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GameTalk - Map Design!

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TacticalWargames:
I think Map design is very important and something that can really effect a games playability and how enjoyable it is to play. One issue I feel is trying to get the abstract nature of terrain in game using hexes with say a highly detailed LOS\LOF or ballistic model in a PC game.

Purely from aesthetics two maps I love are GMT's Bloody April and L2's Streets of Stalingrad. Also the upcoming Red Poppies Campaigns: Ypres by Compass Games has a great looking map. Very similar to Bloody April as it's the same artist. I do know during testing they have had to fix issues with regards to the aesthetic maybe getting in the way of ease of playability.

GJK:
My personal preferences were always with Charlie Kibler maps that were as beautiful as the cover on the Roger MacGowan designed box.  SPI (R. Simonson) always seemed "bland" to me.  I know that's blasphemy to old(er) wargamers but I always preferred the "natural" look to the "sanitized" look.  True, you couldn't beat Simonson for functionality; with the 4 colors of solid blobs for clear, woods, hills and rough there was no mistaking LOS or what terrain the hex was. 

I like to dabble a little in map design and one of the first decisions that I make about the map is whether or not to go for the "topographic map" look or a natural "satellite view" map.  I always enjoy doing the latter more as you have so much more to work with in the way of giving the map a realistic look.  I think however that what perturbs many "grog" wargamers is the over use of such features; heavy drop shadows and bevels and other obvious Photoshopesque filtering and techniques.  No mistake about it though, Photoshop/Illustrator and other graphic programs have opened up the door to allow any of us to tinker away with our own map designs.  I can't imagine what Charlie and others did in the early days with hand-painting the maps.  (I asked Charlie about this once and he has long since moved to using graphics programs on his computer- the trick for him was learning to replicate on screen what he used to do with a brush and pencils).  Rick Barber, who's done some absolutely gorgeous maps still uses colored pencils.  He's been fighting the battle to learn PS/ILLUS for years now.

What is great though is that we have so many wonderfully talented folks now working on map designs (both boardgame and PC).  Back in the glory days of wargaming, we had maybe a dozen people working on boardgame maps....now look at the market.  Any topic, any style - you can game just about anything that you want and if you don't like the map that came with it, you can mod it (PC games) or redraw it (boardgames) yourself given a little bit of talent and desire.

manzikertca:
I look at the map as an aid to playing the game ,not an end in itself. If I wanted that I would be more inclined to art. I use' wet pain't combined with the 'paint' program supplied to all computers. First I do small graphics to fit on the map in 'wet paint'. This takes a bit of artistic knowledge as you have to know the color scales etc. When this is done I go to paint and draw a grid. Into this I copy a map using the gird lines as guides and then place color fill in the squares until I have the countries etc in different colors
Going back to my wet paint program I copy the small graphics and then past them on to the paint map. I find too much sophistication regarding the map distracts the players as the game is the focus not the art.

I like to store maps in publisher  as they are easier to find and it  doesn't screw up and lose your files. Fixing things is easy as all you have to do is copy them and paste them right onto paint.

Crossroads:
Just found this forum  :-[


--- Quote from: GJK on July 31, 2015, 10:13:17 AM ---My personal preferences were always with Charlie Kibler maps that were as beautiful as the cover on the Roger MacGowan designed box.  SPI (R. Simonson) always seemed "bland" to me.  I know that's blasphemy to old(er) wargamers but I always preferred the "natural" look to the "sanitized" look.  True, you couldn't beat Simonson for functionality; with the 4 colors of solid blobs for clear, woods, hills and rough there was no mistaking LOS or what terrain the hex was. 

I like to dabble a little in map design and one of the first decisions that I make about the map is whether or not to go for the "topographic map" look or a natural "satellite view" map.  I always enjoy doing the latter more as you have so much more to work with in the way of giving the map a realistic look.  I think however that what perturbs many "grog" wargamers is the over use of such features; heavy drop shadows and bevels and other obvious Photoshopesque filtering and techniques.  No mistake about it though, Photoshop/Illustrator and other graphic programs have opened up the door to allow any of us to tinker away with our own map designs.  I can't imagine what Charlie and others did in the early days with hand-painting the maps.  (I asked Charlie about this once and he has long since moved to using graphics programs on his computer- the trick for him was learning to replicate on screen what he used to do with a brush and pencils).  Rick Barber, who's done some absolutely gorgeous maps still uses colored pencils.  He's been fighting the battle to learn PS/ILLUS for years now.

What is great though is that we have so many wonderfully talented folks now working on map designs (both boardgame and PC).  Back in the glory days of wargaming, we had maybe a dozen people working on boardgame maps....now look at the market.  Any topic, any style - you can game just about anything that you want and if you don't like the map that came with it, you can mod it (PC games) or redraw it (boardgames) yourself given a little bit of talent and desire.

--- End quote ---

I do believe I've spent more time modding TOAW III than playing it. Absolutely love your map mods there GJK!

I am definitively with the old guard and prefer to play my hex games with NATO counters on a map that reflects either a boardgame, or then that of an old fashioned printed topographics map. Not much of a fan of realistic satellite view maps at all.

Having said that, I do feel the SPI / Simonsen style to be a tad too much in bland side of things (oh the blasphemy!), and what you pointed with Charlie Kibler's art those in the traditional boardgame style are truely beatiful.

I've worked with the Campaign Series 2D terrain and vegetation tiles for a bit over a year now, and while it is a bit early still to say I've found my own style I do like to keep things boardgame like. I believe when designing or doing pretty much anything, if you have that vision that you can go back and ask, in my case: would this look good on a printed boardgame, it really helps you to plough along.

Here's the Campaign Series Middle East 1.01 map style I started to be happy with. I need to do a number of iterations to see how everything works together, I often don't have the right tile in the first go. But a curious mind to try new things and love for the job in hand goes a long way  O0

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