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Gamerprinter
05-07-2010, 02:09 PM
I've been having an ongoing discussion on the RPGNet forums discussing what is the difference between 3e/Pathfinder and 4e as far as maps go. In my mind maps are generally game system neutral, but the members on that board have been educating me otherwise.

Basically, since many of my maps reflect a realism in style (whether hand-drawn or digitally created), the folks at RPGNet have been trying to tell me, throw realism out the window. The kind of maps 4e players really want have lots of open space for fights that move around, and for bad guy minions to maneuver for more exciting battles. Plus there must be plenty of hazards, places to hide, cliffs and pits to fall off or into. While some of my maps seem appropriate. I will be making an effort to create more that fit this line of thinking. Then I will post them to my Gamer Printshop Ecommerce site for printing and shipping. I plan to create a 4e specific catalog within my online sales site just for these new map designs.

I plan to create generic terrain maps - cliffs, canyons, caverns, etc. Some bizzare landscapes - volcanic lava pools, broken ice fields over water, winter landscape maps, and more exotic arcane scenes as well.

The folks at RPGNet have basically challenged me to do so - so I will. Of course I need to fit doing this while working on three different publication projects: Kaidan: a Japanese Ghost Story setting, my monthly project with Johnn Four and Mike Bourke, as well as the map series being developed for use with the new Apple iPad for RPGNet developers.

So though my hands are already full, I need to make time for this project too.

What are your thoughts on making maps more specifically designed for 4e versus any other kind of map?

GP

Gidde
05-07-2010, 09:23 PM
I've actually been wrestling with the same issue. For the first time, the rules actually encourage players to use the terrain, rather than it just being pretty scenery or x-ed out squares on the battle map. We just had our first session last weekend, and I'm finding myself completely redoing the rest of the dungeon to put more of the stuff you're talking about into it.

I think you'll do very well if you take all that into account in the maps you make available.

Gamerprinter
05-08-2010, 01:00 AM
Thanks, Gidde!

I guess the main point the RPGNet boards are telling me is avoid creating a realistic medieval village, my real concern should be making map scenes that describe a 100 million dollar action movie set filled with exciting over-the-top terrain features and structural extravaganzas. 4e isn't about realism, its about terrains that make the battles more exciting.

GP

tilt
05-08-2010, 02:53 AM
I'm working on my own first battle-map my self, and since I'm an active 4e player (and loving it) I am taking into account all the wonderful powers and feats the players have. I plan to make a small series myself and has also thought of cliffs and other dangerous places to fight. The first map I'm doing is a citys roofs :)
Looking very much forward to seeing your maps - and of course feel free to ask about 4e :)

OldGuy
05-11-2010, 09:17 PM
Thanks, Gidde!

I guess the main point the RPGNet boards are telling me is avoid creating a realistic medieval village, my real concern should be making map scenes that describe a 100 million dollar action movie set filled with exciting over-the-top terrain features and structural extravaganzas. 4e isn't about realism, its about terrains that make the battles more exciting.

GPKeep in mind that in most gaming forums (WotC, rpgnet, etc) the forum consensus does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the masses. Some groups may prefer over-the-top, 100 million dollar action movie sets. Don't take that to mean that all groups do. Varied terrain can make for more interesting battles but some groups will always prefer realistic settings above all else. Be sure to provide both types so everyone can enjoy your work.

Gamerprinter
05-14-2010, 12:51 AM
I don't mean to say that "100 million dollar action movie sets" can not be realistic, just ensure to include pitfalls, cliffs... more dramatic settings within the parameters of what a given encounter requires - make room, allow for movement, place hazards and obstructions and include many exits, that's all.

GP

OldGuy
05-14-2010, 11:13 PM
In your original post you said that the folks at RPGNet were telling you to "throw realism out the window". For completely self-serving reasons, I don't want you to do that. I've been to your site and seen your maps. They are beautiful! Since I like realistic settings and don't want you to change that aspect because I want to use em. : )

Adding lots of varied terrain is always good though.

Gamerprinter
05-15-2010, 12:19 AM
Ah, but though my styles can mature, I have multiple styles at creating maps, just because I try something new in style or paradigm, doesn't mean I won't do the previous styles anymore. For example the last 8 months or so, I have been concentrating doing hand-drawn maps as publishers seem to prefer them, however as of just this past couple weeks, I've gone back to my first style - photorealistic using vector shapes with photos for textures. So while I haven't done that style much over the past 2 years, I was right back at it last week.

So I want to learn as many styles as possible, so I can make exactly what my publisher/end-user desires in whatever style that may be!

Thanks, OldGuy! Appreciate your recognition of my work, though for the record, I'm pretty old too! :)

GP

tilt
05-15-2010, 03:03 AM
Now, I don't know the guys at RPGnet but I'm guesing that "throwing realism out the window" is more of a "provocation" than a real statement - there is no reason for a map to be unrealistic to be used for 4e :) ... its more about catering to the needs of 4e combat, ie having some elements that makes it more fun to fight. The two lasts fights we had in 4e was in a standard cave complex, and in a town square - so nothing really special there - could just as easily had been used for any other game system. :)

minimal
05-17-2010, 09:27 AM
The vocal people at RPGNet do not represent the majority of gamers. They represent the vocal people at RPGNet.

That said, there's no reason you can't make dynamic and realistic maps. I think you need some "big budget movie" sets for climax sequences, but if everything is that way then eventually it just becomes the new average.

Gamerprinter
05-17-2010, 05:14 PM
Just so everyone knows, I have only been visiting the RPGNet boards for the past two weeks, but I do go to many other forums with people for and against 4e, EnWorld, Giants in the Playground, etc. So while these latest discussions were at RPGNet, that isn't the only place that I see these discussion. I don't think I am overly influenced by RPGNet, versus any other site - don't get the wrong idea about that. Mostly any forum I go to, if it starts off with 4e, I skip it as I'm a Pathfinder or 3.5 guy. Its only recently that I responded to a 4e thread which got this whole discussion started.

When I use the phrase "throw reality out the window", what I mean is that there isn't always a pit or cliff or other terrain hazard in any given mapped location. Something like a typical city street, while certainly usable for a 4e game makes it less exciting, so throw in a sewer access, cellar stairs, ladder to building roof - adding things that aren't necessarily accurate, yet more varied in terrain makes a better 4e map.

In fact I've already made two different maps specifically for 4e - all of them realistic, yet all of them following the protocols asked by those members...

GP

Matrix Sorcica
05-27-2010, 08:27 AM
And they rock! Have some rep.

Looking forward to the next ones.

CartoGeo
05-27-2010, 06:31 PM
What are your thoughts on making maps more specifically designed for 4e versus any other kind of map?
GP

I have noticed that, IMHO, that Pathfinder maps tend to be reminescent of some of the old school city maps, and regional and continetal maps of D&D 1st and 2nd Edition... It's not exactly the same, and in many cases 'better' BUT... it varies greatly from some of the cartography that comes out of WOTC... but I think that it is a concious decision on WOTCs part for simplification.. feeling like they just highlight the places presented in their products and you fill in the rest... I am sure there is an work/efficency cost factor to that... but thats just my opnion. Yes, 4e does need more room for fights then Pathfinder, I was bitter about that the other day when trying to decide if a project I wanted to start would be done with 4e ot Pathfinder in mind, MAPs was only main impediment to my creative juices.

Gamerprinter
05-28-2010, 10:24 PM
This isn't a thread jack, its related, just read...

Also back on RPGNet, I was having a discussion with Steve Russell of Rite Publishing and Louis Porter Jr. of LPJ Publishing on different business models for promoting RPG products. One thought was a subscription based product, but that model has lots of variables that largely depend on a large audience you need up front. Louis brought up a thought, using Monte Cook's Dungeon-a-Day concept as a free service to attract the traffic while all the ads are either unique products sold direct, promotions for existing and upcoming products and sell space for advertiser banners.

I need a platform to post a free online gazetteer for my Kaidan: a Japanese Ghost Story setting, and my other projects, but in order for a site like this to work, it still needs traffic. So I decided with my huge abundance of unpublished maps, many second place wins in mapping challenges (including this month's it looks like :P ), as well as my speed at creating new maps in a variety of styles.

I just purchased the domain name: FreeRPGMaps.com and am building a site, adding a Wordpress Blog with plans to offer two free downloadable encounter scale maps each week (first one on each Monday, second map on Thursday) with intentions of posting blog and gazatteer content on Tues, Weds, and Friday.

So while I'm not saying I won't post them here, but I will be giving away these kinds of maps (and others) on this new website I'm building. It should be up sometime next week. I'll post something in the News Forum when its ready. I plan to push more of specific maps offered on my Gamer Printshop site through the new site as well.

So any new maps will be posted there first, then offered through RPGNow as free downloads, then I might post them here.

GP

tilt
05-29-2010, 02:00 AM
Good luck with it, sounds like a site to subscribe too ;)

Gamerprinter
05-29-2010, 02:13 AM
Thanks, Tilt - I expect you as a member once its set up! :P

I'm also getting an RPGNow account setup so after I post the maps on my site, I will make them a free downloadable PDF product. Of course I would need one to sell other stuff in the future. So I'll posting two products a week. And downlo ads from RPGNow provide Email addresses of downloads for marketing efforts down the line. Of course the maps come with my ads, included, with a closeup partial map for a cover design.

Been looking at forum software, though I like VBulletin (CG's software) its too rich for me at this time, so I'm looking at Simple Machines Forum as a free one, one of the other sites I'm a member seems to work alright allowing image uploads. I don't know how SPAM protected it is or what security it offers, but most of its visible features are nice - and its PHP/MySQL based. (Remember, I'm an artist, not a coder, though I do build graphic rich sites and barely dabble in HTML, PHP, Java, I don't even know CSS, other than knowing what it is.)

I might need a wiki app, and I do like the CWBP wiki, so I need to look into that. Also a CMS system to swap out maps for automatic posting on respective days of the week - damn lot of work for a non-coder!

Anyway, the trials and tribulations of taking the next step.

GP

tilt
05-29-2010, 02:28 AM
looks like you got your work cut out for you ... feel free to ask if there is anything I can help with. I use Wordpress for my invitation site (http://www.pogg.dk) - and the new version of Wordpress I believe comes with a forum (perhaps as a plugin) that should work very well. We currently have 2 pdf's for downloading, but we plan to have a lot more, and its damn easy to use.

Jaxilon
05-29-2010, 02:36 AM
Yeah that does sound like a lot. I thought you were already swamped. You must drink Red Bull or something, hehe. Sounds interesting though. I will try to check it out as well when you get it going.

RobA
05-29-2010, 09:50 AM
If you plan for more of a CMS, consider joomla (http://www.joomla.org/). I used it for a fair while when it was still "mambo" before switching my personal site to a blog engine.

-Rob A>

Natai
05-29-2010, 11:09 AM
GP, I'm probably similar in coding skill level to you. I dabble occasionally, but it's basically just looking around til I figure out what I'm trying to do at the moment. Most of what I learn in the process gets brain-dumped soon after. :)
Joomla is not a bad option. It's easy to setup, looks good, and has a large community for support and addons. In my experience it's forum integration is a little lacking. I just switched my site from joomla to VB, which is excellent in terms of how all of it fits together, but costly. VB4 is new and there are still kinks to be worked out, mostly with absent features that need to be added by the VB team. For example, it's not really setup to handle site-wide galleries without a mod, despite supporting user albums.
My suggestion would be to determine the one feature you really need, and use that to narrow down your decision to two or three options. In your case, that will probably be a gallery or download management system. After that, figure out which one has the best remaining features - forums, blogs, etc. Good luck with your site, and don't be afraid to shout if you need some help.

Gamerprinter
05-31-2010, 01:38 AM
So after looking around, I found some free software/scripts that I might try out.

1. Simple Machine Forum - one of the other forums I am a member of (a private forum for freelancers) uses it, and it has many of the features of this forum, it automatically creates thumbnails of full sized images, and comes with a host of free add-ons, including a gallery/photo sharing app and a CMS system. No blogs, though.

2. Word Press - I've been playing with a free wordpress blog, but I found out I can import all of WordPress apps and templates for free and load into my site.

While the two aren't directly linked, other than buttons or text links placed between the two main apps, and each will require its own membership password, to join. But I don't think you need to be a member of the Wordpress blog except to post blog replies. I'm thinking of posting the free maps as blog entries, with links to download the different available versions from within the blog itself. After initial publication on the blog, I'll then move the file into the Galllery portion of SMF forum app. Of course I can't really skin the SMF forum to look anything like the Wordpress blog other than matching banners and some color similarities, but oh well. I might look into a free wiki, as well, as a place to post the Kaidan Gazetteer, with links from the forum and blog.

While SMF forum is CSS friendly, as mentioned I am not a CSS coder, so I may stick with the default design (or pick a template for it I like.)

This might prove easier than I thought - we'll see.

Well I'm moving forward - I think with a domain name of FreeRPGMaps.com and a little low cost advertising and free marketing should get some attention once its setup.

Thoughts?

GP

tilt
05-31-2010, 03:00 AM
Before doing anything - try looking here: http://www.sallywalker.me.uk/2010/05/16/simplepress-forum-plugin-for-wordpress-simply-brilliant/ :)

On my own wordpress site we don't require membership/registration to comment on our blogs - however we do moderate them (ie, we have to push ok for a post to show), now we're rather new and only spammers try to post in them, but I'm guessing its about 1-2 spams a week - so not a big problem.

Gamerprinter
05-31-2010, 03:18 AM
Thanks for the link, Tilt, that should make things much better - though I'm glad to see I wasn't doing too much wrong in thinking SMF is a decent forum software, as the author of that article mentioned her preference of SMF for forum software. But as the article suggests Simple: Press keeps the feel the same using the WordPress style along with being a fully featured forum app.

Nice find! Have some REP (+12 katana, remember!)

GP

tilt
05-31-2010, 03:24 AM
yihaa.. .thanks, I've upgrade my sword to a +3 Mace of moderatly nice repping some days ago, works much better :)
And yes, only heard good stuff about SMF but now you can get stuff that works together and then you only have to find one theme ;) ... by the way - have you tried looking in Themeforest - they have some nice ones :)

RobA
05-31-2010, 12:18 PM
Before doing anything - try looking here: http://www.sallywalker.me.uk/2010/05/16/simplepress-forum-plugin-for-wordpress-simply-brilliant/ :)

On my own wordpress site we don't require membership/registration to comment on our blogs - however we do moderate them (ie, we have to push ok for a post to show), now we're rather new and only spammers try to post in them, but I'm guessing its about 1-2 spams a week - so not a big problem.

You are luck. My blog (http://ffaat.pointclark.net) though not active (400 views per day) gets twice that many comment spam attempts per day, of which 99.99% are dumped automatically by the spam filtering provided by my blog software (Serendipity (http://www.s9y.org/)).

-Rob A>

Gamerprinter
05-31-2010, 01:54 PM
I don't know if I'm thinking too big, but my next thought is to actually call the website: Free RPG Maps & More (though the domain is still FreeRPGmaps.) So while I will post two free maps per week, I will network with my industry connections and see what other free quality RPG content can also be posted on the site. Like Rite Review from Rite Publishing. I have connections with LPJ Publishing, Kobold Quarterly, Rite Publishing, Adamant Entertainment, Roleplaying Tips Newsletter.

How about free GIMP scripts from RobA as site content???

So the front page would contain any free maps I have for offer, a general news page for members (especially those on the list up top), a Yellow Pages free listing for members, a Classified Ads section for free sales of any RPG related content from all members (even selling used RPG material, miniatures, etc.), a Gallery and Slide show for maps, map objects, illustrations, a Free Forum, and a social networking site for all members as well.

Just seeing the tools I have and the connections I have, with the ideas flowing out - is that something worthwhile?

GP

tilt
05-31-2010, 04:11 PM
its always worthwhile - if you love what you do ;)
And people love free stuff :)

Gamerprinter
06-03-2010, 11:57 PM
Oh, I just had an evil idea! :idea:

How to pay for a free site. I have this product - my first product I ever created shortly after I started my Gamer Printshop online business (three years ago), called Endless Terrain Battlemaps - a kind of geomorphic map tile set. Think of four, double sided printed 11" x 17" full bleed full color, photo-realistic style, with 3D objects as needed of different settings (I only created 3 at the time): Heavy Woods, Woodland Path and Swamps. Woodland Path didn't sell much at all, the other two have been my most successful product over the years versus any other maps I print.

Although the edges of the maps are geomorphic (the images line-up edge to edge), and you can rotate a map 180 degrees and they still line up, the interiors of each map are different so all 8 sides of the 4 map set are different maps of the same terrain type. There are hundreds of permutations in different layouts so these are a map tile set that gives "Endless Terrain" for any given adventure that fits that terrain type.

I forsee any kind of terrain normal and anamolous, exotic or fantastic, I think dungeon, surface ruins, and alleyways would make popular sets and will do those sooner rather than later, but desert, canyonland, mountain crags, cliffsides, light forest, jungle, seaside, lagoon of islets, lava rivers, caverns, etc.

I was thinking of picking up where I left off, by making both free maps each week be a feature location (fight scene), that corresponds to my current set of Endless Terrain Battlemaps. So lets say I create a desert canyon motif set of 8 geomorphic maps - the posted free maps are an oasis canyon, and a rocky hill for a king of the mountain type battle. The free maps lead into the paid for maps. So your party marches through the endless terrain, until the GM decides to add the free fight scene map for the big encounter, while the other maps were about getting there...

That way I tie the product for sale with the free maps featured. However, based on my schedule, I couldn't create a set of Endless Terrain maps each week - I've got too much other stuff to do. At best I could try to create a set each month, and just play catch-up to the free map schedule. Then hold polls to decide which ET set to produce for the next edition. Perhaps someday I could meet the schedule.

Right now the sets sell for $19.95, but I'm looking at a new machine that might let me cut that price down significantly, at least for cost of printing, lamination is still the same.

While I certainly want to promote and sell my other products and services, I think the tie-in will prove more lucrative and still remain a free website.

Thoughts?

GP

OldGuy
06-04-2010, 02:30 AM
I've seen those Endless Terrain maps and they are amazing. Anything tied to them will do well. And anything that involves you making more is a wonderful idea!

I think if you can put free maps in players hands where they can get a good look at the quality and design, it will give people, who are on the fence, that little extra nudge to get them to order the full maps.

If my math is correct, there are more than "hundreds" of combinations though. Each map has a front and back and two orientations so four ways of showing each piece. There are four pieces so you have 4^4 (or 256) combinations just from turning and flipping each piece. The four pieces can be placed in the four locations (assuming you restrict it to a square) in 24 different ways. All told that makes 256 x 24 = 6144 combinations. That is TRULY Endless Terrain!

tilt
06-04-2010, 02:30 AM
Love the idea of "endless" maps - with endless opportunities :)
So questions arise .. what about making them 11 x 11 instead, that whay they can fit together better and of course they should fit with other terrain types. And you could just release one tile at a time - perhaps two the first time.
What about the quality of the "board" - personally I would love it if it was on really thick board - like a board game board, they would be easy to put together, have a high sense of quality and be very durable :)

OldGuy
06-04-2010, 02:37 AM
Love the idea of "endless" maps - with endless opportunities :)
So questions arise .. what about making them 11 x 11 instead, that whay they can fit together better and of course they should fit with other terrain types. And you could just release one tile at a time - perhaps two the first time.
What about the quality of the "board" - personally I would love it if it was on really thick board - like a board game board, they would be easy to put together, have a high sense of quality and be very durable :)Like this (http://www.amazon.com/Medium-Weight-Chipboard-Sheets-8-5x11/dp/B00161W6L8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1244169513&sr=8-2)? They come in various sizes including 8.5"x11" and 11"x11". Being a printer, Gamerprinter probably has a better source though.

Gamerprinter
06-04-2010, 02:52 AM
At this point, I'm doing it in-house. I print to light cardstock, then laminate with 5 mil heavy laminant on both sides, if I could afford to do it on gameboard stock I would, but I'm afraid that would be cost prohibitive to sell. In the state I have them now, I might be able to get the price under $15, many less, and it would be cheaper to mail in this format, just an envelope that's big enough and some protective cardboard on either side.

While I see the mathmatical increase by making them square, the cheapest way for me to produce them is at 11 x 17, and the extra inches in the rectangular shape becomes needed real estate to get more details. The tighter space, the less room I can create interesting detail. If I could print them 17" x 17" now that would be something, but in making it a product I can produce in-house - the size and format is how they will exist for the time being.

Someone else tried to suggest, what about purchasing two sets, then the number of Endless Terrain layouts is exponentially greater. Thanks, Old Guy, somebody once calculated the number of permutations (6144), but I had forgotten. Remember I may be technically skilled to create professional maps, I am really an artist, and not a mathmetician/scientist - glad you did, cause I didn't want to! :P

I was thinking I could place polls on the site where the community could vote for which map gets produced next, as well as ideas for future free maps and map sets. Offer contests for best map idea, etc.

And if the number of orders for the map got crazy (always such a hope), I have printer-only sources to get volume printing on standard presses to meet any excessive demand. If I don't get crazy amounts of orders, I can do it in-house - I never have to keep an inventory, I essentially POD them myself one order at a time.

GP

tilt
06-04-2010, 03:39 AM
8x16 would give a lot of possiblities too, but then we're back to a reduced area for details. Maybe you could offer a deluxe version on board, if its print on demand. That does however required you being confortable gluing your prints to boards, but it only takes a little pratice ... I remember when I was an apprentice(?) in the advertisment agency and I had to put 70x100 cm posters on pre glued pvc boards, no room for mistakes there - that stuff stuck at once! Small air bubbles could however be removed by scalpel afterwards ;)

Gamerprinter
06-04-2010, 03:50 AM
I also make vinyl signs in my day business, so I know how to apply vinyl onto surfaces and minimize the bubbling by using a sign squeegee, like applying wallpaper. For bubbles I use a pin to pop a hole then squeegee the air out and flattening to the glued surface or a rivet brush. So I'm skilled at doing that and I have the tools, but I'd hate to do that in volume - eh, that's manual labor! Eeek!

GP

tilt
06-04-2010, 04:14 AM
uh yeah.. manual labour.. eww *lol*

caradoc
03-17-2012, 10:00 PM
these are some beautifull maps