2016-08-06 Alpine Map Generator

I’ve been playing around with Text Mapper again. The nice thing about it is that it’s easier to generate the text input for Text Mapper than it is to write a whole new program.

What I wanted was to generate maps that remind of old drawings of the alps, like the one of the Wallis: Vallesia superior, ac inferior, Wallis, le Valais, by Gabriel Walser from 1768. There, you can download a 6208×5151 pixel image.

Anyway, I’ve worked on this for two days and here we are!

If you follow the link, you’ll get a random 20x10 hexmap using the new map generator, with the old SVG framework, and using the same old map icons by +Greg MacKenzie.

The source of your map is in the SVG file, as a comment. Alternatively, use the following link to generate a map description and hit the submit button to render it. If you like it, go back and save the map description:

There are still some things I think are annoying which is why I’ve left the “height” labels in as I need to think about this some more.

Anybody interested in talking about the algorithm I used? I didn’t put it into words but I might if you want to talk about it and prefer not to see any Perl code… And I definitely need to add a link to this somewhere in the web app. :)


  1. trails now connect settlements, if within two hexes, three at most
  2. cliffs now separate higher altitudes from lower altitudes if the altitude difference is 2 or more

I’m hoping that cliffs make waterfalls obvious.

I still keep thinking about a way to add shadows and lighting like Swiss Topographical maps have it. Take a look at this nearby hill. Note how subtle shadows indicate altitude changes without you having to read the altitude lines.

Now compare it with this prototype:

Text Mapper with Shadows

I don’t think I like it. Light is basically assumed to come from the east, and if the neighboring hexes are higher up or further down, a little shadow is cast. And yet, something is off. The entire thing is too busy. Are the shadows too deep? Is the problem that these are polygons instead of fuzzy shadows? I tried using two different shades of light and dark so that it would look more organic but it didn’t help. Is it because we can skim over multiple hexes with out eyes and thus if A < B < C then it is not enough that C cast a shadow on B and B casts a shadow on A, do we expect that all of B lies in shadows?

I guess I like the look of the lakes.



I’ve been working for many hours every day, working on better river flows, or basically better flooding of lakes and rivers cutting through higher surrounding areas searching for a passage, creating canyons as they cut through the land.

– Alex Schroeder 2016-08-15 21:29 UTC

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