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Gigantic Accurate Earth Map (232 x 112)

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Pre-made Maps' started by Laskaris, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    Download the Gigantic Accurate Earth Map

    Warning: This truly is a gigantic map in size and will strain your PC. At 232 x 112 = 25984 plots, it is significantly bigger than Genghis Kai's Giant Earth Map (210 x 90 = 18900 plots) and slightly bigger than Carter's Earth Map (192 x 120 = 23040 plots). In other words, you will need a good amount of RAM to run this map!

    About this map:
    The Gigantic Accurate Earth Map has the same design philosophy as my older, smaller Accurate Earth Map. It uses a cylindrical equal-area projection to represent all the continents and oceans with their correct size relative to each other, and I spent a great amount of time placing the terrains, rivers and resources as accurately as possible. The bigger size of this map, 232 x 112 plots compared to "only" 132 x 64 of the old one, allowed for an even finer scale. Here is a bigger screenshot for a closer look at the Gigantic Accurate Earth Map:

    Spoiler :


    Obviously, it is impossible to make a perfectly accurate Earth map for Civilization. The Earth is a globe, so any representation of its surface on a plane is a compromise of one form or another, accurately representing some of the properties of the Earth's surface at the expense of distorting others. That is why geographers have invented various different map projections for different purposes.

    Rather than a boast of perfect accuracy, calling my maps "Accurate Earth Maps" is simply a declaration of intention and design philosophy. Unlike many other Earth maps for Civilization IV (including the official one), mine do not feature an artificially enlarged Europe and Japan or an artificially reduced Pacific ocean. Instead, I went for as much geographical accuracy as possible, within the limitations of the game. The result are some Earth maps that, in my view, are very interesting and unique. And while they don't allow you to cram half a dozen civilizations into Europe, they make for a great game in other ways.

    Because cities and the plots they occupy are in many ways the core of the game, I decided that preserving area was the most important aspect of geographical accuracy in Civilization, rather than preserving shape or distance. I used a cylindrical equal-area projection with standard parallels at 37.3 degrees north and south of the equator (sometimes known as the "Hobo-Dyer projection"). All continents and oceans are depicted with their correct areas relative to each other. Australia really is three quarters the size of Europe, Africa really is 14 times the size of Greenland, and so on.

    I did a lot of research on terrain, river and natural resources placement. I used a vegetation map from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for the biomes, and The World Ultras Homepage for a list of all the mountains with a prominence of more than 1500 meters (which in my map became mountains instead of mere hills). For resources, I used essays like Forecasting Coal Production Until 2100 by Evans and Mohr to get figures of worldwide coal reserves at the beginning of the industrial age, and then distributed that resource accordingly. I placed oases at geographically appropriate locations like Tafilalt in Morocco or (a bit of an inside joke, but accurate nonetheless) Las Vegas in the US.

    I created the map using Civ 4 Map Editor and MapView 2.0. As a basis for the map, I primarily used the maps from the Natural Earth III website, which I converted to the cylindrical equal-area projection with a map projection program called Geocart 3 and overlayed one on top of the other with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

    As you can see, a lot of work went into this map. I hope that you like the result. Have fun, and don't hesitate to send feedback and comments!

    Inside the .zip archive:
    There are nine maps inside the .rar archive. Three for basic Civilization IV, three for the Warlords expansion, and three for the Beyond the Sword expansion. For each version of the game, there is one "blank" map with no civilizations set, one that has 18 civilizations already set up around the globe, and one that has 12 civilizations already set up in Eurasia and North Africa, but none in sub-Saharan Africa or the Americas, to give you more of a new world to explore and more of that Guns, Germs and Steel feeling.

    Most of the civilizations start out in their historically accurate starting locations. For the maps for basic Civilization and Warlords, I also had to place some in non-accurate starting locations to get a better distribution, like the English in South Africa or the French in Indochina. The 18 civilization version for Beyond the Sword has the following civilizations, all in their accurate starting locations: Arabian, Aztec, Babylonian, Carthaginian, Celtic, Chinese, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek, Incan, Indian, Japanese, Khmer, Malinese, Mayan, Mongolian, Native American, and Zulu. The 12 civilization version for Beyond the Sword has: Arabian, Babylonian, Carthaginian, Celtic, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Khmer, Mongolian, and Ottoman (the Ottomans start out in Central Asia, which actually makes sense for a Turkic civilization).

    To use the maps, you need to extract the appropriate files to the appropriate PublicMaps folder. For basic Civilization IV, extract the *.Civ4WorldBuilderSave files to the PublicMaps folder inside your Civilization IV directory. For Warlords, extract the *.CivWarlordsWBSave files to the Warlords\PublicMaps folder. For Beyond the Sword, extract the *.CivBeyondSwordWBSave files to the Beyond the Sword\Public Maps folder.
     

    Attached Files:

    Black Jaguar likes this.
  2. primem0ver

    primem0ver Emperor

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    Amazing work Laskaris. I have never bothered with real Earth maps but I will probably give this a try.
     
  3. RyanTheGreat

    RyanTheGreat Warlord

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    Awesome map! Although my computer wont be able to run this map. Just one suggestion lake supperior should be 2 plots to the right as it connects to lake huron.
     
  4. Xyth

    Xyth History Rewritten

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    Oh wow that's a gorgeous map, though sadly far too big to work in my mod. Magnificent work though.
     
  5. wolfensoul9

    wolfensoul9 Warlord

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    Is the earth really that devoid of trees...? I thought the forests in Canada and Russia came down almost twice as far as what that map has...

    I thought the earth had a 30% cover of trees on its landmasses...

    Africa looks too large, as well. It looks almost as large as Asia!

    Still...fantastic map.
     
  6. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    Thank you! Next week, I am going to release only the Eurasia part of the map as a separate map. That one will be approximately 120-130 plots by 60-70. It will be roughly the size of a standard "huge" map in Civ IV - still a big map, but playable on older machines. This way, those of you who can't play the full map on their machines will be able to at least play Eurasia.

    I might also do the Americas as a separate map if there is an interest in it.

    The Great Lakes in North America was one of the most complex regions to try and get right. Here is a look at the original map I worked from, with the grid overlay:



    The plot where the arrow points, between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, is mostly land. So I made it land in the map - according to my design philosophy of striving for accuracy of area. On the other hand, I made an exception to this and made Lake Superior one square smaller than it should have been, because otherwise, it would have formed one big lake together with Lake Michigan. Obviously, I wanted to avoid that. So I made one square in the eastern portion of Lake Superior, which should really have been water, into land.

    Here is what it looks like in the game, same map except as above:



    It's a compromise, but a compromise of one form or another had to be made with the Great Lakes. I fiddled around with this region for quite some time, and this is what I came up with. I might do a revision in an updated version of the map, but that will be another compromise - it's impossible to 1) have all the lakes in the right place, 2) get all the lake sizes right, and 3) get all the connections / land bridges right all at the same time, at this scale. I would need a 1024 x 512 map for that!
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    [
    Africa has an area of 11,669,000 square miles, whereas Asia has an area of 17,212,000 square miles, so Africa is roughly two thirds the size of Asia. The relations are quite correct on this map (note that the size figure for Asia includes Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, the Philippines and all of Indonesia except for Western New Guinea, so you have to take these into account as well).

    I had the same discussion with some people when I released my first Accurate Earth Map. Some people refused to believe that the continents are actually the right size. Isn't Africa too big? Isn't Europe too small? The reason, I think, is that most people are used to looking at maps in the Mercator projection, the equirectangular projection, the Robinson projection or the Winkel Tripel projection. Those are the ones that show up most regularly in schoolbooks, historical atlases, and so forth. Equal-area maps are used more rarely. Consequently, most people's ideas about the sizes of the continents tend to be shaped by maps where the areas are actually distorted. And when they see an equal-area map, they find it hard to believe that the sizes on that one are correct. But they are!

    I believe that your expectation of how far the forests should come down is also shaped by looking at maps that don't use an equal-area projection.

    Here is the Hobo-Dyer projection I used, which is a cylindrical equal area projection with standard parallels at 37.3 degrees north and south of the equator (sometimes, 37.5 degrees is given, but I used 37.3):



    Note that the distortions of the red circles are distortions of shape, not area. What this projection does is, it stretches everything around the equator vertically, leaves the shapes around the standard parallels alone (hence "standard parallels"), and stretches everything in the far north and south horizontally. These distortions of shape are made - have to be made! - to get an accurate represenation of area all across the map.

    Note the lines of latitude that run across the map. They are at 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees and so on, all the way to the pole at 90 degrees. You can see that the spaces between them are much wider around the equator, because the north-south distances are stretched most strongly there. The spaces for every 10 degrees get smaller and smaller towards the pole. The 80 degree latitude is almost at the edge of the map (it's between 1 and 2 squares from the northern edge of my map).

    So, you have to keep in mind that the northern regions are closer to the upper edge of the map than what you probably expect.

    Actually, some 46% of the landmasses on my map are covered by trees. There are a lot more of them than you think!

    The 30% are a modern-day figure. My map has more forest cover than that because I used the potential vegetation, as if it were untouched by humans. That is why most of Europe and many other parts of the world that are deforested today are covered by forests on the map, as they were until the beginning of civilization.

    You can get the exact figures by having a text editor count the word instances in the map file. That's a nice tool for analyzing this stuff, by the way:

    The map has 232 x 112 = 25984 plots. 15793 plots are "ocean", 2855 are "coast", which adds up to 18648 plots of water. That is 71.8% of water, very close to the 70.8% to 71.1% figure that is usually given for our Earth.

    (Quite the coincidence! I cut out Antarctica and the ocean around it to the far south, because it is useless terrain and would have made the map even bigger. Apparently, I cut out about equal parts of Antarctuc water and land, so the land / water ratio remains virtually the same.)

    So, the remaining 7336 plots are land. Of those, 2777 plots have "forest", and 594 have "jungle", for a total of 3371 plots that are covered by trees. This means that about 46% of the landmass in my map is covered by trees.
     
  8. wolfensoul9

    wolfensoul9 Warlord

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    By god, the difference in Africa's relative vertical size to Asia's between your projection and the Robinson one, (which is the one that looks "correct" to me) is astounding! Africa in Robinson goes from the tops of Siberia to the start of the Malay peninsula, while in yours, it seems to stretch all the way to the Indian ocean NW of Australia!

    I just... I can't handle that. It's obvious that you've poured tons of work into this, but these size blasphemies (exaggerated term for humor's sake), coupled with plains as far as the eye can see, just make me much, much prefer Carter's map. Even with every speck of dirt in the ocean represented as an island...

    Seeing the revelation that all I had believed about the size of our Earth's landmasses being wrong is just too much for my poor brain... I need to go and relax it with some nice, wholesome Robinson projection...

    Ahhh... There's Alaska. Look how big it is! Much better...
     
  9. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    Most people who see an equal-area map for the first time are freaked out by the revelation. Don't worry! In time, your brain will recover from the shock. You will feel better soon... :cool:

    If you prefer Carter's map, that's fine with me. It comes down to a matter of personal taste, and there is no arguing about taste. Personally, I can't stand the Super-Sized Greenland on Steroids on Carter's map. I mean no disrespect to Carter - he obviously put much work into his creation as well. But that Super-Sized Greenland just bugs the hell out of me... It's bigger than Australia, for crying out loud! In reality, Greenland is only 28% the size of Australia. And his Svalbard archipelago is about as big as the British Isles... And so on...

    Like I said, it comes down to personal taste. We all have our preferences in regards to what we consider important in an Earth map. For me, it's accurate representation of area. For other people, it's something else, and that's alright.
     
  10. wolfensoul9

    wolfensoul9 Warlord

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    In reading some of the heavy criticism you received on your earlier accuarate earth map, I found myself intrigued by one of the disgruntled posters' example of how he could simply make rectangles so that the earth and water porportions were "accurate". While he obviously commited a fallacy in that he claimed your argument was that only area was important to be given the qualifier "accurate" (to be fair, you sort of set yourself up for it in correlating "Hey everyone, look at my accurate earth map in terms of area!" with simply "accurate earth map" in the title), I was wondering...

    How much sacrifice of shape and direction is acceptable to achieve accurate sizes? Making 2d maps from spheres is, as you have pointed out, always one of making sacrifices. So where do you draw the line? The other poster's example was obviously so far out, it could've passed Neptune, but how much more accurate to shape and direction and such is it possible before you are mathematically forced to compensate area size?
     
  11. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    I do love talking about map projections. Since you asked, you get a detailed reply - I hope you find it interesting as well!

    Of course, the fact that a map accurately preserves area does not, in itself, make it a good map. Here is a "joke map" that was done by a cartographer named John Snyder to nicely point that out:



    Believe it or not, this weird hourglass thing is in accurate map - in terms of area! It's an equal-area map projection. Of course, it is nonetheless completely useless as map, which is the point of the joke.

    Obviously, a good equal-area map projection will represent the accurate areas while, at the same time, retaining as much accuracy of distance and shapes as possible. You asked the question: How much sacrifice of shape and direction is acceptable to achieve accurate sizes? Where do you draw the line? But that really is the wrong question. The question is not what is acceptable, it is how much is possible. Needless to say, for an equal-area map, we want as little distortion of the other properties as possible.

    So, what is the least possible distortion of the other properties while representing accurate area? You are looking at it. To get an accurate representation of area on a cylindrical (i.e. rectangular) map, you have to distort north-south distances. The north-south distances around the equator are stretched while north-south distances in the far north and south are squashed. This is what a cylindrical equal-area projection does. There is no way around it.

    The only choice you have is where you put your standard parallels, i.e. the border between the stretching and the squashing of the north-south distances, the one place on the map where the north-south scale matches the east-west scale and, consequently, shapes are well-preserved. This is really an aesthetic choice.

    The Hobo-Dyer projection I used has standard parallels at 37.3 degrees north and south:



    The Gall-Peters projection has standard parallels at 45 degrees north and south. Personally, I think it is uglier than Hobo-Dyer, because the vertical stretch in the center is even more extreme:



    Or, as a third example, the Lambert cylindrical equal-area projection, which has its standard parallels on the equator (0 degrees north and south):



    Personally, I like the Hobo-Dyer projection best, which is why I used it. That's an aesthetic choice and therefore subjective, of course. But for a Civilization map, there is also one objective advantage to having the standard parallels at 37.3 degrees: the northern standard parallel runs right through the US, the Mediterranean, Central Asia and Northern China, so there is relatively little distortion of shape there, in some of the most important centers of civilization. Look at the red line, which is the standard parallel:



    Regarding the name "Accurate Earth Map": I realise I probably set myself up for criticism from some people with that one. Some people might think it is a boast, but it really isn't supposed to be that. As someone with an interest in cartography and map projections, I am well aware of the fact that all cylindrical maps of the Earth are inaccurate in one way or another. Calling my map "Accurate Earth Map" is merely, as I explained in the description, a statement of design philosophy. Most Earth maps for Civilization don't strive for geographical accuracy of any kind at all. They enlarge Europe, they enlarge Japan, they reduce Africa and the Pacific Ocean, they for some reason tend to feature huge polar regions (despite the fact that it is pretty useless terrain)... And that's alright, there are some very nice free-form maps like that. But mine has a different design philosophy, and I wanted to make that clear in the title right away.

    I could have called it "Accurate Earth Map in Terms of Area", or "Cylindrical Equal-Area Earth Map". But first of all, those are crappy-sounding titles. And secondly, it would have been an unwarranted reduction. While much of people's attention, and the subsequent discussion, has been about the equal-area projection, the fact is that I spent a large amount of time striving to produce an accurate map in other respects as well. Vegetation zones, river placement, mountain placement (I spent a lot of time on The World Ultras Homepage to get all the ultra-prominent peaks right), and resource placement. I did more research on resource placement than on anything else, actually.

    Hence the title, and if some people take it as a boast and consider me an idiot because of it, then so be it. But they should just read the description, where I explained it.
     
  12. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    Looks very good. It's nice to see an Earth map without a ginormous Russia.
     
  13. wolfensoul9

    wolfensoul9 Warlord

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    Ah, see, I prefer that one with the standards at the 45 parallels because it makes Alaska and Russia not look so squashed. I suppose it truly is a subjective thing. Perhaps it's because I enjoy cold weather, haha.


    Still, one thing still irks me...why are those colored maps in your previous posts so much greener than your Gigantic accurate Earth map?

    I suppose the greenery in those two examples you gave are not accurate, or actual representations of trees?


    Your map is...just not green enough for my tastes.


    But is a great map, and I have learned alot about map projections, a subject which I scarcely knew existed, so thanks for that.
     
  14. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    I think those two map projection illustrations from Wikipedia are probably a bit greener than they ought to be, yes. They are not vegetation maps like the one from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which I used to actually place the vegetation.

    Civilization doesn't have an optimal array of terrains to represent an Earth-like world with all the little differences in climate zones and biomes. For many of them, I had to make do with either "grasslands" or "plains" with or without "forest". I represented semi-deserts, steppes or dry savannahs as "plains", for instance. I represented wet savannahs (which still belong to the drier vegetation types overall) and various dry forest types as "plains" plus "forest". And so forth. The decision to make grasslands relatively rare was a deliberate one. They are supposed to represent only the very wet and / or fertile regions of the Earth.

    At the same time, the map does have a lot of forests - more than you initially seemed to think. About 46% of the landmasses are covered by forests of one type or another, which is about the figure we would have if there weren't any people cutting down the trees.

    You're welcome! I'm very happy if people find the map educational, even if not everyone enjoys actually playing it. I think one of the great things about historical strategy games is that they can be educational if done right. That is one of the things I always liked about this type of game.
     
  15. N7Noah

    N7Noah Chieftain

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    Awesome map! Is there a way you can add civilizations? I have a few civilizations that I have downloaded, i.e Papal States, and I would like to play them on this map. How could I do that?
     
  16. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    When you play with the "blank" version of the map, i.e. the one without any civilizations already set up, you get to select a civilization before playing. I think the Papal States and any other additional civilizations you downloaded should be available in that selection.

    Does that work for you?
     
  17. N7Noah

    N7Noah Chieftain

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    Stupid me! I didn't even see the blank map. Sorry! Anyways, it works perfectly fine using the Papal States and other downloaded civilizations. Nice detail with all the rivers too.
     
  18. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    No worries - it's easy to overlook something. I'm glad I could help you.

    I used a combination of this land / water mask from the Natural Earth III website and river maps that come with the Geocart 3 mapping software as sources for river placement. It took quite a lot of work to place all the rivers, especially the Amazon system in South America with all its tributaries. But overall, it did not consume as much time as I had feared.
     
  19. Styrkyr

    Styrkyr Chieftain

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    This map looks spectacular. But let me ask you this, is there a way for a friend of mine and me to download this on each of our computers and use it on multiplayer?
     
  20. Laskaris

    Laskaris Warlord

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    The map should work just fine in multiplayer - it is not any different from any other map for the game, just pretty large.
     

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