----- Important -----This is an upgrade for people who already own a registered version of Fractal Mapper v7 or earlier.
You DO NOT need this if you already own a copy of Fractal Mapper 8.
Heres's an overview of what's new in Fractal Mapper 8. Keep in mind, this is not a full feature list - but rather a 'big picture' overview of just the changes between FM8 and FM7. For the comprehensive feature list, see the full version's product page here.
Updated Program Interface
Fractal Mapper's menus and toolbars have been updated to a more modern look. In addition, Fractal Mapper's theming support has also been improved. This means Fractal Mapper will adapt better to both XP's and Vista's interface.
But the changes are more than skin deep. Fractal Mapper also 'plays nicer' with the operating system. For example, by storing its data in Windows' designated application data areas, Fractal Mapper 8 will run under reduced rights accounts.
New 'Battlemap' Symbols
Fractal Mapper 8 includes over 100 new high resolution .PNG symbols designed specifically for use in the creation of indoor and outdoor miniature scale maps. These higher resolution symbols provide the artistic look of hand drawn art with the resolution necessary for nice prints and exports. Several dozen new high resolution fill patterns which compliment the new symbols are also included.
Cue the Special Effects! Fractal Mapper 8 supports a number of new special effects to enhance the look of your maps. These include Bevels, Textures, Blurs, Feathers, Shadows, and Inner Shadows.
Bevel, shadow, and texture example
Bevels create a raised edge look to objects, and shade the raised area. Bevel edges can be of several different types - flat, rounded, sloped, etc.
Textures are grayscale images (bump maps) that define the texture of a surface. Textures are combined with any bevel effects when bevel lighting is performed.
Feathers are a special type of blur which blurs only the edges of an object to transparent, creating a blended/ soft edge. These are great for blending together two types of terrain or bounderies. An Inverse Feather blurs the center of the object.
The new raster based Shadows create a softer, more authentic shadow effect. Inner Shadows cast the shadow onto the object themselves - as if the object was inset.
The all-new Symbol Palette
Access your entire symbol library easier than ever with the all new Symbol Palette. The new symbol palette makes all of the symbols in your library available right from the main window. The symbols themselves have an extra 'level', and are divided into Symbol Sets, which each Set being divided into Symbol Categories, allowing you to better group similar symbols.
The new Symbol Palette also features several special types of symbol sets:
The first is the Favorites symbol set. If you select a symbol in the palette and click the 'favorite' button, the symbol is added to the Favorites symbol set. Think of it as a bookmark for your favorite symbols!
The On Map symbol set shows all of the symbols currently in use on the map.
The Random Set categories allow you to pre-define groups of symbols from which the program will randomly select. When a random set is selected, and a symbol is placed on the map, the program will select one of those symbols randomly to place.
Other symbol related changes include Symbol Memory. When you place a symbol on the map that has no pre-defined scale, if that symbol had been previously placed on the map or resized, that last size is used as the default size of the symbol. It's a great time saver!
New drawing tools
Fractal Mapper 8 supports a pair of great new and updated drawing tools!
The new Vector Flood Fill is a super-flexible vector based flood-fill drawing tool. The Vector Flood Fill acts like the typical flood fill you see in many image editors, with the exception that this tool creates a vector object (a polygon or complex polygon) representative of the filled area. This means you can then move, alter fills and colors, scale, rotate, and edit the object as you can any other polygon on the map. Vector Flood Fills are great for making political boundaries that flow along natural borders such as rivers and coastlines.
The Random Symbol Fill has been completely recreated. To use it, you draw a freehand area on the map, and the selected symbol (or symbols for random sets) are placed at a density you control. The Random Symbol Fill tool works with Random Symbol Sets - which presents a very quick way of creating forests and mountain ranges!
Enhanced .PNG image support
Support for raster symbols - primarily .PNG images with transparent support - has been expanded and optimized. In Fast mode, FM8's .PNG drawing is twice as fast as it was in FM7! In addition, .PNG images can be used as fill patterns.
.PNG symbols can also now have a scale defined for them. This allows raster symbols to be placed at a consistent size on maps when a unit of measure is defined. That is, like vector symbols that have units of measure defined, when a .png that is defined as 10 feet by 10 feet in size is placed on the map, it is placed at that size regardless of the current zoom level.
One of the most asked for new features was the ability to create new maps from areas of larger maps. Fractal Mapper 8 lets you create these submaps. Just select an area on your map, and the layers and types of objects to export, and a new map is created of that area.
Presentation Styles (Color Themes)
Ever want to print your map out in black and white? Or create an old-style looking map? FM8 features several Color Themes to let you quickly switch between display styles. Map display can be switched back and forth between several different color styles - full color, grayscale, black and white, and sepia tone.
GoblinAPI and Scripting
The flexibility of the scripting system in FM8 has been greatly enhanced. FM8 now features a plug-in based interface to scripts - a system very similar to the one found in AstroSynthesis v2.0. Plug-ins can be created to add features to the program menu (or pop-up menus) and toolbar, to create custom tools, and Inspiration Pad entries.
In addition, a set of GUI classes has been added into the scripting system to let plug-in writers create their own modal windows with buttons, check boxes, and other widgets.
Fractal Mapper is used in many countries all over the world. So to make Fractal Mapper more friendly and approachable to the world audience, FM8 can display its menus, buttons, and windows in languages other than English. FM8 uses a simple text based system for storing translation data, which means anyone can add support for a language (if they speak that language, that is). Language files will be hosted seperately on NBOS Online as they become available. (note: FM8 does not support unicode - only latin-based character sets)
As in previous versions, several add-on programs are included for free with Fractal Mapper 8.
Included with FM is an all-new Globe viewer. Like the viewer bundled with previous versions of FM, you can zoom in and out, pan around the planet from any angle, and set the globe to rotate automatically. The new globe viewer works in full color (the previous globe viewer only handled 256 colors), and can export both images and animations.
Also included is Fractal World Explorer v1.7. FWE 1.7 features atmosphere generation (as seen in AstroSynthesis), a simplified export to Fractal Mapper maps, and a new binary file import to allow importing of raw elevation data files (such as .DEM's).
While not exactly bundled, Fractal Mapper 8 integrates directly with the new web-based NBOS Online Exchange. You can upload your maps directly to NBOS Online Exchange from within the program. This new web-based system replaces NBOS Online v1.1.
The completely re-written
- Intel Pentium? IV class PC or faster with 512 meg ram.
- 150 meg free hard disk space
- Microsoft Windows? XP or Windows Vista?.
- Internet connection and software registration required to access the NBOS Online Exchange map sharing area.