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Variety: the spice of the underdark...

Further Examination

After examining the diablo 3 tilegroups, I realized that many of them might not work with my layout as 4x4 tiles, but would have to function as 8x8. But I don't want groups that large. That's an entire map and the scale would be off.

So instead, I went about trying to add complexity to the dungeon without adding complexity to the creation methods. I started looking at SCL tilegroups and trying to spot repeated tiles, or tiles which I could force to be reused. What I found was that most 3x3 tilegroups have up to 4 corners that can be swapped, or that might look better if they did so. In addition, I can use these same corners on the 3x6 anx 6x6 groups.

Next, I started looking for reapeatable wall sections, but found pretty much just one 1x1 tile I could reuse. I suppose that's ok though, because SCL did it's best to not be plain and boring while at the same time having a very tiny tileset.

After this, I spent some time examining other tile groups I'd invented that should work well with SCL tilegroups, and found that I could move a lot of the parts to 1x2, 2x2, 3x3, 2x3, 4x4, or 4x5 tilegroups, with one or more randomized selections within the group. So I started designing 2- and 3-level tilegroups. I should be able to make use of my placeholder tileset for the 4 elevation dungeon, and I'll be able to make 3-level changes within tilegroups.

I then mapped out which parts of any given tile are reserved for eye candy real estate, which I then confined within single tile boundaries. This is different from the SCL tilegroups in that their groups, if converted directly to NWN tiles, do not conform to thirds of the group (a 3x3 group). Some do conform to half of a group though, so many of the 6x6 or 3x6 groups can be reduced in size. Each half can be a variety, instead of part of a single whole.

This gives me a very small set of tiles to flesh out, but in combination gives me a very large quantity of dungeons I can make with those tiles. It also lets me scale rooms larger or smaller based on corners I pick. Larger groups may confine my group length, but group width can be enlarged indefinitely, making group centers able to hold pits or other eye candy tiles.

Another benefit of having done the set this way is that I only need 2-3 terrain types. This should include solid rock (standing in for any impassible area), walkable area (of multiple elevations), and maybe pits, if I choose to have tilegroups which specifically allow either a pit, a floor, or something blocking.

In total, this won't feel like your normal dungeon tileset, but it won't be too alien either. The toolset should be able to handle it just fine, as with the mountain set I put out a few years ago (that only had a few tiles you had to work up to, but couldn't place directly).

Shape and Opacity

Earlier this week I talked about changing the basic shape of the cave walls so that they formed a plus-symbol as you walked down the corridor, with one cross going left and right, and the other going up and down. I had some difficulty getting my cave builder script to accept this change*, so I started thinking about other ways to do it. One of the things I came across was using the vertical cave walls I had originally planned (pictured in a previous post) and forcing a plus-shape to their mid-section, or at eye level of the character.

This got me thinking, why not separate the back wall of the horizontal cross, leaving the space open from tile to tile, from group to group, across the entire dungeon. This would allow the builder to fill the space, or not, with placeable eye candy, and would allow me to create more variety of fleshed out tiles. I could also specifically make the top portion removable as a roof break away, rather than forcing the player to remain within the visual confines of the cave walls.

If a builder doesn't want this, they can use placeables to block the view from group to group. Or they could just partially block it, leaving players a small look-ahead to places they haven't seen yet.

*Cave Builder Script

The builder script takes a mostly planar walkmesh section and converts it into walls and roof by drawing it upward in a script controlled complex extrude method, much different from those built into GMAX. The script relies on a function I build called push-in, which weights the amount of inward motion during extruding based on surrounding verts near the same Z-position, and which share an edge with the vert being pushed in. Using a negative number has undesirable results, so I need a specific push-out function, and will have to rethink the math.

Take it and Run

For now, I'm going to take this idea and run with it. I still plan to use much of the weekend to create the first release tiles so I can show my final intent. I'll try to post on Monday, as planned, showing at least a few tilegroups completed, both naked and fleshed out.

First Release: 
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quevy

Thanks for the hard work, I can not wait to put your eyes on this.

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merricksdad

Saturday Night: Basic SCL-like tiles are constructed, but naked. I've catalogued some info in hardcopy pictures in case I lose any work.

After finding repeating sections and other reusable bits, I've completed separating those parts into tile groups and shared single tiles. The set now requires two terrain types: solid and walkable; and also requires one crosser type, which acts as a connector between finished rooms, but could be used to make corridors (probably will be named corridor).

Without having put a lot of effort into custom ramp rooms, here is the list of current tile groups:

2x3 wall group with large gap for visual real estate. Wall is generally used for half of a curving coridor, but is also used for a back wall of a larger room.

1x3 wall group with two small real estate sites. Wall is generally used for half of a curving corridor.

3x3 corner room, with a large region of real estate. This completes a 90 degree turn much like a corridor, but is larger. The upper right corner is left blank in the tilegroup so that it autofills.

1x1 corridor joint, for use as a connector between a manually constructed room and a hallway

1x1 wall flat tile, for use in making manually constructed rooms larger, or for closing a hallway.

3x3 Z-shaped room with 4 entrances. Two entrances create a straight thru path. The other two enter at angles so that you cannot see ahead. Two corners of this tileset are left blank to autofill. The opposite two corners are large real estate sites.

3x3 ramped corner room with two entrances. The innermost section of this room is at +1 elevation. The opposite corner is left blank to autofill. Two ramps reach the elevated area.

2x2 corner horn, with two room entrances. Two adjacent entrances are separated by a region in the corner. A left and right version of this prefab exist.

3x2 trident-shaped room (top only). Bottom half omitted but can be constructed manually. Three room entrances at opposite sides. Fourth side open to manipulation. Two regions of real estate separate forks.

3x1 Specific room bottom shared with a hallway and a stairs-up room. One room entrance on the bottom. Two regions of real estate. Otherwise open floor.

1x3 Side Ramp, for use with manual hallways or open floor rooms. A right and left version of this prefab exist. Ramp takes players up to +1 elevation with an overlook into the main floor. No entrances. Single-tile connection to floor plan.

3x3 stairwell turning 270 degrees left to exit right. One height change. Real estate on overlook and along outer edge. Two room entrances.

3x3 dead end room with ample real estate. 2/9 of the group is floor space. One room entrance.

3x3 H-shaped room with center portion as a bridge. Real estate to flanks of bridge intended as pits, but could be filled with decor. Four room entrances. Two corners omitted for auto fill.

3x3 bridge room with a region intended for river crosser (without making a river crosser). Two entrances. River region used as visual real estate.

3x2 hall/exit tops (goes with bottom mentioned above). Two similar tiles, one with a stair up, one with a pass-thru entrance. Ample real estate. Otherwise open floor plan.

1x3 long hallway. Room entrances at ends. No real estate.

2x1 corner horns (right and left versions). Partially blocks a room entrance (included on group).

3x3 ramp room (stand alone). No room entrance. Door slot in corner. Two ramps lead down to -1 height elevation. real estate at balcony.

4x1 wall section (right and left verions). A long wall section with ample real estate, for use in making a room longer.

2x1 wall section (right and left versions). A shorter wall section with some real estate, for use in making a room longer.

2x1 wall section with central real estate. Low walk space. Use between two room entrances.

2x1 wall section with no real estate. Higher walk space. Use between two room entrances.

2x3 ramp for use in room with height transition. Right and left versions exist. Two room entrances at bottom of ramp. Height transition at 3 tiles. Ramp up center on diagonal. Visual real estate along ramp. Duplicate this ramp to create a mound room (up and down), or multiple height transitions upward.

2x3 coridor jog (right and left versions) Duplicate and rotate 180 to create gently curving corridor. Alternately use this as a wall section to enlarge a room. One room entrance, ample real estate.

1x1 generic room corner, shared by many groups. About 25% real estate.

 

 

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merricksdad

Well, I was up until 2am this morning trying to get this to look and feel right, but it doesn't, so I'm a little behind for concept release.

The textures look good, and the shapes look good. It's just the walk room and the ceiling don't feel right. I may bring the top down a bit, and widen the walls out. That might give me the feeling I was going for.

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Draygoth

Waiting patiently.

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Tauredor

and I'm waiting :)

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