From: Newark, OH
I guess the best I can do for the OP is to state the following:
1. Do we plan on redoing all of the maps with pretty hand drawn maps? No. We just don't have the time or manpower for that. Plus it would halt any new content/expansions dead in there tracks. Why? Even at a week a map it would be over 30 weeks to get those all done and that would not include any new maps. Basically it's not efficient for a small team and it is one of the reasons we went tiled and then went with a color coded system to allow auto-values placement.
2. Are we talking about changing the map system to a different tile system where better tile are could be used? Yes. This solution would allow for better looking maps based on having a large tile set done for each theater and season. These maps would look better, but still a step down from hand drawn. They would still be highly moddable. Sounds awesome, where is the rub? We would need to pull our primary coder from game engine work for 2.1 and kill 3-6 months building up and testing this new system along with an outlay of cash to get a ton of tiles generated for this new system. We have had discussion in the team about this for a while. What is hard to determine is if a delay in the game engine and future main theaters of a handful of months is worth this new mapping system. One fact of this mapping conundrum is pretty and functional are on either ends of a selection slider.
3. 3D system. Would be awesome, but would take an entire new codebase to achieve. Not in the tradespace at this time and not really suited to a 2d game as we have it. I can see the cool effects of tipping the board or real time shadows, etc.
4. Mods. We have a very open system that allows you to take any map and scale it in and use it. Whether that is HexDraw, topo maps, google earth shots, hand drawn maps, reskinned FP9s, or snap shots of finger paintings. We opted for a faster and albeit dirtier (less pretty) system so we could very quickly move the action anywhere.
Have we thought of every solution to this? No. We started with the best we could do within the constraints of the team. Do we want to make it better and perfect. Sure do, but there are real world limits to what 4 guys with day jobs, families and other obligations can muster. Case in point, the delay in Modding guides by yours truly, because I've been hip deep in combat model code making a number of fixes and adjustments to make the core game better, I don't have the free time to finish the docs. I am getting some additional help from Mad Russian now to speed things up.
Bottom line is we are listening to everyone, but we also have to temper any changes by what we can do with the very limited resources at hand. Keep telling us what you like and don't like, and we will continue to make the game better.
I'll stop ranting now. I think this weather and this bad head cold makes me cranky.
Work on Southern Storm continues and we will hopefully have news about our new website and even whispers of Beta Testing soon!
Cap'n Darwin aka Jim Snyder
On Target Simulations LLC