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Advice needed on tilesets...

I need some advice on which is the best way to handle building the dungeon.
Right now I'm using prefabs for my dungeon, they have a north south east and west section for each "room":

The basic tileset.

This has several advantages, and also several disadvantages. Firstly I can have curved rooms, I can have tunnels and other interesting shapes. The tilesets can look quite nice with a little work. On the other hand I can't easily get the navigation data before building the map and once the map has been built I can't make changes to the layout, like having active pit traps or believable secret doors. Although the rooms are interesting, they are quite repetitive, and it takes a lot of effort to make even a few different variations. Also rooms are constrained to one size.

A newer version of the tileset with a lot of variant parts for making more interesting rooms.

To create a tile set is a real headache too. Planning how to lay out the UVs, trying to cram as much detail in to one set as possible so there can be a lot of variations... it takes days to make a single tile set, and I need dozens. :(

One other approach I've thought about is making the maps completely tile based, just like a traditional roguelike.

A tile based floor.

In this case I'll be able to make the base tilesets very easily, and quickly. We can't have as many different room shapes, so different tile sets are going to be mostly differentiated by they color and textures. It's a bit old fashioned, which is sometimes something that I like, but not always.

A different texture.
There is more scope for creating more shapes and room types in the dungeon builder itself. I can have small rooms and big rooms. Size 1 corridors as well as larger sizes. I can make mazes and other interesting constructions, I can make catacombs and caves.

The downside is that the textures can be quite repetitive. A lot of texture real estate is taken up with very similar visual structures.

Other points for and against:
  • Prefabs can have interesting features such as alcoves or shelves built in to the wall.
  • Tiles can make interesting floor structures such as irregular pits and grilles.
  • Prefabs can have more interesting entrance and exit stairs.
  • Prefabs can mix and match tilesets within the same map.
  • Tiles can mix and match tilesets easily within the same room.
  • Tile based dungeons are less predictable.
  • Tile based dungeons can have dynamic features such as working pits or tunnel-able walls.
  • I know how to handle the tilebased graphics because I've already used them in another project.
  • Prefabs are already in the game and working well.
  • With a tile based game I can build the navigation array before placing any objects in the scene.
  • Prefabs require support pillars at the corner of each room.
  • Tile based graphics don't, they can have really large rooms without any visible support.
  • Theoretically I have code for different sized prefabs. Either 10x10 rooms as I have now or any other size, such as 6x6 or 20x20 or 100x100 which would allow large set pieces such as caverns or houses or castles or even boats or airships...

So what do you think?

Should I continue with the more modern prefab idea, or go back to basics with a traditional tile based dungeon?


  1. Testing! Testing! "Wow this game looks awesome!"

  2. Some people have complained that comments are impossible to post on the blog. Don't worry, I'm sorting it out now. Although, there may be a lot of spam comments... :)

  3. Embedded comments now working (possibly).

  4. Why not use both?
    Have a base map, lets assume that this is a xy tile system.
    You can then use auto generation to create the map. But, drop in prefabricated parts when needed as you will know their tile dimensions, they should just be able to be dropped in ?

    1. That is a pretty good idea.
      If I generate my map at the 1x1 scale, rather than at the 10x10 scale, I could treat the prefabs as 10x10 rooms and place them as needed. It's something that would need a lot of rewriting to get it working though.

      The result would probably be worth the effort, so it's something I will keep in mind for the first rewrite of the game, kind of an expansion, once I get the basic parts of the game working.

  5. I'd second the mix idea.
    I'd want area's such as "Large spiders nest" etc to be prefab and interesting the same with secret areas, but a corridor is a corridor and will be repetitive whatever you do.

    I'd go about making 20 or so prefab areas that get "added in" to the random room generation, This means you can have the ease of not having to design all the individual room layouts - but the code would add in a secret weapons cache or map puzzle. Boss areas or special areas should also be prefab

    1. I'm working on the idea now.
      To make things easier I'm going to make a simple painting program to place tiles to create a prefab area and then save in a dictionary. It might wait a little bit though because with a little more work I could also add in the ability to pre-place furniture items, specific treasures, specific monsters or NPCs and even traps, and puzzles.


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