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Article - 'The Art of Making Maps' by Daroth

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

An article by Daroth on how to make good maps.

Body

Graphics and maps are the most important part of a game. Usually, the first thing people notice about a game is the graphics. Think of the game as a person, and the graphics are the first impression. A wonderful game with awful graphics is usually rated as a bad game. An awful game with wonderful graphics is still usually rated as a bad game, but it is rated slightly higher than a game with awful graphics.

When selecting graphics, keep in mind these things:
-Do the graphics work together? i.e. do the inner graphics look ok when just entering from the outside?
-Are they different?
-Is everything needed for that part of your game on the chipset?
-Does it have RTP?

One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting RTP and non-RTP graphics together. Three words for all ya who do that: IT DOESN'T WORK. Also, its recommended to not use RTP at all, unless you know how to use them or your an amateur. Legion Saga is an example of well-used RTP graphics. Finally, when selecting graphics, remember that you don't need inside and outside, or every pat of the village on one chipset.

Now, good graphics aren't going to help you much unless you have good maps to go with them. Maps are easier or harder to make, it depends on your experience.

Insides-
Generally, houses and shops have a floor, and a wall at the back. Amateurs don't put walls in they're houses often, giving a weird top-down-sideways angle to they're perspective. Assuming you have a square room, the topmost part of the square should have the wall directly beneath it, so it looks like this: (Please excuse me if the ASCII graphics don't turn out well, they looked ok when I was typing this!)


____________________
| WALL |
|------------------|
| FLOOR |
| |
|__________________|


This really gives the map a better, more realistic feel to it. Once you have the basic shape of the room (including the wall!), you can start adding in details. Remember that when an object is up against a wall but is on the floor, part of the object (If you're using a game-maker that uses a grid to make maps) should be on the floor, generally 1/[however high the object is] of the object should be on the floor.

Caves-
These pretty much follow the basic idea as insides, but there's some key differences:

Outsides-
Eeeaasy! If you've made caves, you can make outsides. Make sure that if your making a village, however, you keep these things in mind:

-Houses:
People live in houses, too, so don't make your village houses all shops. As for making houses, make a wall however big you want your house to be, then stick a roof on it!

-Ground:
Furnish your outdoors like you would furnish a cave. Put trees, flowers, plants, bushes, different types of grass, water, rocks, raised areas, paths... The list goes on and on. However, never put things to close to each other, or your outdoors will have a man-made feel and quality to it. Don't ask why, just don't do it. As my social teacher would say, DON'T.

-People:
They’re a lot of good tutorials and articles on people, so I'll just cover the basics. Find the magic number of people, too many and your village will seem over populated, too little and you village may seem under populated. Also, what people say and look like will affect what your village will seem like. Bright colors for a happy village, dark colors for a sad one. Also, use black sparsely unless it's like a cult town or something.

-World Maps:
One of the most important maps of your game. It’s a combination between all the maps I've mentioned. Don't make the maps too sparse, or the eye (and the player) will get bored. However don't make them too dense, otherwise it just looks plain bad. Put villages where they will be helpful (But not TOO helpful, mind you, otherwise your game will be just too boring.), and dungeons where they will be the most annoying. Again, remember not to make the game too hard, or the players won't play it anymore.

That sums it, in my next tut (If it gets posted), I'll go into more detail of certain kinds of maps. Look for it next week sometime.