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Thread: City tile ideas

  1. #1
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    Default City tile ideas

    I've been mulling city tile ideas. I did 4 city map tiles for Wayfinder 4 - here's an example:

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    It's pretty, but has some problems. The issues I have with it are:

    • The directional light means I can't rotate the tile and still have it look good.
    • The square shape and roads around the side mean that a city map will be very gridded
    • The buildings are relatively large, so it suggests a literal depiction of a city and you'd need a LOT of these to make a reasonably sized city

    That led me to wonder if there was a way to get round these problems. I came up with a hex based sketch:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This has some upsides - and some downsides:
    • Non-directional lighting means it can be rotated
    • Hexagons mean that you get 6 tiles for the price of 1 with the rotations
    • A larger scale per hex means that you'd need fewer tiles for a city, and it doesn't look like it should be taken literally. It's more a sense of urban area than a house by house depiction
    • The larger area per hex makes it harder to show individual locations when you need a special area
    • Roads coming in on the middle of each side rather than following the sides means that the hexes automatically fit together, and helps to break up the repeating hex structure.

    A quick test with just one tile gave this:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm pretty pleased with that and I'm going to play with taking this further whenever I have time between other projects. Currently the plan is to create a couple of tiles for a few different types of district:
    • Rich - big houses, parks
    • Medium - large houses, terraced
    • Poor - high density small houses, no big streets
    • Warehouses

    Then I need to figure out how to include specific features into the map, such as a castle, rivers, docks, city walls, a market and so on. Some should be given markers that just indicate they exist (such as a specific inn). Others should e shown on the map (city walls, docks). I'll resurrect this whenever I come up with new sketches, and any feedback is always good but this won't move quickly as I'm stacked up right now!

    There's a bit more discussion of this on my blog here:

  2. #2
    Guild Master Facebook Connected jtougas's Avatar
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    What a great idea.
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  3. #3
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    The main things I was going to suggest are walls/gates/towers and some tiles that are less populated for something like a village or act as the suburbs outside the walls of a keep (edges of the city where things are more spread out as opposed to the tightly-packed downtown area). To that end you might want some of those town-house types where the houses are built adjoined.
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  4. #4
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    Good idea. I was wondering about how to do city edges. Thanks for that!

  5. #5
    Guild Journeyer Facebook Connected anstett's Avatar
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    Agreed on the less populated hexes for smaller towns and villages.

    Overall a great idea and very useful for us end users!

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  6. #6
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    looking good torstan, much more organic this way
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  7. #7
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Great idea Torstan... maybe you should consider doing sewer tiles as well?
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  8. #8


    I agree, this holds great promise.
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  9. #9
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
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    I've been playing with the idea of a making tiles using a colour "mask" and a heightfiled. After rotating them and pasting them you take the heightfiled layer, duplicate it twice and emboss one copy and run an edge detect on the other. It is a lot of work to make the heightfilelds, but once a "library" were built it would be fairly easy to assemble these (or generate random maps programatically using imagemagic)

    Sample tile colour mask:
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    Sample tile HF (note there is a road as well, it is just a small difference from the background, and maybe I shouldn't have done that.... Even terrain could possibly be added in):
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    Rotating these tiles gives me this "map" when embossed:
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    And the edge detect (inverted) for "outlines":
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    And the final result... emboss layer set to overlay and edge detect layer set to multiply:
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  10. #10


    I have been thinking about something similar ever since I saw this fellow's geomorphs (TiltingWindmills). He does a great job of giving the appearance of randomness despite having square tiles. Just creative use of streets and angles, I think.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by RecklessEnthusiasm; 03-24-2011 at 02:37 PM.

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