I'm glad this thread got people thinking. It's nice to see Torstan weigh in with his piece, because he's one of the shining examples of how this stuff should be done if you're doing it with VTT in mind.
Cartographer's Guild is my number 1 resource due to the dependency I have on maps. I want you all to be aware of how many fans NeonKnight has there; this is because he recreates the maps for Wizards 4.0 adventures. WotC decided that maps weren't a highlight of their APs, and are moving towards a business model of maps as suggestions or using Wizard brand tiles instead of maps. That's great for them and all, but it stinks for people that grew dependent on good cartography.
I'm not sure who is going to officially make money off of this niche, but I've got my commissions in to respective parties until a more suitable business front makes itself known.
Try it, you'll love it. Any old POS projector will do and any laptop in the last ten years has a VGA port for it. Duct tape, a table, the ceiling, and you're good to go. I love it to death, and I've really become accustomed to the projection setup, which is why something like digital downloads for maps would be something I could definitely subscribe to.
This is pretty much my sentiments exactly.
Maybe it is a fault of mine, to set a level of expectation so high for my players but I am not alright with stopping every minute or so as I draw out more corridors and rooms. My penmanship is god awful and it eats up a lot of session time. At the same time, I never put the task to my players because they are there to play, not draw maps.
I'd gladly pay for a separate file, and never expected this to be released complimentary with the APs each month. Assuming they own the rights, and the larger files, it really is just a matter of balancing the man hours against the potential business.
I honestly consider it a killer app that no one is genuinely interested in, as far as pen and paper companies go. There is no singular business out there that caters to this sort of niche and with the digital age being what it is, I only see things like this becoming more and more popular; projector setups and touch-screen surfaces are definitely going to be what the future of social gaming is done with. Whether or not offering larger versions of your maps is something worth spending Paizo resources on, I can't really be a determining factor; I am just one customer. But I can seek this out in the companies I buy from and make my requests known.
I am not asking for 55MB .pngs that are 4000 x 4000 pixels in size. I have no desire for someone to give me a map that they have painfully made sure that it will look beautiful when printing out 1inch per square. I just want something a bit larger than what we're getting, and as one of the biggest / best companies with a digital face for the public, I figured I'd see if it was something feasible.
P.S. I consider map-making communities such as the Cartographer's Guild and RPGMapShare to be a god-send. Glad to see you like them to, but it's pretty telling of the setting when people seek alternatives to the official offerings. NeonKnight's version of H1-H3 from Wizards is astounding.
If the official answer I am going to get is, yes, the cartographers they commission actually 1. Charge on a basis of image resolution and 2. the biggest image they go to print with maps is roughly 500 x 500, then that's fine.
But I've seen how other magazines work. Their images are huge before being squished down to fit. Even the preview images we get on the blog for some of the character art is a nice size before it gets resized. I could do side-by-sides of images extracted via adobe and the preview images and probably show better examples.
I just want you guys to know that, at least for me and probably a good minority of other DMs, running an adventure hinges entirely on whether or not we have maps available to run it. Paizo continues to be one of the best companies out there for adventures, and even Wizards recently kicked sand in our face by using TILES FOR MAPS in their Fourth Edition adventure for E3. I use a projector set-up in real life, and constantly use maptools for online play... Yes, I can zoom in, but you can only go so far before it gets grainy.
Those are some great points, and I can understand printing costs and size limitations, but you also offer many of your products digitally. What is stopping you from posting the original, high-res version of the map for those who purchased the adventure? I know you have to size them down to fit them into the books, so there must be larger scans available out there.
From a business standpoint, you could charge a few dollars extra for a hi-res map pack and essentially make money on something you've already written off as overheard. I can't imagine the people you commission for mapwork to be against that.
Can't you scale the grid on the VTT to allow for maps of any scale? I don't know the program you're using, but I know of at least one where this is possible.
I use maptools, and while it does allow me a bit of wiggle room for sizing the map, the task becomes nigh-impossible when the squares are 10 feet instead of 5, and if the original image isn't very large then you cannot zoom in.
I guess what I really can't understand is why such nice maps are kept so small when the original, very large image is out there somewhere!
I just got my copy of The End of Eternity, and flipping through the pages to check out all of the beautiful mapwork made me finally snap: what is with the lack of useful sizes? 1square = 10 feet does me no good, and to be perfectly honest, I keep my subscription running for the maps and artwork alone.
Yet it hasn't been since Rise of the Runelords that I've seen maps that I could realistically use right away. I used to print the images out, but then I moved to virtual tabletop gaming. Maybe the majority of Pathfinder DMs are used to alternative means of showing their maps, but I am by no means a talented artist (or even passable at drawing on a grid).
I want you to go back and look at the maps for Thistletop, or even Kalton Manor. One square is five feet, and it's in a big enough size (in the PDF version) that you could plop it into a VTT and run with it. Compare that to the (admittedly beautiful) Isle of Dead in the latest Pathfinder. Sure they have the Isle of Not, but that's 1/4 the page, compared to the 3/4ths that Thistletop got when it appeared.
I don't mean to disparage the good folks at Paizo, but is it cheaper to get the cartographers to work this way? Is it part of the business model to show maps as reference guides for later re-creation and nothing more?
I would like to see Paizo strike a deal with someone that could offer software support for the system. At the moment I'm using DM Genie to run my games, and it's a BIG help for me. I can't see myself go back to running a non-digital game anymore. DM Genie has a new version on the horizon that may or may not offer support for Pathfinder RPG, but I'm not saying that this would necessarily be the best option for Paizo. There's also RPGXplorer and probably other tools that I'm not aware of. In any case, I think it is in Paizo's best interest to make sure that there's some sort of software support for the digital DM to run his game.
This seems like an ideal situation, though it would require a lot of negotiating that I am not sure Paizo is in a position to seek out at this time. For them to endorse one specific application, it would mean possibly bringing in some extra revenue but at the same time I wonder if they couldn't take a Web 2.0 approach and simply open up some sort of online resource for people to collaborate on existing systems with.
There has been mention, for example, of a Pathfinder wikipedia. This web software is not only free, I am certain Paizo could pull it off with great ease and bring another first to the table of D&D publishers. Wikipedia notwithstanding, you have sites like [RPG Mapshare allowing people to share user-created content, some of which is already based off of the Rise of the Runelords setting and for use with previously mentioned virtual game table software. These are things that the players will adopt, with or without Paizo, but it'd be so much more satisfying if the company was involved in the process, if even in a minor way. A seal of approval, a small nod and URL plug, and that's to name just a couple of the ways they could achieve this integration.
In my mind, Wizards of the Coast is doing plenty of things that aren't in the best interest of the community, including alienating developers such as Paizo by withholding life-giving rules. One thing that WotC is trying to do is step boldly into the digital age and, up until now, I feel as if Paizo has had them beat on that subject. Paizo offers PDFs for all of their Pathfinder products, making it a breeze to reference them. With only minor technical wizardry involved, I can export any map from said files for use in applets such as Maptools, making gameplay set up fast and fun.
Obviously both parties can expand their influence upon this particular crowd of gamers by taking different steps, but from what I can see only WotC is looking to do so (though perhaps only in an attempt to play catch-up). With the announcement of The Pathfinder RPG, I wonder less about rules and more about what direction of availability Paizo is going to be looking at with their products. Wizards is boasting an online game tabletop, and honestly I can't expect Paizo to offer one themselves (nor would I want it with free, robust alternatives readily available), but with promises of online content available for download with every hard-cover book purchased, I suspect WotC may be taking a note from Paizo's wisdom. Maps, clear of annotation, strike me as the biggest benefit here; images of monsters, NPCs and items would be taking what has been, up until now, a Paizo exclusive as well. Ultimately we will not know until such service goes live with Wizards, but it could definitely sway a few votes towards 4.0 and their products if they get savvy to offering their customers these resources.
From the moment I discovered Paizo, I was impressed with their eagerness to work beyond what was required. Putting out web enhancements for Dungeon magazine helped me and countless others in ways I cannot describe. When Wizards decided to move to a new format for encounters (read: Eyes of the Lich Queen Eberron Adventure) with the hopes of making it easier for the DM to use, they managed to do the opposite entirely. Paizo stuck true to the mold and now they hope to expand upon it. I can only hope they look to cull what does not work, and emphasize what does.
So as I see this new ruleset take it's first baby-steps, I'd just like to remind Paizo of some of the things I absolutely love about playing D&D in the Digital Age:
You've already done so much to embrace the Digital Age with these forums, IRC channels, web enhancements, and PDF support. Not to mention the amazing amount of customer-company feedback that goes on. I cannot expect myself to ever drop support from WotC or Paizo, no matter what you do, but I have a feeling by this time next year, I will be sorely wishing one had the resources of the other. Hopefully it wont take a wisdom check to determine which one that will be :)
I would love for a separate PDF, per book, of all of the maps contained therein. I run Pathfinder using Maptools, or a projector for table-top games and I would love to have some high-res, non-marked maps to work with.
It would make my experience so much easier to put together. The fact that Pathfinder and the Gamemastery modules include the maps in such detail is one of the reasons why I use it over the traditional stuff Wizards is putting out these days (Seriously, those reworked encounters with the tiny window of a map on each page was a bad idea.)
So yes, I'm definitely in favor of seeing some of these maps show up.