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    • CommentAuthorMstrCat
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019 edited
     
    Is anyone making large maps for rpg games? When I say large, I'm thinking of something like map 2000 feet on a side, but with sufficient detail such that I can zoom in and run rpg battles at a 5-foot per man-sized creature scale? My friends and I have recently started gaming using a virtual table top setup, and there seems to be a bit of a hitch in scales between small maps (less than 100 feet on a side) and large overland maps which really don't zoom down to battle map scale.

    I've made some attempts, but ran out of time before I got good enough with the random scatter tools to produce something usable for the game that night.
    •  
      CommentAuthorMonsen
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019 edited
     
    The problem with this approach is that the map need to be exported to an image to use with a VTT, and most VTT's have problems with the huge file size of the image when exported with sufficient detail to allow zoom in the VTT. Additionally, all that detail added to make the map look good at battle-map scale will make the map look very cluttered when zoomed out.
    It is also a lot of work mapping out an area that big with enough details that it doesn't look empty when zooming down.
    My Snowport city map allows for that kind of zoom, but it is pretty boring as you zoom in that far.
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Perhaps a modular approach would be better?
    • CommentAuthorseycyrus
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Yes this is a problem, largely because of the difference in melee scale and missile weapon scale. The large percentage of battle maps seem to on the order of 20 yards, whereas folks with a bow might very well want to engage a foe at 100 yards, and therefore the player wants to "look around" for 200 yards (in each direction!) The situation is magnified if its a modern or scifi campaign.

    Fantasy Grounds will be converting to their unity version in December. This will be a 64 bit application and will be able to handle larger maps.
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019 edited
     
    So does that mean that those of us interested in breaking into DriveThruRPG type markets should start making really large complicated dungeons?

    (I'm thinking of the Patreon page I'm planning to start as well)

    Maps that are between 300-600 ft square, and possibly larger than that?
    • CommentAuthortaustinoc
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Avoid really large maps if you're aiming for DriveThruRPG. The most popular VTT by far is Roll20, and they have some brutal file size restrictions (and overall storage space). There can be issues with download times as files get larger, too.
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Oh that's a shame. I was starting to look forward to making massive super-dungeons :P

    Maybe I could do them as modules instead. I rather fancy that idea.
    •  
      CommentAuthorMonsen
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Posted By: LoopysueMaybe I could do them as modules instead.
    Be careful with the word 'module' when you talk about RPG products. In RPG terms, a module is basically a pre-written adventure (usually with maps).
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    LOL! I think I'd better stay out of it really. I don't know enough. I'll stick to symbols and fills ;)
  1.  
    DrivethruRPG is a Brutal Market...
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Yet everyone keeps telling me that's where I should go after Patreon - to try Patreon, and then release the artwork on DriveThruRPG at a higher price than the patrons pay 6 months or so down the road.

    It's all very confusing!
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    Sorry MstrCat! I seem to have hijacked your thread.

    I should really start one of my own!
    •  
      CommentAuthorQuenten
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2019
     
    What about modular
    • CommentAuthorseycyrus
    • CommentTimeJun 27th 2019
     
    Posted By: LoopysueSo does that mean that those of us interested in breaking into DriveThruRPG type markets should start making really large complicated dungeons?

    (I'm thinking of the Patreon page I'm planning to start as well)

    Maps that are between 300-600 ft square, and possibly larger than that?


    Fantasy Grounds has its own store. Fantasy Grounds Unity is coming out in December and will support larger maps.
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 27th 2019
     
    I was just talking to Dan Harlan over on the FB Group page about that.

    Apparently maps will still have to be kept relatively small because of the broadband limitations when the DM sends information to his players. Unless the DM has superfast broadband all this 64-bit upgrade might be rather disappointing. I was certainly a bit disappointed. It seems that maps should be kept down to no more than 5MB, which is really quite tiny or extremely compressed and therefore terrible quality.
    • CommentAuthorseycyrus
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019 edited
     
    You know, people push these limits (in terms of transferring data) all the time without any difficulty. On the other hand, the 64 bit thing WILL be a huge improvement, because of the vast increase in local memory available on each client's side.

    You can always make a couple of resolutions of the maps you offer. Also remember, I can always reduce the quality of the maps I am using in game. Can't really go the other way around tho...

    I also think you'd be surprised at how far you can push your exports and still retain quality. There are a lot of threads floating around where VTT users minimize their export settings while maximizing the output. Perhaps you haven't followed these threads closely in years past because it was just simply something that didn't apply to you.


    EDIT:

    I saw your FB thread a bit ago, but can't seem to find it right now. I think you were generally asking for advice on what the consumers wanted/needed, correct?

    One thing that I don't recall being mentioned is that for VTT use, players are going to be plunking down virtual tokens, and sometimes those tokens can blend in with the maps themselves.

    I haven't been able to quantify if yet, but I'm sure there is some combination of shading, color palette, or what-not that helps tokens stand out on the map. Perhaps you could bring up that question in your FB post as a follow-up.
    • CommentAuthortaustinoc
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019
     
    What you need is playtesters. People using the most common VTTs that you can send maps to, who can load them up - ideally in a real game - and send them out to their remote players, and report back what issues they have. Or, perhaps, to have the various VTTs yourself and people who can connect to you to test things (if you have decent bandwidth, which, IIRC, might be an issue.)

    Keeping individual files as small as possible is a good idea, though. Roll20 has a severe limit - 5 MB (I think it is) on the free version, 10 (I think) on the paid version. No idea on Fantasy Grounds. MapTool handles larger files pretty well these days, because it runs on 64 bit Java - provided you have plenty of actual RAM on the computer (and decent bandwidth). But it's rare for me personally, to have a good experience with anything over about 25 meg or so.

    Also make sure you know the difference between small file size and small image size. You can compress the heck out of a JPG, and reduce the file size a lot, but if it's still 20,000 by 20,000 pixels, it's going to eat up a lot of display memory.

    It'll be a learning experience to figure out how to tweak stuff just so.

    (I think the terminology you want is probably "modular tiles," or just "modular". They're more work than you think. But worth it.)
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019 edited
     
    seycyrus - I'm thinking 100 px per 5ft with normal compression (90%). Maps that are up to 300 x 300 ft. This will make them way too large in MB, but I'm getting the message through all the answers on that FB thread that most DMs have the capability to compress the map further than that if they don't like the MB size. Then it's up to them if they want to view it with all those horrible artefects or not. I know that kind of shirks responsibility, but from what I've seen of other people's battle maps online I don't think other artists willingly shrink their own work that way, so I would be disadvantaging myself if I did. As for the colour of tokens - I saw some on an FG demo I was shown. They tend to be reasonably bright in colour with a white background and a ring around them, so if I keep my maps quite muted that should work fine.

    Taustinoc - I think I already have a collection of people interested in testing. One of them showed me an old map of mine on FG - the first time I've ever seen a VTT screen in my life. And why not - I get to see everything is ok, and they get a free map (not that the cost of buying them is going to be massive anyway, but it's a reward) :) I have a pet hate of highly compressed jpg files. They ruin the finer nuances of texture and rob a lot of the effect I took so long to create. I will probably bundle 4 maps in each non-CC3 sale - 100 px and 50 px, gridded and un-gridded. And you are definitely right - It will be a learning experience, but I'm sure the DMs will let me know if they hate my work by not buying it :P I think the way I might do modular tiles is to make one really huge CC3 file divided into sections, each of which is playable in its own right - a choice of crossroads and bridges for example, all in one large map. CC3ers will then be able to export whichever giant grid square (module) they want, and I will export the parts ready for a set of modular tiles for the non-CC3ers.

    MstrCat - I am so terribly sorry! You have sparked a longish conversation about the pros and cons of making large maps for VTT. I didn't mean to take over your thread like this, but I hope you find some of the information useful. The modular tiles I'm thinking of making will probably be about half the size as you were asking about when they are placed all together - for example if I make a modular set that is 3 x 3 modular tiles the total size would be 900 ft square. Making one that is 7 x 7 modular tiles would come to a total size of 2100 x 2100 ft, but since it will take far longer to generate than the 3 x 3 would have to be a lot more expensive. For example if I were to set a price of $0.50 for each module the 3x3 set would already cost $4.50, because there are 9 potential battle maps in it, while the 7 x 7 modular set would have to be $24.50. I'm not so sure that anyone would ever buy it, even if I halved that price again. Its a lot more work for a much smaller return.

    Unfortunately, I am in a situation where making fills, symbols and maps is my primary and only source of income, and I cannot work for free.
    • CommentAuthortaustinoc
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019
     
    Unless Fantasy Grounds uses 100 pixels per 5 foot cell (or hex), that's an odd size. Roll20 uses 70 as a default, MapTool uses 50. Both can be adjusted pretty easily to match what you have, but for maps, any detail you pick up at higher resolution is largely lost because it's pretty rare to zoom in close enough to see it. (Tokens should be higher resolution, because they often get displayed either more zoomed in, or as part of a character sheet. 280 x 280 is common for Roll20, TokenTool, which is a companion to MapTool but commonly used by users of all VTTs, defaults to 256 x 256.)

    Were I looking to start production of saleable maps for VTTs, I'd render the first few at several different scales, including pretty high, send them to the playtesters, and see what they say. The best way figure out the sweet spot is when the people using them say "that's too big." (There's also nothing wrong with selling maps with several resolutions included. A number of sellers on DriveThruRPG do exactly that, especially on tokens.)

    (And I suspect that MstrCat, and anybody else working on large battlemats, will benefit from following this discussion.)
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019
     
    I have been led to believe that FG does use 100 px maps, and while that is the opinion of only one DM there is this massive change to FG taking place in December to allow the use of larger/higher res maps.

    I'm still trying to absorb all the information I've been given, and I'm a long way from producing the first set of modular tiles.
    • CommentAuthorseycyrus
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019
     
    ... As for the colour of tokens - I saw some on an FG demo I was shown. They tend to be reasonably bright in colour with a white background and a ring around them, so if I keep my maps quite muted that should work fine. ...


    That's not true. Only a small subset of tokens used are like that. Just look at the token sets available as stretch goals in the FGU kickstarter."
    • CommentAuthorMstrCat
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2019
     
    So I guess some feedback on the map makers looking to use DriveThruRPG and other venues.

    The larger maps I was looking for are nearly all outdoors...typically the last mile before a keep/dungeon/lair ect. This is the place where there would be guards, scouts, traps, ect. Hence there is a very high chance of tactical sorts of encounters, many which can turn into running battles/chases. A continuous map is far better than many hops through a modular one.

    I would pay $10 for such a map without thinking too hard, as the price edges toward $20 the decision gets harder.

    I have cable internet. One of my main campaign maps (overland) is 26 MB, and Maptools loads the entire campaign for all players in under a minute, fast enough that I never considered it might be a significant factor in map size.

    Anyway, I've a bit of time over the weekend, maybe I'll read through the posts on random symbol fill along paths and give it another try.
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 29th 2019 edited
     
    MstrCat - I'm in the process of creating a new underwater style with its own fills and symbols. The CC3 map I'm making is 900 x 900. It can be exported as one whole map (gridded or ungridded, square or hex), or as 9 separate 300 x 300 smaller areas if the players just decide to jump off the deck for a swim for 5 minutes having been set on fire or chased overboard by some monster :)

    The module tiles are designed to flow seamlessly into one another because they all come from the one large map, so the options are to use the one large map, or if a DMs system is not as impressive as yours, to use the smaller modules in succession to get around the place and maybe have the whole map at a much lower resolution for reference.
    • CommentAuthorLoopysue
    • CommentTimeJun 29th 2019
     
    Seycyrus - thanks :)

    Its been suggested that I go and join Roll20 to go on a sight-seeing tour of what's around. I haven't had time to break off and do it just yet, but I will :)