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Gamerprinter
10-17-2007, 03:02 AM
I liked how the exterior map in my October challenge turned out, especially the bevel terrain elevations on the hill. So I thought I'd experiment with this technique in Xara further.

The following is supposed to be a vale of three waterfalls, though only two are in view on this map. The elevation is not defined so a GM could say its 10 feet, 20 feet or 50 feet between each. This is a fairly deep canyon.

Every "stack" of terrain, I applied a different ground texture just to help define each elevation level another experiment.

You will notice a path to the right of the bottom waterfall. There is supposed to be an oracles cave under the second falls, haven't developed that yet.

Heavy on graphics again, probably good for VTT though. I'm having fun with this. Oh the waterfalls are stacked objects both with transparency, one with a fractal cloud filter, the other with a fractal plasma filter.

Thoughts? 8)

ravells
10-17-2007, 06:41 AM
I like it. It has a very individual style to it, and the bevels / stacks really add depth to the picture. It almost looks like it's been built in real life to place miniatures on - i.e. it looks like a miniature model rather than a realistic depiction which I think works better for VTT type games as the map is very clear, so lines of sight etc would be easier to establish.

Good one!

Valarian
10-17-2007, 07:56 AM
It almost looks like it's been built in real life to place miniatures on - i.e. it looks like a miniature model rather than a realistic depiction which I think works better for VTT type games as the map is very clear, so lines of sight etc would be easier to establish.
I like it too, and under 1Mb, it's the right sort of size for a VTT. I agree with Ravells. The picture looks like a minature model diorama rather than a photorealistic view. The grass texture even looks like the felt you use on physical models. It's ideal. Very nice work, when does the map pack come out? ;)

RobA
10-17-2007, 09:49 AM
Interesting technique!

It gives the image a very distinctive look.

-Rob A>

Joshua_101
10-17-2007, 10:27 AM
Using the different textures for each level of terrain was a fantastic idea.

I think by incorporating more shadows you could really give deeper parts of the vale a more 3D look with greater depth. Maybe even place some trees next to a "drop off" and give the shadow a "stepped" look to provide some reference perspective.

helium3
10-17-2007, 12:55 PM
Nice looking map. It's essentially how you'd build a three-d terrain using sheets of cardboard cut to represent different levels of elevation.

I gather that VTT stands for virtual terrain tile, but what are VTT's used for?

Gamerprinter
10-17-2007, 03:21 PM
Nice looking map. It's essentially how you'd build a three-d terrain using sheets of cardboard cut to represent different levels of elevation.

I gather that VTT stands for virtual terrain tile, but what are VTT's used for?

Though RPMiller is more of an expert on this than I, however, VTT stands for Virtual Tabletop. Programs like Battlegrounds and the Open-Source MapTool, view photorealistic maps, allow you to place a grid or hex at your scale, place trees, in some cases provide "fog of war" which hides areas of map that players shouldn't be able to see based on line of sight and light conditions or fog, etc.

These programs are used as "in play" for online "tabletop gaming" or on display as an aid to actual table top gaming.

My expertise is printing, I'm trying to get the handle to this digital only map market.

Like I said, ask RPMiller, he knows more... 8)

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 03:54 PM
I like it. It has a very individual style to it, and the bevels / stacks really add depth to the picture. It almost looks like it's been built in real life to place miniatures on - i.e. it looks like a miniature model rather than a realistic depiction which I think works better for VTT type games as the map is very clear, so lines of sight etc would be easier to establish.

Good one!


I like it too, and under 1Mb, it's the right sort of size for a VTT. I agree with Ravells. The picture looks like a minature model diorama rather than a photorealistic view. The grass texture even looks like the felt you use on physical models. It's ideal. Very nice work, when does the map pack come out? ;)

I agree with both assessments. It would have to be bigger to work in a VTT though, but it is hard to judge without a scale of some sort. The sample looks like it has been reduced.


Though RPMiller is more of an expert on this than I, however, VTT stands for Virtual Tabletop. Programs like Battlegrounds and the Open-Source MapTool, view photorealistic maps, allow you to place a grid or hex at your scale, place trees, in some cases provide "fog of war" which hides areas of map that players shouldn't be able to see based on line of sight and light conditions or fog, etc.

These programs are used as "in play" for online "tabletop gaming" or on display as an aid to actual table top gaming.

My expertise is printing, I'm trying to get the handle to this digital only map market.

Like I said, ask RPMiller, he knows more... 8)

Nope. You gave a decent enough explanation. Although MapTool isn't open-source per the full definition, but close enough and it is free. ;)

Gamerprinter
10-17-2007, 04:33 PM
Yes, its a reduced image. This map is actually a 24" x 36" map at 1 inch = 5 feet scale.

I have created a 200 pixel = 5 feet version in PNG format but its around 22 MB, I have also created 100 pixel = 5 feet version in compressed JPG format around 1.2 MB, and just to see about doing it, created a 50 pixel = 5 feet that taps in at 333 KB.

I can upload and post links to these files if anyone's interested... 8)

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 04:39 PM
Do you have a 100 pixel = 5' version that is a PNG? I would be happy to test that out and post a little something from MapTool so that those that may not know what a VTT looks like will have a better idea.

Robbie
10-17-2007, 04:51 PM
Do you have a 100 pixel = 5' version that is a PNG? I would be happy to test that out and post a little something from MapTool so that those that may not know what a VTT looks like will have a better idea.

I woudl REALLY like to see that.

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 05:00 PM
You got it. Assuming I get the map from Gamerprinter I should be able to post something this evening.

Gamerprinter
10-17-2007, 06:38 PM
RP, I'll create a 100 pix = 5 feet PNG version of this map and post a link in this thread later on tonight.

It would be great to see a screen capture of the map with full grid and other VTT features emplaced.

Plus I'll be working on the Oracle's Cave complex portion of this map as well.

:D

I am uploading now!

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 06:51 PM
Looking forward to it. Thanks.

Gamerprinter
10-17-2007, 08:29 PM
I keep getting knocked offline - this being such a large file (17.6 MB), I can't afford loosing my connection. This is my third time and I'm babysitting the upload, hopefully I can get this linked soon.

Sorry! :(

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 09:35 PM
I just ranted about this today in my blog so I have to bring it up.

loosing does not equal losing

Now then I am waiting with anticipation for that file... I'm even home now.

Robbie
10-17-2007, 09:58 PM
I was avoiding loosing the hounds. I'm surprised you haven't stabbed me in the neck for my typos yet RP.

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 10:11 PM
Hehe... It came to a head today. I usually don't care, but there were several really bad typos today and everyone kept making the same ones as others in the same threads, and I just couldn't take it anymore and had to vent on my blog. I'm all better now though. LOL

So did the file get posted? Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?

Gamerprinter
10-17-2007, 11:04 PM
Since this is too big for a thumbnail link, here's the link. Oddly the dimensions are actually 2391 pixels by 3500 (not quite a 24 x 36) at 100 ppi = 5 feet.

http://www.gamer-printshop.com/images/veilvale100.png

"Anyone... anyone?" :P

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 11:05 PM
Got it! I'll post something in a bit.

Gamerprinter
10-18-2007, 01:20 AM
When I "loose" my connection it goes on a rampage throughout the countryside - I have to try and keep it under control! :P

RPMiller
10-18-2007, 01:49 AM
Finally finished it.

You can see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giLeonpfwKE

I posted a few other demos of MT there as well, as did Dorpond who happens to be the "demo meister". I think I even have a couple Poser animations up there as well. Which you can see in the video listing and by clicking More From This User.

Anyway, enjoy.

Gamerprinter
10-18-2007, 02:26 AM
Pretty cool - I wasn't expecting the total demo with encounters and everything! I also like the fact you zoomed into the lower falls area.

What did you think of the "rocks under the water" effect? Its hard to see that in the image WIP I posted, but the water is actually transparent and part of the rocks are above the water and some are under with the waves overhead, it looks strikingly real yet is a very easy effect to produce.

Oh, would you think it better for me to provide a version of this map - sans trees, so that VTT users can place their own trees? So their PC tokens can walk under, not on top of trees on the map.

;)

RPMiller
10-18-2007, 02:36 AM
It was a nice effect.

Yes, the more "decorations" that can be placed by the user the better. That is what is so nice about the individual stamps. You can take a base map, and then stamp all the "decorations" you want on it.

The demo was really brief and pretty short, but I think I got across the basic idea of what a VTT is and the types of things you can do with it. The video itself was just a bunch of screen captures put into a movie. I have an actual movie demo tool now that I still haven't tried out. I might give it another shot, but show the whole process via a video of the actual use.

If you want to make another map with no trees, and then post the trees as individual PNGs with transparency, I can make another video and shoot the whole thing live.

RPMiller
10-18-2007, 02:38 AM
I just had a thought, if MT supported animated GIFs those waterfalls could be animated. That would make a cool effect. I wonder if Heruca has got flash working well in Battlegrounds yet. That would be fun to see, plus BG supports sound effects as well...

Naryt
10-18-2007, 10:04 AM
I just had a thought, if MT supported animated GIFs those waterfalls could be animated. That would make a cool effect. I wonder if Heruca has got flash working well in Battlegrounds yet. That would be fun to see, plus BG supports sound effects as well...

Arg...isn't that just a bit too Flashy?

{Runs laughing maniacally from the room}

Valarian
10-18-2007, 10:12 AM
I agree with both assessments. It would have to be bigger to work in a VTT though, but it is hard to judge without a scale of some sort. The sample looks like it has been reduced.
For VTT used for roleplaying games (GRIP / Fantasy Grounds), this map is just the right size for an encounter. For wargames (Battlegrounds / MapTool) the map would probably have to be bigger in area.

RPMiller
10-18-2007, 12:47 PM
Arg...isn't that just a bit too Flashy?

{Runs laughing maniacally from the room}

I think I should hit you with my negative rep stick. ;) :lol:


For VTT used for roleplaying games (GRIP / Fantasy Grounds), this map is just the right size for an encounter. For wargames (Battlegrounds / MapTool) the map would probably have to be bigger in area.

Personal preferences. The one he uploaded and that I made the demo with was much nicer than the small sample not to mention the details were much better.

pyrandon
10-18-2007, 01:42 PM
Careful, Naryt, lest you are crowned King of the Bad Guild Joke. ;)

Gamerprinter
10-18-2007, 08:47 PM
For VTT used for roleplaying games (GRIP / Fantasy Grounds), this map is just the right size for an encounter. For wargames (Battlegrounds / MapTool) the map would probably have to be bigger in area.

I might try a 100' x 100' encounter sized map at 100 ppi = 5 feet, saved in both PNG and JPG, you could download either and test it out on GRIP / Fantasy Grounds for me, at least post a screen capture or two of the results.

I'll create a similar technique but different map for the test.

Oh and I saved a treeless version of the Veil Vale map to upload tonight, as well as many of my map object PNG files - trees and stuff.

I've got no problems this thread becoming a "test bed" for VTT mapping techniques. ;)

RobA
10-18-2007, 09:20 PM
I have an actual movie demo tool now that I still haven't tried out.

I used CamStudio Open Source (http://camstudio.org/) with great success.


Arg...isn't that just a bit too Flashy?

{Runs laughing maniacally from the room}
I smite thee oh foul punster!:D

-Rob A>

Valarian
10-19-2007, 10:35 AM
I might try a 100' x 100' encounter sized map at 100 ppi = 5 feet, saved in both PNG and JPG, you could download either and test it out on GRIP / Fantasy Grounds for me, at least post a screen capture or two of the results.

Can do.

The thing for the roleplaying VTT encounter maps is size. You want to activate the map and send it to players quickly so that you can get on with the encounter. Under 1Mb in size is good as it downloads reasonably quickly. A scale of between 30 and 70ppi to 5' is fine.

With the wargame VTTs, you are more willing to load a large map as it's all done at the start of the game.

RPMiller
10-19-2007, 01:49 PM
Again, I would like to mention that I want to have 200 ppi (100 ppi at a minimum) for the native download. That gives me the ability to scale down as needed. It is very difficult to scale up and maintain a nice appearance. That way if a group has someone with low bandwidth they can still use it, but if everyone has broadband connections they can benefit from the more detailed map.

It should also be noted that the various VTTs themselves have different ways of distributing their maps. MT actually has the ability to host directly from the GM's server or to pull from a webserver. A nice feature that was recently added. Also, the files themselves can be sent directly outside of the tool and the players can host them locally which allows the GM to distribute the needed larger files well in advance of the actual game time.

Valarian
10-19-2007, 07:24 PM
Added the screenshots for Fantasy Grounds and GRIP in the previous post above

RPMiller
10-19-2007, 07:36 PM
Interesting. The interface is nice looking but the figures and/or grid are not to scale unless you resized the map. Assuming that each square is 5' of course.

Gamerprinter, does the scale on those look correct to you? Based on that grid the PCs could simply hop over the rivers/streams.

Gamerprinter
10-19-2007, 07:57 PM
I can actually appreciate my own map more seeing it put to use like this! :D

I own Battlegrounds, though have not used it yet, looking like I better start. There's lots of potential in VTT.

Looks like I might have to order Fantasy Grounds as well.

RPMiller
10-19-2007, 08:01 PM
You might want to take a look at the free ones as well. Folks that save money on their VTT may be a bit more apt to purchase maps and other content. ;)

Gamerprinter
10-19-2007, 08:05 PM
Interesting. The interface is nice looking but the figures and/or grid are not to scale unless you resized the map. Assuming that each square is 5' of course.

Gamerprinter, does the scale on those look correct to you? Based on that grid the PCs could simply hop over the rivers/streams.

Per my original intended scale, no. The trees seem more like bushes and the river more like a stream.

However in Valarian's defense, except for the trees, this map is useful in whatever scale best meets its user's needs. Although I picture a larger scale with 40 foot minimum drop at the higher waterfalls, the user could see something like a total of 20 foot drop from the top of the upper falls and the bottom of the lower falls - the graphics work either way, thus a universality in the design technique.

But RP, you are quite correct in your assumption that the scale has been reduced to 25% its original.

Gamerprinter
10-19-2007, 08:14 PM
You might want to take a look at the free ones as well. Folks that save money on their VTT may be a bit more apt to purchase maps and other content. ;)

As with anything I create, I try to provide as many formats as possible to target the largest user-base. Of course I'd obtain or otherwise become familiar with every VTT application.

Comparatively in my map printing side of my shop, I own CC3, DD3 and Dundjinni, I have Dungeoncrafter 3, and am thoroughly familiar with Heavy Metal Map, Cartograph, and of course use PS/GIMP to open most every other graphics format a map might come within. This way I can open and print anyone's map file - PDFs included. Because I actually run a daytime repro shop, I work with AutoCAD and Microstation too - though only enough to print somebody's file.

So any map I create for the VTT market would be sized and saved to every format any user is likely to need. ;)

Naryt
10-19-2007, 09:15 PM
I smite thee oh foul punster!:D

-Rob A>

FLEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

Oh, silly me...why run from it when it's so true?

pyrandon
10-19-2007, 11:39 PM
(I interrupt this post for a quick lol @ "the foul punster!" That's hilarious. Now, back to your regularly scheduled thread...)

Gamerprinter
10-20-2007, 05:16 PM
Hey guys, I'm getting better at map creation using the Xara stack terrains technique. I've actually improved my terrain creation work.

First I created a rocky terrain filled level. Then I drew a freehand polyline shape as in creating the next terrain, but I did not bevel it, rather I feathered heavily 30+ pixel feather and applied fractal plasma transparency at about 38%. This allows the rocky texture to show through the grass fill texture above it. I also added a similarly fractal plasma transparent smaller region with my standard grass fill. Altogether more complex and more realistic.

Similiar thing done on the foam at the edge of the sea and around the rock. For being quick and easy method, its surprisingly realistic, even has its on drop shadow.

Also I am being more "geologically logical" about create terrain stacks by the sea. First level above the waterline is large boulder/gravel, next is algae covered stones, above this stone with patches of moss/algae, above this gravel stone and then my stone texture on top.

Oh and to help scale things, there is a wagon track for a road running betweeen the shore and the rocky outcroppings. Also on the bottom right is a line of fencing wind blew it down 30 degrees from upright (actually a squished image of masked fencing).

Bad News: as a 7200 x 4800 pixel (200 pix = 5 ft) map in 24 bit color, PNG = 92 MB

So I saved it as a JPG in "High Settings", sorry RP, but test this for me anyways, despite not being PNG. (Still 8.6 MB)

The second image is a 1400 x 1400 pixel, 70 pixels = 5 feet, "med. settings" JPG for Valarian to try, if willing.

I didn't upload my PNG trees, yet, but I thought I'd try downloading Dridon's TREE PNGs in the Resources thread. Unless one of you have already done so.

Are you willing to VTT test this map? ;)

Of course the first file is too big to link with thumbnail, but... http://www.gamer-printshop.com/images/shoreline.jpg

And the image shown is the Fantasy Grounds/GRIP version: (fence is cropped off in this version)

ravells
10-20-2007, 07:50 PM
Bloody hell, that looks fantastic!

Sorry can't say more (in mourning here for rugby reasons)

Midgardsormr
10-20-2007, 11:47 PM
Very nice. Those wagon ruts don't really look like they're part of the ground, though. Everything else has so much depth that they look like they're floating.

It's really amazing how well that technique works--I expect we'll be seeing some mimicry of it very soon.

Gamerprinter
10-21-2007, 02:20 AM
Very nice. Those wagon ruts don't really look like they're part of the ground, though. Everything else has so much depth that they look like they're floating.

It's really amazing how well that technique works--I expect we'll be seeing some mimicry of it very soon.

Yeah I plan to add a few more tracks, vanish them around exposed rock area, kill the grass around them in grassy areas, and add an intersection near the big rock to the bottom left. Plus put some transparency onto those tracks.

You're quite right though, they are floating ain't they? :?

Valarian
10-21-2007, 01:01 PM
Interesting. The interface is nice looking but the figures and/or grid are not to scale unless you resized the map. Assuming that each square is 5' of course.

Gamerprinter, does the scale on those look correct to you? Based on that grid the PCs could simply hop over the rivers/streams.

Per my original intended scale, no. The trees seem more like bushes and the river more like a stream.

However in Valarian's defense, except for the trees, this map is useful in whatever scale best meets its user's needs. Although I picture a larger scale with 40 foot minimum drop at the higher waterfalls, the user could see something like a total of 20 foot drop from the top of the upper falls and the bottom of the lower falls - the graphics work either way, thus a universality in the design technique.

But RP, you are quite correct in your assumption that the scale has been reduced to 25% its original.
The tokens are 50px scale. Based on the original image size and how this loaded in the VTTs, I interpreted the image as a hillside with a stream waterfalls and pool. The image works well. If you were to scale up the size of the image, it would work as a river gorge.

Valarian
10-21-2007, 02:55 PM
The coast road encounter map in action using Fantasy Grounds and a few skirmish symbols knocked up in Campaign Cartographer (still a little rough around the edges with the transparency layer).

ravells
10-21-2007, 03:17 PM
Heh....that looks really cool, Valarian!

Gamerprinter
10-21-2007, 03:56 PM
I like the mixture of maps in that screenshot, giving you a peek in to the larger world, to keep the party fully understanding where and what they are doing at the time.

And as I said, above, whether its a river gorge or a hillside stream the graphics work in Veil Vale - a nice advantage for a single terrain map design!

Thanks guys! :D

RobA
11-09-2007, 11:04 AM
I found in my references something similar (but handdrawn):

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/mapofweek/oct2006/01_CastleRavenloft_72_ppi_3fes3t.jpg

Uses the idea of flat "layers" of land for elevation.

-Rob A>

Gamerprinter
11-09-2007, 12:33 PM
RobA> - that reminds me how much I miss Ravenloft, and Strahd - its been ages! I miss the guy!

Anyway, like I said, I originally got the idea of layered land from Sean MacDonald, cartographer for E.N. Publishing War of Burning Sky campaign maps - his work is all hand-drawn as well, but he uses this "bevel" like effect at the edges of his terrain levels - very similar to this Ravenloft map.

I mentioned this in my October Challenge WIP - so I don't claim to have invented this idea!

That's where the idea came from, I just knew I could create beveled layers in Xara, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It looks cool and really helps you see the depth or rather height of the elevations in front of you, but not altogether realistic - still it is a map and not a photograph, or at least not intended to be.

This map shows extensive use of the beveled, stacked terrains - nice one Rob!

NeonKnight
11-09-2007, 12:56 PM
RobA> - that reminds me how much I miss Ravenloft, and Strahd - its been ages! I miss the guy!

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mg/un

Take a look about halfway down the page to see Strahd. Near the bottom is one of his minions.

RobA
11-09-2007, 02:37 PM
I mentioned this in my October Challenge WIP - so I don't claim to have invented this idea!


I was going to post there but the challenge threads get locked after the challenge, so I stuck it here where you used a similar technique!

-Rob A>