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Thread: Adaptability and Portability of Maps

  1. #1

    Post Adaptability and Portability of Maps

    In the March Mapping Challenge there started a discussion about the usability of maps entered in the challenge. But not the right place for a continued discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by alucard339 View Post
    ...
    I was torn between humor, usefulness and technicality.
    ...
    I decide to turn and go for the one I will definitely use in an upcoming stand alone gaming session.
    Quote Originally Posted by dormouse View Post
    One of the things that strikes me about using someone else's map is that usually we would want to adapt it in some way or add to it. To be able to do that depends on the format it is in and the software that we have available and whether the images in the map are accessible and changeable within the file format and/or are available separately. Some maps look very good, but I know I will never use them because I don't have, and can't access, the means to adapt them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    One of the nice things about being able to interact with the mappers on a site like this is that, if you see a map you'd like to use, and possibly modify, there's a possibility the original cartographer might provide source files which would make it easier to alter. I know that I'd be happy to turn over a CC3 or Photoshop file if someone wanted to use one of my maps for an adventure.
    This is a nice offer, and one I would hope that most of the cartographers here would make.

    But being able to take advantage of it depends on the software used and whether you have or can get it.

    Most Image/Photo Editing software (Photoshop, GIMP, Paint.net, etc) will have all the images in the map, but the degree to which it can be edited will depend on how much of the process has been left available by the originator. Ditto (I think) for programs like Inkscape.

    Dundjinni maps don't contain their images. To reproduce or edit them you will need a copy of Dundjinni and copies of all the artwork used in the same file structure as the map's originator.

    I don't know about CC2 or CC3.

    DungeonForge contains all its artwork and is freely available, so no problems editing there.

    When posting maps, it would be nice if people could say whether they would make source files available and what format they were in.

  2. #2
    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Does that mean that if you have an array of tiles of an area made with Dungeonforge, each looking quite similar and using an almost similar set of images to make them then the file size for all of them is about the same as one multiplied by the number of tiles.

    If for example you used it to map the "Thinking Big map which is as yet unamed" and which is made of about 20 or so tiles then the download for it is going to be twenty or so times bigger than it needs to be.

    I can see how it might be convenient but I would have thought having the reuse of images could also be seen as a feature too.

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    Administrator RobA's Avatar
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    Dungeonforge embeds one copy of the image in the file, then references that multiple times, rotated, translated or scaled as necessary. The only thing that makes the source file "large" is the program actually used and XML file format, so binary data (like that of an image) has to be stored encoded.

    -Rob A>

  4. #4

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    My post was more aimed at the general issue of being able to adapt other people's maps to your own use, and the type of information that you need to know in order to do it. It was not intended to look at the advantages/disadvantages of any particular program or technique - by and large we would all be more likely to adapt and extend a map done in a program that we already possess. But the types of information needed do vary between the programs.

    If someone produces a map and makes available the source files, the first stage is to know whether I have a program that can use them. If someone produced a map in Photoshop, and if I did not have Photoshop, I'd probably give up at that point because of the cost of buying the program. If it were Paint.net or the GIMP, then the financial cost would be nil and it would be whether there were sufficient incentive for me to download, install and try using a program I was not familiar with.

    The next stage is the type of information that would be needed. It is hard to describe with the image editing programs because the originator might have have chosen to save or not save a multitude of intermediary stages, but all the remaining information will be available in the file and it would be easy to have a look and to see what can be done.

    It is a different situation with the mapping programs because it is possible with them to have all the information used in the map. With DJ, you need the map, the images and the file format used. With DF, it is all contained within the map. I am not familiar enough with the other mapping programs to know what information would be needed with them.

    As RobA says, I think DF is coded efficiently with regard to file size so that there is not a lot of redundant image storage within a map. OTOH, if there are ten maps all sharing the use of a lot of the same images, then the DJ files in total ought to be smaller because there will only be one copy of the images whereas each DF file will have a copy of every image used within it. The advantage of the DF system is that each map is independently portable. I'm not sure that either system is inherently superior - they just have different advantages/disadvantages. With CC2, the vector graphic system potentially makes the file sizes smaller, while CC3 is a hybrid.

    One thing I would say about making DJ maps much more adaptable and portable is about the technique used for selecting art. The standard technique has art added direct from the file system into the map. This requires standardised structures for the user generated or gathered art such as the CSUAC in order for maps to be shared. An alternative technique would be to collect all the art that was going to be used in a map into the mimimum folder set allowed - 'Map A art' for instance - and that folder could then be made available with Map A to create a totally portable package. In practice, with the huge amounts of art that many of us have available, the technique of selecting art directly from a complex folder structure is probably not the most efficient technique anyway, although it seems to be common to most/all the mapping programs.
    Last edited by dormouse; 03-31-2008 at 06:55 PM.

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    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Edit -- Seemed to have crossed post. This is for Rob --

    Sure but if each tile is a map then all the one off unique images in that tile are in the file but each tile sharing the same images are still duplicated. Its convenient and can be useful but its not universally better than the way Dundjini does it.

    Encoding binary data in XML would bloat it a bit - maybe add up to 35% but zipping the result would strip nearly all that back out.

  6. #6
    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Dormouse - I agree with you entirely.

    It's just that people prefer some apps over others. I use a variety and some custom stuff thats not even public and I have been watching the tutorials of the members showing me stuff that occasionally I would find hard with any of my apps. Some features are specific to just one app and some of them are not free. I don't have the magic bullet answer but you have to be realistic and appreciate that that is the reality of it.

    Your welcome to my source files too though I doubt they would be much use. I use some odd stuff. I have never spent more than a few minutes on Photoshop, Dundjini, or Gimp and haven't used DungeonForge or Xara, Sketchup, Bryce, Fractal Terrains, CC3 etc.

    I'm pretty sure most people here would share source tho.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrobes View Post
    Sure but if each tile is a map then all the one off unique images in that tile are in the file but each tile sharing the same images are still duplicated. Its convenient and can be useful but its not universally better than the way Dundjini does it.
    I think the systems used by DF and DJ are very similar in this regard, it is just that DF contains all the info within a map and DJ contains the image info outside the map.

    Not that I would want the thread to focus on DF or DJ. What I am really interested in is having the greatest number of maps available that I can bend to my own use. Speaking personally, I'm not likely to go out and buy a program that I do not have just to adapt a map, but I might well download a free program to do so; and I'd be quite keen to have maps & sources for the paid programs I do already have. I suspect that there's quite a few of us who would like to do this and there will be a lot of people already owning all the commonly used software.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrobes View Post
    I use a variety and some custom stuff thats not even public and I have been watching the tutorials of the members showing me stuff that occasionally I would find hard with any of my apps. Some features are specific to just one app and some of them are not free. I don't have the magic bullet answer but you have to be realistic and appreciate that that is the reality of it.

    Your welcome to my source files too though I doubt they would be much use. I use some odd stuff. I have never spent more than a few minutes on Photoshop, Dundjini, or Gimp and haven't used DungeonForge or Xara, Sketchup, Bryce, Fractal Terrains, CC3 etc.

    I'm pretty sure most people here would share source tho.
    Oh dear, we cross posted again. Thanks for the offer. All we really need to know to decide if we can adapt a map is the program that was used and the fact that the source files would be made available (including the file structure in the case of DJ). I do appreciate that a lot of maps are produced in a combination of programs and that this can limit how easy they are for other people to edit; quite understandable as I do it myself.

    I too have used a very large number of programs. Dungeon Crafter (1 and 2 and 3); DungeonForge; MapX; Dundjinni; AutoREALM. And I've had a little try of CC2 and Fractal Mapper and a number of programs I quickly forgot. As you say we tend to use some more than others and I mostly use DungeonForge and MapX out of these now.

    I also use Photoshop, the GIMP, Photobie, PSP and a variety of the Corel programs, Paint.net, Inkscape, PhotoFiltre and I will pretty much try anything I can get my hands on. I mostly used to use Photoshop out of these, but I am more eclectic now and probably much less expert at them all as a result. The one thing I haven't got into is the 3D programs, though I do appreciate the artwork produced by those who have.

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