Mapping Tips - Ground Levels

Musashi

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Mapping Tips:
Ground Levels
 ​
Working with different ground levels may be advantageous for several reasons, one of them being the ability to fill your maps, avoiding that common appearance of empty. So let's try to apply this in our RPG Maker games!​

English is not my first language, please let me know if a made any mistakes =)


Well, I chose to make a forest map for this tutorial. First, decide the map size, then select the entrance point on the map (in my case - below) and the exit point (in my case - right). Okay, now, usually all that beginners do from this point is to complete the path and fill as much as possible of the map, as in the following example:

Done, I decided to put a piece of river, various grasses and trees, my map is relatively full without being polluted. So, is it right to do this? Of course! Nothing wrong with this map, but it is a bit bland, right? Nothing really draw attention. Moreover, the map has several tiny things thrown on the floor and, despite the large number, the map does not seem so full. What if I want to make it really "full", without looking like a child's room full of toys scattered?
Let's use the ground levels then! For this, let me start the project from scratch again.
 

Back to the initial map, enclose the area you will increase (or decrease, in this tutorial we will only increase) the ground level. Try doing that thinking in the path that the character will have to make to reach the destination. This step is not definitive, over my creation I changed some details several times (positions, sizes, shapes) but nothing too far from my plan at this stage.
 

Now the fun part begins, follow your plan and make the level elevations, use this phase to correct minor errors of calculation. After you make the base elevations, create new ones on top of them, just use creativity and common sense.
 

The map is already very robust, and all it has so far is ground, it means we will not need so many things to fill it, it also means the objects will fit better, without appearing thrown at random. I started with my river, that I tried to do early on, remember? Well then, this time I felt much more at ease drawing the river among the rocks - this is not very realistic, but I think it's cool.
 

Now,it's  time to get your creativity to work! Start filling with trees and everything that goes on the floor - on this map, the number of things on the floor is almost equal to the first version (71 on this against 74 on the other) and it is now much more robust - then start to "decorate" the walls, river, etc.
 
Once you finish filling out the map, finalize it as usual. Make your light effects, fogs, color corrections, etc. This is my final version, what about yours?​
 

Kes

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Nicely done and clearly explained.  I'm sure a lot of people will find this helpful as your examples make your points well.
 

EternalShadow

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I will also advise shift-clicking the rivers to make them go behind elevations.

Nice tut. 
 

GrandmaDeb

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I like this very much. ( ^ what ksjp said)


/me adds to http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/28939-a-list-of-rmvx-ace-tutorials/


I have to admit the one tweak I would add is: I couldn't tell what the path was that you were preserving, and was surprised to find it blocked by a river.


(and, um, can you get around that corner???)


Would it be better to draw a path on that planning map, or it that just one of those things you keep in mind as you go?


Not trying to criticize; I need to improve in this area myself so it is a genuine question.
 
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Musashi

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Thanks guys! I've made this tutorial years ago and I was still committing lots of mistakes. Using the wrong water tile for example! But i think, in this case, the concept is more important than this sample map.

 

GrandmaDeb, when I made the river I did not even realize it blocked the way! In the next picture I had already fixed this error. It would probably be better to draw the path along with the elevations!
 

amerk

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Good stuff there! While I can see the first open map for a more plains / field effect, I do think a lot of people shy away from elevation because it takes a bit more practice.
 

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