City Designer 2
Author: Mark Fulford, Simon Rogers, Ralph Horsley, et. al.
Company/Publisher: Profantasy Software Ltd.
Line: Campaign Cartographer
Page count: n/a
Playtest Review by Clay Dowling on 10/11/99.
Genre tags: none
City Designer 2 is an extension for ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer 2. If you are unfamiliar with Campaign Cartographer, it is a tool designed for making RPG maps. It includes a number of shape drawing tools, as well as an extensive symbol library for making very impressive looking maps with a minimum of fuss.
The City Designer extension adds symbol libraries appropriate to an urban setting, as well as providing a number of tools appropriate for drawing streets and buildings. Included on my disk was an upgrade to bring Campaign Cartographer from version 5.x to 6.x, Profantasy's most recent.
City Designer 2 has three main features that make drawing urban maps easier. The building symbols are beautiful, and cover a large number of possible settings. A house designer lets you set the specifications for the shape and appearance of a house you want to build, then lets you size and position the components as you see fit. The street maker lets you make general choices about your houses and how common certain features are, then lets you populate a whole street with two mouse clicks.
The product was worth the purchase price just to get the symbol library. These symbols are great. They have rich colors and nice details that will print beautifully on a color printer. They also have enough smarts to line themselves up with roads and other objects. This feature makes dropping a few buildings onto a street a simple task, rather than a long and drawn out process of dropping, rotating, and dragging each symbol to get it right.
Part of the symbol library includes "frills." These are small components that can be attached to another symbol to enhance the appearance. These frills know how to align themselves to the parent symbol, and will automatically handle enough of their own positioning to make adding frills a no-brainer.
The house designer was a very nice surprise. It presents nine different basic house shapes to choose from, four roof types, a long list of color and pattern schemes, and several other options. Click OK, position the first point, follow the prompts to position the other relevant house points, and it draws the house as you watch. You can add frills to the finished house for any additional character it might need.
The automatic street creator is the single greatest piece of magic in this tool. I can set house options similar to those used for the house designer. I also get to choose what percentage of my houses are going to be of each of the nine basic shapes. Once I'm satisfied with my choices, I pick one end of the street, move the mouse to the other end, or until I'm satisfied with the house outlines the City Designer presents me with, and click again. A whole street of houses is drawn for me.
Campaign Cartographer Upgrade
The software upgrade was part and parcel of City Designer, and it wouldn't be fair not to mention it here. Any object oriented drawing program like Campaign Cartographer is going to have awkward bits, especially for the neophyte. This upgrade doesn't eliminate that, but it goes a long way to making it more accessible to the newcomer. I particularly like the improvement to symbol dropping.
After right clicking to indicate that I'm done dropping a symbol, I'm presented with a dialog that is capable of scaling the symbols that I'm just dropped. Since I've never put a symbol on a map that I didn't want to re-scale almost instantly, this is a great feature.
New controls to improve linking maps to other files, maps, and notes have been added. This should make linking fairly easy. It also encourages you to use your map to its full potential. Under a Noble's home, for instance, I can store a Word document about his household, politics, economics, and the dogs he'll set on my thief.
A better set of controls for controling the order in which map symbols are stacked are included. This is much appreciated, since this stacking has been a major pain when using previous versions.
I've always loved maps. They give me a good frame to weave my story on. They impose constraints that give it strength and realism. City Designer makes producing maps for my own stories much easier than it was before. The fact that they look great when they're printed on a 34 inch color plotter doesn't hurt either.
If you want good looking maps for your adventures and campaigns, drop by Profantasy's web site and order a copy of Campaign Cartographer and City Designer. For the price of a Player Guide/Game Master Guide book pair for most games, you can have a top-rate mapping tool that will add color and style to your campaigns.
Style: 5 (Excellent!)