The next version of Campaign Cartographer, CC3+, is in late beta. We were hoping for a release this year, but that’s looking less likely. You can read about the new version here.
We’ve got two show-stopping bugs to deal with before we release the CC3+ beta to a wider audience.
Who is this audience?
We released Character Artist 3 this time last year, and until 1st January 2014 offered free CC3+ upgrade protection to purchasers. Character Artist 3 users will be able to download the beta version and give us feedback as soon as our two big bugs are dealt with. It’s impossible for us to tell when that will be, but I hope it’s in the next couple of weeks. If you are in this category, we’ll send you an email, and update your registration page with the new version. When the new version is finished, you’ll get a new update.
When this wider beta test is completed, we’ll release the upgrade, but we absolutely don’t want to release it until we are sure it’s solid on all operating systems.
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.
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.
4. Ralf creates the full set of symbol catalogs in all resolutions, with varicolour areas.
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.
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.
The 16 x 16 icons for CC3+ are completed. My poor eyes!
Monitors have increased resolution, and my eyesight has I’m afraid, gone the other way. I find I’m having to squint at our standard 16 x 16 icons.
You can see the problem here. The first is what icons used to look like on 800 x 600, the second the relative size on my 1280 x 1024 monitor.
800 x 600
1240 x 1024
So, for CC3 Plus, I am working on a new, shiny set of toolbar buttons at 24 x 24, and as it’s a new version, I’m redoing them to support alpha transparencies. For consistency and documentation I am redoing them at 16 x 16, as well. Here is a selection. They still need a bit of polish here and there, and feedback is welcome.
I am deliberately saying nothing else about CC3+ at this time. I’ll update you when I can.
New 24 x 24 icons
Update: I darkened up the icons a little for poor Joachim’s eyes.
Master Mapper and developer L Lee Saunders has been working on a random city generator for City Designer 3 for a while now. It’s a tough nut to crack – it’s hard to make human(?) environments which look plausible. But we are ready to release the latest version, the first public beta of the Random City Generator. To get the generator, which requires City Designer 3
- Go to the ProFantasy registration area, and login in or register
- Register your CD3 if you need to
- Download the Random Generator and install as Adminstrator
- Launch CC3 and start a new map based on a city template
- Type CITY at the command prompt and press Enter
Please give us feedback and new feature suggestions.
Down in the code pit, the nuts and bolts of the CC3 engine are being disassembled and reassembled for future proofing – glue routines are being replaced and code recompiled with the latest compiler. We are as prepared for Windows 8 as we can be.
Character Artist 3
Our development work affects the order in which we release products, so we’ve moved Character Artist 3 to the top of the production line. The changes to Character Artist are primarily art – the interface is already straightforward and doesn’t need much work.
The art work is nearly finished – the squid faced gentleman is an example, but we’d like your input in deciding where to concentrate our final art efforts. Please vote here.
Random City Generator
L. Lee Saunders has been working with our beta testers to get the RCG ready for public consumption, and now here it is - ready for your feedback.!
Perspectives has been rescheduled because we want to include a surprise additional style in it. Existing Annual fans might be able to guess who it’s by!
Source Maps 3
For the Source Maps series, we want to update the maps in new styles and create new maps, which will require additional cartographers. These will then be available as modestly priced updates to the existing Source Maps series.
The main work here, once more, is art; newer, better art. CC3′s art capabilities combined with the work of professional artists and cartographers have transformed the quality maps which users create, and we intend to repeat this with Dioramas, too. The main additional feature will be angled fill styles, enabling us to create nets with, say, a raster brick pattern in all directions.
Herwin Wielink, who created the excellent June style for the Cartographer’s Annual will be producing an entire style for Perspectives 3. It will be a complete style, and it will be compatible with, though not the same as, the June style.
In the meantime, click on the image to download a PDF of the June style example.
As I sit here in this cozy little room talking quietly with my wife’s family, as her mother lies sleeping in her medical bed, I began to think about the broader meaning of family and community. I’ve always realized in a cursory way, that the Campaign Cartographer community was in many ways a family. But, until recently I had not fully grasped the true meaning of that fact.
Let us back up about a year. I had recently approached Mark and Simon about producing a city generator for them. We had determined that an April/May timeframe for completion would be just about right and I happily went about the task of creation.
Then my wife’s mother’s cancer returned in March. At first we didn’t realize it was the cancer but all of a sudden, my wife was busy taking care of her mother. Off to the doctors, taking over her bills and doing all of the household chores her mother used to do for herself but could no longer do them. I, of course, being the good husband, started doing all the little things that she no longer had time to do.
That seriously cut into my evening coding, especially in the middle of spring lambing season!
Well as you can guess, the month of May flew by and I felt embarrassed that I had missed my deadline. “I had given my word!” I never forgot my obligation, it was just that every day I would tell myself after getting all the chores done, maybe after driving back from the city where I picked up my wife from her mother’s house and took her out to dinner, that I could rest today and tomorrow would not be so hectic and I could get back to programming. And, since I was going to get it done, there was no need to tell Mark or Simon about my difficulties.
Here is my point about family and community. Unlike the rest of the world, you pull family and community closer to you in times of trouble. To the wide world your troubles are your own and since everyone has troubles, you just keep them to yourself. But, for family and community – to keep them in the dark on your troubles is not fair to them. They need to know so they can help.
So I screwed up my courage and finally contacted Simon explaining why I had not only missed the deadline but feared that I would not be finishing the program anytime soon. Now, you have to understand that ProFantasy is a business. It lives and dies by the products it makes and the reputation it has with its user base. They had announced that I would be creating such a tool for them and since then I had failed to finish it. In my mind, I had done them some amount of harm.
I should not have been worried. Simon not only told me not to worry about it, but asked if there was anything they could do.
Family, I should have known.
So that is why I am writing this to you now. After a second failed round of Chemotherapy/Radiation and now hospice, I wanted to tell the greater Campaign Cartographer community that I’ve not forgotten my promise to you. I may not get back to it soon, my wife will need a lot of help cleaning up and organizing the estate, but I promise I’ll finish when I can.
And I know that you will understand. Like I said, Family.
Symbol Set 3: Modern includes 50 templates and 1100 symbols for overland floorplans. For the CC3 version, we wanted to make sure an upgrade is worthwhile, so we are adding three new floorplan styles and another overland style.
CC3 allows us to use raster (paint style art), so two of those new styles will be raster-based; the third will be traditional modern-looking vector CAD symbols, to create blueprint style artwork.
Jonathan Roberts is putting the finishing touches on his style which is detailed and grimy but not photorealistic. Michael Tumey’s is clean, bright and more suburban.