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A tiled Earth - which method?

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I've just started the very basics of a turn-based conquer-Earth type game. I plan to divide the Earth up into territories ala Risk. What's a good system for doing this? I could: 1. Divide the world into a rigid grid 2. Have 'shaped' territories via a masking texture and lookups on mouse clicks 3. Some other madness?!? Some additional, but less necessary info: I was thinking that I'd like to have the entire world shown on-screen at once, but this isn't yet set-in-stone. I'd like it to look fairly like Earth. This game will be pretty casual, as far as turn-based world domination games go (I'm thinking it would take at most an hour for one game, total. No 8 hour marathons like Civ or anything). I'm trying to keep this relatively simple. I'd like to finish a 'real' game for once. I'm surprised I'm struggling with this. It seemed easy to begin with, but it's one of those decisions that are causing me to have a constant battle with myself in my head. I just can't figure it out! Please, someone swoop down with the answer and save my day. And if you happen to have a handy map of the Earth suited for this (no labels, decent resolution, no political boundaries), I'd love to have it. No particular projection. Thanks in advance.

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I think NASA Blue Marble has probably the best looking images (and a friendly license):
http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_set.php?categoryID=2355

How you can find the clicked upon territory is a good question; I'd say it depends on how complex they are (would approximating with bounding boxes be good enough?; most likely not).
Are you planning on creating the boundaries manually?

Maybe you could do a 'point in polygon' lookup; as it only happens on click that might be fast enough. Or you do some preprocessing (out of game) and use (for example) the (texture carrying) tile coords for a first phase to speed things up (and then only check the polygons that touch that rectangle; data from preprocessing).

If you try something like that the GSHHS data http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/wessel/gshhs/gshhs.html might even be a good source for the territory data; even the low/crude resolution should be fine.

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Those Visible Earth images are perfect! And they have great Terms of Use, too.

Bounding box would be OK only if none of the bounding boxes overlapped - but that would happen unless I divide it up into a specific grid, rather than just arbitrary shapes (eg: compare Civ to Risk).

Another option: give each territory a 'capital' and instead of you clicking on the territory, you click on the capital. Pretty simple to implement, and would work well. What do you think?

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