Changes to Digital Map Assets

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

I began a 12-week leave of absence at the beginning of February, during which life at Paizo, the games industry, and pretty much everywhere else changed due to the advent of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns. When I returned from leave at the end of April, I, like everyone else, was working from home and the to-do list I had left for myself in January suddenly needed to be rewritten.

Illustration of a hand drawn dungeon map on an unrolled scroll.

Art by Nikolai Ostertag

One of the first new priorities on the post-COVID list was to help support the thousands of players who were now restricted to playing Pathfinder and Starfinder exclusively on virtual tabletop programs like Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, D20Pro, Astral, and others. While our partners running these programs have done a great job of getting as much Pathfinder and Starfinder content as they could up on their respective marketplaces, I was tasked with figuring out how we at Paizo could provide more to our customers directly.

Today, I’m happy to announce that we’re taking the first step in doing so, by updating the file format of our digital map products. Beginning with the September new releases, all digital versions of new Pathfinder Flip-Mats, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics, Pathfinder Flip-Tiles, Starfinder Flip-Mats, and Starfinder Flip-Tiles products will contain the PDFs our customers are used to as well as VTT-friendly JPGs ready for upload and use on the virtual tabletop platform of your choice.

With over 200 existing Pathfinder and Starfinder map dating back nearly two decades, it is going to take us some time to add these JPG assets to our back catalogue, but we’re going to start that process this week as well. We plan to update a handful of Flip-Mat, Flip-Tiles, and Map Pack products each week with VTT-ready JPGs, working backwards from the August 2020 releases. Customers who own digital map products will receive an email alerting them to the changes to their downloadable assets when they are updated.


We’re still working with our partners to make these maps (as well as many other Pathfinder and Starfinder products) available for purchase natively in each platform’s content store, but in the meantime, enjoy your Pathfinder and Starfinder map products in whatever campaign you’re running on the VTT platform you like best.

Let us know how else we can support you and your fellow players in this new digital gaming landscape, and we’ll see how long my to-do list becomes

Mark Moreland
Director of Brand Strategy

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Tags: Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition Starfinder Starfinder Accessories Starfinder Roleplaying Game
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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Thank you for doing this! Really excited for this.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Adding a thank you to this massive and most appreciated effort!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Moving forward, is it possible to get the map artwork without the grid on it? When uploading maps to roll20 my biggest frustration is trying to get the map grid to align with the roll20 grid.

I'd also prefer this with the printed product as I have a 'gridded' plexiglass that I slip my maps under and do all my writing on the plexi. I figure I'm in the minority here, but a gridless jpg would be great.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Please, don't forget the Adventure Gear Deck.

Liberty's Edge

Hmm wrote:

As a former online Venture Captain, I can tell you that this has been a much-wished for item for a long time. Thank you, thank you, thank you for implementing it.

Hmm

Wait what? Your not the PBP cap'n anymore? When did this happen?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I too would love "gridless" versions of maps, not just due to vtt frustration but because sometimes I like to use the images to make hex-grid maps, and the like as well.


Mark Moreland wrote:
Phaedre wrote:
This is really good to hear. The thing I would ask (and I know it's a big one) is to do the same for the maps in the APs.
This is on our list to do, it's just a question of both figuring out the best format/resolution/etc. for these assets and digging back into hundreds of adventures to pull out the multiple maps in each to convert them. One advantage the standalone map products have over in-adventure maps is that they were originally created to be printed at 1-inch scale, meaning there's already a lot more detail in the image than there are in a lot of maps that are intended to be printed at much lower scale. So, know that we're working on it and will keep everyone posted once we have more information on our plans going forward.

AI upscaling is your friend. :)

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

When you do the Flip-Tiles please trim off the bleed edge beyond the last full size squares so that we can drop them into the VTT edge to edge without overlap and still have the grid line up. Preferably, all maps would be trimmed to the grid because it makes aligning to the VTT grid so much faster.

What also speeds up the process of aligning the grid is knowing how many squares are on the map, so it would be convenient if that were noted in the file name or in the corner of the map. Then I can just set the size of the map to that size, drop the map file, then resize it to fill the whole map area and it's instantly aligned.

Something like: Flip-Map - Fancy Dungeon - 24x30.jpg

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.
skizzerz wrote:
This is amazing news! I’d like to echo the call for AP maps as well. I realize that old ones are pretty low-res but you could for example commission high enough resolution maps for VTT for upcoming APs so that newer material sets a higher bar of VTT friendliness.

And to help mitigate the cost of commissioning the higher resolution maps, you could charge folks for the AP VTT packages. I know I'd pay a reasonable fee for something like this. Up to maybe $7.99 per AP book.

This could be a time to make sure the maps also matched up with the dimensions in the AP text and the creatures supposedly within the maps. I.e. No 5 large creatures in a 10x20 room.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

That is awesome! Now get more Starfinder stuff on Roll20! And older APs would be awesome up on Roll20!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Nice. The PDF digital map assets are nearly worthless. One of my space station tiles was damaged in a tragic table partition accident. The print shop did their best, but the (expensive) reprint from the PDF file with my name and download date on it made me question why Paizo bothered with the digital assets for map files at all. I had to convince the print shop to even do the reprint at all because of the protection on the file.

With AP's planned for this upgrade as well, you can bet I will be going back and buying old AP's just for the digital maps, even if I don't plan on doing the AP - Here's hoping Paizo will do us a solid and include the maps with each AP AND sell them separately in groups at a mark-down.

As an aside, this would be a great time for Paizo to really up their map tile game. I would pay out the wazoo for varied tile sets that followed the same art style, had transition tiles between sets, and were done in the same resolution.

Just take my money.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

WOOT! :D

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In addition to going from August 2020's releases and backwards, you might also wish to prioritize the maps that were included in the PF2 Humble Bundle. I know a lot of people bought into that, so including JPGs of those would make running the PFS Quests included there even more streamlined for use.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Just want to add one more voice telling you thanks for this, and asking for past APs to be similarly updated if at all possible. I do screen captures from the PDF Interactive Maps files, so at least I can turn off the tags and grid using that, but the resolution is low enough that it can sometimes be headache-inducing (especially when zoomed in!) It works, but it's not great. Better resolution in APs would be awesome!

Thank you!


THANK YOU!


Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

This is great news and very, very welcome. I’d like to second those who asked for all APs to receive that treatment. I would happily buy the digital versions of the APs I already own over again, just for the time saved and the headaches averted.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Any chance for high quality images that aren't restricted to roll20's 10mb limit? There's a growing number of us using a multitude of alternate VTTs like Foundry that don't have limits who'd appreciate it

Dark Archive

I'd really like the AP Carrion Crown to get this treatment and presently I'm printing the maps professionally... However I might put my Home Campaign on hold until Paizo get round to completing the Carrion Crown floorplans...

The maps of Carrion Crown have 1 square = 10ft, the images do not scale well at all... If anyone has already converted these maps to any VTT I'd love to make use of them please...

I'd really love to see these maps in Roll20 for the dynamic lighting and light distancing...

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
What does "VTT-ready" mean?
Previously, users had to jump through a bunch of hoops to extract the map images from our PDFs before they could upload them into a VTT application, and the edges of the map were almost always not aligned with the grid, so they had trouble lining the map up with the VTT's internal grid. We've cropped partial squares off the edges of these maps and provided them as native JPGs at as high or resolution as we could manage while still keeping them under the size limit of uploads to Roll20.

The Kingmaker Kickstarter that is due in a few months will that have this treatment?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

As someone who is just starting Starfinder on digital tabletops, this is great news. Still digesting the rules so I'll keep an eye out for all this.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Another thought. Have you looked at the .webp format?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is such a welcome improvement. :D


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This is pretty dang fantastic; a big (and heart felt) thank you!

If I can wish-list a couple of items:

1.) Resource packs: When making the new maps sell resource packs of map assets so GMs can add elements to their maps and have them look like they belong. Think terrain tokens that blend in seamlessly when placed on a map.

2.) Pipe dream at the moment: Looking to the future I'd love to see layered maps where you can toggle visibility. Realizing this would need to be supported by the VTT providers, it would be pretty cool to change the map in small ways (reflecting environmental damage, opened secret door, etc.), and big ways (towers collapses to rubble, shuttle crashes in the landing bay), just by toggling visibility on a given layer. In the short term, this could be done with the tokens mentioned above.

At any rate, thank you for being so awesome.

Kind regards, stay safe.


@Mark welcome back and many many thanks for this effort! One question any chance you'll do the same for the Pawn collections to convert them to usable VTT tokens? We have an awful lot of cardboard tokens collecting dust atm and could really use some VTT lovin'.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
PieRat wrote:
Nice. The PDF digital map assets are nearly worthless. One of my space station tiles was damaged in a tragic table partition accident. The print shop did their best, but the (expensive) reprint from the PDF file with my name and download date on it made me question why Paizo bothered with the digital assets for map files at all. I had to convince the print shop to even do the reprint at all because of the protection on the file.

I would expect that the JPEG maps will also be watermarked—so if it was challenging printing the PDF for that reason, I don't think that will change.

But I've never had a problem getting something printed once I provided a copy of the Paizo community use policy/license. Anytime I need something printed I include that in the email, or print a copy and take it with me. YMMV.


Oh my goodness! THANK YOU!!!!

Super excited by this approach. While it isn't hard per se to convert existing map packs to R20 compatible images, it is a little time-consuming.

Less time prepping fiddly stuff = more tables run = more fun all around! :)

Grand Lodge

Philton Grack wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
What does "VTT-ready" mean?
Previously, users had to jump through a bunch of hoops to extract the map images from our PDFs before they could upload them into a VTT application, and the edges of the map were almost always not aligned with the grid, so they had trouble lining the map up with the VTT's internal grid. We've cropped partial squares off the edges of these maps and provided them as native JPGs at as high or resolution as we could manage while still keeping them under the size limit of uploads to Roll20.
The Kingmaker Kickstarter that is due in a few months will that have this treatment?

It's not coming out until next year. Paizo posted an updated on the Kickstarter page like a week ago.


Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

There's an update from James Jacobs dated 8/27 that talks generally about where things are in the process, but gives no predictions about release. In the 7/27 update he says "second half of 2021". If you have more recent or more accurate information, please link it. :)

Horizon Hunters

This is phenomenal news


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
VeDocha Sinjin wrote:
2.) Pipe dream at the moment: Looking to the future I'd love to see layered maps where you can toggle visibility. Realizing this would need to be supported by the VTT providers, it would be pretty cool to change the map in small ways (reflecting environmental damage, opened secret door, etc.), and big ways (towers collapses to rubble, shuttle crashes in the landing bay), just by toggling visibility on a given layer. In the short term, this could be done with the tokens mentioned above.

I use GIMP for this and it works out quite well.


zag01 wrote:

Moving forward, is it possible to get the map artwork without the grid on it? When uploading maps to roll20 my biggest frustration is trying to get the map grid to align with the roll20 grid.

I'd also prefer this with the printed product as I have a 'gridded' plexiglass that I slip my maps under and do all my writing on the plexi. I figure I'm in the minority here, but a gridless jpg would be great.

I ran into this problem with experimenting with it with Maptool, too. I found that if I extracted the actual image (which does not have the fringe around the squares) and dropped it on the Background layer at native resolution with snap-to-grid on it lined up properly, but trying to use the actual map import function (which is my preferred way) it was almost impossible.


Mark Moreland wrote:
2. Not currently, but it's something we're looking into. Generally, we don't have these maps at as high of resolution as we do maps that were meant to be printed at a 1-inch scale, so we don't have as many levers to pull to make them look good at the file size folks need to be able to use them.

I know for a fact you have access to higher quality versions, at least when it comes to more recent maps as Fantasyground images are higher resolution/quality and they get the files from you :p

Not to say they are at a level where they are great for printing, but at least for VTT it is leagues beyond what we currently have with the pdfs.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Noven wrote:
Hmm wrote:

As a former online Venture Captain, I can tell you that this has been a much-wished for item for a long time. Thank you, thank you, thank you for implementing it.

Hmm

Wait what? Your not the PBP cap'n anymore? When did this happen?

I stepped down to concentrate more on freelance work. Don't worry! The current PBP team is wonderful, all officers that I hand picked. I left my region in excellent hands!

Hmm


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
emky wrote:

Woo, this is great!

Will the Pawns line be getting a similar treatment?

Ooooo, that would be AWESOME!

I would love to see more easy to print at home maps for APs as well, or have full scale maps available through a print on demand provider.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey all,

I extended the long weekend, and wasn't here for most of last week to address questions and comments in this thread so I'm going to compile a bunch of responses in one post so I don't spam the thread.

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

I too would love "gridless" versions of maps, not just due to vtt frustration but because sometimes I like to use the images to make hex-grid maps, and the like as well.

We looked into this, but most of the maps (especially the farther back you go) are not layered in a way that we can turn the grid off. We're working with the artist(s) to ensure that future maps are delivered in a format that allows this, but we can't go back to old maps and get unflattened versions, alas.

DJEternalDarkness wrote:
That is awesome! Now get more Starfinder stuff on Roll20! And older APs would be awesome up on Roll20!

Right now we're focused on getting art-only assets up on Roll20 and other VTT marketplaces, since that's something we can do without a ton of extra work. All adventures and rule supplements on VTT marketplaces are created by those platforms under license, not by Paizo. So if you're looking for specific APs or rules content, let the folks at Roll20 know what you want! Maybe down the road we'll adapt our content into VTT formats ourselves, but the more platforms that come out (I think there are already 6 we're partnered with, off the top of my head) the more work it'll be adapting a single piece of content to every platform.

Misroi wrote:
In addition to going from August 2020's releases and backwards, you might also wish to prioritize the maps that were included in the PF2 Humble Bundle. I know a lot of people bought into that, so including JPGs of those would make running the PFS Quests included there even more streamlined for use.

Yes, we discussed that, and it's still a possibility. I don't want to deviate too much from the plan before it has even had time to take hold.

Philton Grack wrote:
The Kingmaker Kickstarter that is due in a few months will that have this treatment?

The map products for the Kingmaker project (which we announced a few weeks ago would be delayed a bit) fall into the "future products" category, and will be treated the same way we do any 2021 map product.

DickersonOD wrote:
@Mark welcome back and many many thanks for this effort! One question any chance you'll do the same for the Pawn collections to convert them to usable VTT tokens? We have an awful lot of cardboard tokens collecting dust atm and could really use some VTT lovin'.

Currently, in-app tokens are linked not to pawn sets, but rather to the rules they illustrate. So if you want creature tokens from the Bestiary, pick up the Bestiary rules bundle, and you'll get the tokens already linked to the stats in the rules database (in the case of Roll20, that's the compendium; every VTT has their own version of it). We looked into releasing just the art of the pawns as tokens, but without stats to link them to, they only seemed like half a product. We may revisit this in the future, but currently, offering the tokens with the rules instead of as art-only assets is what we're doing.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Mark, you do know Roll 20 isn't the only VTT in town right?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
H2Osw wrote:
Mark, you do know Roll 20 isn't the only VTT in town right?
Mark's post just above yours wrote:
(I think there are already 6 we're partnered with, off the top of my head)

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

1 person marked this as a favorite.
H2Osw wrote:
Mark, you do know Roll 20 isn't the only VTT in town right?

Yup, that's why we're currently providing art assets that can be used anywhere, be it Roll20, d20Pro, Astral, Fantasy Grounds, or whatever. Part of the reason we started with maps is that we can release one version that works everywhere, as opposed to adventures, where we'd need to create a dataset for each platform individually. We continue to work directly with each of our partners to get as much content up on their respective marketplaces as possible, but maps are something we can improve on our end while we wait for some other projects to come to fruition. If and when maps show up on VTT marketplaces directly, those that have the capability of linking their service to our store will provide a discount of the cost of the digital asset on paizo.com on any purchase made natively on their site.


Is paizo currently looking into making an online tool kit? I'm just curious because i was going to do one as a mock-up for a project in my IT senior year classes.

Grand Archive

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Moosey51589 wrote:
Is paizo currently looking into making an online tool kit? I'm just curious because i was going to do one as a mock-up for a project in my IT senior year classes.

They don’t have anyone working on software stuff directly in-house, outside of the website which needs lot of maintenance and lot of work to keep updated, and they barely manage that.

It is not in their plans to create a software department, and when asked about it, usually answer: “if you have a VERY solid project with experience and proofs that we can count on you, and you have a very interesting project, pitch it to us.” But they are not actively looking for that, because they prefer to let the community do it. They don’t have enough employees that have both the time and knowledge on these things to do it.

Also, depending on what you mean by that, there might be already a couple of ones that either use the community use policy or just the OGL. I would say to look up both of these if you want to release your project in the wild.

BTW, that sounds like a great project for this, and I wish you the best in that endeavor! I know I would have tried to push to include some Pathfinder in my own when I was there if it was now with PF2 having caught my fancy. :3


This is an awesome move.

Would it be possible to get some kind of icon or filter so we can find all the stuff that's been set up for VTT?

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