# World map: Hex or Square

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I've been thinking about designing a simple empire-building/strategy game for a while, and I'm currently brainstorming ideas for the world-map. The programmer in me wants to implement it as a grid of squares for simplicity, but the turn-based strategy lover in my wants to implement it as a grid of hexagons for... I'm not sure why for - familiarity perhaps? So my question/discussion-point is: Does a grid of hexagons (or squares) have any special properties that are useful from a game-play-design point of view? e.g. If I was making a board-game, then a hex-grid may be useful because it has the property of each cell having 6 neighbours, which means a D6 can be used for decisions (but I'm not making a board-game, so that property doesn't seem useful to me)... Or if I was making a console game with an 8-way D-Pad input device, it would favour a square grid... Surely there's some better reasons for choosing different grid styles?

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With hex, each surrounding hex is at the same distance from the hex in the middle. With squares, the 4 at the corners are farther.

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Hexes have the advantage of not warping space as badly as squares do. In order to go diagonally, you have to make two moves, which makes angled travel a much greater distance than it actually would be in real space. Hexes have the same problem, but to a lesser degree. It also grants greater freedom to choose a complex path through the world.

Squares, as you noted, are easier to steer in, since 4- or 8-way controls are common, accepted and universally understood. 6-way is unintuitive. Also, your playing screen is likely to be a square or rectangle or parallelogram of some kind, making four-way orienteering even more natural.

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Let's think out of the box, will you? We are not constrained by the Board...

Theoretically, every point of the circle is at equal distance of the center, and you don't have to limit yourself to 4, 6 or eight directions.

In practice, you WILL want to limit yourself to 8 directions at most, because it is easier, right?

So how can we make that happen? I am not a specialist of path finding and intricate mapping systems, but maybe, if we layer TWO overlapping square-maps, we can probably get something that will resemble circles, provided no one looks too closely.

So, you'll be moving from intersection to intersection, and potentially from one map-layer to another map-layer. Provided each corner of a square on layer TWO is linked to four corners of the square it appears at the center of on layer ONE, you basically have a system that can be topped with a visual interface of circles without many people noticing something is strange. At least, if you're using isometric 3D, because in eagle-eye view, it will be rather plain, although not really dsiturbing, I think...

Just show circles, overlapping circles, and you can get yourself a pretty nifty innovative system...

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Quote:
 Iron Chef CarnageHexes have the advantage of not warping space as badly as squares do.

Which means that hexes are in fact more intuitive than squares, not less.

The less apparent distortion along with the fact that you can only move into obviously connecting squares in a hex grid are the two qualities that beat 8-direction movement in a square grid (which is rather awkward) anytime.

Just because squares were implemented more often doesn't make hexes less intuitive by definition. Square grid is simply easier to implement.

The choice is still valid between a hex-based map and square-based one with 4-direction movement though. Then it really depends on the game.

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I would say use the shape that represents the number of directions you allow characters move to make it obvious that they can move in that direction. hexagon, octagon, or square should work fine.

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You cannot really have an octagon grid.

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Quote:
 Original post by TalinYou cannot really have an octagon grid.

I thought I had proposed a way of providing a faked octogonal grid, hadn't I? Get two overlapping and interconnected square grids, and what you have, as far as you don't look too closely is a grid that allows you to move in eight directions, with roughly the same lengths in each. Of course, it won't be as accurate as if it were four or six directions, but it will be far more accurate than a perfect eight-directional map, since one cannot exist AT ALL...

Or maybe I'm wrong? Can anyone contradict me or point me to someone who could explain better?

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Uh, could you illustrate that graphically?

I think you still run into the same geometrical issues with connecting squares as if you would when connecting octagons.

Granted, you can still have an octagon grid like this: http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/octagon/thumbnail.gif

But I don't think you can ever get a "clean" one that doesn't warp the space terribly, even with your idea.

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The only space that doesn't 'warp' would be one that is invariant under all rotations (No matter direction you are looking, it is just as valid.). Problem is that this can't be done with any kind of grid. A square grid looks like the same kind of square grid when rotated by multiples of 90 degrees, 60 degrees for a hex grid, and 120 degrees for a triangular grid. But these are the only ones that tessellate.

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