Bill Owen Q&A
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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:14 am 
 

jamesmishler wrote:
Well, we never got to see the original office, which was at Bob's first house. Nor the second office, which Bill Owen mentioned was in a small strip mall and was now a travel office. Both of those offices were during the "PO Box 773" days.

We got to see the office at 1165 N. University Ave. That one is today a YWCA annex office. I took a picture of that office.

We also got to see the big office at 1221 N. Sunnyside Rd; once in the boonies, today it is on the verge of the suburbs. It is also a church! I got a picture of this office, too.

We passed by Bob's last home, at 1737 North Walnut Grove Avenue, where he had his office until his cancer struck. This home was also the office of Group One back in the day; it had belonged to his sister Debi and her husband, Marc Summerlott, though they sold it some time ago (or so I understood from Bob, who was renting the house). SNIP

I will be sending both pictures to Plaag to be put up on the JG subweb.


As a very occasional lurker here, I wanted to fill some blanks because I was there at the beginning... and I thought JG fans might enjoy the context of the time.

JG locations (all in Decatur IL):
1.        810 S 16th St (from mid-1976-early 1977)
2.        304 S Franklin St (early 1977-2nd quarter 1978)
3.        1165 N University Av (2nd quarter 1978 til ???; the former church, then pizza parlor with avocado colored shag carpet on the walls)
4.        1221 N Sunnyside Rd (the former schoolhouse)
5.        1737 N Walnut Grove (Bob's house)

1. FYI, the original headquarters (outside of our homes) of JG was my ICD wargame club's location on South 16th St (#1 above) which I will send a picture of to James. This is where the JG phone number (217-422-1930) came from, the ICD wargame club. JG certainly had its direct roots in wargaming! It was 2 basement rooms that had game tables which I signed the lease on before JG was thought of or official.

This location was apt because it was opposite a historical miniatures wargame shop! I think we moved in, early 1976 or late 1975… but not because of JG. I was fairly skeptical in the 1st half of the year about going into business with fantasy play aids and did numerous breakeven studies on my lunch hour at the travel agency.

Finally I was convinced, so Bob & I started JG with a handshake on the 200th anniversary of country's birth. At some point I was so deep into getting printed materials ready that the only way we used the S 16th St location was to store boxes of maps & guidelines booklets. Ominously (for me at least), there was no time to PLAY games. I was still producing paste-ups (with rubber cement, believe it or not even before wax and certainly DTP) on my homemade light table upstairs in the travel agency.

During our 2 years together, Bob mostly worked at home and he also attended college. Bob's obvious gift was in world creation. My area was play aids and the hobby industry. My father had been in retail & wholesale toys & hobbies with 15 midwestern Hobby House Toyland stores from 1946-1968. I did the Dungeon Tac Cards, Ready Ref Sheets & Judges Guild. D&D was an incredible hodge podge of materials. We helped make it more organized and playable.

By or before early 1977, I had moved to full-time (80 hours/week) plus occasional part-time fill-in at the travel agency still (like during my father's heart operation and recovery). Anyway, at some point we moved the boxes to Bob's house where Norma did the collation of installments, City State bubble packs and d-tac cards.

2. Late in 1976 or early in 1977, we rented a 3-room upstairs suite at Franklin Mall (#2 above) from my father. This was not just a strip mall as James understood (they didn't get to stop by here when attending Bob's funeral) but an antique-filled, covered mall that my father converted from a warehouse downtown. As such, it is the oldest covered mall in Illinois though much smaller than the cookie-cutter retail malls around the U.S. You can see a picture of the interior at: www.franklin-mall.us or http://www.g-design.us/mall/  â€¦and if you see the statue of Justice in the center of interior street, just above it was our offices. The FM website is a bit out of date as it still shows Franklin Travel, Head Case (both moved) and Winters' shops have reduced their space to just 1 storefront (out of 15 spaces). Sadly there are just 4 spaces occupied including my office, 2 hair stylists & 1 retail.

Bob would bring up to the mall collated products and his sister Debi would come in and fill orders on a part-time basis. I was up there mostly alone, covering the phone calls from distributors and hobby shops, doing paste-ups and typing materials. Norma did the bulk of the typing (although my girlfriend, Lynda did some too). Bob would handprint everything and we had a standard page size for the original guidelines booklets (if I recall) 7.5x10" @75%.  Marc did some paste-up work part-time. I was more the publisher and Bob the author. I went to early cons (in case Detroit's con flying free because of maintaining my travel agency privileges) and was the hobby industry contact.

Incidentally, if there was an early, offical wargame presence in Decatur (i.e. at a publicly accessible location as opposed to people's houses), it was also at Franklin Mall. In the basement from 1970-1973 the ICD wargame club met weekly.

Then the next 'official' meeting of ICD was at the library in 1974... only 1 meeting happened here and only 2 new people. But they were key people: Marc Summerlott whose father flew us up to GenCon where I bought D&D and David Petrowsky who introduced me to his cousin, Bob Bledsaw. David wasn't interested in D&D when I called him to play in my first Dungeon but said he would tell Bob about it. After that first game in my uptown apartment (I had moved out of the Franklin Mall) Bob, and Mike Petrowsky (David's brother) came. Afterwards, Bob borrowed my D&D books and the rest is history. For the next 18 months we played in Bob's world nearly every weekend. How many times would I roll out bed (I'd moved back to the mall apartment) and down to the travel agency bleary-eyed to sell travel?!

Franklin Mall is full of old-time store fronts and in some sense looks a little like a narrow City State but a bit too modern. I will provide some pictures to James (promised already but saying good-bye to Bob has cut into my efficiency). Due to my losing my interest in the game aids business (I'd lost my hobby!), I sold my half of the company to Bob.

3. So in approximately March 1978 when we dissolved our partnership, Bob moved out of the Franklin Mall to the University Avenue location (#3 above). I really only popped in here a few times especially to deliver consulting projects to help Bob and Norma. I had to put some distance so wasn't here much. I think at some point this year or 1979 that Bob & Norma incorporated JG.

When JG moved out of the Franklin Mall, I started a general game company, Game Design, in 1978 and sold about five thousand of a game called Going Places to travel agencies to use as customer gifts. I did not feel that this was good enough and returned full-time to the travel agency (Franklin Travel). I bought out other family members in 1999 (including Franklin Mall) then sold Franklin Travel 2003, after surviving the catastophic 9-11 year of 2001 with God's help. After working for the new owners, Rio Grande Travel of Albuquerque NM, I started a tour company as an independent contractor through Rio Grande & LLC and am redoing specialized group software at www.tourgrouppro.com.

The point of bringing this up is that JG's classic products came from this 304 S Franklin location. And I have been in the same space or elsewhere in the building ever since. Bob and others came up to play games here several times in various empty shops or the basement since 1999... and you can see that... http:members.aol.com/wmowen/con.htm ...is not up to date as we've had more games at Mark's house or in Springfield at Scott's since then. Bob was always a regular and gung ho.

The JG headquarters was in succession, Game Design, Rogues Hairstyling, The Brass Scissors, Bourbon Street Barber Shop, The Magic Touch (massage, but not 'messy massage' like in CSIO or so far as I know, illegal) and empty now for 2 years.

4. I know little of Sunnyside School other then playing a game or two, getting games etc.

5. I visited Bob at his home regularly, game together and there we started the cafépress site with a limited partnership to split sales' income of his JG Wilderlands overview map (which he asked me to add a hex grid to because Necromancer forgot to or didn't see why it was necessary) and my D-Day maps. This will now transfer to Bob Jr. But I have elected to give it some time before I report to him.

I miss Bob but had a wonderful time with him...


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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 1:06 am 
 

Wow, excellent stuff. Thanks for stopping by, telling us some more about Bob, and filling in some valuable details on the roots of our shared hobby. Probably the best first post here ever.   :)

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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 2:37 am 
 

Thank you very much, Mr. Owen.


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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:45 am 
 

Yeah, Bill's a great guy to talk to about Judges Guild's past.

Bill would you be fine with having a forum thread started where people can ask questions?  You can participate as often as you wish, but I thought to ask before I create it.

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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 7:06 am 
 

yeah that would be cool!

*readies 30,000 questions about tegel manor*

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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:04 pm 
 

Thanks! Most appreciated, Bill.

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Post Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:11 pm 
 

Great to have a chance to read some of the JG history.
Thank you very much!


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Post Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 3:31 am 
 

That was a great read. Just thinking about having an ENTIRE SHOP in a mall to game in, wow that would have been the greatest thing in the world when we first started.  All our games were on the kitchen table in my parents house, really cramped our style.  Very good info; I don't know if my memory is that good about my gaming group!

Bob and others came up to play games here several times in various empty shops or the basement since 1999...


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Post Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 12:25 am 
 

Plaag wrote:Yeah, Bill's a great guy to talk to about Judges Guild's past.

Bill would you be fine with having a forum thread started where people can ask questions?  You can participate as often as you wish, but I thought to ask before I create it.

ShaneG.


Okay with me. Please forgive me for being sporadic in my responses though.

I have 3 jobs now with what amounts to 2 business being started up www.tourgrouppro.com and selling ebay stuff... plus I still produce crazy game projects a bit here and there. I'm working on a 3x4' full color historical wargame map in illustrator and a Top Secret project besides.

plus I broke a finger, got to see my step-daughter walk as a Doctor of Psychology and my Mac crashed! I'm VERRY slowly unbacking now onto the ancient g4 -- yuck!

and I'm not just being modest by saying that i know more about the nuts and bolts of early jg than the campaign assumptions--that was Bob's area and I expect that bob jr and james m have gotten a lot of that to carry on.

but i hope to give a little help on that too. I'm pleased to see your many efforts to document and post details about the amazing jg story that I got to be part of with Bob--but here's the bittersweet fact... the best part of all of it was... Bob.

i miss him but trust i will see him again.


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Post Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 12:36 am 
 

To all who passed on kind thank-you's... you're welcome. I don't know if you realize that your collecting has helped me to deal with old issues and my valuing relationship with Bob.

I get a kick out of seeing stuff I just sold posted on the acaeum... much better than sitting in my basement or the white fang vault.

Badmike wrote:That was a great read. Just thinking about having an ENTIRE SHOP in a mall to game in, wow that would have been the greatest thing in the world when we first started.  All our games were on the kitchen table in my parents house, really cramped our style.  Very good info; I don't know if my memory is that good about my gaming group!

Mike B.


Our biggest game was 40 FOOT long by 5' wide and of course, Bob was there along with Mark Whitehead... my oldest gaming buddies to set it up. It was originally to have been played on the rolling wargame bus we traveled around in Europe in visiting various battlefields--but smaller scale of course.

Owning your own shopping mall becomes less fun when you have too few tennants to pay all the expenses. So it might be better to see if you can get a room at the library etc.! That's how in 1974 I indirectly met Bob... but that's another story.


PS Maybe my memory was enhanced the way the Bacon & Eggs dichotomy goes: the Hen was Involved and Pig was Committed! Starting your own business may mean getting more Committed than is healthy and behooves Caution.


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Post Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 2:34 am 
 

How did you first meet Bob?


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Post Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 6:19 am 
 

bill

maybe you need to liaise with this one with shane, but i think a full bio relating back to them days, to go on the JG subweb would be a most fantastic background to the stupendous effort that shane and the rest of the guys here, have developed, trying to "meat" out the JG world.

what do you think?

i think it would be an incredible thing to read personally.

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Post Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 8:18 am 
 

Bill,

I done some cartography of my own and for some of the JG Revival projects (The three goodman games modules)

I am curious about a couple of things. I know they are detailed but anything you remember would be cool.

Was campaign map one (City-State) done earlier as sort of a prototype. It is a slightly different style?

Also the Campaign Map One is "shifted" down a hex. If you put every other map together they will line up by the same rules (52XX overlapping 01XX) except for map one.

How was the original maps made? I think they looked like zipatone or one it's competitors. Some of the symbols (like mountains and hills) look hand drawn but there are so many to reproduce. I was able to track down a CD from letraset that has scan of their transfer what I am able to reproduce much of the old look.

Finally how did you setup the maps. By this I mean there were designed to interlock. Did you have a master to work off and sectioned it? Or each map draw by eyeballing a smaller scale map.

I know this is some old stuff but anything you can shed on this would be appreciated.

Here some of the work I done over the years. .

My own interpretation of the City-State Map for my own Majestic Wilderlands.

http://home.earthlink.net/~wilderlands/Map_Key.jpg

Map 19 which I drawn to be north of Map 5 (Valon) This is meant for the Boxed Set Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Meant to emulate the full Judges Guild Style. Still trying to figure out how to draw the coasts like in the original.

http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/ca ... ap19lg.jpg

A map of the Ghinor/Southern Reach done in Harn Style for my own Majestic Wilderlands.

http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/Ca ... Ghinor.jpg

Some half done maps of the Village of Woe one hex north of City-State
http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/woe_area.jpg
http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/woevillagelg.jpg

Enjoy
Rob Conley

  

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Post Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 4:18 pm 
 

Well seems the Q&A has already been underway :)

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Post Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 2:39 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:How did you first meet Bob?


I can address this and the following post via the project I've been writing since about January. I expect to have a little book out this summer maybe sooner.

Of course it may only create new questions! Stay tuned for more news.

PS check out my ebay auctions (gamedesign4u) in 15 days, the white fang vault will deposit several ancient JG and TSR... some of which are in mint condition.


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Post Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 2:42 pm 
 

robertsconley wrote:Bill,

I done some cartography of my own and for some of the JG Revival projects (The three goodman games modules)

I am curious about a couple of things. I know they are detailed but anything you remember would be cool.

Was campaign map one (City-State) done earlier as sort of a prototype. It is a slightly different style?

Also the Campaign Map One is "shifted" down a hex. If you put every other map together they will line up by the same rules (52XX overlapping 01XX) except for map one.

How was the original maps made? I think they looked like zipatone or one it's competitors. Some of the symbols (like mountains and hills) look hand drawn but there are so many to reproduce. I was able to track down a CD from letraset that has scan of their transfer what I am able to reproduce much of the old look.

Finally how did you setup the maps. By this I mean there were designed to interlock. Did you have a master to work off and sectioned it? Or each map draw by eyeballing a smaller scale map.

I know this is some old stuff but anything you can shed on this would be appreciated.
SNIPPED REST
Enjoy
Rob Conley


Hi Rob,
The poor campaign maps! Ouch and double-ouch! They came out really well on one level but we could have done a number of things better. But that's learning by doing.

I will write more in a bit.
Bill


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Post Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 11:58 pm 
 

<<I done some cartography of my own and for some of the JG Revival projects (The three goodman games modules)

I am curious about a couple of things. I know they are detailed but anything you remember would be cool.

Was campaign map one (City-State) done earlier as sort of a prototype. It is a slightly different style?>>

It was done first for Installment K as I remember it. And yes, it is likely the style evolved a bit.

<<Also the Campaign Map One is "shifted" down a hex. If you put every other map together they will line up by the same rules (52XX overlapping 01XX) except for map one.>>

Yes. I screwed up in not thinking through how they would fit together properly. I can't remember but we may have realized after the 1st one how the grid had to be a certain # of columns & rows to match up left/right & up/down. My excuses are: I was an untrained 22 year old working alone. Bob and I were surprisingly autonomous and compartmentalized about how we put the materials together.

I have flayed myself enough on this though. 30 years is plenty.

<<How was the original maps made? I think they looked like zipatone or one it's competitors. Some of the symbols (like mountains and hills) look hand drawn but there are so many to reproduce. I was able to track down a CD from letraset that has scan of their transfer what I am able to reproduce much of the old look.>>

As I remember it, the we would cut the lower 2/3rds of the hand-drawn mountain out of zipatone and with the exacto knife, place it in position.

Most of the initial maps were drawn by Bob and I think I went over to Wood Printing to use their typesetter to set the type for all the text.

After I was gone from the Guild, later Wilderlands maps may have been drawn by Bob's employees under his direction.

The maps were drawn with Rapidograph drafting pens on vellum with an SPI grid underneath. The original grid with coordinates was taken from an SPI grid and halftoned to be lighter than full strength Brown ink. I had called SPI and asked for permission to use this copyrighted art, which they agreed to. They were incredibly helpful to other companies. When I contacted Dunnigan to lead a tour of European battlefields in 1991 he said he remembered JG. But on the tour he advised against getting back into wargame publishing. He'd had enough.

The printing plates for the maps were "doubleburned" with the art full strength and the hexes/coordinates at a lighter tone via the halftone. Because digital reproduction is a black box to 99.99% of the population you may not appeciate how painstaking this process was for the printers. They charged a lot for the halftoning because every time they gingerly laid it on the stock negative of hexes that we'd made from the SPI blank grid, they risked scractching the emulsion and ruining it for future use. At least this is what Keith Phillips of Allied American Graphics told me. Later on we printed the maps via Bob Bridgman of Abbott & Foran.

On the other hand, once the plates were made they'd last for 10's of thousands of copies (and multiple print runs) and as long as they had the negatives still, they could make new plates if the first ones got worn out. Every 5 years or so, I'd call up all our printers in town and ask them if they found any of our old negs or plates. It's none of my business per se but Bob would bug me every so often about remaking the maps. I figured I'd stay in the printers' "face" so they might think of me if they couldn't find Bob when cleaning out their attic. I have had a higher profile locally as a business owner and have been in the same location since 1970 so easier to find.

<<Finally how did you setup the maps. By this I mean there were designed to interlock. Did you have a master to work off and sectioned it? Or each map draw by eyeballing a smaller scale map.>>

Bob had drawn a world view in the Guidelines for the City State which was the 3rd component made after the CSIO maps and D-Tac Cards and I don't think it was sectioned off at that early point. But then we did do that before Installment K. That became the master plan... but obviously a lot of detail had to be fleshed out on the Campaign Maps.

I did something similar sectionwise to make my D-Day beach maps at www.cafepress.com/judgesguild/310224. I took a Michelin map from 1946 that was sold to returning GI's, Tommies and a few Germans I suppose. I spent a lot of time deciding the scale of the hexes, their interlocking nature and allowing for the unprintable part of the Epson 1520's 13x19" paper. All this care because of the embarassing glitches in JG Wilderlands!

And I was working with pixel level precision via Photoshop! A bit over done but if was no more than 1/300th inch off, that should be good enough.

I managed to drag this projecct out for 7 years to finish 10 22x34" full color maps (which would be equivalent to 20 wilderlands sized maps because it was such a giant pain to make each map (40-60 hours each). Part of it was because I really didn't know how to use Illustrator that well but these 400 hours of effort fixed that. That version of Illustrator (v5 or v7) did NOT have layers and so I had to hoke up a work around or it would have been hopeless. The solution was to group each like item (every block of buildings or every little woods) and move it to the back or top and move everything else. Part of the time was just waiting for the dang screen to redraw! By the time I had a Mac G3 that was less of an issue.

Originally when I started that in 1997 I planned to do it 2 colors (black & blue) because we had a 2 color copier at work but I realized how much nicer they'd look in full color and have greater utility because of varying contour levels etc. And color printing had finally become practical through big inkjets that had incredible quality.

Blah blah... I know that the D-Day maps aren't particularly germane to JG but things occur to me:

1. I was shopping for grape tomato plants this afternoon and I realized how making the maps' hexes an odd scale might have actually helped our sales since people had to buy our blank hex maps to add to the 'world' of their imagining. We did not make the odd size because we were trying to sell more (like a Sony Betamax/VHS sort of battle).

We did the maps with tiny hexes purely so that you'd have more world to explore and more baronies to create! I really regret this choice though, I think we should have gone with standard 5/8" hexes because people DID want to use them as boardgame style counter maps (that had NOT occurred to us).

And I think that the denser terrain made more work for Bob. Protecting him from burnout was vitally important. He seemed indefatiguable but that couldn't really be true.

2. I also regret not having the maps cut half way along each hex so they'd butt together 'out of the box' (maybe I would have caught the problem mentioned above during the 1st map). On the other hand, the frame effect probably made them look nicer.

3. Why not do color or have higher production values? It wasn't affordable at this stage (although later with the KK Stevens web offset it was but the paper stock was not as heavy and not textured). These installments went out to people at roughly $2 each! And even with inflation making that $8-10 in today's dollars, too much cost for that minimal retail price.

We and a lot of customers liked the classic, olden look of the maps. And I think it's important to remember how our level of quality may have impacted customer usage. What I mean is that if we'd provided extremely high quality (printing wise) materials especially if on slick, glossy paper, how many people would have felt comfortable or even able to mark them up with their own personalization.

The last time I saw Bob, he still brought up "remember how we were worried whether we were giving them enough material?" I sensed a wistfulness in that question or unfinished business. And responded with reassurance that "you blew'em all away Bob!" And we did. Even TSR seemed to have to play catch up with what we were doing. And I think we helped them make their game a lot more playable.

Sure, later on people could do better using our stuff as a basis to improve on. But they needed the prototype to do better. I have always appreciated people able to make the first draft... making improvements was relatively easier using the realized vision of the pioneer.

<<I know this is some old stuff but anything you can shed on this would be appreciated.
Rob Conley>>

Thanks Rob! I appreciate the care you've gone to match our original pre-digital age efforts!

I will look at your stuff later and comment but AS USUAL, my blah blah blah spell has run too long already!

Bill


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Last edited by Bill Owen on Sun May 18, 2008 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 12:54 am 
 

robertsconley wrote:Bill,

I done some cartography of my own and for some of the JG Revival projects (The three goodman games modules)

MIDDLE SNIPPED

Here some of the work I done over the years. .

My own interpretation of the City-State Map for my own Majestic Wilderlands.

http://home.earthlink.net/~wilderlands/Map_Key.jpg

Map 19 which I drawn to be north of Map 5 (Valon) This is meant for the Boxed Set Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Meant to emulate the full Judges Guild Style. Still trying to figure out how to draw the coasts like in the original.

http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/ca ... ap19lg.jpg

A map of the Ghinor/Southern Reach done in Harn Style for my own Majestic Wilderlands.

http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/Ca ... Ghinor.jpg

Some half done maps of the Village of Woe one hex north of City-State
http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/woe_area.jpg
http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/beta/woevillagelg.jpg

Enjoy
Rob Conley


The city state in color looks pretty cool. I don't see a grid or text. Is that TBA (To Be Added)?

I've always been flabbergasted when wargame maps do not have a grid of sort, hex or square. Could even be a brick wall pattern (staggered squares or rectangles that approximate the effect of hexes) and that would better facilitate making smaller scale maps of each 'brick'.

Several years ago, Bob came to me to show me the beautiful full color map of the overall Wilderlands that I thought Necromancer had made for their redo of the product. But there was no grid! Was the artist not a wargamer?

Or perhaps the contracting parties thought one would only be playing on the individual sections but what about 'flying over' on ones Pegaus?! So I took a portion of my giant 120x120 hex grid (10 FOOT SQUARE with 1" hexes ALL individually numbered by an insane person, me). And very carefully laid out 20-mile 5/8" hexes so that the adjacent maps could line up correctly (I had finally learnt!) You can see the result at:

http://www.cafepress.com/judgesguild.11085378

At that time, I gave Bob some blank grids so that he could draw new adjacent Wilderlands to the original 18-map section. I did not hear more so I thought that he'd just dropped the project.

I was always eager to goose Bob to pursue some new stuff and when we'd get together there was a bit of the old excitement and magic of our relationship. But more recently what seemed to happen was that he'd not get very far or even started. I suppose the secret of our success together was working together. Even though we'd work separately in the original JG days, we'd come together reguarly to show progress and that was motivating itself.

Anyway, I was pleased to see that he had given more Wilderlands to James Mishler to produce and my only suggestion to JM was to add a grid with coordinates.

Aren't the coordinates crucial? I think so.

After leaving the Guild, I spent a few years working on a giant 2 map Victory In Europe game (never published) with a friend from pre-Bob days. I toyed with the idea of only ID'ing the center of 7 hexes and having it be hex 89.0 and the surrounding hexes like 89.1 to 89.6. This would reduce the amount of coordinate text to about 1/10th the typical approach. Where the idea gets a little flakey is around the edges of the map where one may have to make some unacceptable compromises with the basic design concept.

Another thing that I've thought about with my Judges Guild game (unpublished) was having the # of hexes and coordinates relate to a random event roll. So for example, you could have a 20x20 hex grid of 5/8" hexes (approximately) 10x12.5". When something happens (teleport destination etc.) you roll 2D20!

As to the original style and jagged coasts, Bob and I spent some time thinking about that w/r/t Illustrator. I felt that there was probably some sort of random pattern that could be 'drawn' on a path (the newest versions of AI has lots of features). But it was apparent that he felt that the Illustrator approach wasn't enough of a time savings to warrant the redraw, personally.

You've done a really nice job and the only thing I can add is a suggestion about the hex coordinates. I think that perhaps they should be black on a white 'shadow' so they don't get lost in the forests.

For full color maps, the grid and coordinates don't need to be the same color actually. One thing I figured out with my 2nd revision of the D-Day maps was that you either need very light terrain or fairly dark... and thus the grid can be dark if the terrain is light or white if the terrain is dark. I went to the latter approach because the D-Day maps were NOT designed as a boardgame map (again someone may be doing the unexpected) but just reference maps for a subset miniatures campaign.

I think if you are going to play with lots of counters on a map, then the terrain needs to be lightish in tone. But with few or no counters, then it can be darker.

Anyway, great job and I KNOW how much work's involved.


Bob's buddy

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Post Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 10:12 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote:Yes. I screwed up in not thinking through how they would fit together properly. I can't remember but we may have realized after the 1st one how the grid had to be a certain # of columns & rows to match up left/right & up/down. My excuses are: I was an untrained 22 year old working alone. Bob and I were surprisingly autonomous and compartmentalized about how we put the materials together.

I have flayed myself enough on this though. 30 years is plenty.


I know how hard it is. My first multi map project was using quarter inch square graph paper (8.5 by 11). I had a campaign that used 12 sheet in a 3 by 4 grid and I had to draw it three times before I got them to fit like the master map.

Then in the late 80's I redrew all the Wilderlands maps. Not only to preserve the older once I had but because I expanded the scale from 5 miles to 12.5 miles and added a lot more detail. The Ghinor map is an example of what I did with paper.

I drew them on these huge hex sheet that allowed me to combine multiple Wilderland maps one sheet. I screwed up the first one by starting out the coastline in ink. The map began with the coast near viridstan by the time I swung back north I missed some hexes but things stopped lining up. Since then I drew the coast in pencil first and then inked after I was sure it lined up.

Here is an example my hand drawn map. http://home.earthlink.net/~wilderlands/ ... tilmap.jpg
One area expanded to every village.
http://home.earthlink.net/~wilderlands/Antil_SE.JPG

There two reason I made the changes I did. First in on my campaigns the players went from city-state to viridstan in a few days. They were kinda of shocked how short it took and expected the world to be bigger.

Second my campaign were heavy with character building baronies and building realms. In the early/mid 80's the best source for running a medieval realm was Harn.  

By setting the maps to harn scale I could use the harn material judge how many people can inhabit various areas as well as getting the bigger map the player's wanted.




Bill Owen wrote:As I remember it, the we would cut the lower 2/3rds of the hand-drawn mountain out of zipatone and with the exacto knife, place it in position.

Most of the initial maps were drawn by Bob and I think I went over to Wood Printing to use their typesetter to set the type for all the text.

After I was gone from the Guild, later Wilderlands maps may have been drawn by Bob's employees under his direction.

The maps were drawn with Rapidograph drafting pens on vellum with an SPI grid underneath.


Thanks for the info. I know this may be long winded but here some of the things I did on the way as far as mapping.

I redrew the Wilderlands maps and the City-State map in the late eighties by hand. The computer generated map you saw stems from the mid 90's when CorelDRAW and Windows became the affordable.

The City State map when through three re-draws. This started in order to preserve my beat up originals. Also while the CSIO map was great, I didn't like how there were enough allyways and how huge the average buildings were especially in the middle section. Nothing wrong with it the original mind you but my personal preference.

When I stumbled across a xerox place that had a blueprint photocopier. I had them xerox six copies of the player's and gm map of CSIO. Then I took the Player's map and drew the new alleyways and building. This wasn't radically different than the original I focused more on the changes that six campaigns of players made to my CSIO (1981 to 1985).

Then I went to college in the fall of 1984 and majored in Computer Science and minored Geography. One my first classes was how to use all the technical drawing pens, vellum and what now. We had these great light tables as well.

So I took one of my photocopied maps bought a big old sheet of vellum and then inked out essentially the same map I posted previously. I then took it back to the place with the blueprint copier and had them photocopy and and then I use the photocopies to color and add fine details. I lost that vellum sometime in late college and always regretted.

So that was the second version. The third version was done using CorelDRAW and was my first serious attempt at drawing on the computer. The key was keeping everything in separate layers and ordering the layers correctly. Which is trickier than it sounds especially in the middle portions.

Do this I shrunk down my map to 8.5 by 11 and then used a digitizer board and a puck to accurate the maps from my original hand drawing. Scanner in the mid 90's were really expensive and unlike today the multi meg images that resulted from a 8.5 by 11 scan crushed the average computer.

I never did really transfer over my hand drawn wilderland maps. At the same time I did the computer CSIO map I found a place that could laminate blueprints/posters so over the years I had everything laminated and my preservation problems were solved. The Ghinor map is more of an expansion as my handdrawn maps stopped at the southern tip of Orchia.

However since my involvement with the Necromancer project I actively resumed trying to "figure out" how the old maps were drawn. One recent breakthrough is I paid a $100 to Letraset for a CD of scans of old zipatones. Now I can use the bitmap fill feature of Corel and have the old terrain shown as they should be.


Bill Owen wrote:
but Bob would bug me every so often about remaking the maps. I figured


James and other known that I am getting close to perfectly replicating the old style if they every need the old maps redone as they were. The big question is where can we find the textured paper they were printed on as nobody seems to have it anymore.


Bill Owen wrote:We and a lot of customers liked the classic, olden look of the maps. And I think it's important to remember how our level of quality may have impacted customer usage. What I mean is that if we'd provided extremely high quality (printing wise) materials especially if on slick, glossy paper, how many people would have felt comfortable or even able to mark them up with their own personalization.


Again wish we could find the paper again. That was good stuff and had the right combination of look and usability. I think you are spot on with the glossy stuff.

Bill Owen wrote:reassurance that "you blew'em all away Bob!" And we did. Even TSR seemed to have to play catch up with what we were doing. And I think we helped them make their game a lot more playable.


In my campaign the JG Materials were the meat and the TSR stuff was the filler. Nearly everything you guys did both maps and writing was more usuable out of the box than what TSR did. Sure there may been some clunkers (Looking at a certain Storm Giant Castle) but overall JG was the best value for my buck then and now with the re-releases.

Bill Owen wrote:Thanks Rob! I appreciate the care you've gone to match our original pre-digital age efforts!


I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

Rob Conley

P.S. Great touch adding the street lights to the original CSIO maps. I proofed the new CSIO map for Clark and Necromancer and I off handedly mention "Don't you wonder what those dots were on the original?" He said "Yeah what are they?" I replied "They are the street lights. You can see which areas are lighted with oil lamps and which are not." Clark made sure that the new map had them.

  


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Post Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 10:31 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote:
The city state in color looks pretty cool. I don't see a grid or text. Is that TBA (To Be Added)?


The file that color map was printed uses a lot of layer. By setting which layer is visible during printing I produce the following maps.

A color reference map that everyone sees. Printed at 17" by 22"
A sectioned GM map with the key and a square grid that is 240 feet per square. Printed on multiple overlapping 8.5 by 11 sheets.
A b/w player's map that is not grid and printed a single 8.5 by 11 sheet.

Since I print the file at so many different size I don't set scale other than the square grid and the scale bar. I was kinda of careless with this map. On subsequent map I made my scaling more precise.

Bill Owen wrote:Several years ago, Bob came to me to show me the beautiful full color map of the overall Wilderlands that I thought Necromancer had made for their redo of the product. But there was no grid! Was the artist not a wargamer?


The CSIO map was my first major attempt at drawing a map on the computer. The handrawn map it was taken from was drawn at 1 mm = 10 ft. I mucked up during the computer redraw.

Since then I been more careful at maintaining my scale and sizing things for the paper size I draw too. It is definitely not easy.

One of the problem I run into is that I approach my maps from a cartographer standpoint. What shows the most information, with the most precision in the most useful presentation.

Most of the people I compete with are more artists who paint/darw their maps way better than I can. On the Ghinor map you can see my attempts at using texture fills to give my color maps more punch in the looks department.

Bill Owen wrote:
As to the original style and jagged coasts, Bob and I spent some time thinking about that w/r/t Illustrator. I felt that there was probably some sort of random pattern that could be 'drawn' on a path (the newest versions of AI has lots of features). But it was apparent that he felt that the Illustrator approach wasn't enough of a time savings to warrant the redraw, personally.


I done some work on this using a feature where you can layout symbols along a line. I made a symbol list of random dabs and used the feature to give the coast that JG look. I haven't quite got it right (too heavy for the most part) but am working on it. Once I draw up the right combination it may work.

Bill Owen wrote:You've done a really nice job and the only thing I can add is a suggestion about the hex coordinates. I think that perhaps they should be black on a white 'shadow' so they don't get lost in the forests.


That is actually a tough question. I can do that easily with layers but it doesn't look as pleasing with this forest broken up by these blobs of text. I suppose for the Map 19 I will do it because it has large unbroken expenses of forest. However for a different map that has smaller chunks of forest. I will think I will forego the white shadow and just tell the ref to count hexes.

Also I found it not white shadow you want. But rather you copy the text that needs to appear to a layer underneath the text. You make the copied text white and make the text border 4 pt.

In CorelDraw Text colored like objects. Normally text has just the fill and no outline. But by setting the fill to white and giving it a 4 pt outline it make a perfect space for the text to show.

Bill Owen wrote:For full color maps, the grid and coordinates don't need to be the same color actually.


I didn't think of that. Thanks for the tip.

Bill Owen wrote:Anyway, great job and I KNOW how much work's involved.


Thanks and I appreciate talking with you about this stuff. I think we are cut from the same cloth as far as mapping goes.

Rob Conley

  
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