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This is a bit different for PlayDevil- but does campaign cartographer add toy to our games?

Posted by Staff on Sep 1, 2010 15:07 (Sep 1, 2010 15:07)

Written by: Ian
Map making program:
Now this is a little bit different from my usual reviews- but despite "Campaign Cartographer" being a piece of PC software- it’s definitely for gamers- and a product that I feel like a lot of gamers, particularly those who love their RPGs, will be really interested in- even if they haven’t heard of it before.
What this program does, is create beautiful maps that can be used simply for pleasure, or for your online or tabletop games. I’m planning on using it mainly for tabletop games myself, but it has many uses. CC3 uses a CAD engine in the background to help automate a lot of the design, and it’s here where the beauty of the software lies- with only a few minutes of grounding, I was able to make brilliant maps.
Below is the first map that I made using the software, and it only took me about 20 minutes- a similar drawing in Photoshop from scratch would have taken me several hours!
Campaign Cartographer 3 screenshot #1
As you can see from my first map, I think that’s pretty good for mucking around for less than half an hour after watching a few videos- considering that I have little to no prior experience with any kind of cartography! However, the picture below shows some of the cool stuff that can be done with time and expertise in CC3. It must be said though that the core package only comes with a few different styles- so most of your maps will look very similar in terms of their presentation unless you a) make your own styles (perfectly possible but quite time consuming) or b) purchase further styles from ProFantasy.
Having said that, even the core package comes with hundreds of symbols, and you can use any font that’s been installed on your PC for text- so the opportunities for customisation are nearly limitless even with the core package.
Graphics are much more limited for the dungeon layout styles though- so graphically, with just the core set installed, you’ll have much nicer looking overland maps than city or dungeon layouts. You can still create a good looking layout though, and even add locations- such as monsters, loot and other such goodies- perfect for creating maps for WoW raids, RPG fan-art and other maps for your video and tabletop games.
Campaign Cartographer 3 screenshot #1
And the more you make, the better your maps will quickly start to look. As you can see, my second map below looks quite a bit better. The best thing is, for those who only have a short period to knock something together is that many of the tools can be automated. You can select different terrain types and then select an area where everything will be dropped- and the outcome looks just as professional as if someone had placed thousands of individual trees onto the map- and it is in this kind of automation that the software excels over manual creations in photoshop.
For those of you who also play in tabletop games, the sheet effects also allow you to have several versions of the map available to print out- for example you could have a GM map with scales printed, a player handout in a sepia parchment style, and you can have a version with place names and/or political symbols on or off- and you can toggle between the views in seconds.
When you have a lot of effects added in, sometimes the redraw of the map can take a few seconds depending on how powerful your PC is, but generally the results are worth it- and you can always temporarily turn the sheet effects of to stop them being rendered after every change- whilst still keeping them saved in the background.
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