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Thread: Map for upcoming RPG, designed for incremental reveals

  1. #1
      Lertulo is offline
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    Default Map for upcoming RPG, designed for incremental reveals

    Goodness; a whole (active!) forum of talented mapping enthusiasts. And just think, a few hours ago I was despairing of ever putting together a decent map on my own.

    Commission -
    Starting around $100, clearly negotiable since I have no idea what an appropriate standard rate would be for such work. Payment method would be your choice; the first options that come to mind are PayPal and cashier's check.

    Time Frame -
    My project is probably six months from release (hopefully not more), and I can fit a final media drop in even close to the end. So, call it six months.

    Content -
    The game I'm developing uses an ancient Roman theme and posits an expedition where Our Hero sails to an uncharted land and begins exploring. "Exploring" takes the form of battles (naturally--it's Roman after all), where each battle occurs in a distinct region of the new land. Upon winning that battle, any neighboring regions in the map would be revealed (typically one to three), allowing the player to tackle one of those nearby territories next as he works through the continent.

    I'm pacing the game to have about 100 such battles in the full campaign, so the map would need to be divided into roughly 100 separable regions, probably collected into two major land masses with perhaps some islands separating them. (Progress pinch points--like passing through a mountain range or onto an island before moving to another major territory, allow me to programmatically enforce that the player has tackled all the regions Behind before moving Ahead.)

    Terrain--to the extent that you choose to represent it on the map at all that is--might include mountains, forests, grasslands, deserts, lava, swamps, rivers and coves. Each distinct region for a battle should be predominantly composed of one or two types of terrain (which probably goes without saying; hard to have lava and swamps intermixed with mountains and desert all in the same square mile).

    My lack of artistic talent extends to a lack of creativity in fantasy-world organization: I have no hand-drawn mockup map from which to work. I would therefore be relying on you to invent the shapes and sizes of the land masses and individual separable regions within them.

    Style -
    When your own artwork is as bad as mine, anything is an improvement. Given a preference, I'd hope for a semi-professional caliber and a hand-drawn, ancient look; muted colors on parchment, perhaps light navigational marks and other non-essentials to beautify things. Labels are unnecessary unless you have an inspiration or two handy.

    Scale -
    Flexible, probably on the order of 2000 x 2000 pixels, raster layout, preferably .PNG format (though I can convert from just about anything: no artistic talent doesn't mean I'm not a fair hand with a few tools). The rendering software can pan and scale, and the first-release hardware has a native display of 480x800 (cell phone) with likely additional hardware targets being desktop and potentially Xbox another year down the road.

    Copyright -
    I would require sufficient rights to use the map in this project, across multiple hardware platforms, including potentially using portions for relevant advertising (web site, retail box). You are welcome to retain full copyright--including commercial benefit as you see fit--provided my own use is not restricted thereby.

    The Catch -
    I suspect that the hard part in this project will be the incremental reveal aspect. When the player first reaches the new land's shores, I want to reveal only the single region where the first battle must take place--meaning that I will need some form of feathered alpha mask that I can selectively enable over each region to blot each out until the player has reached them. I'm pretty competent with PSP--can't draw anything except stick figures but I'm good with complex layering--and can work with you to help get (or maybe just describe) the effect I'm looking for, but I'd love suggestions on how to accomplish it.

    Contact -
    Please feel free to contact me at richard@randomly.com (no spam warnings; I get that anyway). I've instructed my spam filter to ensure passage of any mails that include "cartographer" in the subject. I'll also watch this thread for replies, so feel free to ask questions here and I'll try to answer them.

    Thanks for your consideration!

  2. #2
      tilt is offline
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    Hi Lertulo, welcome to the guild - sounds like an interesting job you got there - and a nice description. To "pull in" more cartographers you might wanna find some maps in the style you like and post a link to those ... is the map only going to be used for online graphics - cause if you ever plan to go off-line 2000x2000 pixels ain't much - thats about 7 x 7 inches in size when you're printing professionally

    good luck with your commision
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  3. #3
      Redrobes is offline
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    Welcome. Thats an interesting project and a well thought out and thorough write up which is nice.

    The selective reveal is quite a common theme - we call it "Fog of War" and I think that's a standard term for it. You should have no problem finding someone who can do this for you. Tho I am a little busy right now and probably not able to chip in at this point, did you want the regions that are revealed to be outlined on the map like states or counties in a Risk like manner or is it inherent in the reveal that you can go anywhere not blacked out ?

    Edit -- oh and to add. It sounds like your a programmer. What system do you think you will use to do the fog of war. Are you in need of a few hundred PNGs with bits of feathered black on them, one per region or are you intending to handle it in a different way.

    Once you have the map you can draw on a new layer single line regions like a spiders web covering the map. Then you can select a region inside that which will make a selection to the edges of the region. Then using that selection, use the selection adjust menu and set it to feather it by whatever you need - 10 pixels ? then create a new layer and flood fill it black with no flood color matching (In PSP under little options window) and it will flood to selection including the feathering. Then save as PNG. Dead easy but a bit tedious.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 07-19-2010 at 01:34 PM.

  4. #4
      Gidde is offline
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    Hiya! This project sounds really cool. My question is: will the battles take place on the map, or is there a separate battle screen? If separate are you also looking for battle maps?

  5. #5
      Lertulo is offline
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    Ah, excellent questions! (Sorry for the delay in responding; this project isn't part of my day job, so I have to wait until evenings to make progress.)

    Example maps - Google produces so many choices, it's hard to pick any and say, "must look like this!" I'm looking for a simplistic close-to-hand-rendered effect, with muted colors and as much detail as you feel is appropriate, preferably rendered on parchment or similar. Something like this or this perhaps.

    Resolution - My highest priority is to make sure the map is legible on the initial 480x800 screen; second priority would be to make it look good on a larger 1600x1200 screen for desktops. A higher resolution would indeed allow me to zoom in and fill the screen with mapped loveliness, but to justify that level of zoom I'd need to ask for more detail. If you can provide that, I'd be simply delighted to accept (and pay for) a higher-resolution map.

    Isolation of revealed regions - A very perceptive observation. Once an area has already been conquered the player will not be returning there, so continuing to isolate already-revealed regions from their also-revealed neighbors is unnecessary--but it doesn't hurt, if it's easier to do that way. (For the curious, the player doesn't get an actual avatar standing on this map. Tapping on a revealed-but-not-yet-conquered region starts the battle there, and there are various items I'll superimpose on already-revealed areas--like trading posts or ships--that the user can again utilize by tapping.)

    Fog of war - Thanks for the term; I indeed am familiar with it, but for some reason never thought to apply it here. You're correct that I'm a programmer (durned good one too, thankee very much), and as you suggest I'm good with several different approaches for implementing such a fog. Given the toolkits with which I'm working, I suppose the easiest thing for me would be to have individual opaquing masks for each region. As you suggest I'm indeed actually capable of producing those masks myself: just whip open my favorite paint program, rough out the individual regions on a separate layer, select a quarter of them (well spaced from each other), feather, wash, clip out the regions, save them individually and repeat for a different subset until I'm done--the only pain being getting the masks painted at the right spots. Unless someone has a better suggestion that's probably how I'll approach it--but I'd love such suggestions if you know of a better way.

    Battle Maps - Oh, a very good question. The actual battle employs a different model: it uses playing pieces on a hexagonal game board combined with a Magic-like CCG as the basic mechanic. The individual hexes have associated terrain (my textures are rough but adequate--I hope), and I'll shape and terrain-match the hex playing board for a particular region to the corresponding portion of this Main Map. (I've already rolled up a quick and dirty hexmap editor to help put those together.) Each battle will take three to ten minutes to complete, with pieces moving around and players throwing spells at each other. I'm always and forever in need of decent artwork--for example, my playing pieces use white glyphs imposed (very nicely, mind you) on stone-textured discs, simply because I don't have time or talent for elaborate 2D rendering or 3D modeling.

  6. #6
    Professional Artist RecklessEnthusiasm's Avatar
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    Hm, I'd be really interested in this, but I don't have any samples in that style! I'll have to see if I can whip something up and send it over before someone else snatches up the job.

  7. #7
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Sounds a bit like one of my favorite games ever: Sword of Aragon. It also somewhat reminds me of the FOSS game "Battle for Wesnoth"(which for anyone who has not seen it, has a GREAT map style IMO.)
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  8. #8
    Guild Artisan Juggernaut1981's Avatar
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    This smells a LOT like those Card-driven games like Successors and it's other relatives. I'd be interested, but I don't know if either

    a) I am up to speed (as far as time)
    b) I work in a style you like
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  9. #9
      RobA is offline
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    Hi Lertulo-

    I also sent you an email.

    Please post here when you have a comission agreement, and we can change it to "taken".

    -Rob A>

  10. #10
      Lertulo is offline
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    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and interest. I have recently signed a contract for this work.

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