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Read if you're interested in isometric mapping software


There's frankly not a whole lot of isometric mapping software out there. Do some Google searches, you'll see for yourself.

A few years ago, the "Dungeon Builder" Kickstarter campaign did really well. It was developing isometric mapping software for around $45 dollars that created mostly black & white/monochrome maps, and only for fantasy dungeon interiors. The campaign made something like $64K (given the exchange rates at the time). That software now sells direct from the developer's website for between 59 and 779 euros! That seems like a lot of money to me for software that ONLY makes isometric maps and has a relatively limited asset palette to work with.

If you search for "isometric" on Kickstarter, you'll see that there's a new campaign currently running to add isometric mapping capability to already-existing mapping software (i.e. much less risk than creating an all-new mapping app). This new project features full-color artwork that depicts both interiors and exteriors, in multiple genres, and for a fraction of the price. This is for software that already makes top-down battlemaps, hex-crawl maps, and lets you edit Donjon-generated maps. Seems like a much better deal all around, right?

So could somebody please explain the humongous discrepancy in funding performance to me? It seems to me that the new project should be well on its way to exceeding Dungeon Builder's funding. Instead, it is doing so poorly it may well not reach its modest $6K funding goal (though I suppose a lot could happen in the next 3 weeks), despite heavy promotion on RPG sites/forums, social media, map-making forums/groups, etc.

I'm honestly baffled, because Dungeon Builder made more than the new project's entire funding goal in its first day! Is it because Dungeon Builder was basically already done and demonstrably working when they launched their campaign, while this other project is seeking the funding first so that it can do the necessary additional software development and pay the licensing fees for the art, and thus can't show the app "in use" in the project video? I thought that's what Kickstarter was for (unlike many who use the platform as a store for basically-finished projects).

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I'm not familiar with either Kickstarter campaign, so I can't speak directly to either. However, from what I've seen there are a lot of factors as to what makes a Kickstarter successful.

Having the product well along or completely done is certainly helpful. There are plenty of people out there (myself included) who've been burned by Kickstarters that funded but then never delivered anything. A good number of RPG Kickstarters nowadays will have a beta version of the text ready to download for anyone who pledges, and are simply raising funds for artwork and/or printing. Two examples off the top of my head are Monsterpunk and Wolves of God. Obviously, software development is not the same, but many software companies do offer demo licenses, so coding up a demo version of your software and putting up a YouTube video or even just screen captures demonstrates that the person can actually do the job and isn't merely crowd scamming.

Visibility is another major factor. Advertising, offering bonuses for social media goals, and being a Kickstarter Editor Pick (or whatever it's called) don't hurt. Heck, I'm somewhat active on Kickstarter and have an interest in isometric mapping software, and this is the first I've heard of either campaign. (Admittedly, I've never specifically searched for isometric mapping software on Kickstarter.)

There are numerous other factors, such as reputation, price point, and (from what I've heard) even time of the year.

FWIW, I've heard the Arkenforge supports isometric mapping, though I haven't tried it myself.

KS success isn't about technical competency or how good a product actually is. IMO, it's about advertising, hype, social media buzz and name recognition. Part of that is how the campaign is laid out, part is about the stretch goals. But all in all, it's about making the backers feel special.


Fanaelialae, I do actually already have the software available for download, and it can be used without a license. What's still missing is the isometric-specific functionality, which is what the funds are being raised for.

I hope to get a new video posted early next week to show the iso mapping in action. In the meantime, I've replaced the project image with a better picture, since the original one was a bit meh.

And yes, both Arkenforge and MapTool support ISO, and d20Pro intends to add ISO support, but it isn't there yet.

LordEntrails, while I find your assertion terribly depressing, I also think it's correct. If only I had the funds to advertise the campaign. I'm doing the next best thing, though: trying to get bloggers to write articles about it to increase the project's visibility. Any suggestions on how to make backers feel special? Make custom ISO assets for them? That could get time-prohibitive real quick.


@heruca I didn't realize from your initial post that you were the KS creator for this project. I assume you sent a KS message to all of your previous backers letting them know about this new project?

Having looked at your other projects for MapForge, the pattern I noticed was that all of your most successful projects were in the spring. The one project that funded end of November performed the most poorly out of all of them (140% of the goal). While I'm by no means an expert on KS, I have heard people say that time of year matters. Right around now people are probably starting to budget for Black Friday / Christmas.

Personally speaking, after looking the project over I marked it to get a reminder 2 days before it ends. As long as it's in my budget at that point, I think I'll back it. To be frank, nowadays I generally won't back a project before the end unless it's something I'm exceptionally excited about or there are early bird offers available.

Overall, it seems like a well-designed and thought-out project. The artwork is really nice and I'm a fan of Alex Drummond's work. Based on your previous projects, you seem to have a solid grasp as to what you're doing and you have a good base following from what I can tell. While it's always a possibility that your core supporters simply don't have much interest in isometric mapping, I'd say that if you don't fund successfully now, try giving it another shot in February or March.

I'm doing the next best thing, though: trying to get bloggers to write articles about it to increase the project's visibility. Any suggestions on how to make backers feel special? Make custom ISO assets for them? That could get time-prohibitive real quick.
I wish I knew. I can see "it", but I don't understand "it". My totally amateur, unscientific, and unproven observations are;

  • Backers want to feel they are helping bring something special "to life"
  • That without their support, this "magical thing" won't happen.
  • That somehow they are an elite special minority, rather than just a niche minority of special interest. i.e. that rather than being the weird person in the room/social circle that actually like anchovies on their pizza, they want to feel that they know something other people don't, that anchovies taste good on pizza. And perhaps they are the only ones brave enough, open minded enough, or sophisticated enough to actually try and like it.

imo, backers should get 'something' no one else gets. Whether this is a pack of iso assets that are only available in their entirty to backers, or beta access, or something. Just saving a few dollars because you backed something before it was commercially available isn't special. People want to feel special. Kind of like a collector's covers of an RPG book. They are limited in number. Even if people don't like the cover, many want it because if they get it, others can't get it too.


Thanks for the feedback, guys. I don't know why I didn't get notification earlier.

I just posted an all-new project video for this campaign. Two videos, actually. You can finally see the new isometric support and content in action.

I hope these new videos will help gain more funding. I even threw in an additional enticement by promising a free Add-On of some very useful content if the campaign funds.


I'm of a mixed mind on isometric. I don't know how many will agree with me, but I'll put it out for Heruca to consider. (I know it was a well shared view during the MGT 2E playtest.)

Isometric views suck badly as in-play maps. They're decent as overview maps, but not as at-the-table, break out the minis, play maps. Even in Videogames, I find them clunky. (Especially in Final Fantasy Tactics.)

They are, however, a lot of work to do, for very limited utility. The only way a utility dedicated to doing them makes sense is if it can toggle between orthogonal and isomorphic modes; otherwise, just do them in Campaign Cartographer, or even just on your own paper. It's not hard to do them, but just a lot of careful work.

There is little demand, and so people won't invest unless the feel a need for the output... and that's a very small few.


Aramis, I agree with you about the limited usefulness of isometric maps as tactical battlemaps, and said as much on the project page. I personally think iso maps work best as visual aids, especially for complex or multi-level spaces.

Yet somehow, these guys found over 1300 backers for a mapping app that only does isometric, and only dungeon interiors, almost entirely in black & white.

I was hoping to find at least as many backers for an app that does iso interiors and exteriors, in full color, offering content in multiple genres, especially since the app itself is far less expensive, already exists (less risk), and it handles top-down and hex-based maps in addition to isometric mapping.

The new project video is definitely helping attract more backers, but it may already be too late.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:

If you are involved with the business of a kickstarter, we have a place for that: The Publishers and Promotions forum. I'll move the thread to the appropriate place...


The campaign took a huge turn in the last 4 days, placing it squarely back in the realm of possibility for funding. It's at 89% now, with 3 days remaining, and only $635 to go!

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