A while ago I released Mapcrafter 2.0 with a lot new features. There is also the first update 2.1 with some bugfixes available. I want to give you an overview about the new features and upcoming changes of Mapcrafter 2.x.
The most important new thing is the big internal code refactoring which allows the implementation of different renderers in the backend. For now there is a 3D oblique isometric render view (the one from the old versions you probably already know) and a 2D topdown render view which renders your worlds from above.
Another possible renderer could be an OpenGL renderer which can render worlds from arbitrary perspectives, but this is just an idea. There are also still a lot of things to play around and test with the new topdown render view. The renderer could be useful to render a whole world to a single picture (using a very low texture size for blocks, for example just one pixel) - New tools and render modes (right now I'm thinking about a cartographic render mode that illustrates top down maps like real maps with height lines and stuff) will be coming in the next versions.
The next big coming feature are overlays. Overlays are special render modes that colorize rendered blocks based on specific information gathered from the Minecraft world. At the moment there is an overlay that shows you in which chunks slime can spawn and a very simple one to show where mobs can spawn at day/night. These are just two simple examples of possible overlays - I am still looking for inspiration and ideas for new overlays, don't mind to tell me if you have an idea!
Not only the concept of overlays as special render modes is new, there will be also an important technical improvement of overlays vs. render modes:
Overlays will work a little different than render modes do now. When Mapcrafter renders a map, there can be only one render mode per map (world="A Minecraft world", map="A rendered instance of a world"). This is because all the terrain is rendered for a map with a particular render mode which applies it's magic to the rendered Minecraft terrain. Minecraft terrain and effects applied by the render mode are then saved to one image. Rendering the terrain and render mode part to one image is unnecessary effort and redundance if you want to render the same world with different render modes (you have to render the terrain of the world again and again for every render mode). Overlays instead render only the "overlay part" (= the things shown on top of the terrain) to another image next to the normal rendered terrain. In the browser the overlay images are just shown on top of the terrain images. That way the terrain is only rendered once for each world, and then the overlays are rendered based on that information.
This will allow you to render many more different variations of your world by using much less disk space and rendering time than now. Also you will be able to easily toggle overlays on/off of a map in the browser.
This new behavior of overlays is still work on progress and will be released in the next big update. It may be also possible to completely replace render modes by overlays (except some special things with the cave render mode for example).
There is also a new image format supported by Mapcrafter: Indexed PNG images. Indexed PNGs use a color table of 256 colors which allows them to use just one byte per pixel (instead of four pixel for RGBA). This decreases the used disk space of Mapcrafter maps a lot. Good news is that you most certainly won't see a big difference (unless with JPEGs. Personally I don't like them a lot. They are fast and also don't need a lot of disk space, but they tend to look a bit blurry in my opinion). Images of Minecraft worlds usually don't need a lot of different colors, otherwise an algorithm quantizes the colors to 256 colors and a floyd-steinberg-dithering is applied for visual enhancement.
There are some other little new features. Look for yourself, just two examples:
That's about what's new and upcoming in Mapcrafter. I will continue working on new features and report back here while I'm enjoying my vacation at the very sunny and hot Miami Beach. :)