Creating Tiles and Tile Maps with Pro Motion NG
Creating Tiles and Tile Maps with Pro Motion NG

Scrolling 2d games present a technical challenge to developers. Large game levels will often demand one or more layers of environment art that are much too large to fit in memory or perform well
as giant individual images. The solution used in classic 2d games was to create small rectangular pieces of art, called tiles, which would be used repeatedly in different configurations to create the full level environment. A full environment created with these tiles
is called a tile-map. In this way even 8 bit consoles with severe memory and graphical limitations were able to offer games with massive levels to explore. Pro Motion NG’s collection of powerful tile-mapping features offers an ideal tool-set and workflow for simultaneously creating both the tiles
themselves and tile-maps at the same time. When you begin a new project you can tell
Pro Motion you’d like to create a tile-map. You must then decide the tile-size in pixels, and the size of the tile-map in tiles. You can always change the size of the map as needed later on. You can also set whether or not any tile can be flipped horizontally or vertically (or both) to get even more use out of each tile. You’re started off with a grid showing you
the size and position of each tile location. You can just start using any of the standard drawing tools to begin sketching in your environment and the tiles are generated automatically
as you draw. You’ll quickly reach a point where you’ll
want to be reusing the same tiles in multiple locations. Click here to switch from modify/create tiles mode to pick and replace mode. Now you can either use the brush grab feature by pressing the B key and selecting any tile from the canvas, or actually by clicking on
a tile in the tile palette and then left-clicking to put another instance of the tile anywhere in the tile-map. If you had set your tile-map project to support mirrored and flipped tiles, then you can use the X key to mirror the tile and the Y key
to vertically flip it before you place it in the map. You can also use the shape drawing tools in filled or non-filled mode to add multiple instances of the same tile quickly. The core of your workflow will be alternating between modify/create mode and pick/place tile mode as you switch between improving the specific tile-map and refining and creating tiles as needed. In pick/place tile mode the brush tool will
always automatically turn on grid mode so only exact tiles can be grabbed, however when you switch to modify/create tile mode you can use the brush grabbing mode with grid mode turned off so you can grab part of one or more tiles and place this art you grabbed into other tiles. While in pick/place mode, if you try to draw with a standard brush shape or any brush that does not match one of the currently existing tiles, it will not work and a message will appear here saying “action aborted”. A very important feature of modify/create
mode is the “synchronize” mode that you can turn on or off. While synchronize is turned on, if you edit
any tile in the tile-map, all instances of the tile automatically update to the new version of this tile. If you turn “synchronize” off, then editing
any tiles will be creating all new tiles and will leave the other iterations of the original tile alone. This is a great way to create needed variations of a theme, such as additional brick or stone tiles to add more visual variety to repeating areas like brick walls. The Tile Palette window displays all tiles,
gives you the index number of the currently selected tile, and lets you select the zoom
level to more easily see and select tiles. You can click here and choose display settings to tell the tile palette to display the tiles in a specific number of columns and rows, and then left click and drag on any tile to rearrange them in the tile palette. You might be tempted to rearrange your tiles in the tile-palette but this would likely be a waste of your time. Please watch the rest of the video and you’ll see why. The first tile in the palette will always
be an empty one and you can use this tile to clear tile locations in your tile-map,
alternately you can press B to enter brush grab mode and grab a tile or section of tiles with the right-mouse button to erase them from the map. As you come closer to finishing a complete environment you’ll have creating tiles that you’ll no longer want in the tile-set. Just make sure it’s not used in the tile-map and then choose Tile-mapping/optimize. This removes blank tiles, duplicate tiles,
and unused tiles all at once. Alternately you can choose to perform each of these options separately, for example if there are tiles in the tile-map that are not
yet used, but you don’t want them removed from the tile-set, then you can choose to
remove empty and duplicate tiles, but leave unused tiles alone. You can use the brush grabbing feature to
grab parts of your map that you’ve already assembled from multiple tiles to place elsewhere as pre-fabricated tile sections. You can also right_click on any unoccupied spot in the brush palette to store these assembled map sections for later use. If you had set your tile-map project to support mirrored tiles, you can even press the X or Y key to horizontally or vertically flip tiles
or groups of tiles and you can then stamp them down in your tile-map even in pick/place tile mode. Be careful however, if you’ve made modifications to tiles after storing the brush, the brushes don’t automatically update to use the new
tiles, so you’ll end up adding old tiles back in as new, additional tiles, so only use this
method when creating a map with a finished tile set or be sure to replace all your stored brushes with updated versions if you change any of the actual tiles they were made from. As you work, be sure to regularly save your progress. Saving as a project is the best option, as
it will save all of your image, brushes, tile settings and map data all into one file. If you know you’ll be creating many level
maps for each tile-set, there’s a fantastic feature to help you. First, create a project to create the tiles
and separate example uses for the tiles as opposed to a specific level map, then, when your tile-set is done, choose “Tile Mapping/Manage connected Projects” and click “Add new
project”. Now this new project is all ready for you
to create your first real level tile-map and it uses the tile-set from the original project! Even better, you can grab those pre-made sections from the original project and use them as well as individual tiles to quickly assemble your level map! Better still, if you decide a tile needs to
be tweaked, regardless of which project you edit the tile in, it will be updated across
all the connected projects that are opened. If you try to edit tiles and one of the connected projects is not opened and therefore would not inherit the change to the tile, the change will not be allowed and this red “action aborted” message will appeal. Left click it and it will explain that you
must open the other connected projects or remove dependencies by removing those projects from the connected projects list in the original project. Pro-motion NG keeps track of the changes made that effect any of the connected projects and when you save any project all other effected projects will also be saved with these new changes. Once you’re finished with a specific tile-set, map, or both, you can choose to export either the tile-set, or both the tile-set and map
via “export all” under the tile-map menu. If you choose to export the tile-set only,
you can decide the image file format, and how many columns of tiles across the image will be, or you can choose to export every tile as its own separate image. If you choose to “export all” you’ll get
those tile-set export options and many options for the map. Several different data formats are available for the map export, so you’ll need to know which format the game engine or authoring system your project requires. Once you’ve selected your file format, select the destination directory for the export and type a base filename such as “castle” and click export and Promotion will export all the resulting files for the tile-set and
the tilemap. If you have been been working with connected projects, it’s important to check this option to export all connected projects maps as well if you had edited or added to the tile-set that they all use. You now know the core features and workflow for creating and working with tile sets and tile-maps in Pro Motion NG. Future videos will explore related features
and options in greater detail. Thanks very much for watching.

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