"Zone" maps

General discussion on mapping.

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nDervish
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"Zone" maps

Post by nDervish » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:24 am

I use OWM for RPGs and have started experimenting with Fate-style "zone" maps, which are meant to be simpler and more abstract than traditional gridded maps and tend to divide things up into irregularly-shaped and -sized areas, such as this example that I found online:

Image

What would be the simplest way to do the lines separating these zones in OWM? I've been able to do it using the Zone Tool, but that involves manually aligning edges and vertices of adjoining zones in order to (try to) get them to overlap precisely, which is a slow, tedious, and error-prone process.

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Balmung
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Re: "Zone" maps

Post by Balmung » Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:32 am

As someone who never played Fate, may I ask you to explain a little bit more what you're trying to archieve? :)

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Kanchou
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Re: "Zone" maps

Post by Kanchou » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:27 am

nDervish wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:24 am
I use OWM for RPGs and have started experimenting with Fate-style "zone" maps, which are meant to be simpler and more abstract than traditional gridded maps and tend to divide things up into irregularly-shaped and -sized areas, such as this example that I found online:

Image

What would be the simplest way to do the lines separating these zones in OWM? I've been able to do it using the Zone Tool, but that involves manually aligning edges and vertices of adjoining zones in order to (try to) get them to overlap precisely, which is a slow, tedious, and error-prone process.
The simplest way would be for us to add an overlay for it :D. Are these types of grids something you would define each cell? Or something that's completely generated? If generated, what type of parameter would you expect?

- Alejandro
Alejandro S. Canosa
Three Minds Software

nDervish
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Re: "Zone" maps

Post by nDervish » Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:52 am

Balmung wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:32 am
As someone who never played Fate, may I ask you to explain a little bit more what you're trying to archieve? :)
I've never actually played Fate myself either (it has strong narrative metagame mechanics, which I absolutely hate), but I've encountered zone-based maps in other RPGs. Fate just seems to be the one that's most widely known for it.

The general idea is that areas with more difficult terrain are divided into smaller zones, while more open areas get larger zones, which you can see in the example with the houses vs. the road and lawns outside them.

The tactical and/or subjective significance of an area can also be a factor when defining zones. e.g., From the way the southeast side of this map is divided up, I assume this map was intended for one side to be attacking a town defended by the other side, so the only important thing about the defenders' positioning is which section of wall they're on, and the fight will be over once the wall is breached, so it wasn't considered necessary to break the area behind the wall down into as detailed of zones as the northwestern side, where the attackers (and perhaps sallying defenders) will be maneuvering, taking cover, etc.

Using this type of maps allows for simpler rules for positioning (you're just in a zone, not a specific five-foot square), movement (you don't need to have rules for difficult terrain, since difficult terrain slows you down by having smaller zones), and targeting ranged attacks through obstacles ("you can shoot three zones away", which is shorter across small, cluttered zones and farther through large, open zones). It's a nice middle ground between completely "theater of the mind" (purely descriptive with no map of any sort) and full-on gridded maps and miniatures with exact positioning, measured distances, etc., and it can be simpler in practice than either of the extremes.

Outside of the OWM context, it's also a really handy way to set up impromptu fights in unexpected locations. If your James Bond wannabe is at a nightclub and someone pulls a gun, you can do a quick sketch where the stage is a zone, the dance floor is a zone, seating area is two zones (maybe separated by a cheap wooden panel, or it could just be arbitrarily split down the middle), a zone behind the bar, and a zone for the kitchen, and you're good to go. Unfortunately, that doesn't work as well when software is involved as it does when you're just sketching on paper.
Kanchou wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:27 am
The simplest way would be for us to add an overlay for it :D. Are these types of grids something you would define each cell? Or something that's completely generated? If generated, what type of parameter would you expect?
The divisions between zones are pretty subjective, so I don't think it could be completely generated. An overlay with manually-placed points, each connected to a user-defined set of "adjacent" points, such that you can drag a point and all the connecting edges move with it, would probably be the ideal. Which, now that you've got me thinking about it, is pretty similar to how some of the existing tools work, aside from each (*cough*control*cough*) point having an arbitrary number of adjacent points instead of only one to two adjacent.

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Kanchou
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Re: "Zone" maps

Post by Kanchou » Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:21 am

nDervish wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:52 am
The divisions between zones are pretty subjective, so I don't think it could be completely generated. An overlay with manually-placed points, each connected to a user-defined set of "adjacent" points, such that you can drag a point and all the connecting edges move with it, would probably be the ideal. Which, now that you've got me thinking about it, is pretty similar to how some of the existing tools work, aside from each (*cough*control*cough*) point having an arbitrary number of adjacent points instead of only one to two adjacent.
Couldn't you do this with the line tool set to line mode then?

The main extra thing you would need is a "free" or sketch layer where you could draw this, which is something we hope to add soon.

Thank you!

- Alejandro
Alejandro S. Canosa
Three Minds Software

nDervish
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Re: "Zone" maps

Post by nDervish » Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:36 am

Kanchou wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:21 am
nDervish wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:52 am
The divisions between zones are pretty subjective, so I don't think it could be completely generated. An overlay with manually-placed points, each connected to a user-defined set of "adjacent" points, such that you can drag a point and all the connecting edges move with it, would probably be the ideal. Which, now that you've got me thinking about it, is pretty similar to how some of the existing tools work, aside from each (*cough*control*cough*) point having an arbitrary number of adjacent points instead of only one to two adjacent.
Couldn't you do this with the line tool set to line mode then?
I figured there was probably something in there already that I was missing... Thanks!

It feels a bit cumbersome to work with, though. In a quick test, it did what I needed it to do, but I also ran into a few minor issues:
  • It felt like I still needed to be very careful about where to branch from, so that I would get the join on the existing corner rather than creating a second junction, so maybe add an option to "snap to existing control point" or something like that when drawing new segments.
  • When I closed a section, I clicked with a "merge" tooltip at the end of an existing line, but, when I went into editing the shape's control points, it wasn't actually merged; there were two points close enough together to not be obvious in a normal view, but still separate (until I manually merged them by moving one on top of the other).
  • When I was doing the shape editing and moving control points around, I accidentally grabbed a bezier control point and turned it into a curved edge, but couldn't figure out a way to change it back to a straight line. I was able to approximate a straight line, but the bezier control point was still there, so it became strongly curved again when I moved one of that segment's endpoints.
Overall, though, I'd say all of this falls under "polish the existing tools" rather than "add new tools".
Kanchou wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:21 am
The main extra thing you would need is a "free" or sketch layer where you could draw this, which is something we hope to add soon.
In my test, the line tool seemed to draw on a higher layer than any of the other content I had on that map, at least, so I'm not sure that's even needed for my specific use case.

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