View Full Version : world building software for macs?

05-21-2009, 07:33 AM
(Two disclaimers: not sure if roundtable is the best forum for this - and I already searched the archives but didn't come up with anything)

I spent way too much time today trying to find free world building software downloads online - and came up with nothing that's both free and Mac OS compatible. Mostly what I'm looking for is a simple program like autoREALM or CC3 (Campaigner something?) but for/compatible with Mac OS: a program that can create maps (not necessarily anything else) for fantasy worlds.

Yep, it's mostly procrastination. My time would be better spent actually writing about the world... But I really think it would help organize things in my mind, too - and give me a better visual picture.

So: the question is does anyone know of such a program? (besides plain old pencil/paper, haha. I am not an artist, not even good at stick trees and triangle mountains)

05-25-2009, 11:02 PM
So... apparently no one knows.

But just in case someone who does happens to come along sometime soon, I am going to bump this thread back to page one.


05-25-2009, 11:33 PM
The best world-building software is always going to be between the writer's ears.

It is not easy to figure out what makes a world tick. Much of the time economics run things. A greedy king doesn't want to repay money he owes to a rich banking consortium, so he partners up with a religious leader to accuse the bankers of heresy. Before you can say Knights Templar, we've got generations of people afraid to leave the house on the 13th.

On the surface, a "simple" thing like economics may seem boring, but it's all part of the gestalt!

I'm in the middle of building this world into an alternate time line, and I keep going back to the "Connections" and "The Day the Universe Changed" series by James Burke that traced the development of tech. It's amazing how the discovery of one small thing can shift everything we know.

Check your library to see if they can do an interlibrary loan for the series on DVD. There are two books by James Burke for Connections (http://www.amazon.com/Connections-James-Burke/dp/0316116726), and The Day the Universe Change (http://www.amazon.com/Day-Universe-Changed-James-Burke/dp/0316117064/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243278690&sr=1-4)d. Read 'em!

Also check the library for the "World (http://www.amazon.com/Dragonlovers-Guide-Pern-Second/dp/0345412745/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243279083&sr=1-10)" books on fantasy series. One of my pals did two of those with Robert Jordan (http://www.amazon.com/World-Robert-Jordans-Wheel-Time/dp/B001O9BYB0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243278898&sr=1-2) and Terry Brooks (http://www.amazon.com/World-Shannara-Sword/dp/0345480686/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243278932&sr=1-4) and the experience taught her a LOT about how each writer went about building their worlds.

You can organize things old school.

I've got a blank wall in my office and a white board. The latter is where I scribble ideas, the former has my Post-it notes.

You can have columns for each: "economics" (trade routes, what's valuable merchandise in your world, who trades, is there a black market for goods?), "politics" who's running things? Why? Who's good at it, and who isn't, and who is bats**t insane? "where your characters fit" (self-explanatory) "crime and justice," and so on.

As a new category comes to you, make a new column.

Limiting things to the size of a Post-It note or an index card will force you to focus on the basics.

You can expand (or not) when you're actually writing the book.

And remember, you won't use 90% of this stuff, but you need to KNOW it!

Hope that helps!

Dale Emery
05-25-2009, 11:35 PM
Do you need world-building software, or would it suffice to have good note-taking, note-organizing software plus a set of good world-building questions (http://www.sfwa.org/writing/worldbuilding1.htm)?

To organize my notes (plot, character, world-building, etc.), I use Scrivener (http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html), but that's not free. Well worth the price, but not free.


05-25-2009, 11:58 PM
Madison is actually asking about a new-ish category of software used primarily by game designers; it really allows you to create a visual image, including a variety of maps, of your world.

Madison, yes, I do know of such programs, but they are all proprietary and industry-owned.

I'd suggest you use the textual options you're being offered here; it's really good advice.

05-26-2009, 05:24 AM
Thanks for the links. I'll check out the World books - and I think I'll especially find Patricia Wrede's site useful.

Yeah, I was asking about map-drawing software, not necessarily world-building software. Sorry if the title was misleading. I've scoured the internet but the best options I've found are for PCs - and super expensive. Oh well. I'll keep the map in my head for now.

*thank you!*

05-26-2009, 07:03 PM
Have you seen this? http://fmteau.club.fr/rpgmapmaker/rpgmapmaker.htm It's shareware/nagware.

Or, here's something sleeker that doesn't break the bank: http://www.dundjinni.com/default.asp

06-01-2009, 07:30 PM
And just to be thorough, here's a 2D & 3D building modeler. :D http://www.sweethome3d.eu/index.html