I need help!
I am looking for a map-making program (or, if necessary, a combination of programs) with certain properties, but I'm a bit lost among the different types of programs and their feature lists. I hope someone in this community can help me out, since Fractal Mapper SEEMS to be close to what I want, but then again, I cannot verify that it does what I want from my understanding of its available description.
My general goal: Creating an earthlike world from scratch by working from small scale maps towards large scale maps
What I want:
-draw a global master map showing the outline of land masses. Being able to add additional details in this step (relief, climate etc...) or to apply fractal world-building algorithms would be welcome, but the most important thing ist that I keep complete control over all features of this world.
As unbelievable as this sounds to me, that seems to be the crucial problem: It appears that neither Fractal Terrains Pro, nor Fractal World Expolorer, nor AstroSynthesis give me complete control of my creation! I was extremely shocked, for example, when I read: "You can not draw lines in FTP... It's a world-building program, not a map-making tool". The descriptions of the other two programs avoid mentioning the possibility of actually DRAWING continental contours, which is crucial.
- have the option to draw this master map not on a flat surface, but on a 3D-view of the world. (I believe this is called a true perspective projection.) I'm looking for the functionality to draw onto the surface of a virtual globe. Obviously that would require the ability to freely rotate that globe while drawing on it or looking at it.
As far as I understand, this kind of view and the ability to rotate it is part of all three of the aforementioned programs; however, I'm not sure I can use editing options with that view.
- alternatively, I would be content to draw on azimuthal projections of parts of the globe, if the software is capable of dividing the global map into submaps and rejoining the editing submaps to that master map which then can be viewed as described above.
I feel the ability to handle different projections of maps is CRUCIAL when designing a world map. But it seems FTP is the only program available for less than 300 euros with this feature - and it doesn't allow me to draw my own maps - or does it?
- it's not too much of a problem, if the software creating the master map and its submaps does not allow for too much detail, as long as I can export these submaps to a map-making program which allows me to use these submaps as a basis for more detailled maps, which I can create and edit using vector graphics. However, these submaps must either be large scale enough that distortion due to changing from an azimuthal projection to a simple rectangular map is negligible, or (much preferred!) there is an option to transform the map - either before or after exporting - from one projection type to another.
I know that FTP exports to Campaign Cartographer 3, which isn't the most professional program, but sufficient, and with a lot of destracting, but nice extras. If I understand correctly, FTP, FWE and AS all export to Fractal Mapper, which seems to be just a little less stuffed with bonus gamer features than CC3, but also a little more professional, and makes a good impression to me. I also believe that all three worldgenerating programs SHOULD be able to export to a "serious" mapmaking program (like map maker gratis) using vector data, but I haven't found convincing evidence that this is actually the case. Exporting bitmap data will probably not be an issue (or will it?), but I'd like to avoid having to overpaint bitmaps, if there is an alternative. (I'd also much like to be able to create maps using longitudinal and latitudinal data, but that may be too much to ask from nonprofessional software.)
Did I miss anything? Is it possible to draw and view a global map using azimuthal projections and then refine its details using submaps which a mapmaking program can handle?
I would be willing to purchase, for example, a combination of FTP and CC3; or a combination of AS, FM and FE (yes, I know that comes free with the others), and I'm also willing to work with Map Maker gratis, although I admit I'd prefer the comfort of a program customized for gamer needs, like CC3 or FM. However, I do not wish to purchase Map Maker Pro or OCAD, which - as professional mapmaking programs - are certainly able to handle different projections, but come at an absurd cost (at least for a non-professional).
(Oh, and I need all software to work with Windows 7, but since this isn't Vista, I'm cautioniously optimistic here.)
Is there a solution?