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CC2 Day 5: Populating the Place


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2 April 2002page first published

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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If you've gotten this far with the software, the last parts are pretty simple.

A catalog of a few of the symbols available in Structures mode

The Structures icon on the right-hand side puts you into Structures mode, which basically means that the left-hand side is loaded with lots of symbols you can stamp down on the map: cities, villages, individual buildings, ruins, etc.

In my case, I already had the Dwarves and the Goblins covered (having given them caves when planting mountains). The Hobbits took more work. I put down some trading cities near harbors or rivers, then scattered hamlets about the countryside. I put watchtowers on the frontiers of the goblinlands, and a walled village where the fertile farmlands give way to the central hill country.

Settlements in the hobbitlands

Then I saw some cool symbols I wanted to use, and sprinkled a few items into unused corners of the map - a ruined city, an isolated walled trading camp on a hill, a monastery, a ring of ancient stones, and so forth. And I planted some evil wizard towers on the Fishmen island.

Next, it's time to do roads. As you have probably guessed, there's an icon that puts you into Road mode. Roads are drawn just like rivers, and default to being dashed brown lines. The only tricky thing about roads is that sometimes they cross rivers, which means you'll want to put bridges down. Bridges are symbols, and come in north/south and east/west varieties. (You can also rotate the symbol.) What I usually ended up doing was slapping down the bridge, then editing the road so that it looked good with the bridge.

Trails (roads) in the goblin hills

Then it comes time to fill in the map with vegetation. As with mountains, there's at least two ways to do this: you could just use dark green polygons for forests, or you can plant forests made out of symbols. The problem with symbol forests is that you can quickly get into a lot of symbols on the map this way, and more symbols means a longer drawing time (and since the screen may redraw every time you make a change, you can get to the point where the program is no longer fun to work with!).

(Having said that, I found that even an antiquated 133 Mhz PC could handle symbol forests on the size of landmass I was working with - if you don't mind a 4-second redraw. (I can live with that.) The same map on a 1,000 Mhz machine redraws instantly.)

So I went with forest symbols. As with mountain ranges, there's a technique - you start with treetops (no trunks) at the back, then fill with treetop "clumps" in the middle, then edge the bottom and right side with complete, individual trees.

It sounds simple enough, but to tell you the truth, I'm not very good with forests. I can't seem to fit the pieces together very well, and when I get done I find there's one darn treetop that sorting wrong, and when I try to fix it I make it I chop the trees down and start over. The only saving grace is that you can rebuild a forest in about a minute. And if I keep practicing, I'll probably get good at it.

Dead trees and wizard towers on Fish Island

Trees come in a variety of symbols. I planted deciduous trees in the west and north, scrubby-looking trees in the goblinlands, and dead trees on Fish Island and around some ruins on the mainland.

A variety of forests are visible in this map view