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Xenmas
10-25-2007, 02:35 PM
So, I've noticed a lot of posts on Campaign Cartographer. I've seen a few posts about programs I've never heard of before. I personally have been using Fractal Mapper for a few years now. I started with version 7 and have recently upgraded to version 8. I'm not professional by any definition of the word, but I like to make my own maps for my games, and I like them to look nice.

Am I using the wrong program? I've looked at CC2, and can't get my head wrapped around it. I've got Photoshop, but it seems like the wrong program to be using for maps (Not to mention the fact that it is really complicated, and I'm not really a graphic designer).

Anybody here give just generic pointers. I like a lot of the maps I've seen on this site, and would love to be able to contribute the stuff I make for my game. Right now I feel that they are wholly inadequate.

Thanks in advanced

NeonKnight
10-25-2007, 02:48 PM
First Welcome to the group.

As to fractal mapper, never used it, but I have looked at the screen shots of Frcatal Mapper and other than how it is laid out, it looks pretty much identical to Campaign Cartographer.

Love to give you pointers, but having never used that program I would not be 100% sure how to give pointers in using that program. Sorry.

RPMiller
10-25-2007, 03:11 PM
Welcome Xenmas! Glad to have you here. Please take a look around especially in the WIP and Tutorial forums. Lots of really great stuff there to help you out.

To answer your questions -
There is no such thing as a "wrong program". Some are better than others at different things, but ultimately it really depends on you. Both your skill level and what you are trying to achieve.
CC2/3 is really not as hard as a lot of folks think. You just have to read the manual and definitely do the various tutorials that are out there. It is a CAD program so things may seem a little bass ackwards, but once you get into it you'll find it is a piece of cake. CC3 has really improved a lot in that area as ProFantasy has striven to make the program more user friendly.
As for pointers, I would suggest you start by looking around at what others have done and even look at the tutorials even though they aren't for FM. You can then go back to FM and look at how it achieves the same sort of things you are seeing here, and as always I would encourage you to use the programs Help and you can post questions here for those that may be familiar with FM.

Again welcome, and enjoy your stay. :D

RobA
10-25-2007, 03:13 PM
And with a few years of FM experience, hopefully you can provide some examples and help for others just starting out!

(And Hi!)

-Rob A>

ravells
10-25-2007, 03:25 PM
The more people here that use varied programmes the better, I say!

And welcome, welcome, thrice welcome to the guild!

Beowulf
10-25-2007, 04:08 PM
I just bought Fractal Mapper v8.0 yesterday. While I've only just finished reading the tutorials/documentation and did a couple practice maps, I have to say I'm impressed with the power and flexibility it provides. I'm a long time gamer but relative cartography rookie, so I don't have much to compare it to, fwiw. Years ago I had the first CC from ProFantasy but never could learn it well enough to use it.

It would be cool to see some of your maps. I'm here to absorb some knowledge and improve my map making ability. Once I get a chance to play with it more I'll even try to post some of my own.

Xenmas
10-25-2007, 04:09 PM
Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm pretty comfortable with Fractal Mapper, and am happy to give any help I can to users who have picked up a copy. My GoblinAPI is so-so, but I do get around in it.

I'm browsing the site and like what I see. I'm working on a temple right now in FM8. I'll post it in the WIP section as soon as I get the basic floorplan done (I'm on the third teir of about 12).

[edit] Be happy to help Beowolf. I'm working on a map right now, and would be happy to send it to you when I'm done. It's nothing special at this point, but it is going to have GM notes and will be set up in layers that can be turned off as you work down the levels.

RPMiller
10-25-2007, 04:44 PM
That sounds really cool Xenmas! Check out some of the discussions we've had lately on VTTs. Stuff like you are creating would be awesome for online gaming.

Robbie
10-25-2007, 05:13 PM
I'd like to also welcome you aboard! I've been hoping some FM folks would chime in...especially since NBOS actually advertises here.

I'm gonna give you some rep since your needed here ;)

RPMiller
10-25-2007, 05:28 PM
Aww... you should at least make him post a map first. ;)

pyrandon
10-25-2007, 06:05 PM
In all seriousness, I'd like to see what FM can do. I feel like I've seen user samples of the best of CC, PS, even some 3D apps...but I can't say I've seen FM. Please do post, Xenmas!

(PS: welcome to the Guild!)

Xenmas
10-25-2007, 07:02 PM
Wow. I'm feelin' the pressure now ;)

I don't have anything completed in FM8 yet. There are some really nice textures included with the program. I'll post one or two of my FM7 maps tonight, or at the very least a portion of one of them (My world map for Long was never really finished)

Faide
10-25-2007, 07:07 PM
Hello, welcome aboard.

I've only found this site in the last couple of months but have found the members to be extremely helpful and constructive with their advice.

I downloaded GIMP for free and have found it extremely easy to pick up and use, especially following the many tutorials here and on other places on the web.

I'd be very interested in seeing more examples of what can be done with other software.


Karl

Gamerprinter
10-25-2007, 08:45 PM
The export resolutions for the 3D terrain maps can't get any bigger than those provided? And besides, I haven't successfully been able to import the maps or go directly from FWE to FM - FM crashes everytime. Is it the way I loaded it. I'd really like to use the 3D terrains I create in FWE within FM.

Can you help me, Xenmas?

PS: I've only just begun to dabble with FM8 - NBOS gave me a copy at GENCON, just for telling him who I am and what I do! 8)

Xenmas
10-25-2007, 10:27 PM
I think that 2048x2048 is as high of resolution as you can go in FWE. It is a pretty limited program (NBOS does give it away for free when you buy FM). I don't have any trouble exporting them as FM files, but they lose all the texturing when I do.

Naryt
10-25-2007, 10:53 PM
So, I've noticed a lot of posts on Campaign Cartographer. I've seen a few posts about programs I've never heard of before. I personally have been using Fractal Mapper for a few years now. I started with version 7 and have recently upgraded to version 8. I'm not professional by any definition of the word, but I like to make my own maps for my games, and I like them to look nice.

Am I using the wrong program? I've looked at CC2, and can't get my head wrapped around it. I've got Photoshop, but it seems like the wrong program to be using for maps (Not to mention the fact that it is really complicated, and I'm not really a graphic designer).

Anybody here give just generic pointers. I like a lot of the maps I've seen on this site, and would love to be able to contribute the stuff I make for my game. Right now I feel that they are wholly inadequate.

Thanks in advanced

Heya Xenmas! Glad to see you made it!

Sukerkin
11-19-2007, 03:37 PM
Hello to all. Sorry to barge into this thread unannounced but I too am a newly fledged Fractal Mapper 8 owner and, having spent a few hours fussing with the program last night, thought I'd Google for some tutorials :D.

I know my way around CAD and at present am starting to think that I should've gone for CC3 (I already have CC2) as FM drove me insane trying to get it to properly handle an imported background :grr:. My guess is that I've been using the wrong tools to achieve the task of importing an old hand-drawn map and converting to pixelated splendour - hence, tutorial search :o :lol:.

pyrandon
11-19-2007, 04:01 PM
Hi, Sukerkin, and welcome. We have some awesome CC users around here who can help you with the conversion of the old map; if you end up needing help with FM, I'd recommend you still post a "help with FM" thread and see.

Also, if you feel like it, post an intro in our welcome threads! Take care, and glad you found us!

Sukerkin
11-23-2007, 09:17 PM
After a couple of days experimenting with FM, I can report that I wish I'd not spent my money on it.

It's more than likely because I'm trying to use it in a way that it's designers did not intend (but they should have included a decent tutorial if they didn't want users to get bent out of shape with their product).

I started what I considered to be slow and easy by trying to adapt a small section of my old campaign map that I still have (a 130 mile wide area) by scanning it in to jpg and loading that as a background with the aim of tracing it out with the freehand tools in FM. What a pain that turned out to be.

I'm starting to make some progress but what I currently have is a line drawn copy of my original that looks horrible i.e. my old 'art' (I use the term loosely) is much superior to the wiggly thread-lines that FM has produced so far.

The text tool is awful and clunky and the way that fractal lines eat up a chord of real-estate (preventing you from selecting what is behind them) is very aggrivating. Yes, you can isolate them with layers but that too is hamfisted. Likewise, you cannot flip or mirror 'map objects' - what's the point of that restriction? The software is tracking (somewhat sloppily at times) thousands of nodes along fractal lines - a few hundred reference points more on an object wouldn't make any difference.

I reckon I'd be far better off in a 'conversion' attempt using AutoCAD and Photoshop rather than this - I suppose that's the difference between a 1500 software app and a 25 one (even if it it supposed to be tailored for the job) :lol:.

If I was working from scratch tho', I can see that the FM package would be just fine. Create a bespoke fractal landscape, add objects as and where you need them and off you go.

My apologies if I'm a bit 'rant-o-thon' just now but my time is limited and to waste six hours outlining a very small map section for such poor (worse than free-hand) results is a bit aggrivating.

pyrandon
11-23-2007, 11:41 PM
That stinks, Sukerkin. I know that feeling you have--what a drag. I wish I was knew something about FM to even hint at something you may be missing, but I know absolutely nothing. :(

What will you do now?

Beowulf
11-24-2007, 03:44 AM
Have you tried using more points and turning the fractal factor way down? I'm not expert, having used the software for only a month, and I haven't had time to do much importing of my old maps. Still, I think that might work.

I like FM so far but again, my new job has kept me hopping to the point that I haven't had as much time to play with FM8 as I'd like.

Sukerkin
11-24-2007, 07:46 AM
Aye, I've tried various methods to improve the output and zero'ing the fractal factor combined with keeping the line sections short was the approach I found worked best with the freehand tool.

The Spline tool worked okay for outlining features - as you say, Beowulf, more points and short sections :D. The polygon tool has potential too, tho' the fact that it defaults to filled is a hinderence when you're trying to overlay on top of an import :lol:.

Amongst my major gripes at the moment, other than those previously alluded to, is the lack of a proper cursor-tip scroll tool that doesn't lose it's focus on the last in-screen point clicked. Again maybe it's just that I'm not using it correctly but I find when I'm zoomed in tracing an intricate 'wiggle' of terrain and have to scroll then the tool adds a point on the map adjactent to the area of the scroll bar I grabbed to move the viewport - so you click undo and it removes the new point, loses the focus and, for all I know, the whole line disappears :grr:.

I'm sure that if I use it more I'll begin to find ways to achieve the results I'm after (either by amending my approach or uncovering options I haven't yet seen). I think what's throwing me at present is that FM is neither a CAD nor image-manipulator package but something in between - I need to find the line (yeah, mapping pun (sort of :))) to walk that matches that balance.

Sukerkin
11-24-2007, 07:50 PM
Well, I've persisted with it through today, trying and experimenting and generally theorising and the final verdict is that, for the level of precision I'm after, FM is not the tool I should have bought.

Just when I think I'm making progress with it, it shows an inaccuracy, a flaw or just a plain obstinancy about doing what I need it to do.

I wont say it's garbage because I can see what it can be used for but if you want to do reasonable level of detail at the scale I like working with (1, 2, 10 or 25mm to the mile) it's impractical. The hostility of the user interface is qute high underneath it's veneer of simplicity too - and that comes from someone who uses AutoCAD as part of his job :eek:!

The click-selection algorithm is hopelessly flawed (such that you can move a line that you can't select to modify), the layer control is patchy ("Send to back ... send to back ... which part of 'Send To Back' don't you understand?") and the zoom and snap functions are even more sloppy. The zoom partially re-arranges (aka dis-arranges) the fractal lines as you move in and out and the snap simply does not. You (or at least I) cannot draw a freehand line and colour it to represent borders of fiefs, manors, baronies et al. You can have black dots or, erm, black dots, what ever option you select.

A big minus is that the Undo function un-does what it feels like and doesn't undo when it desires to be petulant and there is no re-do or a history of what actions you are manipulating.

I'm not bitter as software trialing is always a roll of the dice but I'd suggest to most users who wish to map in the cartographical sense, rather than create map-like art, that you'd be better keeping your 25 for something else (or save up for a while and buy some real software - that's an unfair phrasing there, I should rather say "Commercial or Professional level software").

I'm willing to accept direction or correction from those more knowledgeable than I with this package, indeed I'm hoping that there is a guru on a white horse to show me the error of my ways, but, if it wasn't for the small price tag, I'd be demanding my money back right now.

NeonKnight
11-24-2007, 11:17 PM
Not sure, but I believe CC3 uses AutoCAD as it's underlying engine.

RobA
11-24-2007, 11:51 PM
Not sure, but I believe CC3 uses AutoCAD as it's underlying engine.

I believe it is actually built on fastCAD (or easyCAD the 2D version)., not AutoCAD.

-Rob A>

RPMiller
11-25-2007, 02:20 AM
I believe it is actually built on fastCAD (or easyCAD the 2D version)., not AutoCAD.

-Rob A>
That is correct. It uses FastCAD.

Sukerkin
11-25-2007, 07:10 AM
Having heard my chuntering coming from the depths of the computer room, my missus has sensibly suggested that rather than getting aggrivated by my inability to get FM to do as I wish I should try some of the other packages, such as Dundjinni or CC3.

It is a good suggestion and one that I may well follow in a while but I shall give FM another go today and see if I can't come up with an approach that works for me. It seems to prefer handling objects rather than lines so maybe turning as many things as I can into objects and manipulating them will work? I've been a bit lazy with my layer management too (the shame of it) so perhaps thinning things out across layers more will help?

Sukerkin
11-25-2007, 06:36 PM
There are still a number of irritations with FM that I have yet to either get around or accept but with regard to one of the major heartaches I was havng with it I have found that using a different tool made all the difference in the world.

I had been tracing out the sections of my old map sample using a mix of fractal freehand, spline curves and straight lines and had been having a devil of a job getting them to merge together (as noted before the 'snap' of FM is really poor) so that they could be cloned as a polygon. What I resorted to after hours of effort was re-drawing over my original 'tracing' using the fractal polygon tool with fractalisation set to zero and that seems to work a treat.

It remain's a hideous drudge to then have to manually reshape the hundreds of nodes to conform with the objects I want the new creation to sit next to but it's a step forward at least.

Keeping on trying, more reports to follow.

ravells
11-27-2007, 06:56 AM
Do you have a tablet and pen, Sukerkin? The method you're using sounds extremely painful.

If it were me, (and everyone's tastes differ) I would spend the money not on new software but on a tablet and pen (if you haven't got one) and try either Inscape or the Gimp (which are free). I'm entirely unfamiliar with FM, but it doesn't sound like it's working for you, so maybe it's time for a change?

Might be worth finding out whether Campaign Cartographer has a demo version you can try for free before comitting to buying it.

Ravs

Sukerkin
11-27-2007, 09:00 AM
Good advice there, Ravells and it definitely struck a chord as I was pondering onyl last night whether I should invest in a graphics tablet :D.

Having seen some of the output people are achieving with freeware such as the GIMP I may well have to have a look into it to see how it 'sits' with my way of working.

That last is the biggest cause off my rough start with FM I think i.e. the way it wants to be used is not the way I want to use it :lol:.

The outright bugs in it don't help of course. The 'unwanted placed nodes whilst scrolling' being about the worst flaw, tho' there are a couple of other 'biggies' such as breaking snap when you zoom or it randomly assigning a node from a line to the far corner of the screen when it feels like it (probably because I've clicked on something in the menu bar whilst having the tool selected).

When it comes to available alternative software, there's not really a problem with cost or availability for the purpose built non-free mappers as I can get most of them off the Net for twenty or thirty pounds it seems.

The high end professional art/CAD-wares, such as Photoshop or AutoCAD, I either have or can get my hands on (my missus is a printer and I'm an engineer designing SCADA's and HMI's for the power industry :)).

My stubborn personality will probably not let me give up on FM yet tho' :lol:. I've battled on and am developing a way of working that gets me results without too much-gritting-of-the-teeth. If I could find a way to configure the defaults for some of the tools that'd be a big step forward. I'll dig around in it's bowels tonight and see if I can't find a config file of some description.