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Is it possible to avoid traditional tileset in 2d top down rpg? I tried.

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Brand new Demon Rift’ mock up

Hi Wizards & Sorceresses,

since the beginning of my art direction for Wizards of Unica, I wanted to avoid traditional tileset. I made several statements about this decision, choosing an unconventional approach to art assets. Well, in case you didn’t notice yet: I was wrong.


The game today: floor’s margins looks chopped off.

Actually, I have to congratulate with myself for the ambitious vision I had when I start to develop visuals for WoU, because the will to detach from tradition bring me to some good intuitions:

  1. Automatize great art assets creation, despite all the trashy fake pixel art that usually is produced in that way.
  2. The idea to make a top down rpg in pixel art involving processed photo textures as terrains and battlefield, instead that hand drawn.
  3. The hi-res low-fi paradox


Mast of Truce: a mock up showing automatization, textures and hi-res/low-fi paradox

All these ideas get confirmation in two years of development, but in this proud run I crashed against the unmovable sacred wall of tileset. Obviously I knew since the beginning that enemies sprites, and objects would have needed a spritesheet, but I wondered to find a way to free myself from the obligation to draw every single cell to represent dungeons, caves, pits, waters, lava pool, canyons, rocks, walls, floors and all this pile of assets which meant hours and hours of work.

In my mind textures and alpha channel could have solve the entire problem: a single big seamless texture could have been replicated as a terrain and alpha tiles could have made it transparent where another cell where needed to be displayed (a pit, a wall, water, etc).


Misty Marsh: water pools margins still looks chopped away. A tileset is needed.

More or less the game rely on this method at the moment, but it looks very rigid, especially on terrain’s margins, which looks cut out. Even worse for walls’ creation because of all the particular cases it creates.

The problem has a very simple solution, world wide adopted, since the beginning of video games and not yet abandoned: tileset. So I had to give up, and make room in my sprite-sheet for my new hand drawn cells.


New water pool margins are now well integrated with floor.

Despite my defeat, I’m glad I walk my own path, because it gave me a brand new prospective on tileset as an essential element, and a lesson on tradition’s value. That’s the best part of game dev: to produce great contents and in the same time learn a lot about limits and how to overcome them.

Thanks for your support and passion guys!

Daniele Lynx Lasalandra

tweet @TheBlindLynx

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