AuthorTopic: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset  (Read 3086 times)

Offline startselect

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[WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

on: September 14, 2018, 10:52:45 am
I started a cave/mine tileset and it is going terribly! I looked at a lot of references but everything I try looks like crap. I'm not even really looking for help with the tiles specifically just if anyone has any pointers or guiding words that would be really helpful!

Things I'm struggling with in no particular order:
* avoiding pillow shading when trying to do non-directional (or straight from the camera, don't know what it's called) lighting.
* avoid walls looking floating.
* avoid greebling up the floor without it looking like planed concrete
* deciding if the walls should be lighter to dark or dark to light.
* figure out how to do concave walls to make it feel dug-out and not so straight and stiff


This is where I'm at (with abandoned starts on the right) and I feel like going forward without a new direction will just be a waste of time.

Thankful for any help!

Offline pistachio

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 12:21:48 pm
Second step (right side) seems to be where you're tripping up. Given the lighting, you're not gonna see highlights there. Shift those highlights closer up top and there you're good, I think.

Also called pillow-shading. From PJ:


Note that also even pretty round rocks have some flatter angles to them, going about the rocks like a diamond shape might help this (think the rocks in Cave Story)
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Online Vinik

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #2 on: September 18, 2018, 10:18:51 pm
Uhm, I will try to make pistachios advice just a bit more specific here:

For the concave feel you want, that would likely require a section of generally lighter rock clusters near the bottom like in your second attempt from top to bottom at the right side, because that lower part would be less vertical and get more light and assuming the light is somewhat from the front and above. However the position of each highlight within its "lump" should  definetely be higher to avoid pillow shading like pistachio just said. The mid level lumps shouldn't probably get any highlight to look receded back.

The diagonal surfaces would be trickier to show that concavity, although still very possible.If you really wanna try that now I might have some untextured geometric templates for Tiled that might help you visualizing the lit and darker facets on a 3d-ish autotiled room, but I think you should try to get a nice "flatter" stone wall that also works diagonally first, then try a more 3d/complicated version later if you feel like it.

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #3 on: September 19, 2018, 08:02:02 pm
Thx for the reply!
I've come a bit further, this is my current progress:

I tried for a more dirt/earth wall instead of stone. With larger clusters made up of smaller lumps. I also came to the conclusion that the walls should be darker up top and lightest at the bottom but it's a bit sharp as it is now. Maybe I should transition on the small lumps instead of the larger clusters or maybe it's the colors. My idea is that the horizontal walls have a light bottom, medium middle and dark top while the diagonal walls have a medium bottom, dark middle and really dark top, hopefully it will look concave.
The protruding wall in the center is the one I'm working on, the other textured places are just the same tiles that will hopefully fit there. Still haven't done anything with the floor or the side-walls.
I really want to try my hand at a concave cave/mine wall. If you're willing to share your Tiled geometric templates I'd love to have them!

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #4 on: September 19, 2018, 08:49:20 pm
Alright, they are on 2:1 ratio, first I'll convert them to typical 1:1 like your walls.  However, I think you got the wall shape just right on your own in the last pass. If we consider only the shape it just needs some tiling tweaking. I also agree on the shading plan as you described, that is how I would do it.

Regarding the new texture, however, it is quite neat, if a bit pillow shaded, but it looks more like some sort of alien biological tissue/hive thing rather than rock, I am afraid. It would look cool on a sci-fi setting :P. I cannot give much help with that rock texturing,  sorry. Natural textures are a pain to me and I am currently studying them exactly to close that knowledge gap.

Edit: here you go, it is not much but I hope it helps, i was easier to make a new one to match your stuff. These are Tiled ready, just load it as image source and set the terrain tool using the blue tips above each tile as a guide, they should be self explanatory. Notice you have uncomplicated internal corners because your top is just black, you go with weavy diagonals you might have to sculpt the internal corner tiles to fill gaps. Remeber to set the tileset file to have 16x64 tiles, margin16, spacing 16, but use them on a 16x16 map, and set draw order to be right-to-left/top-to-down. I think you got it pretty right on your take:
« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 01:06:03 am by Vinik »

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #5 on: September 20, 2018, 02:42:11 pm
Thank you very much, that was very kind of you!
I did some more work on the bio-wall on my lunchbreak today and now it looks like this:

Keeping with the texture until I figure out something better  :)
Within the quality confines of my current texture, I'm not quite pleased with the dark tops or the diagonal very dark tops, the texture just sort of fizzles out. What do you think about introducing a new second-darkest color and use the darkest only for the tops of the cave walls? that would give me some room in my curve to continue the texture without fizzling out. Gonna give that a go next time I get to pixel!
Again thanks for the help!

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #6 on: September 25, 2018, 11:01:06 am
Here is my current progress:

Don't really know what to do with the floor or the left/right/down walls that you can't really see.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #7 on: September 25, 2018, 12:22:32 pm
The walls facing away: perhaps keep them solid/simply coloured, but give them a rocky silhouette instead of leaving them straight?

The rocks still feel like biological tissue, as Vinik said earlier. I think the reason for this is they're all the same size, and look rounded due to the way they're shaded. Try replacing some of the chunks of smaller "cells" with larger rocks, and try playing with juxtaposing solid areas of dark and light colours instead of always smoothly blending between them, to create the look of corners and planes.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #8 on: September 25, 2018, 03:28:01 pm
I think what make it distinctly bio-alien is that it glint like guts, and the folds/lumps are too cleverly distributed to avoid horizontal or vertical alignments, it is almost gaussian lol. That is not even easy to do, I often fail to achieve that non-alignment on textures, but it doesn't work too well for rocks, rocks are usually still pretty geometric, you should look hard at some nes era rock patterns. Or you use those above a and make a topdown Contra game  :D

Also, I just noticed you have handmade a lot of section individually on the room, with occasional copy paste instead of using strict repeated tiling, which is obviously good for variance, but you should consider the trade off between the amount of work and the end result, as that can suck a lot of your time (as you probably already noticed) and prevent you from doing other stuff you need.

A repeating pattern can look good enough if it is done in a organic way, specially if core tiles get just a few variants, and it is much quicker of you know each tiles you need, usually 15 tiles + empty is enough (blue cues in that template), some times even less.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 03:42:19 pm by Vinik »

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #9 on: September 25, 2018, 11:43:10 pm
I think what make it distinctly bio-alien is that it glint like guts, and the folds/lumps are too cleverly distributed to avoid horizontal or vertical alignments, it is almost gaussian lol.

honestly i'd just roll with this, the concept of Meat Mining is too interesting a setting idea to pass up.

Lean into it, see where it takes you.
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Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #10 on: September 26, 2018, 11:37:02 am
I fixed up the left/right/bottom walls with just some waviness for now.
Regarding the nr of tiles, I couldn't really figure out the concave look I was aiming for without doing specific diagonals that transitioned to horizontals or horizontals that transitioned to diagonals, maybe they can be merged in the future if I figure it out but for now they're staying.
Now to the texture. I'm not going to lean into the meat wall :D but tried my hand at more geometric rocks, and this is the result so far. Best viewed at the rightmost alcove where I have a 3 tiles wide wall.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out visually at least, the pillary-ness of the rocks wasn't what I was thinking about when I started, it just sort of happened. And it doesn't look as concave as the meat wall to me. Nor does it really look "dug-out" but maybe it won't matter in the greater scheme of things.
If anyone has any tips that would be great but otherwise I'll update again once I've done the rest of the wall.
Thanks for all the help so far!

Offline yrizoud

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #11 on: September 26, 2018, 01:56:05 pm
This is not related to the walls, but I was thinking the grounds would benefit from having large "random" patches of a darker/lighter color, rather than a uniform color/texture. This would continue the work of "breaking the grid", and give you more choices for room design : Even an actual rectangular room will look less geometric if patterns in the ground break the symmetry.
This is exactly the kind of color difference that I imagined, although in this case it specifically hints at a muddy ground.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #12 on: September 26, 2018, 11:48:37 pm
@startselect great move towards rock texture! I think the "right" way to make this kind of prismatic wall look concave in the middle would be to have the "tops" of the chunks be progressively shorter as you go up, considering that you are transitioning from a more horizontal slope (tops with larger areas, more horizontally flat surfaces) to a more vertical wall(less tops, more vertically aligned"faces"). You would still be getting from lighter to darker, not only because of the palette swap but also because you would be adjusting the balance between the amount or density of brighter clusters per area. I don't know if I was able to explain what I meant in a clear way ::)

@yrizoud dude, I know that tileset of yours by heart lol, I found it somewhere else (another version?) and, by chance, I have being studying it for a while, and comparing it with the way it was done in older games when low contrast between colors wasn't available. I am not wishing to hijack startselects thread, as he is focused on walls, but that is a topic that could definitely use a proper tutorial / its own discussion thread, mainly on how to texture floors legibly while keeping colors close enough that it remains flat, and how to balance plain color surfaces with sparse implied textures like cracks, spaces between planks etc.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 11:56:28 pm by Vinik »

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #13 on: September 27, 2018, 01:29:44 pm
@yrizoud yes the floor will definitely get an overhaul once I get somewhere good with the walls. I'm really impressed with how they can be the same colors as the walls without bleeding into each other which I always run into when I try that. I will def try that!

@Vinik I tried tilting the upper stone tops more and more and it seems to work, didn't get very far today though but I will continue on monday and update then! And go ahead and hijack all you wan't, I'm very interested in floors as well! :)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #14 on: October 01, 2018, 02:48:57 pm

This is as far as I've gotten yet. Tried flipping some diagonal wall tiles and I feel like it works ok, the lighting doesn't come from the left on them but it feels kind of like a ambient lighting is hitting the parts that stick out and the directional lighting wasn't a goal in and of it self anyway, just a side effect to get the geometrical shape of the rocks to show.
I think the bottom parts of the walls feel curved in a concave fashion but the tops don't feel like they're curving back out. Not really sure how to fix that.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #15 on: October 01, 2018, 07:33:53 pm
First of all, I like it, it is not a bad cave at all :)

That said, this is one of the traps of sticking to a predefined palette (I stumble on it a lot): while it makes everything cohesive, you have to make do with colors you have already chosen (and mostly with value distances you have already set) in new contexts where maybe you would need less contrast. The lower slope is shinning a bit too much for the general light level of the room, and if you were not working with a predefined palette, perhaps it would be best to tone down the two brightest colors. Maybe just switching down the colors within the same choices will work, but then I think you would need to darken the rest of the wall to keep the distinction, and I am not sure that would help. The light seems to be aligned with the camera and more to the top, which looks good actually.

Right now it is pretty much a full sloped wall, like a zelda cave, but with a less sloped bevel near the ground, which is quite nice as far as classic rpgs go. I think the reason why it is not concave has less to do with how you textured it, and more to the fact that it lacks the top bevel. It was easier to depict in the bio wall, but is harder in the more geometric-earth one because, at that perspective, the planes on the top bevel would very very squashed, look at how narrow they are on my textured template above. I don't have a suggestion for a solution from the top of my head, but i think you could very well stick to the current shape and only work on polishing it, mostly by making your tiles consistent, connected and reusable. Sometimes what we idealize on pure geometry doesn't reads that well or is just not worth it on execution, and if a simpler form works, it works :)
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 07:41:40 pm by Vinik »

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #16 on: October 02, 2018, 11:14:07 am
Thank you @Vinik!
Nothing preset about my palette, I'm absolutely going to change it, mostly to fix the brightness issue on the lowest parts.
I've done a texture pass on all the tiles now and I'm going to leave it for a bit to get some fresher eyes when I come back to it to find all the smaller issues.
Next up is fixing the floors. I will try to use colors from the walls as in @yrizoud's example. But I should probably try fixing the colors first.
In the game I'm hoping to have some palette swapped versions of this.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #17 on: October 02, 2018, 02:00:22 pm
I think even more variety in the rocks would help, especially on the diagonal-wall tiles.
The actual shapes of them though, those look great! Way more rocky than the original ones.

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #18 on: October 03, 2018, 11:04:30 am
Changes:
- some rock sizes in the diagonal tiles
- fixed some tiling issues.
- lowered the brightness and saturation of the brightest color.
- added a new floor with colors from the walls.

I started on another floor too to have 2 floors transitioning in some pattern across the floor but I'm still doing all the transition tiles. I'm going to try having that floor be just a single color, we'll see how that goes. I feel it often looks good when other people do single color floors and always terrible when I do it :D

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #19 on: October 03, 2018, 01:23:44 pm
This is much better! If you can, I'd recommend varying the rocks even more. Especially towards the top, they're all consistently small there.
I like the colour change, makes the rocks look less shiny.

The floor feels rather noisy. As with the rocks, more variation in the size of the "segments" would help. You may also want to make all the segments larger in general, since right now the scale on them doesn't match the scale of the rocks. The high contrast might also hurt legibility of things on the floor, so fainter colours for the texture might work better in a game.

Single-colour floors work well when the walls fit that style. I think the way you've done the walls calls for something a little more involved than a solid colour with occasional details like you had before. Perhaps some faint texture with spots of solid colour? Solid colour frequently broken up by textured tiles?

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #20 on: October 03, 2018, 08:16:53 pm
Exactly what eishiya said about texture breaking solid colors! But I would add that making non-noisy nice flat floors which occasionally break surface with details - and also do not look repeated - isn't trivial at all from my experience so far. It feels a bit like making a zen garden to me, it asks for a zen-like state of mind where planning and making tiling rules wont help deciding where to show details and where to hide them, and it has me staring blankly at tiles without really knowing where to start, I wonder if anyone shares that sentiment :(

However, the chunks on your floor are pretty despite being too pronounced. So I bet that if you greatly reduced the contrast like eishiya mentioned (it would add new color entries) and simplified some of the contours to avoid single pixels standing out, it would be very usable, even if you kept the current texture scale.

Offline yrizoud

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #21 on: October 04, 2018, 08:25:14 am
A lot of rooms will have long stretches of horizontal or vertical walls (2 to 6 tiles long), so at this point I would start drawing longer, multi-tile patterns that do tile with the 1x1 ones at their edges.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #22 on: October 04, 2018, 11:09:04 am
@eishiya Thank you! I also disliked the top rocks, not just their monotone sizing. I tried varying the sizes and also change to shapes to more of a edge highlight at the top of the diagonal tiles.
Also, I tried changing the floor texture to have larger stones in general. I tried the solid color second floor but it ofc looked terrible as always. So i tried having the same texture as the first floor but stepped up one notch on my color ramp. Didn't have time to do a nicer transition today but moving forward I will make it transition without cutting through single floor stones.
I'm still including it in this update because I feel there is something fundamentally terrible with it and I hope for input on it before moving on to not waste the work. I added a new color to lower the contrast and I feel it works at that but it looks pretty bland :(

@Vinik I wish my problem felt like a zen garden. I'm still at the pick up turds in a public dog park state of floor texturing :)

@yrizoud I do have plans for that, I'm actually hoping to use this both as a cave and a mine so I will make some different larger walls for that use as well as a set of props for each. But that's way in the future when the floor at least matches the quality of the walls.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #23 on: October 04, 2018, 04:41:34 pm

Here are some solid-colour ideas. The transition tiles are just colour swaps because I'm lazy, I recommend making unique tiles instead.

I stuck to two colours to avoid unnecessary detail and contrast. If you want to add more, be very careful to avoid over-detailing and too much contrast. Additional low-contrast colours may be necessary for detailing the lighter area, your existing palette doesn't have anything to support them.

Edit, a random suggestion: Consider making the bottoms of the rocks where they meet the floor not be so dark, but rather the same colour as the floor or lighter. Without that outline, they'll look like they're rising out of the floor rather than laying or hovering on top of it.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 07:58:45 pm by eishiya »

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #24 on: October 08, 2018, 11:09:42 am
@eishiya I removed the bottom outlines and the effect is so nice! Great advice!
I also grabbed your single color floor tiles which are just amazing! I changed the transition from light->dark but kept the dark->light transition. I also added a drop shadow to raise the light floor a pixel above the dark floor which I think turned out quite nice without adding any visual distraction. Next up I'm going to do 2 more versions of each transition and maybe a few more small detail variations.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #25 on: October 08, 2018, 12:23:27 pm
The drop shadow looks nice :D

I'd really prefer you made your own base tiles instead of using my own, so that you can apply what you like about mine in your own work and make sure you understand it. Plus, mine are a bit noisy since they were intended as just a proof of concept.

I like the new tiles you made, although there's one issue I see - you're using some vertical rock shapes, which makes the floor look like we're seeing it from directly above, rather than somewhat from the side. Keeping all the shapes horizontal helps create the illusion of perspective.

For making new tiles, consider making your rocks have sharper corners instead of having them round like mine, so that they look more like the tops of the rocks in the walls.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #26 on: October 09, 2018, 11:08:19 am
Alright, I re-did all the floor tiles trying to keep the horizontal and with sharp corners. Also made a second set for variation.
Then I did a few rock props to sprinkle with.

Next up I'll do some wider wall sections and doors/openings/whatever to enter/exit parts of the cave through.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #27 on: October 09, 2018, 12:46:39 pm
Looks a lot more cohesive :D
Looks like you stuck rather closely to mine as a blueprint, and even kept some tiles practically the same (the ones used on the far right), but the ones you changed look a lot better.

The props work well to break up the solid areas without overdoing it.
It looks like you've gotten the hang of doing blocky rocks, these are a massive improvement over your first tries in this thread. To push them even further, consider making the very large surfaces chipped/irregular by breaking up the straight colour edges in a few spots (not too much, to keep the overall blocky forms), e.g.:

Offline startselect

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #28 on: October 09, 2018, 02:05:24 pm
Oh maybe I changed the wrong tiles, I might have redone my own set again by mistake, or I didn't map the tiles and they never showed up in the part of my canvas I post to pixelation. I'll check and fix tomorrow!
Regarding the rocks, I did that on some rocks on the wall tiles but I must have forgotten when I did the prop rocks, thx for noticing!

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #29 on: October 09, 2018, 03:16:40 pm
Oh, so you did! I guess that's why I only thought of it now and not before - the walls already looked great :'D

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #30 on: October 10, 2018, 10:56:51 am
I took a look at the tiles and I think I changed them all, maybe they are still to similar?

Also made a slightly bigger cave and started on a door/opening

Not sure if it's reading bad because of using the same black as the background/top or if it's something else, but there is def more work to do with it.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #31 on: October 10, 2018, 02:39:02 pm
I don't get the "hey, isn't that my stuff?" feeling from it, so I think you're fine xP

Your variant tiles have very similar shapes to the "base" tiles, so they don't really look different. Try to vary them more by having the "intruding" colour take up much more or less space.

For the door, try having some larger rocks around it, or some lighter ones, so that it stands out?
Also, it looks very artificial because it's so square. Give it a rounder shape, and let the rocks break up the smooth silhouette.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #32 on: October 11, 2018, 11:09:51 am
I changed the second variant of all transition tiles to have much smaller "intrusion" into the other color, all the first ones already had pretty big intrusions so I didn't change them any.
Tried rounding out the door shape and lightening the stones around it, which I'm quite pleased with.
Also added a stair going up to try to show which opening leads down to the next "cave level" (natural caves def have stairs, mines too because minecarts love stairs :crazy:) and which leads up. This could really use some advice, sometimes when I look at it I read it as a stair going up instantly and sometimes it just reads as flat ground continuing further along floor.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #33 on: October 11, 2018, 12:39:53 pm
I see what you mean about the stairs leading up! I think the problem is due to several factors:
- the stairs get narrower as they go up, but we expect them to get wider because of perspective
- the vertical parts are larger than the horizontal parts, but with this perspective, it should probably be the reverse
- the edges of the steps aren't defined
While the middle "issue" can be fixed, the other two can't really be fixed without making a weaker image overall. Instead, I think you should consider alternative solutions, such as making the staircase wind instead of being just straight. That's a common method games with this projection use for staircases, probably precisely because it eliminates the ambiguity of front-on stairs by giving you the opportunity to show the sides of the steps.

Here's an edit to make the stairs curve:

I also had some fun and added some details to make the steps look a little more like they're part of the cave itself in the second edit :>

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #34 on: October 11, 2018, 11:19:04 pm


This scheme helped me a lot with my design, so i expanded the other corners and it would be nice if we work in a kind of template, it works very well with Ruled Tiles in Unity. Great job




Now the update made from me
Built some corners and walls, check if this works well




« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 04:34:14 am by MylHause »

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #35 on: October 15, 2018, 11:04:59 am
That's great advice @eishiya!
I gave it a try myself, and to not be too "inspired" by your edits I wound the the stair the other direction :)
Also tried to do a winding of the stairs leading down, which I think went ok.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #36 on: October 16, 2018, 11:14:55 am
Started working on minecart tracks:


Feels to bright and at the same time to unsaturated. Will try to tweak the colors when the set is complete.
Also feels kinda floaty, maybe a shadow next to the boards could help.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #37 on: October 16, 2018, 03:01:03 pm
The perspectives don't really feel like they match. The rails are seen from directly above, while the ground and walls appear to be seen from a 45 degree angle or lower, perhaps as low as 30 degrees. The horizontal rails would appear narrower than the vertical ones at these angles, and we would see the vertical sides of rails in additional to the tops. Even if you keep the widths uniform, we should still see the sides.

The sleepers (boards underneath the rails) are meant to distribute their weight so that they don't get pushed into the ground. This is relevant for a few reasons:
  • there should be sleepers all along the length of the track, including in the corners. At the very least, there should be some supports underneath those long stretches of rail. Ideally though, corners should not be so tight (what minecart could turn those?), and there may be ways to make gentler turns without too many tiles.
  • unless the track is freshly laid, the sleepers should be partly or almost entirely buried in the dirt. If any mining has gone on, they'd at least be covered in dust the colour of the local dirt, and not stand out so much. This fact could help you hide the difficult corner sleepers ;D
  • unless the sleepers were laid already broken, they're not likely to break in half in the middle of the track, as there's nothing there that would apply that kind of pressure. Consider converting that "snap" into a spot where the sleeper is buried instead - same efficacy for making the tracks look more interesting, but more natural, and fits with what I said above. A sleeper laid already broken also suggests that whoever built the track didn't care about it - sleepers do more than just distribute weight, they also keep the rails spaced evenly, and a broken sleeper can't do that.


Lastly, consider your worldbuilding. What you've made is a very "default" railway. It works and looks nice, but what does it say about the setting of this game? If your goal is to make something that almost any game can use, then this is great, since most players won't pay attention to something that's default. But, if your goal is to create a location for a specific game with a specific world, you should consider that world's history when designing this stuff. Some thoughts in case you're interested in the latter:
Metal rails are reliable and long-lasting but expensive, and require the technology to cast long, smooth rods of metal. Before that became available/affordable, many mines used wooden rails, with different kinds of wheels on them. Some of them weren't even rails, but flat wooden tracks that kept the cart on-track in some other way.

Even with metal rails, there are many possibilities, and the smooth shape common now wasn't always the norm. For example, some older metal rails were L-shaped and the carts had regular wheels, so it was the track that clamped onto the wheels rather than the other way around. You can read about older kinds of railways on Wikipedia.

In addition, some cultures had mining but not wheels (for example, the Incas), they likely had entirely different ways to transport materials out of the mine, such as using pack animals making frequent trips with smaller loads than a minecart.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #38 on: October 17, 2018, 11:04:37 am
Wow that's really eye-opening and inspiring! I started trying to make round timber rails as that looked amazing and seemed really appropriate.

Didn't get that far yet but I made 4 tiles of horizontal track. I'm having a hard time blending them to the ground though, they still feel pretty floaty.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #39 on: October 17, 2018, 02:13:17 pm
I think a big part of the problem is the outlines. Outlines look like shadows. If something's meant to be flush with the ground, it wouldn't be casting a visible shadow underneath itself. Removing the outlines around the sleepers helps a lot, it makes them look buried in the ground and almost flush with it. The rails can keep their outlines, since they're lying on top of the sleepers and are elevated slightly above the ground.

Here's a pair of edits.
The top edit removes the outlines from the sleepers, and makes the sleepers a little darker (fewer highlights), which makes them look a little dirtier and lower in the ground.
The bottom edit adds some piles of dirt around the rails (achieved simply by erasing parts of the rails, so the tiles can work on any terrain). Note the lack of outlines around these piles - the dirt is flush with the wood, so there's no separating shadow.


If you want to get very specific with the tiles, you could adjust the colour of the wood to be a little closer to the colour of the ground, to make it look like the dust has permeated or covered the wood.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #40 on: October 18, 2018, 11:12:40 am
Removing outlines worked great on the sleepers worked great! And the dustpiles too!
Made the turn 8 pixels wider too and re-aligned the tracks to be 2 tiles wide instead of 3.
This is as far as I've gotten with it.

The diagonal timbers look really terrible and I'm not sure how to fix it.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #41 on: October 18, 2018, 12:02:45 pm
In general, wouldn't it be better to make the horizontal tracks thinner than the vertical tracks ? It would convey the idea that the RPG perspective is at an angle, not top down.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #42 on: October 18, 2018, 12:34:54 pm
They are supposed to be round timbers which wouldn't change size in different perspectives, but I guess they look kinda flat.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #43 on: October 18, 2018, 02:12:54 pm
I was rather thinking of the spacing between tracks, and thus the length of sleepers.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #44 on: October 18, 2018, 02:50:27 pm
Ah, in that case I did do that, the horizontal tracks are 11px between and the vertical are 12px. Maybe it should be a pixel more though...

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #45 on: October 18, 2018, 07:04:47 pm
That's not much of a difference. In isometric perspective (which some non-iso RPGs use as well), it's a 1:2 ratio of height:width. In a typical RPG view with a slightly higher camera, it's usually 2:3 or 3:4. 1:2 makes for the easiest tiling, but may be too extreme depending on the style of other assets.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #46 on: October 22, 2018, 11:05:37 am
I tried it with 12:9px and I think it looks better, still might be weird when you start thinking about it because the terrain is 1:1 oblique projection but I think most players wouldn't think about it.

Did another turn, still think the diagonal boards look really really jagged but I'm not sure how to smooth it out.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #47 on: October 22, 2018, 01:26:49 pm
The diagonal boards have banding, that probably makes the jaggedness more apparent. Reduce the banding and they'll probably look better. 2:1 and 1:2 slope steps usually look fine without banding, but if you feel the contrast it too high even without banding, perhaps adding AA could help. Also, remember you can add some dips and "overlapping" dirt on them, hiding the jagginess.
To get rid of the banding with minimal work, you could make the sleepers (including the horizontal and vertical ones) mostly be that shadow colour, with smaller/fewer highlights. That would also help the sleepers look like they're in the ground rather than lying on top of it.

Your terrain isn't really 1:1, the rock shapes on the ground being wider than they are tall suggest a lower camera, something closer to 2:1. The fact that we can see so much of the vertical walls without them being squished vertically also suggests a lower camera. The character movement might be 1:1 (but that could be changed if you wanted to), but it's not likely to be noticeable as a problem.
You're right that most players won't think about it. Sword of Mana mixes 2:1 and 1:1 and even lower, almost side-view cameras and no one bats an eye xP
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 05:16:19 pm by eishiya »

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #48 on: October 23, 2018, 11:11:38 am
Changed the sleepers to be the second darkest brown in my wood curve and gave them small highlights. I think it looks much better and gave the whole thing a new sense of depth! Didn't do much for my jaggies though xP But piece by piece I'm slowly getting there I think!

Regarding the projection, I thought that if a 16x16px cube showed 16x16px top and 16x16px side that made the projection 1:1? That's what I have for a base at least but it's true that most of my props and such have a higher ratio, like the rocks and stuff. But maybe I understood it wrong all together. xP

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #49 on: October 23, 2018, 12:44:59 pm
The ratio as I describe it is the width:height of a square on a horizontal surface. So, 1:1 means a square on the floor will actually look square. 2:1 means it'll be squished to half its height.

Height is a whole different beast and there are multiple ways to calculate it, depending on the look you want.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #50 on: October 25, 2018, 11:11:57 am
I've made all track parts and some stops, next up are the mine carts!
As always, all C&C super appreciated!

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #51 on: October 25, 2018, 01:03:43 pm
The tracks are pretty readable! I think the parts where they cross look wrong because there's no indication of the rails cutting into each other or overlapping, they just look drawings slapped onto one another. Don't forget, the cart wheels have to be able to navigate these, and the way you've drawn them, the bottom rails are inaccessible to the wheels.

I like the idea of using a pile of wood as a terminal point. However, the shading on the locks looks a little strange, why are the logs getting darker towards the cuts where they remain straight and prominent, but not towards the wides, where they'd be curving away?

On a more worldbuilding-oriented note: Anything used to stop a minecart will get banged up. Unless the logs are brand new, the cart-facing ones would not be so perfect. In addition, because they'd get banged up, it's a little wasteful to use perfectly good logs for the job. Wood that's already messed up would be a more likely candidate, perhaps with waste rock. A pile of rubble from the building of the mine was likely the most common way to build a stop, and that could include both rock and metal.

Now that I think of it - a huge consumer of wood in mines were the supports that kept the ceiling from collapsing, maybe you should add some of those. Large natural caves don't usually need them, but they also usually have very solid walls, whereas yours appear to be made of fairly loose/fractured rock. Having a realistic amount of wooden supports would probably look ugly and get in the way of the player's movement, but having some supports along the walls and on some of the pillars and outcrops would look nice.
In addition, those supports required thicker beams of wood than the rails, and those would be perfect candidates for your wooden rail terminus.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #52 on: October 25, 2018, 02:37:53 pm
I thought about doing the rail piece to select direction where the tracks split but it felt like it would clutter it up to much and decrease the readability. But maybe I could add openings for the wheels so they at least have a place to roll going either way and leave the mechanism of selecting a direction to the players imagination :P

The darkening on the logs is supposed to be water damage from being in a damp mine. Sort of like this:

Darkening at the ends where the fibers are broken and water can enter easily. But having them banged up a bit where they meet the track is a great idea!

And I think a pile of rocks to stop a mine cart might lead to a very short lived mine cart, maybe wood to dampen the impact and rocks behind to add weight and rigidity to the logs?

Yes support beams are on my list of features to add, both as alternative wall sections and as crossbeams holding up the roof, just haven't gotten to them yet :)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #53 on: October 25, 2018, 06:46:17 pm
It doesn't read as water damage because of the saturated brown colours. Maybe something cooler/greyer would work? Also, when there's water damage, it doesn't abruptly stop at the cut. At least some of the surface of the cut would be damaged/darkened too since the wood rots beneath the surface too, perhaps all of it, depending on when and how the damage happened (i.e. whether the wood was already cut when it went into the wet environment).

The way piles of rocks worked was that the rails would go up onto the piles. The mine didn't collide with the pile, it just couldn't go up the steep incline. Gravity is what stopped it, not impact.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #54 on: October 26, 2018, 04:48:01 pm
Haha, that makes so more much sense! Crashing into anything is probably a terrible way to stop a mine cart :D
Got rid of the logs and replaced with a ramp up on a pile of rocks.
Also tried to fix one of the rail switches, tried to give them some volume going up against each other so that they would look like they where the same height. How the mechanism works is still a bit of a mystery xP

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #55 on: October 26, 2018, 06:19:02 pm
With those old rails wodden, the "mechanism" was "it goes whichever way we push it" xP I think the new rails work pretty well for this. The one issue I see is that in those areas, the different rails don't align, they're at differing angles, which means the distance between the rails changes, which means a cart couldn't use them. Perhaps replacing those two long segments with two shorter segments each would help.

I think a more substantial and perhaps less steep pile of rocks for the terminals would be better. These feel like they'd break/topple.

I think something we've both forgotten is these carts were not powered, and they were not fast. They were pushed or pulled by people or animals, and with those rails (and even metal rails!) they were usually not able to build up any substantial speed, they'd stop moving pretty much as soon as you let go of them. Your old pile of wood might've actually worked, just as a way to inform the people pushing that they'd reached the end, rather than as a brake. Those carts didn't need breaks, they were constantly braking just through friction. The use of wheels on rails just reduced the friction enough that they could reasonably be pushed.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #56 on: October 29, 2018, 12:06:21 pm
Hehe that makes even more sense, so obvious after you've said it too xP
I will go back to wooden pile terminal, but I think what you said about not using good timber makes sense so the new one is just a small pile of slips. Also made a new mockup more akin to what I imagine the "miney" parts of the mines will be like, straight corridors with tracks to try out some of the wall and roof supports. Although in the game they will connect to more "cavey" parts where they found a good concentration of ore and just dug out in all direction where they found ore. Might not make sense mine-safety wise but in a game I think it will be nice with alternating tight and open combat-scapes.
Got a little excited and skipped making minecarts to try out making a support beam :)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #57 on: October 29, 2018, 01:41:50 pm
I've mentioned this before: wood in mines gets dirty very quickly, on top of just rotting the way untreated wood usually does. This bright yellow coloured wood looks out of place in a mine xP

I appreciate the peg construction :> You don't often see that sort of detail in games.

I get what you're going for with the straight walls, but I think that makes the walls look dull and repetitive, especially with the lack of alternate tiles. Mine tunnels in the age of wooden rails (and even to this day sometimes!) were dug by hand or with small tools, they weren't bore-holes. They often curved, and even "straight" corridors could wind a little or have narrower and wider sections, depending on just how the people dug, plus the exact consistency of the earth there. This isn't solid bedrock, so some areas will be crumblier than others, affecting the tunnel shape.
Another factor is what's being mined? If they're gathering something plentiful (e.g. potash, coal, and other materials that tend to occur in sprawling layers), then straight corridors make sense because the stuff is all around them, they just have to worry about getting as much of it out as possible without causing a collapse. However, if they're mining for a precious material like silver or emeralds, they'd usually be following snaking veins of the material and avoiding wasting time digging tunnels into the surrounding rock. They'd only dig straight tunnels when they've lost the vein and need to find it again, and radiating straight tunnels are a good way to do that.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #58 on: October 29, 2018, 04:08:37 pm
I've thought about wood color for a while now, I was hoping to find a solution that allowed me to use the same tracks and other wooden parts in several differently colored mines. But the more I think about it the less it seems possible, so I'm starting to accept a wood coloring per mine coloring solution. But should I just find a midpoint between the avg. color of the mine and the different wood shades or is there some smarter way of thinking about this?

You're right that the mockup is a bit to straight, it was mostly to test out alternative wall sections for mines with supports along the walls, when I write the generator for this I'll make sure it isn't so straight and bland. All mines in my game are different metal ores, so wierdly winding paths following the vein would probably be the most true way, but it might not fit with my gameplay, only time (eons and eons of it) will tell :)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #59 on: October 29, 2018, 04:47:45 pm
You could make the wood greyer in general, so it looks more like old wood that's been there for longer than a few weeks. The bigger problem isn't that it lacks the redness of the rocks, but that it has the high saturation and yellowness of brand new wood. A greyer, slightly darker colour will avoid the overly fresh look, and should work in a variety of mines.
You could also make 1-2 alternate versions, e.g. a reddish version and a bluish version, which should be enough for most mines. In your generator, you could then choose the appropriate variant based on the rock tiles being used for a particular area.

Minor variations along the walls will do wonders for making a mine look more hand-dug, even if the corridors are straight on a macro level, so you can still have straight-corridor gameplay if you need it :> (That said, playing in straight corridors is usually pretty boring! Natural curves make for more memorable landmarks.)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #60 on: October 30, 2018, 12:07:50 pm
I gave the gray wood a shot!

Also did some more supports, both crossing the path to uphold the roof and along the walls holding loose rocks in.
Since there are 3 tile high walls covering all but a 2 tile wide strip of the walkable area, I thought about making all vertical spaces atleast 6 tiles tall to show more of the ground, but the walls can still cover the player so either way I'll need a solution for that. I'm thinking of adding a higher collision line for overhanging south walls.
Here the red lines show the normal walkable area, and the lowest red line would be replaced with the green line to always keep the player at least partially visible. What are your thought on that?

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #61 on: October 30, 2018, 01:05:02 pm
It's very common in games with this projection that south walls come with a higher collision area so that players can't get lost behind them. The goal is so that at least the player's head is visible.
An alternative is to have walls that become see-through when the player is behind them, but I'm personally not fond of that xP

If you make the walls less smooth, you could have more little (cosmetic-only) dips in the top of the wall which would allow you to block off less of the space behind the wall while still making it easy for the player to see their character, since they'd be visible in the dips most of the time.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #62 on: November 01, 2018, 12:22:16 pm
I've tried to do a minecart now. Really struggling with readability while still using just the 4 wood colors. I even experimented with introducing a 5th color in the ramp.

I tried 4 variations with different color usage and amount of outlines but I can't really seem to get it right. Maybe I just crammed to much detail in there?
I think I like the far left version the most but it does feel kinda bland next to other wooden items in the scene but the second left version is way to sharp.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #63 on: November 01, 2018, 01:10:52 pm
Is the minecart an interactive item, or just background decoration? If it's interactive, then I think outlines outside of it would be fine, as would extra colours for more contrast. If not, then I don't think it's a big problem if it blends in a bit, as long as it's readable as [mine cart].
I like the left one the most as well.
I'd have the interior fade into shadow instead of just having a solid dark bottom, I think that would help the interior read better. I'd also darken the hook/hitch-thing so that it doesn't blend into the rail behind it. You could also scrap it entirely if it's causing problems, or use a different hitching mechanism.
Edit with these changes:

I also stuck a solid dark brown shadow underneath the cart. It's a cheap trick but I think it helps it read better, and gives the cart volume.

(Nitpick: I'd stick the cart a pixel or two higher, as the wheels don't feel like they're on the rails currently. The wheels do hug the rails, but they don't envelop the entire rail xP)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #64 on: November 02, 2018, 04:52:02 am
it doesn't stand out enough for an interactive. perhaps make the minecarts metal to stick out more?
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #65 on: November 05, 2018, 12:02:58 pm
Yeah it's not an interactive object, it's just a static prop.
I really like the shadow underneath and the faded backside!
The wheel base is based on the image from the permanent way wiki. I thought it looked like it worked like this:

Rails in blue and wheel axle in red.
With the large guide wheels on the inside of the rails and the outer wheels connected to the inner wheels via a bevel where the rails run. But maybe that doesn't read that well. I tried moving it up 1 and 2 pixels but in my head it looks best with the original height but I'm probably biased of knowing what I tried to draw xP
Also made a version with a pile of mined rocks and a version going up/down.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #66 on: November 05, 2018, 01:05:47 pm
You are correct in understanding the wheel, but you seem to have forgotten how your camera works xP

We should see a bit of the rail since the wheel doesn't swallow up all of it.
(I've drawn a 45-degree camera here, but your camera might actually be lower than that, showing even more rail).

The vertical cart looks larger than the horizontal ones. Don't forget that horizontal space is foreshortened, just like on the rails. So, either the vertical cart should be shortened, or the horizontal ones need to be longer (wider).

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #67 on: November 06, 2018, 12:05:07 pm
Not understanding how my camera works is my bread and butter xP
Moved the left/right cart 2px higher on the track and tried fixing the foreshortening on the up/down cart. Also made the other wheels 1px thinner.

Then I started on the supported pillars.

Tried to do some rope on one of the pillars because it felt kinda miney :)

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #68 on: November 06, 2018, 12:46:31 pm
I think the raised cart looks better. The foreshortened cart looks a little better, but I'd consider making all the carts longer, since people tend to expect a rectangular shape rather than a square one.

The rope is a nice detail, but it feels very thin, I think it would look better being thicker and sticking out of the pillar a pixel.

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Re: [WIP] Need guidance with cave/mine tileset

Reply #69 on: November 07, 2018, 12:16:53 pm
due to my gridbased ai navigation I'd like to keep the left/right cart 32 pixels wide so I can't widen it much but I made the hitch-thing a pixel less wide to get 1px more for the cart at least. The up/down cart has more freedom and is really only restricted by foreshortening so I made it 2px taller.


I moved the wooden braces 1px closer to the stone pillar to fit another pixel of rope width. Also made a brace for the smaller stone pillar.