Our estimate for the release of CC3+ was “in the first half of the year,” which, like many software deadlines, whizzed past at an unedifying speed.  So, time for an update. We aim to release CC+ in mid August, at GenCon. Character Artist 3 purchasers entitled to a free upgrade will get an alpha version to download (optionally) before then.

new large icons interface

First, technical stuff – the main reasons for the delay.

We want to make CC3+ as future proof as possible, and we have to keep an eye on Microsoft operating systems and development environments. In addition, Mike Riddle (the developer of the CC CAD engine) became available for a few weeks’ work. This was an umissable opportunity. So, he’s massaged the assembly code, worked around bugs in Visual Studio 2013, and even persuaded the Microsoft team to include bug fixes. It now compiles with vs2013. This doesn’t guarantee functionality with future versions of Windows, but makes it much easier to fix if there are issues. This gives Joe Slayton more tools and compilation enhancements, too.

We are moving all resources away from the program files folder and into the Windows-specified location, which is a quite a knotty problem. We are also switching from registry entries to human readable files where possible, and finalising changes to the effects architecture. We can’t update all the templates until the effects are nailed down.

The main improvements are listed here, with notes from me as to what this really means.

Speed: CC3+ runs twice as fast as CC3. A combination of hardware optimisation and eldritch programming sorcery means more map-making, less waiting – simple as that. [The main benefit is that you can work with effects on on most machines, most of the time. so WYSIWYG]

Style: Award-winning cartographer Mike Schley provides you with a complete new attractive map-making style. Nothing new to learn, just better looking maps. [nothing new to learn, just nicer looking maps]

Effects: You asked for PhotoShop-style effects, now you have them, with faster, better, streamlined and consistent filters your maps will look better than ever before. You can test your effects on the drawing before applying them. And, again, CC3+ is doing the work. [we've been inspired by map-makers such as Par Lindstrom who have created maps in CC3 then done more work in Photoshop]

Ease: A context-sensitive floating cursor lets you know what CC3+ is thinking. [I thought this would be annoying, but now it's indispensible.]The Print Wizard makes it easy to export your maps at any scale, tiled across paper [I use this mainly with a PDF printer]. CC3+ also gives you better and cleverer editing, clearer icons, and you can drag and drop images from the internet.

Integration: CC3+ puts roads, rivers, symbols and other map-making tools up front and center right where you need them. Whatever map making style you choose, the tools you need will appear, visually, and ready to go. [We've added the drawing tools to the symbol catalog window, in an order which reflects your process flow. This is more intutive and speeds up map creation. It's also easier for new map makers.]

Clarity: We’ve fixed bugs, plugged holes and cleaned up the interface. CC3+ is Windows 8 able, and it’s cleaner on the inside and outside. [CC3+ also gives us a platform to improve all the add-ons, too and release Perspectives and Dioramas, too]

CC3+ incorporates a new complete symbol set from expert cartographer Mike Schley. We’ve worked with a number of professional cartographers to create Campaign Cartographer styles, and the process is now pretty slick. We are either adapting an existing style (as with our recent World War 2 annual issue) or creating one from scratch. This is the process:

1. We take a cartographer’s existing map, or the cartographer develops a new map style, always by creating a small map sample. Here is an early one Mike Schley produced for the new CC3+ overland style.



2. Once we’ve approved this, the cartographer adds more symbols and tools to the example map, and then does more as stand alone files. For a full ad–on or symbol set, this is a very big job. Usually the cartographer works in Photoshop, with layers on, so we can easily extract elements to create CC symbols and drawing tools.

3. Once the map-maker has finished, Ralf duplicates the style in CC, developing the set of drawing tools and adding effects to match the original.


mountain range

4. Ralf creates the full set of symbol catalogs in all resolutions, with varicolour areas.

new large icons interface

The very first example map we did with Campaign Cartographer was of my campaign setting, the Jaw Peninsula, and we intend to continue this tradition with CC3+. You can see the history of the map here and Ralf has rendered the eastern section of the map in his new style. Click the image for the full high-resolution map.

Jaw Peninsula East Close

And here is a close up


And just to give you an idea of how detailed the symbols are – little works of art – here is a close up. Click for extreme close up.

Jaw Peninsula East Detail