Monday, July 14, 2014

Roll20 Optimized Combat Mapping

First you have to Roll20 Best Practices

  • Gif is the Smallest, and has some lost detail. Comparing the same file from PNG to Gif at the same px the Gif is 1/4 the size. 

1028x1028 is the optimal size for a combat map. By Combat map, I mean the map you are going to move around in with a number of tokens. I run gurps and I can be a combat heavy GM, and I like the Mass Combat rules and allow large number of units to participate.

This does not prove the same rule or standard for overland maps which is not token/asset heavy.

Sample Optimized Battlemap

At 70px per Hex, 1027/70 = about 14 hexes.
14x14 is the optimal. But thats pretty clear, I can suffer some pixelation to have more playing space. I experimented with 0.7 enabled grid unit size and 0.2. I looked at the pixelation of 1028x1028 (~700kb).
In the end I need the following details:
  1. Bad Terrain
  2. Cover
  3. Visibility
  4. Line of Sight
  5. Visibility Fall-Off. (Select the Token and press "L" to see what ithe token  can see). 

In combat I opted not to use COmbat Maps made in GIMP. Instead I made maps with 256x256 Gif Assets (4kb each). Will make prettier assets in the future. Again they will be drawn with GIF as the intended output for combat maps. 



You will notice this terrain has a lot of trees and cover. Its a more open era for combat, as forests go.

so basically IF I littered a scene with 20 4kb, and 40 2kbs I'd have a total of 1.600kb scene. Still smaller than most scenes with a map. And it depends on the density. 

Some OSs allow you to Zoom different from the Ctrl+Mouse wheel. My PC used to be able to do it, now I dont know what happened

Lesson: this means breaking up a beautifully detailed map into 1028x1028 chunks or planning your map making around this size. Which is not so bad. Crop up a map, and place it in your drawing space and work on the sections.

Quick and Simple Method

Combat maps lack a lot of detail, the area is so limited what matter are the terrain, its effects and Information asymmetry (for tactical decision making). In this method I can quickly make a map and even make one on the fly. 

All my units have lighting so I can see what they can see. Beyond their visibility and enemies behind cover the PCs have to make listening and observation checks and I can "Ping" where. 

Information Asymmetry - PCs or the Players can develope good protocols and rules of thumb to work with limited information. This also allows Biases and Disads to come into play. Aggressive, Paranoid, Cautious, Level Headedness, etc... are accentuated with Information Asymmetry. 

Lightening Assets

you will notice the asset below. The Spear wielder is 590kb (1500x1500px) vs the smaller one at 32kb (258x258). That adds to the load. I will have to reduce all that very nice detail into a more playable size. 
1500x1500 PNG 357kB 

256x256 31kb PNG
256x256 9kb GIF

* You will have to adjust the visibility. I use 20/10 for how far the character can see (simulating Combat Awareness and information Asymmetry), but at 0.2 this is screwed up. So from 20/10 it becomes 4/2 and 22/11 becomes 4.4/2.2 

Lesson the GM who wants to cram as much assets and terrain into his play space and he has limits in screen size and bandwidth he has to work with Optimized Asset Sizes. Basically work on 258x258, png for tokens, and Gif for Assets, and a map of 1028x1028 or No Map at all..

A map I recently finished, I'm learning to paint maps and terrain slowly a lot of lessons learned. Infinite Painter with Note 10.1, probably took me 3-4 hours (redoing many things, a lot of trial and error, and still many errors).
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