Fuzzy Felt for grown-ups
I’m pretty sure that everyone at some point has owned a set of Fuzzy Felt. I remember the sheet of card covered in rough green “grass” and surreal felt animals, people and buildings. I used to send savage yellow men hunting purple elephants in a red and blue jungle, all using simple pieces of poorly cut out felt and an overactive imagination.
Ah, those were the days.
Skip forward more years than I care to mention, and enter Dundjinni. It’s mapping software for role-playing games which returns to those heady Fuzzy Felt days of my prepubescent years. Instead of purple elephants we have gorgeously drawn walls, doors, floors, desks, chests and anything else we care to mention. It’s a doddle to drop them on your green card – I mean, on your screen – and edit, develop and manipulate to your heart’s content. Adding more pieces is a cinch too as each object it nothing more than a .png file. The Platinum version of the program comes with a shed load of objects and there’s a huge customer fan base in the Dundjinni forums all itching to offer you their own creations for free download.
In use the interface is moderately intuitive and uncluttered. It’s certainly far simpler than Photoshop, but it’s well worth running through the Jailbreak (.zip file) tutorial to get a good feel of what how it works.
Two things are most impressive about this program. Firstly, it was created by Fluid, the company behind the terrible Character Generator that shipped with the original 3E D&D Player’s Handbook. They have learned their lessons well though as this is a program to be proud of – it’s clean, beautiful in operation and (most important of all) it works. Secondly, it’s written in Java. Yes folks, a real full blown Java program that actually works, and at a good speed too. Where the program can slow down is in there’s a lot of objects all under one category. That’s easily solved with a little intelligent organization however. This really is a beautiful piece of programming.
The final proof is in the output. The maps and battlemaps that come out of Dundjinni are beautiful. They could easily grace the pages of Dungeon magazine and some of the ones in the Dundjinni forums deserve to be framed and hung on a wall. My only quibble with the program comes as the final export stage as the options are extremely limited. The jpg export is all but useless as it’s fixed in size and outputs the entire grid area so your carefully drawn small tavern layout is nothing more than a pixelated mess. A better – indeed, the only – solution is to export as a .bmp file with a high pixel resolution then crop in Photoshop to suit. This works well, but I’d have much preferred to see some way of setting resolution, cropping and exporting to jpg or pdf directly from the application. It’s no biggie, but it is one more unnecessary step.
To give you an idea of what’s possible, here’s my very first Dundjinni map of an evil temple (Click for larger version). Not bad for a first attempt, eh?