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> [-Mapping-] General Mapping Principles, Things every mapper should know!
Pentagonbuddy
post Oct 20 2010, 11:25 PM
Post #1


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General mapping principles

There are three simple rules you should keep in mind for mapping. Regardless of your tiles, or whether you’re using tilesets or parallaxes, these three things are essential to making good maps. In this tutorial I’m using Nightwalker’s edits of the RTP, with a sprinkling of Mack and Soruve at the end.

1. Guide the player.
2. Break up the grid.
3. Create atmosphere.


1. Guide the player

Spoiler:
Your maps should be more than empty areas or mish-mashes of detail. You could make a map that was more beautiful than the Mona Lisa, but at the end of the day you’re still making a game -- you want your maps to be easy to travel and to not draw too much attention to themselves. It’s important to guide the player through a map, that way they can move on to the next area or be drawn to important parts of the map.

How can you accomplish this? The easiest way is simply creating a path. A dirt path in a grassland or forest, or one made out of carpet in a castle…Basically, you just use a floor tile different from the others to make a path for the player to follow. You can also use how objects are arranged to imply a path, or even something as subtle as color. The main idea is to guide the player by using contrast to show ways they can go.


2. Break up the grid.

Spoiler:
What is the grid?



That. Everything looks so blocky and linear! By arranging things into sharp squares and aligning it all to the grid, your maps look a lot more dull and predictable. There are several ways you can get rid of this feeling.

The first is random placement. For floor tiles, the circle tool is great, here -- you can use it to overlap tiles until they look much more randomly placed.



See how much better that already looks? When you put down details on your map, try to spread them out and avoid arranging them in the same way.



And here’s after adding some details to the place. Notice how it’s spread out randomly, and I tried to avoid putting two of the same tile close together. However, despite the random placement, there are still clusters of detail near certain areas of the map, such as the house in the corner, or by the river. This goes back to point 1, by using the placement of objects to guide the player towards areas of interest. (…And yes, the house is missing a door.)

Events are another great way to break up the grid, because they allow you to overlap tiles on B through E that normally erase each other.



XD Here’s an unrelated map to show what I mean. I didn’t do this with the house in the field map because I try to avoid clutter on my maps, and in that particular one just the tiles by themselves help give it a random look.

Parallaxes are another way you can smash the grid to smithereens, but I’ll talk about those some other time.


3.Create atmosphere.

Spoiler:
This is by far the hardest of the three to master. It requires a lot of intuition or outside resources -- reference pictures, an understanding of color, music and sounds…It’s a complicated thing! The first step is deciding what kind of “feel” you want your map to give off. Something warm and friendly? Dark and sinister? Mysterious?

Once you have your idea in mind, you can look for some reference pictures to help give you ideas about what colors to use, or how to tint the screen.



Take a look at this map. The colors aren’t very bright, there are no reds that jump out, and the screen is tinted a grayish blue. Add the cracks and the rats and the web, and you have a pretty run-down place.



Now look at this room. Much warmer! The tint has more red to it, and isn’t as dark, and the cramped space and fireplace help make it look much cozier. It’s not at all big, and doesn’t have empty spaces like the previous map.

Fogs and overlays are another way you can create an atmosphere, although they should be used sparingly or else they become commonplace and can lose the effect.



Here’s a cave with a bit of fog billowing through, and an overlay around the player to make the edges of the screen dark. It goes a long way towards giving the place a “mysterious” feel.

Working to give your maps atmosphere is what really makes them pop, so it’s definitely worth thinking about!


Hopefully this gives at least a few of you food for thought! By keeping these things in mind you can avoid a lot of common mapping problems, like having maps that are too linear, or hard to follow, or too bland and generic.


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Joerao
post Oct 21 2010, 12:12 AM
Post #2


...
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Nice job! Nice general principles that'll certainly help novices. God knows I could have used this when I started...


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landis17
post Oct 21 2010, 12:15 AM
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Wow. I've never actually thought of using events as a mapping tool. Hmm. I continue to learn....
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mitchi.exe
post Oct 21 2010, 01:54 AM
Post #4


Welcome to RMVX.net, B*tch
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Atmosphere can be done using pictures as well, and I think it would be easily done using parallax mapping.
Nice tutorial nonetheless. I like it when you said events could break the grid. And also, some games are better without breaking the grid,
because it guides the player more.


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CoA Playable Character Spr completion: 7/13 (~54%)
Spoiler:



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Pentagonbuddy
post Oct 21 2010, 02:13 AM
Post #5


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QUOTE (Joerao @ Oct 20 2010, 05:12 PM) *
Nice job! Nice general principles that'll certainly help novices. God knows I could have used this when I started...

Thanks~!

QUOTE (landis17 @ Oct 20 2010, 05:15 PM) *
Wow. I've never actually thought of using events as a mapping tool. Hmm. I continue to learn....


It's pretty handy. AlyMay made a nice video tutorial about using events for mapping, if you want to know more.


QUOTE (//mitchi.exe @ Oct 20 2010, 06:54 PM) *
Atmosphere can be done using pictures as well, and I think it would be easily done using parallax mapping.
Nice tutorial nonetheless. I like it when you said events could break the grid. And also, some games are better without breaking the grid,
because it guides the player more.

I think we might be talking about the same thing, since I sometimes use "overlay" to refer to using the "show picture" command...which I probably shouldn't do. XD It confuses terminology! At any rate, you're right about not everywhere needing to fear the grid. I should note it's best for when you want places that aren't stiff or unnatural; griddy places work better when they're man-made and not supposed to look natural.

I plan on making a separate tutorial for layered mapping once I get all my ducks in a row, too. I'm not a fan of using purely parallax maps, nor do I usually like using nothing but tilesets, so it'd be good to put out there.


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Celianna
post Oct 21 2010, 02:23 AM
Post #6



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I was about to comment saying that the grid isn't a bad thing, and can be seen in real life everywhere, but Mitchi beat me to it haha. It's true, if you want it to look natural, you'll break up the grid. If it's man-made, a town, or anything like architecture, you'll want to use the grid to your advantage. Otherwise, you bring up some good points.

Personally, I loathe fogs and they irritate me because they block what you can see and very rarely do they add a nice atmosphere to them that doesn't obstruct your view.
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SamGreen
post Oct 21 2010, 05:36 AM
Post #7


Life Is Good.
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I agree with celianna about the fogs with them obstructing, I know that in real life fog has obstructed my view by atleast 15 metres and no less so I don't see why it should be so close to you... Although I've never actually been in hugely deep and dark caves so I couldn't really comment on what it would be like down there :s

But anyway, this tutorial is great and I'm extremely glad you've put this up, knowing that I an incredible mapper (joking) could really use these guidelines, thanks pent smile.gif


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MagicKid
post Oct 21 2010, 09:57 AM
Post #8


I walk into walls.
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Nature is usually scattered quite randomly, so... you do have to kill the grid when working with nature.


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QUOTE (CUTmayne @ Aug 4 2010, 01:20 AM) *
paying for rm resources is like paying for porn.

I'm back! And I'm more mature than the last time you saw me. I hope.
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Kzar5678
post Oct 25 2010, 11:51 PM
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Wow, you really are good at mapping. You have like 3 or 4 diferent tuts JUST on mapping. That's plain WOW!!


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