Workflow, placeholder map/tileset and future proofing

lodger

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Hi all,

First post - hope this is in the appropriate forum.

I've recently downloaded RPG Maker MV. My plan is to build a complete game using the tilesets that come with MV, and once everything has been built, to replace all the assets.

I am not artistically inclined so I KNOW I will need to hire someone for this. My plan is to hire them at the end of the process, and I know this can prove expensive, but such is my situation.

My questions are:

1) Does this make sense as a workflow? It seems logical to me, but because I've never designed a game before, I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing.

2) I think I'd like to have NES/SNES-style graphics. My understanding (which may be wrong, as again, I know very little about the art side of things) is that this would necessitate 8x8 or 16x16 tiles. What should I keep in mind from the start? Does this affect the map size or tile size I should use from the beginning? If my plan is only to build temporary maps, keep all events, but swap out all assets, what can I do to future proof everything?

3) I just read about parallax mapping - it seems like it might be smart to ask an artist to develop whole maps/rooms rather than just provide me with a tileset? That way I can just pop a complete map in and adjust the event locations as need be?

Sorry if my questions are extremely novice!
 

kovak

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1 - Yes, using placeholder art helps to design a prototype

2 - MV uses 48 x 48, but since you wanna go for NES/SNES style graphics make them 12 x 12 and then upscale it to 48x48

3 - Yes, it's smart but also consumes more memory so you can use both paralax and tiles to reduce memory usage. There are doodads as well if you purchase this plugin : http://yanfly.moe/2016/09/17/yep-116-grid-free-doodads-rpg-maker-mv/
 

empresskiova

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I would start by just making a practice game or two. Get the mechanics down as your working on aquiring assets. Then make the game you want with assets in hand. It makes things easier.
 

SmashArtist

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I'm an artist and I've worked with tilesets before so I have some knowledge about this, but I've never needed to hire anyone so I won't be the best at knowing when you should hire an artist.
  1. Normally artwork is one of the first things that gets implemented in a game(whether it's placeholders or final art). This is mostly because you can't test a game without graphics, so this doesn't necessarily apply to RM games.
  2. MV's tiles are limited to 48x48 in size. This means you'll either need to have your tiles be 6x or 3x bigger to fit in the default size or there may be plugins that allow different tile sizes, but then you probably need to think about collision sizes as well(basically it can complicate things).
    Replacing a tileset means you want your custom tileset to have tiles in the same place as your previous placeholder one, unless you want to remake the whole map over again.
  3. Parallax mapping can look great, but if you're just going for NES/SNES styled graphics I would not recommend it unless you want to add extra lighting effects. Parallax maps can take a long time to load and also could cause lag depending on the size.
As said by empresskiova, I wouldn't hire anyone for your first project. Gain some experience by making smaller projects first, you'll learn a whole lot along the way! Make your big project when you're confident in your skills! :kaopride:
 

lodger

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Thank you for the replies. Yes, I'm planning on making a small, short game first using mechanics and game loops that I hope to use in my bigger project, just to get the hang of the program.
 

MushroomCake28

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  1. Placeholders do make sense for some stuff like character face, character portrait, character sprites, SV sprites, icons, etc. It works for most things, but tilesets is hardly one of them. I mean, technically you could, but it would make no sense since you need to be able to see a map to test it, see graphical glitch, etc. Furthermore, it would be tedious recreating everything in the tileset and placing everything in the same exact position in the tileset.
  2. MV is 48x48 by default, but I believe there's a plugin to change that. However, it won't show correctly in the editor if you change the tile resolution, yet another reason to have your tileset before mapping.
  3. Parallax mapping is very nice and beautiful, but it's meant for more detailed oriented art styles. It can fit in many places, but 8 bit art isn't one of them in the traditional sense. Furthermore if you intend to have someone make the maps for your game with parallax mapping, it's going to cost you A LOT of money.
  4. Extra point: make a test project before, and make it playable and complete it. Too many people start a new project, spend too much money on it, and end up abandoning the project.
  5. Bonus: Tileset commissions and Parallax mapping commissions cost a lot of money.
 

Zreine

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Art is my forte so I'm doing the mapping myself. I usually use the default Tileset to make the "sketch" of the map. It helps me with the events locations and that way I can test it before doing the parallax. I also give me a basic idea of what the map will look like. This is what it looks like:

Now doing that takes me a lot of time. There's a lot of things I have to take into account, I can't just mindlessly draw something pretty. Now, If someone was to ask me to draw all the maps of his games (NES style or not) I wouldn't do it for free.I think you would save money with requesting tileset instead. Especially if you plan to have a lot of maps in your game. Like instead of having to request 30 parallax maps, you could request 5 Tileset (example) and do all your maps. I also don't see the point of the parallax for a NES/SNES style game, since the use of Tileset is part of the "style". But before even thinking about the graphics, I would focus on making a playable interesting test game. There is no point in thinking about spending money on a game, if there's a chance that you may get bored and not finish it. Or if the game end up being so bad that nobody is going to play it.
 
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lodger

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Art is my forte so I'm doing the mapping myself. I usually use the default Tileset to make the "sketch" of the map. It helps me with the events locations and that way I can test it before doing the parallax. I also give me a basic idea of what the map will look like. This is what it looks like:

Now doing that takes me a lot of time. There's a lot of things I have to take into account, I can't just mindlessly draw something pretty. Now, If someone was to ask me to draw all the maps of his games (NES style or not) I wouldn't do it for free.I think you would save money with requesting tileset instead. Especially if you plan to have a lot of maps in your game. Like instead of having to request 30 parallax maps, you could request 5 Tileset (example) and do all your maps. I also don't see the point of the parallax for a NES/SNES style game, since the use of Tileset is part of the "style". But before even thinking about the graphics, I would focus on making a playable interesting test game. There is no point in thinking about spending money on a game, if there's a chance that you may get bored and not finish it. Or if the game end up being so bad that nobody is going to play it.
Your images aren't showing up - would be curious to see them.
 

Zreine

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Your images aren't showing up - would be curious to see them.
Must be because I use Icloud to host my images. Edited my post, is it working now?
 

Parallax Panda

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Let me just point out a few things.

1) typical SNES tiles would be 16x16 and not 8x8. 24x24, which someone else mentioned, could also work but it’s a bit more of an oddball (read uncommon) tilesize.

Easiest way to pull this off would be to scale the tiles to fit MV’s native tilegrid of 48x48. That would be x3 for 16x16 and x2 for 24x24. Using a plugin to change the tilegrid is also possible (and more efficient, but it’s also a lot more work and not as fast and easy to do.

2) Parallax mapping is a community slang for using one (or several layered) picture(s) for the entire map, instead of puzzling it together using a tileset. On lower spec computers this can lag if the maps are large and/or have many layered images (background, fog, overlay(s), etc).

I would not say it’s nessicary a bad idea for a game with SNES graphics, but it’s more work and you might find yourself overwhelmed.
Why people keep saying it wouldn’t fit the style is probably because they associate parallax mapping with super detailed enviroments where objects and collisions would be placed ”off-grid”. BUT, you can place tiles ON a grid when you parallax as well. In fact, I’ve often done so myself when using more SNES styles graphics.

The reason why you’d still choose to parallax is because you can still make more detailed maps since you have unlimited layers and no limit on how many different tiles you can use in a single map. In the editor you have these limitations.

Bottom line, parallaxing isn’t needed, but you could do it. But, Uh... I don’t recommend you get into it right away because it’s a huge timesink.

3) I think what you described is a good workflow. Why not mash out a ton of half-crappy maps and redo them later? You can keep the eventing, database, story etc and just redo the maps?

To be frank, if you haven’t made games before, have no artistic background and haven’t spent a lot of time making maps/levels in other game’s map editors. Then your first map(s) will lost likely suck anyway.
Doesn't really matter if you spend 10 min or 10 hours on each map if you don’t have a fundamental understanding of level design - so better spend 10 min! Use the maps as throw away place holders while developing the game and remake them all at the end, when you’ll likely be able to make them so much better.
 

Aesica

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As someone who was really in favor of using placeholder maps originally, let me offer this:
  1. Unless everything in the new tileset is in the exact same place on the spritesheet as everything in the old tileset, you're going to be rebuilding the map completely rather than "simply swapping out the assets" when you go to change them. So, unless you plan on just making basic box maps or wall/floor only dungeons, get your graphics decided first and make the map roughly what you want the first time around using those graphics. Also, there's the issue of events, specifically any events that position something in a specific location or move to a specific location. Those locations may not be the same in your placeholder as in the actual map, and could break whatever event scene you're trying to make.
  2. Some technical nerd stuff about NES and SNES graphics if you plan on using either: NES sprites are *technically* 8x8, however 4 are typically pieced together to create the 16x16 tiles most people are familiar with. The NES palette itself is restricted to 64 colors (see below) with each sprite being restricted to 4 colors (well, 3 colors + the background/transparent color). For the purposes of your game, I'd make sprites 16x16 and upscale them x3 for use with MV's default 48x48. For taller/wider sprites, make sure the original is a multiple of 8 (so 16x24, 32x32, etc) and upscale x3 as well. SNES uses the same 8x8 pieces as the NES, but has more colors available--32,768 total, but only 256 displayable at a time. While the hardware allows for color blending to sort of "cheat" this limitation, most games just used 256 color palettes with 15 colors per sprite.
  3. I wouldn't use parallax mapping if you want to capture an NES/SNES feel, since games from that era were tile-based. I also wouldn't have an artist do all your maps because that is going to be expensive.
 

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