Monday, 28 February 2011

UPDATE: RPG Google mapping with MAPLib

In an earlier article I wrote about How to make your own Fantasy Googlemap with MapLib without needing to be a code monkey, which has consistently proved to be the most popular article on my blog despite the lack of comments.  I always intended to replace the rather uninspiring "test images" I used to centre the maps with a demo map of my own creation.  Well, life has a nasty habit of getting in he way and I've been too busy with my current C&C campaign and other projects like Citymorphs.

So here at last is my demo map which I am actively using in my campaign.

Observations after 6 Months Use

1. ZOOM - As you can see the map zoom isn't perfect, the placemarker images don't scale with the zoom which means when you're zoomed out fully (as above) they don't "geolocate" anymore.  This is annoying but not a total disaster.

2. PLACE MARKERS - I've used the bog standard icons for everything but the Capital Cities (which is a shared marker) for fear that if an owner left the shared marker would disappear from the library.

3. PLACE NAMES - When you hover over a marker it displays the name associated with it, which is nice.  However it would be really useful to be able to set a display variable for each marker which would display the name alongside the marker.

4. REGIONS - Although you can draw regions, turning them into hotspots in a client side image map fashion, there are no options for just adding text to the map.

5. LINKING - I've managed to link some of the pop-up descriptions back to my campaign blog for "Read more" links (Try clicking on the Capital icon for Sankahar City), but this requires a bit of HTML knowledge to ensur that your link target is set correctly.  The editing interface is a little clunky for my tastes, for example if you don't submit an edit whilst still in HTML view it interprets and displays your HTML.

6. UPDATING YOUR IMAGE - The most annoying feature is that once you've done all the work and added your place markers, if you ever need to update your map image, you can't.  This does seem like a massive oversight on the part of the developers and could ultimately limit its usability as a tool, not just for RPG mapping but any mapping.  Maps have a tendency to be revised, in the real world political boundaries are redrawn on a regular basis and with regime change comes country name changing.

7. COLLABORATIVE MAPPING - I've not really explored the collaborative mapping functions but from some of the other collaborative mapping projects which feature in the MapLib gallery it seems that other users are getting on fine with them. 

8. SHARING YOUR MAP - The sharing options are standard fare but irritatingly if you choose to grab the link to a static image it doesn't show any of the place markers at all!!.  Again this seems like an oversight on the developers side (unless there's some overarching Intellectual Property Rights issue I'm not aware of) and this is where in RPG terms the text display of names next to markers feature would make this a KILLER APP.

Aside from the two big issues I've listed above it's still worth checking it out and I hope that any of you who've read this will drop me a comment and a link to your own maps.

Happy MAPLibing y'all


  1. Somehow I missed the first article, but this is AMAZING... thanks for sharing this!

  2. I see maplib now displays the name of the marker beside that marker. I feel this obscures the map too much however, and would love to know if you found a way of either enabling or disabling this?

  3. I don't think so, it is most likely something in the maplib .php which generates the overlay. I have noticed that the maplib guys have released a new embedded flash version rather than the iframe version, I'll check out this method of embedding and report back.