Mapping Helpdesk [Last update: Mountains (17th April) and Misc answers (18th)]

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Indrah, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. T.Bit

    T.Bit Labyrinth Explorer Veteran

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    @alexander: Some quick advice is using small objects to block off areas you don't want to let characters into. Some examples: stumps, rocks, small streams and ponds, bushes, perhaps some small cliffs to denote some rocky terrain. Perhaps the wonderful indrah of oz will magic us up a tutorial on her thoughts?
     
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  2. Fatalfugus

    Fatalfugus Veteran Veteran

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    Hey all. Looking for some ideas/inspiration to create an arena area using VX Ace stock tiles and the like. Think like a smaller version of the Roman Colosseum. It's gonna be a major area for a portion of the game, so I want it to be immersive enough, but It keeps ending up looking bland and basically not that great.
     
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  3. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    Hey, everyone! I’m back XD
    Sorry for the long absence. Honestly I don’t have a proper excuse. I just kept pushing back updates, as one does, and doing other things instead -.-
     
    Anyway! It was about time I tackled these again, so let’s start!
     
    Hotfirelegend asked (a million years ago) about mountainous terrain:

    Let me start by saying: mountains are HARD to make. Especially if you’re still not too used to autotile manipulation and shift clicking.
    My first piece of advice is: skip large mountainous areas if you don’t feel too sure about them. Even for people who map well they’re rather painful, so try to make those areas smaller as you can manage or skip them altogether.
     
    Now, mountains are obviously defined by elevation. This means using some sort of cliff wall, so get used to them, and get ready for a LOT of shift clicking.
     
    If you have to map a whole mountain, my advice is: start from the peak and work down! Think of it as a tiered cake. Just make the tiers irregular and it’ll get progressively bigger. Also remember not all tiers have to be connected or the same size. Add some irregularities to the layout as you go down, like splitting tiers so they’re not all accessible form the same level, lower or higher elevations, etc.
     
    Also always remember to keep the elevation CONSISTENT. Don’t make the same wall be of different heights and so on! If necessary, count how many tiles a wall should be every time. (Using the from top to down approach helps with this a lot, as it’s less confusing to make and keep track of the elevation).
     
    As for the issue with cliff edges and decoration destroying passability: that is a very real and really nasty issue, and it made mapping a bit of a pain. However, Shaz made a wonderful script that will let you set tiles so that they adhere to the ground they are set on, removing that worry. (Get it here!)
    For simpler things such as merely blocking off some tiers, you can also use Yanfly’s Move Restrict Region (download here!), which will simply make a set region totally impassable.
     
    Now, some tips for mountains:
    -You can make cave networks connect different parts. This also means you can leave out entire sections of the mountain unmapped with a solid excuse (FF4 and 6 did this, for example). Caves are easier to make by far.
    -It’s easier to use vines or stone stairs to connect tiers than use normal ground, the reason being slopes will look awkward in RTP (example below).
    -You can use both the A2 cliff autotile or the A5 cliffs still tiles. There are many techniques to this, but generally just make shape first and then do the clean up after you have the entire base done. Wall tiles especially will snap out of order quite quickly when messing with the grounds. (Remember, shift clicking is inevitable when mapping mountains, so just get used to it -.-)
    -Since applying ground tiles to the mountain will probably jack up the walls, a neat trick is to place all the ground variations you need (such as dirt roads) on the “overlay” part of the A2 sheet, like the grass. Those tiles (the right half of the A2 tilesheet) will be placed ABOVE the ground without interfering with it at all, so you can use them safely and the cliffs won’t snap out of formation.
    -Remember, the RTP uses a top-down perspective, so try not to even DESIGN places that are supposed to be on the “back” of mountains. They are by far too hard to make (and look good) than what they’re worth. Try to design your mountains so only the “front” is visible.
    -You can either make the “background” to be a solid wall (which will give the impression of a more massive mountain you are slowly scaling), or have a sky parallax show up behind. You can also use both, letting the sky parallax on the sides, and having massive wall on the centre.
     
    And finally, some examples!
     
    [​IMG]
    A “slope” type. As you can see they’re a bit iffy since the elevation is implied and not very well depicted. It’s doable but usually requires a lot of space, so it may be better for bigger spaces.
     
    [​IMG]
    Here’s a small “tier” type. As you can see they are more “obvious”, but take a loooot of vertical space, and will get bigger horizontally quickly if you have a lot of tiers (this just lets you see the very tiny peak, because I’m too lazy to make a big ass mountain just for the example >I)
     
     
    And here are some extras: usually commission work or other stuff I’ve done and can serve as some reference:
     
    Sample with solid wall behind (big impression)
    [​IMG]
     
    Sample with sky parallax
    [​IMG]
     
    Sample using water (different style of colouring, ignore that XD). Not technically a mountain, but still has a lot of elevation issues.
    [​IMG]
     
    Sample of larger, less vertical mountainous terrain (a lot of minor elevation differences)
    [​IMG]
     
    Sample of low mountain/cliffs with ground background
    [​IMG]
     
    Sample of cave interior, but follows the principle of elevation mapping and a good sample of how to connect mountains from the inside.
    [​IMG]
     
     
    And I hope that’s enough! Mountains are inherently bothersome to make, so just practice and don’t get discouraged. Also try to experiment with shift clicking a LOT, since the earliest you master that skill, the best.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2013
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  4. gpgekko

    gpgekko Nevermind me, I'll just cast shadows on your walls Veteran

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    You forgot the link at "Get it here!"... :p

    But that little unimportant detail aside, a great tutorial like always! :D
     
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  5. Tsukitsune

    Tsukitsune Veteran Veteran

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    I was wondering when you'd get back to these, really love your tutorials. 
     
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  6. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    FIxed the links. I noticed right after I posted it :x

    @Tsukitsune and gpgekko: Thanks a bunch XD
     
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  7. light487

    light487 Parrot Keeper Veteran

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    First of all thank you for all your time and effort on the previous topics, I have avoided making large mountain regions but I might give it a try. :)

    Anyway, on to my question... it may seem silly to others but I really have a hard time building believable and good looking buildings. Not the internal space, I have no trouble with that.. I have difficulty making multi-story houses, different shaped buildings and so on that fit with an area. The best I can manage to do is a L-shape house or a house that is bigger than another.. and any time I try to make a house that is multi-story it ends up looking very strange and flat rather than tall etc

    So I was hoping you might do a pictorial, step-by-step of building a more complex building.. like maybe an estate or mansion, with multiple stories.. showing how to construct it and the order it is most efficient to build it in etc.
     
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  8. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    Today I’ll tackle shorter questions in a bunch that don’t warrant their own “full” article.

    So, Krokon asked:

    This is not really something I can help much with. Seems to me that the main problem you could have is lack of practice with the set.
    If anything, try to star by understanding every tile. Use them a bit and see what works and what doesn’t, what each tile is supposed to be, where it’s supposed to be placed, etc.
    Usage-wise it isn’t that different from the RTP, so outside of that and changing some structural setting things (in modern times (and possibly futuristic) cities rarely have slanted houses, buildings are box shaped and usually clustered together, etc).Furthermore, with modern settings you can simply look at simple reference as photography and try to draw inspiration from that.

    So yeah, I’d say just get used to the new tiles by practicing. That’s what every new set is like. (The Japanese samurai set is the same, it requires you get used to the tiles a bit, but it does not have much complications otherwise).


    Next, pxlgraphic asked:

    The “technique” is to be random with nature, to a point. There are very simple steps:
    1- Make the entire base of the terrain (cliffs included).
    2- Put down any important roads you may need to guide the player.
    3- Decorate around that base.

    Decoration can be extra dirt roads, grass, etc. I do not recommend you add water after the fact, and you should probably put the main water areas in with the structures (you can still jag the edges and polish it later.

    There is not much else to say. When using a grass or ground décor, just try to stay away from overly organized shapes (such as perfect squares or long straight lines with no variations) or too orderly.
    Also try not to drown out the ground, as decorations tend to signal “no go” areas to players: clean roads (or dirt areas) are a good signal to the player of “you can walk this way”, so leave enough spaces clean to let the player know that’s an area he can walk on, specially if it’s supposed to be a more or less “used” road (wild forest roads and trails or secret roads can deviate from this, of course).

    It also helps to “wiggle” your mouse (or tablet pen, whatever you use) a bit when drawing with grass and decorative tiles. Not a lot, because you’ll pain over spaces you were not supposed to, but it helps to have a slight random element to the drawing. You can also just delete it if necessary or adjust as needed.

    It seems the whole ground decoration seems to be a largely stylistic thing, so I can’t really tell you what’s just “right”. I can say just go with what feels right for your game, and just stay away from ridiculous orderly shapes in nature.


    Next, Ari asked about world maps, and after Luna’s response (that I think covers all I could say) she asked:

    I’m afraid these have little to do with editor mapping. I can’t really say much on how to do things in photoshop, since the most I do is edit tiles and not parallax much.

    1- I’m not sure. The clone tool will still require you to manually stamp each copy, so…
    2- Jag those roads a bit. They are far, FAR, too straight, and in fact, very wide. I’d try to thin them out a bit, and use the jitter function on the brush you’re using. (It will jag the lines even if you draw a straight line).
    3- Eventing is not something I’m good in, so no idea :x


    Another small question. zerophase asked:

    That is not an editor function but a tile.
    Usually it would require you to open the tiles image with a graphic editor such as Gimp or Photoshop and edit the tile yourself by rearranging the elements you want.
    If you wanted to do a similar thing to that with the editor, you’d have to make the surface you wanted to put things on an A tile and the object a B tile (so they’re on different layers and don’t overwrite each other), or place an event with the objects as a sprite.
    Honestly your question’s a bit vague, so if you need further help you should specify some more.

    Next, alexander Amnell asked:

    I can’t really help you with making your specific map, but I can say this: I usually dislike the tree tiles in the B sheet as forest limits. They look too open. I’d recommend using a hard border with black or negative space, such as the tree autotile in A4.

    Long story short: Autotile trees tend to make a better job of making “closed” spaces, since the black blocks off view and makes the image darker and more enclosed. B tile trees are better for open spaces such a plains or open mountains, or simply to decorate other forests.

    This works for everything outside of forests too: having a pitch black (or simply a dark flat colour) as negative space instead of a fill out of tile with color and detail works better to make maps feel darker and closed-in, and also helps focus the player on the areas he can go instead of distracting them with the areas “outside” the map. (You can see the tree autotile in action in the very first tutorial, the Spooky Forest one).

    Also, do no, NOT, NOOOOOOT make the forest a big sprawling mess, especially when it comes to the size of the roads. Try to focus on what you NEED, maybe add some extra little areas, and that’s it. Nobody likes walking around bare, empty spaces with nothing to do.


    And that’s it for advice! Next, a few extra queries to people who asked stuff…

    Fatalfungus asked:

    You’ll have to help a bit here, as just an “arena” is not much to go by. What is it supposed to hold? How many facilities? Shops? Do people live there? Is it in a city interior or apart from it on the country? Is it a dangerous place or a government controlled one?
    More details needed, overall.


    Light487 asked:

    I do not thing I will do something as work intensive as a step by step guide with pictures here. In all my tutorials I assume you know how to make the editor work, so at most I may post examples of possible shapes :x
    I’ll try to put some examples in the future, but for this I have the simpler advice of just visiting the screenshot section.
    I will admit myself I am not that awesome at making buildings, but some people seem to have a knack for it. Just browsing around the game screenshots topic will probably yield some pretty nice references (not all of them will be good, of course, but there are many worth it).

    And that’s it! I will try (emphasis on TRY) to tackle the Black Space maps next time, but no promises there. I readily admit I have not much experience with them. We shall see.
     
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  9. Aceri

    Aceri Author Veteran

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    How do you add depth to a map? For example I want to make a map for my game where it's kind of like a giant land bridge path, but every time I try and add a bottom(like say lava off in the distance or something) it always comes out looking like it's only a few feet off the ground, and doesn't show any actual depth. Any help would be appreciated, thank you.
     
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  10. light487

    light487 Parrot Keeper Veteran

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    Hrmm.. I'm having a lot of difficulty with a particular section of my maps and nothing I do seems to be working. What I want to do is have a multi-level castle tower.. The bit I am having trouble with is creating the typical spiral staircase that would go up to each level. I think I need to create some tiling stairs for the horizontal parts but I'm also having trouble with look of the centre and how to make it look like I'm going up in levels.. obviously every level is a different map.. but they need to look like they are transitioning from level to level..

    I'm attaching what I have been able to do so far, to give you a visual idea of what I am trying to do and at the same time failing to do.. hope you can help me..

    Tower Attempt.png

    I had another go.. and I think this time it looks a LITTLE better.. be nice to see how the experts do it though:

    Tower Attempt 2.png

    Tower Attempt.png

    Tower Attempt 2.png
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2013
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  11. misa

    misa Warper Member

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    I've been doing almost the same thing, but a much more simple tower, but I'm having a bit of trouble making the roof, and possibly making the insides of the tower a bit better, but the main part is, I really am having a hard time trying to figure out how to make it look like you're pretty high in the air and you can see down from the top and that kinda thing

    I'm not good with wording OR mapping :D
     
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  12. light487

    light487 Parrot Keeper Veteran

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    I read through your Mapping Tips for a Town/Village and there is a couple of maps I will be doing of sea ports.. I can handle all the town stuff itself.. but what I am having the most trouble with is the port itself and making it look like a port.. some tips and ideas specifically relating to ports would be great.

    What you will likely need to do is create a parallax background for the ground below.. so where there would normally be black surrounding the map for an indoors map, you would have a paralllax background for the outdoor map where you want to show you are high.

    For my maps, what I did was create another map that was the same size as the map I was working on and just put random trees and the usual "filler" stuff you see on a map. If there is a road nearby, you can add that to it as well.. or in my case there was a moat around the castle, so I added that. Then take a screenshot of that map in full and import it into an image editor. Apply a blur effect to the image.. (I used a Gausian Blur effect in GIMP 2.8 with a power factor of about 15). When you load this blurred image as the parallax background, it gives the feeling of the ground being further away...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2013
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  13. kilgharrah

    kilgharrah Warper Member

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    i want to make a natural looking forest for my beginner lever of my map have a hard time crating one and crating a house on a mounting. for the forest i want a mini boss fight and some chests and it's a two part forest
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2014
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