I want to build a game with a concept similar to Ingress, where the game map is overlaid on a real one.

Where can I find map data for an app like that? How (generally) do I integrate my own game objects into that map? Game objects need to move in real time, so having them as static markers on the map isn't sufficient.

I thought I could use Google Maps but as far as I can tell it would be impossible to create my own graphical style (like Ingress has done) with the official API provided by Google.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ingress was developed by Google, so I wouldn't be surprised if the developers have access to information that isn't readily available to the public. In this case you would likely need to research available mapping tools, possibly create your own technology using separately licensed mapping information. \$\endgroup\$
    – user39686
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 18:36

3 Answers 3


You could use OpenStreetMap data.

It is liberally licensed. In particular, their wiki says:

3c. If I make something with OSM data, do I now have to apply your license to my whole work?

No. For example, if you have written a game or published an artistic map which includes OSM data, only the data is covered by the license. This is called a Produced Work.

The developer wiki explains how to import OSM data into a database for your own use.


I recommend Natural Earth Data as a source of public domain cultural and physical GIS data with global coverage. Vector data sets include landmasses, countries, populated places etc, while raster base layers are available with optional details like land elevation, climate, waterways and submarine elevation.

This data is intended for use with GIS software, but can be manipulated and then exported as something more "game friendly" (svg, png etc.) using tools like QGIS or indiemapper with no financial outlay.

The vector layers come with detailed attribute tables that might also be useful for simulations such as names, populations and GDP.

Here are a couple of quick mock-up produced with this data: grey earth basemap overlayed with urban areas risk clone countries, urban areas, populated places

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a really nice data set but as far as I can tell, it does not provide road/street data which I would like to have for my game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Dunne
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 2:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ No Problems, I understand it is not useful for your specific situation. When I saw the (significantly edited) question in the email digest I thought I would post this information as a resource that may help future visitors who find this page. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ IndieMapper redirects to donaldjtrump.com now. It seems to be a dead link? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nick - that's an odd redirect... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 15:23

In some cases, you can use Google Static Maps API. This would let you to download sprites for specific locations one by one, and just use them as regular sprites/background in your game. However, you will need to deal with

  • usage quota (depends on the API and use case, but probably 25000 requests per day for free)
  • your game will be bound by Google Maps API T&C
  • your users will be bound by Google T&C, and you will need to acquire their consent
  • you will need to include a link to the Google Maps, I think.
  • according to 10.5 (b), you cannot make derivative works from their images, but it's possible that overlaying their image with some filter (if you need to change hue/saturation), could still pass, as long as it doesn't obscure Google's copyright notice and logo. IANAL, though.

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