Let's Make A RPG Maker XP Game Guide: Part 002: How To Make A Game Map

In this, the second article in the series, we go over building a game map that looks good. First things first, you'll recall in our first article, we talked about how you can rename the map and change the tileset by right clicking on the map in the menu. You can also change the size of the map there, which is useful if you want to create a larger world map for your players to explore.

A simple game map created in RPG Maker XP using the layer system.
A simple game map created in RPG Maker XP using the layer system.

How To Use The RPG Maker XP Layer System To Create A Game Map

There are three layers in RPG Maker, four if you count the event layer. The first three layers are used to build up the game world in a way that looks realistic, or at least visually appealing.

The first layer is the background layer. This is the only layer that comes already drawn in on the map when you open a new project. (New maps opened during the course of the project will not have the background drawn in.)

How To Edit The Background Layer

You can change what's on this layer simply by selecting a new texture and placing it either with the pencil tool, which allows you to place individual tiles, the rectangle and ellipse tools, which place a group of tiles in the shape of a rectangle or ellipse. How big the rectangle or ellipse is depends on how far you drag the mouse once you've placed the first block. For making mass changes, there's also the fill tool, in the form of a bucket. This will fill whichever layer you have selected with whatever tile you have selected. If you're working with a large map, you can use the zooming tools to zoom out and cover a much greater area more easily.

Tent on second layer, tree on third.
Tent on second layer, tree on third.
Tent and tree both on second layer.
Tent and tree both on second layer.

How To Edit The Second And Third Layers

The second and third layers don't have names per se, but they overlay one another. If you want to place two items on the map together, like say, the side of a cliff with a tree in front of it, you'll need to place the cliff texture on the second layer, and the tree on the third layer. It may help to think of the third layer as being the one closest to the 'camera' and the second layer as being further back in the distance.

Tilesets have a lot of negative space in them and because you always select a square area, things can start to look very awkward and 'wrong' if you don't use the layer system. You'll get clipping of existing objects when you place new ones over them on the same layer. With RPG Maker XP you're limited to laying just two objects over one another, (three, if you're counting the background layer) so be careful when designing your map to do so in such a way that the overlapping not only looks natural, but can be performed in three layers.

For example, grass, tree, crate is possible, but grass, tree, crate and cart is not.

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