Critique => Pixel Art => Topic started by: Sammy on October 15, 2017, 06:01:29 pm

Title: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: Sammy on October 15, 2017, 06:01:29 pm
Hello everyone,
I am working on a RPG game with my boyfriend and we want a hill in a meadow. I made a hill, but I don't think it fits the environment. I didn't find a good tutorial on how to make a hill... not even good samples of hills. I want it to be tile-able so I can make it as big as I want. The tiles are 64x64. I am seeking for help on how to improve it.
Any suggestions?
Thanks a lot!

Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: eliddell on October 15, 2017, 11:57:13 pm
I suspect the reason it looks odd is that hills in 2D RPGs just aren't normally made like that.  Instead, you tend to see something like a wedding cake, with flat areas separated by dropoffs.  Here's an example from the original Star Ocean:  http://vgmaps.com/Atlas/SuperNES/StarOcean%28J%29-MtMetox.png (http://vgmaps.com/Atlas/SuperNES/StarOcean%28J%29-MtMetox.png).

The other thing is that hills don't normally have uniform slopes that start and end abruptly along straight lines.  If you really want a gentle grassy hill, vary the slope (shallow-steep-shallow) to suggest a curve, and break up the edges.  Try to not make the edge look like it's bound to a grid.  And why does the grass on the hill have a completely different texture (and a subtly different hue) than the rest of the grass?
Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: Sammy on October 16, 2017, 02:36:13 pm
Thank you a lot for the response. I want to ask if the same approach is used with hills since you showed an example with cliffs. I have made cliffs for the map. I'm looking for hills now, and I have trouble finding it. It would help a lot more if I saw an example of a regular hill.

Thank you again for the help :)
Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: eishiya on October 16, 2017, 04:30:03 pm
"Regular" hills are rare in top-down games because they're hard to make look interesting, and they don't have the impact on level design that cliffs do. Cliffs make a space more interesting to navigate. Hills are, at best, something that slows your movement (if the tiles are tagged to slow you down when moving "up"), and at worst, purely cosmetic.

Though not hills, the roofs of the buildings in Sword of Mana's Topple village (https://i.imgur.com/4siyrwe.gif) have the same kind of structure, and are somewhat extensible. Perhaps they'll help you figure out how to make your hills tileable.

These roofs are steep enough that the far side isn't visible, but you will probably need to make your hills less steep so that the player can navigate them clearly. You'll need to be careful with the player's movement speed on each tile to maintain the illusion of a hill and not just a coloured flat surface.

Try drawing some interestingly-shaped hills without worrying about the tiling. A blocky hill like that will result in boring tiles. Design your tiles around the final visual you want, not around some basic minimal hill.

What size tiles are you using? I'm tempted to have a go at making some hill tiles myself.
Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: Sammy on October 17, 2017, 12:57:55 pm
Thank you so much for the useful information you provided. Really appreciate it. The roofs in the sample seem like a good reference :)
I'll keep in mind your great suggestions and I'll make the hill based on your idea :D
By the way, I am using 64x64 tiles.

Thanks again :)
Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: Sammy on November 01, 2017, 03:32:57 pm
Hey guys, I made a new hill based on feedback I got. Now I'm looking for critiques again! Is it better or worse? How can I improve it?
Thanks in advance :)

Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: eliddell on November 01, 2017, 11:57:45 pm
Better, I'd say.  It looks hill-shaped now, and not buried-building-shaped.

It could maybe use some more contrast between the upper edge of the hill and the background, but I'm not sure what the best approach would be.  ???
Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: Darien on November 15, 2017, 06:59:22 am
I prefer the first one, especially because it seems to fit the perspective of your other tiles better.  I also think the grass pattern is too noisy on the second one.

This is quite a touch challenge you set for yourself, I think the reason you can't find any examples of this is because its so difficult to do.  Perhaps looking at isometric tiles would give you some guidance, here's a good recent thread on showing elevation with isometric tiles: https://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=23789.0
Title: Re: Please Help! critique needed
Post by: Johasu on November 15, 2017, 04:51:47 pm
I think your biggest problem with your approach is that you aren't at all designing a hill, but more of a mound or dome on the ground.
In both cases you have created a rather rapid upward projection bringing the soil level up but leaving it as only a small area of raised land that then recedes back to base level.

The real problem with this is that there is already a best case solution for what you are doing.  And that is to revert to the tried and true message of a jutting raise in elevation that is a cliff or firm land mass.

True hills or gradually raising elevations are much more difficult to speak directly. The simple truth is you should probably use a set of tiles for an elevation area and avoid making very small hills that raise quickly and then stop.  Show the climb or descent over an area rather than trying to pinpoint it.
I can think of very few cases of this being done on a top down perspective.  However I can think of simple small version that you could extrapolate into a much larger version and then use some clever tricks to help people get the message.

In Secret of Evermore there were these little sand dune swirls that give you a good solid idea of raised land.  The highlight on one side.  The shadow on the other.  If you look closely you even get an implication of how it would look on the front/back (north south) angles.
http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/secretofevermore/images/0/0e/Desert_of_Doom.png/revision/latest?cb=20160116031819 (http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/secretofevermore/images/0/0e/Desert_of_Doom.png/revision/latest?cb=20160116031819)
Beyond this look at any ramps or walkways (not stairs) in top down games that take a player up to a new level that is surrounded by cliffs.  Plenty of examples of that.  You would of course need to figure out a way to round it and corner it off so that it read well and you wouldn't need a cliff edge to separate areas of greater elevation.

Perhaps go with a more subtle approach like this.  Spread it out over an area to give a gradual sense of climbing.  Use some other message signals to the player such as a slowed walking speed, or a unique animation for labored movement as they climb up.
Likewise accelerate movement going down perhaps.

Other methods are to not show the elevation at all until you have reached a new area with cliffs or walls separating lower areas that show the player that they have climbed as they moved along.  But again this is for a gradual raising land level, not a quick rapid rise like you have been creating.