TGPO's World War II Online Maps

History

"Blessent mon cœur d'une langeur monotone"

A group of friends and I had been watching the development of World War II Online closely, as it neared the end of it's beta phase and approached release. Several of us had been gaming together, from various locations, world-wide, for years, beginning with Counter-Strike, and moving on to other games. Many of us were very interested in a tactical sort of gameplay, and WWIIOL looked like it might offer just that.

When WWIIOL was finally released, on June 6th, 2001, to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the Allied landing on the Normandy coast, otherwise known as "D-Day", a few of us began playing immediately, and were totally taken-in by the scale of the game and the strategic and tactical play. In order to better communicate, in game, we all downloaded the same map, which was Buffalo's map, which I cannot find a copy of anywhere online, unfortunately.

The release of game was rocky, to say the least, and the very small team at Cornered Rat Studio (CRS) was getting publicly flogged, but after they got things stabilized, they quickly began adding terrain and towns, and no one seemed to be updating game maps quickly enough, so I decided to make a quick map for our group to use, which included the new terrain.

The first map

As far as I can figure, the first terrain expansion occured in July, 2001, and added 29 new cities, or "Choke Points" (CPs), toward the eastern end of the map. I was looking all over the usual sites for an updated map, and when I couldn't find one, I made one. I spent the time to do it, and figured I would share it with anyone that wanted an updated map. I created tgpo.net and uploaded the first map.

Map #1

Map #1: The area in yellow indicates the CPs added in v1.2

In Map #1, to the right, you can see the towns that were added to the original terrain, and it was a pretty substantial number of towns! I remember a lot of fighting happening around Bertrix back in those days, huge, nasty fights with so many people that my frame rate would plummet wildly. Oh, what fun!

In order to capture a CP, one or more Army Bases needed to be captured, by finding the radio room and "humping" the table. Once all of the ABs were captured, the side that captured them owned the town. Because WWIIOL is so huge (about half the actual terrain scale), moving to the front, after dying, could take a long time. To counter this, CRS introduced the concept of Forward Bases, or FBs. If a CP your side controlled was taken by the enemy, a FB would spawn around 3 or 4 kilometers from the captured town, allowing for quicker "reinforcement" in the battle to retake the CP.

The importance of Army Bases (ABs), in capturing a CP, and the locations of Forward Bases (FBs), became pretty important, at this point. Knowing where the AB or ABs in a particular town allowed for assault groups to plan their attacks. My next map added an AB location indicator, to help everyone understand where in a particular CP to find the Army Bases. I also added indicators that attempted to show where a Forward Base could be expected to spawn if a base was captured or was in contention.

Map #2

Map #2: Here you can see the new AB and FB indicators.

The maps are still a little rudimentary at this point, but the game is getting a little more sophisticated, quickly, and people are looking for more information about the terrain, and the maps are going to have to grow to keep up with the game.

You can click on Map #2 to see a larger version of the 0120D map, which explains how the AB indicators worked.

I continued developing maps, and they continued to become more complex. The game's developers were kind enough to share some of their development tools to make life easier for me. I was one of the lucky few that got to use an eagle to cruise the map! I could fly from one side of the map to the other in a few seconds, so much fun, and so much more productive!

Unfortunately, real-life got a hold of me in June of 2003, and I made my last map. Over the intervening years, I twice began to create an updated set of maps, but just couldn't find the time to do it properly. Each map version took over 100 hours to make, and creating a completely new set was just overwhelming. I would love to be able to do it, someday, and I still think about it quite often.

My single regret in being involved with this fantastic game, and the people creating it, was that we could never come up with an adequate solution to the one thing most people wanted: topographical maps! We tried several times to find a way to create topos, but just couldn't get it right.

Here we are, ten years later, and I am grateful that people still continue to find the maps useful, even though they are quite out-dated. Thanks a million to the guys at Cornered Rats Studios, Dana Gophur Baldwin, Geof Doc Evans, Steve Bloo Daniels, and Al Rafter Corey, in particular, for working with me all the time!

As a side note, the 250,000+ maps downloaded is a very conservative estimate; I lost the counter functionality a long time ago, and when I recreated the site, I went with the rough number that the counter read around 2006. In reality, these maps have probably been downloaded closer to 500,000 times.