Monday, June 20, 2011

No No... the REAL Walls...

Okay, in my last post I was all like "Ooo, look at me! I'm so awesome! I'm Indiana Jones!"

I was all that!

Oh yeah!

You know it!


Yeaaaaah.... Well, don't expect to see a red line trace my movements across the globe anytime soon. heh.

See, I figured out that I wasn't so damned smart.

If I went with my idea from the last post, I'd have to make three different versions of each length of tile (1", 2", 3", 4", etc) to cover the three possibilities I saw for how the tiles would fit together.

Possibility 1:

Two outer corners.

In this case, the distance between inside edges of the slots is exactly 1", 2", 3", 4", etc, and when the corners are slotted together, this will fit around the positive spaces on the map.

Possibility 2:

Two inner corners

In this case, the slots at both ends are shifted inward by the thickness of a tile, about 1/16", to accommodate the thickness of the tiles that will be slotted in at either end, so that when the corners are slotted together, this will fit inside the negative space on the map.

Possibility 3:

An inner corner and an outer corner.

A hybrid of the two previous cases, where one slot is outside of, and one slot is inside of, the 1", 2", 3", 4", etc, and when the corners are slotted together, it acts as a transition between positive and negative space.

Now, one of the ideas I had in the last post did work. In the latter two cases, I had cut a bit off the bottom of the part that sticks out past the slot, so when the walls were slotted together, those bits would rest on top of the floor tiles. So, that was a successful idea.

However, it's all far too much work!

Three different tiles for each size, just to make sure that you have enough to accommodate all the possibilities, not to mention multiple copies of each tile, so that you have enough tiles to go around the whole map, PLUS needing to cut down the corners of each tile so that if you chance upon a time when those corners will hang into the positive space of the map, the corners will rest on the tiles without pushing the walls up and displacing the whole system. Wow. Oh, and that doesn't even take into account when you're actually using the tiles, you are going to be looking for a 1/16" difference to tell the difference between them, which might get a little frustrating, especially if you happen to be in a hurry. Too much work!

I had to think up something better. Something more standardized, but also adaptable.

So, the other day I was sitting there at my desk, waiting out the passage of a rather Epic fit my work computer was going through, and my mind turned to all of the above issues.

The first idea that came to mind was to just work with corners and half-walls. And by half-walls, I mean by length, not height. So, I would have 1/2", 1", 1-1/2", 2", etc walls, with a slot at one end, and a flat end at the other.

When constructing a dungeon, I would just put down the corners, and line the flat ends up along the edge of the floor tiles. If there was any overlap, that was fine, and any gaps could be filled by other pieces.

That wasn't too bad. It had some potential. The first problem I came up with it, though, was that it wasn't going to be as stable as the previous plan. Four tiles slotted together to form the walls of a room were going to be far more stable than eight corners pushed up against each other. A stray die could knock down a significant portion of the dungeon! So, maybe I could come up with a way to slot the flat ends together, to add some extra stability. A horizontal slot, maybe? Slotting a piece horizontally between the two piece would end up adding shelves in rooms and hallways and such, but that's not so bad. It'd almost be like dungeon dressing. What was so bad about it is that it would necessitate the creation and printing of a bunch of these horizontal slot pieces, and for cutting more thin slots in the tiles. Still too much work.

I was on the right path, though, I thought... so I set my brain a-thinkin' again, and it turned that slot idea on its side... literally. What if some of the flat ends had tabs, and some had slots, like puzzle pieces?

Hey, now I was on to something... but awww, that would still necessitate the creation of two different types of tile for each size... ones with slots and ones with tabs...

But then, even as that negative thought was sweeping across the 3D view of the tabbed/slotted together tiles I had in my head, about to obliterate that view of it from my mind, my brain pivoted one of the two pieces by 90 degrees, to show me that you could make corners out of that tab-and-slot setup.


I had to pause for a moment there. With that simple mental 90 degree turn, I completely eliminated the need to use the WotC-style vertical slots!

I could make just one type of tile for each size I needed. There would be no need for any variation (at least based upon the structure of the design). Nice!

So, upon getting home that night, I grabbed some of the tiles I'd already made, and cut them down to size, with the slots and tabs, and it worked!

As I did further tests, I thought I was going to run into the same problem again, though, since the tab/slot idea would throw an extra 1/16" thickness in at the "tab" end of any piece joining two corners, but it turns out that's not an issue. As a happy coincidence, the way that the D&D tiles are constructed (and thus the maps based upon them), the squares on the tiles are NOT exactly 1" across. If you place a miniature on one of the dungeon squares on the map below, you actually end up with a slight gab between the edge of the base and the start of the next square.

Thus, a 2" long piece, with the 1/16" thick piece slotted in at one end, fits exactly into the 2" negative space.

And at the far end of the room, the slotted together pieces, in this case, a 3" and a 2", fit perfectly along the 5" wall there, and the 1" piece slotted as a corner at the end fits perfectly around the corner of the map!

I don't think that the cavern or wilderness tiles have that same gap, but we can deal with that issue later. heh.

For now, though... yay!

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