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2D Scroller maps

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Hello all, I'm hoping I could get an opinion... I've been building up an idea for a fun 2D scroller game (like Abes Odyssey) and I'm trying to get down ideas on how I want to execute the game before I write anything. One area I'm constantly debating with myself is exactly how I want to handle the level maps. Specifically, should I go with a tile-based map, or a fully drawn (as in one simple image) map. The reason I'm debating this with myself is because I want to write a game that will play as smoothly on my very underpowered Asus EEE 2G Surf as it will on my 2.4ghz duel core with 6gig of ram. Obviously, I need to develop to the Asus specs. Anyone have any ideas? Or, perhaps a link to an article about 2D game maps and the benefits and drawbacks to how to handle different styles? *ponders to myself*

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Off the top of my head, tile maps are usually preferred because:

1. They tend to be more efficient (both in memory and speed, but especially in memory) I say 'tend to' because there are special cases where the opposite is true.

2. They are more versatile: once the tiles are created, a map designer can re-arrange levels much easier than re-drawing the whole ting. Likewise, the entire 'look' of a level can be changed by just replacing some tile images with others

3. They are more dynamic: tiles and tile images can be changed or modified easily during run-time

4. Related to 3: it is easier/more efficient to animate single tiles than entire gigantic images

5. It can be productive to store additional information with tiles (such as collision details). With a single image for a level, you still have to store all that data on a separate layer, and now you are wasting even more memory

6... the list goes on

In all, I would first ask why you *wouldn't* want to use a tile map. The only advantages to a single drawn map I can think of:

1. Trivial to program (although tile maps aren't too terribly hard to do, either)
2. Easier to draw art, since you don't need to divide everything into small pieces that look good when all drawn together.
3. Easier to get a better-looking, more diverse looking graphics (although this depends, obviously, on the artist doing the work)

I'm not familiar with Abes Odyssey, so I don't know specifically what kind of game you are going for, and I nothing about the Surf. But, I wouldn't get hung-up on performance questions at this stage, but rather game design questions that relate to the above pros/cons (among the many others that I haven't listed).

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Isn't that game basically made of several "scenes", all with the same height and width? I thought it wasn't scrolled..

Anyways I also suggest you use tiles. If you use them, you can just make a level editor and use it to make all your maps easily since it's really simple to save a map full of tiles, edit it, and load it.

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I've always preferred tile-maps personally, because of the flexibility. The absolute killer, in my oppinion, is that for a fully hand-drawn map, the level designer must also be an artist (or, essentially work in tandem with one) -- with a tile-map, once the tiles are produced, the artist and level designer are free to work independantly of one another nearly 100% of the time.

tile maps are a bit more limited in terms of geometry, granted, but the absolute free-form look of fully hand-drawn maps, while beautiful, can also require much more complex support from other systems -- eg. tile-based collision vs. line-based collision (which also then has to be supported in the mapping software and map format)

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Doing 2D graphics shouldn't stress your Asus EEE too much anyway. It should be well able to handle both methods.

The main advantages of tile maps are that you can attach extra information to the tiles for things like collision detection and it's very easy and fast to make new maps. Downside is, that they will always look kinf of blocky.

With hand drawn levels it's way easier to make them look more natural (no blocks) but you have to do a few extra steps to do things like collision detection. One way would be to define some (invisible) polygons or lines on top of your map that define where the platforms are the player can walk on.

Using tile maps should be a bit easier, especially if this is your first project in that direction. Drawing them just comes down to a big 2D array of tiles, determining the visible part of it and then just drawing your tile images according to the map. Don't know of many tutorials for that but here is one. Deals more with collision detection than drawing but thats the harder part anyway. Google should find you something if you need help with drawing, too.

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Thanks guys. Seems the general consensus is for tile maps. Worked with them before, and they are easy enough to handle... but I just soo love fully rendered maps. Going to have to continue pondering...

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With enough variation, appropriate tile sizes, and careful planning, a tile-based level can be made to look as good a fully hand-drawn one. If you look even at some of the later SNES / early playstation 2D RPGs you *know* they're tile based, but after employing some tricks of the trade you'd be hard-pressed to pick out all the tiles in a game like Chrono-Trigger or Secret of Mana -- remember, a good tile is one that doesn't look like a tile [grin]

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