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shadowomf

Tile-based games. What kind of tiles? squares, hexagons, triangles?

9 posts in this topic

Hello,

 

I was wondering, what are the pros and cons of the various tile formats.

 

Squares

+ as easy as it gets

+ simple movement

+ both horizontal and vertical movement as well as diagonal movement can be a straight line

- looks sometimes squarish

- diagonal movement is not the same as horizontal or vertical

 

Hextiles

+ often look better than squares (maybe a bit subjective)

+ movement to any neighbour is always the same distance

- movement is more complicated than on a grid of squares

- on some situations picking can also be more complicated

- more possible combinations required because a tile can have up to 6 instead of 4 different tiles (materials/ground) as neighbours

- vertical or horizontal movement can be a straight line, but not both

 

Triangles

+ less combinations, only three neighbours

+ movement to any neighbour is always the same distance

- movement can be a bit more strange than on a grid of squares, same with picking

- vertical or horizontal movement can be a straight line, but not both

- on some situations picking can also be more complicated

- never seen it in use, only for hextile games as subtiles

 

One thing I'm especially interested in is why people choose hextiles over triangles?

Is it just easier for the artists or is there another reason?

In my eyes triangles do have the same cons as triangles, however tringles can have at most three different neighbours which means the artists wouldn't have to make as many combinations as with hextiles.

 

Do you know of any examples that used triangular tiles (excluding the triangles used for actual rendering)?

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honestly, I've never felt particularly impressed with a tile game using hexagons over squares.  Its mildly interesting, but I have not seen a significant change in game play arise from it.  I would choose the easiest route for development/design, unless you have a specific reason other wise, that brings good value to the game.  Players don't tend to care about how you internally developed a game, and instead only care about what they see.

 

 

One thing I'm especially interested in is why people choose hextiles over triangles?
Is it just easier for the artists or is there another reason?
In my eyes triangles do have the same cons as triangles, however tringles can have at most three different neighbours which means the artists wouldn't have to make as many combinations as with hextiles.

 

 

First off, if you think about it, a single triangle only has 3 facing directions in your game, like you said, but your map will require at least 2 directions of the triangles, or a lot of unusable space.  You'd still require all the same work only now there would be angle complications to figure out depending on which tile your on.  where as with square or hex, you always have the same available exist angles and paths.  - less to deal with code wise, and for mentially dealing with it.  with triangle movements, you can not create a straight line unless its only 2 tiles.  anything more and your lines must zigzag.  In squares you have 4 directions you can make straight lines in, and hex you have 6.  Easier on AI movement too.

Edited by hpdvs2
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[quote name='shadowomf' timestamp='1357751564' post='5019529']
tringles can have at most three different neighbours which means the artists wouldn't have to make as many combinations as with hextiles.
[/quote]

 

in case this part was referring to creating textures for the background that interact, You'd still have the 6 sides to deal with like before, just in two separate tiles now.  But also, you don't need your graphics layout to match the grid layout.  I.e.  you can use images of various sizes and shapes, tiles work fine, and then setup your angled grid for movement/placement on top of that.  if a tile isn't 100% snow, then set its ground type based on what it most is.  

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One other thing about graphics, instead of using perfect hexagons, and expecting graphics to line up, I would recommend creating slightly larger hexagons, with alpha fading on the edges, which will automatically create seamless tiles with out actually generating edges and corners between graphics.

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With hexagons, every other row must be offset by half.

With triangles it's even worse: Every other tile must be upside down, which increases the amount of art you need if any tiles aren't simply invertable.

 

There's another option: Place graphics freely without being aligned to grids.

Edited by Servant of the Lord
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from strictly an art stand point, a square grid is easier for world building, and makes more sense logically to most artists, especially 3D artists who are becoming accustomed to living and dieing by their maya / max grid

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You didn't put isometric on this list, but I don't really recommend it if you are new to making games. If you are new to games in general go with squares. There is tons of free and placeholder art for you to use and the math couldn't be simpler.

If you've done a few complete games in the past and are just looking to broaden your horizons and such the hex grid may be a delightful challenge to prepare you for bigger things down the road.

Don't do triangles.

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"- more possible combinations required because a tile can have up to 6 instead of 4 different tiles (materials/ground) as neighbours"

I would say that's a plus actually...

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"- more possible combinations required because a tile can have up to 6 instead of 4 different tiles (materials/ground) as neighbours"

I would say that's a plus actually...

 

It's both. Beneficial in that it allows for more variation in tile terrain, but costly because it requires more work to make the additional transition tiles. I don't think the minor benefit is worth the heavy cost in most cases, but it totally depends on the project and the game being developed.[quote name='shadowomf' timestamp='1357751564'

 

[quote name='hpdvs2' timestamp='1357758082' post='5019569']
honestly, I've never felt particularly impressed with a tile game using hexagons over squares. Its mildly interesting, but I have not seen a significant change in game play arise from it. I would choose the easiest route for development/design, unless you have a specific reason other wise, that brings good value to the game. Players don't tend to care about how you internally developed a game, and instead only care about what they see.
[/quote]

 

I completely concur. And it typically takes more time and effort for these types of tiles (both in terms of programming and artwork), so it's really not worth the extra effort in my opinion. But isometric is similar enough and a frequently used artistic style that I think either flat square or square isometric tiles would be equally valid paths to take. The time you spend implementing something other than this could be better invested in something like improved pathfinding code, adding support for graphical effects like reflection, and so on.

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I always had the impression that the art for games that used hextiles looked much better than squares. Just not so squarish. Maybe that's just some memory that sticked in my head.

Gameplay-wide the difference is minimal.

 

[quote name='hpdvs2' timestamp='1357758800' post='5019576']
slightly larger hexagons, with alpha fading on the edges
[/quote]

Yes either that or graphics that can span multiple tiles. Often done for towers that would look strange if squeezed on one tile.

 

[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1357759251' post='5019581']
There's another option: Place graphics freely without being aligned to grids.
[/quote]

I've thought about that too. There was some 2d engine that did support this, as well as normal mapping and shadowing. It was featured as an image of the day, if I remember correctly.

 

[quote name='Aeramor' timestamp='1357762215' post='5019598']
isometric
[/quote]

I actually don't really like the isometric look. It looks too much like the stuff you do in geometry class.

Dimetric or Trimetric projection looks much better in my eyes.

Anyway, I didn't want to mix the projection used with the tile used, one can certainly use isometroc projection with hexagons, it would probably not look great but it should be possible.

 

[quote name='Orymus3' timestamp='1357769111' post='5019649']
I would say that's a plus actually...
[/quote]

Yes it can be a plus, however at the moment of writing I was only thinking about the additional work required.

 

 

Anyway, thanks for the comments. I still can't decide. Mainly for nostalgic reasons, nothing really substantial.

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