To Parallax Map or Not to Parallax Map

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AeroFunk80, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. AeroFunk80

    AeroFunk80 Veteran Veteran

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    So, one of my goals this year is to learn something new in RPG Maker, and I've always wanted to learn Parallax Mapping. I haven't even really tried it yet (thinking about dabbling in it a bit and seeing how I do). I heard that some love it, and some hate it. It makes your games larger, but they look better, etc. What are your thoughts on it?
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Larger is sure, better is dependent on how it's done.
    I'm the one who doesn't like parallax mapping because of the reason you mentioned.
    But I'm not going to tell people around that I don't like their game because of it.

    I'd say if you want to learn then go ahead.
     
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  3. Darth Equus

    Darth Equus Veteran Veteran

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    My two cents:

    Personally, I dislike Parallax Mapping because it makes it harder for me to make changes to a map if I come across a limitation or change in a concept, plus giving some games a non-game look when filters and other effects are added, if that makes sense. It also robs me of a layer I can use to give more depth to my maps (moot if using a multi-layer script, though). This is just my personal opinion.

    On the other hand, some people can work wonders using it, and you can learn how to work with image editors better as you make your backgrounds.

    This.

    Best of luck with your project.
     
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  4. Sharm

    Sharm Pixel Tile Artist Veteran

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    Parallax vs tiles is, to me, one of those diminishing returns things. They're both beneficial in opposite situations, and can work together really well. If you've got a lot of locations, if your maps are large, or if the placement is more unique than the content, tiles is generally the way to go. If you've got very different looking locations, a small amount of them, or if the thing being mapped isn't big, then it could be beneficial to do Parallax maps. Parallax mapping allows for more control at the cost of more memory usage, but if you're not making good use of that higher amount of control or you can't afford it taking that much space on disk, then there's not anything gained by using it. Tiles are fantastic for keeping the file size smaller, or being able to reuse the same thing in a different way, but at some point and on some level you will always be able to see the repetition. If not, it shouldn't be done with tiles. If you're doing almost everything unique, tiles will actually get in your way and give you no benefit. In combination, you can get a lot of wow with little memory cost by using parallax for key, unique locations, and spending a little extra love on those tiles for the rest of the game.

    That said, I think most people will not get any use out of going full parallax. It requires a certain level of artistry to pull off, and most of the time you can get the same effect in a non-parallax setting. Clever use of self made tiles, using layering to hide repetition, and especially grid free doodads can give you nearly all the benefits with a much lower memory cost.

    I should probably add here that as a pixel artist I am biased towards the clever use of tiles. I think they're undervalued and can be so awesome when exploited to the max. Also, when doing pixel art, full parallax maps take a stupidly huge amount of time, because pixel art is one of those diminishing returns things too.
     
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  5. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    there are two things to be considered before you even start to decide which way to go.

    First is the question "can you design good maps?"
    Neither way will get you good maps if you don't know how to plan and design you maps - you need to be able to tell what has to be on a map and where it should be placed before even opening the mapping program.
    Not knowing that will make your maps either cluttered and difficult to play on (how does the player get around the map), or empty and booring to pass.

    Second is the question of resources and effort compared to results.
    Parallax maps need more work (they require additional steps and more drawing time) and more RAM (a parallax map usually requires several thousand times the RAM to play on compared to tiled maps), even if they are considered more beautiful to look at.
    Someone here on the board once said "Tile mapping is 20% of the work for 80% of the quality of parallax mapping".
    While that number might differ with experience, it should still show how much more work you'll need to get those tiny increments in quality, and you need to ask yourself if that worktime is worth it or if you're better off placing the time into development itself.
    And as for RAM - a lot of people confuse the filesize of their map-pictures on their harddrive with their data-size. PNG contains quite a good compression for storing data - but you cannot play on compressed data. The current map always need to be without compression in RAM.
    Make a test - convert your map into BMP and store it on your HDD as a BMP. BMP has no compression and that number will show you how much RAM your map needs while it is played on just for the background picture of the map.

    That is also the reason why a mobile can't handle larger parallax maps - if you want the option of deployment to mobile, then you need to go either tile mapping or keep your parallax maps at 20x20 or smaller.
     
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  6. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    First, make sure you can design good or at least coherent maps in the normal way. Parallax mapping is just another tool, the results depend on how good you are.

    Personally, I prefer using the normal mapping because its easier for me and its lighter on runtime. If I need tiles that aren't normally doable via normal mapping, I will just mix them up first in Paint.net or Photoshop and make a tileset that is more specific to my needs.

    Most of the time, especially if you're making only small maps, you would realize you only really need around tiles A,B,C. But when you're using the default tilesets or even paid ones, you might feel like you've used up to E but still need more for your map, but if you look closely at what tiles you did use, you'd see that there are a lot of tiles that you didn't actually use.

    On my current game, my usual tileset goes like A,B,C are using default tilesheets while D,E are reserved for more specific tiles I mixed up. Take note though that all my maps in the game are made just to fit the 640x480 game window.

    If you're more used to using Photoshop you might want to go parallax mapping, but take note that you will still need to know how to setup correct passability either via the normal method or via plugins else your passability will be all messed up
     
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  7. AeroFunk80

    AeroFunk80 Veteran Veteran

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    Yeah, I agree on the Parallax Mapping now that I watched some videos. It's just not worth it (for me) since it requires so much time and creativity, plus the size my game could end up being massive... I've given up on it already LOL I also realized I don't have the patience for it. I decided to get a new tileset to mess around with. Happy with it so far. Plus I got Yanfly's Grid-free Doodads... and it's amazing.
     
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  8. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I had one game that was mostly Parallax. The artist I worked with had a few rules for what could be done, and then I further restricted myself to single screen maps. It ended up looking nice and it was easy enough for me to ask the artist to make changes because of the size. The one time I didn't use it was on a map that was intentionally supposed to stick out and look repetitive (imagine the exactness of sewer levels mixed with the order of a tyrant's castle).

    But I don't have the artistic talent to be confident in making parallax maps. I also already learned mapping through years of tilework and making it look as I could. Looking forward, even if I did get good enough at it, I'd likely only use it for a few things;
    Something that should look out of place (but not in a meta sense, I don't want clash) and even then most likely if it's unique
    If it's something I can't do with tiles (and doodads does basically anything I can think of here)
    A scene I want to be able to change dynamically. I could make (say) four versions of the same tileset in each season or enough versions to simulate a boat moving in water, but that seems much easier if I can just draw a few backgrounds for a unique part instead of trying to do something with tilesets
     
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  9. Norjen

    Norjen Villager Member

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    I think it would do good to do at least a bit of parallax mapping, just to get some experience under your belt for possible later projects where you want to go that way and thus don't have to start learning from zero.

    I've done some really small, basic parallax mapping for the project I'm doing as a general RM learning exercise, like fixing tiles that don't mix well (cliff edges not getting cut neatly by stairs and waterfalls, for example) to look more nicer, etc. I'm also thinking I should place all trees on the parallax map, to get a more alive look when stuff is off the grid. Especially the big RTP trees.

    Keeping it to subtle fixes will greatly cut down the time you would need to put into it, and creativity isn't such a big question besides what you need to make maps in the first place because you'd be just copying and pasting stuff. Also game size won't bloat excessively because you don't necessarily need to do this for every map.

    But if you're happy with the new tileset you got, that's cool and go with that. You do you.
     
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  10. Romanticist

    Romanticist Veteran Veteran

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    As far as I know, most SNES RPGs used tiles, and they look absolutely amazing. I think if you know how to use tiles, you can replicate a similar result to parallax mapping; you'll just end up with a lot of tilesets.
    But maybe I'm just trying to justify myself giving up trying to parallax map, haha. I couldn't get used to it.
     
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  11. SoSick.

    SoSick. Veteran Veteran

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    My current project is all parallax mapping about 25 maps now in total, It does take so much time but is so worth it. But I must say with doodads, lighting plugins and a few custom tiles you can create beautiful maps. P.s Andar has scared me with ram issue xD I do have image cache plugins etc to hopefully help with ram
     
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  12. Celianna

    Celianna Tileset artist Global Mod

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    Turn to parallax mapping when editor mapping has restrictions that limit your vision of the map. That's all it's there for; to bring your creativity to life without limitations.

    Technically I am using images as backgrounds right now. But considering they're exactly the same screensize resolution as my game, they're not quite big and are all below 1MB each. I know parallax maps can go up to like 3MB if they're big and have a lot of colours. I also use a plugin to optimize the game and dump images out of cache, so that helps.

    Just try not to make gigantic maps when you do parallax mapping.
     
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  13. Onism

    Onism Probably napping. Veteran

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    At the minute I use the normal tiles in MV, and Yanfly's Grid-Free-Doodads. It's kind of a merge between the two: you get the MV items and can place them anywhere. It also allows you to change the hues and size of each 'doodad' pretty easily. It's something i'd recommend if you want to customise your maps a little, but parallax mapping terrifies you. ;D
     
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  14. mishakoc

    mishakoc Professional Procrastinator Veteran

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    Parallax mapping can surely make a game look amazing. But in my opinion, it has way too many negatives. It takes a long time to learn to do it properly so you will probably feel like you need to redo all the maps you already parallaxed before. The maps take way too long to complete - even several days if you want to make it really beautiful.
    You will maybe find out that because you wanted to make it too pretty you made it non-functional. The size of the parallax can even be much larger than you'd imagined - one of my parallax maps takes up a total of 65 MB (!!!). Not to mention you have to manually place all of the collisions, which is a boring and neverending process, especially on maps with cliffs.

    You can, fortunately, use various plugins to do a lot of the things that make parallax mapping so amazing. Specifically, Yanfly's Grid Free Doodads in the combination with his Region Restrictions are amazing for this. And if you use Terrax Lighting with the Tint Screen command, you can make some great lighting effects as well. Not exactly on par with parallaxing but I think it is almost as good while saving a ton of time. It's also easier to make corrections in finished maps.

    As I've said, parallax mapping looks great but I would personally NEVER go back to it now.
     
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  15. fallenlorelei

    fallenlorelei Veteran Veteran

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    I parallax because I know my strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible at mapping with tiles in the editor, but there are some people who are able to do so flawlessly and beautifully! For example, I got the FSM forest tileset, and it took way too long for me to figure out how to put the trees together with the leaves LOL and even now, I can't make the forests look like they do in the gorgeous FSM sample maps. But that's a personal weakness. At the same time, I work in Photoshop for my job all day, and when I'm struggling with the tiles I always end up telling myself, "I could just do this in Photoshop..."

    I think it's easier to make the maps directly in Photoshop than to splice, merge, combine tilesets for particular maps. And I feel like my maps end up looking the same as editor maps even when I do them in Photoshop, hah!

    S for me, it's what I'm comfortable doing. Adding collisions after the fact doesn't bother me, but it gets tedious when there's a lot of varying heights within the grid. And it's equally frustrating when you have to go back and make edits to the map. Not only do you have to re-arrange everything in PS, you have to make sure the overlay is still working as intended, etc. etc.

    It's also important to be mindful of size. I've had an entire livestream crash because I experimented trying to add a really big map to a project once, lol!

    But heck, if you want to learn a new skill, "parallaxing" doesn't exist in a void solely for RPG Maker. It's just playing with layers in Photoshop (or Gimp or whatever program you use) which is a skill you can apply to a ton of things!
     
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  16. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    Is there any value in using tiles for most maps and then parallax mapping (smaller maps) for this more epic scenes in your game where you may want to up the visuals or create a more unique map? I've considered parallax for that reason.
     
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  17. Onism

    Onism Probably napping. Veteran

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    The downside to doing this, I think, is that many people will take the view of 'woah- this is good, why aren't all the maps like this?!' - It could come across to players as the maker not caring enough about the game, which is obviously never good.

    I think the lack of the parallax mapping in all areas would create a sort of 'let down' feeling, that the player wasn't given the game at it's full potential? And this would ultimately be more of a resonating impression to a player than the awe they could get from the awesome parallaxed maps included. Perhaps even more so if there's a substantial difference between the two styles.
     
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  18. Sharm

    Sharm Pixel Tile Artist Veteran

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    Yeah, but I think that's only the case if the difference in style is too big and the map doesn't deserve to get special treatment. I think the use that rue669 is describing is exactly when you might want to mix the two styles. The scene in Chrono Trigger where you first come to Magus' castle is a good example of this type of map. It doesn't break down into tiles well, and the event was certainly epic enough to deserve something extra from the maps. Perfect for parallax mapping. But it didn't feel like it didn't belong or that the creators were just coasting for the rest of the maps. The End of Time maps could also have been done parallax instead of tiles without looking out of place too, I think. It's a small area that the player is constantly visiting, and meant to feel a bit separate from the rest, so it's another example of when it would be fine to mix in some parallax.
     
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  19. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    @Sharm You got what I meant perfectly. Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
     
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  20. Torisu

    Torisu Veteran Veteran

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    I prefer at the moment making the maps in paralax. In my taste you can be as original as you want it to be, but must remember that it needs to be playable.
     
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