Monthly Archives: September 2012

In recent days I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot. I really want to clean up a little. I’ve identified three issues that I think I need to handle:

  1. Layout is too messy
  2. Worlds section needs cleanup
  3. Topics covered

I think layout and the world section are fairly straight forward, but let me explain #3 a little. was originally just a small site about my RPG stuff. I eventually extended it and, in ’08, made it into my main worldbuilding site. I think that move was okay, but now that I am beginning to actually have some settings that I can cover in greater detail, I wonder if one general blog is such a good idea.

Instead, I imagine one generic worldbuilding-and-sundries blog and then one blog per setting. At first, that would be a blog about the science fiction setting.

Alternatively, it may make sense to keep all blog posts here – since they are usually about design as much as they are about what is actually being designed – and then just have a dedicated and more static site for each setting, which could also link back here for posts that cover the setting.

What would you guys prefer? I’d really like your feedback – after all, this blog is for you as much as it is for myself.

I wasn’t really happy with Elbee-Elgee. It’s a nice theme, but the actual text layout was just messed up – and far too much effort to fix. So I’ve switched to yet another theme, twenty-eleven. I discovered that it had a “showcase” subtheme, if you will, which seems useful as a blog/start page.

  • It lists all Asides in the sidebar
  • Only shows one full article, plus several links for recent posts
  • I’ve moved recent commetns and twitter links to the bottom of the page

I kinda think this is good because it’s less of a “wall of text”. On the other hand, separating out the asides may be a bit confusing… Let me know what you guys think!

I’ve switched to use Elbee Elgee. It’s not perfect, but a lot better (in some ways) than what I had. Please let me know if there are any problems (I’ve just fixed the issue with the RSS not validating.) – thanks!

The Artifact is doing the Kickstarter Thing

The Artifact is a science fiction RPG designed by Emmet O’Brian. It deals with the discovery of a BDO – Big Dumb Object – an artificial world of very peculiar shape. While I never played the game (and probably never will, since I don’t really game anymore) I really like the level of detail Emmet put into the design of the setting – I guess I am a sucker for planet-building civilizations (Ringworld, Rama, Banks Orbitals, GIMME).

Anyway, Emmet has started a Kickstarter campaign (with a very modest funding goal) in order to increase the quality of the Artifact books. I’ve just backed it, and I hope the project gets funded.

For more information, visit The Artifact’s homepage.

Better Coastlines with Inkscape

I just came across a very simple method for creating better coastlines in Inkscape: Use the calligraphy tool instead of freehand line drawing.

At first glance, the calligraphy tool seems unsuited to creating coastlines, because it creates an outline and not a line. So I have been using the freehand tool in the past – and it has always been problematic; the coastlines never seem to be “nice” and rugged, and while drawing the color of the line I draw is in a weird shade that I can’t see too well.

Today i was working on some fjords. I created them by drawing the basic coastline, then creating a second shape – the fjord – which I would then subtract from the first path. Let me illustrate with an example:

Better Coastlines: Before (Yes they are just boxes :-)
Better Coastlines: Before (Yes they are just boxes 🙂

This rectangle represents my basic continent. There’s also a colored “ocean” layer underneath, currently invisible to the naked eye.

Okay, it’s a bit boxy. Let’s change that. With the freehand tool, drawing is awkward and difficult to see:

Better Coastlines: Freehand drawing
Better Coastlines: Freehand drawing

With the calligraphy tool, however, you just pick your color and draw away. Set a brush size appropriate to the scale you are working on – for this box I used a 25p brush width. You can immediately see that this is much easier on the eyes, if nothing else:

Better Coastlines. Calligraphy Mess
Better Coastlines. Calligraphy Mess

I tried to draw roughly the same coastline as in the freehand sample. I filled in most of the gaps but did not bother filling all of them in; you will see why in the second. Even so, I ended up with a lot, lot, lot of individual shapes; I created a single shape using the Path -> Union function.

Finally, I subtracted the “fjords” outline from the base continent box using Path -> Difference.

And this is our result:

Better Coastlines: After
Better Coastlines: After

Not only did we get much, much nicer coastlines; the little gaps left by the calligraphy tool created a lot of fairly nice-looking islands.

Of course there is also a disadvantage to doing that; it creates a path with a large number of nodes, so you’ll probably want to optimize this for large maps. Still, I think the results speak for themselves – I will try to create an entire map using this method at some point. And I wonder why I never had this idea before…