We need some simple mapping software!
August 22, 2007 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Calling online gamers! My husband is looking for a (seemingly) simple mapping program to make his life a little bit easier.

He's basically looking for a program that will allow him to create maps of areas. All the program in question would need to do is be capable of responding to directional commands (n, ne, nw, s, etc) and create a little visual indicator of the location. For example, if he were to input N, the program would create a new little square linked to the previous location. It would also be helpful to be able to input some information (numbers, or location names, for example) onto each of the little location blocks. He would like to use this program without attaching it to a specific game -- he's creating stuff offline on his own. Is this possible!?! It doesn't seem like such a tall order, but he's looked high and low for something close to this and hasn't found anything. Preferably, the program would be free, but he'd be willing to shell out a modest amount for the software. Thank you thank you thank you!
posted by theantikitty to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I wouild start here, at Maptools.
posted by misha at 9:19 PM on August 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for your reply! I had a look around that site and I'm not sure those programs will work. I'm not actually looking for something that will draw or create *real* maps. I'm looking for something that's going to link little boxes (locations) together to visually represent a game setting and allow my husband to keep some information about the locations. It will make like a huge location tree of sorts. He's hoping to find a program that can handle multiple hundreds of locations on one map. This is the closest thing we could find, but it doesnt seem possible to use it without linking it specifically to an established game. He wants to use it for building purposes. Thanks!
posted by theantikitty at 9:32 PM on August 22, 2007

Response by poster: Oops. Here's the this I was referring to.
posted by theantikitty at 9:32 PM on August 22, 2007

You really don't want a GIS program, it would be too complicated. Slashdot had a disscussion on RPG mapping tools not to long ago, but they wouldn't work anything like you are describing - and I don't think any mapping tool would.

It sounds to me like a simple spreadsheet (using the cells as location spots) or diagramming software would work for him. If he really wants a dead simple mapping program, I would try out map maker. It's easy to use and it's deep if you want it to be (oh, and there is a good free version.) Just don't expect to be able to move your data in and out of it easily.

[part of the problem why he wouldn't find a program like this is: imagine going north(1), north(2), north(3), then east(1), east(2), east(1) then south(1) and then going west(1), west(2), west(3) - would you be at north 2? Who knows.]
posted by __ at 9:35 PM on August 22, 2007

Many newer MUD clients have various mapping/automapping features built-in. (For example, zMUD.) If you're not familiar with MUDs, they're text-based multiplayer RPG's that almost always feature NWSE/UD/etc room-based worlds. Your husband can probably find a freeware MUD client (such as an older version of zMUD, for instance) or a else cheap shareware one, load up its automapper offline (or else create a dummy MUD profile), and go to town "walking" around and creating his own maps.
posted by DaShiv at 11:43 PM on August 22, 2007

seconding zMUD, a few years back when text worlds ate all my free time, zMUD was king!
posted by phritosan at 12:58 AM on August 23, 2007

I've tried many different mapping programs looking for something pretty much like that and the one I've found most useful is GUEmap. It doesn't look too fancy, but it works. You can create rooms by the directional keypress method you mentioned or also by dragging connections with the mouse.

The free version has a 10-room cap for saving and printing, but registering is fairly cheap ($10).
posted by Arasithil at 1:30 AM on August 23, 2007

There's also the standalone zMapper, which is basically designed for stuff like this. It's got a more features for mapping then zMud/cMud, but at the moment it's not being updated (major downside). Anyway, they've all got free trials.
posted by anaelith at 8:52 AM on August 23, 2007

Response by poster: Wow! So many programs for him to try out! I'll get started testing these out and report back which one was the most useful in this particular regard. Thanks to everyone.
posted by theantikitty at 11:00 AM on August 23, 2007

Response by poster: PS: The problem we had with Zmud mapper was that it only seemed to function when it had a game to connect to. In other words, we couldn't just connect to an offline session and make up a bunch of stuff. It needed input from the game itself to keep going. Thus, there was no way to generate maps without already coding in the locations. FYI!
posted by theantikitty at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2007

For zMud:

1) Open the mapper.
2) Switch to map creation mode, via the File menu.
3) Click Cancel in the wizard, if it prompts you.
4) Using the toolbar, add a new room (this is your starting point) and set your current location to that room (should have a blue dot in it now).
5) Using the Zone menu, toggle keyboard creation on.
6) Make sure numlock is ON.
7) Use your numberpad to move around, creating rooms as you go.
posted by anaelith at 12:18 PM on August 23, 2007

(Oh, and I forgot to specify this, but that'll work when you're not connected to any game, with just a blank profile. I still think ZMapper would be better suited to your needs, though, except for never being updated.)
posted by anaelith at 12:18 PM on August 23, 2007

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