Map Makers (and a Morbus Update)


First off, I know, I know, I've been a horrible boyfriend. I've been struggling between Ghyll, paid writing and tech-editing gigs, and actually playing games, and it leaves very little time to update on a regular basis. With that said, I suspect I am nearing a bit of a clearing. Hopefully. (Incidentally, I suspect my lack of updates is chief cause of this, but there haven't been very many content submissions lately either).

I digress. I'm here for map making utilities, a subject discussed to death many many times on other forums. Today, however, I bring you a scenario that is so bogged down in difficult needs and wants that it is nearly impossible to fulfill. Huzzah! I've already been exploring this avenue for months now. My ultimate desires would be:

  • hex based (though, I could do squares).
  • a community of tile-making fools.
  • open sourced software (pay or not).
  • exportable to PNG, JPG, or something bitmappy.
  • data format is parseable by my own (user-created) tools.
  • works on as many OSs as possible.

I've ruled out two of the majors:

  • Campaign Cartographer (old, expensive, PC only, learning curve).
  • Dunjinni (imperfect Java, non-opensource, not hex based).

Being two of the MAJORS, there's not that much else out there that will work for what I want, which is:

For the above reasons, I've since gone the route of:

  • Use the (Battle of) tilesets. This allows me to not have to draw (I *suck* at art), as well as the re-use of the map IN the Wesnoth game itself (as a campaign, etc.).
  • Use as my graphic editor. It supports objects (unlike graphical editors like The GIMP or Photoshop where, once you place something, that's it [unless you use a layer per tile which is insane]), resizing without destroying the picture (72x72 Wesnoth tiles non-destructively resized to 18x18, etc.), and writes output as SVG (an XML format which I've had experience parsing before).

Unfortunately, there are three main problems with the above "solution": Inkscape doesn't appear to scale to handle tens of thousands of tiles cleanly - I've had crashes on save, and long loading times on about 15% of a hand-edited converted map, Wesnoth has no "extreme bird's eye view" of roads, so I'll have to draw my own in Inkscape (causing a visual disconnect between tile style and pen-tool style), and I've had difficulty making a "perfect" transparent grid layer (such that you can turn on or off "measuring hexes" at will). There may be some other craziness that I've not yet encountered.

What have other people done or used?

I've decided to finally decided to register after months of just reading posts.

Anyway, I've used AutoREALM to create maps for my campaign. It does have the ability to do hex maps and does have some pre drawn tiles. Its also free, but it does have some iritating faults, like randomly moving objects.

It seems to follow most of what you are looking for: hex maps, save as jpeg or bmp, layers, ability to draw your own tiles (though i haven't used that feature), and some community based tiles.

I hope that helps.

I've heard of AutoREALM, but eventually never tried it because it was "old" (and the only update recently has been a "we're porting it somewhere else!" which usually means a long lack of updates). It's also Windows-only, which I won't touch with a ten foot pole. I eventually decided to just take the ASCII map and "trace" it in Inkscape with native SVG. It's coming along well so far.

In defense of Photoshop, you could just put all the objects on a single layer above the basic map background and move them by selecting around them. I guess that doesn't help much.

well, freehand handles objects, but that's neither open-source nor easy to learn.

now, regarding your desire of "a community of tile-making fools" (which I initially misread to say 'a community of tile-making tools'), I think you can approach India or China for that...they sure make a lot of tiles there...

I am the webmaster on
I was wondering if there where any progress on this drupal module, as I am running Drupal 6.x
As we are gonna use hex-map for Warhammer Mighty Empires and other campaings/tournaments.