11/14/2014

Frugal GM Review: The Shattered Continent Map

Frugal GM Review: The Shattered Continent Map
Yesterday I picked up what looked like a promising map from Giblet Blizzard. It is their 1st and only product that came out just this week.

It is a map that has been tweaked heavily to play well with Adobe Reader, well "tweaked" might be a bit strong of a word. Basically this map just makes use of the many features already available using the free Adobe Reader.

This map is advertised as being "customizable", which really just means turning on and off layers. Some of the layers are quite cool.....this PDF map has both a color and a black & white version.

Don't want the shaded relief on the B&W map? Just turn off that layer. Don't want it on the color map? Tough.....

Honestly I don't know why you wouldn't want the shaded relief on the color map, so that isn't much an issue with me. What is an issue is that at least one layer doesn't work (Sea Names) and some have questionable functionality. For instance, there is a map compass you can chose to display or not....but North is fixed to the top of the map if you want one. You can display the cities and choose to use labels for them if you want, but the locations are fixed.

The producer of this map, pretends you have a lot of flexibility to customize this map, but you are severely limited to a small amount of relatively fixed choices. You just get the illusion that you have a marvelous sandbox map to play with. Ugh.

The map size seems odd, but it is setup for A3 printing and I've learned long ago what I thought was a normal size for paper products is anything but outside of the US.

Now I do have to give Giblet Blizzard some mad props for doing a bang-up job explaining how to use the layers functionality with Adobe Reader. This might be a no-brainer for me, but I've been using Adobe Acrobat since....well let's just say my 1st computer was a Commodore Vic 20 and I picked up my 1st copy of Adobe Acrobat when computers still had 5 1/4" floppies......

List of map layers
No matter what you want, this is what you get....
I am sure that before today if I had map a layered PDF product I'd probably never even considered that the end-user might need some help. This is a great touch that can simply be ignored by those who don't need it, but invaluable to those who do.

The biggest problems I have is that a "locked-down" PDF isn't the way to release a map intended to be customized by the end user the way that this map is hinted at. Releasing the map as an open PDF maybe, but better would be if this was a JPG or a couple of JPGs. If you want to make it customizable, give us the graphic elements to play with as well. I'd probably use the map icons given to put cities where I want and figure out how big I want the continent to be and then put in the appropriate numbers on the scale. Now I used the plural for "problem" which means the format is right up on par, for me, with the price.  Essentially $10 for a slightly buggy PDF map? No thanks.

Frugal GM 2 Star Review: The Shattered Continent Map
I like the idea behind The Shattered Continent Map and the addition of the user guide is great, but I think this effort falls far short of being worth a $10 price tag. I donated $1 when it was Pay What You Want and I doubt I'll get $1 worth out of this map.

For a 1st time effort though, there is some potential.....I'll be checking back.