Introducing new battlemap creation software for tabletop RPGs
Have you always wanted to make your own slick-looking full-color battlemaps, but just don’t have the time or patience to learn to use a sophisticated image editing application like Photoshop or Gimp? Or perhaps you tried anyway but in the end you ran away screaming in frustration because you found it too difficult and/or time-consuming?
Have you tried existing mapping software and been frustrated with the learning curve, the cost, the interface, and/or been disappointed by the results?
If the answer to any or all of those questions is “yes”, then my brand new MapForge application is probably just what you’ve been searching for (and possibly waiting for for years).
What makes MapForge special?
Easy to use
One of the design goals was to make MapForge really easy to use, and for a user to be able to start making maps on Day 1 without even bothering to read the entire User Manual. And by extension, to never feel like you need to re-learn the software even if it’s been many months since you last used it.
Support for Add-Ons (both free and commercial)
Make your maps using top-notch professional Add-On content, or using your own content, or a mix of both.
I’m making the software itself very affordable, so you should have plenty of money left over to purchase some content Add-Ons.
Although it’s primarily intended for creating battlemaps (in any genre), the program will provide enough flexibility that, given the right content, you’ll also be able to create other types of maps, ranging from area maps to deep space. You can use the program to make high-resolution maps for printing, or lower- resolution maps for use in your favorite virtual tabletop software.
Gorgeous and user-friendly interface
The user interface for MapForge is thematically generic, but attractive and modern. And it should appeal to you whether you’re the type who prefers to click on buttons and choose menu commands to get things done, or of you’re the power-user type who likes to use hotkeys to get things done even quicker.
Whether you’re a Windows user or a Mac user, MapForge has you covered. And if you have a MapForge license and someday decide to switch platforms, you can just request a new license code for the new operating system, free of charge.
The output is crisp, detailed, and (optionally) high-resolution.
Empowering, but with a shallow learning curve
MapForge will help you unleash your creativity. It’s not intended just for the artistically or technically gifted. It allows anyone, regardless of their art skills or technical skills (or lack thereof), to create gorgeous, detailed battlemaps. With MapForge, you’ll can produce Photoshop-like effects such as bevels, drop-shadows, strokes, glows, blurs, and color adjustments, without the steep learning curve that producing such effects normally requires.
Offers a free level of use
You can use MapForge to make nice maps even if you haven’t purchased a license. Even use free and commercial Add-Ons without a license (though commercial Add-Ons still require registration). I’m confident that MapForge will earn a place in your mapping toolbox, and I’m optimistic that you’ll find it so useful that you will get a license eventually, in order to unlock the software’s full potential.
Quicker Map Creation
With MapForge, I want to help GMs reduce their session prep time, not increase it. You shouldn’t have to spend several hours or even days creating a decent map for your game session. Future updates to the software will allow using keyword searches and tags, to help find that elusive content you’re searching for in no time. One of MapForge’s goals is to enable you to whip up a great map (sometimes even two) in under an hour.
And the most important element of all…FUN!
Other map-making programs on the market can be a chore to use. It just feels too much like work. MapForge intends to make map-making fun! Because if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
The initial inspiration for this project came from using commercial mapping tiles for tabletop RPGs. I found that the tiles themselves looked fantastic, but that the actual act of putting together a map layout, particularly for large layouts, was painstaking and rather tedious, even though I happen to be well-versed with a professional image editing program (Photoshop).
GMs who want to print out map tiles that they purchase online or create themselves aren’t the only ones affected by this “technical barrier to entry”. Many people nowadays use virtual tabletop (VTT) software to play RPGs remotely, but VTTs are far from optimal map-making tools. They can be wonderful for having a few objects on the map that the players can interact with, but crafting entire map layouts from dozens or even hundreds of map elements is hardly their forte, and the time and effort required to do so would be inordinate.
So I decided to create an easy-to-use computer program that would be the best possible tool I could dream up for the task of stitching together pre-made map tiles and and then populating them with decorative elements (e.g., furniture, treasure, debris, etc.) to suit a GM’s particular needs. It is intended to allow anyone, regardless of their art skills (or lack thereof), to create gorgeous, high-resolution battlemaps.
Who Is MapForge For?
MapForge is for any GM who wants to create a drool-worthy tactical-scale battlemap for any genre of RPG. It’s also suitable for tabletop miniature games and wargames.
What MapForge Isn’t
Have you tried other mapping software and been frustrated with the learning curve and/or the results? That may be because the software tried to be too many things, and ended up not excelling at any one thing.
• MapForge is not a general-purpose mapping app; you probably won’t be using it to map out continents or entire worlds. It’s narrower in scope, focusing on tile-based and grid-based mapping at tactical combat scale (typically 1” = 5 ft., or 1 hex = 3 feet).
• MapForge is not a general-purpose paint program, nor a CAD program. It’s more of a layout and design tool, intended for anyone to use, not just the artistically or technically gifted.
• MapForge is also not going to be just a simple “texture-stamping” program. Some of the features are geared towards producing Photoshop-like effects without the steep learning curve that producing such effects normally requires. Beyond that, the software will eventually (by v1.1?) allow you to create maps by drawing rooms and corridors with straightforward drawing tools (with optional snap-to-grid functionality) and then applying “styles” to the walls and floors, including special effects like bevels, glows, strokes, blurs, and drop shadows, and (optionally) textures (e.g. stone, brick, cement, cobblestones, etc.). Some “general purpose” styles will come included (pre-configured) with the app, while other styles you will create or tweak yourself to achieve a very specific look.