I would like to share with you a couple of hand-drawn maps made while playing video games.
Ishar: Legend of the Fortress
Three enclosed zones: dungeon (gray) and two towns (blue). Dungeon area isn’t finished as there was no need to do it after sweeping the area. I shaded corridors with pencils because it was hard to distinguish empty space from walls. Incidentally I gave it a 3D look.
I like Ishar because it drops you in the world with little information and you have to figure out things all by yourself. You carry an outside area map but it’s vague and orientation skill only helps to identify names of neighbouring provinces. Using compass is a must. Other than that I like colourful graphics and ambient sounds.
What I don’t like is that I don’t have enough feedback (e.g. can’t deal with enemy – do I need to raise strength or agility?) or that increasing attributes is a gamble (pay for a chance) which leads to grind.
Prince of Persia 2
Prince of Persia 2 features extensive dungeons which aren’t smoothly scrolled and that led me to mapping the area. Parts of Level 3 and Level 6 were all over the paper so I merged them in image editor.
Game was annoying for me (particularly fighting floating heads) and on Level 11 I lost motivation to play. I don’t plan to get back to it.
The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
This is a partial map of the Sheogorath region (northern part of the Morrowind province). I started drawing with black pen. After a while I’ve noticed it was rather bland so to thicken the contours I outlined shoreline with pencil. I like the look of it. To make locations stand out I supplemented with red marker. Plain black or red dot looked uninteresting in my opinion.
In Fighter’s Guild one of the quests is to find a legendary mine with golden eggs. The only hint you get is that it’s somewhere on Sheogorath. In-game map doesn’t mark minor locations so I began to draw my own map. Starting from the right (fighting mad people on Ald Daedroth) and moving left towards the center of the island, brushing vertically. I was disappointed when the “legendary, lost” mine was down the road and turned out to be a fully lit, copy-cat dungeon.
After that I did not continue to draw the rest because the map served it’s purpose.
This one was made by my brother when he was playing Ambermoon. Paper size is A3 and scale is 1:10. I find it impressive because I saw the amount of work he put into it.
Game features it’s own coordinate system (your x/y position is displayed once you obtain special magical artefact). My brother noted position of the shore points, converted numbers to a map scale, layed dots and then connected them. It’s unfinished due to laziness.
Indiana Jones: The Fate of Atlantis
Most of our maps aren’t as elegant but rather quick & dirty. To demonstrate here’s my map of the labyrinth on Crete.
If you’re confused after taking a glance then you know how I felt while wandering without a map.
Why do we dabble in cartography? Being lost may be simultaneously unsettling and compelling (kinda like being afraid while watching a horror movie). Using maps mitigates fear of being lost and creating them may bring joy of craft.
Second reason I can think of is to avoid frustration of walking in circles and therefore visiting the same places experiencing the same thing over and over again. Before I started drawing map for Morrowind I walked randomly around the island stumbling upon some locations more than once.
Of course there is a map on the Internet with all locations marked but using it would be like using a walktrough and would miss a point for me – which is to explore and search on my own.
Lastly, to help fully explore the area. For example in POP2 there are multiple forks and if you wish to check them all then memorization might be problematic.
Drawing custom maps is a thing of the past (you might have noticed that the ones I’ve uploaded are for 10+ year old games). Modern games come with all sorts of conveniences (auto-map, journal, marked objectives, hints etc.) offloading calculations from a brain to a machine. I’m not rallying against it but I’d like to say that challenge can sometimes be a pain and sometimes a pleasure.
P.S. Check out Line Hollis’ article about space in games.