How big should a Hex be and why does it matter?

One of the early problems I had when coding my first hex and counters wargame was how big should I make the hexes. Hexes on map boards are there typically as a place to put the counters and help control things like movement, ZOC and give an idea of map scale.

Now one of the design issues with a computer version of a map board is how much of the map board do you show on the screen at any one time? When you buy a printed version you lay the map out on the table/floor and can see everything in one go. But in a computer version you are limited to the size of the monitor.

The main driver for the hex size I chose is the counters I wanted to display. Too small and its hard to read. Too big and you don’t get many hexes on the screen. My hexes ended up being 128 * 112 pixels. This allowed me to have counters with a size of 90 * 90, which I felt looked good on a screen.

But wait… This is a computer game. So that means we can change the size on the fly to suit the game players preferences. And what about that lovely 4K monitor you just brought that allows for really clear graphics no matter how small. How much freedom should I allow for the player of my games to change the way they view the game? The more options, the longer to code, the higher the chance of defects, the higher the chance the game never gets published.

Up until now I have not allowed resizing of the screen. More important to get a game published than worry about the ability to resize. However I am recently faced with a new dilemma. I have been in discussions with my graphics artist about a future project I am thinking about writing, a tactical game. I showed my artist some counters styles I found on the web that I liked and said “lets make them look like this’. His response was “Why? Lets make them better”.

Next day he sends me this.

Problem is when I reduce these down to fit a 90 * 90 counter you get this. All that beautiful detail lost.

So do I make the counters bigger so you get to see more detail, but get a smaller portion of the map on screen? If I have to increase hex size it means the maps need more detail. More detail means higher production costs as they take my artist longer to create.

Do wargamers even care? Look at the maps and counters we play with now. In many cases they are very basic and cheap looking. A lot of the time for the same reason – details & quality cost $$$. Many of the games only sell a few hundred copies and it makes no financial sense to incur a high cost that cannot be recouped.

Back to my original question – “How big should a Hex be and why does it matter?”.

It matters for almost the same reasons as a hardcopy of the game – Cost, Time and Quality. I think I will be going for slightly bigger counters and hexes when I write this game but will need to allow for game players to be able to resize if they prefer.

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