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2014 ENnies interview #9: Anna B Meyer

Greyhawk Maps
Greyhawk MapsAnna B Meyer

This interview is part of a series focusing on candidates in the running for the 2014 ENnie Awards. The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop role-playing gaming, with voting beginning 7 a.m. Central on Sunday, July 20 through 7 p.m. Central on Wednesday, July 30. The winners will be announced at Gen Con, the Grand Hall at the Historic Union Station on Friday, August 15. To vote, see http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/. In this installment I interview Anna B Meyer, freelance map artist.

Greyhawk Maps
Greyhawk MapsAnna B Meyer

Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.

Anna B Meyer (ABM): Started to work full time as a freelance map artist 2010. I do maps for various purposes but specializing in maps for Role Playing Games. My project to map the Flanaess started back in the 90's as something for my own private games. When I shared to share some of the results of my efforts on the Internet, it received a lot of attention. That made me determined to see it though and finish the map, which happened earlier this year. I have made it all available on-line for free, since it was never intended to be a commercial project. But it provided a good start for me as a map maker.

Now I work as a full time cartographer crating maps for gamers, game publishers and others who have a need for a map that can guide visitors across all sorts of creations, real or imagined. My specialty is to combine the latest digital 3D tools with an artistic expression to create spectacular vistas combined with classical map elements. Services span from small illustrative maps to the creation of extensive digital worlds, to be used as a base for a whole creative line of products. I also do professional landscape photography, it gives me both inspiration and raw material to use in my map making.

MT: Tell us about your nominated products/site.

ABM: My Map of the Flanaess started life as a my desire to create a map for my own games. The first parts that are part of the final map was done back in 1998, and I worked on it as a hobby when time and inspiration allowed. But when the interest in my efforts grew thanks to the Internet, I got inspired and determined to finish it. In 2010 I moved from Sweden to California, and decided it was a good time to turn my hobby into a career. My Flanaess map became my big portfolio project that I could use to show off my skills.

All in all it has taken me around 7 years of full time work, most of it research in the form of carefully reading everything Greyhawk, I've been able to come across. The terrain is created using Bryce, and then I've used a variety of paint and graphics programs over the years to merge, edit and add symbols, heraldry and much more. Its been a both tedious and never-ending effort, but it got me firmly hooked on visually bringing fantasy worlds to life. In order to keep a consistent look across the map, I have kept using the same old trusted Bryce version for over a decade. So the resulting map have been accomplished by countless hours of "fractal painting" and then stitching together several thousand small pieces of virtual terrain, and digitally paint over the ugly parts.
The map has over 40 000 symbols and names and the hexed version have over 190 000 of 12 mile hexes. Printed it would be 116 inches x 110 inches.

MT: What distinguishes your entries from your competitors?

ABM: It was to my knowledge the first time digital 3D terrain design tools had been used to create a RPG map.

The scope of the effort to create a map that was "all encompassing", meaning it both covered the whole area of a campaign setting and that at a scale detailed enough to show the location of every town, village and castle across the campaign setting.

Blending a "satellite" style with a "classic fantasy" style to try and create a more useful and inspirational map.

MT: What products will you be producing for the remainder of this year?

ABM: First out is a project for Kobold Press to map a new part of their Midgard Campaign Setting.

Then to launch two services with maps that are standardized in the form of area covered and technique used, but with customized content for each client.

One directed directly at gamers who want to have custom made maps for their home brew games. It will make it possible for a gamer to have his or her custom map, visualizing their own games in a professional way, for a hopefully affordable price. The maps will be delivered digitally to keep the cost down.

A more advanced version of mapping service will be offered for publishers (and gamers) who wants to have custom made maps with more detail, and to create a digital virtual version of their game world.

The maps will be top down, 3D views, can be styled various ways (parchment, satellite, rock carving etc). Video animations and photo realistic terrain renderings will also be offered.

MT: Have you participated in any recent Kickstarters? Are there any upcoming Kickstarters on the horizon?

ABM: So far I haven't used Kickstarter. I view crowd funding as a great tool that have benefited the RPG community a lot lately, but it haven't been my tool of choice yet. My work for Kobold Press will be part of their next Kickstarter, and I'm in early talks with two other publishers that might lead to me being involved in more later this year or early next year.

MT: What do you think of the new edition of D&D?

ABM: Cautiously optimistic, I've played a little with a play test rules and read through the PDF that came out recently. Not that I need a new rule set for my own games, I currently use the Pathfinder rules for my home games. But I can see WotC need to distance themselves from 4th edition and relaunch D&D. Hopefully it can bring in new table top gamers into the hobby. The rules seem to be flexible and very adaptable so they will probably work well, and if they bring back Greyhawk will probably start using them!

What I'm very interested to see is how WotC will handle the digital side of D&D. Form me digital tools like Hero Lab, Realm Works, Roll20 and d20PRO are an essential part of my gaming experience. So far WotC track record have been far from stellar in that regard. I hope they support the tools that are most used by gamers and at least offer good import export standards for their content. If their digital project Morningstar proves to be a winner I think D&D 5E can be a great thing for the gaming community.

MT: Will you be at Gen Con? Where? Will any new products debut at Gen Con?

ABM: Yes I will be at Gen Con, from Friday to Monday. Can't miss the ENnies when I'm nominated! Most of my time will be to take the chance to connect in person with all the professionals and gamers I normally only have met using various ways across the Internet.

MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?

ABM: http://ghmaps.net/

MT: Anything else you'd like to share?

ABM: To be a nominee among all the talented creators in the RPG world is a true honor!

I'm looking forward to go to Gen Con and spending some wonderful time with a bunch of fantastic people :)