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3. Are we there yet?

Ok, in part three of ‘Fun with the minimap’ we get down to the business of adding a real life length scale to Azeroth and the Outland. To get started, I went to the docks on Theramore Isle because they are flat and don’t interfere with the mage ‘blink’ spell. They also have fairly well defined edges which will help later when we count pixels. The specific dock in Theramore I used to set the length scale lies between the two red arrows in the image below.

Once at the dock between the red arrows I used the /sleep command to lay down near the upper arrow in the figure above. Then, while my character was asleep on the dock, I moved the viewpoint to the ‘overhead’ position. From this vantage point, I was looking directly down on Prym working off a pint of Cuergo’s Gold. I then took a screen shot of Prym lying on the dock, woke him up and moved a bit towards the other side of the dock, lied down again, and took another screen shot. I repeated this five times, each time moving Prym across the dock towards the lower arrow. Then in Photoshop, I carefully assembled a full picture of the dock using the five screen shots. With this technique I was able to obtain a single picture of the dock free of any foreshortening parallax that would be present if I simply used a single screen shot taken from the center of the dock. The result is shown in the figure below, where I have rotated the image so that the upper arrow in the figure above corresponds to the bottom edge of the figure below.

Next, I took one of the overhead screenshots of Prym while he was sleeping and very carefully cropped it to include only those pixels from the bottom of his heels to the top of his head.

I then stacked multiple copies of the cropped image, one after another with no space between them, from one side of the dock to the other.

After stacking the images 'head to heel' we see that ten and 3/4 body lengths fit across the dock. The factor of 3/4 was obtained by counting the number of pixels in the last picture of Prym that were overlapping the dock, and dividing by the total number of pixels from head to heel, to find 114/151 = 0.75.

The next step is to establish a length scale based on some sort of information provided within the game. It turns out that the mage ‘blink’ spell has just what we need. According to the spell description, blink transports a character by 20 yards. So, with my heels on one edge of the dock I blinked across to the other side.

In the figure above, we see an image of Prym with his heels on the edge of the dock before blinking and a second image of Prym nearly all the way across the dock after blinking. I used a yellow line to mark the 20 yard blink distance by connecting the same small dark spot on Prym's shoulders in the before and after blink images. I then rotated the line while preserving its length and placed it next to the images of Prym we stacked up earlier. By comparing the 20 yard blink distance with the stacked images of Prym we find that 10 body lengths is almost exactly equal to 20 yards or 60 feet, and thereby obtain a reasonable measure of six feet for the height of a human male. This in turn yields a dock width of 10.75 x 6 feet = 64.5 feet.

A close examination of the minimap reveals that it is a collection of square pixels, each with its own color, tiled together to form the image of Azeroth and the Outland. It is therefore useful to establish our standard of length in terms of feet per pixel. This way we can measure the distance between any two points in Azeroth or the Outland by counting pixels. For example, to get from point A to point B, you have to move x pixels in the east-west direction and then y pixels in the north-south direction, the distance between the points in pixels is then given by the Pythagorean theorem:

d = ( x^2 + y^2 )^1/2.

So, to determine the number of feet per pixel, we have to count the number of pixels there are across the Theramore dock where Prym has been napping. I did this by magnifying the dock in Photoshop by a factor of 1600% as shown in the image below.

In this magnified view of the dock, I marked the maximum estimate of dock width using the blue lines, and the minimum estimate of dock width using the yellow lines. As shown in the figure, there are 8 diagonal pixel widths between the blue lines and 7 diagonal pixel widths between the yellow lines. Averaging, we get 7.5 diagonal pixel widths across the dock. To convert from diagonal pixel widths to actual pixel widths, we need to multiply 7.5 by the square root of two = 1.414 to find that there are very close to 10.6 pixels across the dock. Using this estimate we finally arrive at a standard definition of length to be, 64.5 feet divided by 10.6 pixels, or 6.085 feet per minimap pixel. For metric fans this is 1.855 meters per pixel. This standard is what I’ll use for estimating distances in Azeroth. It is based on the blink distance of twenty yards and corresponds to a height of 6 feet for a human male. Since the process of defining length ultimately involves choice at some level, we can turn the tables on any uncertainty with our measurement and simply define a real life distance in Azeroth to be exactly 6.085 feet per minimap pixel. Adopting this perspective, I’ll define a length scale of 6.085 feet per pixel (1.855 meters per pixel) for Azeroth.

As an important note, there is no reason a priori to expect that The Outland minimap employs the same length scale as Azeroth. So to check the length scale in the Outland, I went to the main gateway on the eastern edge of the ‘Hellfire Peninsula.’ The result I obtained at the gateway using a similar ‘mage blink and body length’ analysis was 6.08 feet per pixel. This is almost exactly the same as the ‘Theramore Docks’ result. So, I will use 6.085 feet per minimap pixel (1.855 meters per pixel) as my definition of length for both Azeroth and the Outland.

Now that we have a real life length scale, we can determine the dimensions of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, as well as the dimensions of the Outland. This is easy to do using the pixel based ruler built into Photoshop. For example, the full Kalimdor minimap, (not including Teldrassil) will fit with in a box that has a north-south dimension of 9676 pixels, and an east-west dimension of 5667 pixels. Using our definition of length, this translates to a box that has a north-south dimension of 11.15 miles (18 km), and an east-west dimension of 6.53 miles (10.5 km). The Eastern Kingdoms (not including the Ghostlands and Eversong Woods) will fit within a box that has a north-south dimension of just under 11 miles (17.63 km) and an east-west dimension of 5.2 miles (8.36 km).

The Outland will fit within a box that has a north-south dimension of 6 miles (9.6 km) and an east-west dimension of 6 miles (9.6 km).

Here are few more interesting distances. Stormwind is roughly 647 yards wide (as measured from the Warlock area in the Mage District to the entrance of Stormwind Palace), by 399 yards wide (as measured from the back of Cathedral Square to the inner gate). These distances are illustrated in the figure below using the red arrows.

The straight line, gate to gate distance from Stormwind to Ironforge is 2.35 miles (3.77 km), and as shown below, The Loch in Loch Modan is 0.539 miles (0.87 km) long.

In Kalimdor, Theramore Isle is 290 yards wide (as measured from corner to corner inside the walls),

and the dock in Auberdine is 373 yards long.

In part four we will use this Auberdine dock length together with a stopwatch to see how fast our epic mounts can run.