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epic709

Why choose square tiles and not hex ones?

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Hi, What are the reasons - from a design perspective - to choose square (actually diamonds) tiles instead of six-sided hexagons for an isometric-view game? I choose the conventional diamond tiles because I thought they would be easier to implement. But somebody with experience pointed out that this wasn''t the case because both types tile very nicely and have only minor differences. Can somebody with even more experience point out why one is preferable than the other and in what situations? Thanks a lot. p/s: this is for a college project and the reasons really have to make sense.

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Collision detection would be much harder with hex tiles (or at least slower) than with four sides ones, or at least, that is my take on it .

Null and Void
"In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" --Homer Simpson

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Null and Void: Did you even read the question? "From a design perspective"

Many tile-based games use squares (why you call them diamonds?) but you can move your units sub-square accurately also. Like Super Mario for an easy example (ok, it''s side-view but you get the point). So I really don''t see much difference between using square tiles or hex tiles. In a strategy game, it''s really same if Civilization was square or hex based. Completely. But I also prefer square tiles because easier implementation and faster drawing. I''ve played Steel Panthers (hex based) and I have no idea why it has hex based and not square based tiles. Maybe they wanted some originality?

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Hex tiles are much better for strategic games. With square (that includes diamonds for now) tiles you have to notice that moving diagonal is moving the unit much further than a horizontal or vertical movement. With hex tiles you don''t have that problem: From one tile to the next is always the same distance.

I read an article about hex tiles a few months ago that had many explanations why hex tiles are better (for certain types of games). Unfortunately I can neither remember where nor what exactly they said...

And Anon: I think hex tiles are better. There are good reasons why strategic games (the whole xxx General series for example) have nearly always used hex based maps. After I played something hex based for a longer time and then play something like good old Civilization I really wish Civ had hex based tiles...

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LOL If you find one true wargame that uses something *else* that hex you can spank me It's because *real* wargames are played by simulationists, and military, to recreate epic conflicts, in the most realistic way possible. And to have a bit of realism, it's nice to at least have realistic movement.
If you use a square grid, the distance from the center of a square to the vertical and horizontal neighbours is 1, fine. But the distance to the diagonal neighbours is ... 1.414, which is bad. Because if units can move in all directions, they actually get an added 41 % movement in diagonals !!! It's a big difference ! In an hexagonal grid, you lose the advantage of having straight line movements (you apparently zigzag, instead), but you get the advantage that all neighbours are equidistant. Which is much better, overall, than having 41% bonus for diagonals...

In a real time game with units moving smoothly, this is not decisive, hence on most computer RTS you don't see any hex grids.
But on paper, most wargames are hex based (I don't know any that isn't) ... or without any form of grid (then you use rulers to measure movements).

As well, hexagonal grids are a pain in the as$ to draw (and to use in general), on a computer, hence the natural popularity of the squares. The diamonds seem to be a bit more popular because of the added depth, but they add problems ... so they are still not very common in RTS.

youpla :-P

(hey ! I just made your project or what ?)

Edited by - ahw on October 8, 2000 3:38:04 PM

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I have to give in on that Anonymous Poster, I hadn''t seen that, oh well, that is my view on it anyway

I dislike tialing in general, most of my games (none are done though, so that may tell you something ) have very non-linear mapping systems.


Null and Void
"In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" --Homer Simpson

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Bitmaster: could you please try harder to remember that article you read? It''ll make excellent reference material for my project.

So far the only thing I can see from a design perspective is that hex tiles are "fair" to the discerning strategist. But I''m sure that''s not the end of the story, right? Hope I can get more opinions on this.....

Does anybody know how hex tiles will affect things like how natural the end result is? My opinion is that square tiles are more realistic (when you don''t think about the distance thing) because a sprite would have 8 directions to move about instead of just 6. I remember playing Fallout and how the characters zig-zigged their way from one spot to the next. Does everybody agree with me here?

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If you don''t have per-tile-movement, the choice is cosmetic. But try this: Implement a random maze map generator based on hexes - with an exit possible through each of the edges. If you generate a map with this system, it will be VERY hard to tell that the original generator was just a set of hexagonal tiles.
( Trust me, I used this technique in my PnP Roleplaying games, and it confused the hell out of my players because they were getting ALL the mapping wrong )


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~

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Ok, if you really wanna know, there is Amit Patel's homepage. Read it, love it

I'll dig my bookmarks to see if I have more.

I support MadKeithV as well : if you are not using tile based movement, then it's purely cosmetic.
Usually, you use hex grids because you are playing a turn based game. Real time games will use something easier to draw, in general.

youpla :-P

====edit====

I'd like to say that yes, movement is of prime importance in wargames, hence the importance of the gridding you use, if any. Hexagonal tiling comes from wargames (paper ones, not computer ones). All wargames I have ever seen are using hex grids, or continuous movement (no grid). If you use square grids, it's probably a board game, not a wargame

Wargamers are very picky people on little details like 41% bonus ... it's like this bug there is in Quake 2 where zigzagging furiously would make you go much faster ... for the reason I explained above.
As well, as explained in Amit Patel's gamepage ... with squares, you get 4 neighbours with a common edge, and 4 with only a common vertex, which is not very ... pleasant.
You'd want to check some games using square grids that don't allow diagonal movements .. ask yourself, why ?


Edited by - ahw on October 10, 2000 5:06:32 AM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The original post concerned isometric views, yes?

The diamond tiles used in an isometric veiw are close to hexagon in shape, so using hexagons instead is an option. I think Age of Wonders used this for their city walls. I suppose it can help with depth first calculations since you''d have one axis that corresponds directly with depth.

The only problem that I see is that on one of your axes you have a zig-zag pattern, which means any straight-edged walls will tend to split a hex. If you can take care of the half-hex problem then you''ll be ok.

You could avoid the half-hex problem by making one of the angles very sharp (30 degrees) but I think it would look poor.

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