I’ve been working on the G.I. Joe-inspired game, Iron Infantry, quite a bit lately. So, I thought I’d put out an update.

To finish my thought from my last post, I’ve decided to go with a simple square grid, rather than a hex grid. Why? Aesthetics, honestly. I like how the square grid looks, it’s easier to place obstacles/terrain on, and it works for both indoor and outdoor environments without sacrificing any useable space on the page. As you may recall from that last post, I didn’t like how hex maps often have gaps that players can’t use, and this solves that in most cases.

To determine that I was going with a square grid, I did a little playing around on my computer. First, I went to this great website, Incompetech, and generated by own page of 1″ squares.

Now, I needed assets.

There are a ton of online resources for finding map assets for a fantasy world setting like D&D. Stuff like tavern tables, campfires, and dungeon walls are a dime a dozen. What’s not so easy to find are modern assets like office chairs, computer desks, and potted plants like you might find in an office building. However, they are out there if you think outside the box a little.

For modern assets, I like to go to architectural asset sights like the 3D Warehouse for SketchUp, a 3D CAD-like program. While I could create my own 3D assets, a lot of the stuff that I need – at least for the prototype stage – has already been done by people much more skilled than I am. Just search for what you’re looking for and you’ll usually find a few different options. For example, office chairs…

Now, these chairs look great, but for a map, I need to be able to see top-down. All you have to do is open one of these models, hover over the image, and the option to View in 3D appears.

Now I can move the model around and view it from any angle I want, including from the top down…

Once I have my angle, I use Windows Snip & Sketch Tool to take a screen shot of the asset. Then I can easily open my generated grid map page and my collection of 3D assets in my favorite image editor (I use Paint.net because I’m poor). In Paint.net, I’ll clean up the assets a little by getting rid of the background and saving them as transparent .png files. Once I’ve copy-and-pasted them over the grid, I’ll resize them to be more accurately scaled.

As you can see, I’ve knocked a few chairs over to give it a little variation. Again, this is good enough for the prototype phase.

But it’s kind of boring without seeing the players on the map.

To fix that I simply go to one of many online gaming miniature sites, like HeroForge.com or EldritchFoundry.com

From here, I’ll create some really basic, modern soldier figures. Or, even better, use a pre-generated figure. Again, this is just for prototyping, so it’s not worth spending much time on it. Eldritch Foundry has some ready-made Cyberpunk figures, which will work just fine for this stage in the game.

Once again, I need a top down view, so I just rotate the camera until I get the angle I need, and take a screen shot with Snip & Sketch.

Same as the other assets, I’ll bring this screen shot into Paint.net and do a little clean up. I want to get rid of the background and make it a transparent .png file, just so I have a better idea of what it’s going to look like on the map. I also need to scale it down so it fits in the grid. Then I can start arranging figures on the map to see how they might look…

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with that. My furniture scales might be a little off (they need to be slightly bigger if 1″ = 5′ as per D&D standards), but, again, this is the prototype stage, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

The next step would be designing the missions and starting to collect assets that match those missions. This one is in an office building, but I have plans for missions on mountaintops, deserts, inside a train car, etc., so it doesn’t hurt to start gathering these assets now for when I’m ready to actually design the map for that mission.

I have a lot of other stuff to show you at some point, but I think I’ll close for now. Look for another post soon as I get things “ironed out” on Iron Infantry. (#dadjoke)

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