Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres [All Gaul is divided into three parts] -- JULIUS CAESAR
In Xconq, the world is always a sphere. You play on a piece of its surface, which is called an area. Currently, there can only be one world and one area in a game; this may change in a future version.
An area is divided into a grid pattern of cells. Although squares with four or eight neighbors could be used (and were, in the very first version of Xconq), currently only a hexagon grid is available. Each cell is therefore adjacent to six others, in the directions NW, NE, W, E, SW, and SE. Areas have a width and height that are the number of cells across and up/down. You can ask for areas down to 10x10 or less, or up to 1000x1000 or even more, but larger areas consume vast quantities of memory, plus they're slow and unwieldy to play on; don't ask for them unless you have a lot of time and patience! For most games, an area from about 60x30 up to 100x60 is about right.
If the area's width matches the circumference of the world, it is
a cylinder in shape. The cylinder can be circumnavigated in an
east-west direction. This is what an 8x6 cylinder area might look like
(periods are sea,
^ are land,
# # # # # # # # . . + + . . . . . . . + ^ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ^ . . . # # # # # # # #
Areas whose width is less than the world's circumference have a hexagonal shape. This is an 8x7 hexagon:
# # # # # # . + + . # # . . + ^ . # # . . + ^ . . # # . . . . . # # . . ^ . # # # # # #
The top and bottom rows of the cylinder shape, and all the sides of the hexagon shape, are called edge cells. Your units may not enter them, unless they're leaving the area entirely. (Most games don't allow this though; an army up against the edge cannot escape its fate.)
The types of terrain you'll find in the world depends on the game design; typically there will be sea, land, mountains, swamp, and so forth, but games have been known to feature junkheaps, lava, and black holes as "terrain".
Terrain comes in several subtypes; it can cover an entire cell, be linear features passing through or between cells, or be a coating overlaying other terrain. Cell terrain covers the entire cell uniformly, right out to its edges.
A border is the boundary between two adjacent cells; it has a distinct terrain type, such as "river" or "beach". There may be more than one type of border between two cells. Units moving into a cell will be affected by all borders while crossing them.
A connection is a narrow ribbon of terrain that reaches from the middle of one cell to the middle of an adjacent cell. Like borders, connections are distinct types; possibilities include roads, railways, or canals. Connections take precedence over borders and underlying cell terrain; in other words, if cell or border terrain is impassable, but there is a passable connection type, then the connection allows passage. Thus a connection is usable as a bridge. You may also find more than one type of connection between two cells, such as both a road and a rail line. They will be assumed to be side-by-side, so that units can use any connection that they prefer.
A coating is a sort of modifier, like snow or mud; it is a type that co-exists with cell terrain. Coatings can change from turn to turn, varying in depth--and resultant effect on units.
Note that each terrain type can only play one of these roles. This means you will never have river terrain that is both border and connection, nor will snow be both a coating and a cell type.
In some games, each cell has an elevation, which is normally elevation above sea level, but could be any range of values, as set by the game design. The game design also defines the effect of elevation on movement, visibility, and weather.
A world can have people living in some or all of its cells. People belonging to a side report everything they see in their cell to their side. Some types of units, when occupying a cell, will cause the people's side to change to match their own. Cells may also be under control by a side, which may not be the same side as the people!
A world can have named geographical features (usually shortened to
just features), such as a bay, mountain, desert, or valley.
Geographical features never have any direct effect on your game, but
some interfaces may label features when drawing a map, or use them to
help describe locations verbally, in phrases like
to NW of Big
The coordinate system is "oblique", with the X-axis horizontal, and the Y-axis almost vertical, but tilted to the right at a 60-degree angle.
Y \ / \/ ---------X / \ / \
The additional left-leaning "axis" is the x = - y line. In general though, you won't need to keep track of numerical coordinates.