A few days ago I started a thread on google plus about Hex Kit; I asked how useful some super light weight, hex mapping software would be. Generally people were way into the idea of Hex Kit getting it’s own software, since it isn’t compatible with existing software. So I typed up a proposal, sketched some UI shit, and then sent it to my buddy Ross Squires (founder of RPG Talk) who, within a week, sent me an alpha build of the thing. Amazing. I made the maps in this post with it this morning. So this post is about what I want from what I am going to call Hex_Kit.exe for now.
Nothing is promised; this is speculation.
I want it to be super feature light. There is other map mapping software around (like the very impressive Hexographer and the coming-soon Worldographer) that I don not want to feature-compete with. I want this thing to be the Mario Paint of map making software. The idea is that you’ll be able to make maps on the fly with very little work, and also be able to store information about the world in the map. Hex_Kit.exe will be as simple as selecting a terrain or style and slapping it down. You’ll be able to open the program, select a size, and paint a new map or generate then edit a random one. This isn’t going to come with super advanced features like climate based world generation, or a feature where it brews you a pot of coffee. My goal is to offer software that is basically just easier than using GIMP. (I keep calling it Hex_Kit.exe, but it will be available on Windows, Mac, and Linux)
The software will also be usable at the table; if you have a second video output (like another monitor or a projector) you’ll be able to show a player-facing version of the map with things hidden and fog of war. You’ll be able to export it in print friendly format as well as screen friendly format. You’ll be able to label parts of your map too. Again, none of this is promised or set in stone. Just design goals.
And that’s it: Hex_Kit.exe will be a simple way to make hex maps. It will be cheap, too: we want to offer it at a pretty low price so we will be kickstarting the development some time at the start of the year, and we’re going try to have it ready to ship within just a few months after that. If we can make an influx of cash up front, then we won’t have to sell it at a high price later on. This will be low-risk kickstarter, and if we don’t fund I am going to keep making hex kit the way it is now, with no software.
Here is one thing I do promise: if you’ve bought Hex Kit on DriveThruRPG, then you won’t have to buy the art again. Once the software goes live, the art work and software will be available separately (but together in the kickstarter). The kickstarter will have an option to back the project cheaper because you already have Hex Kit. The zip file will get updated to provide the files in the format needed to the software. If you bought Hex Kit with Roll20, then the only thing I can promise is that I’ll see what I can do. Those files are prepped lo-res and smaller than normal, and updating them on Roll20 will break everyone’s maps.
Is this interesting to you, but you’ve never heard of Hex Kit? Click here to get it. (Watch the video on the product page)
When Hex_Kit.exe is live, the art and software will be separate. Other artists will be able to sell (or make free) their own compatible hex tiles and the plan is for us to never ever take a cut of that. There will not be a marketplace, or a way to buy tiles in the software, so artists will have to deliver their art on their own and, hopefully, users will just have to drag a folder into another folder to get them working. We’ll get a template out in the public for other artists to use to make their tiles, and hopefully that will be available within the next few weeks.
My goal is to get as much art into the kickstarter as possible; I will personally paint 5,000 hex tiles to choose from out of the gate, including the sci fi sets and the forest floor set. I have also started work on an old-school black & white set as well!
At any rate, that’s the future of Hex Kit. My hope is to get this in the hands of lots and lots of people, maybe not just people playing RPGs but people prototyping CRPGS or people who just love world building.I’m also excited to be working with Ross and his buddy Pierre, they are good guys and both are RPG enthusiasts. If you want to keep up with the development process, you can follow me on twitter and ross on twitter.