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Using Google Earth in Your Games

by True Avery

Step 1: First, download Google Earth
http://www.google.com/earth/index.html
(Uncheck the boxes to download Chrome if you already have it downloaded)

Step 2: Once downloaded, install Google Earth

Step 3: Once fully installed, go to your Start Menu (depending on operating system) and find the "Start Google Earth in OpenGL mode" button under "All Programs" and "Google Earth". Directx works fine, but OpenGL looks just as good and has the bonus of added graphical flexibility within the Option menu.

Step 4: Click the "Start Google Earth in OpenGL mode" and launch Google Earth

Google Earth

Now that the program is open, you will see two boxes on the side bar and the main planet. Right now, we're just going to focus on finding a city so adjust to settings to. Head for Chicago, Illinois by either finding it on the globe yourself, or typing Chicago, Illinois in the upper left search box.



Press "Search" and you should zoom down into Chicago.

Now for controls:
The Left button on your mouse or laptop will allow you to push along the map.
The Right button and middle mouse wheel will allow you to zoom in and out of the map
The Middle mouse button (clicked) or the "Eye" wheel at the top left of the map will allow you to three-dimensionally rotate the camera



When you feel you have the controls downs and can move about the city, time to make sure something is checked. Move down to the bottom left of the program to find a box labeled "Layers." This box is to adjust what you can see on the map; everything from transportation routes, to restaurant locations, to ocean and weather effects (don't bother; it is currently impossible to control weather effects)



You can play around with the layer, and I'll get to a few relevant ones to a game's interest further down. For now what we're interested in is the 3D Buildings box. Make sure it is checked.

Step 5: Go to Tools at the top of the screen and select "Options..."



This is my setup to get the general quality I'm looking for. Choose whatever works for you and your computer, but if you have a decent rig then these options should suit you fine:



Once you've put the options in, reset Google Earth. Find a city and look around at your leisure!

There are 2 kinds of 3D in Google Maps:
3D Imagery: This uses satellite scanning, street view, and some complex algorithms to make a 3D world as currently close as the technology allows us. It is messed,and in close inspection the world looks like the apocalypse, but for a nice scan over a city it is perfect.
https://support.google.c...n&ref_topic=2376200

Legacy 3D: But unclicking the 3D Imagery box and sticking with the regular 3D, you are entered into the Legacy 3D buildings: These are often user made buildings, some clickable with information and names. I recommend switching into this view if you are curious what a landmark building may be, as most major cities have a handful of Legacy 3D buildings dotting the countryside. Note that in any given city, less than 1% may have legacy buildings, while some far more.

For Imagery, this only applies to often the most populated zones of a particular city. The system is still very much in an Alpha state, but the area that are 3D are typically more than big enough for a game to take place and last and, above all else, the flat maps are still sitting there for use and Street View is a saint in those situations. For a link to cities available in 3D Imagery, look to the link above.

Important Layers:
Roads: This box is nicely in the first main layers menu under "Primary Database"
Transportation: At the bottom of "Primary Database" is a box marked "More": expand it. Next, look down for the plane shaped box named "Transportation". Expand it. Within this box are, most importantly, train, tram and subway lines. Much needed for places to hide, places to eat, and places to find Avernian Gates!
Parks: Under "More" is a tab for Parks and Recreation areas, which are the perfect spots for Gangrels, Lupins, and other more animalistic denizens to hang out for a bite to eat, or territory to control.



Street View:
If you'd like a down home view of any of the streets (or park paths!) you'd like to explore then just find the path and double click the street. The camera will zoom down, and keep double clicking until you are pulled into a street view of the landscape. Just double click into the distance of this new view to keep moving around the street, and when you want to exit just go to the top right of the screen and click "Exit Street View" to pop back into the 3D world.


Search Terms:
A few pointers when searching an area is to stick with the city name within.
For example, a good search would be "Apartments near Chicago, IL", which will show dots all over the Chicago area for apartment buildings. Upon clicking them, you can get information and links to websites that can further detail these buildings and areas out. Very useful.

Night/Day:
At the top of the map is a button that looks like a sun rising over a green mountain. Click this button.

This button allows you to work with a simple night/day filter that casts shadows upon the 3D buildings. I use it for dusk and morning lighting, though the disappointment with Night is that no buildings are lit up as they should be. It is good for a nice morning and nightfall mood however.

Placing Markers, creating paths, and zoning territories
This is the bread and the butter of making a game work in this program.

First up, go to the Places box. Right click the My Places tag and mouse over "Add" and press Folder. Rename this Folder to whatever you'd like; I did "World of Darkness". Repeat this with the World of Darkness folder for any subfolders you may want.

Placing a Marker:

Step 1: Click the Yellow Pin
Step 2: Move the Pin with your mouse to where you'd like it to be
Step 3: In the pop-up box, enter the name of the Pin.
Step 4: Add any Descriptions, Style/Color, views or altitude to your pin. I wont go into detail into them as they are pretty self explanatory
Step 5: Click Ok
Step 6: In the "Places" box, make sure the Pin is in the folder you want it to be in
Step 7: Right click and go to "Properties" to view and change the Pin settings at your leisure

Creating a Path:

Step 1: Click on the Path button; Your cursor should turn into a target
Step 2: Left Click along the map and the path should build along each click. To undo a click, press the Right mouse button
Step 3: In the pop-up box, enter the name of the Path.
Step 4: Add any Descriptions, Style/Color, views or altitude to your Path.
Step 5: Click Ok
Step 6: In the "Places" box, make sure the Path is in the folder you want it to be in
Step 7: Right click and go to "Properties" to view and change the Path settings at your leisure

Creating a Territory:

Step 1: Click on the Polygon button; Your cursor should turn into a target
Step 2: Left Click along the map and the box should built along each click. To undo a click, press the Right mouse button. The box will auto-fill itself, so just worry about making the shape you'd like.
Step 3: In the pop-up box, enter the name of the Territory.
Step 4: Add any Descriptions, Style/Color, views or altitude to your polygon. In Styles, make sure to adjust Opacity to about 50% to less so you can still see the city under the territory.
Step 5: Click Ok
Step 6: In the "Places" box, make sure the territory is in the folder you want it to be in
Step 7: Right click and go to "Properties" to view and change the Territory settings at your leisure
Example: This is the zone in which the "Great Chicago Fire" burned, and this spot is of particular importance to Werewolves as the Shadow is very badly cursed here. This is also one of the highest areas of Ghost and Spirit concentration in the city.

 
 



Adding a Location to your folder:
For this, just search the location you are looking for. Then, right click the little balloon in the top left box under "Search" and click "Save to My Places" and by magic, its there as a new place, saved and ready for clicking.

Show Historical Imagery:
This little button here:

To properly view this, make sure 3D Buildings is unchecked. Then, just zoom about previous years satellite photographs of the area sometimes all the way back to the early 90s if you'd like a good idea of how the area has changed in the past 20 years. For example, in Chicago there is a small manmade island off of the Loop that used to be an Airport and is now a Park, which is an important fact when placing a game in 80s or 90s Chicago.