Sterling is an architect, writer and game designer. As an architect, he works on projects of all sizes, local to international. As a game designer and cartographer he works in fantasy settings and a galaxy far, far away.

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Tuesday
May222012

Greg Rucka's Alpha Map

So, it's been awhile since I've had a non-Star Wars post...or any other freelance related post for that matter. Hopefully that will change in the near future. There are a number of projects at various stages in the production and release process,many going back awhile now. 

Today, though, I get to talk about a new product type for me, if not a new type of freelance, exactly. Over a year ago, Eric Trautmann, former editor of some of my WEG products, introduced me to novelist and graphic novel author Greg Rucka. Comic fans might know Greg's name from his DC, Marvel and Dark Horse titles, including 52, Punisher, Gotham Central, Hellboy and many more. He's known for his own series of intense graphic novels Whiteout and Queen and Country, through Oni Press.

Greg was looking for someone to help draw a map for the setting in his new novel. Something to aid him while developing the book. Somewhere big.

An entire theme park. Rides, shows, back of house areas and more.

What Eric and Greg didn't know was that I had some theme park experience, thanks to a few of my recent architecture projects at the time. Not quite the type Greg was using, but similar enough. Greg was in the planning stages for the book and wanted to use the map to help envision the place and develop the action sequences.

Greg gave me some background material and history for the fictional park, including major features he wanted and the actual theme. We discussed different park types and a few details from an operational standpoint. Then I sat down and created the layout. I added more rides, shows, and major features as needed, naming them within the established theme. We went through a couple revisions, but the process went smoothly and was a lot of fun. We thought a bit about the history of the park, designing the early sections to have a formal layout, and letting the expanded areas become more free form. I included some dimensions at Greg's request, so he could estimate travel times and other story details.

I knew very little about the plot, mainly that it was to be an action thriller. 

Originally, we didn't know if the map would appear in the book, or remain a tool for Greg to use. A few months ago, Greg dropped me a note saying it would be included. He forwarded an advance reader copy, so I quickly checked for changes (only one or two minor ones) and cleaned up the map's graphics.

The book is called Alpha, and its a new series for Greg. It's been compared to Die Hard in a theme park. It was a blast to read. I had a great time seeing how he integrated the plot with the layout. I had a good time with this project.

So, Alpha is officially out today. Go get it.

I've got a copy en route, so I haven't seen the final map in print yet. Once that happens, I'll post an excerpt in my portfolio here on the site.

More on Greg Rucka and Alpha:

 

 

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