Saturday, March 19, 2016

A possible solution to my mapping woes?

I generally HATE mapping. I'm not particularly good at it, I have no artistic talent, it's time consuming, and most locales my players visit are one-and-done kind of situations, so I feel the effort is wasted in a lot of situations.

My players have suffered over the years through shitty MS Paint drawings, a few maps made using various online tools/tilesets (Tiamat before they disappeared), and frequently with none at all, forsaking tactical play altogether (A17, Monster Hunters in 1640's Ireland, and Prohibition Mob).

Today I realized however, that I've already spent 93 hours playing a game that allows for exactly the sort of mapping that is extremely useful for a modern setting- Prison Architect. Now, I picked up Prison Architect because I needed something fairly light and time consuming that my laptop can handle while I travel up to Maine every couple of months- when I'm not mourning the death of my pet in Nethack.

Here's an initial attempt at an area my next campaign might feature (this is not for Prohibition Mob):

Not Shabby
Compared to my MS paint creations:

Literally saved on my Computer as "ShittyShipMap"
Prison Architect should work out well  for inside, modern areas, especially things like offices, prisons (surprise!), hospitals, and even residential areas. I wouldn't want to try to make a ship with it, and outside areas might be harder to do, but not impossible.

I see a few big weaknesses with this approach:

  • As of yet I don't know a way to export a section of map in high-res. Screenshots are workable, but they lose a great deal of the detail available within the game itself when you zoom in hyper close. It's also a pain in the ass to get the part I want to screen-cap into focus without HUD elements in the way.
  • Lack of sprite/object variety. This is a mixed bag. At worst, things will start to look the same or I might have to find appropriate sprites to fill in gaps. On the other hand, once players are used to them, it will speed map comprehension, hopefully causing less "Hey, what's that grey thing on the map?" moments.

1 comment:

  1. i used the draw functions in ms office/word to draw maps. These days i use ms paint to draw on a graphpaper jpeg.