Sunday, January 3, 2010

Maps Maps Everywhere!!

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I've had a love-affair with maps for pretty much all my life. I've been able to read road maps since before I could read. (To give you an idea, my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mays, gave me a book because I was the best reader in her class at age 5. I still have it somewhere.) I've spent many an hour poring over them. So you could say I like maps.

As most of you know, the more of the world that a map shows, the more distorted it becomes. The only way to show an accurate representation of a sphere is to use a sphere! Not much help when you're on a computer screen.

Several years back, when I was a regular player of the RPG Traveller, I had need to draw maps of entire planets, yet I didn't like all the available projections. None of them did a good job of showing the world I was creating. Then I discovered a wonderful little tool called an icosahedral map. It was awesome! It allowed me to make whole maps with a minimum of distortion, and as a bonus, I could print it out, cut up the page, and fold it into a sphere-like object (an icosahedron) and see what the whole planet looked like! Miraculous!

A few years back, while I was still playing GURPS, I discovered someone had created an icosahedral projection of the Earth! I quickly made use of it, turning it into a hexmap that could be used in a boardgame.

Unfortunately, the results were a bit mixed. I redid it and got much better results, but still, I wasn't all that happy with it. Then, last month, during one of my few breaks, I decided to see if it was possible to make my own ico-earth projection from scratch so the landforms wouldn't be all broken up, and low and behold, I found that someone had already done it! Created by no less than Buckminster Fuller! He calls it the Dymaxion projection, and it's pretty cool.


So here is a site that has scads of earth projections in almost every conceivable projection you can think of. And here's another site that has some blank maps for you to use. I made my own from scratch, and these maps should give you an idea how to do that. Have a good time! I know I did.

For those of you wanting my icoearth maps, I can't post them at this time because they're too big - blogger automatically reduces the size to 1600 pixels maximum dimension, so the above maps will not look right, nor will the maps I made for playing games. Sure, I could break them up, but I don't have time for that kind of work. If you write me, I'll see if I can email them to you. At some point in the future, I want to make an equivalent using the Dymaxion projection, and then use that for the game I'm making from it.

Below, I've found a few interesting maps for sale over at Amazon, plus a cheap one. Buy anything through one of those links to help me keep this site up and always improving; and you don't even have to buy what I linked for you!

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