MAPPING

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I gotta ask. How do you guys churn out so many maps? Especially quality maps.

Any techniques you use? Templates? Draw the map before you make it? Anything that helps you make them faster?

I know I'm bad at visualising how the pieces can be used, but I'm just talking about volume here.

I have such trouble making many maps that I try and get lots of mileage out of each one. Sometimes I see gorgeous maps in rm games that you spend a grand total of 10 seconds in.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
Whenever humanly fucking possible, I get other people to do it for me.

(That said, I have made a truly ridiculous amount of maps myself in my life...I hate doing it, but I just sort of gritted my teeth and forced myself. Same way you do any work, I guess.)

It helps to alternate between mapping and something else (database work, cutscenes scripting, graphic design, whatever) to break up the monotony.

As for "HOW TO MAEK PRETTY MAPS" there are no lack of tutorials on that on this very site.

I guess this is a question directed a people who are good at churning out numerous maps. When you're good at something, enjoy doing something, or do something ALOT, you're gonna pick up little tricks along the way to speed up your work. That's kind of what I'm asking.

I'm not really ask how to make them pretty.

Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
Yeah, but I think for a lot of those people, the reason they enjoy it and therefore are so good at doing it expeditiously is that they enjoy making them pretty so it's kind of all...mixed together.

If that makes any sense.
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.
6003
You do something enough times, you get faster at it. That's really all it is - being able to place tiles almost nonstop, instead of stopping and trying to decide on what looks best or figuring out how to do this or that.

Copypasta helps too. Did you know you can select sections of map and paste them into other places? You can copy a single layer with right-click-drag, or multiple layers at once with the selection tool. When I have an object that's more than one tile big and I want to have in multiple places, even if it's just a wall outcropping or a large window, copying and pasting saves time.

There aren't really a lot of non-obvious "tricks" though that I've found. But then, I'm not that fast. In fact, I'm pretty meticulous and slow these days. I get slower with each game because I realize that a level of quality I used to find adequate no longer is enough for me.
author=Sauce
I guess this is a question directed a people who are good at churning out numerous maps. When you're good at something, enjoy doing something, or do something ALOT, you're gonna pick up little tricks along the way to speed up your work. That's kind of what I'm asking.

I'm not really ask how to make them pretty.

There aren't really any cool tips or anything but I'll details a few of the things I do when making maps. It certainly helps if you look on google for the setting/theme your making the maps in. Inspiration helps a lot, I know from experience that trying to map out an American city from my own imagination wasn't going to work because I have never lived in the USA or been there. So I looked on google images for inspiration and it helped me.

Some maps you make may look empty and this is probably because of the empty space in the maps. This makes your maps look kind of incomplete, too open and spacious. To rememdy this problem it's best to fill it out the map with random objects that "FIT IN" with the map. If they are not available on the current chipset, use charsets to do so.

Sometimes it's the big maps that are too spacious I tend to try to make them smaller but not smaller in size. By using the upper tile to take up more of the emptiness in the map, this makes the map look more compact but at the same time makes it look better.

Chipsets I come across are usually not to my liking, so the best thing to do is to edit them and compile your own chipset. It makes sense that a chipset that is easy to use make map making so much easier. I even go through the trouble of sometimes rearranging the graphics in the chipsets so that I find them easier to use.

But all in all, the more you practice the better you get. You build up an intuitive sense and you become more comfortable making beautiful maps. If you want to make a good map you have to devote a good amount of your time into it, nothing is gained from rushing it. Good maps take a lot of time to produce so there really isn't a way to churn out pretty maps fast.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13865
Yeah, it just comes with time/practice/experience. My actual quality fluctuates from game to game, but I am really picky with my use of colors - that kind of eye really helps.

I also place things in bursts. For a forest map, I'd do all the ground tiles, then all the trees, then place rocks and other obstacles around, and then place passable decorations. Doing it this way, I can balance the amount and location of any given object easily (RTP rosebush feng shui) and take breaks easily - once I place all the trees, if I want to take a break and come back I can, without forgetting how much/where/etc. which could be an issue if I did a map in complete sections.
I haven't released any good games here yet, so rreally, what I have to say is that I don't do lots of maps unless it for the story. Whatever I do, unless what I made was too hard for me to complete, yes, the creator couldn't complete it, I usually do what ever I can because of feedback or storyline. When it's of feedback, the game I make usually becaomes shit, like when my dad told me my game wasn't finished and it needed to be longer...I HATE THAT GAME! I WISH I NEVER EVEN DECIDED TO MAKE IT! Back then, I wasn't as experienced, but right now, my game has alot of maps, but because I'm training my mind to make better maps, because though it's unecessary, I need to make better maps for better games, apparently, if your actual game is hit and your map is awesome, it ends up canceling out, basically people would be like:"The gameplay and storyline was HORRIBLE! But...the maps were AWESOME, no doubt about it...", kind of like how I was when watching the Sonic 06 playthrough/let's play. It had awesome graphics, though some just god damned hilarious, but...the game was SHIT! And I know that without even playing it, the game was shit alright! But, to use alot of maps is just extra, because it doesn't deal with the storyline, I would have to FORCE myself to make more maps just for a better game. So really,
author=Sauce
Any techniques you use? Templates? Draw the map before you make it? Anything that helps you make them faster?

I know I'm bad at visualising how the pieces can be used, but I'm just talking about volume here.

I have such trouble making many maps that I try and get lots of mileage out of each one. Sometimes I see gorgeous maps in rm games that you spend a grand total of 10 seconds in.

I have no techniques, I don't use templates, I don't draw maps on paper before making them, nothing, I just make maps!
OH, and I also can't use the pieces barely when it comes to non-rtp tilesets, because I would think one wall was a floor, or a floor was a wall, and when in-game, I'd be walking on walls and being blocked by floors. I try and make big maps with lots of stuff to make up for my lack of maps, or as you say, "get lots of mileage out of each ", so yeah.
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
"Good maps take a lot of time to produce so there really isn't a way to churn out pretty maps fast."
I am glad to hear that, I've been amazed at how much time you can spend on a map until you're satisfied with it, 3, 4 hours is not excessive, and you can come back on it, etc.
author=supremewarrior
Some maps you make may look empty and this is probably because of the empty space in the maps. This makes your maps look kind of incomplete, too open and spacious. To rememdy this problem it's best to fill it out the map with random objects that "FIT IN" with the map. If they are not available on the current chipset, use charsets to do so.

Sometimes it's the big maps that are too spacious I tend to try to make them smaller but not smaller in size. By using the upper tile to take up more of the emptiness in the map, this makes the map look more compact but at the same time makes it look better.



This is bad advice. If a map is too empty make it smaller. Don't just randomly fill it up with shit. Nobody was annoyed walking through a smaller map and really, you need to keep your players in mind when making maps.

Here's a few tips/tricks.
- Have a general idea of what you want your map to look like before you start. I tend to have at least a few words to describe the map, whether it be 'water forest', 'treasure room cave' or 'tower of night'. This gives you a starting point.
- Look for inspiration and ideas if you need them and keep an eye out for cool stuff when surfing online or doing something else.
- Put on some music - usually I use the tune I think I'll be using for the map, or something I can lose time bopping around to. It helps you lose track of how long you're taking, can inspire you in some cases and tends to keep you entertained on an unconscious level so you don't get bored as much.
- Start from the bottom up. Ground, buildings, nature, people/animals, lighting/events.
- Try to keep maps smallish.
- Have a predefined path for the player to walk. I like to use an upper chip for this when adding the ground chips and trees. Or make a path with the ground chips and then break it up later on.
- Use logic. Places where people walk eventually gets worn down. Go visit a large school or university and look at their lawn areas. You'll be able to tell where the short-cuts are by how the grass is flattened. The same is true in forests where animals have certain paths they stick to when going to and from food/water. Towns are built along roads, forests are wild and sometimes have small winding paths.
- Give each map a gimmick, even if it's something small like an entrance to a small cave, a waterfall or pond, a statue or part of a ruin. This helps the player differentiate areas a bit so it's easier for them to tell where they are and if they've been in the area before. This is especially important when making longer dungeons that look a lot the same.
- Experiment with heights, layouts and events/lighting. Remember that you can add depressions as well as cliffs to maps.
- Most of all try to have fun with it. If you learn to like mapping then you don't notice the time spent making maps.
- Don't neglect shift mapping. It helps make a map look better when you can place tiles how you want.



ABOVE ALL ELSE: PRACTICE! Practicing will help you learn tips and shortcuts better than anything else will.

chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
wow, good mapper

Edit : oh, it was you, Liberty (7thLittleLeopard ?), great mapping, makes me realize how much of a beginner I am!
I saw what you were mapping, but at first, it looked like you were using map pieces from other chipsets by making new maps, and...selecting your new sprite there I think? Well, afterwards, I tried it on my RPG maker 2003, and it didn't work like your did, why did you make that new map during your video, what version of RPG maker were you using?
author=pyrodoom
I saw what you were mapping, but at first, it looked like you were using map pieces from other chipsets by making new maps, and...selecting your new sprite there I think? Well, afterwards, I tried it on my RPG maker 2003, and it didn't work like your did, why did you make that new map during your video, what version of RPG maker were you using?
Firstly, I was using RM2K. Secondly I edited the chipset because the one I was using was missing a few pieces that I wanted to use. (Classic case of not planning before using. :P) On the other map I was just doing a fast check of which chipset had the chips I wanted so I knew which I needed to open. I did a fast edit off-screen. I didn't think it'd cause confusion. I'll add a note :P

If you want to see in better detail, check it out on Youtube and make it full screen. You can see the process better.


Another tip for mapping - don't be afraid to edit the chips/tiles you're using to get the results you want. Keep in mind graphical consistency, though.

@lib's video. With all the many discussions and tutorials about mapping I'm now wondering why none of us (afaik) decided to make a video demonstrating mapping a long time ago.

Nice job!
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13865
Okay, guys, I learned the secret:

Use Rudras and everybody will love your maps.
author=Craze
Okay, guys, I learned the secret:

Use Rudras and everybody will love your maps.
Not exactly a secret Craze. It' been known for a few years now. ~.^

Newbles & chana: It's just a map I threw together quickly. It literally took me less than 20 minutes to whip up - including chipset changing. I sped up the video by 200% so it didn't take up so much time. :P

Sometimes you'll revisit a map a few times before you're satisfied with it. One thing that you should learn to do, though, it to learn when to stop. Here's a cautionary tale for you. I once made a game that I was very proud of but never released. One day I decided to release it but figured I should touch up the mapping a bit. I ended up remaking the majority of the maps including a special cave area which involved special abilities and lots of variables. In messing with that map I ended up breaking the whole game so it became one huge mess.
I've since learned that sometimes you need to step away and say enough is enough.
author=Liberty
This is bad advice. If a map is too empty make it smaller. Don't just randomly fill it up with shit. Nobody was annoyed walking through a smaller map and really, you need to keep your players in mind when making maps.
When I said fill it up with stuff I didn't mean random stuff that wouldn't FIT IN with the map. Example: A toilet in the middle of a dense rain forest. I meant stuff more like trees, animals, birds and etc that you would find in a rainforest. You demonstrated what I was talking about in your video.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
I sped up the video by 200% so it didn't take up so much time. :P

god damnit I thought you were actually going that fast and I was REALLY impressed

*me sits, watching video*

"HOLY SHIT, SHE'S A MACHINE"
It's kinda fun, you have to immerse yourself in a map. I myself, trying to be modest here think mapping is what i'm best at in my game making. But For me, even a small basic map can take me up to an hour.

I start out with a draft, what shape do I want the map to be? A forest for example, I would fill it with grass, then put a basic water/hill outline so I can get the basic shape of my map. Once done, I perfect my mountains and rivers, making sure they look full and complete, nothing is straight and there is lot's of varying mountain shapes and the alike.

Next, I would proceed to fill my map boundaries with the trees, or whatever I use to make sure the player can't get to the edges of the map he's not supposed to. I would also add my larger hills into this and getting your basic elevation of the map.

At this step, your map should be laid out, So i'll make my paths or whatever with dirt, and add the larger details, such as tree stumps, different shades of grass, random dirt specs, large bushes etc. Also, make your smaller elevation. Little ramps and hills, little bumpy in grounds, do what you can. You should have a lot of elevation, it makes things realistic.

Then comes the little details, the rocks, small tileset plants, dirt specs whatever you got in your tileset. If you can make it look good use it. Depending on your tile set, you can be really flexible and not a lot of people realize this. I like to put my bushes, on my cliff edges because my tileset can do this. Experiment at this point. Try to leave as little of your basic flooring (the grass you filled everything with at the start) there should be a lot of detail everywhere. Don't overstock though so things look cluttered.

My last step, is to go through your detailed sprites if you use them. Butterflies, dancing flowers, sprites can add a cool flair to your map.

It sounds like a bit much, but this is how I map, it's a nice system and when you finish a awesome looking map you just feel awesome.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7380
Unfortunately, in recent years I've found myself to be a bit of a perfectionist about my main project, so my image of a map being "good and good forever" will probably cause me to redo stuff that many would view as somewhere between good enough and excellent. You can take this as you will before reading everything else I have to say.

I used to just wing it with my maps, which works if you're looking to give off what I would call an "old 2007" feel, where the layout is basic but reasonable in terms of design and how the player can move through it, but I've found that planning out the structure of your town/dungeon/world map before you start on it works wonders by allowing you to both get a feel for your area and give you a sure-fire way to keep track of your progress if you should need to take a break in the middle of this beast.

Now, if you're any good at planning this should be enough to suit your needs for just about anything, but there may be times where making a full page plan would cause you to pump out an area that's probably every bit of twice as large as it should be. In times like this, going for a plan consisting of smaller, key sections of your map would be your best bet while waiting until later to decide where these places would work best at and what can be placed in the gaps to make the most out of this map.

For the actual construction of the map, namely a town, I've found it better to build housing and major buildings first and the terrain later, as this will allow you all the space you need when it's all said and done. The other way may cause you to be left with an odd sized/shaped chunk of land with absolutely nothing to use it for as it's too small for a building to be placed on it and too big to be left alone. In these situations, not even a collection of trees or a small cliff would help as your town has exposed it's weak point design-wise. Once your buildings are placed, the terrain (cliffs/waterfalls) followed shortly by the trees/rocks/etc should come next. This is where an overall idea for your town would come in handy as you wouldn't have to guess what the shape of your terrain should be to make full use of the smaller details.

Once this is all said and done, I would recommend making small changes and additions for any 'weird' open spot, such as a roadside merchant with only a crate, box, wood platform and his wares to his name. This sort of thing would allow you to make a specialized shop for black market goods or even a financially-troubled fortune teller; this all depends on the mood of your town.

*Continued later*
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