A reader recently asked if Nagce Valley was based on a real world place or if it is simply my own creation. Early on I’d considered using DEM data to recreate a real world location but decided that would likely require a great deal more effort than a free style map and might be a bit much to take on in my first go at map making. A second reason is that I believe that most real world maps are made by someone who has a bond with the area they are modeling. Perhaps it was their grandfather’s farm or a place where they spent their summers as a child, whatever the reason the map author wants to see that particular farm recreated in a virtual world. I just don’t have that attachment to a particular place so made-up seemed the path to go.
I have however been turning to Google Earth images of the American Mid-West for inspiration in achieving a somewhat realistic look and feel for NV. The images are also a good way to find the little touches that seperate one map from the rest.
Case in point, what caught my eye in the first image is the circular layout of the grain bins. Forming a ring around the auger probably simplifies the task of loading which ever bin is needed and I thought it would be a neat addition that I haven’t seen on a FS map before.
Another interesting feature I noticed while looking over images of North and South Dakota was the use of tree lines to separate the farm yard from the surrounding fields.
Some concessions do need to be made in the name of gameplay as can be seen in the next image. Notice that there is very little headland between fields. While maximizing field space over headland makes sense when your working to get the most from your land its not the best way to go when you need to make allowances for your AI helpers. I'm still debating whether I'll use wide grass headlands to accommodate the AI or go for a more realistic gap that may require the player to do the headlands manually
Another source of inspiration is of course other maps. I'll frequently check out new maps to see if there are features that I'd like to add to my map (In fact I usually open a new map in GE long before I open it in game). The trick is to take influence from the other map without outright duplicating the other authors work. The top image is from Big Hoss's Big Valley V2 map. I really liked the idea of placing the Lely Astronauts near the milk tanks and tying them together with a pipe system. The second images shows my take on the idea as it currently stands in Nagce Valley.