Game Mastery

I got bored and made a mapping tool

by on Jul.22, 2009, under organization

Two games ago I decided I would never again attempt to run a game off my laptop. Ostensibly this was to keep me off the computer for a few more hours each week in a belated attempt to save my carpal tunnels. In actuality it’s because the computer was too damn useful and I kept finding new ways to make use of it when I should have been writing game.

Well, I’m between games now (that sounds a lot more depressing than it really is) and figured I could invest some time into coding up my own RPG tools.

Dungeoneer is  what I came up with.  I liked taking notes on the computer but hated mapping.  Even with some good tiles it took much too long to make simple maps.  And even if I did have the patience for it, my wrist didn’t and I knew I’d be better off with something mouseless.  Quite a bit of time spent mapping was sunk into making the map conform to a grid and coming up with notation.  Why not use something that’s already based on a grid and already has well known and well documented notation?

Many moons ago I was addicted to a game called Angband.  It was kinda like Diablo with ASCII art.  What I needed was a map maker that drew Angband.

So I made one.

What I came up with is simple to use, if you’re me.  I haven’t done a bit of usability  testing and I’ve only actually shown the program to one other GM.  Even if the controls are reasonable, there’s no feedback from the program beyond what’s on the screen.  I have plans for all that, but haven’t had time to program them yet.

Anyway, the controls are as follows.  Arrow keys or jkil can be used for movement.  I recommend jkil.  If you hold shift while moving with jkil you move 5 squares at a time instead of 1.

There are also movement tabs that jump you to the next letter instead of to the next square.  u and o jump left and right, y and h are vertical.  If there is nothing on the screen they’ll jump to the far side of the screen.  These commands may not make sense right now, but they will once you start using the program.

q is for quit.  That one’s easy.

Finally there’s the spacebar.  This is how you’ll be doing your drawing.  Hit space to begin marking off a region.  Move to the opposite corner of that region and hit space again.  Nothing will happen, but if you press a key, that letter will fill in the region you just defined.  So if you open up dungeoneer and type “space k k k l l l space #” you will make a 3×3 square of the # symbol.  This is where the program is perfectly functional but lacking in feedback.

Anyway, here is the source code. If you’re on linux and you have ncurses and gcc installed, just type make. This will likely work on a Mac too, but I don’t have one and haven’t tried it myself. I don’t know how to cross compile for windows so your best bet on an MS box is to download cygwin. Make sure you install ncurses, gcc, and unzip. Unzip the source code, type make, and then type ./dungeoneer. If there’s enough interest in a windows version I’ll look into adding my code to one of the portable versions of cygwin.

So yeah. Feedback and encouragement are appreciated.

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