like to focus on first.

UPDATE:

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Infragris
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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 16 Oct 2014, 19:11

REGIONS
Spoiler: show
Currently, our region layout is more or less identical to that of Oblivion. There has already been a lot of discussion regarding detailing and diversifying the regions, mostly focused on how far the jungle goes and the way different regions should overlap. We can't detail every region here, but we can consider some basic characteristics, propose new regions, or move the borders of regions depending on their geography. Some points I'd like to bring up:
  • There has been some talk about making the area around Sancre Tor a unique region called the Barrowlands (if I remember correctly), with a vast number of Colovian barrows dotting the surrounding hills. There is some support in the lore for giving this area a unique climate (books about Sancre Tor describe it as unusually arid, and depending on other cities for its food).
  • Likewise, the idea of transit-regions has been mentioned, which should ease sudden transitions between regions (from Highlands to jungles, for example).These should be indicated on the claim map.
  • The Great Forest is sort of all over the place. It is unlikely that the utter west point of it (close to the dry Highlands) has the same weather and flora as the eastern parts, which lie deep in the jungle. Either it should be considered a large transition zone between other regions, or we should split it up into sub-regions. The West Weald also suffers from this, especially with the major elevation difference in the southeast.
  • Names: the Great Forest is a pretty generic, nondescript name. Likewise, I find the existence of both a Nibenay Valley and a Nibenay Basin somewhat confusing. I don't think there's anything stopping us from changing these to something more fitting.
  • Jungle regions: as it stands, the Heartlands, Nibenay Basin, Nibenay Valley, Blackwood and presumably the Great Forest are all slated to become jungle. We should consider ways in which each of these regions can offer a variation/interpretation on the jungle theme, perhaps by using wildly different colors or vegetations, lest we run the risk of repetition (the exact mistake Oblivion made with its pastures).
  • The Nibenay Basin is a very large region compared to others. I believe it would make sense to separate the area around Mir Corrup starting from the Silverfish River and make it a new region, possibly some kind of marsh with volcanic activity (as Mir Corrup is famed for its baths and hot springs).
  • Both east and west banks of the southern Niben are currently Blackwood. I think it would be more appropriate to make the Khajiiti West Bank a more dry, rocky area, as it is more elevated and closer to the deserts of Elsweyr. Blackwood is a marshy, wild and densely jungled region due to the influence of neighboring Argonia to the east.

Something that has been the subject of discussion over at Tamriel Rebuilt is the idea of a level/danger zones: making areas more dangerous for the player the farther away he goes from roads and civilization. This is also something to keep in mind when designing and interpreting regions, and should be linked to roads and settlement distribution. We should consider mapping urban, rural and wilderness areas, with more dangerous enemies, creatures and dungeons the further one is from cities and roads. Most of Cyrodiil is heavily populated, but certain regions like Blackwood or the north-western Colovian Highlands (Imperial Reserve) are ideal for wilderness zones.


CITIES & SETTLEMENTS
Spoiler: show
Currently indicated on the map are the major cities and all the villages that featured in Oblivion, along with Brina Cross (there are also two village indicators that showed up on the old map without a name - ??? and one I've called Fishing Village?). One important thing about Morrowind's cities is that they have a clear hierarchy: regional capitals like Balmora and Ald-ruhn, smaller cities like Suran or Caldera, and hamlets, farming estates and villages like Khuul or Hla Oad. This is something we need to replicate in Cyrodiil, especially since our province is supposed to be much more urban and populated than backwater Vvardenfell. There are plenty of farms, inns and landmarks which can be upgraded to villages like we did with Brina Cross, though we should keep an eye out for function, size, distribution across regions, and once again the relative level/danger zones depending on distance from civilization.

Right now, we have the regional capital Anvil, secondary cities Stirk and Sutch, and the village of Brina Cross. As I've argued elsewhere, it would be nice to have one or two extra villages in the Gold Coast: a fishing village north of Anvil and possibly a village west of Sutch which acts as the seaport for that city.


RIVERS & WATERWAYS
Spoiler: show
First thing is the Brena River/Sutch situation: the current planning for Sutch is to make it a cliff-city in the middle of a branch of the Brena River, leading to/from a lake. Its importance comes from the trade road to Hammerfell, which can only pass here (something for exterior modders to keep in mind). The heightmap already has a lake close to Sutch, which is not present on the old map or on the latest Gold Coast Claims map. We still need to draw the river, though.

One of the most blatant and annoying issues with Oblivion's landscape is that Lake Rumare, the site of the Imperial City, has a massive river departing from it, but no streams feeding into it: a geographical impossibility. I know there's a certain level of detail we have to neglect, and not every river or mountain can be entirely realistic, but seeing the importance of this region I think this should be rectified. Preferably, there should be three, perhaps even four new rivers feeding the lake:
  • One river following the Blue Road from Cheydinhal
  • One river from the north, used to transport wood from Bruma's logging camps (a suggestion of Samira, if I'm not mistaken)
  • An extension of the weird crossed streams west of Pell's gate, on the south side of the lake (these look really weird right now)
  • Perhaps a river coming from the northwest side, reaching from Chorrol

This would also come closer to the PGE I's description of Nibenay, which mentions many rivers and claims that most transport happens by boat. Another, related issue is the river which bisects Cheydinhal in Oblivion: judging by the UESP map, I'm guessing this was most supposed to join to the Reed River, but our current map projection greatly increases the distance between these two. A new river to Rumare would be a good solution.


OTHER
Spoiler: show
There is still a lot of information that our old maps do not accurately represent or specify. Right now, I'm looking into diversifying the icons used to label different sites and dungeons: the difference between an operational Imperial fort, a ruined Imperial fort, and a Reman fort ruin, for example.

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Re: Cartography

Postby Worsas » 16 Oct 2014, 21:01

I definetively support your proposed river extensions. In particular I think that what is currently the great forest should have many more waterways going through it, even small unnamed ones. According to the 1st pg the western cyrodiil should even contain mangroves, after all.

As for subregions, transitions and variety, I think we'll just have to change jungle assets for every new area, exchange certain plants, rocks, ground textures, so you will always watch a change going on while you move from one region to the other. This is all so far away still though, that I don't dare to think of details yet.

With only five people actively working on this project these days, we hardly have a chance to reach any of this though. We need to get our releases out of the door, finish dialogue, basic assets and do other uncozy stuff, before we can even think beyond the gold coast. That's my take at least.

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Infragris
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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 16 Oct 2014, 21:32

Of course work on the Gold Coast takes full priority. But if we want to have more people on the project, we should be able to show them a long-term plan as well, know where we're going, and show a serious attitude to our basic material. The old map was fine, but it had issues like spelling mistakes (even for fairly known regions and landmarks) which don't leave a good impression to a first-time visitor.

A lot of this work could influence the Gold Coast: the fishing villages along the coast, for example, or more detailed dialogue referring to places outside the Gold Coast.

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Re: Cartography

Postby Scamp » 16 Oct 2014, 22:23

Excellent work! We really should plan our exteriors more, I've been working on too much without having any real basis for it. It's not quite too late to change that attitude.
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Re: Cartography

Postby Saint_Jiub » 17 Oct 2014, 04:28

I've put together a map of proposed political borders as well, based on Infragris's map, since Oblivion's counties were absurdly effusive and nondescript:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wzeteyxth9fq3 ... p.jpg?dl=0

The ducal seats, not indicated on the map itself, are Kvatch and Cheydinhal, and ruled by the Goldwines and Tharns, respectively.

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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 17 Oct 2014, 12:49

Interesting map, Saint_Jiub. I really like the idea of the Tharn family being the old dukes of Nibenay - opens up some political intrigue now that they're gone.

Could you provide a little exposition on some of your choices regarding the borders? They are intriguing, but there are a couple of things you might have to convince me on: many County seats lie close to the borders of their domain, some of the borders are "snaking" for reasons I don't quite understand (Leyawiin, Anvil). Chorrol, especially, seems more Nibenese than Colovian now: it should have some hold on the Highlands. I also had my mind set on having Kvatch be a very small and negligible County, to offset its importance as ducal seat. I do like the idea of bundling the Imperial Reserve around the area of Sancre Tor: it makes sense for the Emperors to claim it as their own.

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Re: Cartography

Postby Saint_Jiub » 18 Oct 2014, 00:33

I based the county borders off of the Imperial roads- the notion that I had was that when the Empire consolidated these squabbling kingdoms and mercantile city-states into the current system of counties, they literally set the borders in stone to prevent future disputes. Wherever the borderline isn't adjacent to a highway, you can see they're mostly just straight lines.

Per Chorrol, I can definitely see about cutting into Kvatch's territory.

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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 18 Oct 2014, 11:56

I'm sorry for being a contrarian so often, Saint_Jiub, but I really can't see that working out well. The roads are what connects the different county capitals, by definition they should cut through the heart of the counties. Not to mention the importance of controlling a trade road and being able to tax traffic, and the duties of defending and maintaining it (who controls a road if it is a border between two states?)


EDIT: Snapshot update:

Focus is on the Gold Coast for the foreseeable future. Re-added the release borders and known locations, as these are unlikely to change anytime soon. Created new icons to distinguish modern Imperial forts from old ones: new forts have a red background, Reman ones keep the purple. There's also a new icon for abandoned mines.

Problem areas are indicated in red:
  • A lot of caves, camps and (what I think are) barrows do not have names assigned to them on the old map. Most of these do not appear in Oblivion. Do any of the senior modders know when these were added? If not, we just have to make up some names, no problem.
  • Likewise, there's a house icon a little east of Anvil. Who lives there?
  • I've added two probable locations for fishing villages to the map. These would be three shacks and a pier, Khuul-style places, nothing special. Both part of the Sutch release, so not very important yet.
  • I'd like to propose a small border fort up north. I know we don't want to draw attention to the map borders, but I think it would be useful to signal the border to the player, and block them from going any further. Should just be two towers, a bridge and a closed gate. In the same vein, I also added a toll gate to Gottshaw Inn, to signal that the player is entering Kvatch county/a new release area. All open for discussion, of course.
  • Talking about Gottshaw Inn, will it be included in this release or the Kvatch one?
  • Forts: there are four forts on the current release map: a ruin on the west coast (already finished, I think), a fort north of that, Fort Strand in the center of the map, and a fort east of Brina Cross. Which ones are modern Imperial, which ones are Reman forts? Which ones are ruined, which ones still function? Current icons are pure guesswork.
  • There's a mine east of Fort Strand. Active or abandoned + what was mined here?

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Re: Cartography

Postby Scamp » 18 Oct 2014, 14:30

Infragris wrote:[...]
[list]
[*]A lot of caves, camps and (what I think are) barrows do not have names assigned to them on the old map. Most of these do not appear in Oblivion. Do any of the senior modders know when these were added? If not, we just have to make up some names, no problem.[...]


Of course we need to have more dungeons than Oblivion had since our map is much bigger. I added most of these caves while working on Gold Coast exterior, interior claims already exist for all of them. We'll have to come up with some names for them. Camps don't need names because they neither have interior cells nor are they big enough to receive a unique exterior cell name.

Infragris wrote:[...]
[*]Talking about Gottshaw Inn, will it be included in this release or the Kvatch one?[...]


Gottshaw Inn is part of the Anvil release.

Infragris wrote:[...]
[*]Forts: there are four forts on the current release map: a ruin on the west coast (already finished, I think), a fort north of that, Fort Strand in the center of the map, and a fort east of Brina Cross. Which ones are modern Imperial, which ones are Reman forts? Which ones are ruined, which ones still function? Current icons are pure guesswork.[...]


Icons may be guesswork, but the exterior isn't - the ruin next to Brina Cross is clearly ruined and also marked as such on your map. It is infested with ghosts, hence there are green lights and spooky sounds all over the place.

Infragris wrote:[...]
[*]There's a mine east of Fort Strand. Active or abandoned + what was mined here?


As far as I can remember, the mine is right next to the Goblin camp and supposed to be in their hands now.
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Infragris
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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 18 Oct 2014, 16:50

Right, thank you. So all forts in the current release are modern Imperial ones, I guess. Naming the dungeons isn't really a priority - we can do that when they're being merged in.

One question left: what is the house icon on -115, -56, west of Gwenden Farm?

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Re: Cartography

Postby Scamp » 19 Oct 2014, 23:26

Not sure. Wolli added that. It's one or three houses by the riverside iirc.
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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 28 Oct 2014, 12:52

Does anybody know where Wolli is hanging these days? Official forums? Fliggerty?

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Re: Cartography

Postby Scamp » 28 Oct 2014, 16:57

Saw him posting on the officials.
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Infragris
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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 29 Oct 2014, 15:47

MAP UPDATE:


A couple of things, some a little experimental. Anything with a (?) in front of it is a proposal/experiment, and should be discussed:
  • Re-added most locations from the original map. Not yet finished, as I am double-checking spelling mistakes from the Oblivion map. Might take some time.
  • Properly labeled farms, inns, villages, and stables.
  • Mines and fortresses have not yet been added, unsure if they are functioning/ruined, reman/modern Imperial etc. Sorting through this should probably happen in a dedicated topic. I'm especially concerned with the fortresses, as we need to strike the right balance for Imperial Legion quests (too many fortresses would make this muddled).
  • (?) Removed Fort Sutch marker, as the city of Sutch will in itself assume the role of a fort. Okay with everyone?
  • (?) Added a border fort up north, near the river Brena crossing. Should be nothing fancy, just indicating to the player that this is the end of our map.
  • (?) Likewise, a toll gate/Imperial outpost south of Kvatch.
  • (?) Added markers for proposed fishing villages, both in the Sutch release area.
  • (?) Split the Imperial Isle up into eight parts, as indicated by lore. This is not so much a proposal as a reminder that we should not think of the city as one island.
  • (?) Added several proposed rivers feeding into Lake Rumare. Their location is purely hypothetical, subject to change.
Please speak up if you see any mistakes or find issue with any of the proposed changes.

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Scamp
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Re: Cartography

Postby Scamp » 29 Oct 2014, 20:32

I like your solution for the lake near Sutch. As for the Imperial Isle, your reminder is more than welcome and appreciated. I also very much like the idea of rivers coming from the Jerall mountains and feeding into Lake Rumare.

Excellent work, keep it up!
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Re: Cartography

Postby Worsas » 29 Oct 2014, 20:36

\

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Infragris
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Re: Cartography

Postby Infragris » 29 Oct 2014, 23:35

Good to see you like it, Worsas.

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Re: Cartography

Postby Worsas » 30 Oct 2014, 09:19

The alcohol did that to me yesterday. :oops:

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Re: Cartography

Postby roerich » 30 Oct 2014, 09:47

He liked it a little too much, it seems. You do that to us sometimes, Infragris. Stupid sexy lore.

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