Ted Leaman writes for Bleeding Cool:
It's said that inspiration can be found anywhere. I didn't really think too deeply about that saying until Gen Con 2013. I had been trolling the exhibit hall looking at different mapping options for several hours. Paper maps, 3D terrain, 3D castings, large vinyl battle maps… There were tons of options, but nothing that was resonating with me. Nothing like Map Flats.
Leaving the Con with no maps, I arrived at the airport to return home. With several hours before my flight, I was drinking coffee heavily and in turn, having to make frequent visits to the commode. Standing in the urinal, there's really not that much to look at. That's when I noticed and starting thinking about all the boogers (I assume) other passengers had placed on the wall over the urinal.
My first thoughts were "Ewww" and "What's wrong with people?" However, coming right out of Gen Con, my mind was wired with gaming and games. So I started making a game out of the boogers there. There were clumps on either side of the valve, like two little armies facing off. Then as I looked at it a bit differently, I started seeing landscapes and overhead cities.
When I pictured people placing their 'mark' on the wall and wondered if they did it without consideration, or if their choice of placement was deliberate. During this conversation with myself, part of my mind went back to maps and terrains for gaming. Combine that with people strategically placing their boogers, and voilà! An idea is born!
I imagined at that moment that people were placing their own housing addition in amongst a city of other structures. Each one an individual, but together a small city of boogers that could be added to and cleaned up and started over. There was literally an endless array of possibilities.
I started looking around for single structure maps like I saw in 3D at Gen Con and came up with very little to show for my efforts. A lot of what I was finding was full city maps, dungeon maps, and the like. Also, the 'quality' of the maps had me questioning. I didn't want to invest a lot into paper maps that my 4 unholy terrors (children) would get ahold of and shred. Three of them are age 3 and under, so they have a +27 to shredding paper of all types.
I really like the 3D models, but talk about an investment. Not to mention the hassle of trying to transport them to my games and the fragility of them if they were dropped.
I have and love a battlemat. My only concern there was the amount of prep time it took to draw out my scenes. Not to mention my complete lack of artistic skill, so transferring what I have in my mind to the mat was never accurate.
I got to thinking to myself, why hasn't anyone done high quality maps in vinyl so that I can draw on them? Where are the common structures so I don't have to repeatedly draw them? Fortunately for me, I'm a genius and know how to leverage other people's talents. Hence Map Flats was hatched.
We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to gain a good pulse on these maps and get a feel for how we will proceed with them in the future. We have intention on doing a lot more sets for a lot more genres.