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 Gamegrene.com 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:
- Make the Ghyll ASCII Map pretty.
- Allow me to create "slices" of the map and give me zoom in/out control.
- Be re-usable in some other format or game engine.
For the above reasons, I've since gone the route of:
- Use the (Battle of) Wesnoth.org 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 Inkscape.org 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?