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How to make your own maps

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When using the Wurm map generator (below) you dont have to use it to generate the hightmaps, you can make one using any method you like and then import it.




So what exactly is a highmap? Its literally just a greyscale image (16bit .png format) of your map. The darker the area, the lower the elevation. The whiter the higher.

This means you can open up photoshop or even ms paint, create a black background of the map size you want and draw your map on to it in shades of grey and white. While this is possible, the results will be horrific as you wont really be able to visualize your elevations or get the same quality of gradation.


However it is important to remember that you can always slap your hightmap into an image editor in order to make changes. For example if you want to uniformly increase the height of the entire map then just turn the image brightness up a bit. Its also useful for chopping and changing bits - say you like an island in one pic and a continent in another, you can cut and paste them into a single image.


Its also important to realize that any image can be used - you only have to convert it to greyscale and export it as a 16bit png file (of the correct size).



Once you know this, a world of possibilities open up. Any 3d terrain editing software that lets you export a hightmap to 16bit png (all of them) can be used. It will take a lot of playing around with because I generally find due to scaling differences, what looks nice in a 3d editor does not always translate to looking nice in game. For example a nicely proportioned mountain in your editor may translate into a slight bump in Wurm meaning all your mountains need to be exaggerated in the editor etc. Once your used to your own editor itl be easier.


Fancy terrain editors like world-machine will generate things nicely but I tried to use it and it was just far to complex for my simple mind.


For those of us sat in the mud with just rocks to play with, we have to resort to scapeing terrain by hand which again, basically all editors will let you do. The problem with this however is that try as you might, the result will be to 3d terrain as a 5 year olds finger paintings are to fine art (###### and child-like). Especially your coastlines.

Your only hope is to basically start with alot of the work done for you. IE find a hightmap, or a picture you can convert into a hightmap.


What I do these days is use this nifty tool to grab real world terrain data -


You just move the grid over an area you like and click download. You will get a zip with several hightmaps of different resolutions. You can use any of them but I find the "merged" one works well enough.

The maps you get are tiny however (roughly 1000 pixel square) so you will need to scale it up to your map size before working on it (I use Gimp as its free).


You can just scale it up and throw it straight into the Wurm map generator but you will more than likely need to tidy it up in a 3d editor first (often quite a lot of work required tbh). Sometimes it will come out very well but be prepared for it to come out nearly flat. In these cases theres not much you can do but use it as a flat canvas. This isnt too bad as it will at least provide the hardest part...the coast lines. Just be careful when editing not to over smooth the coast or youl loose all the nice sharp definition and the map will go back to looking child-like.



Not sure what else to write, Q&A is prob best from here on

Edited by CountZero

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what terrain editing software do you use? i havent fiddled with map making in a while

but i remember that my maps would come out striated after converting to 16bit png.


And thanks for sharing your process.

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if you google 3d terrain editor there are lots of options, the powerful and fancy ones often cost money.

I think L3DT is popular amoung wurmians as its relatively feature rich and free but I personally use something called scape.


Its free and basic - just a free hand paint tool. It was made many moons ago by a single guy basically as a university project or something I think - it is what it is and there is zero support for it so you have to figure ti out for yourself. Luckily its pretty simple.


When you unpack the zip you will get a folder called scape, inside this you will find a folder called bin. Inside this you will find a folder called settings.

Open the startup file in a text editor and set it to the map size you want to create. Mine looks like this;




Notice you can also set the base height - useful if you prefer to design by taking material away (carving) rather than by building up. Once you have saved your settings you can then launch the executable.

I found a youtube vid that explains the basics of how to use it - ill link it at the end.


Two tips - by default the light is set at a 26 degree angle - this means that one side of your hills etc will be in shadow and hard to see. I usually change it to 80 degrees (some shadow is good). On the top tool icon bar the lighting section is teh second icon from the right.


Secondly, when you first load it and use a tool to lower a bit of the land you will see the colour changes. The elevation that the land changes colour can be set (there are 3 or 4 colors, i only really care about 2).

In the top tool bar, click the third icon from the right that looks like a checkered square. Now in the right properties menu scroll down to layer 4. The height (units) will be set to 160 - change this to 55. Now anything on the map you see that is green should be above sea level and any other colour will be below sea level (at a water depth of 500 in the wurm editor).


The scale difference between scape and wurm can be hard to appreciate when your working in scape - something that looks good can look crap once you've dropped the dirt. Even now iv used it alot i still have to do a lot of exporting and importing and dropping dirt - having a look and then going back and making changes and doing it all over again.


Even when you have something that looks good in the wurm editor if you really want to show due diligence (i often dont 😕) then you need to load up the game and fly around and check it out. Check water depth, check coastlines and river banks. Are banks, beaches, slopes too steep? can you see obvious tool marks in the landscape that need smoothing over? Is the ground bumpy? is it too flat? etc





Edited by CountZero

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