The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

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The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby TaCktiX on Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:18 am

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Greetings everyone, and happy Chrismahanakwanzaakuh,

Yes, I liked that ad last holiday season. The Foundry has been fairly quiet the last 4 weeks, with no new maps hitting quench. Then again, with 110 maps to play with already, a little delay never killed anyone, right? Alright, alright, it's still a lotta fun to have even newer maps to toy around with. By the looks of the Final Forge this issue, though, you'll end up with a LOT of maps to play with right in time for Christmas. Thanks to the protracted delay since the 12th Issue (stupid end of college semester), we've got the full bevy of features, save the Community Perspective (we're still plotting a way of keeping this section going, stay tuned). Both the Editorial and Spotlight have WidowMakers behind them, but the Editorial is a terrific essay of how graphics and gameplay merge with the overall theme of a map, whilst the Spotlight notes the one-of-a-kind USA 6 Map Pack. In A Look Back we take Cairnswk aside to ask about the Egypt Quadtych. Finally, I would like to welcome our newest member to the Foundry Newsletter Staff, reelkmcn. He provided some of the new writeups you see in this issue, and will likely continue to do so in the future. We're all happy to have him on the team.

May your days be merry and bright,
TaCktiX
Senior Editor of the Foundry Newsletter

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In case you've missed the Foundry Announcement, the Homepage Headline, and the Mild Signature Epidemic, there is a mapmaking competition going on...

To be precise, there are actually two competitions running concurrently...
Each competition has a distinctly different focus, and each will be open to a different segment of the ConquerClub mapmaking community. The prize for winning either competition will be one year of premium membership, to be awarded by lack when the map becomes a fully playable CC map.

  • The Central American Open is for novice mapmakers to try their hand at creating some graphics for a map that has had the basic gameplay and territory layout fleshed out by the Foundry.
  • The Centerscape Invitational is for more experienced mapmakers to go ahead and revamp the much-maligned Centerscape map.
If you're interested in taking part, or just want to find out more, then the official mapmaking competition thread is a good place to start. Keep your eyes open, because the winner of each competition is decided by vote!

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Name: British Isles Revamp
Creator: Gimil
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImage
Description: One of the most beloved maps in the game is getting a makeover. The creator has redone the look of the map to be much cleaner and geographically accurate to the Isles.
Present Development: Looking to actually get hit with a Quench stamp soon.


Name: Europe 1914
Creator: Qwert
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImage
Description: Another covering of World War I, this time from an overall theater look. With eye-popping colors, rigorous detail, and a slew of bonuses, this map definitely gets one's attention. With two objectives that aren't mutually exclusive (unlike Operation Drug War), the gameplay looks to be a mix of classic and complex. Overall it's a new look on a oft-forgotten war, which is bound to turn out interestingly.
Present Development: Recently XML Stamped and likely to quench soon.


Name: Golfe du St-Laurent
Creators: Lone.prophet and Unit_2
Stamps: ImageImageImageImage
Description: The Gulf of St. Lawrence (French, Golfe du St-Laurent) is the world's largest estuary, but conservation takes a backseat to beating the pulp out of others on this map of the gulf and its surrounding areas. It's an average-sized map with well-done textures and area-appropriate colors. Its classic gameplay is without any gimmicks and should be easy to pick up.
Present Development: Coordinate centering has happened with the XML, and small graphical tweaks are in the works.


Name: Holy Roman Empire
Creators: Grayhawke and Pamoa
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImage
Description: The Holy Roman Empire has been said to neither be Holy, nor Roman, and most certainly not an Empire. At least CC players can fix the last part by building their own on this map detailing the HRE and surrounding nations. Taking a combination continent/influence bonus gameplay, the map tries to bring out some of the history of the HRE, all the while backing it with simple, solid graphics.
Present Development: XML stamped and only minor tweaks between it and quenching.


Name: Rail Australia
Creator: Cairnswk
Stamps: ImageImageImageImage
Description: Cairns is becoming a master of serial maps. Following up Rail USA and Rail Europe is this third map, Rail Australia. It brings, as expected, the rail system from Down Under into vivid color. Unlike the other two though, there are added twists to the map that should make play very interesting and varied.
Present Development: Going through small gameplay changes to make it more balanced, with graphics and XML being updated quickly each time.


Name: Romania
Creator: Foregone
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImage
Description: Romania is a little-known country in Eastern Europe, yet steeped in history dating back to the Roman Empire (hence its name). This map takes the country and infuses a piece of parchment with a no-frills depiction of the country, with a touch of hand-drawn charm.
Present Development: Still being pushed for quench, but some interesting coordinate centering needs to be addressed first.


Name: San Marino
Creator: Ruben Cassar
Stamps: ImageImageImageImage
Description: The Ruben Cassar formula to a T: a simple map based around a small area. It's attractive to the eye, and while being average size has plenty of bonuses that should be easy to get and hold onto.
Present Development: XML should come soon from someone, though the original creator is bogged down in that pesky thing known as real life.


Name: War of the Triple Alliance
Creator: Oaktown
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImage
Description: This map captures the War of the Triple Alliance, South America's bloodiest war, fought on one side by Paraguay and on the other by Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. The muted colors and faded images help make this map truly feel 19th Century. The gameplay is classic, lacking any sort of twist or gimmick.
Present Development: Corrientes is solved, and the XML is stamped. Quench should be very soon.


Name: WWII Europe
Creator: Qwert
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImage
Description: Long stalled due to its large size, this map has undergone a weight-loss program and now fits within the size requirements. Taking his WWII Eastern and Western Front maps and meshing them with a Central front in the middle, this is a map that covers the entire theater of the war in Europe. With a large scale, and lots of opportunities, it will definitely be the WWII map to play when it's quenched.
Present Development: XML stamped and likely to quench soon.

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Name: Antarctica
Creator: e_i_pi
Stamps: ImageImage
Description: Conquer Club has featured at one time or another all continents, save one: Antarctica. To avoid the problems of "boring chunk of ice with only research stations on it" and the treaty protecting it from conquest, the mapmaker has cast the map forward in time to 2060, when ice has given way to land, and everyone is vying to conquer it all. The graphics are suitably cold yet colorful, and the conquest basis of the map has been well-thought-out. The map merely asks that you conquer the previously unconquerable Antarctica.
Present Development: Gameplay stamped and "mini-vacationed" while the map competition is going on.


Name: Cairns Metro
Creator: Cairnswk
Stamps: ImageImage
Description: In yet another map by the seemingly tireless Cairns, he's covering the metropolitan area of his hometown, Cairns. Adopting a slightly more pastel color scheme than his recently-released Sydney Metro, the map also employs fewer continents and territories, making it have a significantly different gameplay than Sydney. So for yet another top-quality Australian experience, look for this map in the coming weeks.
Present Development: In the midst of graphical tweaks to ease map understanding.


Name: Das Schloß
Creator: Cairnswk
Stamps: ImageImageImageImageImageImage
Description: This map is unique in several ways. For one, it is the only map that can only be won by completing the objective. For two, it's gone back from quenching into the foundry with a major rework of the map's mechanics to fix some unforeseen balance issues.
Present Development: Discussions about the bonuses and the reworked gameplay are the main focus right now. Once issues are resolved on those and all present games on the older map are completed, the map will get re-quenched.


Name: Eastern Hemisphere
Creator: Oaktown
Stamps: ImageImage
Description: What happens when you slice the world in half then age it 90 years? This map showing the far side of the world around 1910! It's the time when the great European empires are crumbling, and the creator has worked hard on making gameplay appropriate to the time setting. Expect a fresh world experience soon.
Present Development: Sporting a new empire, and numerous other graphical tweaks, the map appears to be nearing Graphics stamping.


Name: France, 18th Century
Creator: Pamoa
Stamps: ImageImageImage
Description: The French Revolution changed the course of European history, so having a map based on the country at that time only makes sense. It's a simple, attractive small map, with classic gameplay. The clean approach to the map has made it very interesting to watch as it has progressed.
Present Development: Stickied and recently subject to a large amount of feedback for graphical tweaks.


Name: Indian Empire
Creator: Oaktown
Stamps: Image
Description: Taking a cue from another, more modern attempt at India and its surrounding countries, Oaktown has taken the period of time when India was a British colony, and translated it onto a beautiful rendering of a history book (Editor's Note: he used the same book for the Brazil revamp contest). Combining simple colors and a hand-drawn look for terrain features and the like, the map is fairly simple on gameplay, with classic continents and a railway bonus to spice things up. Rewrite history for who controlled the region in the 1800's, or join those building the next railway for the ruler. The choice is yours.
Present Development: Renamed from British India and sporting clearer explanations, tighter graphics, and a lovely picture of Queen Victoria.


Name: Land and Sea
Creator: Edbeard and Gimil
Stamps: Image
Description: This is a map of the world including both land and water territories. The graphics are basically non-existent right now, but the gameplay is undergoing serious discussion. The main feature of the game is that land and water territories only connect at certain points.
Present Development: Now with a graphic artist, the map is undergoing rigorous gameplay discussion to balance out the map as much as possible.


Name: New Zealand
Creator: Reggie Mac
Stamps: Image
Description: This is a map of New Zealand, complete with some surrounding islands. The graphics are clean and simple, and the gameplay is totally classic.
Present Development: Slowed a bit due to computer repairs, but gameplay discussion soldiers on.


Name: Singapore
Creator: Haoala
Stamps: Image
Description: This is a geographic map of Singapore. Its graphics are fairly standard, with a bit of cartoons added for entertainment. The gameplay is similarly standard.
Present Development: This map was in the recycling bin for a long time, but now it's back. The graphics are currently being revised.


Name: Snowfight
Creator: cairnswk
Stamps: Image
Description: Ever play a good old fashion snowball fight? Every want to? This is a map that is sure to be fun and trying. This map is currently in version 7, with a new version due soon.
Present Development: Some details of teams and snowmen are in the newest chats hopefully leading to the next version release. The map is intended to be on the same schedule as the released-before-All Hallow's Eve Halloween Hollows.


Name: Trench Warfare
Creator: Mibi, Incandenza, and Yeti_C
Stamps: ImageImage
Description: This map brings WWI style Trench Warfare to life! Two opposing fronts are separated by a large no mans land. Players will scramble for bonuses in trenches and use gameplay features such as mortars and artillery to bombard a path across no-mans land before rising from the trenches and blasting through to the other side. The high-quality and realistic graphics compliment this gameplay style very nicely.
Present Development: Stalled awaiting an XML update.


Name: USA 6 Region Map Pack
Creator: WidowMakers
Stamps: ImageImage
Description: This project is bold. WM is aiming to create 6 maps based on the 6 regions of the USA map, all with the same essential mechanics. The graphics are simple and effective, reflecting the colors and territories of the USA map while keeping a new set of flair. It's sure to be perfect tournament material, as well as an interesting set of maps to play with friends.
Present Development: Gameplay stamped at long last! There are gorgeous versions of every single map present now, and final gameplay tweaks are in the works.


Name: Wales
Creator: MrBenn
Stamps: Image
Description: With maps of Ireland and Scotland already quenched, it is only natural that a map of Wales be developed. The graphical style is simple, and makes heavy use of Welsh motifs. The gameplay is mostly classic, with one twist: each geographical territory has two sets of armies, one for each clan in the area. Special bonuses are given for holding both clans in the same shire.
Present Development: Gameplay balancing is heavy right now, with various solutions to prevent players from gaining a drop advantage being discussed.


Name: WWI: Ottoman Empire
Creator: Cairnswk
Stamps: ImageImageImage
Description: World War I has also slipped into the void of uncoveredness, but thanks to Trench Warfare and this map the War to End All Wars will get its just deserts. The map takes on a lesser-known part of the war (though the famous battle of Gallipoli was fought here), focused around Turkey and the Central-allied Ottoman Empire. The general theater is portrayed in simple, understandable colors and the gameplay is fairly standard on this medium-sized map.
Present Development: Looking great and presently stickied on the top of the forum for all to comment on.


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Name: Isthmus of Panama
Creator: wcaclimbing
Stamps: [Advanced Draft]
Description: Standard Gameplay. The Isthmus of Panama, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking Central and South America. Soon, you too can take control of the canal and own the fastest route to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The map is clean and straight forward for this concept. While wcaclimbing creates complex maps, this too is going to be another hit!
Present Development: Some unique ways of expressing the Panama Canal's role in international shipping in CC terms are being bandied about..


Name: Medieval Denmark
Creator: Balsiefen
Stamps: [Advanced Draft]
Description: This is a map of the Kingdom of Denmark, circa 1150. Its graphics are designed to match the era, and the gameplay is classic.
Present Development: After a long hiatus, this map is back in the drafting room. The creator is still searching for a font with the perfect combination of legibility and historical accuracy.


Name: Peloponnesian War
Creator: qwert
Stamps: [Advanced Draft]
Description: From the creator of some of the greatest WWII conflicts, comes Peloponnesian War! A Military conflict from 431 to 404 BC in ancient Greece that pitted Athens and its allies against Sparta and its allies. qwert is always up to a challenge, and this map could very well be that.
Present Development: Progress is moving along, with bonuses, naming and territories being figured out.


Name: Poison Rome
Creator: cairnswk
Stamps: [Advanced Draft]
Description: The Julio-Claudian dynasty of the early Roman Empire has a family tree complicated by multiple marriages between the members of the gens Julia and the gens Claudia. This map is currently in version 8, with a unique family tree layout. It will make for some interesting gameplay.
Present Development: cairnswk currently has a poll up in regards to this map. Take some time to review for yourself and vote!


Name: Research and Conquer
Creator: OliverFA
Stamps: [Advanced Draft]
Description: This map has a unique premise: you research your greater bonus by attacking separated territories, then use those greater reinforcements to either conquer others or fuel stronger research. It's an interesting twist on standard conquest play, and the graphics are looking simple yet eye-catching.
Present Development: There's a poll up addressing the desire to remove 2 "cities" from the mix to make gameplay easier to balance. Also, comments on the parts of the map not fully finished yet are highly encouraged.


Name: Zodiac Map
Creator: rsacheli
Stamps: [Advanced Draft]
Description: The Zodiac has been a centerpiece of astrology for generations, enshrined most noticeably by the naming of constellations in the stars. This map portrays their constellations and has bonuses centering around the seasons and the elements those constellations comprise. It also features a super-connected Black Hole territory, allowing a lot of mobility for such a large map. The map beckons that you decide your own fate among the stars.
Present Development: Currently getting graphics feedback to increase the aesthetic appeal of the map.


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WidowMakers wrote:Gameplay and Graphics.
Gameplay and Graphics.
Gameplay and Graphics.
Gameplay and Graphics.
These are the two main things that define a map here at CC. Here are definitions for those two main parts of a map. Now you may disagree with my definitions below, but whatever.

Gameplay: The logical controls that define actions players can take or events that take place due to those actions.
    Examples of gameplay here on CC are: attacking, bombarding, auto-deploy, bonuses, override Bonuses, territories in multiple bonus groups, variable armies per territory allocation, and many more.
    Examples of gameplay styles here on CC are: Classic, Conquest, resource-building, complex and simple.
(I am positive there are many more style and categories. There is no way we will all agree on style type or gameplay. But where is the fun in everyone always agreeing?)

Graphics: The representation of data in a way that includes images in addition to or instead of text.
(ref http://www.thefreedictionary.com/graphics)
    Examples of graphics here on CC are: All of the maps we have. Duh!
    Examples of graphics STYLEs here on CC are: detailed, realistic, modern, simple, old, and many more.
Style: The combination of distinctive visual features that determine the way in which an idea is expressed.
(ref http://www.thefreedictionary.com/style and a bit of my own words too)
(Once again, I am positive there are many more graphical styles. But I can’t name them all because I don’t know them all and even if I did, I still wouldn’t name them).


We all know that both graphics and gameplay are equally important and required for any map to be made here at CC. Each person here has different roles and abilities in both facets. So even though I just said that both are very important and that one cannot live without the other, I am going to direct my attention for the rest of this piece to the discussion of graphics and style. And by “direct my attention” I mean basically explain why and how I do what I do for my maps.

My Motivation
Just a little background history about me, I learned 80% of my Photoshop abilities while at CC. I knew the basics before I got here, but the skills and techniques I have now have been developed while making maps. I find that developing a skill, most of the time, requires a need. And I must credit CC for giving me the reason to learn. For without CC, I would not have made maps; and without maps, I would not have learned much of what I know. But if there is one event that I feel directed and challenged me more than anything else these past 2 years (in the realm of digital design and graphics), it was when someone said I was a one-dimensional artist.

Back when Keyogi was the only C.A., there was a desire to pick up another person to help out. At the time I had only one map quenched (King of the Mountains) and was currently working on the 8 Thoughts map with Coleman. When the list of possible CA candidates was made, my name came up on the list. Then the list was looked over and comments to each person were listed. Along my name the comments went something like this, “One-dimensional, One-Style, Only makes abstract maps”. Well this made me a bit angry and defensive. I am not one-dimensional. I can make more than abstract maps. From that point on I decided to show everyone how wrong those comments were.

My goal from then on (and it is still in effect now) was not to make a map that looked like any other map I had already made. So I always try to approach each map with a clean slate or open mind. I don’t want my past experiences or techniques to limit my future but to enhance it and allow for more technical growth. So in my head, before I start a map, I tell myself that the visual theme of each map will be different. I currently have 12 maps quenched with more on the way. I think I have done a pretty good job of keeping with my goal. Here are a few of my maps (in no particular order): Great Lakes, Canada Revamp, Dungeons of Draknor, Montreal Revamp, Indochina Revamp, Poker Club, Rail USA and Arms Race! If you look at these maps you can see how they, for the most part, look entirely different. Sure the glow of the font or the borders line might share some similarities. But the overall style/theme of each is very different. Well, this did not happen accidentally.

How I Tackle a Project
With each new project I started, I had to decide what I wanted to do. Now pay attention. Did you see what I just said? I had to decide WHAT I wanted to do NOT HOW I would do it. For example, once I knew I wanted to enter the Canada revamp competition, I came up with WHAT I wanted to do. I wanted the map to be on a perspective of the globe with the moon and sun, clouds, water. I wanted a realistic map with a big title that went across the top. Well now that I had that idea in my head, I needed to figure out how to do it.

I looked at Google earth, downloaded images, scanned over tutorials, and made pencil sketches on paper to get things to scale and lay out my idea to get a sense of the project. Then based on those ideas and sketches I started to assemble my initial map and along came the issues. The borders looked bad. The clouds looked fake. The perspective was off. The colors did not work. On and on. Eventually I entered into the contest and won. But here is the thing. Even though I won, TONS of people hated the map.

“Bring back the old map, this one is hideous!” they said. “You should be punished!” shouted others. (Seriously there were some interesting flame wars threads going on about how best to deal with me). And in the end I actually redid the ENTIRE map over to make it better. The point is I did not let my current knowledge determine the level at which I would design. I set a visual goal and set out to do it.

The philosophy of “Decide WHAT you want to do, then figure out HOW to do it” is how I approach all of my maps. Not only does in free your mind to think beyond what you know, it then challenges you to try and get there once you decide to take the trip. For instance, did NASA say, “Well we don’t know how to make anything that can break earth’s gravity and go into space so let’s just forget about it and keep making planes.”? NO! They said, “Hey, we want to go to space. That sounds like a good idea. Great, then it is settled. We want to go to space so let’s figure out how to do it then!” And then they researched and developed rockets and the rest is history.


How to get better
There have been times that people have asked me how to do something or how they can get better. I know there are people out there who think they can’t get better or that they can’t even get started. Maybe they don’t know how to start.

Below is a list of things I did and suggest that everyone else do if they want to increase their skills and techniques. (And this does not just deal with graphics. Most areas of learning deal with these principles in one way or another).
    -FIND Tutorials, READ Tutorials, DO tutorials. If someone already did it, learn from them. This is very important if you are just learning the software or starting out your artistic development. It is much easier to learn from others than try to learn everything by yourself.
    -Look at the world around you. Watch TV, look at signs, advertisements or bill boards and then try to recreate those images. Or you can just visualize and idea you have or image you want then, try to then create that image. This gets right back to the “Decide WHAT you want to do, then figure out HOW to do it” philosophy.
    -Don’t be afraid to try something new. There was a time when everyone was a noob. Some people had parents who taught them, others have 4 year college degrees in Graphic Design and some are just self trained. Either way we all started off knowing nothing. Only by challenging yourself and trying new things will you grow and develop.
    -Don’t be afraid to FAIL. There is also nothing wrong with failing. We all learn from mistakes and grow from them. By trying a technique and failing you have learned one way not to do something. And sometimes by trying a technique and failing, you might actually develop a new technique that you never were looking for in the first place.
    -LISTEN to others. You don’t know what you don’t know and you don’t know everything. There is always a person that has more knowledge than you about something. The techniques you use might not be bad, but there might also be a better way. Just look at how many versions of a map people go through. Is that because the initial version was bad? Or was it because the map was not as good as it could have been? There is a BIG difference. By listening to others and looking at their direction and opinions, you not only gain their knowledge and understanding, you gain a person who will potentially be there for you later when you have other issues.
    -Be patient. An immense amount of time is required to learn and develop skills. You won’t get 3 maps quenched overnight on your first try. And once you get a map done, that does not mean you know all there is to know.
    -Have FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!! I think this is self explanatory. There is no point in doing all of this if you don’t like it. Not everyone is the same and not everyone can do all of the same things. Don’t stress out about what you can’t do. Understand what it is you can, work with that and slowly it will become easier. Then after that you can learn more and have fun at the same time.

Planning the design of a map
Well now you have the skills, the talent, and techniques to create a graphical masterpiece. What are you going to do with them? Well, you say “I am gonna make a cool map!” That is fine but there still is one problem. What style should your map have? We touched on what style is before but the pure definition of style does not really help you pick one. To best decide what style graphics to use, one must understand the purpose of the final piece.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself before you make a map. They will help you focus you ideas and design.
    Who are the characters in the map? (backstory .i.e. why is this map significant or a cool story)
    What is your map about?
    Where does it take place?
    When does it take place?
    Why are the events taking place? (again backstory)
    How will the events unfold?

Do you see where I am going here? As the artist you are drawing a visual story. You are the connection between the gameplay and the end user. Let’s answer these questions for a hypothetical map.
    Who=Soldiers
    What=Futuristic Space battle
    Where=On an alien world
    When=year 3,579
    Why/How=Humans were attacked by alien 500 years ago and they have sent troops to kill them on their home world.
Now based on these answers you would not think to use bubbly font or rainbow colors. The font would most likely be more contemporary, exact and precise. The colors would be colors of war (greens, darker blues and reds, black). The visual stage would be that of war. Space ships would need to be made and there would be two styles (humans & aliens). There would also be an alien world or worlds to create.

Do you see what I am saying now? By thinking through the ideas before jumping in, you can focus on what it is that you need to achieve to convey your idea. We will now look at another map I did, Poker Club.

When yeti_c approached me to do the graphics for Poker Club I excitedly agreed. My mind had already begun to work out WHAT I wanted to do and then HOW I wanted to do it. I knew the map was about poker so the cards would be an important part of the map. I needed good looking cards graphics. So I found some online and made the required tweaks to achieve the desired look. Instead of just placing the cards on a flat background, I wanted to give the feel that the players were sitting at a poker table. I looked up pictures of poker tables on Google and analyzed the texture and colors. I found felt texture for the table. I messed around for a bit until I got the visual feel I wanted for the green table covering. I looked up poker chip designs and then made my own. This went on until I felt I had enough to start building the image. Long story short I went through over 20 revisions, color changes, tons of lighting adjustments, texture tweaks, font style and wording. Most of the time, I just used old knowledge I had developed from my other maps to help me along. But when something just did not look right I sat back and tried new things until I liked the results.

Before you start a map you need to understand why you are doing it (theme, gameplay). Ask yourself the questions I presented. Challenge yourself to explore and investigate ways to improve. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be discouraged if you mess up. I know this is cliché but, your limits are your own imagination, and 630x600 pixels for the small map version. This is a long journey not an overnight trip. Depending on what you wish to learn or on what you hope to achieve, your journey/mileage may vary. But one thing is for sure, that if you truly wish to continue to develop and grow, your journey will have no end. The things you cannot do or understand now will become easy and part of your mental design process in the future. Enjoy the ride and have fun.


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WidowMakers wrote:How old are you/what gender are you/where do you live? Answer specifically, vaguely, or not at all.
I am a 31-year-old male. I live at approximately 42N 31' LAT by 82W 54' LONG (yes I know this is nerdy but I am an engineer). And I know this is not in the question but I am going to put it in the answer anyway. I have a wife (who hates CC) and 2 kids, ages 2.5 and 0.5.

How did you find out about Conquer Club?
My friend at work, Eric, told me about it. He said I would love it and I did. I was addicted after my first game started. My wife now hates Eric and blames him for all the time I spend making maps. So ultimately you can thank him for getting me started.

What is your favorite map currently up for live play? Why that one?
That is such a HARD question to answer. There are about 15 maps that I really love and are my favorite depending on the mood I am in. But if I had to pick a favorite I would say King of the Mountains. I know I know it is my own but it is my first map too. Plus it did have some new game play with the Kings and Helipads. Plus I learned a bunch. It made me learn how to deal with criticism and keep of working to get the job done. Plus it is where I figured out how much I hate army circles.

But I if had to pick a map I did not make, it would be World 2.1. In double or quad games, it is so much fun. I am not a big fan of conquest style maps but I do like big maps. World 2.1 is close to the classic game play style but with more.

What interested you in mapmaking?
Oddly enough, I was not really interested until I saw the new World 2.0 maps come out. I wondered how this happened and I decided to venture into the forums (I don’t think I went there before). There I saw the Foundry and got hooked. I learned most everything I know about GFX while on CC. I had some exposure to Photoshop before but mostly to crop, draw glowing edges and make stupid pictures. I had never really learned how to use it.

The idea that I could come up with a map idea, draw it, tweak it and eventually play it with thousands of people was very cool. That got me hooked. My first map idea was the unfolded Rubix cube map. Obviously, it did not make it. There were some kind words from our very own Foundry foreman, Andy, to go come up with a better, fresh idea. So I did. A couple months later King of the Mountains was done.

Map-making also allows me to learn about one of my favorite hobbies, digital media production. I said earlier that I am an engineer but if I could do it all over again I think I would have gone into some sort of graphic design field.

What kind of feedback do you like getting the most?
Intelligent, purposeful, well thought out feedback. As long as the person wants to help make the current idea of the map unfold and no change it to their desire or idea, I welcome and enjoy all feedback, even if I disagree.

What "keeps you going" through getting a map through the Foundry?
Three things. The first is that I just want to see if I can make another map. I really enjoy the time I spend making maps. I enjoy the stuff I learn. I enjoy the people who help out. I just enjoy the whole process (except the waiting for new XML features my map needs). And second, there are people who really like maps. Once I start on a map I get PMs telling me they can’t wait to play it. And posts in the map thread saying how excited they are to play once it is done. Oh and it is fun.

What inspired you to create these maps?
There was some talk about making tournament only maps or something like that. I knew that would never happen. I stated playing tournaments and noticed that the organizers liked grouping the maps with similar themes. I figured that if a popular map could be broken up into smaller maps, the tourney guys/girls would love it. So my idea for USA 6 Map Pack was born.

How did you decide what graphics styles to go with?
Three words, Original USA Map. Since these 6 maps are based off of the original USA map, the graphic style is pretty much set. I traced the outlines of each state from the USA map as a base for each state in my maps. The colors are all based from the colors in the USA map as well.

I am also going to make the background and legends as close to the USA map as possible.

But as far as map styles go for me, when I make a map, I want it to be different than my previous ones. I don’t want people to look at the maps I made and be able to tell they are all made by the same person.

How much time do you spend on each update? How much of that time do you enjoy?
This is a tricky question. And I mean tricky because of the two parts. I would say I spend as much time as I possibly can to get done what needs to be done so I can get as much good input in before I need to do it all over. So basically 3-8 hours per week on these maps. But I spend about 30-40 before I even posted the idea.
When I am making fixes I get into sort of a map-editing groove and can just fly. Especially since the maps are so similar. When there is one edit to an aspect that all maps share, I can more easily make the change at once.

Now onto the 2nd part. I enjoy about 90% of the things I do as far as updates for these maps (and my other maps as well) but I don’t enjoy editing for the sake of edits.
On these particular maps the feedback and suggestions have been great. So most of the edits I have made have been for the better and not just busy work.

So to finally answer, I enjoy all of the edits I do (even if I don’t like them) if they add to making a better map that will be more liked and accepted in the CC community.


Was there anything in the foundry that you found surprising or unpredictable concerning this map pack?
I don’t think I was as surprised as I was relieved that the 6 pack was accepted. I spent all of this time before announcing to get things setup and working. I knew I would need to sell the idea and the best way was with working visual maps. There was a chance that no one would like them or that maybe they would not like the idea of breaking up an old map into new maps. But the idea was well liked and here we are.

Were there any suggestions that you absolutely loved? Or any that you really hated?
For these maps I can’t recall a suggestion that I have loved. I have appreciated them and implemented many but none that I LOVE. Most suggestions I get (on these and other maps) are from people who are trying to help make the maps better. Even if we do not agree on the issue or suggestion outcome, I know they are just trying to help.

I guess the only types of suggestions I hate are, this map is dumb, stop doing it and I don’t know if this has been said before but I did not have time to read the first XX pages but I think you should … But no one, as far as I know, has done this to the 6 pack.

What do you think of the Foundry process in general?
I like it. Some people complain it is slow. I have seen times where it is too fast. But all-in-all, the process is good. My first map was KOTM and it was the 31st map. There was a FF but nothing like we have now. With the number of new maps, ideas and suggestions for maps, ideas, tools, or whatever, the foundry has grown and learned a bunch in the past year.

I am glad we have people willing to spend their time to coordinate and organize the foundry as well. Maps may make CC, but it is the people of the foundry who make the maps.


A Look Back
In this week's edition of A Look Back, we interview Cairnswk and his Egypt Quadtych.

What motivated you to expand Valley of the Kings into a full-blown series of maps?

The old Development Atlas long had Egypt as an objective to be done.
Egypt in entirety is a large country with few arable areas except the Nile, and this presented the opportunity to use the ancient kingdom's regions along the Nile to work into a map. Researching found that the old kingdoms were divided into Upper and Lower Egypt, and with the somewhat recently released articles from the National Geographic on the "Black Pharaohs" from Nubia, I expanded a possible triptych into the quadtych it ended up being. I think this was also a statement from me to Andy, to say, yes someone can tackle this subject matter, and I think the artwork alone speaks for itself of giving distinctive flavour to the whole 4 pieces. I have read comments that Upper Egypt lineation of territories makes for poor gameplay, but this is the nature of the regions that existed, and that to create something different would have been untrue to history.


What themes from VotK were transferred into the more recent 3? What's new?

The only themes that were carried forward, was some variations of classic gameplay and the graphics - these had to be purely ancient Egpyt.

Valley of the Kings hasn't been the most popular map. What lessons did you learn from that map's reception which made the other 3 more appealing?


I think the lesson learned was that players don't always "cotton onto" symbol associations between the map and the legend, particularly with "mysterious" objects that players don't have knowledge on. To make these maps there has to be a certain amount of research done into what it available for the composition of a map; and sometimes players don't always make those connections. I guess VotK was a statement also that Conquer Club can be different if players are willing to expend their minds and learn new things apart from the Classic Gameplay. You'll see in most of my maps, I stretch the concepts available to new areas. I'm not afraid that a map might be unpopular.
As to it's lack of popularity, well...perhaps it's unpopular because it deals with the mystic death subjects. I don't recall there ever being a survey done as to why it has been unpopular. Something for you guys to explore as an article perhaps? ;)


Which stamp did you find hardest to get for Lower Egypt? What do you think the cause was?

Mmmmm. I don't see stamps as being hard to get! The stamps are a part of the Foundry process that ensures that the mapmaker achieves a certain quality in production and that all issues are addressed as they arise; or at least within reason. A stamp arrives when it arrives so-to-speak whether it's version 5, 15, or 35; or whether those administering the stamps arrive late (after all as I have been reminded on so many occasions - this process is all voluntary) It's simply that in most cases I am a high end producer because I have more time on my plate. There were graphic issues that some had problems with, and as these were all subjective, and I believe I addressed them within my 95% standard and also withing what I felt was reasonable for subjectivity. I recall there were issues with the width of the Nile and the shadows on the sphinx, but nothing that couldn't be handled with a little flexibility.

Since Lower Egypt was spotlighted, did anything major change about the process, the map, and the like?

Not really. Business as usual.

What parts of the maps do you think people enjoy most?

Tbh, I have little idea. Apart from a few players who really enjoy the challenges I present with my maps and usually give feedback in the thread, there has never been enough feedback to the Foundry about what people enjoy and don't enjoy about maps - except when a map has totally stuffed gameplay or starting positions or starting bonuses - then everyone complains of course - understandable. But unless a mapmaker goes into the starting games and reads the comments or asks for comments in those game threads then most players don't bother to give feedback - so I "assume" that if they really like the map, there will be hundreds of games played on it, if they don't then it will fall by the wayside.
I know that the somewhat standard type of gameplay would be enjoyable to most, and that there has been several tournies conducted and on-going on this quadtych (which means that people are using it for one of it's intended purposes), [Editor's note: The Senior Editor is conducting one of those tournies] but apart from that, Mmmmmm :idea: :?: :?: :?: :?:


What ended up being the most rewarding about doing finishing the Quadtych?

The graphics, finalising the series and presenting them as a set for Tournies.

If your maps suffered from slowdowns, what helped you kickstart them back into gear?

I'm a classic artistic type. I like to have design and purpose behind my maps. I suffer from spurts of creativity and periods of lethargy, where pushing forward with ideas is really hard. I'm finding that with Poison Rome that I'm working on right now, and Rail Australia (soon to be quenched) also suffered from this. The easiest thing to work out for this quadtych was the defining graphics and flavours of these maps. There is so much material available for use.

If there were any periods where things were speeding along, how did that make you feel as a mapmaker?

Oh so rewarding :) and of course proud of the work I was presenting.

This isn't the first series of related maps you have done. What difficulties have you encountered while trying to keep gameplay fresh yet similar to the others?

No, but it's the first series to be completed. Other series I haven't completed yet are the Tobruk/Gazala WWII maps (of which there are two others planned) and the Rail series (where Asia and Africa have been investigated and started but bogged down and haven't appeared on the Draft stage yet).
There are no real difficulties that can't be overcome with a little imagination and willingness to extend one's mind. The only concern I target myself with is that the game must have subject relevance to the map. That's why the dows appeared all three Nile maps, and the gold appeared in Nubia, and the afterlife appeared in Valley of the Kings. Fortunately, whether players liked them or not, I was able to produce maps/gameplay that were relevant to the history of these regions and I think that is probably very important in gaining a map's flavour. The biggest challenge I've had in this respect was with Halloween Hollows where the map layout was in 3-D and perspective.


What's your next (or current) project(s), if you have one? Provide links if available.
Well Rail Australia is ready for Quenching.
WWI - Ottoman Empire is ready for Final Forge i think.
Cairns Metro still has some graphics to be finalised i think
Snowfight is well underway in the Advanced Drafts and I'm hoping we can present this in time for Northern Winter perhaps even Christmas.
And this morning I'm working on getting Poison Rome up as an acceptable draft. I think these last two will make really goods additions to the site, one is fun and easy gameplay for target practice even at the dog, and the other is full of avarice and scheming which I think players will really enjoy if they've seen the TV series "I Claudius" and they are familiar with the drama of the Julian-Claudio Emperors.
After that, I think WWI Galipoli is next and certainly already on my drawing board.


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Wrap up

We would like to thank you all for taking the time to read and enjoy our newsletter.
See you next time!

gimil - Graphics
InkL0sed - Formatting Editor, Proofreading Editor
reelkmcn - Maps In Development Editor
TaCktiX - Senior Editor, Editorial Editor
wcaclimbing - Graphics
ZeakCytho - Perspectives Editor, Spotlight Editor, Maps In Development Editor
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby wcaclimbing on Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:42 am

Thats an excellent editorial from WidowMakers
=D>
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby MrBenn on Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:06 am

Good job guys, particularly WidowMakers =D>
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby yeti_c on Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:35 am

wcaclimbing wrote:Thats an excellent editorial from WidowMakers
=D>


Definitely agreed...

WM has gotten down on paper some of the things that go through his head instinctively - that is often hard to do!

C.
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby e_i_pi on Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:05 am

Nice issue, makes for a good read =D>
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby the.killing.44 on Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:40 pm

A great read, especially for one starting to make maps. =D>
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby RjBeals on Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:32 am

WM's section should be clipped and stickied. Nice work guys.
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Re: The Foundry Newsletter: 13th Issue

Postby whitestazn88 on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:10 pm

it's wonderful!
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