August Update and Dev Log
We've accomplished a lot since our last full update and we'll hit some of the highlights with this update. We also have a video dev log for August, with Stephanie, covering most of the content for this update if you would like to watch it!
Map Symbols/Feature tools
From the Alpha feedback and our own internal testing we've done a lot of work to make adding symbols to maps easier. Much of this functionality goes beyond the functionality from the Kickstarter campaign so we are excited to hear your feedback.
Auto Z-order and Arrange Existing Features
Placing individual map symbols can be time consuming, particularly if having to constantly change the “Z-order” of side by side features as they are placed on the map. The Features Tool now has a setting for new features to be added on top, on bottom or for auto Z-order.
With auto z-order the symbol is placed automatically at the “correct” depth based on the symbols around it to give the appearance of a hand drawn map.
Also, you can change the Z-order of a group of features already on the map. So if you have already added features to the map you don't have to delete them, just select them and change to auto Z-order.
For adding multiple features we added hold and drag placement of features. This includes options for spacing, so that features space each other or overlap automatically, and pattern type: tile, brick and scatter.
Features can now also be added as a part of a linear path. This allows a group of features to be created as a single map object, yet it gives the option to edit the location of individual features by moving, adding or deleting path points.
Finally, we matched our vector based drawing tools with the features to allow the creation of regions (linear or curved) that are automatically filled with symbols. We included multiple options such as spacing and the fill type. Right now we allow tile and brick but everything is in place to add other patterns later. And, of course, the shapes can be edited with our path tools.
SVG Symbol and Texture Support
We added support for the SVG format to be used as map symbols and textures and tested compliance with many SVG files. The support added includes more advanced features in the SVG format such as color gradients.
Although there isn't much we can show you with the update there was a lot of work involved in this change. This was one of our stretch goals and it's a great feature for those wanting to work exclusively with vector files.
Path Boolean operations
Any serious vector based program needs support for path operations to create more custom shapes. We added the ability to combine items using union, intersection and difference operations. It's important to note that Other World Mapper keeps the original nature of sections that make it to the new item path, so for instance Bezier curves that are part of the combined part remain as Bezier curves (they are not turned into line segments).
The partition tools allows partitioning of a path-based map item (i.e. landmass, bodies of water, etc) by drawing across it. This can be useful when first starting a world map, to create different continents for a continental drift effect.
It's also useful to break away peninsulas into islands and to edit complex shapes for map objects. If you recall, this functionality was suggested by one of our backers during the campaign. This kind of feedback makes us very happy we brought our project to Kickstarter! Please keep it coming!
River and Road Nexus and Delete Segments
Rivers and roads have open paths as their underlying shape so we developed Other World Mapper's 2D engine to match real roads and rivers with the ability to have multiple branches for open path items. Branches are connected with what we call nexus points so that the junction between branches can be moved together.
With alpha 3 we are also the adding the ability to delete river and road branches without having to delete the entire object.
From the beginning our objective with Other World Mapper has been to create a user friendly application so we've worked to keep tools intuitive and default settings that let you start creating maps right away.
In line with this we are adding visual cues and on screen hint/help text. For instance, the new tutorial window provides a short highlight of the functionality of the tool selected. The Tutorial mode is also easily toggled on and off!
For those making world maps, or sections of world maps, we added the capability to show projection overlays. We're including several projections with Alpha 3: Equirectangular, Mercator Spherical, Transverse Mercator, Robinson, Winkel Tripel and Azimuthal Equidistant.
We are open to adding other projections, so let us know or discuss it on the forums with other backers, if you commonly work with other projections.
Projection overlays don't have to cover the entire map. If you are mapping only a section of your world but want to keep realistic parallel and meridians for your choice projection, you can define your map covering a specific lat/lon range.
One very cool function that we are adding with Alpha 3 wasn't part of the campaign at all and that's Projection Transformations. It pertains most to fantasy cartographers and has been a source of much discussion from the beginning of the campaign.
If for instance you create your map in an equirectangular projection, such as the map below:
Other World Mapper will let you transform your map to the other projections we support, for instance Winkel Tripel, Robison or Spherical Mercator.
This is useful to create different representations of your maps without having to create them again. And this is particularly important to those creating world maps where continents appear near the poles.
When you project a spherical (or close to spherical) world onto two dimensions some type of distortion will be introduced.
For instance, the map above was created with the very simple Equirectagular Projection where meridians and parallels are represented with equally spaced straight lines. This produces distortion as you move away from the standard parallels resulting in very distorted representations of polar landmasses.
How does Other World Mapper help here? You could change to a projection that has less distortion of the poles, change the map as needed, and transform it back to your original projection. For instance, the map below has an incorrect representation of a polar landmass
That's something you may not easily see, or at least may find it difficult make it “look right” from that projection. However, transforming the map to a Transverse Mercator projection, you can clearly see how the landmass is not what was intended.
From this projection, you can edit the landmass and then transform it back to the equirectangular projection.
Note: We are adding the option to show latitude and longitude angles as part of the projection overlay.
- Added toolbars for common menu actions.
- Added options to existing toolbars.
- Added more functionality to the layers window.
- Added more options to several object types.
- Added a tool to reduce the number of points for existing shapes. This will help with shapes that end up having redundant points that don't contribute to the shape.
- We cloned the functionality we had already implemented for boundaries and regions so that that new rivers and roads can follow existing shapes.
- Fixed many bugs found during alpha testing
Where we are at
At this point the vast majority of the core functionality for overland maps is complete or close to being completed, several points from the stretch goals have been implemented, plus we added functionality that wasn't part of the original campaign. Other than support for bugs found during alpha 3 and small functionality changes from your feedback, we are are turning our full attention to the dungeon tools which will be introduced, at least in part, with the first Beta release.
We are currently about three weeks behind our development schedule which is not bad considering the increased scope from the stretch goals. Much of the three weeks time has been the extra work we put towards additional functionality, but we think from the results that it has been well worth it!
In the artwork front we have exciting news. We are working with external artists to bring even more symbol artwork than we have originally planned! We'll have more news on this in the next couple of updates.
Our internal artwork creation and clean up stays on schedule and right now our plan is to introduce final or close to final versions of the artwork with the second Beta release.
Alpha 3 Release and Access for Beta Backers
As we hinted at with our last update, alpha release 3 will also be released to the Beta backers! So far Other World Mapper has proven very stable so we are excited to get this final Alpha release into the hands of our Beta backers and to receive their feedback.
Expect this release to be available within the next week. We'll message alpha and beta backers with the download information once it's ready.
So far most of the activity in the forums has been around the alpha backer section. With the release of Alpha 3 we'll be opening the alpha section of the forums to our beta backers as well, so if you are a alpha or beta backer make sure to check on the forums for discussions on functionality and issues, and to start your own discussions! Also, as we get closer to the first release by the end of the year we'll plan to move some functionality discussions to the backer section of the forums so that all backers can contribute.
That is it for our August update. We'll have another update at the end of September which we'll try to make another long update to keep everyone informed!
These last few weeks have been very busy for us finishing up things for the Alpha 3 release, and we still have bug fixing and regression testing to complete, so it's back to work for us!
- The Three Minds Software Team