Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making software

Talk about whatever topic you'd like, RPG related or not. (But please discuss things related to our software in the Tools section, below.)

Moderators: Azhrei, dorpond, trevor

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making software

Post by heruca »

Hi folks. I am going to be creating cross-platform map-making software (for Windows and macOS), suitable for creating both for print-resolution maps and lower-res maps suitable for use with virtual tabletop software. The program will be sort of a spiritual successor to Dundjinni, but with a greater focus on stitching maps together from pre-existing map tiles and then customizing the resulting map (with additional decorations, etc.) to suit the GM's particular needs.

The program should appeal to GMs of face-to-face game sessions and to those using any VTT software, who want to create their own slick-looking battlemaps to visually enrich their RPG sessions, but who find existing mapping programs (including image-editing tools such as Gimp and Photoshop) too intimidating/confusing/expensive.

In late January or early February 2017, I'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign to try to fund the program's development. The software will be priced to be very accessible/affordable, likely in the $20-$25 range (at least during the Kickstarter campaign).
I'm trying to gauge public interest in this, so please let me know if such software would be of interest to you.

taustinoc
Dragon
Posts: 428
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:30 pm

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by taustinoc »

You've got an awful lot of competition out there on this, from "very simple, web based and either very cheap or free" to Campaign Cartography and the need for a team of Caltech trained engineers to figure out how to open a file (but it can do anything).

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

Yes indeed, lots of mapping apps & websites out there, with most of them free. Add to that the fact that many image editors (Gimp, Photoshop, etc.) are also "competition", of sorts, since GMs who have mastered such tools might effectively be out of the market. But with DJ out of the picture for years now, I see an opportunity, especially at the lower end of the price range. Most of what's out there is so crude and limited that it's probably not going to be taken seriously.

User avatar
Full Bleed
Demigod
Posts: 4444
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Location: MD
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by Full Bleed »

It would probably be better to try and raise some money to buy Dundjinni.

Fantasy Grounds was taken to new levels under new ownership, and so could Dundjinni.
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

Although it's still in the early stages, my app is already significantly faster than DJ in exporting maps, and doesn't require Java or anything else. The interface is also much nicer looking and the app will have a shallower learning curve. What would be the advantage in trying to reinvent DJ? You'd not only have to buy the company, and pay for licensing rights to the artwork all over again, but you'd have to pay software developers to redesign the app from the ground up. Best case scenario, it would be at least a year (I'm being generous in that estimate) before someone could buy it and begin making use of it. My app should be released about 4 months from the end date of the Kickstarter campaign.

User avatar
Full Bleed
Demigod
Posts: 4444
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Location: MD
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by Full Bleed »

heruca wrote:What would be the advantage in trying to reinvent DJ?

Established user base.
Name recognition.
Removes a "competitor" (not that they're adding users, but they still have legacy users).
Established resource forum (it's a turd right now, but a better hosting solution, updates, and some active moderators would solve that).

You could still completely rebuild the next version, stealing just enough of the original interface and feel, while having backwards compatibility. It certainly could be improved on.

No idea what it would cost to get the property, but it would have value that would give you a leg up on adoption.

At any rate, good luck. Maybe people will flock to a new map-app on the block more than I think... Stranger things have happened with Kickstarters.
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

Name recognition, sure (although I was never very fond of the name). But you'd also inherit the abandonware/neglect rep that it's taken on in the last 5 years or so.

The user forums and community were the best thing DJ had going for it (despite the forums not working correctly with many browsers). Perhaps RPGMapshare can be resurrected to its former glory and even augmented to serve as a central art repository.

Full Bleed wrote:Maybe people will flock to a new map-app on the block more than I think... Stranger things have happened with Kickstarters.


Maybe. Just look at what happened with Roll20 coming out of nowhere and effectively destroying the market for most other VTTs within a couple of years. Now it's up to 2 million registered users, supposedly.

I have no delusions that my little mapping app will be a huge hit, but I do think there's a market for it, and I'll be content if it gets a few thousand users over time.

weepingminotaur
Kobold
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:31 pm

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by weepingminotaur »

Can't speak for anyone else, but I'd be hugely interested in your mapping software. I was a loyal Dundjinni user until it turned into abandonware, and would gladly give yours a try. Your description of mapping software that stitches existing maps into something cohesive with customization options is right up my alley. I have no time anymore to design intricate maps from scratch. What I want is something that allows me to pillage from existing maps: tiles, free maps, etc. I play exclusively using VTT software so I'd be into the lower-res (but still nice-looking) end product.

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

Good to hear.

The Kickstarter campaign should launch in about a week, barring any last-minute setbacks. Tomorrow I'll put the finishing touches on the downloadable prototype/demo that prospective backers will want to try out.

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

I can now reveal the name of my mapping program: MapForge

And, for now at least, this is the app's icon.
Image

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

It turns out that there was substantial interest in new mapping software. The Kickstarter for MapForge funded on the first day, and the campaign now has well over 800 backers and is close to unlocking the second Stretch Goal. The first Stretch Goal unlocked five free content Add-Ons.

I'm thrilled with how well MapForge has been received, especially by the former DJ community.

User avatar
Full Bleed
Demigod
Posts: 4444
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Location: MD
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by Full Bleed »

heruca wrote:It turns out that there was substantial interest in new mapping software. The Kickstarter for MapForge funded on the first day, and the campaign now has well over 800 backers and is close to unlocking the second Stretch Goal. The first Stretch Goal unlocked five free content Add-Ons.

I'm thrilled with how well MapForge has been received, especially by the former DJ community.

Congrats!

I almost bought into this on the first day after seeing the video, but I was a little unsure of the interface/deployment controls when placing assets. For example, what I think I would like in an app like this when deploying tiles would be to be able to left-click-drag and place a tile onto the map, spin mouse wheel to rotate, and right click (or middle mouse button click) to lock the tile. Once I heard "using the rotation hot-keys" on the youtube video I started to worry about the work-flow... I, generally, don't like hot-key heavy interfaces.

Do you have any plans to incorporate keybinding?
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

Key binding is a distinct possibility. Just yesterday I got a bunch of feedback from someone (along the same lines as yours), and I can understand everyone wanting to tweak it to suit their personal workflow and user preferences. By the way, aside from hotkeys and modifier keys, there are also scroll-wheel and trackpad shortcuts.

User avatar
jfrazierjr
Deity
Posts: 5175
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:31 pm

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by jfrazierjr »

First, I want to thank you for the things you do for the community. Your hosting of a honest and unbiased feature comparison chart for many of your own product's(Battleground) major competitors shows what a class act you are as a person and a company.

Second, I think the most important thing in any mapping software is easy access to content. Users these days are a fickle and lazy lot, so having easy access to loads of content will be key. The more content you can license and include either free or low priced, the better chances users will pick your product as a one stop shop. I know many people on this forum are likely the type to go the extra mile to seek out content(given the sometimes PITA nature of getting Maptool to work because of Java or the nature of the complex scripting options), but most people just seem to want to install and go. Being able to easily add assets from scouring the web is always a good feature, but there are tons of non technical people around.

Third, though I use GIMP and will likely not change, I am quite interested in the masking functions you have and would love to see more as you develop the software, hopefully with the ability to provide input. Specifically, have you thought about the ability to use masks for other than walls? For example, say someone has an existing map and wants to add a water texture to one side(or a pond). The ability to use a mask with a variable(defined by the user) blur on the mask could make the water texture fairly seamlessly fade into the underlying map. Well... at last that's how I would implement such a thing in GIMP, so that's how I might want it to work in a mapping specific application. Being able to combine multiple textures in a masked off way would be an extremely useful and powerful ability.

Likewise, how could someone add elevation changes to an existing map. For example, in GIMP, I would create a 50% grey layer set to overlay mode and add in shadows and highlights to give the illusion of elevation changes. Does something like this exist or could it be added as say a "layer effect"(to borrow from PS's vernacular) to your application?

Forth, can you possibly consider native Linux packaging or perhaps at least address the application will run in a Wine instance(preferably the former). I know quite a few nerdy RPG gamers who use Linux and would much prefer either a native or easily emulation vs having to have a windows license for VirtualBox. The more I think about this, the more I could see myself possibly purchasing it if there were enough built in tiles and other features as it would be quicker than GIMP in some cases, especially if the masks could be made to handle more features than what was shown.
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..

User avatar
heruca
Dragon
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:11 am
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact:

Re: Trying to gauge interest in new battlemap-making softwar

Post by heruca »

Thanks, jfrazierjr.

I suppose someday I'll have to make a feature comparison chart for mapping software, since I'm entering that market.

Imagine if a bunch of volunteers from Cartographer's Guild and the various VTT communities were to get together and port a massive art library like the CSUAC into MapForge's Add-On format, and it all became easily searchable via tags and keywords so that as you map, you don't need to pause every two minutes to go search your hard drive for some elusive bit of artwork that you need.

Yes, I'd thought of non-wall usage of masks, and I think the opportunities are tremendous. Forget about just providing a "replacement" for Dundjinni, this could conceivably eclipse DJ. And I hope that doesn't come across as pretentious or boastful. I just see so much possibility here! Masks are essentially just very precisely-defined brushes and stamps, if you think about it. Blending different textures together, like where grass meets a road, can be achieved fairly realistically with very little effort on the part of the user, if a good mask is provided.

I hadn't given much thought to how elevation changes will be marked, but I suppose using semi-transparent overlays over a base texture might do the trick.

As for Linux, unfortunately my development environment won't compile native code for that platform. MapForge should run under Wine and using Virtualbox, but I know that's not ideal.

Post Reply

Return to “General Discussion”