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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

A simple campaign system (Part 6): Testing the terrain generator

Since writing the draft terrain generator, I've tested its mechanisms to see what tweaks are required to improve it.

I chose the following types of terrain to test the terrain generator:
  • Undulating Desert
  • Hilly Rural
  • Flat Rural
  • Mountainous
  • Undulating Urban
  • Hilly Forest
Undulating Desert


Hilly Rural


Flat Rural


Mountainous


Undulating Urban


Hilly Forest


Observations
Doing these additional tests did throw up one or two points that need to be addressed. Firstly, I forgot to add railways to my arteries of transport, namely roads and rivers. Secondly, I need to rename settlements as farms or hamlets, and to make villages occupy two grid areas and towns three grid areas. Thirdly, I need to look at adding fields as an option for Rural areas and swamps to areas near rivers. Finally, I need to think about making roads and rivers a little less straight and making them enter and exit on the face of a terrain grid are not through the corner, especially as the latter will not fit in easily with terrain systems like Hexon II.

For those of my blog readers who have been looking at my recent blog posting about my terrain generator and thinking 'that looks nice, but I don't have the skill or computer program to turn out maps that look like that', can I point out that I draw the maps out very roughly on a pre-printed grid thus ...


... before turning them into illustrations for my blog. This particular example took me less that five minutes to sketch, and I then used it to create the Hilly Forest map shown above.

A blank 8 x 8 square grid and a blank 9 x 8 hexed grid are shown below, and these can be copied by regular blog readers on condition that they are for personal use only. (It should be possible to copy them by right clicking each image and selecting the 'Save image as ...' option.)

An 8 x 8 square grid.
A 9 x 8 hexed grid. The rows of hexes have been numbered to help users count across and down when locating terrain on the grid.

10 comments:

  1. Hi Bob,
    You are certainly putting in a great deal of effort and detail into the Terrain Generator project...sounds as though you're nearly there in terms of total completeness- like your idea to include Rail and possibly make your Rivers less straight. Very much enjoying your series of postings on this interesting subject. Best Wishes. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      I've really enjoyed the mental exercise that I have gone through developing this project. I may be getting old, and bits of me don't work as well as they used to, but my brain does require regular challenges to keep it from turning to mush. That's one of the joys of wargaming; it provides a positive cornucopia of challenges.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Been enjoying this series Bob- is it a future book in the making?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    Replies
    1. Pete.,

      Glad that you've been enjoying this series of blog entries. I'm hoping that they will form the basis of several chapters in my next PW book.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Very nice! You have taken the concept much further than I did. And I am truly enjoying your results. so much so that I may as well toss my system into the bin. Excellent work!

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    1. Mike Taber,

      Cheers! The terrain generator still needs work done on it before I'll be totally happy ... but I feel like I'm going in the right direction.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Looks like a very handy scenario generator as much as a terrain -the type of ground suggesting the type of battle.

    One of the reasons for additional features such as enclosures and railways and such like occuring to me was that, a 10x10 square grid array being over 50% larger than an 8x8 the generation system, though workable OK, left the table a tad on the sparse side. Of course there were other ways to remedy that e.g. by adding 50% to the number of the 'basic' (shall we call them) terrain features (which might include a 50% chance of a second road; or maybe 'half a road' by which I mean the second road branching off the first one).

    However this goes, this may well provide me with a quick means of resuming (reviving?) my Gatonegro War of Independence and Vales of Lyndhurst campaigns...

    It is possible too, that, having been fought to a standstill at Cpistupon, General Scarlett will permit himself to be besieged at Hak-al-Amara, with consequent efforts being mounted to relieve the Rajistan Expeditionary Division ...
    Cheers,
    Ion

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    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      I must admit that you are right about the terrain generator setting the scene for a scenario for a wargame. I looked at several of the test pieces and thought to myself 'I wouldn't mind fighting a battle over that terrain'.

      The problem with sticking to an 8 x 8 or 9 x 8 grid is trying to balance the desire to have enough terrain on the tabletop to make the battle interesting, but not too much to ensure that there is no room to manoeuvre. I'd certainly like to add the option of another road/track and a railway track for the period after 1830/40.

      I have played around with the terrain from MEMOIR '44 and BATTLE CRY to see if the system works with larger grids, and found that by splitting the board into two parts and treating them as separate grids, I got some interesting results.

      I do hope that my efforts help to revive your Gatonegro War of Independence and Vales of Lyndhurst campaigns, although I really do love reading about events in Rajistan, which - by the way - I will be mentioning in today's blog entry.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Although terrain generators can be a fun procedure to generate terrain, I always feel that they give not-quite interesting terrains to play on.

    Somehow I think that if you would have a stack of geomorphic map sections, each with an interesting lay-out by themselves, and combine 4 or 6 randomly selected board together, would produce a more interesting terrain than doing it cell by cell. Look at it from a higher-up level in the hierarchy, so to speak.

    An alternative is the system used by Grant in Programmed Wargames Scenarios, in which a battlefield is divided in 3 sections (left, middle, right), and there are 3 options for each section. It ensures that the idea of the scenario is maintained, but you still have some variation in terrain setup.

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    1. Phil Dutré,

      I did consider adopting something similar to the three part approach used in Charles Grant's Programmed Wargames Scenarios, but after some considerable thought, I decided against using it.

      If I had a number of pre-built terrain squares or boards, then your first suggestion would have been an ideal way forward, but as the terrain I use is either Hexon II hexed terrain or a gridded felt cloth, I felt that I needed a system that worked with what I had.

      So far the terrain generator hasn't produced any really awful terrain, although some have been better than others. I'm going to persist with it for the time being, and hope to use it to generate a number of tabletops that can be used together to form a bigger 'map'.

      All the best,

      Bob

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