Online Interactive Maps (Part 1) – by Nick Luft
I have been thinking how to enable the players to have their own interactive map and counters.
I was disappointed how I facilitated the players’ map in my recent game “Seize Warsaw“.
I had provided the players with a map and counters via a Google Slides (PowerPoint). James Kemp copied this and maintained his version during the game. Some players knew about this and used it (regarding it as essential for the gameplay) and others did not know of its existence and were using a different map. This did cause some confusion. And that was my fault.
The two controls on the day were using a Control only interactive whiteboard via ConceptBoard.
Two Interactive Maps
My intention is to have two maps. One maintained by Control and the other maintained by the players.
I duplicated the Control map and then removed a few things. The players have the same map, counters, and some notes on their map.
During the game I will grant players editing rights to their own map and them leave them to organise it themselves.
So far so good.
Hiding parts of the map
And then I thought why not customise the players’ map to hide sectors they could not see.
Here is the players’ map for “Seize Warsaw”. (This entire board is currently “locked” to avoid anybody accidently damaging it.)
I have covered the player map with multiple grey polygons to denote areas they cannot currently see. My intention is to unpin and delete these grey polygons when their units reach trigger points. One polygon for each “vista” to make it simple.
I have also added broad details of things the player would be able to see in the distance or know about. For example the Warsaw citadel is large and raised above the town and the old town has many church spires and tall civic buildings making it visible from many kilometres away. I have also drawn a general line to show where the River Vistula flows.
Hopefully this will give a better experience to the players.
I don’t think there is going to be a technical issue in maintaining two maps, as I have a computer setup with two screens.
I have yet to do this in a live game. It might create yet another thing for an overloaded Control to do during the game.
Of course I have to trust that the players will not unpin and shift the squares when I am not looking!
Hiding sectors of a map reminded me of one of my first ever design sessions back 1990/1 at COW.
I had the idea that we could cut a paper map up into “vistas” and only provide them to players as they explored the map. It was a good idea but just utterly impractical in the era of analog. But now with digital online interactive maps, I will be able to do this.
I just might have realised a thirty year old “game design dream“.