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Aylorian
09-23-2009, 04:16 PM
Hi all,

Just signed up and browsing around this site I see some mindblowing talent.

I run a MUD (multi-user dungeon) that has been online since 1996. The game has an "ASCII based map" generated on the fly by the game code. It was always designed with the idea of one day the ASCII would be replaced with real graphical tiles, and I'm at the start of that process.

The address of the game is www.aardwolf.com and you can see a couple of the example maps in the links below. Detail is sparse because it is ASCII, but each 'square' on the map also has a detailed room description that better sets the theme.

The City of Aylor : http://www.aardwolf.com/temp/aylor-realmap.jpg
A small maze area: http://www.aardwolf.com/temp/labyrinth-realmap.jpg

And the monster 3000 room Continent of Mesolar: http://www.aardwolf.com/temp/mesolar-realmap.jpg

The whole game is almost 40,000 rooms in total so we have our work cut out and this isn't going to happen overnight. Each 'tile' will be 24x24 pixels, although of course many will be re-used/recolored over and over.

I suspect we'll be making good use of the "paid work" section once we really start rolling. Feel free to contact me in the meantime if this sounds like something you'd be interested in. The 'Shadowfell' map in the showcase section is a perfect example of the kind of thing we'll be making and some of the continent maps also in the showcase section would be a perfect fit for 'Mesolar'.

Hope this intro wasn't too long!

Derek.

Steel General
09-23-2009, 04:28 PM
Welcome Aboard!

If you're looking for someone to create maps for you I would suggest you put a post in the "Map Request" forum. Be sure to read the "FAQ" sticky'd at the top.

Aylorian
09-23-2009, 04:32 PM
Thanks Steel, just read the FAQ and seems clear enough. Mostly just an intro at this point rather than a "request for maps". But anyone interested is welcome to contact me.

Ascension
09-23-2009, 05:28 PM
Welcome aboard. I've heard of Aardwolf but never played it...I was heavy into DragonRealms back in the mid to late 90s and started mudding back in college (late 80s). Good times, good times.

Aylorian
09-23-2009, 05:34 PM
Thanks Ascension! Amazing how many people I run into who have heard of Aardwolf considering it's a relatively small game. I emailed Profantasy once to ask a question about the license and the lady who replied had once been an Aardwolf player.

Unfortunately MUDs aren't doing well these days, we need to become something more than a MUD to stay relevant. It's an exciting time for us, taking 300 game areas and making them tile based, but also a little daunting!

Redrobes
09-23-2009, 06:04 PM
Got a friend of mine who runs a really old MUD. I can dig out the name if you like but I dont know it off top of my head.

So do you have the tile features in any kind of data base whatsoever. Ideally do you have them mapped already in some ascii way cos even on this site I have an ascii to map generator (http://www.cartographersguild.com/utilities/MapMakers/UploadMiniMap.htm).

But even if the maps just knew the numbers of exits then I reckon we could script up the basic shapes. From there we have scripts which will convert basic shapes into nice rendered maps.

So whats the starting point ?

Welcome BTW.

Aylorian
09-23-2009, 07:51 PM
Got a friend of mine who runs a really old MUD. I can dig out the name if you like but I dont know it off top of my head.

So do you have the tile features in any kind of data base whatsoever. Ideally do you have them mapped already in some ascii way cos even on this site I have an ascii to map generator (http://www.cartographersguild.com/utilities/MapMakers/UploadMiniMap.htm).

But even if the maps just knew the numbers of exits then I reckon we could script up the basic shapes. From there we have scripts which will convert basic shapes into nice rendered maps.

So whats the starting point ?

Welcome BTW.


Hi Redrobes,

Those maps I linked to above were generated from the exits by a program in the game. The map starts at the center square and follows the exits drawing as it goes, so the data is there. The "edge" is variable, the players see a 7x7 section of the map for now, but could just as easily see the entire area. The game also tracks which rooms a player has already explored, so could also display the entire area but only what's already been visited, perhaps with a couple of rooms "line of sight" in the rooms they haven't.

Each room has a "terrain" Id such as "forest1" "forest2" "road-nw" "road-ew" etc which maps to a different ASCII tile. We'd have to be much more granular with graphical tiles, but I don't think the basic premise would change much - it was always designed with graphical tiles in mind.

Does that help answer your question? Open to all options at this point but after seeing Tom's Shadowfell map I have a pretty good idea of where we want to go.

Redrobes
09-23-2009, 08:11 PM
I'm sorry I didnt read your opening post at all well did I ?

It seems really clear to me that your looking at a scripted solution since you have all the data you need its just a conversion job and a prettying up job. My little script I posted just does black and white squares but you can convert those into real nice dungeons. I'll edit some links in, in a mo but RobA has his dungeon map prittifier script for Gimp and I use some homebrew solutions too.

So if you have this information already then it can be turned into nice high res bitmaps without too much fuss and I do think that once the format has been translated correctly then you really might well be looking at doing your 40,000 maps overnight. Well maybe over two or three nights anyway depending on your PC capabilities ;)

For example I can convert a black and white map into full textured one in about 10 seconds. So if you can get your data into a format that can make a set of black and white masks then I can make the bitmaps.

So.... looking at your ascii maps, what do the symbols mean ? Can you take a bit of one map, post the ascii for it and maybe sketch out with a pen what that might look like, or at least describe in detail what were experiencing in that sector.

From where I am looking at this point its not all that difficult a job. (Not that I don't have about six billion other jobs like that to do but hey...). Its not just me that does a lot of scripting here tho so you might get more interest too.

Edit:
Rob's http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2759
Mine http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2659

Aylorian
09-23-2009, 08:50 PM
I'm sorry I didnt read your opening post at all well did I ?

It seems really clear to me that your looking at a scripted solution since you have all the data you need its just a conversion job and a prettying up job. My little script I posted just does black and white squares but you can convert those into real nice dungeons. I'll edit some links in, in a mo but RobA has his dungeon map prittifier script for Gimp and I use some homebrew solutions too.

So if you have this information already then it can be turned into nice high res bitmaps without too much fuss and I do think that once the format has been translated correctly then you really might well be looking at doing your 40,000 maps overnight. Well maybe over two or three nights anyway depending on your PC capabilities ;)

For example I can convert a black and white map into full textured one in about 10 seconds. So if you can get your data into a format that can make a set of black and white masks then I can make the bitmaps.

So.... looking at your ascii maps, what do the symbols mean ? Can you take a bit of one map, post the ascii for it and maybe sketch out with a pen what that might look like, or at least describe in detail what were experiencing in that sector.

From where I am looking at this point its not all that difficult a job. (Not that I don't have about six billion other jobs like that to do but hey...). Its not just me that does a lot of scripting here tho so you might get more interest too.

Edit:
Rob's http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2759
Mine http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2659


Wow, I just took a look at your script (pasted in the sample file). Converting all rooms via scripts even as a starting point sure would be nice.

I'm not sure we actually need to generate the maps though - the game itself will do that. After seeing some of the maps on here I thought they would be great to break down into 'tiles' to build the maps as we go and it would be easier for mappers to just draw a map and let us worry about breaking it down / serving up the pieces. So, we'd start from a full map of an area to get the "feel" for the whole thing but break it down into the individual tiles and let the game generate the map as you move.

I may not be explaining this well, after 12 years of working on a text game I feel like I'm learning a completely new world - but the game wouldn't store a huge jpg (or whatever) of a map then display the appropriate part, more that it would know you're in a room where the sector type is 'cave231' or and display that tile. Seeing that the room to the east is sector 'cave232' which (graphically) meshes nicely with 'cave231' it would display that tile to the east, etc etc. Hopefully we'd be able to re-use a lot of the tiles in various places, if only to keep down the amount of data the server has to push to the client.

After seeing your online script though, it sure would be easier to generate the outline maps with something like that, fill in the details and break _that_ back down into its pieces.

On the map itself btw, the symbols don't mean much. The yellow '!' symbols mean a monster is in the room. The red * means another player. Most of the other area just the ASCII tiles that correspond to sectors. The green * ) is a forest. As it's all ascii, we just have a couple of forest sectors, not the dozens we'd be dealing with in graphics. The map of 'Aylor' has more "detail", but it's just different sector types that (other than the center character) will always output the same thing. The blue ~ ~ at the bottom is water. If we want 'waves' (ocean) there's also a couple of ^ ~ and ~ ^. It sounds primitive (and it is), but within the context of a text game actually works.

Btw, is it ok for us to keep this going in the intro area? Really appreciate the interest you've shown in this (thanks!), just want to make sure we're in the right place.

Aylorian
09-23-2009, 08:54 PM
Edit: I should have read your links before responding. After reading through all of your thread and the way you changed the terrains, now I really see the potential in what you're saying.

Redrobes
09-23-2009, 09:05 PM
Hmm and now I understand what your trying to do then I do hope your aware of VTTs and programs like my ViewingDale. It seems as though you are using a set if icons and building the maps based on limited sets of tiles. This is VTT killer territory. VTTs are virtual table tops which render out maps based on images with tokens on top. In mine the map *is* as set of tokens as the underlying image is optional. So if you are going to make your map from tokens anyway then it might be best to do it in a similar fashion.

VTTs play the game via custom internet connections through the app. Usually the app can be a server or a client so one person hosts a map and the rest log in with same app but running as clients and these map tokens are sent over the link or just the positions and orientations of them are sent and the map is rendered locally from this data set.

In other words its like sending the ascii and getting an app to draw the bitmapped based map locally. As you move about the new ascii is sent.

But in my last V1.08 release that is now sporting a new server side rendering and http browser based view of the map as well as the more normal way of doing it.

So in theory, if the map had fixed icon sets then it could all be done like this. VTTs offer a way to move top down bitmapped characters and monsters about. Its just like a MUD but more RPG usually but it never had to be like that, thats just how they are normally used.

Anyway - im waffling again. Check out my ViewingDale but also MapTool and I think BattleGroundsRPG is also in the set of VTTs that suit this type of style.

You have 5 hrs on me so I am off to bed now ! Plenty to think about I reckon.

Jeff_Wilson63
09-23-2009, 10:12 PM
OK. You already have database containing the information used to the generate the ASCII view. You can take each ASCII representation / database definition and build an image for it. Then you rewrite to substitute the image for the ASCII in your display. As time goes on you can create new image tiles and update your database. You could even start by putting in solid color blocks.

It sounds really easy. What am I overlooking? I don't know what your back-end is written in, but overlaying a monster/character token is easy in all the languages I know.

Aylorian
09-23-2009, 10:25 PM
OK. You already have database containing the information used to the generate the ASCII view. You can take each ASCII representation / database definition and build an image for it. Then you rewrite to substitute the image for the ASCII in your display. As time goes on you can create new image tiles and update your database. You could even start by putting in solid color blocks.

It sounds really easy. What am I overlooking? I don't know what your back-end is written in, but overlaying a monster/character token is easy in all the languages I know.

You're right Jeff, in it's simplest form that is exactly it. That would be the first step to get the graphic driver in place and working (and is partly done). Everything is going to look blocky of course until we get into blending edges etc, but it's a starting point.

However, after seeing some of the fantastic maps here it got me to thinking about it the other way around - maybe we should commission maps of our areas based on the ascii map plus their room descriptions then break those down into the tiles.

After seeing some of the work in the links Redrobes included where he and RobA generated much more realistic looking dungeons and maps using scripts it seems we might be able to have a much more elaborate "auto-generated" starting point.

Thanks to everyone for showing so much interest in this, very impressed with this forum so far!

RobA
09-25-2009, 03:21 PM
Interesting thread!

My script is based on Gimp, RR's isn't, so depending on whether you want to pregenerate tiles, or render them on the fly either could be an option.

My script has a batch mode built in, so it can be pointed at a whole directory of B&W templates, then set running.

-Rob A>

Aylorian
09-25-2009, 04:45 PM
Thanks Rob. RR recommended I take a look at ImageMagick which has a C interface - the game itself is written in C. As the game itself is ultimately the source for all the room layouts, there might be a good fit there combined with some of the techniques in the pages here.

As I told RR, after 12 years working on a text game I feel like I'm trying to write a novel but just learning the alphabet. It's fun, but kind of daunting too :)

Jeff_Wilson63
09-25-2009, 07:48 PM
However, after seeing some of the fantastic maps here it got me to thinking about it the other way around - maybe we should commission maps of our areas based on the ascii map plus their room descriptions then break those down into the tiles.
OK. I see what you're trying to do now. Keep in mind that players like things to be consistent, and part of the way to part of the way to make them feel at the center of the action is to give the same degree of development to all areas. You probably know all that already, but it means that development can go in two ways. First you build a generic tile set, and then give your mapmakers a call to develop maps with the same look and feel. OR, you could have a map built, and then turn the tiles created from it into your generic images. Keeping the same the same look and feel throughout your tile set is fairly important.

NeonKnight
09-30-2009, 06:34 PM
Welcome to the Guild!