Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Electronic maps...

the learning curve

Why do I need an electronic map when I have a trusty paper one?

Last week's draft map
Well, I will need one eventually so I can publish on this blog but my main motivation is to be able to storyboard the campaign as suggested by Phil Sabin. The scale of the map is around 15 miles per hex so two hexes will represent 3 days travel for foot mobile troops. The key dates are:
  • 7 August: Russian First Army enters East Prussia
  • 17 August: Battle of Stalloponen
  • 20 August: Battle of Gumbinnen
  • 23-30 August: Battle of Tannenburg
  • 7-14 September: 1st Battle of the Masurian Lakes
This is around 38 days which at, say three days per turn, gives 12 or so turns. Anything longer than 12 turns is likely to be beyond me. This means I'll need at least 12 maps to get a grip on the storyboard and to test out movement rates and combat duration. Ideally. the story board will be on PowerPoint so I can effectively animate the action and use standard unit icons to move around the maps. I know I can do this in PowerPoint so that is the plan.

I have never made an electronic map before. Step 1 is to get some hexes. My hex grid is predetermined by my design parameters (13 by 9) so I generated an SVG file, using an on-line programme, which I then loaded into Paint. 

The rest is trial and error. Here is the map as of today. The only missing items are names and railroads. The terrain and features are pretty standard and you can probably guess most of them without difficulty.



I have to say that I'm quite pleased with this so far. Now I know a few things about Paint, I can make a better job of the final version.

The town icons are interesting and this is a really cool part of the story. I'm with Redmond Simonsen in terms of what information you put on the map. It should be designed for play and should be very simple. However, I'm increasingly interested in "visualization". The things that you play with, toys, counters, maps, model terrain, should be designed to form part of the narrative of the story. This I suppose is a set designer approach and like the theatre or the movies, we should look for style and, perhaps, some necessary exaggeration. I'm not a realism junky so don't look too closely at my toy soldiers, they're painted for effect.

In mucking about on the internet I came across this hand drawn map, obviously from prussianpoland.com!



I don't know the source of this map but it looks post-Tannenberg and may well be a child's artwork. What I really like about it is the characterisation of the different towns and cities and the very nice little drawing of Fort Boyen. I have tried to use some of these little drawings in my map as it helps put the player (i.e. me) back into the early 20th century.

If I'm lucky, story-boarding at the weekend which will lead onto OB compilation.

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