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Tutorial - 'Map Making Tips for RPG Maker 2000.' by Mateui

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Map making tips for RPG Maker 2000. A good, long, long read.


[B]Map Making Tips[/B]
By Mateui

This tutorial focuses on things that make maps look good, and things that make maps ugly, and how we all can improve our map making skills. This is not a step-by-step tutorial, it is just a source of information to get your mind flowing, and giving you various ideas on how to create your maps. The intelligence range for this tutorial is from an Average Rm2k User to the Expert.

This tutorial will be broken down into sections about each of the different map type, as they all are different and should be treated differently. The sections in order, are:

-Inner Maps
-Town Maps
-World Maps
-Parallax Maps
-Forest Maps
-Mountain Maps
-Tower Maps
-Cave Maps

(NOTE: I used ASCII art a lot in this tutorial. It looked perfectly when I typed it, yet I cannot guarantee it well look perfect here. So, I have my fingers crossed)

[B]Inner Maps:[/B]

Inner Maps are the insides of buildings, machines, objects, anything where the hero can walk inside. This map type is generally used in every single game, most typically as the inside of homes. Being greatly used, this map usually has a lot of things wrong with it. Let’s break down the problems into some sections.

Walls: Use Walls! There is nothing more uglier than seeing a house without any walls at all. So please use them. Most typically walls should look like this:
/__________/ -This is the top of the wall, you can use it, or if you don’t like the look it gives, feel free to omit it.
|_______| -This is the wall itself. It has to be used.

Weather: This is also a bad idea. Unless you have a roofless home, it should NOT be raining! If there is a weather effect outside, place an event inside the outdoor teleport that cancels it temporarily while the hero is inside.

Layout: This is often done incorrectly in many games. The layout of the inside should be as ergonomic as possible, meaning that the people living inside the home have a clear path to everything that in their house, in the most effective way possible. For example, you should not have a closet blocking a door to another room in the house, it’s just not done.

A good tip would be to look around your own house and to incorporate the design and feel of it into a home in your Rpg. You can learn many things about inner map making doing this, as well as seeing how well your home is made.

Doors: The main door will usually look like this, if it is located in the upper part of the screen:
|_______| |_________| |
|_______| |_________| |
|_______| |_________|/

If the door is located on the bottom of the screen it could look like this:

| _____________ |
| |/___________ /| | -The layout of the room.
| | | |
| | | |
| |_____ _____| |
|_______| |_______| -The door is the little open space on the diagram.
/______/ /_______/

Or your door could look like this:

| _____________ |
| |/___________/| | -The layout of the room.
| | | |
| | | |
| | __ | |
|_|____|__|_____|_| -The door could also be signified as a carpet.

There are many possibilities when it comes to creating doors, so feel free to experiment.

Windows: Every house needs to have light, and windows can provide for this need adequately. Basically, windows should only be placed on the walls that are the exterior of the home. Have you seen any rooms in your life that had a window looking out into a living room? No, you probably haven’t, and you shouldn’t either in an RPG game.

Furniture: An empty house is a bad house. Yes, homes do need furniture or else they end up looking pretty empty. Again, look at your own home for ideas on how furniture should be placed, but keep one rule in mind: be ergonomic! You know what that means, well, you should.

I think that summarizes it nicely. Onto the next type!

[B]Town Maps: [/B]

Town Maps are exactly what the name implies, the maps of the various towns you have in your game. Being an integral part of almost every RPG, they need to be done right in every way.

Paths: The paths are usually a different type of color than most of the ground around. If you have grass everywhere, than the path could be dirt, a distinct color catching the eye of the game user, and leading them around the town. Paths guide the player around the most important parts of the city and help them if they should happen to get lost.

A path can be as wide as you want it to be. It can be one square wide or three, it’s your decision and this could depend on what type of village you have. Wider paths make the player suspect that the city may be a largely populated and rich city, while smaller paths give the idea of less popular, poorer villages.

Houses: What’s a town without any houses? Homes are the most important things about town maps. Without them, it wouldn’t even be called a town! A house is the first impression of the lifestyle the members of that household are living. A small, shack looking home would give the impression that poor people are living inside it, while a grand, golden mansion would give the impression of a very rich family.

Tell me what is wrong with this picture: (Besides my bad drawing)
________ ________ ________
/________ /________ /________
| __ | | __ | | __ |
| | | | | | | | | | | |
|___|_ |__| |___|_ |__| |___|_ |__|

Do you see what is wrong? Yes, all the houses look the same! This is one huge problem in many town maps in RPGs today. I am pretty sure that your neighbors don’t have the same identical house as you, and neither should this be the case in your RPG. Remember, a different house for a different person!

Doesn’t this look better?
_ _______ _
_____|_|_ /_______ _|_|______
/________ | | /_________
| __ | | __ | | __ |
| | | | | | | | | | | |
|___|_ |__| |___|_ |__| |___|_ |___|

Yup, It sure does. Now onto the next section!

[B]World Maps: [/B]

World Maps are the outer extremity of your game, the most furthest point outwardly possible in the RPG. They contain everything else your game has to offer: Towns, Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, etc. into one HUGE Map. Seeing as they are very vital, their construction is important, as the player may spend a lot of time on this map.

When building your World, the first thing that you should do is set the Height and Width of the map. This can range very greatly from game to game so experiment until you get the desired size.

Ok, here is my fake World Map:
/ _________
| /
| \____/
| _____/
/ /
/ ____ /
| / \____/

Cool, isn’t it? Ok, now that we have the basic shape, let us add some things to the Map.

|T = Town |
|M = Mountain |
|L = Lake |
|R = River |
|F = Forest |

/ _________
| /
| T \____/ T
LL R |
LL R T M /
| R MM _____/
/ T R MM /
| FFFFFF / \____/

Another Masterpiece! Notice how everything is spread out? Yes, your World Map needs to have some distance between various locations so that the player will have to battle some enemy monsters between towns, villages, etc. You should also crate various obstacles, like mountains, that would force the player to make his way around them.

Another good idea would be to offer the player 2 or more ways to get to a specific destination, with each way having its Pros and Cons. For example, to get to a City, the player has a choice, go through a Swamp Marshland, or to go around it. The way through would be half as short as the way around but it would have stronger monsters, while the way around, though longer, would have weaker monsters than the Marshland.

The good thing about this arrangement is that either way the player chooses, he will have to face monsters of various degrees. Remember this tactic, and keep it in mind while creating your World Map.

Whew! Next Map please!

[B]Parallax Maps: [/B]

What the heck is a Parallax Map, You may ask. Well, you know the red (usually, other colors may be black, green, etc, depending on your map type.) tiles that are transparent, therefore utilizing the Parallax Background Effect. You may not have to use them at all in your game, but if you do, then they can help you save a lot of time.

I use Parallax Maps, for mostly two reasons: Introductions, and Cut-Scenes. During Introductions, I place the Hero Start Position on the Parallax Map, then set the hero graphic to be transparent, then I use show picture and Parallax Backgrounding (Is that even a word?!) to create my introduction. After it finishes, I set my hero graphic to whatever it should be and teleport him onto the proper map.

For Cut-Scenes, I just teleport the hero onto the Parallax Map, and use the show picture command to create a nifty scene. Basically, that’s what this kind of map is for.

Yay! Next Map!

[B]Forest Maps: [/B]

Forest Maps are the maps of the various forests your game may include, ranging from regular everyday forests to the tropical kinds. They are usually included in the game as a obstacle in which the player must pass through. The forest is usually the place inhibited with wild animals that seem to enjoy attacked the player every so often. Forests can also be beautiful jewels in the middle of a barren desert, providing sanctuary to the player, and often hiding civilizations, or villages inside them.

Now that we know what Forests are all about, let’s begin learning on how to make them!

Shape: The outwardly shape of the forest is different every time, but one thing is always for sure, they are NEVER perfectly symmetrical! (Unless they were genetically designed.) Their shape is most of the time, long oval, or weird shaped. It’s kind of difficult to explain, but I can always use a picture!

My Forest: (Familiar picture, eh?)

/ _________
| /
| \____/
| _____/
/ /
/ ____ /
| / \____/

Yup, this is a pretty good shape. Now let us go inside the forest and we can place our various shrubs, trees, bushes, etc.

Placement: Have you ever noticed that nature has a way of random placements in many ways. For instance, who has seen a forest that had perfectly aligned trees, and a perfect straight path through the center? No one has! Nature is always a mysterious thing, sprouting accidents on us. Therefore, your trees, and plants should also be randomly placed.

Bad Example: (Everything is aligned)

/ / / /
/ / / /
/ / / /

Better Example:
/ / /
/ / / /
/ T / /
T / T

The Better Example looks better doesn’t it? Of course it does! But something doesn’t look right, you say. Yes, it is. This brings me to my next point.

Odd Vs. Even: Have you ever heard the saying that “Nature comes in threes.”? No? Oh well, that’s not too important, but the concept is. What this saying concludes is that things in nature are mostly like to be in odd numbers. This may not always be true, but the odd numbers help make the map look less organized.

Let us try it out:

/ /
/ / / /
/ / / / /
/ T / / T
T / T

Yup, it’s starting to look like a forest. One last thing that you should keep in mind when it comes to forests, is that there is never a natural made path right through it, unless something living, humans/animals have made it. Therefore your forest paths should be winding trails, taking the player around a maze-like forest.

Next Map Type!

[B]Mountain Maps: [/B]

Mountain Maps are the maps of tall hills and mountains, providing the player with a way to travel upward and to get a view of the rest of the world, or other significant things.

Mountain maps require two things to make them look natural. The nature aspect, (which you already should know) and Parallax Backgrounds, preferably of the sky or sunsets.

I will integrate those two with another drawing example:

My Mountain:

PPP/ /___ PPPP
/ | PPPP
| ___/ PPPP


Right now, you may be thinking, what the heck are those P’s for? Well they represent the area where your Parallax Background effect should be. Notice how there is no effect right under a part of the mountain. That part is for the wall of the mountain, and nothing else should be there.

Mountain Maps are fairly simple and you can basically do everything yourself, as you already have acquired the knowledge from the past maps.

Ok, another Map type!

Tower Maps:

Tower Maps are also an alternative way to help the player see a ‘larger picture’ but there is more about towers. Usually they are including in games to annoy the player. Unless your tower is extremely tall, this annoyance shouldn’t deter the player from playing your game. When I say annoy, I mean that usually a tower has a staircase that twirls around itself almost endlessly until the top. The annoying part is have to repeat the same motion over and over again. (Climbing the stairs.)

Tower Maps can be a little tricky, but this is where your thinking comes in. You well know that it is impossible to have the player go around in a circle, yet make it look like they are going up, right? Wrong! You can achieve this by tricking the player’s mind. What you need is to find or create a really good chipset that has very well done shading. After that is achieved, the easy part comes next.

You will have to create two maps for every little section in your tower. Ok, Picture time!

Map: Tower Section One:
| |
| |
| |
| ) ) |
| / / |
|________/_ /_______|

Map: Tower Section Two:
| ____ |
| / _ |
| / / |
| \___ |
| |

Ok, the first section represents the base of the Tower. When the player reaches the upper section of the stairs, he is instantly teleported (Show Screen: (Instant) Erase Screen: (Instant)) to the next map. This gives the illusion that he is traveling up constantly.

You can add more map sections to add to climbing effect if you would like.

Oh No! The last Map Section. This tutorial is almost over!

[B]Cave Maps:[/B]

Cave Maps are the maps of caves and mines, the underground places.

Cave Maps are also easy to do. You can build them like forest maps, but instead of nature you place minerals, crystals, underground streams, etc. Then, when the player is inside the cave you create an event that dims the light so that it appears like it is underground. You can also place little lamps on the walls that give an illuminating effect.

Do you want to know how to create that effect? Ok, let’s learn!

-Create an event
-Set the graphic as your Lamp
-Now go to event movement type
-Set is as by Event Route
-Now click on Edit Route
-Put in, let’s say three Transparency Ups
-Then put in three Transparency Downs.
-Click ok

And that’s it. When you test play your cave, the lamp will appear like it gets brighter than it dims again. This effect is nicely used for fire lamps as it, in reality looks like a fire. If you want the lamp to get more brighter, add more than three Transparency Ups. To get it more dimmer, add in less. Experiment for awhile until you get the desired effect.

And this is it. My farewell. But this isn’t my end. Look for more of my tutorials, as I’m a tutorial-holic and I just like to write a lot. So until the next time, have fun Creating those RPG Maps!!!