View Poll Results: Which grid type do you prefer?

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  • Square. I prefer 90 degree angles and slightly longer diagonals.

    13 37.14%
  • Staggered Square. Diagonals aren't a problem anymore.

    2 5.71%
  • Hex. 6 sides worth of facing and movement.

    10 28.57%
  • None. I don't need no stinkin' grid.

    14 40.00%
  • Other. Have you ever seen this grid before?

    1 2.86%
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Thread: Questions of the Grid

  1. #21
      NeonKnight is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPMiller View Post
    But why? Why do you like square grids for dungeons, floor plans and battle maps. Is it because of the system you use, aesthetics, or something else?

    ================================================== ===============

    For everyone, I'm asking because we as a society, nay as a species seem to be stuck in the "Because it has always been done that way" mentality, and even though I have heard just about every reason under the sun I have yet to hear a strong logical reason for continuing to do something that might be "obsolete". (NOTE: I'm not saying one grid type is superior over another it just happens to be part of the conversation.) I see it a lot in the work place for instance and I'm just curious how far it extends and why people become "stuck in their old ways".

    I'm not saying that anyone is inferior or stupid, I'm just curious what the thought process is, or even if there is no thought process, behind the continuation of old methods. When I was teaching I used to hear IT professionals give me the "because it's always been done that way" reason about a billion times, but no one could ever tell me why the better method wasn't being used. Of course grid use is a silly topic to shine this sort of light on, but I see it as a related aspect of human habit and thought patterns that fascinate me.
    For me, my favorite example of this phenomenum is the following:

    The Monkey Experiment, (or) “Why Do We Do That?”

    Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, all of the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, and all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon the monkeys will try to prevent it.

    Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be attacked.

    Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

    Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

    Why not? Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around there.
    But, for me, I play predominantly D&D. D&D has always been built around the Square grid, for no other reason than the grid allows a way to easily map the dungeon/evirons, Measure distances, etc.

    Yes, it is not 100% accurate, but it doesn't matter. I have played games where there is no grid, and all movement, distances etc is measured with a tape measure, twine, etc. It was annoying and so piddling I could not stand it! (No, sorry my figure is exactly 0.49 inches from yours and you only have a reach of 0.5 inches so you can't reach me ) Sure in a grided system you can still have that (Your reach is 2 squares and I am three squares away), but there is no objectivity there, we can both see the 2 or three squares. There is no wasted effort of pulling out the micrometers to gain an unfair advantage.

    Also, for me, my home games are very, very lax as it is a case of getting together with friends and having a good time. The grid allows us to quickly play the game and have within the game an internal set of rules/logic. This is something we all need in a game be it Snakes & Ladders, Monopoly or D&D. In Monopoly you know if you roll a 5 & 1 you move 6 spaces on the board, you know you colloect $200 passing go, etc. In D&D We know a Fireball is a 20' radius sphere or a 4 square radius 'circle'. As a result the players can anticipate it. In a gridless game, players could easily feel cheated if they find the baddy is outside the burst by 0.1 of an inch. And switching the D&D Game to hexes of some other 'grid' system opens up a whole new set of problems (what is the area of a fireball? How is a cone Handled, how much 'space' does a Large Creature take up? What about Half Hexes?).

    So, for me, A square grid is so ingrained into me (because of my game of choice) that to play on something different is alien to me.
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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  2. #22
      RPMiller is offline
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    What I'm hearing is still the "Because it has always been done that way" answer with no "real reason" being given.

    "Because that is what the system uses" - As I mentioned earlier, there is no reason that a hex, circle, or even an octagon could not replace a square. They are merely visual space indicators.
    "Tape measures, etc" - Yes, you can take those to an extreme but if you are playing with rational people that just want to have fun, close should be good enough considering these same individuals are willing to use a square grid.
    "What area do these take up?" - Space is space regardless of the shape of the grid. If the hex is the same size (relatively) as the square, area is moot.

    Another reason I am asking about all this is that there are some game design elements that I will be working on in a couple months for a publisher and I want to know where people are on these issues. Currently his system uses a tape measure for distance and movement, but we are talking about bringing it into the VTT world as well as producing some conversions for other systems and I want to get a feel for how people would handle a different grid in their system of choice. Obviously I'm having a hard time understanding why it is so hard to accept using a hex in place of a square or even visa versa.
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  3. #23
      rlucci is offline
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    Have you ever tried to figure out distances between hex squares? Other than the old point and count method, most people would be stumped as to how to go about it mathematically. The point is we’ve all been taught the X-Y Cartesian coordinate system. It’s perfectly suited for measuring on flat surfaces and for most of us, it’s... comfortable (for lack of a better word).

    But to RPMiller’s point, constraining oneself to a grid – even a hex grid – makes for fairly unrealistic maps. And to that, I have to agree. If the mechanics of one's game doesn't depend on the grid, I would be happy to see it go by the wayside.

    But for those of us who are stuck with grid-based game mechanics, how about a compromise? We could draw the map first and then, instead of just plopping a full grid over the top of it, we could lay and align sections of the grid over various elements of the map. I’ll upload a chunk of my Mines map to illustrate what I’m talking about.

    -RLucci
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Questions of the Grid-minegrid.jpg  

  4. #24
      su_liam is offline
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    In the extreme case, tape measures, protractors, etc.; for the most part: thumb, finger and scale.

    Even at the edges, I'm not sure how good precise precise measurement is realistically. At 600m you have a 30% chance of hitting the target, at 601m, 15%; at 1600m you have a 5% chance of making a hit, at 1601m your never going to hit the target(never ever, not in a million tries, not a chance). How much realism does that add?

    On the other hand, the, "the diagonal is the same as the orthogonal," assumption is nearly 50% off. This is equivalent to measuring 600m as being the same as ~850m. My fingers are better than that.

    The square grid, or any grid, tends to constrain your design in unrealistic ways. The square page, and the need to fill it to the corners, is bad enough, let me tell you. Historically a ten foot grid means 10'x10' corridors. Have these people ever been inside a house? I'm supposed to believe I'm in a dank, claustrophobic cave that's roomier than my front hall? You know the corridors on the Enterprise(CT) were only eight feet wide? Even the 1.5m grid in the FASA Star Trek game were constraining. I miss that game.

    The more I think about grids, the more I think, nononooo...

    Why yes, I do enjoy my smilies...

  5. #25
      RPMiller is offline
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    I think I have to be clearer...

    Related to the grid questions:

    I have no problems with using a square grid to draw on.
    I have a problem with a map constraining itself to those grids just for convenience.
    I do not understand the need to use the square grid for the actual playing when there are inherent problems with using it and the mechanics have to be made complex to deal with them.

    Related to the "always been done that way" discussion:

    I do not understand the cognitive dissonance that people are willing to put up with for no apparent reason when it is so much easier to just make the change and move on.
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  6. #26
      su_liam is offline
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    On the whole grid-constraints thing, I remember an FPS on the mac called Marathon. I learned after a lot of playing that the fastest way to run was turned at a 45º angle and sidestepping. The two movements added up, you see. If diagonals and orthogonals are counted the same, it pays to run diagonally as much as possible. Wow, the universe has a preferred frame of reference, and a preferred direction. You'd think someone would notice. Perhaps a fantasy world Pythagoras at the Agora. "The shortest distance between two points is a NE/SE/SW/NW diagonal. The cardinal directions are magically longer."

  7. #27
      RPMiller is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by su_liam View Post
    Why yes, I do enjoy my smilies...
    And you are so good at using them too.
    Bill Stickers is innocent! It isn't Bill's fault that he was hanging out in the wrong place.

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  8. #28
      NeonKnight is offline
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    The problem of the dungeon being constrained to the grid comes about BECAUSE of the grid system (IMHO).

    Example:

    In a game without miniature representation, it is easy enough to just draw something out and say: "This is roughly what it looks like"

    But as soon as you put any sort of empirical measurement into the system it falls apart.

    My character can move X amount on my turn, but your character moves Y on your turn, and the Monster/Villain moves Z on it's turn, can attack further, but your character can shoot a certain distance. How are these measured on the battlefield? Thus comes the grid (be it triangles, Octogons, Hex, Circles or whatever).

    I see a grid system of either squares/Hexes as the most simple because I can 'eyeball' it on both the 'Big Table' with the miniatures set up and the adventure map. By utilising a grid (lets say Square), I can see in the adventure the room is 6 squares by 5 squares, with a 5 square long 1 square wide set of stairs entering the room on one side.

    With the grid I can ensure the battleboard is identical to the adventure.

    Now, as an aside, at GenCon last year for the BIG D&D 4e presentation, they had a temple set up in the hall with a map on the floor set up in the 5' squares the game is based on. I was talking with the then head of Organized Play, Ian Richards. I stated that in reality, saying that I occupy a 5'x5' square is a lot of territory to stand in, and in reality I can see just how 'ridiculous' it looked to say in a 10'x10' room only 4 people can fight.

    But that is reality, and the game mechanics need to be addressed for an internal logic. Yes, the grid is unrealistic. Yes, dungeons built with rooms in variations of 5' increments is unrealistic. I know this, but the game needs it, to make sense. Otherwise, you start having incidents (regardless of how level headed everyone is) of people assuming they are here but another assumes they are there. Incidents of one combat 10 people involved in a melee in that 10x10 room and another incident where it's deemed you can't.

    This is known as the game's internal logic, and is an example of what I have a problem with in the Spider-Man movies. In the comic strip he had web-shooters he loaded with compressed chemicals to make his webs. They felt that in the movies it would be a little hard for the 'fans' to handle is ole Petey could make a Chemical a 3M company cannot (that being synthetic spider silk), so they decided he produced it himself. WHAT A MINUTE! He's putting out each time he shoots his webbing the same amount of fluids and proteins as a normal male does each time he ejaculates (sorry, but it needed to be said). Now, how the hell does he keep his body full of nutirents and wtare etc without becoming extremely dehydrated after a simple fight. The internal logic has fallen apart.

    SO, again, the D&D game system demands that buildings/dungeons be built along the 5' grid system as that is the internal logic of the game system. It also means no 'wasted space' as the game states a M sized creature can fight within a space smaller that 5' but is deemed 'squeezing' into the space and takes a penalty (see my point above about the reality of the 5x5 grid).
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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  9. #29
      RPMiller is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeonKnight View Post
    see content above
    Points taken and understood but the logic is flawed, or rather altered, by an old way of thinking. If we think from the grid and optimization we are doing a disservice to the "reality" of the given situation. It is far more fun to deal with adverse circumstances and penalties and still succeed than to be given optimal situations and succeed.

    If you draw your map "realistically" and without concern for the mechanics and then apply the mechanics you will have a much more interesting encounter that really tests the mechanics of the system to their fullest.

    In my opinion if a system requires you to make that many adjustments to the setting to be able to work the system is flawed. The system should be able to handle any situation that might be presented. I suppose that is why I grew away from D&D and play systems like GURPS, Hero and others whose systems are far more forgiving and less dependent on things such as those you bring up.
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  10. #30
      jaerdaph is offline
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    I know exactly what you're saying, Ralph, about the "because it has always been done that way" mindset since we both work in law firms.

    I'd have to say the d20/3.Xe rules (and 2e and 1e before that) primarily determine (dictate?) my dungeon/floor plan/battle mat preferences, and nostalgia and aesthetics after that - I remember going right to the maps after opening up a D&D or AD&D module when I was kid because I thought they were so cool. So while, yeah, the rules have heavily influenced my preference, I still like the way it looks. A square grid can, however, limit design choices, especially when mapping dungeons.

    I have been moving away from d20 and derived games though towards more “rules-lite” systems such as vs. Monsters, so the grid becomes less of a need and more of an aesthetic preference. I may just have to try thinking outside the box (or should I say, "fall off the grid") and give maps with no grid a try in these games.
    jaerdaph
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