I’m actually very good at getting lost, but until two days ago, I’d never thought about how it happens. Much thinking later, I have a theory!
“Oh, Meeks, you clever thing. Do tell!”
Ok, as you ask so nicely, here goes.
I think our brains are conditioned to see a straight path as the right – i.e. correct – path. When we’re paying attention, we automatically over-ride this conditioning in order to get to our destination. But what happens if we’re distracted and come to a fork in the road?
I think that when we’re ‘on auto’ – i.e. not paying attention to our surroundings – we are liable to keep following the path that seems more straight.
Of course, there’s also the problem of habit. Have you ever set out in the car for destination ‘X’ and suddenly realised that you were actually heading to destination ‘Y’ because ‘Y’ is where you go every day? -mumble- I have -mumble-
Anyway, the reason I needed to work out how I, and others, get lost is that I needed a realistic way for one of my characters to get into trouble after becoming lost. Me being me, I wasn’t happy with just an insight, I had to go make a map, didn’t I?
The blue path is the ‘correct’ path. The pinky-purple path is still safe, but the red path is the one that leads to disaster:
You can see the two points where the character went haring off on the wrong path. Both appear to be kind of ‘straight’.
Unfortunately all of this is pure speculation. If anyone has any real info. I would really love to hear it. I might even change the map. 😀
I’ve been wanting to make a ‘real’ video for some time, but it wasn’t until Inkarnate and a brand new microphone came together that I finally gave it a go. This is a 5 minute youtube video I made. I tried hard not to sound like a chipmunk. 😉
To be honest, this first video is pretty awful, but I’m posting it to show what I did wrong. First up, I should have zoomed in right from the start and…I should have been ‘showing’ rather than telling right from the start too. Oh and one more thing, you need to have a very clear idea of what you want to say before you say it.
You can’t work the mouse and read from a script at the same time, but the script helps to focus the mind, especially when you’re nervous. I was nervous!
Cringes aside, I’m pleased with the quality of the microphone, and I’ll be honing my technique in the weeks to come. In time, I may even get to be good at this! lol
All speculative fiction writers know about building worlds with words, but what if you need more than words to visualise the space in which your story takes place?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist yet even so, I recently discovered that a guestimate right at the start of Vokhtah was not only wrong, it was very wrong. That, plus needing a distraction from my first jab of AstraZeneca, lead me to Inkarnate, a brilliant, fantasy map making app.
Within the first week of playing around with Inkarnate, I had a map of Vokhtah that was a million times better than the dinky map I’d made using only Corel Draw 8. The trouble was, the more I worked on the map, the more I noticed the gaps in my worldbuilding. You see, the eyries of the Vokh don’t just appear as haphazard dots on a map. They are chosen for very specific requirements, such as:
the security provided by the cave system,
the proximity to water [and hence to food animals]
and the distance from other Vokh [the greater the better].
But if eyries have pre-requisites, so do the Trader caravans that service them. All iVokh can fly, including the Traders, but few can fly well. As for the Plodders who carry the bulk of the Traders’ goods, they can barely fly at all. And this is where biology and terrain combine to create problems, because if eyries need to be near water, but Plodders can’t fly over obstructions like rivers, how do the caravans travel from gather to gather? [A gather is like a human market place.]
In book 1 of Vokhtah, the only river the Traders had to cross was the Little Blue, and it had almost stopped running by the end of the dry season [Tohoh]. The ford across the river was dangerous but doable. But then what about the other seasons?
In my current WIP, I sidestepped that problem by saying that no caravans could travel during the wet season [Kohoh]. Neat. Unfortunately, when I came to filling in the Inkarnate map, I could no longer avoid the issue of terrain because the story of Vokhtah continues on past Kohoh into Tuhoh [the season of new growth] and beyond.
How in heck was I going to solve the problem of river crossings?
The solution to the problem of rivers required a complete rethink of the map, starting with geology and basic physics. Water always flows downhill, and depending on the slope and density of the material it flows through, it either slows down and spreads out:
… or it runs swiftly and carves out gorges. And sometimes it creates land bridges that span the gorge from side to side:
Or sometimes the bridge is actually the rim of a pool that sits high above the river. When the level of water goes back to its normal level, the rim provides a way from one side of the river to the other:
When there is too much water in the pool, it cascades over the rim and becomes a waterfall that feeds the river below:
And yes, I spent a couple of days just researching rivers and terrain here in Australia. 🙂 Much of the info. I discovered came from these videos:
The middle video was shot by an amateur so the helicopter noise is quite loud, but it feels real, as if you’re sitting in the helicopter, experiencing the trip along with the pilot and sightseers. Videos 1 and 3 are professionally produced and provide better visuals.
One of the things I learned was that Katherine Gorge, which is where most of the images were shot, is actually a deep cut through a plateau. All the images I’d seen before this were from the river level and made it seem as if the gorge had cut its way through a flat plain. Not so.
The realisation that the gorge was part of a plateau changed my whole perspective about the Inkarnate map, and how the eyries and caravans [of Vokhtah] would interact with the geology. The end result is this:
Click the image to zoom in closer. The legend on the left identifies the icons used in the map, including the eyries belonging to the Vokh, from the most powerful [large purple] to least powerful [tiny white].
The fuzzy purple areas represent the native vegetation of Vokhtah. As the planet is quite different to Earth, I had to re-imagine the evolution of plants without chlorophyll [the thing that makes Earth plants green and which they use to synthesize food from sunlight, water and minerals in the soil]. I pinched the idea from Earth plants that don’t have chlorophyll of their own. They’re basically parasites, but hey… 🙂
To be honest, I can’t remember exactly why I chose purple/lavender but you’ll notice that most of the water sources on the planet are shades of purple as well. A trick of the visible light off water in a binary star system maybe? The notable exceptions are The Eye [the lake at the top of the map], and the two rivers flowing out of the Eye [Little Blue and Big Blue]. The Eye is a maar lake and it was formed from a volcanic eruption.
…but I’m going cross-eyed so I have to stop for the day! This is the map of Vokhtah at about 95% complete, if you don’t count the rest of the globe. 😀
The map is HUGE, but you don’t know how huge until you start zooming in, like so:
And then, because I’ve worked my butt off on this, we’ll zoom in a little bit more…
See that waterfall? Pinky looking thing almost dead centre of the pic? That small, not-so-important image is made up of a photo of a lake that I vectored in Corel, layered with transparent textures, reworked a number of times to make the textures blend into the background in Inkarnate…and all that’s before I made the actual fall of water. Just a tad pleased with myself. lol
Okay, enough crowing. Inkarnate is a fabulous graphics tool that’s worth every cent of the measly $5/month subscription. Like all tools though, the more you try to get out of the software, the more you have to learn. For example, to turn that picture of a lake into a usable ‘stamp’ [that’s what the graphic objects are called], I had to work out how to avoid having a nasty white edge all around the vectored image.
Without going into a full-blown how-to, these are the basic steps:
I found an image of a meteorite that had a great texture:
2. I cut out small sections of the texture and made them almost transparent:
3. Next, I made a background colour that would make the texture blend in to the background colour of the Inkarnate map:
4. Then, I placed the vectored image of the lake onto the top layer of images, grouped all three and exported them as a .jpeg image.
5. Finally, I uploaded the new ‘stamp’ to Inkarnate and spent a few more hours finessing the placement so there would be no straight edges to betray where my custom stamp had gone. Oh…and then I had to get the waterfall right, but luckily there were some nice ready made stamps for that.
The map still needs the trade routes pathed in, and labels, and a legend to explain what all the brightly coloured bits are, but that’s a job for tomorrow. Have a great weekend everyone, and remember to stay safe!