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Article - 'Mapmaking Geography I' by AutumnDragon

An item about Game Design posted on Jul 20, 2004

Blurb

The second part of the Basic Geography series, which discusses Human Geograpy, including population, tourism, natural resources, and human activities. It’s a little short, but provides many helpful tips and advice.

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The Basic Geography of Map Making II

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This continues on from my last article. This one will explain human geography.

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HUMAN GEOGRAPHY

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Population

Okay, surely at school some point, you must have studied over populated areas? And then you ask yourself what hell this has to do with my RPG? Well, this affects your towns and cities of course! When decided on a city, decide on its population.

An under-populated city will obviously lack money and have lots of housing and job opportunities available. In the world today, this is rare. So remember to show why the city lacks a population. It could be that a demon lives there or its overrun by thieves and thugs. You could make your game more interesting by giving the option to buy a house or work many jobs.

An over-populated city will attract lots of people to go live there for job opportunities and the idea of being able to make a better living compared to country life. Remember that everyone wants to make money, not every NPC you make can be happy with their current life. Since the city is over-populated, you can expect the city to be big, small housing and perhaps even slums. Because of the lack of jobs, expect crime levels to rise.

If you can get the population equal, your city will be bliss – and unrealistic. Every city has problems; perfect cities are very rare.

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Tourism

Ah, one of my favourite topics in geography. Say you make a very nice location, quiet, beautiful scenery and the weather is lovely. Unless this place is secret, you can expect tourists to visit. For example, beaches are a big tourist destination, or historical sites. My main examples are Costa de Sol from Final Fantasy VII and Zanarkand in Final Fantasy X-2. Because of the tourists they attract, it means its another opportunity for citizens to make money. Therefore, a popular destination will have more than just an inn, pub, blacksmith and item shop. Build a souvenir shop, or a shop selling the areas natural produce.

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Natural Resources

Everything is made from something right? Expect NPCs to be collecting materials to make things. You can’t have a blacksmith in a town and absolutely no iron or coal mining area in the whole world, right? If there is no area nearby for a resource of some sort, either your town won’t have it or it will trade it.
Here is a brief list of common resources-

Wood
Iron
Coal
Corn
Meat
Fish
Gold
Stone
Water

Obviously, remember that your town will be getting these resources from some where. If your town has no access to an iron mine, it will import it or not use it at all. Therefore create a trade route, whether it is over sea, land or sky!

If you really wanted to make your game more interesting, have resource problems like here in the real world. E.g. Oil is running out, deforestation is killing the planet etc.

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Human Activities

Remember that many human activities will affect the environment. Just look at what we are doing to help global warming. Remember to get NPCs and characters affecting the world around them. E.g. The mayor of a local town has decided to cut down a forest in order to build more farming land to increase town profits. Think about the outcomes and who is affected. You could have a scene where villagers are cutting down the forest and there are angry forest folk protesting. At this stage, you could perhaps have your heroes do something about it.

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Okay, that’s basic human geography. Remember to look at my article on physical geography! And once again, I apologise for any spelling mistakes. Just as reminder, I am a ‘she’.

-AutumnDragon