Comments on 2009-07-01 Personal Favorites

Wow! 5 of 6 votes! I am quite surprised.

In the full Megadungeon, of which the Crypt is just one level, that Ogre Mage’s apartments in the upper right make more sense. Me, I’m pretty fond of the named wights and their treasure and special attacks, and while I agree that the Unholy Church is a good part, I’m just as proud of the Q—n Room, where “—” obviously equals “asqueto”. As Jeff Rients (I think) put it, “If B1 taught me anything, it’s that pools full of unknown liquids are cool.”

The Zombocalypse does take up too much of the level; again, in out-of-contest considerations, I threw it in there and made it so much of the level because two of my players have a zombie fetish. The Shadow Maze was a neat idea, but I’m not sure it works all that well; I do like the Halls Of Bone, because the skeletons-with-crossbows can shoot YOU through the lattice, but shooting THEM doesn’t do much good.


Adam Thornton 2009-07-02 04:16 UTC

I think that generating the map using a CSV file and a Perl script is an awesome idea. You just invented your own SVG shorthand! It still looks like a major effort. :)

The part of the skeletons armed with crossbows behind bars is cool. I liked the ogre mage Edgar as well. I also liked how it hinted at a bigger world. I guess the wights didn’t work for me because I’m not so much into out-of-game jokes.

AlexSchroeder 2009-07-02 09:19 UTC

Wow, I can’t really read those scans at all. Just enough to spot my name and see that there are four little circles next to the dungeon title... FWIW, I published it here at Scribd

Joshua 2009-07-02 13:59 UTC

The funny thing was that writing the map generator and then entering the data for the features took no more time and was WAY less frustrating than trying to scan the map in and then edit it so it didn’t suck with Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. Plus, once it was even sort of working, feedback was immediate, because I could just emit the map and hit reload on a browser tab (Safari, Opera, and Firefox, at least, all have native SVG support). That was handy when I put corners in the wrong place, which happened a lot.

It’s a classic Raymondesque Little Language approach.

I think I’ve run into its limitations, though. For starters, doing caverns with it is going to be hard, but would be necessary if I were to make this work for the other levels of the dungeon. I have a sort-of-design in my head to do caverns by mapping an arc between points and then walk a....well, let’s be honest and call it a turtle...along it introducing random perturbations with a bias depending on how far the turtle is from the arc (to rubberband it back to the path, so the wiggliness is bounded). But if I do this it’s going to create a HUGE SVG file, and doing it for closed (possibly filled) polygons may turn out to be a humongous pain.

And then there’s something I ran into with the features like tables, coffins, toilets, ovens, spiral stairs in the map: what I really want to do is just define each of these as an SVG entity, and then plunk it down on the map with a location, rotation, and scale. At which point, suddenly, I have semantics rather than just a series of strokes...and I’m well on my way to creating a CAD system with a CSV user interface, which, well, I don’t think I want to go there.

Thing three is that I’m just about to have to read and understand the SVG spec. I got this far by cargo-culting, but then a couple days ago I got interested in the question of why Safari and Firefox rendered differently, and determined that I was using the dasharray attribute incorrectly (needed commas) and that text-size had to be outside the style tag (I don’t know if that is actually necessary but it seems to make it work with Firefox). Now, it could be argued that if I do that, I will be a happier camperamong other things, I maintain the Linux CLI port of Inform 7, which currently emits EPS files, and I bet that if I learned enough SVG to build my maps, I could make Inform emit SVG easily toobut, hey, I got a day job.

Wow. This turned into quite a treatise. I think I ought to put it up on my own blog too.


Adam Thornton 2009-07-02 14:53 UTC

Joshua, if you click on the picture you’ll be taken to Flickr, and and there you’ll find a well-hidden button saying “All Sizes”, so if you really want to read my notes, there is a way to do it. :)

Adam, I wrote a wilderness map generator using SVG a while ago (2007-06-08 Old School Hex Mapper Getting Better) where I’ve used a different sort of mini language to define a hex map. I abandoned that approach when I realized that adding more features such as roads and named locations was going to require a lot of hand-editing anyway. But the general approach would still apply to your problem: Define the objects for your maps first, and then just reference them from the CSV input. Either way, it’s intriguing. :)

And I remember trying to write an adventure using Inform and trying to play through winners of the various Interactive Fiction Competitions. But I didn’t even get as far as that!

As for my own hex-mapping, I’ve now switched to using Inkscape and wrote an Old School Hex Map Tutorial on how to use Inkscape.

AlexSchroeder 2009-07-02 16:48 UTC

Ha! I checked out the notes for my entry (Cry of the Gravegod)... I believe it says “hag and undead.” Seriously, though, thanks for taking the time to judge so many entries. Hoping this contest becomes a regular thing.

– Heron 2009-07-03 15:17 UTC

You succeeded in your Decipher Script test! :)

Yes, I would like to see a 1PDC 2010 as well. If I were to organize it (assuming Phil and Michael don't get enough beer), I’d probably be more open about it. Publish all entries sooner. Publish the initial nominations. Publish the final result. In that order. If that means no sponsors and no prizes, so be it.

AlexSchroeder 2009-07-03 16:30 UTC

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