Mapzen has a new tool to help you add real-world maps to your game

Working on a location-driven game like Pokemon Go? There's a new tool on the market that may help you create real-world maps for your game.

Though game designers are frequently content to create fictional maps for their fictional game worlds, Pokemon Go’s launch this summer showed that there’s plenty of opportunity for games to take advantage of real-world mapping locations. And if you’re a developer thinking about cooking up a game layered over the real world, there’s a new mapping tool that may help you out. 

Today Mapzen, the company behind open-source mapping software Tangram, is releasing the latest version of its TRON software called TRONv2, meant to help game developers import up-to-date maps of cities around the world into their game. 

Speaking to Gamasutra by e-mail, chief cartographer Nathaniel Kelso says developers looking to specifically implement TRONv2 for mobile games can expect support for GPS tracking via an Android SDK, though the company is still working on getting an iOS SDK out the door. 

If you’re curious about how TRONv2 might be useful for game design, Kelso says that Mapzen’s mapping technology has been integrated into tools like Mantle, a Unity Store tool that helps developers generate cityscapes on the fly. And the developers behind Hacker Experience 2 apparently used the first TRON mapping system to create the cityscape for their location-based hacking game. 

Of course, given this year’s flood of legal challenges and takedown requests associated with Pokemon Go, developers do need to keep in mind some of the caution needed when making location-driven games. Kelso says that TRONv2 includes an interface to modify the map so it doesn’t display certain types of locations, like cemeteries or museums. 

“We also mark if a road is within a cemetery and other land-use features so the content inside those can be easily hidden,” Kelso says. “We do include place IDs on features so a blacklist of individual [locations] can be hidden as well.”

You can see TRONv2's (somewhat impressive) mapping functions here.

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