Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Magic Maelstrom: Scotland, a new, smaller version of MM?

This is a work in progress on a streamlined version of the Magic Maelstrom game concentrating on Scotland, probably with the four sides being Scots, Picts, Vikings and Celts.

The objective is a shorter playing time, a board closer to real geography and perhaps version with wider appeal?

Simplifying and re-designing without breaking the game or ruining the graphic design?

Posted today on BoardGameGeek:

The Board

With a final draft currently being blind-tested and positive feedback on the graphic design and board for the main Magic Maelstrom game, I wanted to look a shorter length version that would have wider appeal.  As with the original design, I've started by looking at the map / board.

Using the free, open source Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) application and  freely available digital terrain or elevation model (DTM/DEM) data, in this case the GEBCO dataset of topography and bathymetry, I created a starting basemap.
 
GMT is a powerful script based tool which, amongst much more, allows you to pick inputs, in this case the GEBCO data, 'cut it' to your area, illuminate your selected grid and use easily editable custom colour palettes, such as those hosted by JJ Green's CPT-CITY, create different colour outputs.
 
GMT is designed to run on Unix, but can be used on a WinPC (or Linux or a Mac). There are also some GUI's available for it - see the GMT website  for more details. This is a simple script I ran on my Windows 7 laptop:

grdgradient -A0 -Nt0.5 -Gscot_grad.grd scotland.nc
gmtset DOTS_PR_INCH 600 PAPER_MEDIA A1 PAGE_ORIENTATION PORTRAIT
grdview -Iscot_grad.grd -Qi400 -JM50 -R-10/1/52/61 scotland.nc -Cmby.cpt -V > scot_out2.ps

The result:
MM_Scot_HighRes

I then played around with warping the map as a swirl or either circular or elliptical distortion using various image editing software filters.


MM_Scot_tester_sphere MM_Scot_tester_twirl MM_Scot_tester_sphere_1 MM_Scot_tester_sphere_oval1

The swirl shown looked too extreme and more subtle versions didn't really add anything, but the elliptical version looked to have potential and was close to the orginal Magic Maelstrom map shape, so I took this further. The following map has the full set of Magic Maelstrom areas superimposed on top. These are too many areas for this version of the game, but I wanted to get an impression of what needs to be cut down and how the map may look.


MagicMaelstrom__FirstDraftScot_Board

The following are tests done using photo filters in various Android Apps to see what effects would be best for the basemap. The basemap needs to be suitable for overlaying the area polygons with their colours and allow the final game board to look like a stain glass window, as in the original Magic Maelstrom board

BeFunky Gritty HDR on AndroidPad 8420250727_0af77b63fb_b 8421349304_f769e0100c_b 8421455756_29c5b1cf2b_b

I have now made a start on refining the design and have started with the basic oval area. If you are from Shetland, don't worry, your homeland will be an inset on the main board, so won't get missed out.


MagicMaelstrom__FirstDraftScot_Board4_darker_screenshot MagicMaelstrom__FirstDraftScot_Board4_shiny MagicMaelstrom__FirstDraftScot_Board4_darker_rgb MagicMaelstrom__FirstDraftScot_Board4_darker_cmyk

Next up will be reducing the number of areas and finalising the board design in a vector editing program, plus looking at other parts of the game mechanics that can be simplified.

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