Monday, January 20, 2014

Design Journal - Climate (Or How I Learned I Just Didn't Care)

First, I'm not going to be posting any climate maps or anything similar, because honestly I started out pretty strong and then just fucking gave up.

January surface winds and pressure. It's probably wrong. Don't tell me if it is, because I don't give a crap
Basically, I got through portions of this guide on mapping climates and when I got to a particular point, I decided I had enough information to just wing it. Part of that was the realization that there are good parallels that can be drawn with continent placement on Earth - for example, the northeastern most continent is about the same location as Europe, so it's probably not too far off to map climates on the eastern coast to Europe at the same latitudes. The size of the main continent (which, by the way, is about 60% of the land mass of the planet), the odd shape of the landmasses and the lack of significant land masses in the upper latitudes of the southern hemisphere would seem to throw a lot of complication in to the mix (from what I can gather there would be a continuous band of high pressure over the southern oceans year round). I don't have the patience to try to figure out detailed climate for every region in the the whole world.

In the end, with some creative airbrushing and a few extra gradient layers I whipped up, this is what I wound up with:

I know it doesn't look much different than the last one, but there's shading there trust me.

What I learned from the whole process is that while it's nice to have a good overall feel for how climate works, unless you have the patience and inclination (I don't) there's little reason to put a lot of effort into trying to figure it out. That probably will rub a lot of world building types the wrong way, but honestly I'm going to be zeroing in on one region and forgetting about most of the rest of it for quite some time.

Right about there...
So, aside from the pretty much standard advice on desert placement, some rough idea of ocean temperatures and maybe surface pressure, I'd say my best advice on gauging climate is to take a look at similar locations on Earth, make some educated guesses, and then make the rest of it up. Maybe after a while, if I can justify the expense, I'll get something like Fractal Terrains and try to have it automatically generate rainfall and climate or whatever. But nobody should hold their breath.

This really should be me motto for anything I do gaming-wise

I did come up with an interesting technique for the pressure gradients in the first map, driven by my near pathological aversion to hand drawing anything. I was able to adapt this tutorial to generate a layer with a bunch of contour lines, then select the ones I liked and cut and paste them. In the end, they look hand drawn - just not what they would look like if they were hand drawn by me (that red arrow in the image above? Took me four tries before it looked anything like an arrow - I'm a writer, not a drawer).