Archive for the ‘ Tutorials ’ Category

Tutorial #2: My little guidelines to creating maps

I’ve been making RM games for years now, and what I’ve been doing most is mapping. I love mapping, and yet mapping is what holds me back. Mapping is what guides my games, and also what destroys them… So I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts on mapping, since I’ve done a lot of it recently.

Here are a few things that will put the extra quality into your maps:

1) Does this map make me(the creator) look lazy?

If the map is WAY too simple, and only uses a few elements, you’ll come across as being lazy, and the map will look either sloppily made, or too simple. You may also even scare away the player if your maps look too sloppily made. SO PUT CARE INTO YOUR MAPS! POUR YOUR HEART AND SOUL ALL OVER YOUR BABIES(Maps)!

An example of a lazy map:
TE1
The same map, but not so lazy:
TE2

You’ll notice pretty quick the amount of effort I put into both maps. The first one took me about 2 minutes of cringing as I sloppily clicked my mouse. The second map took about 10 minutes to do, while putting some thought and effort  into it, I made the same map, with the same landmarks, but better. Now it’s not amazing, but it goes to show, a little extra effort goes a long way.

2) Does this map make sense “realistically”?

Does your map seem like it would be found on Earth? Is your nature naturey enough? Do paths lead nowhere? Does your grass grow infront of bridges? Things like these cause the player to feel even more disconnected from your game if you’re maps aren’t “real” enough.

Now there are a few things that are taboo considering making maps realistic. Such as: House Sizes, colors, and natural and unnatural architecture. Houses should NEVER EVER be the same size as the interior! It’s hideous and not pleasant to look at. Just don’t do it. Ever.

The red circles show what makes NO SENSE in any civilized world:
TE3

By looking at those red circles, (Yes, there are many of them…) You’ll see that those trees are square, the pond is obnoxious, and also you can see an endless cliff under the water… Also what I’ve seen before, people take better care of their houses to let tall grass grow infront of it. Also I forgot to circle the SUPER TALL brick wall. Sure, some places have brick walls, but they are rarely twice a persons height. So keep things like that in mind as you create your maps.

You see that house? Yes, the one with the blue roof. IT’S UGLY! Why? Because it’s exterior matches the interior! It’s big and square! Make your houses small and sleek. Although housing is more of a personal style, there’s a definite taboo towards the design of them.

3) Does this map look too cluttered or too empty?

In most cases, maps are either white or black when it comes to being cluttered. It’s hard for RMers to find the right amount of “stuff” to put into their maps before it becomes too complex for ones eyes to understand. It’s also tough for new RMers to grasp that maps should be more complex then they usually are. So a goal of any mapper is to find that right balance of clutter and emptiness that will compliment your whole design style, and bring the best out of your maps.

Here we have an UBER crouded map. It’s super obnoxious:
TE4

You’ll easily notice that, even though this is a well designed map, it’s SUPER crowded. There’s WAY too much stuff on the screen. All of this clutter makes it hard for the player to absorb what’s going on around him/her. Finding the happy medium, or the goldylocks zone, takes time, and experimentation, and it’s more based on personal style. But cluttered maps aren’t just limited to tile mapping. Parallax mapping is one of the major culprits of the over-crowded crime. When people have freedom to add whatever they want to, where ever, THAT’S when you start getting overwhelmed with the fading, the colors, the shadows, the lighting. It can get overwhelming fast. Watch out, and follow the KISS (Keep it simple stupid) principle if you’re worried about being TOO complicated.

4) Does this map help the player in my game at all / help the player understand my game more / does this map have a purpose?

This applies mainly to world maps, dungeons, palaces, or just scenery, but it can also apply to towns. It’s hard to answer this question, but it greatly helps the creator to make every map count. (Also keeps the useless maps away.) I’ve played some RM games, where there’s just a random room, WITH NO PURPOSE, and houses, WITH NO PURPOSE. Make sure your houses add something to the player’s experience, like item shops, or inns, or even quest giving houses. Also maps can also explain your games lore with very little effort, maps also can lead the player in the right direction. Maps are powerful tools that should be used for what they can do, and not only as a pretty picture your player runs across.

I’ve added some places that can be given a purpose:
TE5

I’ve circled three places that can be given a unique purpose in a game. The dock, over on the right, can be used for a fishing scene, to give the player a mini game, or a story element can be located there. The walled cove, down near the middle, can be a neat location for a treasure chest, or a little lost dog or fairy. Rewarding the player for exploration is great, and if it’s in a neat area like that, it’ll be even better. Over by the house, the garden can give a little more personality to the character that lives in the house. The resident may be a plant lover, or also can mean that he/she may not go out shopping much and has to grown his/her own food. Little things like that are the icing on the cake.

5) Does this map make the player think?

This basically is… Well is there a puzzle on my map? no? Well ADD ONE! Puzzles for everybody!! Or on the other hand, add style to your maps. If your town is a town of wizardry, add magical elements to it, or if your town is a farm town, add farms to it. Make the player think, “Oh! This is obviously a farm town!” or “Oo la la! What a magical city this is!” Make the player react to your maps. Let the map stir up some thought in the player. Let your map give the player a sense of wonder! I can’t stress enough that maps are an all mighty tool that few developers seem to understand, let alone express.

Now with all of that said… Getting your maps perfect takes a lot of time and effort. It isn’t a skill that you can work up after a few days of practice in a 30 day trial. It takes years of practice, just like any skill/talent really. Even I have a difficult time expressing all of these things in maps, I tend to go for the lazy route, and quickly make my maps. So call me a hypocrite will you, but these guidelines I feel will get your map, looking that much better.

Tutorial #1: Using those pesky RTP Water Auto-Tiles

If you’ve ever used RPG Maker VX Ace, or it’s tile sets, you’ve come to either love or hate the water auto-tiles… I personally dislike them because they become really confusing pretty quickly and then become an eyesore. However if you use a mix of all the auto-tiles, along with some regular tiles(to hide the deformities) you can create pretty good looking scenery in your RPG. Here’s how I did it:

I used the deep water looking tiles mostly, however I did use the shallow cliffy water at near the top to make it less monotone. While keeping that whole theme going, I came across a problem when There was only one tile high, leading to two tiles high, the deep water became ugly and an eye sore, so I used a single tile tree to cover that up. Looks good right? Also by putting the auto-tile water grass tiles near the one tile high areas, It hid the ugliness while also adding something new. And if you notice the lily pads, some of them are the auto-tile lilies, which I would recommend using in small amounts, (They become too repetitive and ugly) but also use the single tile lilies as well, to add some more variety to your maps.

That’s all really, I’ll probably be adding more in-depth tutorials later, with actual step-by-step instructions. Maybe even do some Database tutorials, since I’ve noticed a sheer lack of those, and the ones around… are kinda too general and vague. And simple.