Man, I have been neglecting this blog! Haven’t posted anything in months. A lot of real life stuff was getting in the way. WordPress has redesigned the look of the dashboard since the last time I actually made a post! I think I like the new look; it pops more and looks brighter.
I do plan to start doing a little more with this place soon, since I should have more going on worth posting about soon; some more details on story ideas I’m working on, for one.
But for now: have the latest Valocea map. There have been some fairly significant changes this time around: I decided I wanted even more total land area to the main island. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t exactly small to begin with, but I looked it over, and decided I wanted to have a little more to work with. There was one main reason for this, actually, which I’ll get into below the break. Here is the map:
Pardon the slightly lower quality of this compared to some of the previous ones (if you view the map at full size, you’ll see it’s a slightly lower resolution, and the lines aren’t quite as smooth; CC3 locks up and refuses to finish the image export if the quality settings are too high, plus even if it works it takes hours. I’m working on finding a way around this, so I’ll be able to export super high-quality maps from time to time).
Anyway, you can easily see which regions are new: the ones that don’t have names yet (and to make it really easy to see the changes, just look at it alongside the former most recent version, here. Also note that the newer version has labels for the real North American regions that are visible; this provides a much better visual sense of Valocea’s relative size and location). Aside from that, I’ll obviously need to measure their square area and that of the islands that have been added along with them (note also that the islands attributed to the new areas that are currently visible may not be ALL of the islands for those new areas; I might add a few more). All of this measuring I have to do does mean more BOXES ARRRRGH, and there’s also been a bit of additional land area added to Ahveila, which will also need to be measured. And of course, I moved some of the existing islands around to accommodate the changes. I like this look, though. I think the whole thing has more character now. And the total amount of measuring work I have to do for these new areas pales in comparison to the work I’ve already done for the bulk of Valocea, so it’s not a big deal.
As to that “main reason” I mentioned above: it’s basically about travel times.
When I first started this project, it was (as I detailed out in the history post) just a city in a US state. The state was fictional, but the point is, it conformed in many ways to American realities when it came to rail travel. Which meant no high-speed rail, and even at conventional speeds, trains would be relatively slow and inefficient. Now, however, the country of Valocea has high-speed rail and fast conventional passenger rail (reaching or even exceeding 100 mph is not that uncommon, and they are rarely significantly late or delayed). But when it came to distance and travel times, I was still thinking in terms of what I personally know in real life. Looking at Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route, the Amtrak site gives a travel time of 35 hours, and the “route guide” gives a total travel distance (Seattle to Los Angeles) of 1,377 miles. This gives us an average of about 40 miles per hour. Now, not everything needs to be super high-speed, especially for a particularly scenic train (which the CS definitely is), but still, that’s SLOW. And that’s not even counting the possibility for delays (which, to be fair to Amtrak, do occur far less frequently in recent years than they once did).
Without really meaning to, I was thinking in those kind of terms: that train trips within Valocea on conventional rail could take a day or more, easily. Recently, I realized this simply wouldn’t be the case: the longest trip I could even map out would still take less than a day at the speeds they’d be traveling at. So, I decided I wanted to have just a bit more total land area to work with, thus the extension. Now, a trip from Anshala (way out on the northwest coast of West Portal) to Lennvale (in central Pascale), a distance of around 1500 km (932 miles) would take about 9 and a half hours via conventional rail, if the train averaged 160 km/h (99 mph) the entire time. Which of course it wouldn’t: it might reach that speed at times, but between not being able to just floor it the whole time, and factoring in acceleration, deceleration, and station dwell times, it would realistically probably be something like 12-15 hours. Which is good: this allows for some trips that would feel like “long train trips”, and would justify having some overnight runs. Of course, there’s also actual high-speed rail; not only would it travel faster, obviously, but a high-speed line will likely also make fewer stops than a conventional line. So your 15 hour trip is down to, say, an 8 hour trip. That said, high-speed rail would cost more, so one wouldn’t use that method ALL the time. And one of the cultural elements of Valocea that I want to add in is that a longer, not quite so fast train trip would sometimes be valued. Sure you don’t get there as quickly, but rail trips can be quite scenic, and let’s not forget that in Valocea, lots of people just like taking trains. So the slower run (which still isn’t all THAT slow, really) would be viewed as perfectly acceptable (and if you really need to get somewhere fast, there certainly are ways to do that, it just costs a little more).
So! That’s the latest. Valocea is always slow work, but I may have more updates in the not-too-distant future.