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Map making commentaries from the non-artist's perspective
I decided, last night, to revisit an old idea that I first came up with many years ago, back when I was originally pondering the value and merits of Second American Civil War game.

At that time, I even bought a hard copy, an actual physical book, that contained maps of all fifty American states broken down into their respective counties. That was a lot of counties - and still is!

Like most other ideas that I've had for play by mail games over the years, that game was never brought to fruition. It was a very time consuming process for me to type into the computer by hand each link that each county in each state had to every other county, both in its own state and in neighboring states - as far as drawing up a list of contiguous borders on a county-by-county basis.

Even now, I don't think that it was a bad idea. Rather, as it turned out, I just didn't feel like investing that amount of time into that particular project - a project that would have been an enormous time hog, but with no guarantee that I could pull the rest of it off, as well.

So, why is any of this relevant, now?

Well, in truth, it's not - but, it is. It's sort of a little of both, at the same time.

I suck at drawing maps. I really do. But, I have a great affinity for maps. They're very neat little creatures. I also think that they help to make a game's setting more interesting than it would otherwise be without one.

So, last night, I did a few web searches on the Internet for state and county maps, thinking that county maps, in particular, could be a real time saver when it comes to crafting a province-based map for a new play by mail game.

Going forward over time, I am going to experiment with this concept a little more. From time to time, I will try to provide a glimpse or three of what, exactly, I have in mind, so that site visitors to this site can better visualize exactly what I am talking about.
Here is an example of a state map broken down into its counties. The map is slightly modified, with a number of its counties edited out by hand. I enclosed the remaining counties in a thick outline, to denote the boundaries of the kingdom.

[Image: Map1.gif]

I could have rotated or flipped the map, so as to make it even less visually recognizable.
Is there public data that could be used to generate and manipulate these maps programatically?
Probably so, Ramblurr. I'm no programmer, so I haven't checked that aspect out, yet. Good places to start might be the Census Bureau, NOAA, and NASA.
I really like the idea of using existing county or state maps as the basis for fictional areas. Good idea!
The one, above, is a map of Arkansas, if I remember correctly, only with several of the counties/parishes edited out. Simply through editing, such county maps can end up looking very different from typical state maps.
[Image: TestMap2.png]

Here is an image of a map file that I am editing. I started with a map of the 48 contiguous American states broken down by counties, and began hand-editing county and state borders, to see what I could come up with as a base map for a new game. The idea was to create kingdoms or countries carved out of a map of the USA.

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