Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hooray for Open Source

Today I started investigating how I want to handle the mini-map. I still haven't completely settled on a design that I like. Some of the questions or factors that I need to think about are:

  1. The minimap needs to be smart enough to (at least mostly) build itself from my level data, without me having to go back and build a big minimap by hand.
  2. I want to minimize the effort involved -- I neither want to have to add a bunch of meta-data to my maps to give them hints about displaying themselves on the minimap, neither do I want to have to write a ton of code for the build process to make it build the minimap.
  3. How much detail do I want to show on the minimap? In Anguna, the dungeons were just wireframes of the rooms (which is closer to a Super Metroid-style map), but the overworld was actually just the image of the overworld map scaled down to any extremely tiny size.
Super Metroid's wireframe map. Robo-Ninja's world is about as big as the "Brinstar" section of Super Metroid.
(bonus points for those of you that can point to Brinstar on this map without looking it up)

I'm leaning toward doing scaled down images (in answer to #3), so I started looking into a simple scriptable way to dump an image file from my map, using the Tiled editor. Turns out, they have a command-line utility for dumping them. The only problem: it omits any map layer with the name "collision" (why they hardcoded that is beyond me), which is the name I use for the primary layer in my maps!

Luckily, it's open-source! It took about an hour to:
  • Find the place in their code where it omits "collision" (actually, I didn't realize that's why my collision layer wasn't getting exported until I searched through their code!)
  • Change the command-line utility to take an argument flag to tell it whether to omit that flag
  • Compile, test
  • Send a message and a pull request to the maintainer, in case they're interested in using the changes.
So now I can dump out my images of my maps in an easily scripted method. Hooray for open-source!

Now I just need to decide about #1 and #2 above. My map files theoretically can figure out how they're all connected to each other, based on the "exit" hotspots, that warp you from one map to another when you get to a certain edge. But the maps don't really know their absolute position in the overall world map (which was just poor design/planning on my part).  So I really need to decide between computing each map's position by tracing through all the connections between maps (from a known start point), vs going back and adding metadata to each map to tell it what its position is in the global map. I'll have to think on that some more, I guess.

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