Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Map Making

1813 Campaign map of Spain

I am certainly getting my money’s worth out of my Profantasy map making system. It only cost about £30, and I have had months of enjoyment out of it already.

I am sure that, like the computer, I only use a fraction of its possible use. But, again like the computer, having learnt how to do the basic jobs I want I do not put any effort into finding out what else it can do.

It seems to have been designed for fantasy wargaming, and most of the additional software if for producing dungeons or fantasy worlds. But it is perfectly adequate for my purposes. Certainly it is a vast improvement on my old hand drawn maps.

No doubt it is an age thing, but I find it very difficult to master computer games. Just mastering the basics is often beyond me, and I just give up. Empire in Arms is a good example. It is based on a popular board game, but not one that I had ever played. It is a world wide campaign game set in the Napoleonic period. The write up was so convincing that I ordered a copy. Many frustrating weeks later I just gave up. I could not even get a basic game going. I joined their forum in the hope of getting some assistance, but that was a complete waste of time. It seemed to consist of two groups of people. First those who had played the board game, and been involved in the development of the computer game. For them it could do no wrong. Then there were those like me, who could not make any sense out of the mechanics.

That experience put me off buying Profantasy when I first heard about it. But then I found an online tutorial. This was a very simple, step by step guide to doing all the things I wanted to do. Creating a coastline, roads, hills, rivers and towns. I paid my money and after just a couple of days hard work could make a reasonable map of Germany and Spain.

And the more I use it, the more I enjoy it. It’s a bit like doing a jig saw puzzle, its very satisfying to see it all taking shape. And the best part is that you do not have to start from scratch. I keep a copy of each stage as I complete it. First the rivers, hills and major cities. Then the major roads, followed by minor ones. And finally all the towns and villages.

Every so often I come across a map which gives me more detail, or more often different detail. For example historical road system. I then work on the map with rivers, hills and cities, and put in the new road system. Great fun, and I have spent many enjoyable hours doing it.

My latest attempt is a new road system for Spain. This was prompted by Miguel, who sent me a copy of a map he had made, which was based on the historical road system. It was completely different from my roads system, which was based on a modern road atlas. It meant that I had to change a lot of the preparation for my next campaign, which is set in eastern Spain. But the current Hanover campaign is taking longer than expected to finish, so I have plenty of time to complete it.

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