from your remarks it looks like the map is not the problem but the map engine (code) is. It should be fairly simple to use any picture as background. You just have to define where the zones (countries and seazones) are on the map and after that it doesn’t really matter what background you use.
Oh man, if only it were that simple… Believe me how I’ve wished for something like that. :-D
I’m sure ZeroPilot knows where I’m coming from here, since its usually just me and him arguing the case to the Java guys about how it needs to “look better.” The unfortunate reality though, is that the necessary interface just isn’t it in place to handle something like that, simple though it might sound. Every time we make a new custom game, we try to push the limits of the engine, but its always an uphill battle. For sometime now, my thinking has been that TripleA should be designed primarily as a map editing program, with a focus on adaptability. But what you have instead is a program that was originally just hardcoded to play Classic, and was never really intended to do much beyond that. Even just getting the engine to the current level of flexibility has been a pretty impressive feat of re-working.
Its seems so easy in principle though, especially the way you describe it: as a background layer, or mask. If they built something official along those lines, I’d be the first to order a copy, but right now TripleA is the best I can get. Gametable doesn’t offer any level of customization at this point, and the other programs like Battlemap and Mapview, don’t offer the same style of real time gameplay that you can get out of something like TripleA. That’s the only reason why I keep struggling with it, and why I try to make little improvements when I can.
I agree though, the aesthetics totally leave something to be desired, especially the way borders are drawn/re-drawn when you scale the map (it gets all pixelated) and the text display and unit positioning is also pretty irksome. Right now though, its a sacrifice I’m willing to make to play live. Not for everyone I guess, but it has its merits.
I’m sure the AA50 map can be redone at a later date, if people really dislike it, but at least it works. :)