Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hexographer?

Anyone out there ever used Hexographer? It looks rather nifty and might be just the little program I want for designing the kinds of wilderness maps I prefer, but I'd prefer to hear some firsthand opinions about the program before I shell out any money for it.

25 comments:

  1. The online free version is very full-featured. You can probably get a good idea of its capabilities from trying it out.

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  2. I absolutely recommend you give the free version a whirl. It has nearly all the features of the pay version and will certainly give you an idea what it can do. Joe has produced a great product and if you are looking to create old Mystara style hex maps you'll be very pleased.

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  3. Given I seem to have so little time to sit down and learn Campaign Cartographer, this looks promising. Thanks!

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  4. I used the AKS Hexmapper for my last fantasy campaign. Not a bad product. Hexographer looks a little more interesting; I like the fact that it allows you to create rough coastlines.

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  5. Bought the full version, absolutely love it. Very stable, produces lovely maps, and customizable with your own graphics. Faster than any other process I've used for wilderness maps. I'd love to see the same approach applied to an app for grid-based dungeons and other structures.

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  6. The one-year renewable license would keep me away from the pay version (funny that's an issue the same day as the copyright discussion).

    I do like AKS. I agree wity Robert that there should be a similar tile-based dungeon mapper in the same vein (like the Core Rules 2 MapMaker from the mid-90's).

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  7. I have used the free version fairly often. It is great and produces maps fairly similar to the TSR Gazeteer maps. I have a few examples of maps I created on my Blog.

    tegeus

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  8. I use AKS Hexmapper because it's free and does a good job.

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  9. I used the free version to make a game map for the OSRIC game I'm running (new players welcome)
    http://rpol.net/game.cgi?gi=36858&date=1258010143

    I'm very satisfied with the results though I was too lazy to use the fancy coastline feature. Its also good cause you can save the file and then add more details later as the game progresses.

    Here's the result(note the village built on an inactive volcano next to some offshore ruins)
    http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Qe-R2i29iaJZDJlimdIykg?feat=directlink

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  10. Very good product and seven dollars is, what, two popcorns at the movies? To the above who linked the annual fee option to copyright issues, not really sure that this has anything to do with copyright. Work is done, product is offered for sale (with free sample version), worker hopes for efforts to be recognized.

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  11. As stated above: Try out the free web-based version. If you like it, you can then get the registered version.

    I personally can't draw worth sour owl poop, and Hexographer has enabled me to create some pretty cool little maps.

    So in my opinion, Hexographer is well worth trying out, especially if you're cartographically challenged -- as I am.

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  12. I've owned a copy of Campaign Cartographer and not used it, mostly because of the relatively steep learning curve. This looks much more in line with what I'd like to use.

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  13. I love it. Things that took me days in Fractal Mapper take under an hour with HexMapper. It has a wonderful, classic look to it, and is nearly idiot-proof.

    I acutally have a full review of it in the next ish of Fight On!

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  14. Both Hexographer and Hexmapper look good to me. Which is really annoying, as I'm not gaming at all. I'd probably lean toward Hexographer's ability to export in PNG format -- that would let me import background directly into Andy Weir's Gametable for (theoretical) online play. On the other hand, Hexmapper has a real scalability edge. Le sigh.

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  15. Love it. I've used it for a couple of different games. I'll usually draw a simple map up, using the native icons, and then move it to Fireworks or Photoshop in order to add a bit more to it. (Layers are a wonderful thing.)

    The free version is my app of choice.

    Word verification: inity...The end of infinity. Who knew?

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  16. Thanks for the compliments everyone!

    Just to explain why the lifetime license is a series of 1 year licenses:
    I've done this to avoid major problems if a license gets posted on a blog or message board. (I'm guessing 99% of the people who buy a license wouldn't do this, but maybe you'd let a friend use your license to see a map (although the free version loads pro version maps) and then that person or another mutual friend posts it.) Anyway, if this happens, the license expires in less than a year so the damage isn't as great as if it was a perpetual license.
    Yeah, it is a little cumbersome, but considering the cost I think it is a good deal. If you've got a different idea that overcomes the issue, please let me know.

    Also, if you've got feature requests or usability ideas, drop me a note. I'm curious about what "scaling" means.

    Joe (the developer of Hexographer)

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  17. I do believe I will be giving this a try.

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  18. I really like the free version. The No. 1 selling point: you don't need to know anything in order to use it.

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  19. The free version is pretty nifty. However, there are several problems with Hexographer that make me strongly advise people *not* to use it -- not even the free version.

    The online version is a Java app. Under ordinary circumstances, you can simply download a Java app like this, and run it on your own computer. Why would you want to do this? Because web sites go down. It is a fact of life. If you want to be able to open your maps eighteen months from now, it is mandatory that you be able to run the app locally. Unfortunately, the author of Hexographer has crippled the app so that it can *only* be run on his server.

    Strike one.

    A reasonable person would assume that the "one year license" means that you get free updates for a year, and that after that, you would need to upgrade or buy another license. That would not be ideal (open source is ideal), but it would at last not be unreasonable. However, the author of Hexographer has planted a time bomb in Hexographer -- the software STOPS WORKING after 365 days. This is completely unacceptable.

    Strike two.

    The "lifetime license" is the cherry on top of this fruitcake. You might think a "lifetime" license entitles you to free updates for as long as the publisher continues to support the product. That is what a reasonable person would assume. A reasonable person would be wrong. In fact, the software will self-destruct after 365 days, *unless* the publisher sends you a new license EVERY SINGLE YEAR, FOREVER. "Defective by design" does not even begin to describe this mad scheme.

    Strike three.

    If you value your time -- the time you spend drawing maps, and the time you spend role-playing with your friends -- I strongly urge you not use Hexographer at all, not even the free version, until these horrendous licensing problems are corrected.

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  20. I think it's wonderful (and I'm a bit confused by the previous poster's Strike 1). I'm using it as a design tool right now.

    I used it to go back and restructure the map for my 4th novel. It's easy to design a landmass with hexes, moving things around and what-not. When finished, I exported and printed the map. Then, I traced over that map to draw a pretty, traditional map to insert in the book.

    I'm now using it to design the map for my current novel and have already moved something around to meet the story's needs. This used to be such a big pain in the booty.

    Eventually, I'll get to use if for gaming! But right now I'm running a Pendragon campaign so I don't need it for that.

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  21. Mr. Hayden does not understand why being unable to run the "free" java app locally is "strike 1".

    Remember Arr-Kelaan Hexmapper? Lots of people used it. Lots of people still do. However, the Arr-Kelaan site is long, long gone. If the author of Arr-Kelaan Hexmapper had crippled the app, as the author of Hexographer has done, then as soon as the Arr-Kelaan site went away, all of the time and effort spent creating maps with that software would be gone. The maps you created would be forever inaccessible.

    If you value your time, you simply can't afford to use the "free" version of Hexographer.

    Ergo, "strike 1".

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  22. I've listened carefully to Blackmoor's concerns and made 1 change and a few clarifications/explanations that I think address them. I've detailed these in a response to his comments on the Welsh Piper's Hexographer review, but the highlights are:

    *He says that the free version may go down: The free version should be as reliable as any other website, and there are contingencies in place if something happens to me or I stop developing it. (A gaming friend/co-worker will either continue development, send out a non-expiring key so anyone can use the pro version for free, or open source it.)

    *He says the 1-year license should let you keep working with the last version you downloaded, just prevent you from getting furhter updates: The 1-year license was clarified on the website to avoid confusion. I believe Blackmoor is thinking of an open source support contract instead of a commercial time-length license. This commercial time-length license is a license style that many other commercial software products and websites are adopting and it allows someone to support the software and have a very small up-front cost. (Examples: many commercial antivirus/firewall tools, World of Warcraft and other premium on-line games, ESPN's Insider for premium content, D&D Insider, Monte Cook's Dungeon-a-day website.) All of these to the best of my knowledge cause the software (or special features) to stop working at the end of the timeframe. This is useful so people can pay just a very small amount up front and still support the software. But if someone doesn't like that license type, there's no reason not to just use the lifetime license which is like a traditional purchase, but better. (see the next point)

    *He says sending out one-year licenses every year to lifetime licensees is unreliable: This is the one change I've made that isn't just stating more prominently my intentions because I always felt it was less than ideal as well, but I didn't have a better idea at the time. The lifetime license will be revised so they are true permanent licenses for the major version (1.*, 2.*, etc.) you purchased, just like most commercial software you buy in a store. But this requires a code change so for now I'll be sending out licenses that last several years, however these same licenses will be recognized as permanent when the next Hexographer update is released. Furthermore (and here's where the "lifetime" comes in) I'll send out new licenses for free to lifetime licensees when there is a major new version. (2.0, 3.0, etc.) Most other commercial software requires you to buy it again, although often with a discount.

    I've tried to get Blackmoor to read and respond to these points/changes on Hexographer's own forum, but I haven't seen substantive, specific suggestions despite him posting there after I mentioned most of them.

    I think any reasonable person would agree that Hexographer's free version is very useful and there are good contingencies in place so it will remain viable; the 1-year license is consistent or better than other commercial 1-year licenses; and the lifetime version is better than most commercial products because you'll get to upgrade forever for free. I can't see any way to make it better without making the pro version free. There are many threads on message boards (do a search) where you'll see that someone asks for a feature or gives some constructive criticism and then a week or a month later that feature is added, the UI is tweaked, or whatever. This is another example of that.

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  23. The author of Hexographer, Joe, has revised the “lifetime” license of Hexographer so that it no longer self-destructs after one year. The flaws in “free” and “one year” versions remain, however, so those should be avoided. However, if you like the software and feel it is worth paying for (and it certainly does seem worth paying for), the “lifetime license” now appears to be what it says it is: a lifetime license.

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  24. Thanks for mentioning that the software is worthwhile and seeing the full license changed.

    I think the other concerns were also addressed adequately in my post immediately above your last. I'm sorry that I can't address these issues exactly as you'd like.

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