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About the maps

  • Pulits
  • 11/07/2014 11:48 PM
  • 3137 views
Today I wanted to share the process that is behind the hand drawn maps and my decision for using this technique.

When creating games, most of the time we’re limited to the resources other people in the community have uploaded. Many indie developers venture in the process of creating their own custom graphics, but others simply grab what they can.

I think this limits the creativity of creating the game we desire, and we actually develop our game based on the available resources.

I started developing Echoes of the Mind in RPG Maker 2003, and my intention is to finish it using that engine. While modern engines such as RPG Maker XP, which is more flexible or Unity, an engine that basically lets you create anything, RPG Maker 2003 is very limited in terms of resource management, even with modern exploits such as Cherry’s plug-ins.

By creating custom hand drawn maps, I have the chance of narrating the game I want with the scenarios that I want. It also allows me the chance of migrating the game to other platforms, if I ever decide that. Lastly, it makes every scene of the game count since it is carefully planned.

Each map is hand drawn by a professional artist; I encourage you to check her work.

First, there is a map specification:
Map: Mansion Outside
Size (in pixels):576x352
Description:
  • The mansion is located in a forest, so trees should surround the mansion.

  • There should be one dead tree near the entrance.

  • There’s an entrance located in the south part of the map.

  • Our mansion has chimney inside, so be sure to put one in the roof.

  • A garden is going to be located in the northern part of the map (suggestion, dark roses). A fence should separate this; the player will only be able to get to the garden by navigating through the mansion, not outside.


With this description, the first sketch of the map is created. Certain adjustments are made. Also, since RPG Maker 2003 uses a 16x16 grid, the maps are actually built this way:


With this sketch, a block “blueprint” is created, which essentially measures up each of the main assets. It’s the base in which the assets are drawn within:


Here’s an example on how each asset is carefully drawn and painted:


Finally, the map is done:


The actual image is then separated into two layers, “up” and “below” layer. RPG Maker has a layer system, but we’re making use of a custom background. The “below” layer is set up in the parallax background, and the “up” layer is shown as an image. The images are downgraded to 8-bit depth, I’ve found IrfanView to be the best tool for decreasing depth without sacrificing much quality.




The final details are added in-game:

Posts

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This is very inspiring! Many people sneer at using Rm2k3 or older engines for "painted" backdrops, but this game is one of the few that's proven they can be done well! I'll be following it closely. :D

Just an aside - do you limit the maps to only two layers? You might be able to preserve more of the color fidelity if you utilized various pictures.. etc. Also, I think Photoshop might have better potential for reducing the color palette to 256... but maybe the difference is negligible lol.
Pulits
Jack Daniel's Evangelist
1168
author=Blindmind
This is very inspiring! Many people sneer at using Rm2k3 or older engines for "painted" backdrops, but this game is one of the few that's proven they can be done well! I'll be following it closely. :D

Just an aside - do you limit the maps to only two layers? You might be able to preserve more of the color fidelity if you utilized various pictures.. etc. Also, I think Photoshop might have better potential for reducing the color palette to 256... but maybe the difference is negligible lol.


Thank you!

Depends on the map itself. Some maps can be broken into many more layers. The problem that I've found is that only the parallax background works effectively for the "down" layer, and pictures always go "above". So, when possible, I divide the "above" layer into many pictures.

Each map tries to use the least amount of colors. I've used both Photoshop and GIMP to decrease the image to 8-bit depth, but for some reason IrfanView makes better color choices. So far, most maps have responded really well.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10842
you should also dish out $$$ for a new character sprite to fit with your maps style

Otherwise great. Looking forward to playing this and being bedazzled by all this fine art and atmosphere. let's make this happen, let's move move move, soldiers
Pulits
Jack Daniel's Evangelist
1168
author=CashmereCat
you should also dish out $$$ for a new character sprite to fit with your maps style

Otherwise great. Looking forward to playing this and being bedazzled by all this fine art and atmosphere. let's make this happen, let's move move move, soldiers


Thank you, this comment is very supportive. I'll give my best to make this happen.

There is indeed a sprite artist working on the project, too. In the end, I decided to stick with the default 2k3 sprite style, the reason is that I made progress for the game before I discovered Cherry's "any size" sprite. Adding a style that matches for the maps completely is a hard task with such small sprites.

I hope that boss battles are different, which I'll be doing differently.

Again, thank you!
I just discovered this new blog post. Man I love these, keep them going, I like the read =).
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