Welcome to the Saga Developers Journal.

Silverlode Interactive has released the worlds first “Collectible MMORTS” game, SAGA. This developers' blog is here to give you a never-too-serious behind the scenes look at the company.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Captivating Cartography

Every SAGA player is familiar with the quest map. It is a portal to fabulous riches, grand adventure, and shiny new toys with which to poke, bludgeon, and generally harass one's adversaries. What you might not know, though, is that before it was ever digitized, it existed in physical form as a pen and paper drawing. This is not a small work of cartography, either-- this is the sort of chart worthy of a Roman general's war plans. Today, we'll be talking with the madman behind this beautiful work of art, Andrew Black.

So much art is done digitally, these days. Was there a reason you chose to draw the map by hand, first?

I wanted it to look hand drawn and since my art skills are more traditional I honestly didn't know how else to do it! I think all the small variations in weight of line and shape give it a verisimilitude that you wouldn't achieve digitally. But the color was added later in Photoshop, and that allowed us to play around with some different combinations and treatments.

It's just about enormous, and there's quite a lot of detail packed in there. How long did it take you to complete?

I didn't really keep track, but I'm sure it was more than sixty hours.

The SAGA map has a very distinct style. What inspired you to take that approach? Were there other works that influenced you?

I knew I wanted it to be hand drawn. The style is blatantly ripped off from maps that J.R.R. Tolkien drew for LOTR, especially the simple shadowed trees and mountains. Those in turn inspired the building icons, etc.. I also looked at some 15th and 16th century Scottish maps - I think that's where the wave element that edges the coast came from.

Is there a reason for the scale?

Doing it on as big a scale as possible made drawing the fine detail a lot easier.

Did you suffer any setbacks? I heard there were some adventures concerning the undead expansion.

There weren't really any setbacks as such. I'd sketched the map roughly on a small scale first and used feedback from that when doing the finished version. The Undead was a bit of a challenge. I'd deliberately designed the original map to be expandable in all directions (in the early days we spoke about the possibility of adding lots of new factions) but when it actually came down to it, making the two halves "join" was a little tricky but it worked out all right in the end. A little judicious Photoshop editing helped.

What did it take to get such a large drawing into digital form?

A really, really big scanner! Just when we thought we'd have to cut it up to scan it at Kinko's we found one that was big enough at a university copy shop.

Thank goodness for that! And thanks for joining us for this week's Developer's Blog post.

Stayed tuned for next week's post, readers-- there'll be a special treat for the musically inclined.


Beagle said...

Awesome Map!

Anonymous said...

that would be a really really really cool giveaway!

Anonymous said...

you need a wacom :) Best of both worlds.