Here are a few small edits you might want to consider making to your tilesets to spice up your game.
Do you feel like your houses look like giant shoe boxes on your map and you want an easy way to change that?
Let us take a look at this cozy home for example, there is a very simple way to make it look more interesting:
Open your A3 tile in any program that supports transparency and copy and paste the two pixels on each side of the wall part and move them “inwards”.
If that would destroy your structure, you can also cut those two pixels off and create a new outline by selecting the outer columns of pixels and reduce their brightness or if there are little posts or columns at the side you might be better off moving them whole and their shadows as well:
This is a very tiny edit that usually takes a few seconds, and it already improves the look of your map a lot:
Just be careful: if you use autoshadows, you need to fill the right “empty” side of your autotile with black at an opacity of 50%. There are many ways to do that, you could for example select that area and fill it with a bucket tool that was set to have an opacity of 50.
Your houses will look a little more interesting!
The downside of this is that you have to place your A3 wall tiles on a higher layer than usual, though you can also “just” shiftmap the two side parts to the higher layer and keep the middle part “on the ground”.
I love putting panoramas behind mountain maps, but if you don’t have mountains in your game, you will have much less opportunities to put them to a good use.
Or… do you?
Today we are going to have a look at using panoramas on interior maps!
We are going to start with this little reading room. Wouldn’t it be cool if that room had a nice view?
But if we just drop a Panorama onto that map, we end up with something like this:
So there are two things we need to do: Have an actual “void” to cover the panorama where we don’t want it to be AND have the windows be actually see-through!
The first thing is pretty easy, since the default A5 already has an all black tile.
For the windows we need a slightly different approach than we had before:
While usually you can place the windows on any wall, here we need the wall with the window on top as one tile (or you need every wall with a window-shaped hole), as otherwise you would just see the wall through the window.
In this case there is no atual window glass involved, so we can simply open our window-wall-combination in the graphic program of our choice (here: Gimp) and select everything that is inside the window frame:
The resulting tile has now simply be imported into our project and placed on our map:
What a view!
This was the easier example, but what if glass is involved?
We start similarly here, we make a map to find out which wall/window combination we have and set that up for further edits:
As you can see I made this two tile wide even though it is originally 1 tile wide, but I wanted the looping diagonal part to be “complete” when working on it.
So what do we do first?
As you can see, there are some faint skyscrapers visible through the dark parts of the window, but since we want a custom view, we need to remove them:
In this case we can realize that by simply running with the smudge tool along the dark parts and “wipe away” those structures.
Now there are two things to do and it is time to make use of one of Gimp’s most useful features!
We carefully select all of the window and none of the frame and then we use Color - Color to Alpha.
By using the pipette tool for the color that we set to alpha we try to pick the darkest done we can find on the glass area and set that, the algorithm does the rest.
We can now recut this tile so it becomes one looping one and we can try it out!
And here we go, a mountain panorama in the distance, right behind our office!
Tip: If placing a panorama is too fiddly for you, you might want to consider a “static” view and just add the windows with the “look” to your tileset. That could eat up a lot of space though!
Putting up some more custom images on the walls of your game can add a lot of detail and it is nice to recognize the images. For example, if there is a certain king or a certain region or a certain god in your game, it just makes everything so much more rounded if they are featured in the paintings found in your game - not all, but maybe some!
The first step is pretty straightforward, we use the box selection to remove the painting and have some very nice modular frames.
Now we can also edit them by using copy and paste on the parts that are tileable.
For this one you can see that the corners are left as they are and that only a very narrow part is repeated so that the pattern stays convincing, allowing us to frame any size of picture we want.
About the picture, here everything you have the rights to use works. In our case, we wanna frame the king:
By simply putting his large picture onto a parallax, we have a usable base.
If we simply scale that down, we are already pretty close to having something frameworthy, but that is not what I would recommend:
If we compare the “original” king and ours, we can see that the original tileset has a much more pixelated look and limited colors, while “our” king is very smooth and painted. To have him stand out less, before we scale it down, we index the image’s color count.
In Gimp you use: Picture - Mode - Indexed and then an amount of colors that is low but still looks right. It depends on our image and the colors needed, but here for example 32 was a good amount.
And here is the difference it makes:
While it is of course not a perfectly pixelated image, it just looks a lot more convincing.
And with the original on the side, we can make some other adjustments:
By carefully moving the color curve we can try to get a color range that is a little closer to the default tile.
And after adding the shadow by selecting the left column and upper row of pixels at once and simply lowering the brightness, we have a nice new decoration element that blends in and features artwork that resembles someone from the game!
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.