Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Historical Aesthetics in Mapmaking"

Now out from the MIT Press, Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, including my chapter "Historical Aesthetics in Mapmaking."

Read more about the book at: link

Friday, September 4, 2015

Operation Dauntless Map

Really proud of how the Normandy map for Operation Dauntless turned out!

See it in more detail here: link

Friday, September 18, 2009

Games as Historiography

One of the joys of working in the history simulation hobby is the history itself. Too often, good scholarship takes a back seat to gameplay and publishing concerns, but every once in a while, a truly impressive piece of historical synthesis may be found. Here are three quick examples:

Here I Stand (GMT)
(designer Ed Beach)
Most students of the Reformation tend towards the religious struggle to the exclusion of the myriad forces in operation throughout sixteenth-century Europe. Ed's synthesis of each of six key powers' goals and strategic options is remarkable. Managing the complexities through brilliant use of a card-driven system, the game manages to elevate to, at the very least, a catalyst for better understanding of this important period.

War of the Suns
(designer Leonard To)
In a front of WWII forgotten by most Westerners, the Chinese held off a Japanese incursion into Russia for nearly a decade. Especially with China emerging on the world stage as it is, understanding this conflict is critical - but even for those interested, the English-language sources are slim. Leonard's synthesis of the Chinese sources into this monster simulation make this game likely the best academic examination of that conflict available in the English language.

Clash of Monarchs (GMT)
(designer Bob Kalinowski)
The detail and complexity of this simulation of the Seven Years' War speak to Bob's long study and toil to bring this to our tables. "Labor of love" has new meaning here, and again a synthesis of the source material into an overview of inestimable value for the historian. It is so easy to get lost in the arcana and esoterica of a subject...

At any rate, hope the Lepanto game I'm working on can come close to any of these in its usefulness...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Elizabethan Cartogram

Having enjoyed Ed Beach's superb Here I Stand boardgame on the Wars of the Reformation, I leapt at the chance to work on a playtest map for his upcoming sequel covering the Golden Age of Elizabeth, entitled Virgin Queen. (An altogether fascinating period of history including the French Huguenot Wars of Religion, the battle of Lepanto, the Spanish Armada, and much more.)

Ed's original playtest map was a modification of the Here I Stand map, using 3 insets to add action in the New World, the Netherlands, & Indian/Pacific oceans. For example, we see in Here I Stand, the Netherlands warranted a mere 4 spaces; whereas in Virgin Queen that count expands to 21 spaces to contain the Dutch Revolt and Reformation:

Some brief discussion with Ed led me to suggest we employ a cartogram (a superb discussion of practical cartograms may be found here) for the map, to better reflect the relative importance of the areas during the period. What we needed was a map that would enlarge the Netherlands' surface area greatly (and to some degree, France & England's), as well as include The Indian and Pacific as far out as Australia. The resulting contortion is what Ed aptly describes as "The world inside Philip II's head:"

The content on the map is still in flux, so we'll save a look at that until things settle down a bit. Open PBEM playtesting is beginning soon, and if you're interested in helping you can email Ed to sign up.

Please note that this is in no way endorsed by GMT Games yet; for that matter as far as I know GMT has not technically contracted to publish the game at all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wars of the Roses

After thirty odd drafts, by far the longest project I've yet been involved in, you can now trash the English countryside underfoot, recreating the Wars of the Roses...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Portfolio Update

Added ten new maps to my portfolio today, as well as a link for the redux map for Twilight Struggle which (thanks to the good offices of GMT Games, Jason Matthews, Ananda Gupta, and Daniel McGinty) is now available for purchase...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Of dimension and projections...

So after an initial focus on antique map styles, then game map forms, then illustrative cartography, I've been moving in more technical directions the past few weeks - doing a lot of work with creating 3D terrain effects for maps, as well as reprojecting NASA's Blue Marble Next Generation (BMNG) RAW data to create hyper-accurate background maps.

The area surrounding Alesia, with 3d terrain and edge displacements...

NASA BMNG data of the Pacific, reprojected on an Albers equal-area cone...