LET'S TALK ABOUT MAPPING.

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In short, I'd like some advice regarding how to make maps look pretty after the design step.

The map in question:

Here I've tried randomly placing decor tiles around, and the result looks like, well, someone littered random crap everywhere. I'm not particularly fond of the result, but I (used to, at least) see this kind of design rather often in VX/Ace maps, and sometimes even lauded as "great" mapping. So I thought we could talk about this particular trend or alternative mapping methods.

(And if the design itself needs work, feel free to mention that as well)
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7419
Four things I could recommend would be to:

1. Alter the 4-tile long straight cliff near the top to make it curve more. Repetition, especially in nature, is an oddity. Going from left to right, maybe have the cliff go straight for one tile, go up in a curve at the next, straight for the one that follows, and curve back down to add a little opening in the wall for a treasure chest or a cave opening.

2. Shrink and/or break up the dirt path so that it looks as though the grass is regrowing instead of remaining trampled.

3. Add more places of heightened grass to go with the splotch of tall grass near the northern cliff. Along with this, maybe break that splotch up a little to make it curve more, as you have it going straight for 5 tiles with nothing to break the continuity.

4. Consider removing the one tile of bridge from the pond as it seems to serve no purpose.

Aside from this, I don't know what the purpose of this particular area is, or if it's even necessary from a gameplay perspective, so you may want to include some more information about that in your post for further help. Also, just as some friendly advice, mentioning how things used to work doesn't help your project, so you'd be better off removing that part.
Thank you for the advice. This particular area was intended for an opening cutscene, as well as simply practice with the map editor.

However, my primary reason for this post is the various plants and flowers placed haphazardly about the map, and looking for alternative ways of dressing the map in general.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6138
I don't think the flowers and plants are bad. They'd probably grow in clumps of similar plants in real life, though. My general opinion, I guess, is "this is better than 95% of outdoor maps, but improvement is always possible."

Hard to do much with the decoration when all you have to work with are plants. I almost always end up adding manmade things, since they're more interesting, and help give the area a story even if you don't have a single word of dialogue. If the area's totally natural, the only story it tells me is "nothing has never happened here, and nothing is happening now either." Which isn't the kind of story I think anyone likes to spend their time on. (Well, maybe some people. The kind of people who go fishing alone or sit on their porch for fun.) It's certainly not what I want from the opening of a story, the purpose of which is to hook me in and make me want to play. Try to think of what is going on in this scene, and in this area. And if the answer is nothing, try to think of what the overarching themes of the game are, and what the surrounding area has, and what the player's next goals will be, and come up with something that builds into those things somehow.

The map overall actually looks pretty nice. It's RTP, but very well used. I appreciate that you even made diagonal(ish) cliffs. Although the shadows next at their bases are kind of lol-ish.
author=LockeZ
I don't think the flowers and plants are bad. They'd probably grow in clumps of similar plants in real life, though. My general opinion, I guess, is "this is better than 95% of outdoor maps, but improvement is always possible."

Hard to do much with the decoration when all you have to work with are plants. I almost always end up adding manmade things, since they're more interesting, and help give the area a story even if you don't have a single word of dialogue. If the area's totally natural, the only story it tells me is "nothing has never happened here, and nothing is happening now either." Which isn't the kind of story I think anyone likes to spend their time on. (Well, maybe some people. The kind of people who go fishing alone or sit on their porch for fun.) It's certainly not what I want from the opening of a story, the purpose of which is to hook me in and make me want to play. Try to think of what is going on in this scene, and in this area. And if the answer is nothing, try to think of what the overarching themes of the game are, and what the surrounding area has, and what the player's next goals will be, and come up with something that builds into those things somehow.

The map overall actually looks pretty nice. It's RTP, but very well used. I appreciate that you even made diagonal(ish) cliffs. Although the shadows next at their bases are kind of lol-ish.


Thank you for the input. I wasn't really expecting to be told that my mapping was above average this soon. And everything here is still a work in progress; apparently it's hard to make a cutscene when you have virtually zero storyline to work with.

LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6138
For future reference, if you just have one screenshot, we do have a Screenshot Topic designed for getting feedback and such. Not that this topic is necessarily a problem, I guess, but it's a little overkill for a single image.
This topic had potential, but both the first post and the subsequent comments have mislead it.
I suggest trying to rework on the subject, this is actually a great topic!
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6138
Yeah, I guess the actual original question was more general, and that map was just an example. Hmm.

I don't have any more good suggestions than the ones I already made. I guess in general this style of mapping doesn't bother me, but I tend to place objects on my own maps with more purpose. I try to think of things that help define the area, rather than things that can be added without really affecting it.
author=JosephSeraph
This topic had potential, but both the first post and the subsequent comments have mislead it.
I suggest trying to rework on the subject, this is actually a great topic!


I did intend the subject to be more general, using this map to illustrate my point, although I do appreciate the feedback.
(and I remembered the screenshot topic right after my first post. Bah...)
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
15558
Well, it may feel like random crap everywhere from a design standpoint, but that's exactly why it works. Nature IS random crap everywhere. Or rather, there's no specific order to where/how things grow. If you placed things more formally, it wouldn't be natural anymore.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
My advice is to focus on the map as a playable area first, and on aesthetics only after that. Is the map navigable? Can the player clearly find their way around? Consider the context of what's happening on the map before filling it with clutter. Also, smaller is almost always better. Well made maps include both detail and empty space.
I know my advice does not have much merit as of right now. But I can say as far as mapping if your going for a realsitc look, if you are near the woods and venture out into them and get a idea for that. I spent a lot of time in the woods when I lived up north can't say I ever seen tiles for them.

As far as buildings I look at the sprite size and see in as a real person if your sprite is one sqare, along with the door then the roof should be 3 to 4 sqares up from the bottom.(Sprite/door=first floor + 2 or 3= 3/4 anything above that should be roof so roof line is either above the third or fourth tile) I seen enough houses in real life and know a fair amount how big a building should be. Well thats what I think anyway.
It all depends on the map you are working with. Dungeons, towns, and houses have an organized structure.

Nature maps, such as forests and mountains, are less organized and more so random with object placement.

author=Solitayre
My advice is to focus on the map as a playable area first, and on aesthetics only after that. Is the map navigable? Can the player clearly find their way around? Consider the context of what's happening on the map before filling it with clutter. Also, smaller is almost always better. Well made maps include both detail and empty space.

I couldn't agree with Solitayre more on this topic. Large maps have their appeal, but smaller maps are often better.

The best example I can think of, and a common mistake I see mapmakers make, is that they construct a map with huge gaps of space. The end result tends to leave something to be desired.

I won't link any maps here to prove my point; it would be a bit much to single someone out as a bad example, but a quick search of the site will reveal what I am talking about.
That's the thing, if you go outside you will notice nature is cluttered with random things everywhere unless man takes care of it. Heck if people abandon a big city like New York alone nature will take over and plants will start to grow from under the sidewalk, and it has happened. In my opinion your map looks fine.

Of course if you post pics of man made things that is another thing to consider.
The maps looks fine as far as the trend goes.

But, to be honest, I'm not really a fan of the RMVX-style of graphics. The objects look so small proportional to the character. But that's more about the tiles than your mapping.

For a forest like this I like tiles which give the image of expansiveness. I'm thinking of thick over-brush tiles with leaves, such as how forests were mapped in FF5. I'd expand that pond into a river, and give the impression of being wide and running through the forest. That's a bit of a more realistic feel.

But it also depends on the style of game. Perhaps that is not what you're going for.
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