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Azrael Nightstar
June 19th, 2007, 03:15
Hey everyone, I'm finally planning to break down and get an actual mapping program. At the moment I'm looking really hard at Dundjinni and I'd like input from some of you who've used it, particularly if you have comparisons to other programs. I'll also be grateful for any info you might want to share about using it with FG.

I have Paint Shop Pro and am more than competent using it (though by no means a master) so resizing, stitching images together, etc. shouldn't be a problem. Also, Campaign Cartographer and its addons are pretty much out of the question because 1) they're outrageously expensive and 2) I've tried them out and find the interface extremely clunky.

I've already found some alternative suggestions "search"ing the forum, and plan to take a look at them. Just the same, suggestions of other programs are also appreciated, especially if you can give some info on having used them.

Much thanks in advance for some guidance, too many options make my head hurt... :confused:

Dachannien
June 19th, 2007, 03:32
Dundjinni works pretty well, and as a program, it's probably marginally worth the money. They've added some functionality I don't use because FG pretty much does part of it, but the graphics portion of the program makes good use of layers, tiling, and random "stamping" of sets of graphics (all features you can probably also get out of Photoshop if you are proficient with it, but Dundjinni makes them easy to work with).

However, I personally think they charge too much for their graphics packs. Fortunately, you can add your own if you're a passable artist, and there are a few people who have made some graphics for Dundjinni that they've made available for free (easily found via Google).

Yenooc
June 19th, 2007, 04:43
As a computer illiterate, I can't get anywhere with Campaign Cartographer without a lot of tedious, hands-on guidance. :o

That's no dig against the program--it's just that it takes someone with at least a smidgen of competence to use. (We used the slide rule in high school for calculations--to give you an idea of my techno-base. ;) )

Dundjinni, on the other hand, is a breeze for me. :D And that's no dig at that program, either, since it can be used to create some pretty awesome maps for use in FG.

Sigurd
June 19th, 2007, 07:10
Campaign Cartographer is at its base a dos CAD program.

It is good at consistent maps once you have learned to use its interface. The interface is by modern terms hideous. It is harder to use than Autocad and once learned the skill is alot less useful.

If you need to have distances between points in your fictional world accurate and precise or you really like their map style it is a good choice.

I find a good general graphics program the best option myself.


Sigurd

Azrael Nightstar
June 19th, 2007, 08:32
Yeah, I didn't have too much trouble figuring out Campaign Cartographer, though the learning curve is certainly steep and it thus takes some time. Even after figuring it out, though, I just find it's much too cumbersome to use. I suppose you have a point, Sigurd, about it being good at precision, but it's hard to imagine needing that kind of precision for gaming.

Dundjinni seems to have an unusual, but not necessarily "difficult" interface, and I haven't had too much trouble catching on to how to use the demo. I guess I'm mostly looking for input on the functionality.

Also, I tend to like drawing my world maps by hand and then putting them into Paint Shop Pro for further work, so I'm mostly looking for a program for location, dungeon and town maps, rather than overland.

Thanks for the replies so far :)

Valarian
June 19th, 2007, 08:41
I'm going to defend Campaign Cartographer. I think it's one of the best mapping programs out there. The interface is difficult to get in to, but once you are there the results can be outstanding. Even I, with no artist ability and only a sense of aesthetics to fall back on, can create decent looking maps.

The key to Campaign Cartographer is the tutorials. You can't just pick this program up and use it. You have to download the full manual from the registration section and go through each of the tutorials ... twice. Then look for the advanced tutorials the master mapper people have put up on their websites. It'll take a while before you can produce a masterpiece, but persevere and you'll be developing your own style and producing maps to be proud of.

Toadwart
June 19th, 2007, 09:20
My vote goes to Dundjinni.
While it aint perfect (not all that intuitive to start with and complex maps can really cause it to grind it to a halt) it does give nice results for lazy sods like me with zero artistic ability :D

Sigurd
June 19th, 2007, 09:41
I really have tried to like Campaign Cartographer - I bought it after all.

People have done some amazing work in it. My comment about precision also applies to reproduction and consistant output. If you like the style of a map in CC3 or CC2, you can reliably stretch that style over any project you do. This is an advantage over general graphics programs. Generalized graphics programs will tend to be a little different in every instance which can spoil the 'document feel' of a larger project.

If you want to make an atlas of a whole world with consistency between one map and the next Campaign Cartographer will give you that - if you learn it.



Looking at the rest of the market however, I think CC3 is expensive and the interface is badly wanting. Profantasy should do more for the money it is asking.


Sigurd

Malovech
June 19th, 2007, 10:56
I agree on all the points stated. That being said Campaign Cartographer cannot be beat for building detailed city maps. Yes CC is a pain in the *** to use (they should just fire their interface designer), but being able to lay down streets of random houses while also controlling the look and feel is very powerful.

Dundjinni just needs a new version. With some peformance upgrades and the adoption of a more Photoshop-like layering and compositing method they would have an amazing product on their hands. Still, Dundjinni cannot make the same city maps that CC can, you can try, but it will take you ten times as long.

nezzir
June 19th, 2007, 12:11
I'm a huge fan of CCx, I've been using it since the DOS version. I migrated to Dundjinni because it simply looked better. Dundjinni was incredible for making battle maps (which is a big part of the mapping needs of the FGII community). It's simple to use, the output is phenomenal, and the Dundjinni community contains some great artists.

With the release of CC3 the output differences disappeared. CC3 is now capable of using the same type resources as Dundjinni and creating nearly identical output. It's actually a superior program once you get the hang of layers, sheets, and effects. That said, it is still a very complex program.

Example:
In CC3 I created a clearing. Then I created multiple layers that contain different modifiers to the map (Camp site, Alter, Standing Stones, Pond, Etc.), then I use the layer/sheet function to turn them on and off and I have one map with many uses.

Another example is a map I made with multiple conditions. I made the original map and then using layers I modified it with various flood, destruction, and fire conditions for my scenario. Once it was complete I just cut the layers on/off and took the beauty shots.

I keep both programs installed. I use Dundjinni for quick maps and test maps, and I use CC3 for everything else. For a beginner, I'd recommend Dundjinni, and CC3 for later.

Edit: The CC3 interface was obviously designed by a CAD user. If you know CAD a little, it's not so bad.

kepli
June 19th, 2007, 12:19
Malovech made some excellent points on both programs.

CC3 can create amazing cities and has an enormous amount of functionality to do so. That is also its main weakness ... you will have to learn a lot to be able to create the maps.
The new use of png files also takes away a bit of the abilities vector graphics had. The maps will look better with png files, but don't use all the CAD possibilities the program offers. Another advantage is that all DJ user png art can be used now.

Dundjinni Enterprises is working on a new DJ version, which contains all the improvements Malovech mentioned and a lot more (good guesses ;) ). I believe that when DJ was first developed, they never thought so much user art would be created, so the program can become slow if you don't have enough resources to work with. DJ also has a great community with a lot of great artists. Thousands of free user art pieces have been posted at the forums there and also an enormous amount of free maps. Most of these maps can be used right away in FG.

Fractal Mapper is another program that creates quite good maps and so does Dungeon Forge. There are several more mapping progs out there and you can of course use a drawing prog like Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop or the Gimp to create your maps.

If people like to know more about Dundjinni, you can post a question at the DJ forums, or email me directly ;)

sunbeam60
June 19th, 2007, 13:03
Dundjinni is fine, but oooooh so slow. Anything above "toy-size" maps slows the program to a crawl.

kepli
June 19th, 2007, 13:24
Dundjinni is fine, but oooooh so slow. Anything above "toy-size" maps slows the program to a crawl.
True and false ... all depends on your point of view ;)

Yes, the program becomes slower and slower when you keep adding more art and/or draw free-hand lines or fills. From a user's point of view the program can look slow. There are of course some things you can do to make DJ quicker and some tricks to keep the maps smaller in size.
BTW a smaller map isn't necessarily faster ... the amount of art and the complexity of the wall/floor drawings is much more important ;)

Not true when you look at it from a programmers point of view and compare it to a program like for instance Photoshop.
DJ uses very complex calculations together with high quality art and as such needs a lot of resources to run smoothly.
When you compare the amount of art (and thus the size) DJ uses to that same amount in PS, PS looses ... weird isn't it? A psd-file in PS with layers and the same amount of art and textures will crash or become unmanageable ... believe me, I tried it to verify.
Just look at a full DJ map. It is 6400x8000 pixels and saved at 800dpi. This makes it very, very large, but also very, very detailed. Such a map is printed on 16 pages. Try creating a map in PS with the same size and resolution ... ;)

Still, it's the user who determines if some program is slow or fast and from that point of view most will say DJ is slow. I know DJ well enough to either use it in such a way it is fast enough, or I don't let it bother me, because the result is too good :)

DJ 2 will be faster though, since that was the number one request from users for the new version. ;)

Sigurd
June 19th, 2007, 14:03
DJ 2 will be faster though, since that was the number one request from users for the new version. ;)
So I guess from their point of view it was slow.:D

kepli
June 19th, 2007, 14:07
He he ... yep :)
Users don't need to know the specifics of the program and compare it to other programs (unless it's another mapping program). Just the way the program behaves is important. In that aspect, the user will always be right :D

Mellock
June 19th, 2007, 14:32
I've been curious about DDJ2. Will it be as with FG, where you could upgrade for free or will they charge another 40 bucks?

kepli
June 19th, 2007, 15:41
Since DJ2 is a totally new developed program (will even have a different look and feel ... more intuitive) and the first one under the new company Dundjinni Enterprises, there will be a fee for current DJ owners too. I have no idea how much that will be though. It won't be the same as buying it without owning DJ1 already ;)
Think the amount will be calculated using the cost to create DJ2.

What would you think would be fair to get all new functionalities ... I know we haven't posted a list of the actual added functionalities, but there have been enough hints to be able to guess at least half ... And the other half is even better :p

richvalle
June 19th, 2007, 16:53
Off the cuff (without looking at the list of new features) I'd say 1/2 of what it goes for new.

I have Dundjinni but don't use it yet as I'm using big WLD maps to play on. But, I'd buy the new version for 1/2 off just to have it.

rv

heruca
June 19th, 2007, 17:46
I bought CC2 (actually, a whole suite of ProFantasy software). I found it too hard to master even basic mapmaking, so it sits unused on my bookshelf. I bought DJ after just a few minutes of tinkering with the free demo, and I made my first map that very day.

I've yet to try CC3. I like that it now handles PNGs and has cool effects layers and such. But from what I've heard, it's not much easier than CC2 to learn/use. And at the moment, it's beyond what I can afford.

Can't wait until DJ2 comes out. DJ1 is good, but is not without problems. DJ2 should remedy all that. I'd have no problem purchasing the DJ software all over again(preferably with some kind of discount for upgrading from DJ1), but art packs already purchased for DJ1 should be usable in DJ2 at no additional cost, IMO.

For those looking for a free mapping program with DJ-like output and PNG support, check out DungeonForge/Map X.

kepli
June 19th, 2007, 18:31
As far as I know, art packs already purchased can be downloaded again (since it will most likely be in a different format) :)

DungeonForge/Map X is a good alternative. It doesn't have all DJ's options (yet), but it can use DJ user art and also has a very nice community ...

I also have CC3 and have seen a few demos at iCon ... very impressive. If I had the time and not DJ around, I would spend time learning CC3 ;)

Mellock
June 19th, 2007, 19:35
What would you think would be fair to get all new functionalities ...

That would very much depend on how they function! If it was just the number of things you could do with it, I'd have chosen CC. I'm not a big fan of DDJ as it is. I hope that by giving it some time I'll like it better, but with the inherent slowness of the program, combined with java and all the little glitches...

It's a shame there's so little fantasy mapping software out there, because it' hard to compare it objectively. PowerDVD costs 40 bucks as well, and while I can compare it in a very few vague terms of user-friendlyness or something, it's still apples and oranges.

I'm supposed to give it another month or so to tinker with, but it's already shelved. Dunno... it just never made a good impression. Tomorrow I'm forcing myself to give it yet another try. I don't know why it irritates me so much; I'm usually a lot more easy-going about software, and there's hundreds and hundreds of satisfied people on the DDJ forums (why the hell don't I feel their joy? We're using the same program!). Price has something to do with it, I suppose. At $19.99, I probably would've tought "meh, for what it's worth"... But at $40 and then some more for the artpacks, I'd slap a big red "not worth it" sticker on it.

kepli
June 19th, 2007, 20:35
Unfortunately there are indeed some "little" problems. They almost all can be tracked back to a bug SUN put in one of the later Java versions that most people have and use when they first install DJ. We are working hard on a patch to overcome this bug.

As for the price ... that's really a relative thing. For what I can and have done with it, the price is really low ;) (heck, I even earned money and books with my DJ maps). CC products are way more expensive and I haven't been able to do a lot with them yet.
The art-packs CAN be bought, but you don't have to. There are thousands of free user-art pieces on the forum and at other places that you can use. Most is of great quality too.

If you want some comparison, I suggest you visit Heruca's site www.battlegroundsgames.com and look on his link page. I bet he included some mapping progs ;)

Mellock
June 19th, 2007, 21:32
Unfortunately there are indeed some "little" problems. They almost all can be tracked back to a bug SUN put in one of the later Java versions that most people have and use when they first install DJ. We are working hard on a patch to overcome this bug.

As for the price ... that's really a relative thing. For what I can and have done with it, the price is really low ;) (heck, I even earned money and books with my DJ maps). CC products are way more expensive and I haven't been able to do a lot with them yet.
The art-packs CAN be bought, but you don't have to. There are thousands of free user-art pieces on the forum and at other places that you can use. Most is of great quality too.

If you want some comparison, I suggest you visit Heruca's site www.battlegroundsgames.com and look on his link page. I bet he included some mapping progs ;)

You're right about the artpacks. There is indeed quite a community behind DDJ and they have created a huge amount of stuff. the CSUAC is quite an impressive beast. Heck, most of what I have mucked together is created mostly from what I scanvenged off the forums. But that's also something that gets me with DDJ: the commercially available art-packs (and it's easy to get for 60 bucks worth of them) are just not that impressive compared to what the community can produce. That was one of the first "hmm" moments.

(Another thing is... Can I count the community as a pro for DDJ or Fluid? After all, you didn't get all that as a result of you paying the price for the program. On the other hand, DDJ *enables* you to use that art... In the end, I decided to keep the two seperate when forming my opinion. I don't think I'll keep the two seperate for DDJ2: appearantly they want to work with what they have and that's very cool.)

Another things was: I've been messing about with creating maps ever since I don't know when. Those where mostly map-editors for computer games like warcraft2, duke nukem 3D, age of empires... I entertained the idea of getting NWN2 just for the game's engine. All of those costed less then $40. When I got DDJ, which was geared only towards creating fantasy maps... I somehow just expected more from it. So I don't know... On one hand, I want to say you're right. 40 bucks isn't bad for the program. I suppose that's what the developers kind of deserve. But when I compare it with what you *can* get for that price... when you look around and compare a bit... If you see what they *could* have delivered, I firmly believe that it's not worth that money.

And the final big things was probably: ease of use. When I checked it out in the beginning, I read a few things about it, and most of them said something along the lines of "easier then CC". Ease of use is a big selling point for them. I'm sure that when you comare it to CC, it's just plain simple. By itsself, it's not a complicated program. There's hardly a few buttons on it, after all. But can you really make those gorgeous maps with Dundjinni? Because when you're done with Dundjinni, it's photoshopping time. :) technically: that program is a breeze: just click a few buttons: voila, a map. Walls, a floor, even a few things like tables and such. But for me to actually make something that satisfied me as much as any of those other programs I used took me a lot more then that.

-Scavenging the forums for a few hours. You want stuff that suits your map!
-Re-arranging the artpacks and user art and the CSUAC. Afer I got a bit of stuff (and I collected a LOT of stuff), I really needed to personalize those categories...
-I made a custom floor tile.
-Photoshopping afterwards.

So that was kind of my third thing: there's just more to it then only the program.

I just want to make it obvious that this is just my opinion. As in: it's not really worth that much. I haven't been using this program for 10 years, I haven't made an extensive comparison with other programs, and in general, people who think "what's all the fuss about, it's not that great as they make it out to be" seem to be a minority everywhere. So there must be something to it.

And I don't want to make it sound as if it's a *bad* program in general either. It *has* grown on me. (I certainly don't feel like smacking the developer in the back of the head anymore!) But it just isn't that amazing.

Another opinion of mine is that DDJ2 might actually have a shot at being amazing. But that remains to be seen.

Mellock
June 19th, 2007, 21:35
Holy crap, did I type all of that?! Ignore the rant!

Azrael Nightstar
June 20th, 2007, 05:47
Holy crap, did I type all of that?! Ignore the rant!

Sure, NOW you tell us ;)

Well again, thanks for the feedback folks, although there's a lot about Campaign Cartographer, which I really only mentioned because I'd pretty much ruled it out. There are some other alternatives, but they haven't really come up much. Dungeon Forge came up as similar output-wise but lacking some of Dundjinni's features, anything more specific, either about Dungeon Forge or other programs, in comparison to Dundjinni?

Or maybe the message I should be getting from the CC vs. Dundjinni feel the post has taken is that it's largely one or the other?

My experience is mostly with CC2, I might consider CC3 if the output improvements are so vast (I have seen some very nice stuff made with CC3) and the interface has been worked on a bit (as I mentioned, I find CC2 "clunky" but not "impossible" or even "infuriating".) It would REALLY help if CC3 had a demo out, especially because of the substantial asking price... Anyone from Profantasy listening? ;)

kepli
June 20th, 2007, 07:20
Oops, posted the wrong link to Battleground Games. Several people have pointed that out to me ... thanks ;)

BTW Mellock and I are still friends :p. Any opinion matters and can only help make a product better suitable for more people. DJ2 will definitely be better than DJ1. Not just because it has more features, but more so because we have been working hard on a good UI. Now let's hope we succeeded ;)

Azrael, if you already know CC2, the next step seems to logically be CC3. But is depends on what kind of maps you would like to make and the amount of money you would be willing to part with. If you only like to create top-down maps with it (the ones DJ is used for 90% of the time), CC3 might be a bit overdoing it. Dungeon Designer 3 would be a better option or go with DJ. If you like to create large overview maps (worlds, continents, lands, cities), CC3 is a very good choice. Perhaps try to find other mapping progs that can create such large maps too.

GoOrange
June 20th, 2007, 15:11
I found the program too complicated and frustrating for me. I can't use commercial drawing programs to save my life, whether it's Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Paint Shop, Draw or Paint. If you have skill with one of these programs, you'll have no trouble with Dundjinni.

I think, however, if you are skilled with one of those programs, you might not need Dundjinni. The advantages of using this program would be the fact that is tailored to fantasy with many pregenerated objects like trees, pits, dungeon walls, doors etc. Once you built up a collection of similar graphics for your other drawing program, you wouldn't have any need of Dundjinni.

So, if you have talent with drawing programs, you could make good use of dundjinni. If you are very proficient, and have a decent stock of fantasy related objects, you don't need it.

kepli
June 20th, 2007, 16:38
Very true ... unless you don't like to spend a lot of money on such a drawing program (so go with the Gimp, since that's free ;) ) or don't like to spend a lot of time on floors, walls, random rotations of objects and random selection of covers, or don't have a very powerfull PC. But if you have the time, money and talent, a drawing program can get you better results.

Personally, I think my skills with PS are sufficient enough to be able to create better maps with it than I can with DJ, but it would take me a lot more time and I don't have the memory and power in my PC to handle the same kind of map sizes I can create with DJ.

But as always, to each his own ... just don't forget that DJ is a mapping program and not a drawing program. ;)

Oh, and DJ2 will work a lot more like PS, although it will still be a mapping program. :)

What I find strange is that some people find DJ to be complicated ??? Please tells us what is the problem in that area, so we can create a better UI. We have designed a better one for DJ2 already, but it can never hurt to see other perspectives :)

And DJ is not tailored to Fantasy, there are currently just a lot more Fantasy objects. There is still a lot of modern and sci-fi material around to work with and you can find more at RPGMapShare for instance :)

Sigurd
June 20th, 2007, 17:34
For me, a real consideration on the issue is how useful will your skills be when you're done. RPG centric solutions might give you more predictable results and save you a bit of time in the short run but a real Art Package gives you more flexibility.


I like Photoshop for lots of things & Corel Painter for other things. Painter is vector based and photoshop is not. Both are hugely powerful. Any of the recent biggish packages, including the Gimp (free), will give you great results with some work and inspiration.

They might take more work but when you're done the skills you learn are more universal and who knows might even help you professionally.

I'd make that a consideration, in your shoes.


Sigurd

Malovech
June 20th, 2007, 19:55
For me, a real consideration on the issue is how useful will your skills be when you're done. RPG centric solutions might give you more predictable results and save you a bit of time in the short run but a real Art Package gives you more flexibility.


Coming from a graphic designer let me just say that if you have the time- what Sigurd suggests is the best route. If however, you value your time and don't want to spend hours building your own art library from scratch a tool like DJ is pretty attractive.

If I spent the time and effort I am sure I could accomplish 90% of my mapping needs via Photoshop and Illustrator. DJ and CC are specialized tools that remove a lot of the support work I would need to do to before I could even start to make a map. I still use Photoshop for post effects and custom objects, but both these tools save me a ton of time and effort.

kepli
June 26th, 2007, 10:56
Very well said Malovech and Sigurd. :)

Azrael Nightstar
June 27th, 2007, 07:42
Thanks for all the great info everyone, I decided to pick up CC and give it a try, as the integration of the various tools (I got the World Builder package) is very attractive to me. I really need to figure out how to properly work Fractal Terrains, it's such a neat prog.

I've actually also thought about picking up dundjinni, especially after taking a look at the forum and site in-depth. I'll at least hang around and keep a close watch out for DJ2. It will help when I remedy the slight problem of my hopelessly broken Java setup... :(

Kepli, any chance Dundjinni objects can be exported to .png format? The ones that come with the program that is, not the user-created ones (which are often stunning). That would be a big selling point for me. Seems I can never get enough variety in my tokens and objects, and Dundjinni plus a map pack or two AND CC2 together would make some mighty fine looking dungeons. Also, might I suggest a better preview of the Reaper character tokens? Something low-res, incomplete, even watermarked if necessary, but that would let you get an idea? Knowing Reaper minis I'm betting the tokens are nice, but as is it's REALLY hard to guess at how they look.

Dachannien
June 27th, 2007, 10:19
Do you folks know of an alternative download location for the CSUAC or perhaps a BT tracker for it? A Google search turned up what's supposed to be the normal hosting location for it, but they're under construction right now.

kepli
June 27th, 2007, 19:34
Sorry Azrael, the original Fluid art is in djx-format for a reason. They wanted to protect their art and in this format you can only use it in DJ. But ... who knows what the new management will do with it (if they are allowed) ;)

The CSUAC archives were collected and created by Cecil Solomon and as far as I know he hasn't posted the archives anywhere else. The GM's Parlor is howevere reachable again, so you can download the archives :)
Edit: sorry, just found out that the GM's Parlor is up again, but not the CSUAC archives :(

Azrael Nightstar
June 29th, 2007, 08:27
Kepli: That's pretty much what I figured, but it was worth a shot ;) Hopefully with the management transition that stuff too will go the way of the DotW. Does that include the Reaper "tokens" too? Even if it does you might want to bring up the "preview" thing I mentioned to whoever's in charge of that, a better idea of what you get might help move the package.

Dachannien: You might want to ask around the dundjinni forum, I'm sure people have archives and it wouldn't surprise me if someone would be willing to email you the whole shebang while GMP is rebuilding.

Does anyone know of or have an idea of where to look for tips on Profantasy's Fractal Terrains? I've been playing with it and as I mentioned it's pretty neat, but so far I haven't really figured out how to make it particularly useful. I've looked for forums/tips on it but haven't found much; there's plenty about the other parts of the CC suite (CC, DD, CD), Dundjinni, and other progs on FUM and elsewhere, but not so much Fractal Terrains =/

While I'm talking about it anyway, I want to plug the Dundjinni site and forums. Even if you don't have the program, the User Art is GREAT for FG tokens and maps, and from my time so far the community seems really great. Stop by, *snag* a few "keplifications", say hi. And don't mind the vines.

Kalan
June 29th, 2007, 08:45
Az: If you want help with the Fractal Terrains program, you may be better off joining the CC Yahoogroup, its fairly large community, and they are fairly quick to help people out :)

http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/cc2-l/ is the place for that :)

kepli
July 2nd, 2007, 20:24
Kalan is right. That Yahoo group is not the same as a forum, but the ProFantasy people are very helpful and look at the message list a lot :)

And thanks for the plug Azrael :D