Feedback Wanted: Mini Maps

Non-bug comments, suggestions, and feature requests for BRPG and/or BGE
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Feedback Wanted: Mini Maps

Post by Halebop » Mon May 01, 2006 12:26 am

Heruca wrote: (From the "Comparison with FG" feedback thread)

A minimap is planned, but not for v1.0.
A minimap is a very useful addition. Although navigation is not challenging, being able to view the whole map will simplify it further.

What functions would you want to see in a minimap?

Here's my wishlist...

Center main map based on mini map selection
Optional sizing (and therefore scaling) of mini map window / panel
FoW can be toggled on/off on mini map
Optional (GM choice) mini map for players
Hotkey / toggle mini map on and off
Zoom (click and mousewheel?) mini map and allow figure / object selection for main map centering

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Post by heruca » Mon May 01, 2006 12:44 am

You just love dreaming up all this neat stuff that makes my life difficult, don't you? :lol:
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Post by Halebop » Mon May 01, 2006 1:08 am

It's what I live for. 8)

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Post by Blakey » Tue May 02, 2006 5:15 am

Mini maps can be important for tabletop RPGs.

I currently use FM7 (only). I project the maps straight onto the tabletop. FM7 supports gazillion layers, including a GM's layer which is not projected. So all of the map sits (in chunks) on the GM's layer and then gets moved to the Players layer as the players go there. This means that the players layer is effectively a map of the dungeon as explored so far.

My players often ask me to zoom out to full map so they can see the map as a whole - a very useful feature - and see where they have been and plan where to go next.

So, I would definitely want zooming (I've asked this before I know) so you can zoom in to tactical level and zoom out to 'mini map' level. Failing this a separate mini map which shows enough detail to let the PCs see where they have been would be ace.


Cheers!
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Post by heruca » Tue May 02, 2006 5:32 am

Blakey wrote:Mini maps can be important for tabletop RPGs.
Yeah, I don't know how I got by using a Chessex plastic battlemat all those years. It didn't have a minimap feature! :lol:

All kidding aside, would you ever play (actually moving figures around, etc) while in zoomed out mode?
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Post by Blakey » Tue May 02, 2006 5:49 am

heruca wrote:Yeah, I don't know how I got by using a Chessex plastic battlemat all those years. It didn't have a minimap feature! :lol:
:D

However, back then we had to draw maps of the dungeon on paper. This is one huge time saving feature of using a projector - at the touch of a button I can zoom out and show the players the map of the dungeon. Okay, so it has the side effect that their maps are always 100% accurate, but it saves so much time I think its a great bonus feature.
All kidding aside, would you ever play (actually moving figures around, etc) while in zoomed out mode?
Yeah, we do this sometimes. My current adventure is being played in a huge labyrinth which is about 1000' x 800' - we have played a lot of the exploration of that dungeon out zoomed out at a non-figure scale. Otherwise it takes forever to move the figures around. When we do this we use one mini to represent the party location.

Horses for courses I guess.

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Post by Halebop » Tue May 02, 2006 6:44 am

Personally I prefer players not knowing their relative position. But it would be useful for the GM to flick from one location to another.

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Post by thelevitator » Wed May 03, 2006 4:56 pm

I would love to be able to zoom the DM's view. It would make moving hidden creatures that are a distance away from the party much quicker. The zooming capability for the player's view would also really come in handy in outdoor encounters. It is kinda slow for players (in a tabletop game) because they have to tell me where they want to look and then I scroll the map and then they have to visualize that area when we go back to where the players currently are. My group has been a little frustrated with not being able to "see" what their characters can "see". We do a lot of outdoor encounters, so I would see the ability to zoom in and out on the map as a major benefit, especially when the party gets split up on the BG screen even though their characters can see each other. I would think this is really only an issue with us "tabletoppers" as people online can control their own view of the map.

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Post by heruca » Wed May 03, 2006 5:29 pm

Keep in mind that even with zoom out capability, the map size still only covers 200' x 200'. So a PC will only ever see 100' in every direction, or 200' in one direction, depending on where the PC is on the map. The only thing zoom out will give you is the ability to see that area all at once, without scrolling.

I think you should make use of area maps whenever possible, if the intent is exploration and not combat. If FoW is not an issue, just place a copy of the full map, resized to your display's resolution, in the Visual Aids folder, and call it up whenever you want a full map view.

Maxing out your display resolution is another good way to avoid scrolling around a lot.
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Post by thelevitator » Wed May 03, 2006 6:00 pm

Yeah, I think that's what I'm going to do. I'll just keep a full image on the player screen underneath the BG map. If they need to plan tactics, like an ambush or something, they can use the big map. Once they have figured out what they want to do, we can switch to the BG map for the actual encounter. That will be easy too since it's the same map.

Unfortunately for me, my laptop only maxes out at 1024x768 for resolutions. I have to say though, that looking at BG on an 8' screen is waaaayyyyy impressive!! Our combat screen is like 1/25th scale, right? :shock:

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Post by heruca » Wed May 03, 2006 6:03 pm

Ah, now I see why scrolling is such a big deal for you. But I also imagine that that's the max resolution for large screen TVs.
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Post by thelevitator » Wed May 03, 2006 6:16 pm

I forgot to mention that the mini-map would also be perfect for our situation or to anyone using a projection screen for combat. I'm looking forward to that! :D

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Post by drswoboda » Thu May 04, 2006 3:25 pm

Keep in mind that even with zoom out capability, the map size still only covers 200' x 200'. So a PC will only ever see 100' in every direction, or 200' in one direction, depending on where the PC is on the map. The only thing zoom out will give you is the ability to see that area all at once, without scrolling.
Am I understanding this discussion correctly? Is Heruca suggesting that being able to view the entire map is not a priority or even necessary?

I must be missinterpting this discussion.

If I'm not, then that is just plain nuts to me.

That is like saying I don't need to see the entire monopoly board as I play because I can only move 12 squares either way, so the other squares are not important until I get there. The single biggest issue with playing a computerized version of say a classic board-war game is the lack of visual feedback of the monitor. Try making a version of "Terrible Swift Sword, the Three Days of Gettysburg" and then limit your view to about 1/20 of the map at a time. Not many will want to play. You have to realize that the screen is your single most limiting factor in displaying your data. Most people do not like to see only a section of a map at a time. This is the same type of issue with any of the RTS games like Empire. You are ALWAYS scrolling. . .

Please tell me I have misread this. I can never see buying BG without the ability to zoom out the map. Period.

-David

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Post by heruca » Thu May 04, 2006 3:34 pm

I said nothing to imply that a zooming feature is low priority, or that it isn't extremely useful. Read what I said again. I was trying to point out that just because you can zoom the map out, you won't suddenly be able to see a thousand feet in every direction. Because the full map is only 200' x 200'.

If your intent is to see a larger area, then use an area map, a city map, a region map, a continent map, or a world map.

But BRPG's strength lies in battlemaps. At least for now. I'd like to provide better support for the other scales, eventually.
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Post by drswoboda » Thu May 04, 2006 4:22 pm

Your missing my point here. BG needs big picture view.

And the statement I quoted from you above does seem to imply that you don't see the total value in the "bigger picture" the same way I do. Your comment that we should then use area maps for larger areas, seems also to confirm this opinion.

My 13$ Chessex map shows me an 34x48 area. On my 1280x1024 monitor using a map with about 64pixels to the inch map, BG will show me 16x21 or about 1/4 of the total of that area since you have no zoom out feature. It seems that perhaps you are assuming that everyone is going to use FOW all the time. That will not be the case.

Frankly, I find it hard to believe this is not your highest priority. Would I buy a CAD program that had no zoom? How about CC2? No way. Your making a mapping program here. It goes without saying that the map should be zoomable. kLoOge, Gametable, MapTool and others, they all zoom. BG doesn't. Big minus in my book.

Good start, but with your keyboard centric UI, no auto scroll and no zoom, well? You've opted to save that feature for a furture version. Fine. I just won't consider it before you add a zoom. Its that big an issue to me and based on my players comments, it is to them too.

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Post by Phergus » Thu May 04, 2006 6:52 pm

I think you are overstating the issue a bit. Neither ScreenMonkey or Fantasy Grounds have zoomable maps and they seem to do okay. I can certainly see why a zoomable map would be a must for something like TSS or other megamap wargames but BRPG's primary audience is FRPGs and most of the action there takes place in smaller, very localized areas.

More modern games tend to have movement rates that allow much larger scale combats and either having larger maps or larger maps and zoom would be a big help. I would hate to run a superhero streetfight on the limited map space of BRPG as it is now.

Where you say you can't believe it isn't his highest priority I put it pretty much near the bottom. For me the lack of full hex-grid support makes it a non-starter. You may not care at all about hex grid support.

I think it is interesting that you feel BRPG is keyboard-centric while I feel there are too many things that can only be done with the mouse.

You seem to be fairly dismissive of FoW while I don't see the point in using a virutal table-top app that doesn't have it.

Clearly there are as many different views on the mandatory feature set for a VT product as there are users. I expect that Heruca will get in the features that are most requested by the userbase first and others will come as they come.

I don't have the perfect VT app now and so if BRPG never becomes that app for me then my situation hasn't changed. Of course I'll keep making suggestions here as long as I think they might bear fruit in the future but I'm not going to worry about it unduly.
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Post by heruca » Thu May 04, 2006 7:19 pm

Drswoboda, you got a very good deal on your Chessex battlemat. They normally go for $27-$30, at that size.

No, I don't imagine everyone will use FoW all the time. Only for night encounters, and unexplored dungeon/cave encounters.

And no, BRPG is not a mapping program, although it can easily be used to modify or alter existing maps.

The keyboard-centric UI is IMO one of the things that sets BRPG apart from the other VTs, and I'm hoping I can keep it that way. For folks that want a tree view and toolbars permanently taking up 1/4 to 1/3 of their screen, there are plenty of other apps to choose from. Such programs MUST have a zoom feature from the get-go, because they don't leave much room for the map view.

I intend to provide a minimap (for a full map view and quick map navigation) long before I add a zoom feature to BRPG. I also intend to add hex support before I add zooming, because I see it as a higher priority. That doesn't mean I don't think zoom is important. I just don't consider it indispensable when you already have the ability to use larger-scale maps.
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Post by Omnidon » Fri May 05, 2006 2:09 am

heruca wrote:Keep in mind that even with zoom out capability, the map size still only covers 200' x 200'. So a PC will only ever see 100' in every direction, or 200' in one direction, depending on where the PC is on the map. The only thing zoom out will give you is the ability to see that area all at once, without scrolling.
drswoboda wrote: Am I understanding this discussion correctly? Is Heruca suggesting that being able to view the entire map is not a priority or even necessary?

I must be missinterpting this discussion.
The comment by heruca that you quoted had nothing to do with whether or not the zoom feature is important.

He was just pointing out that even if you viewed the whole map, it would only be 200 *feet* by 200 *feet" using the scale set by the RPG system he was referring to.
( 1 square/hex = X amount of feet )

This has nothing to do with zooming in itself.
You can still use whatever scale you choose for the grid, or you can simply turn off Snap-To-Grid like I'm planning to do once heruca adds that ability.

It's easy to misinterpret a conversation when you come in late. Happens to me a lot ;-)

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Post by heruca » Fri May 05, 2006 2:29 am

Omnidon brings up an interesting point. Once you can turn off snap to grid, doesn't that make it possible to use maps at any scale you want? Like have a 1000' x 1000' dungeon all on one map? Of course, you'd want to use a custom grid for that (which you can already do, btw), or have a distance measuring tool.

OT: I haven't played D&D in probably decades, but didn't it use a 10'/square scale, before? When did they change it to 5'?
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Post by heruca » Fri May 05, 2006 4:05 am

Woot! 3000 posts on this forum. And over 1000 are mine. I talk too much, maybe.
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Post by Halebop » Fri May 05, 2006 4:19 am

Shut up already!

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Zooming

Post by Blakey » Fri May 05, 2006 5:31 am

Zooming is vital is you are using a projector at a table.

Without zooming how do you guarantee that the size of a 5' grid on the map exactly equals 1" on the tabletop?

Not all projectors can be zoomed in and out to achieve this for you without losing focus on the table top - so the software needs to be able to do the zooming.

Forgetting zooming out to show an over all view (which I think is very important), you need 'precision zooming' to get the map to scale correctly on the table.

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Post by heruca » Fri May 05, 2006 5:44 am

Hmm, sounds like zooming and scaling will need to be two different functions.

Zooming will probably work with settings like 1x, .5x, .25x., and it should be quick and easy to switch zoom levels (1 or 2 taps of a hotkey).

Scaling will probably need to be controlled much more finely, perhaps in 1% increments. This would probably be done from controls on the Preferences panel.

I should point out that scaling is only important if you are using real miniatures. And with real miniatures, you'll probably never want to zoom out, right?
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Post by thelevitator » Fri May 05, 2006 1:53 pm

I'm just an area hog, so the more you give me, the more I'll use! :D Our group does tend to like larger outdoor combats, so scaling the map would be awesome for that. The zoom would still be a great feature because my TV output maxes at 1024x768. I think anyone using BG for tabletop games with a single monitor for the group would benefit from both scaling and zooming. Now, if everyone in my group just had laptops....... :wink:

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Post by drswoboda » Sun May 07, 2006 12:31 am

Phergus wrote:I think you are overstating the issue a bit. Neither ScreenMonkey or Fantasy Grounds have zoomable maps and they seem to do okay. I can certainly see why a zoomable map would be a must for something like TSS or other megamap wargames but BRPG's primary audience is FRPGs and most of the action there takes place in smaller, very localized areas.
I don't feel that way. I have not looked at SM or FG so I can't comment on them. The three I did mention do have zooming, and I must say MapTool zooming and grid scaling is very very good.

I have been playing RPG's with mini's since 1976 back when Gen Con was still in Lake Geneva at the Playboy club. (waitress, my drink needs filling. . .) I constantly run out of room on my table with my Chessex map. I refuse to run battles in rooms that are 15'x15' and tend to make maps that actually have some space. A typical outdoor battle has composite long bow range of 110' before the first distance penalty kicks in. If you run battles in small areas, then you don't need to zoom out.

As I look at MapTool it is so very easy to zoom in and out and scroll as needed that it makes me wonder why this in not a higher priority.

I ran a battle last week on a beach with a cliff and a boat anchored 55' off shore. The distance for the ranged fighters was 300'+ total distance, cliff to boat. Guys fired from the cliff to mid beach, and from boat to mid beach. In the middle were the melee folks, fighting 3 Scrags (Aqutic Trolls).
Phergus wrote:You seem to be fairly dismissive of FoW while I don't see the point in using a virutal table-top app that doesn't have it.
I made one comment on this. It will be a great feature for sure. I simply said I thought that the majority of battles will not need it, but perhaps the designers were assuming that we would use it, hense unable to see total map area, hense, why add the zoom to top of list. I see plenty of reasons to use BG and NOT use FOW. Digital notes on characters for one beats the heck out of a paper map full of Post-its. Many times I use maps printed out of CC2 to 1" scale. For a big battle you need to use the floor sometimes as the table is too small.
heruca wrote:Drswoboda, you got a very good deal on your Chessex battlemat. They normally go for $27-$30, at that size.
I have had it since Chessex was just a wee lad, lots cheaper back then ;)
heruca wrote:The keyboard-centric UI is IMO one of the things that sets BRPG apart from the other VTs, and I'm hoping I can keep it that way. For folks that want a tree view and toolbars permanently taking up 1/4 to 1/3 of their screen, there are plenty of other apps to choose from. Such programs MUST have a zoom feature from the get-go, because they don't leave much room for the map view.
That may be your opinion, but I would disagree that they need a zoom because they have UI elements covering 1/3 to 1/4 of the screen.

Your competing with MapTool for my dollars right now. These are the two programs I have been focusing my attension on.

MapTool does not cover any where near 1/3 of the screen and besides, you can turn off the side panels when not needed. SO then it is no different in that aspect as BG displaying a dialog over the map to choose its options. Where it kicks BG to the turf is in the ease of zooming via mouse wheel and draging map (scrolling) via the right mouse button. Try it, you may like it (I hope).

Image

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Zoomed out
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Zoomed in
Being able to zoom out has little or nothing to do with the fact the UI is covering the map. Read my example battle from above. There is nearly 300' of real estate to play on. If a player wants to know the distance from his character to the guy on the boat and both are not visible on screen then you have to scroll around to find the distance and it takes more effort than what it takes in MapTool. It is so fast and easy to do it in MT, you zoom out a bit with wheel, you click on unit with mouse and you drag to the target and you get your distance (use either measure or move tool). I can still move my units in the zoom out view if I want or roll the wheel and zoom back in (centered around mouse pointer (nice)). And I never have to use my second hand to go to the keyboard to do it either. BG makes me use both hands to do it. One hand to use mouse to click object (first scrolling to find it) and then the other to use the keyboard to scroll back (counting as I go to find the distance). In MT I can even just double-click on the counter name in panel and hop the map to center around the target unit.
heruca wrote:I intend to provide a minimap (for a full map view and quick map navigation) long before I add a zoom feature to BRPG.
You can save the time needed to code that by just adding the zoom feature first ;) A fast and easy mouse and/or keyboard zoom covers most anything you can do or need a minimap for, in my book.
Omnidon wrote:The comment by heruca that you quoted had nothing to do with whether or not the zoom feature is important.

He was just pointing out that even if you viewed the whole map, it would only be 200 *feet* by 200 *feet" using the scale set by the RPG system he was referring to.
( 1 square/hex = X amount of feet )

This has nothing to do with zooming in itself.
You can still use whatever scale you choose for the grid, or you can simply turn off Snap-To-Grid like I'm planning to do once heruca adds that ability.
Again my point is being missed here. I know that there is still only 200'x200', thats not the issue. The issue is being able to have a "Gods eye view" of the battle and still move the units. To see the battle in total and not have to scroll to find the guy at the opposite side of the map. To see distances and measure or count them easily.

It is essentially the same idea of being able to see the entire Avalon Hill board game on your table and not looking at a piece of it through a telescope. And being able to do it quickly back and forth if need be. Right now BG only shows me that small piece of the whole.
Omnidon brings up an interesting point. Once you can turn off snap to grid, doesn't that make it possible to use maps at any scale you want? Like have a 1000' x 1000' dungeon all on one map? Of course, you'd want to use a custom grid for that (which you can already do, btw), or have a distance measuring tool.

OT: I haven't played D&D in probably decades, but didn't it use a 10'/square scale, before? When did they change it to 5'?
Only if I want to make diferrent maps at different scales. One scale for every battlemap makes more sense to me. If your using 1" minis you usually don't start using different sized minis in the next battle. Your emulating a battlemap with digital minis. One scale make more sense to me. Then if I want to print out the map for paper from CC2 and paste it together and lay it on my floor I can.

Also, by changing the scale of map in BG you give up resolution and clarity.

Its all a moot point if BG zooms out on the map.

What games are you playing if your not playing D&D type stuff?

25mm miniatures are pretty standard and that measures out to 5' or 2M (Star Wars). 5 foot or 2 meter squares is what I use.
huruca wrote:And no, BRPG is not a mapping program, although it can easily be used to modify or alter existing maps.
I don't recall saying it was a mapping program like CC2 or Dungenni.

It does make maps (grid and hexes) and emulates a paper or miniature battlemap, and in that aspect it has many aspects of a CAD program. You layout areas with pieces and objects and backgrounds and then place your figure on top and move things around.

AutoCAD zooms ;) Yippe! By the way, it would suck if it didn't.

Blakey wrote:Zooming is vital is you are using a projector at a table.
Is that the Cavalry I hear? I was beginning to think I was the only person who thinks zooming is a high priority feature ;)
heruca wrote:Hmm, sounds like zooming and scaling will need to be two different functions.
Yes. Check out MT. It zooms and it is capable of adjusting the gird scale and they are independant.
thelevitator wrote:I'm just an area hog, so the more you give me, the more I'll use!
The sweat sounds of more horses riding into battle. (And I can see the whole battle now because heruca just added zooming to BG. And there was much rejoycing. . . ;)

-David

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