Cartographers and things out of sight

A few days ago in the thread Mod-Idea: Typographer / Chronicle @Geoffers747 wrote: “Also, I’m pretty sure that the guys stated in one of the livestreams that there would be a fog of war type thing … it would be cool if by having your suggestion of a typographer, this fog of war would be reduced etc as you uncovered and charted the land.”
Edit: He meant to say cartographer. :wink:

This made me remember some old thoughts for one of my own game ideas and after stonehearthing them, here’s a suggestion.

The world consists of four types of areas: Land in sight, Unknown land, Known land and Charted land.

Land in sight: The part of the world that your people can see at the moment. Shown in full color and detail and you see everything that is going on.

Unknown land: The part of the world that your people have never visited or even heard of. Covered in darkness. You can’t see a thing.

Known land: This is the part of the world that your people have visited at some point or heard of in some way. Maybe traders in a caravan tell you about the cities that they visit, or a group of survivors tell you about their hometown and where the titan lives that turned it into ruins. These parts of the world are shown in black and white (greyscale) and of course you can’t see what is going on there right now. However, if these areas are not visited in a long time they will get more and more foggy, maybe loose details and eventually fade into darkness. This process could be slower if there have been memorable events in an area.

Charted land: This is the part of the world that you have maps for. Either your cartographer have been there or you have bought or found maps somewhere. It is shown in yellowish/brownish and with contours, as if drawn on old paper. It will not fade over time. However, it will not be updated just because someone goes there and have a look, unless that someone is the cartographer. The cartographers skill level and equipment could determine how much he can draw at ones (how much area he covers). It could also affect how detailed the map gets.

A much more difficult version of this (depending on how flexible the world generator is) would be that the areas shown as Known land or Charted land could be wrong.
The Known land could change over time. Trees, hills, water and so on could move around, disappear or lose details, to simulate that peoples memories change. The type of land could also change. If people tell stories of the place where the monster lives then their mental image of that area could turn more and more into a hostile land with dead trees, streams of lava and skulls and bones lying around.
The Charted land would be more realistic but depend on the cartographers skill. Parts can end up at the wrong place and the whole map can get skewed.

Maps and information about the land could be traded with. If you could give out false maps and information then it could be used to make enemies think that they can’t attack on your weak side or give diplomatic benefits if the other factions think that you have a larger city.

I think that’s all I have. Sort of. :slight_smile:
So… what do you think?


I love the idea of four different types of land we see. I think that is an awesome concept, however I think your bonus idea at the end might be a bit much. It seems kind of inconvenient to be unsure how much of what you see is even right. I would much rather the level of detail reflect the level of knowledge, instead of the level of imagined knowledge, that doesn’t sound very fun to me. To be honest if that were a mod I’m not sure it’s one I’d download.

But I absolutely love the rest, it’s an awesome concept, and really holds to that kind of guided by but not confined by realism that Tom and Tony love. I’d love to see a cartographer amongst my available classes some day. :smile:


Glad you like it! :smiley:
And yes the extended version could get a bit confusing. It’s sort of based on the thought that you are not a god so you shouldn’t know more about the world than your people. Also, I think it would be cool to see the world through the peoples eyes. To see what they think the world is like, based on both reality and legends. If you move the camera out over the ocean then you could find the end of the world. :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: The level of confusion would probably depend on how much things would change and how fast. That could be balanced through play testing to a optimally comfortable level of confusion. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Loving the idea … we’ll need to edit it though so people don’t think me a complete idiot! I meant to say cartographer, not typographer :tongue:

Edit: So yer, as for the idea I think it’s great. I like the idea of charted land … however not sure about how this would look if you had units moving through the area? Do these things overlap/ override each other, so that your units ‘land in sight’ would override the ‘charted land’ view? With the land reverting to it’s ‘charted land’ view once your units leave?

Edited! For you reputation only. :smile:

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I agree with @cablex17. I love the concept of having the maps be wrong or have misinformation, but I feel from a gameplay mechanic it might not work. I think it would be too disorienting for the player to have people walk towards mapped areas and have the landscape shift and change around them.

That said, I love this idea. I think it would be amazing to zoom out and see parts of the map uncovered by character interactions. I can already imagine buying a map from a caravan and having an area in the distance rendered in.

That and I know the first thing I’d do is make a band of cartographers to go chart out the entire land for me. =P

I like the idea of the 4 different types. One thing I’d like to add about fog of war and ‘sight’ if you have a high castle perhaps your sight is further. A bit like in assassins creed 3 where you see more of the map when you are along rooftops than along the streets

I understand the concern that the extended version might not be good for the gameplay and I’m agreeing with it more and more. Also, as I wrote in the OP, it would probably be much more difficult to implement, so unless the community is screaming for it it’s not worth the effort. I included it with little hope for it, mainly because it was the original version that I then simplified and it seemed wrong to deny others the opportunity to like it. :smile:

@Geoffers747 Yes, the Land in sight would temporarily override all other types when your units pass. However, I’m not entirely sure about priority when it comes to Known land vs. Charted land. The Charted land is more reliable in the long run, but the Known land will often be more up to date, since any unit can update it. Maybe the Charted land could get black and white details added to it, that would disappear over time. Or if something on the map has been removed it could be faded out and then come back over time. Hmm… it might actually look good. There’s a risk that it might look terrible though. What do you think? :stuck_out_tongue:

@easto1a I totally agree with you. Sight should (at least to some extent) depend on the surroundings, so you would have a logical reason to go through the trouble of building a watchtower at the top of the hill and place a guard there. :slight_smile:


This is now officially an amazing idea. That is an absolutely awesome concept that makes something like a watch tower logistically a good decision, as opposed to simply being aesthetically pleasing, I love it.


this is an awesome idea!!! i love everithing about it :smiley:

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Alrighty, some analysis and suggestions here. First off though interesting idea, it seems alright but here are some of my thoughts on it.

  1. The known land definition needs work, I’d say that things you’re told about and things that you’ve actually seen should be in two different categories as they are fairly different. Maybe known and seen?

  2. I’d suggest you take the current known and strip out the told parts and move them over to being some kind of sign. So like the ruins or whatever just appear as floating text with possibly a generic ruins symbol or something and not actually seeing any features, this would also allow for things that the merchants hadn’t seen as well like being told a story about ancient ruins would add an indicator even if no one had visited them in years.

  3. Known shouldn’t be black and white, it’s just that it doesn’t make sense for there to be less colour from having seen it then seeing a map of it. I’d go have the colours gradually fade to b/w then fade away completely, that however is reliant on transparency which I don’t think has been mentioned yet.

  4. I also like the idea of known lands changing over time, so like after a while a big tree might get bigger or a dense forest denser as the memories focus on the more noticeable things while other things fade and shrink. Could also simulate battle sites getting exaggerated over time and the such.

Implementation ideas

Remember the first rule: Hypothetical difficulty ≠ Actual difficulty

Anyway idea for telling what is what would be something like the following.
In sight: All villagers have LoS spheres to check through.
Chartered: List of rects and circles to show mapped areas.
Known: This one is tricky, the only way I can see how to do it is to basically have an extra flag for every object for known/unknown, other ways include simplifying it into larger blocks/spheres for easier storage.
Told of: List of markers.
Unknown: Everything else.

Terrain storage methods
First is the actual terrain. You track changes to it which is what is stored by the others.
Known/charted terrain: initially stores nothing, however whenever terrain changes it adds a block around the unchanged version to a list of changes to overlay.
That’s it, all you have to do is track changes and you’re set. This would also allow the modify to imagined by just adding/modifying changes.

Known/charted precedence: Known fades faster on charted than not but gets priority.
Charted detail: Should be considerably less than known/in sight as they aren’t going to record trees or bushes for example.

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A lot of good thought @Xavion and I like that you’ve been thinking about implementation. :smile:
I’ll try to comment on as much as possible. (Damn, sorry about the wall of text >_< )

1 and 2: The difference between known and seen depends a bit on what the black and white known land represents. If it represents the peoples common knowledge then it shouldn’t make much difference if it’s a villager telling the others about a place on the other side of the hill or a trader telling them about a place on the other side of the world. In fact, a trader telling them about his hometown will probably do a better job than a villager who got lost and ran around in the woods for a few hours.
That being said, showing places that you’ve only heard of would probably fit best if it is technically possible to show versions of the world, so that instead of showing the actual city you show A city, without much detail and of roughly the right size. However, showing to much of places that you haven’t been to yourself might take away some of the fun of exploring them, so I’m not opposed to showing them as symbols. Symbols also has the advantage of showing things that normally don’t show when out of sight, like “This is where monsters hang out”. It could be useful to be able to place your own signs and notes on the map as well.

3: Well the known land wouldn’t have less real colours than the map, since the map is just shades of yellow. But of course it doesn’t have to be black and white. I based that on my memories of rts-games, but they might be wrong or outdated. :stuck_out_tongue: I think it’s important though that it is very clear what’s in sight and what’s not, so that enemies don’t pop up closer than expected. So if the colours should fade then they should not start at full colour. Better that the known land is just darker than the land in sight and then fades to black, while the black fog of the unknown sweeps in. If transparency would be necessary in the fading then that shouldn’t be a problem. If transparency has ever been talked about as a problem then it was probably in the context of Qubicle creation.

4: Yes, that’s the idea. Good examples. :smiley:


You must come from a more optimistic place. Here the first rule is Hypothetically easy ≠ Actually easy. :wink:

It’s good that you’re thinking about implementation and your idea might work. However, it’s probably too early to talk about how it would be implemented, since we don’t know details on how the world generator works (at least I don’t) and we don’t know what features we should aim to support.
If I should pitch in a little though (just because it’s interesting) I think we could get a long way by having a black and white image in the memory for each of the known land and charted land, that works as a mask for the world, where black is unknown. Your people then move as white brushes over these images. Cartographers brushes on the map-mask have an opacity based on their skill. On the known-mask peoples brushes have a basic opacity of maybe 5-10%, with additive effect, so that trafficked areas get whiter. If someone has a memorable experience then their brush would temporarily have a much higher opacity. Make the known-mask slowly but constantly fade to black and you would get the effect that the most well known and memorable areas would stay in memory longer while less interesting areas are easily forgotten.
These masks are then used to add fog, darken colours, remove details and stuff like that.
The problem is to keep track of which changes you have seen and witch ones that should be hidden until someone goes there again, but @Xavion 's idea might fix that.


Don’t understand what you mean with the first line.
Charted detail: I think you should see trees and such. You’re usually going to be zoomed in enough so that a map on that scale would show trees and it would probably look weird to have empty land next to the rest.

@Agon Your original idea is interesting, very interesting.
The further development of the ideas and the discussions around development with @Xavion are nothing short of inspirational. I salute you gentlemen.

This mod I will definitely be downloading


It’s a big, mighty honour Sir @TobiasSabathius. You are very inspiring yourself.

Don’t know if this will be possible to mod or if it would have to be in the core. I have experience with programming, but not with modding games so I don’t know how much freedom you usually get.
We’ll just have to wait and see I guess. :slight_smile:

I said Hypothetical difficulty ≠ Actual difficulty, not difficult. Just saying that you can’t really predict it with too much accuracy as sometimes the simplest things trip you up. Also things can turn out to be easier than you thought it would be, it’s part of the fun discovering the unexpected easy way.

The pixel map idea is a fail for the simple reason that it’s 2d and so it would be completely incompatible with things like caves or mines. That’s why I said to see if you can add an extra value onto voxels, think of it as a RGBK/RGBAK value with K for knowledge. Then gradual changes like you suggested are easy.

As for[quote=“Agon, post:12, topic:1689”]
Don’t understand what you mean with the first line.
which referred to

which was in reponse to [quote=“Agon, post:8, topic:1689”]
However, I’m not entirely sure about priority when it comes to Known land vs. Charted land.
What I meant was that known differences should display over chartered land, however known fades to unknown faster on chartered land.

Ah, yes of course! My mistake. It sounded wrong in my head for some reason so I though it was a spelling error. -__-

You’re absolutely right about the pixel maps. Those damn caves and mines. Why do we love them so much?
Having a K value on the voxels would work. My only comment on it would be that K probably don’t need to be of as high resolution as the landscape, so it could be put in its own voxel grid with a lower resolution, to save both memory and processing power since it will be updating all the time.

Any particular reason that it would fade faster on charted land? I guess it could be because people tend to resort to charts if there are any? In that case then yes I can agree with that. My only worry would be that it might be hard for the players to understand why some things fade faster. But then, I’m sure there’s a lot of my own reasoning that isn’t too intuitive and might be hard to understand without further explanation. :smile:

From the perspective of someone who creates maps for a living this could be a really great addition to the game.

This could be expanded to have explorers actually do the leg-work and bring back their knowledge to the cartographer. Then as the cartographer works in his workshop he adds what was explored to your map. This would also be more in-line with how, historically, maps were created. Although Columbus found the new world we (at least some of us) live on North and South America because of the cartographer Amerigo Vespucci was the first to depict the new worlds existence on a map. (sorry for the map nerd history lesson…)

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first, welcome aboard! and yes, i am contractually obligated to do that… :tongue:

second, would you mind elaborating on this? are you a professional cartographer? :smiley:


Yeah I think that just about covers the definition of a professional cartographer

hahaha… looks for the Captain Obvious emote :tongue:

thanks, but you never know… perhaps he works in the gaming industry, and creates randomly generated landscapes? huh mr smarty pants? :wink2:

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