View Full Version : Interactive Fiction Map

02-18-2011, 03:19 PM
I thought you guys might be interested in this rather challenging commission I'm working on? I'd also be very grateful for any advice or suggestions anyone might have, especially if they've tried this sort of mapping before!!
Firstly, you probably have to be around my age to remember computer games like Zork and similar, which were extremely popular in the early days of home computers/games machines. The genre is apparently now labeled as Interactive Fiction (IF) and still has a following it seems.
Basically IF games are generally text only adventure games where the player navigates using short commands at the prompt, having read the descriptions provided. Actual movement is usually via the 8 points of the compass and "up" "down", with the occasional excitement of "in" or "out" possibly! 8)
The long and short of it is that I am attempting to create a map of one of the more recent creations in this genre which presents several challenges I found attractive.
I can only ascribe this attraction to some strange mental aberration.
A map exists in pdf format


the challenge is to draw this with a bit more "stuff" to it yet retain the north, east, south, up, down etc nature of the beast. For this I have the "blow by blow" text of the game from start to solution with all the descriptions of the locations...

33644 33645 33646

[the room labels are just placeholders at the moment]

North is traditionally "up" on the page, which means that anything going north and "down" creates a graphical issue of how to depict downward stairs going away from the viewer, and so forth. The same applies to things like streets running east/west where the buildings south of the street will obscure the street itself.
Then there's a whole bundle of fun to be found with cellars and sewers running under other "stuff".
Finally, as a little bit of joy, one of the "tricks" of the trade is rooms where several of the exits lead back to the same room: a mechanism used to complicate the issues of mazes in the game...

I can't provide the full image since this is a commission but I thought I might share some of what I've done, or yet to do. Taking on-board a comment about Plumton, I've been doing this in GIMP using he standard single brush, which gives me rather more shades of "dull" to play with.
Overall the look is supposed to be mystery, horror, rainy, wet and creepy sorta stuff. Oh, and Dark.

It's taken me a lot longer than I imagined so far, a lot of work goes into just getting the layout not only functionally correct but also artistically "not rubbish". Bah.

02-18-2011, 04:48 PM
Looks sweet, man. You may have to use the old "arrows pointing this way" and draw things not exactly in the place where they should be. Loved those games back in the day as well. Deadline and Leather Goddesses of Phobos were my faves - put Phobos on my last challenge map.

02-18-2011, 08:07 PM
You can still play the old Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text game btw (at Douglas Adams's official website: http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html), and Zork I is playable in the new Call of Duty: Black Ops game. Text games will never die!

I applaud this map from idea to execution (so far). Have some rep, sir.

02-19-2011, 06:29 AM
Lurking Horror was my fave, but I loved leather goddesses too. A while back it was (yet one more) dream of mine to mix mapping with IF, there is a very good and inexpensive IF program called 'Adrift' which I used. The thing that always annoyed me about IF was having to think up witty comments to all the things that the player would do wrong (and there are a ton of them for each room) for the one thing he had to do right to be able to move on in the game.

The images are beautiful, crayons. I had a quick play and I don't know how you are going to solve your problems unless by, say, clicking on the stairs going north and down, the upper floor vanishes and you can see the lower floor.

02-19-2011, 07:38 PM
Ah, neat idea - interactive image for interactive game.

02-19-2011, 08:39 PM
Wow man, that's quite an undertaking!

My first thought was for a hex map layout just because of the various directions you can go but if you want to make this look like a regular map like you seem to be, then I'm thinking you need to just draw the whole thing out before you slice it up. Of course, then you have to go through and make sure all the text descriptions are exactly right. If the text was done first, which I'm guessing is the case, I think you are at the mercy of someone else's imagination. Hopefully, they don't have any mistakes. Pathways leading back unto themselves is another issue. Basically that doesn't exist in the real world unless it's a roundabout. If it's a physical impossibility (read magical cause) I think you are going to be a little stuffed trying to map it.

IMO, it takes a lot of forethought to draw out these 3/4 view maps because of overlaying elements. I think most of us just make the space by NOT piling things over the top of others. I had a little of that going on with my lite challenge this month. Most noticeable in the landing and stairs going up to the Creature room area just outside of the Laboratory.

What you have going so far looks great though, keep up the good work.

02-20-2011, 03:00 PM
The text is already written, yes. The map is intended as a part of a game package and is just a normal paper map, not interactive in itself.

The map has been "sliced up" already in the PDF version but I've sort of "unsliced" a a couple of the submaps, mainly that of the town and the sewers, so I've sort of shot myself in the foot deliberately. Merging the two makes more sense and the main difficulty is where the two join, not particularly where they go in between. In the sketchier image above the steps down to the bridge are supposed to lead under the arch of the bridge where there is a door leading to the sewers via a vertical shaft. In order to accomplish this I've decided to resort to a cutaway in the bridge. Cutaways appear frequently but I don't want to overwork that practice!

Another interesting aspect to designing the map is "unboxing" the locations. "Sewer Tunnel" leaves you a lot of latitude as to the dimensions of the location. So it's not all bad!

02-20-2011, 04:57 PM
Ahh, sorry hadn't realised it was for print. Cutways seem to be the only solution to my mind, or where you have a lot of stuff in a level under or above something else, going to a pull out....which you've probably already thought about.