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There are several programs available that will generate a random map of an Earth-sized planet, complete with a choice of projections from sphere to 2-D representation.

Are there any available that will generate random maps for a setting like Larry Niven's Ringworld, that is habitable but effectively flat over distance scales large compared to the size of a normal planet?

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  • $\begingroup$ You can plug in to a regular generator a 2-d world and just on your own set the distances very far apart, can't you? $\endgroup$
    – White Fang
    Mar 20, 2016 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @WhiteFang Sure, you could take a small scale map and call it large scale, but the result would be very coarse-grained; if you call the smallest islands huge continents, then there won't be any features on your world smaller than huge continents. $\endgroup$
    – rwallace
    Mar 20, 2016 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ Most map generators are fractal-based, so you'll get the same result building a high resolution map over a relatively small area that you would building a huge map. $\endgroup$
    – ckersch
    Mar 20, 2016 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ckersch I haven't found one that has arbitrary fractal scaling, don't suppose you could point me to one? $\endgroup$
    – rwallace
    Mar 20, 2016 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly, the Ringworld isn't just "effectively flat", it's actually flat in a way that any arbitrarily large spherical planet is not. It has a Gaussian curvature of zero, which is the same curvature as a plane. Paths, directions, and distances are all the same as on a plane, if you compute them from surface geodesics. $\endgroup$
    – Lacklub
    Mar 21, 2016 at 12:45

3 Answers 3

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EDIT: as of the 2020s, this answer is largely out of date. The techniques mentioned, or even at least indirectly referred, however, are still applicable to this day, for creating believable maps.

Only some examples from /r/worldbuilding. Not the most popular or useful ones, but you can make use of them.

  • Voronoi-based planet generator made in Unity. If I recall correctly, you can edit the final result. Might be a bit oversized for you, but this is the best stuff I've ever seen in the topic.

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  • This stuff called WorldBox, generates islands for you. Importing out is possibly only by image editing, as I judge it, but I'm sure you'd do that either way. If you miss to find a download link, here it is.

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  • The game Rimworld. Several games generate amazing 2D maps in-game, I'd recommend looking for some options.

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There's always Fractal Terrains from Profantasy.

Fractal Terrains

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Frameshift:

Your objective is effectively impossible on current hardware and of no value anyway. Not counting any fancy encoding schemes I get 2pb just for the elevation data for the Ringworld and that's assuming 1 mile pixels. (I'm assuming 1 foot resolution. I don't recall how tall the spill mountains are, perhaps you can get away with 1pb with a coarser elevation measure.) Even if you had a system that could build it you don't have enough years left in your life to look it over.

Generate a flat low-resolution world. Decide where you want your action and generate higher resolution worlds for those areas. The fact that the rest of the world is extremely coarse is irrelevant as nobody will ever do more than see it from a great distance.

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