This starts off as a response to Zeremoniac's thread "Designing World Maps." I'm separating it from the thread, because Zeremoniac has taken it from the theme mentioned in the title to a wish list, a certainly legitimate wish list, but one that needs some comment.
I will list the things I am already missing after working for just two days with FM - partly to communicate my needs in case one of the developers is listening
1. Communication with other mapmaking programs, so that you can exchange not only raster, but also vector data.
2. Use of latitude and longitude as coordinates, and the ability to redraw maps according to different projections.
The list goes on well beyond this point.
It's not my intention or desire to deny Zeremoniac any of the tools he wants or needs. If NBOS determines that there is a profitable market for such extensions and has the desire to serve that market, then I very strongly urge NBOS to offer such features as an add-on package to FM8 rather than building these things into the FM8 kernel. Why? Let's look back at what Ed Diana wrote a few days ago in reply to Zeremoniac:
I just don't understand why FTP and FWE do not allow me to simply draw my own continental contours! Maybe I lack the typical gamer mentality (although I DO a lot of gaming), but why would I want ONLY automatically generated maps? I understand the usefulness of such an option, but am I the only one who actually wants to design a world by himself?
The reason FT and FWE dont let you draw out your own contours is because... thats not what they are for. They are for creating random terrain. That's their purpose. They are both 3D height field editors, not vector drawing tools. The data they store is very different from lines and vectors - they store information about points - elevation and other data. This data, once generated (or painted with the raise/lower tools) can then be converted to vectors-based graphics - but that conversion is one way. its easy to go from 3D to 2D data, but you cant effectively go from 2D to 3D.
Fractal Mapper, on the other hand, lets you draw out the contours of your map. So if you want to draw out something specific, just create the whole thing in FM.
The things in Zeremoniac's wish list - or a large part of it - are not what FM8 has been for to date, and as a customer I want very, very much for FM8 not to turn into that.
Dealing with this issue is just a touch difficult, because Zeremoniac has built a hurdle into it. He has given us his definition of what world building is and insists that any other concept of world building isn't world building at all, because he apparently has a monopoly on that definition. Never mind that just about any successful RPG campaign world that's been built to date has done so quite successfully without Zeremoniac's wish list. Ed Greenwood who created the Forgotten Realms wasn't a world builder after all, because he didn't do it Zeremoniac's way. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, who created Greyhawk and Blackmoor weren't world builders at all. In 1996, Richard Baker wrote the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons World Builder's Guidebook" for TSR (TM), which long was considered to be THE
reference work. His book didn't use Zeremoniac's toolbox. Apparently he knew nothing at all about world building. Why? Because Zeremoniac says so.
So ... let's dismiss Zeremoniac's insistence that his definition is the only definition for the nonsense that it is.
I'm a successful world builder. The folks mentioned above were much better and more important world builders than I am. I was involved to a certain lesser extent in one of those projects. That's why my name is in the published credits. I recall how a new and young member of one of these project teams, who was a Mac freak, gave the project leader a big recommendation that the team should use the kind of tools that Zeremoniac wants.
What the hell do we want to do that for?
the project leader asked. We're building a world where adventurers go out and kill orcs, not some kind of computer junk.
The three of us in the Vintyri (TM) Project have only four FM8 licenses among us. But we're 100% opposed to having the FM8 kernel modified to add the tools that Zeremoniac wants. We want to continue building our Jörðgarð
(TM) world in the traditional manner, not in Zeremoniac's manner. We and he both can rejoice in the fact that he doesn't have to acquire it with its lack of projections, etc.
Why are we against having it added to the FM8 kernel? The answer is, our own experiences. Any time a piece of software is modified so substantially, it takes a long time before it works reliably again. One patch follows another. On revision follows the next. FM8 now does most of what we want it to do quite well, without system crashes, without problems of any significance. We want it to stay that way.
Anyone who is skeptical about my aversion to sweeping changes in a cartographic program need only take a look at the ProFantasy (TM) forums. Campaign Cartographer (TM) 3 has been around now since 2006. About half the forum postings still are complaints about installation problems, operational problems, missing elements, problems under Windows Vista, problems under Windows 7, etc., etc. After eight major patches, the program still is riddled like Swiss cheese with problems. One only can beg NBOS to spare us such woes.
The things we and other people see as possible improvements in the framework of FM8 are online in the Fractal Mapper 9 thread. If NBOS thinks it's a good idea to serve Zeremoniac's needs, then we think so too, but in the form of an optional add-on or add-in, please. Let's not hobble the FM8 kernel with the burden of what for some of us will be nothing more than a lot of extra baggage that we have no desire to use.