Tag: Interactive Map

The magic of maps

The magic of maps

A good, old-fashioned map can add a whole lot of character to a place.

Sure, the colorful country-accurate map of the Earth on a globe is an impressive sight especially fully animated online:

But that view of the planet is a bit too modernist and clinical for my tastes.

I’m more of a fan of classic, stylized pieces such as the 1643 depiction of Europe by Dutch mapmaker Cornelis Danckaerts that I used for my Featured Image. It’s just the sort of rugged, swarthy style you’d expect to see in some kind of fantasy novel.

Replace that boat off the port of Spain with some kind of serpentine sea creature and it may as well be the map of a fantasy world. Like something you’d expect to see from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Speaking of, did you know that there’s an interactive Middle-Earth map available online? It is full of complex names and points of time for different important events.

That’s the kind of stuff I love.

As I’ve made more progress in my Senior Honors Project novel, I’ve found it necessary to start keeping track of all the locations I’m name dropping to give the world a little more history and life.

To remember places I might want to bring up later and also lay everything out on a more cohesive latitude and longitude for when I explain travel across the content — as my book will include plenty of travel.

During class yesterday, I started to draw out a rudimentary sketch of my world map on a sheet of paper:

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Results not final.

I used to draw things like this all the time, inspired by the maps I’ve seen in the front of books like Lord of the Rings and Eragon.

But never before have I put one together that might actually be useful.

So it was serendipity that, while sitting in my Honors 400B class last night, my friend Mimi noticed my drawing and offered to point out some free campaign map making software she knew about for Dungeons and Dragons.

How was I supposed to say no to that?

Of the software I got pointed to, my favorite was a website called HexTML, which as the name implies lets you create a world of your own using hexagonal signifiers like the board game Settlers of Catan.

Many hours were spent last night screwing around to translate that hand-drawn map into something that could reasonably be shown off to the world.

It’s still open to adjustments down the line and I’d like to put names on all of the areas and towns through the site, but for now I’m really proud of where I’d gotten:

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The left side.

While the continent proper does not yet have a name, but a lot of the structures within it do.

The town on the lower left is Fehrn, where my main characters live.

The singular structures around Fehrn are ruins of the old western empire that have been used as treasure hunting locales. To the north, that black cavern, is an underground chamber where my story begins — just below the Redbark Woods.

To the lower right is the Gnarled Forest, a large mesh of roots, branches and bark that was nigh impenetrable for eons. The old elven tribe was able to thrive there before being attacked.

Just above that in the mountain range hides a small structure signifying the capital of the Sparrine Empire. The Sparrine being the bird people who are basically France, taking over the region under bird Napoleon. Talked about that recently.

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The right side.

Moving onto the other side of the map, a few new main areas stand out.

Hidden in another mountain to the right of the Sparrine empire is the Prophet’s Sanctuary, where my main characters must travel.

Below it is a yet unnamed lake with an equally unnamed port town to its right side where the player character of my story’s game world will have to take on bird Napoleon in a thinly veiled allegory to the Battle of Waterloo.

Spoilers, I guess. If you know historical stuff.

The walled city to the right of that lake is the capital of the Bresegon Empire, where the lordly prince character hails from. Just above it is the ruins of an older nation’s capital.

Essentially the ruins of Rome beside the now prospering Byzantine Empire.

All of those ruins to the leftmost side of the region being the desolate remains of the Holy Roman Empire’s holdings.

Those are some of my world’s major locations, as far as I’ve planned things out up to this point. With all of the plot beats generally worked out for my story, I’m especially excited to start using a bunch of them now that I have a spatial awareness of how everything fits together.

Hope you’re interested in seeing some more cool little behind-the-scenes details on my writing like this from here on out.

Now that I’m getting into the book, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to share.


Featured Image courtesy of Cornelis Danckerts via Wikimedia Commons

May 3, 2018 Article Published

My piece out in the Daily Titan today is actually pretty serious, so I’m going to skip over the tomfoolery and get straight into talking about what has been happening.

As we approach the end of the Spring 2018 semester, a bunch of the reporters in Comm 471 have been working on a large-scale project about local and on-campus restaurants. It’s essentially a means of getting enterprise points for multiple members of the class, but it has also given us the opportunity to do some heavier reporting.

Given the fact that I’m the most experienced person in that class, our advisor has also made me essentially the project lead on this endeavor. So even though only one part of everything here technically has my byline, I’m going to talk about all of it.

The project has been split into two days, with everything in today’s paper focused specifically on restaurants surrounding CSUF, their health code violations and why those violations are in place to protect the safety of consumers. The on-campus stuff is coming sometime next week.

Three stories were published with the first part of the series:

First and foremost was the ‘headlining’ story, the one I wrote alongside Jennifer Garcia about restaurant violations.

Where do I even begin with this one.

I actually wasn’t even supposed to be credited on it at first. That’s probably as good a place to start the story as any. Originally, my job on the series was to be a de facto project lead next to Bonnie and create an interactive map based on the inspection reports of local restaurants surrounding CSUF.

The restaurant map wound up being pretty easy and fun to do all things considered, and I actually did most of it in one day when I was home sick a few weeks ago.

If you want to see where the 55 restaurants I looked at stand based on their inspection results out of the Orange County Health Care Agency, you’re in luck:

I enjoy how the map overall turned out, even if it has given me many reasons not to ever walk into a couple of places ever again. Plus I’m not very snobby when it comes to telling other people where not to go…

But that’s another story.

While my piece here was finished early on, the other stories meant to go around it had some growing pains. Bonnie changed what the focus of the pieces were going to be and asked me to jump on this story so I could help the writer, Jennifer, incorporate information from my research that was needed to flesh out why certain restaurants were bad.

Eventually that took the form of a story in which we more deeply analyzed the five restaurants that all needed two reinspections following their initial inspections.

From there everything has a pretty straight forward through-line. Talked to the managers of a bunch of restaurants to give them the chance to talk about what we were writing, got in touch with the OC Health Care Agency to find out more about the inspection project, threw it all together and here we are.

Granted production night last night was a bit of a nightmare with me having to be off at class for part of it, only for people to think there were things wrong that weren’t actually wrong despite the fact that I wound up having to adjust the map anyway as we decided to add more into it at the last minute…

But it all worked out in the end, and I’m definitely not sick and tired of staring at any of this stuff.

I promise.

Second on the docket was a piece about food poisoning.

Written with the cooperative effort of four writers who each contributed various things,

I didn’t actually help to write this story or the next one, so i don’t exactly have as much to say about either as I did for my own piece, but in this case I can at least comment on the photo illustration that was included.

For anyone curious as to how the “Illnesses associated with raw or undercooked foods” illustration came about, it all started with our advisor actually bringing in a bunch of food to the newsroom. Along with our very artsy photo editor Gabe, we arranged the food on a picnic table cloth in the multimedia room.

There were also some goofier items like fake fish we considered throwing into it, but for this kind of serious project we decided against it.

Not all of the food on the image was actually there, however. I’m not sure how noticeable it is, but the raw chicken, sushi, eggs and milk were all added in after the fact. All-and-all I’d say it was done rather well.

Fun fact, originally when we had planned on running this series of stories during Comm Week, the food poisoning story was the only one that was finished enough to be ready to go.

I’m not sure who that fact would be fun for, but hey. In case someone out there was curious about the chronology of all this, there you go.

Finally, we also ran a story about vermin and why they’re a problem. Even if that subject seems fairly obvious from the outside.

Though to be fair I suppose you can say that about all of these stories, so I digress.

Again I don’t have all that much to add about this piece since I arguably had the least amount of involvement with it. We had originally planned on holding the vermin story for day two of the package, but quite literally the night before it was decided we were going to include it.

I gave the writers a list of restaurants that had violations cited for cockroaches based on the extensive research I had done, but otherwise the story was completely independent.

Kristine and Jacob did a nice job with it, so I’ve got to give them some credit alongside everyone else who has been working so hard with everything involved in this series.

I’m going to include each part of the food/restaurant series over in my archive on the right, as I figure at the very least I can argue I was an overseer of sorts on the project, but every story credit undoubtedly goes to the individual writers.

They’re all way up toward the top of the news search when you look up the Daily Titan on Google, which is always a nice feeling.

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Stay tuned for more coming up, and let me know if you have second thoughts about some of these restaurants based on the work we’ve done. God knows I do.