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Software for world building?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Black Dragon, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

    Interesting. I've always been a pen-and-paper map person, but if I need a digital map I just draw one in something like RPGmaker. I'll have a look and see if this one's superior to rpgmaker.
  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    It should be noted that, while the default 'hex tiles' are drab and ugly, you can customize the sets to something far more attractive. I have a set made by someone else (I have only a smidgen of artistic ability, myself) which makes my maps look very nice indeed. I don't remember where I got it, but no doubt a few google searches will turn something up.
  3. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

    Is there a way to customise hax sizes? I measure things by days it takes to travel and I can't get the hexes to match up nicely.
  4. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    Haha, I was like the second person to reply there. :p (mistress.ophiucha on NaNo, gents, add me)
    Anyway, as I said there, my method is a private blog. I use tumblr - just because that's my favorite blogging service - but anywhere with tags will do. I basically just have a post for everything of note. Unique minerals of Molusk, political sects, character profiles, bestiary, etc. Then I tag them up. For instance:

    - Theodore's Character Profile. #tags: theodore, character profile, elf, immortal, royal father
    - Elf. #tags: bestiary, elf, theodore, bartholomew, archibald, gertrude, etc., etc.
    - Immortal. #tags: politics, immortal, theodore, bartholomew, archibald, meredith
    - Royal Father. #tags: politics, royal father, theodore, archibald

    So, basically, if you click 'theodore', the posts for his character profile, elf, immortal, and royal father will come up. If you click 'elf', you will get the bestiary page for elves, as well as the character profiles of all elven characters. And so on and so forth. It is pretty easy to do, particularly if the blogging site of your choice has some sort of mass editor (so you can go back and re-tag several posts if you add something). It works on the same idea as a Wiki, but with less coding and more of an 'index' feel than just clicking between pages (though you COULD also just hyperlink pages between one another, if you felt like it).
  5. Heavy Thorn

    Heavy Thorn Dreamer

    I created a forum, with different categories and subforums for different worldbuilding aspects. As for maps, I'm not very good at drawing anything else, but I can do a decent enough map.
  6. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    I use a town/city builder to populate a town, it includes hours of operation, who is in the stores at certain times, menus, entertainment schedules etc.
    I wonder if names are repeated so I might change individual names that are used in a book.


    I did a quick thorp,

    Tavern Noble Marzipan- open 9am to 12pm
    menu-roast goose 7 silver peices

    Entertainment-Jankin Petras human male bard;personality: gambler and forgiving.

    This program provides it all. From a thorp to a large metropolitian city.

    I make all my important characters but for a clerk the char interacts with this will do.
  7. AmericanCrime

    AmericanCrime New Member

    Personally, I prefer to use a private MediaWiki stored on a thumbdrive.
    I feel very comfortable with the program layout and syntax.
    And generally think it's perfect for world-building and conceptual organization.

    In keeping with the wiki-oriented vein. There's also this program called "WikidPad" Which is basically like a text-editor with wiki-like functions integrated.
  8. Evilyn

    Evilyn Scribe

    Its always better to be safe than sorry..I learnt this the hard way. The other night I was sitting at my lap top working on my novel which I have been writing for the last two years (I work full time so it's a long process) when my puppy jumped up on me knocking my cup of coffee out of hand and onto my lap top. The whole thing just turned itself off and now does not work at all...Luckily I had backed my novel up on my USB 2 days prior but I had still lost two evenings worth of work which I had written some really good scenes but worse still, I lost all my research for the past two years! I burst into tears and my boyfriend had to spend the next hour comforting me, now I print out my research and back that up as well. One good thing has come out of it though, I had gotten so lost in the research that I was not writing as much, now I have written more in the last few days than in the past month.
  9. Author T.O. Goodwin

    Author T.O. Goodwin Acolyte

    Character Keeper is a good one for characters as for mapping I have always drawn and illustrated my own maps. Sorry wish I could help more but good luck and may the road always rise up to meet you.
  10. Dark Huntress

    Dark Huntress Scribe

    I have used Fractal Terrains and Campaign Cartographer but didn't like the results plus they both had a learning curve. I spent so much time learning how to use them and ended up not using the maps I created. Don't get me wrong, they are both very useful but for me the best tools I have found for map making are graph paper and a pencil.

    Photoshop works well too but I didn't really need all of that to make a map that only I will see.

    As for backups, I use Evernote. Never have to worry about losing my notes.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  11. Graham Irwin

    Graham Irwin Sage

    This may sound funny, but the computer game Civilization IV has an excellent world-building tool. I've used it myself!
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Something like Scrivener or Liquid Story Binder could serve as a good organizer for world building.

    When I make maps (usually for pen and paper gaming; sometimes for stories), I generally use GIMP. You can find all kinds of tiles online that people have prepared for use with various commercial mapping programs, and you can easily take those tiles and use them in GIMP to create a map.
  13. Privid

    Privid Acolyte

    In case you have an iPad or iPhone, I found Trunk Notes to be a fabulous application. It works like a wiki, with bracket linking and very simple, text centric, distraction free formatting that lets you build complex documents despite its relative simplicity. Check it out on the App Store, it's 3€. Though I still haven't fully transcribed my world digitally...
  14. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    This is totally true. Civ V as well - there are lots of mods for the map-generating aspect of the game, and some of them produce very interesting results. I could see someone generating the map and using cheats to 'reveal' the end product right away in order to get ideas.
  15. cris2507

    cris2507 Dreamer

    I have CC3 (Campaign Cartographer) and am starting to get to grips with it. Can I throw two ideas into the mix?
    1) Are there are any experienced CC3 users on these forums who might be able and willing to occasionally advise we who struggle with technology?
    2) Might it be possible to find a space on these forums to swap ideas on CC3 and even post examples of maps produced with it?
  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    I've used CC3 to make two maps but it's long enough ago that I don't really remember how it was done. It's a lot like a CAD program though so having some experience with that will surely help. I do remember that when starting out I was directed to the Cartographer's Guild which is a forum specifically for drawing maps. It may be worth your while to check that out.

    As for world building I'm using an online wiki from Wiki communities for everyone! -- Wikia.com. Unfortunately there's quite a lot of ads on the site (as it's free), but so far it's been handy for keeping all the information about the world in one place. It's a public site though so it has the drawback/advantage of anyone being able to read it. I imagine it would be possible to set up your own wiki locally on your home computer if you want to.
  17. Aosto

    Aosto Sage

    I've done work with GIMP for map making, well mostly height maps for use in Blender 3D. I dabbled in game design for a spell, never took off with it but figured out a few tricks. Anyway, GIMP is good for just about anything visual, and if you want to make it full fledged 3D and walk around your world then I would suggest learning a 3d design program such as Blender, also free.
    As for organizing notes and the like, I store it all on Google Drive. I get easy access to it from my android when on the go, and can add to it when necessary.
  18. danr62

    danr62 Sage

    I do my writing in Google Docs (Drive) so that I can get to it from any computer I want to use. I might decide to start backing that up to something like Dropbox just in case.
  19. Aosto

    Aosto Sage

    That's the beauty of cloud computing is the ability to easily backup your data. I use both google drive and dropbox. I love that I can have a folder on my desktop to both where I just mirror my data to. I store all my resources as well as a handful of ebooks on them.
  20. Dan

    Dan Scribe

    I haven't done a lot of in-depth world-building, so my advice should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    My current approach (for writing) is to create a single spreadsheet in Google documents, which has multiple forms inside it; everything from the timeline / history, to characters and locations, to details such as the names of ships in a fleet, the amount of cannons it can carry, plus men, and so on, and everything will be compiled into this one spreadsheet across a dozen forms.

    Of course back-ups, copies and so on will be made. I estimate the file to be tens of megabytes, but that is manageable with modern computers.

    I figure doing this allows me to have an organized document of clearly defined properties, along with clearly labelled tabs for individual lists, and everything searchable in one central location*.

    I'll reply in a few months in regards to whether or not this actually works.

    *I say central location, but since you can use links in spreadsheets I can actually have documents separate, for example a major character will have a dedicated document in which everything is kept that is too long for a spreadsheet box.

    That may, or may not become a problem later on. I shall see.


    As for the art side I run Linux, so sadly no Photoshop (Will not use a vm or wine for PS), but I have a number of awesome applications that do the job;

    Blender - Great for a number of various things. I typically use it to create 3D models, either for reference (floor plans, or an complex structure), or for further use in a 2D application (To use as a base for a matte painting for example).

    MyPaint - (imo) The best painting application. So easy to use. So many amazing features. It is what I design my maps, castle plans, and so on in. Great application.

    Gimp - I use it just to add text, I don't really like the overflow workflow too much.


    EDIT: I'm also using an awesome (free!) program called yWriter. It allows me to write my book, with chapters, scenes, and so on. And on top of that offers a dozen very handy features specifically for novel writing; like having a character list, a location list, an item list - all complete with sections for writing names, tags, descriptions, bio's, links to images, and so on. Nice.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012

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