To me a book isn't complete without a map. Narnia is tons better with the map, Middle Earth looks really inviting from the map at the beginning of the book. It used to be a trend in books to put a map to help the reader navigate themselves around a fantasy world. No self-respecting fantasy book would be without one.
As a child I would look at these maps imagining the places in my imagination. It helped to place events in the book as well as being a piece of art. It has even encouraged me to buy books. If there's a map in the beginning, I want to have it. Happily, authors and publishers understand the lure of cartography and more books now have the map in the front.
The most recent book I've finished, Gargantis by Thomas Taylor, even has two maps contained within its pages. At the same time as I was devouring (book review to come), the latest adventures in Eeire on Sea, that I came across a new 'game' on Steam. To call it a game is a bit of a stretch, it's more of a toy that you play with. Yet it's simple methodology reminded me instantly of the aforementioned Eerie.
Put simply Townscaper by Oscar Stalberg is a relaxing and yet fascinating way of building a town. No complex functions, no micromanagement, just an amazingly uncomplicated way to build a 'fishing village'.
I was hooked with the first click of the mouse. It's so simple to put together a village or town and it looks so gorgeous. Left click build, right click remove. Within minutes I'm sat marvelling at the houses I'm creating. Certain clicks bring you arches, hidden gardens and much more. It's all procedurally generated, yet the results are wonderful.
I started to see the applications this could be used for. The quirkiness of the graphics and the reading of Gargantis (by the way read it please), made me want to create my own town, along with a series of inhabitants, yet to be named. I though how it could be used to create a map and base a story, or even a series on the town I created.
Tempus Fugit, time flies, when you're using this game. A couple of hours and I'd filled all the available area with a hotchpotch of brightly coloured cottages and homes. I'd added a couple of lighthouses, a church, and a dock area. It felt good. My soul has been lacking succour the last few weeks and this game was filling me with a warm glow. It sparked the stories inside my head or ideas that should be.
Townscaper is in early release, which means it's still in development. Hopefully, it will be expanded, larger areas, assorted colour schemes (a dull one would be good), a workshop to share buildings. As it stands it's well worth the £5 it costs. A wonderful experience, an imagination sparker or just an engaging way to spend a few hours of your time.
Hopefully, I can go on and make a series of stories, short ones about the life in my initialled named St Olaf's on Sea. Townscaper and Thomas Taylor have inspired me to write something a little different this time.