MZ’s default tilesets are fun to work with, but sometimes you want to use a different style of tiles or add some new ones. Trouble is, what do all those tileset options in the database even do?
When we open up the database to the Tilesets tab, we’re greeted with this:
It can seem like a lot of options at first, so let’s break the tab down so that we can learn what everything does.
The first section is the General Settings, where we can name our tilesets so that we can easily keep track of them. Since our players will never see what we name our tilesets we can use whatever system we want to make sure we can remember what each set is for, such as grouping them or marking them with shorthands like [in]/[out] or [part1]/[part2].
The other setting we can find here is Mode choice. With only two options it’s easy to ignore, but knowing when to switch the Mode can help us make our battles feel more connected to the maps.
By default, a tileset’s Mode is set to Area Type. This setting makes it so that if we do not specify the battleback for our map, then our player will see a blurry version of the map behind the battle.
World Type is meant for overworld maps, where our players will be exploring and battling in different biomes all on the same map. If we do not set a specific battleback to a map that uses a World Type tileset, then different battlebacks will display in different areas. The engine has a built-in list of battlebacks to use with the ground tiles in certain positions, so when our player is standing on grass a grass battleback will display and a snowy battleback will appear when walking on the snow tile.
The battlebacks are tied to the ground tile locations on the image and we can’t change them in the database, so if we want to change the grass battleback that appears when our player is one the default grass tile then we would need to replace our ‘Grassland’ battleback.
The Images section is where we can actually choose the tiles that will be in our tileset. Each section has a specific size requirement, so if we try to use a B sheet in the A2 section things would not work properly. MZ’s included help file gives exact dimensions for each, but using the default images as a guide can be a good way to make smaller changes such as recoloring a tile or replacing it with something new.
When we add a new image to the tileset, we’ll see it added to our tile list where it will be slightly shrunk to fit the space. The tile list is also where we’ll be able to change the options for each tile with the Parameter Settings.
We can find the Parameter Settings along the right side of the window. These are where we can add some special effects to certain tiles and make sure our player can move around the maps properly.
The first option is Passage, and is also the default choice when you open the tilesets tab. This is where we can set tiles to be walkable or not, with ‘o’ meaning we can step onto the tile and ‘x’ meaning we can’t. There is also a third option, ‘star’, which will let us walk under the tile (perfect for trees or other tall tiles).
We can cycle through the options using left and right mouse clicks, and if we hold the button down while moving the mouse we can change any tiles that we hover over to quickly change multiple tile passabilities at once.
The first tile on a B sheet will automatically be set to ‘star’ and will remain blank, so if we want to edit that image we need to leave that spot blank.
The next parameter is Passage (4 Dir), which gives us even more control over how our player can move on a tile. A tile set to ‘o’ Passage will appear with four arrows and tiles set to ‘x’ will have four dots. The arrows mark which directions our player can walk onto that tile from, so if a tile only has the left arrow then that tile can only be walked on from the left side.
Adjusting the arrows can help you create bridges that don’t let you walk off the sides or ladders that can only be used to move up and down a wall.
Speaking of ladders, Ladder is the next parameter. This setting lets us tell the engine that our player should remain facing up now matter which direction they’re moving in, as if they’re climbing a ladder’s rungs.
The Bush parameter gives us the option to show that our player is walking through something, instead of standing on top of it.
When we set a tile to be a bush our sprites’ lower twelve pixels will be transparent, to make it look like our player is standing in the middle of something deep. By default it’s used for bushy plants and the purple swamp, but we could also use the Bush option to show our player standing in shallow water.
Next is the Counter, which gives us the ability to activate an event one tile away. That means we can set up an innkeeper who is standing behind a table and interact with them without having to move to stand right next to the innkeeper.
One thing to keep in mind is that it only affects one tile, so we can’t interact with an event that’s several tiles away. Meaning that if we want to have giant tables between our player and an event we’ll need to include a way to walk around the table to get to the event.
Counter also has a special effect for tiles in the A2 image slot. Tiles with the Counter option will be shifted twelve pixels down, making the counter look even bigger and giving us more space on top of it to place decorative tiles.
Damage Floor is perfect for dangerous maps since it does exactly what it says: tiles marked with Damage Floor will hurt our player when they walk on it, flashing the screen and removing a small amount of HP from everyone in the party.
By default the Damage Floor won’t kill the party members, instead stopping when the member reaches one HP. If we wanted the party members to be able to be killed by stepping in a poisonous swamp or by standing on spike traps then we need to turn on the ‘death by floor damage’ in the System 1 tab Options.
The last parameter we can change is Terrain Tag. We can set each tile to a number between 0 and 7 here, though these numbers do not change how the tile behaves. Instead, Terrain Tags can be checked with the Get Location Info event command to help you set up certain evented systems where you need to know what tile the player is standing on.
With that, we should be ready to start setting up our own tilesets! If setting up an entirely new tileset feels overwhelming, then try copying one of the default tilesets and then add in an extra B-E sheet or switch out one of the A sheets to better fit your map’s needs.
Have you ever made or seen a “I need this thing, otherwise I cannot continue working on my game!” type of request? While I understand that some elements can be crucial to have, there is no reason to have the lack of a resource restrain you from working on your project. In fact, the lack should not affect you at all - for the moment.