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Note: In this tutorial, these rules and ideas are just my humble suggestions, and how you make your maps is up to you. These are only guidelines and if you make your maps differently, then that's fine - I'm not trying to tell you what to do! If you want some tips, read on, otherwise, you can skip ahead to some other tutorials using the menu on your left.

So then - let's get going!

In this tutorial you will learn...

• Some rules for making effective maps
• How to shape a map with boundaries
• How to place objects effectively
• How to avoid mistakes

Now you know how to place objects and use layers effectively, you need to know how to make a good, interesting and original map. There are quite a few things that we are going to cover in this tutorial. Here are some tips of what to do to make a great map, some of which I will explain further later:
    - Square maps are boring. Even though RPG Maker XP can only make square templates, it doesn't stop you putting boundaries in that make the map a different shape.
    - (I think that this is one of the most important rules) Making your maps huge will create lots of unecessary space that is hard to fill. Only when you're struggling to fit everything you want to into your map is when you have the right size.
    - Symmetry is not good. It may look neat, but how many times do you see a perfectly symmetrical wood or field? Not often. Remember that nature is crazy and has no regard for neatness or order!
    - Boundaries. It's amazing how many maps just end, without anything to stop you. Again, it never happens in the real world, so it shouldn't really happen in RPGs. Use trees or raised terrain to make a decent boundary.
    - Linear maps are also boring and unimaginitive. Paths in lines are not good - but occassionally it can look alright in big towns and / or cities. I'll go into making towns and cities a little later on in the tutorial.
    - Plain maps with only a few trees, a river and a couple of flowers are barren and boring. Try to add lots of flora and fauna to make the map interesting. I'll go into this more later, as well.

Now we've got an idea of what and what not to do, some things need a little further explanation.

:: Shaping Your Map With Boundaries ::

Now, you've heard me say that square maps are boring - but how exactly do you shape a different shape map out of a rectangle? It's easier than you think! I'll use a small map as an example. It's called Blackwood Lake, and I'm going to set about setting the boundaries so that the map becomes more interesting. Take a look at this...

Yes, I know it's still a rectangle at the moment! Here you can see that I've marked out the starting boundaries, and where you can enter and exit the map (by the way, if you want to see a tutorial on making events that trasport you from on map to another, see the tutorials on Events on the menu to your left). Now I'm going to make it more interesting by modifying the shape using the boundaries. Do this by closing in the sides. Becase my boundary autotile has white around it, I'm using layer 2 for the boundaries. See below for ideas...

You can see that the map has changed shape and become more interesting. Much better than the first picture! And also, it stops the problem of having blank boudaries that don't look right. Two problems solved in one!

:: Using Objects Effectively ::

As I said above, plain maps with just a tree and a bit of water won't do. However, maps with too many objects, especially if they're all the same, look rushed and messy. There is a balance, and here's how to achieve it.

Let's go back to Lilika Lake - and I'm actually going to put the lake in. Again, don't get the square symdrome. Work from layer 1 upwards to avoid confusion. First, I'm going to put the water in, and then the trees, and then the finishing touches. See how it works below...

That looks much better than a plain map with only a few decorations. Also - getting your map the right size is important. Take a look at these two pictures...

On this map, I've used the whole of the space, and tried to fill it up. As a result, it looks barren, sparse and messy. Now, take a look and see what happens when you don't space everything out...

That looks much better, doens't it? I used exactly the same ammount of decoration and mainly the same layout - but you can see the difference. It's always better to find you're having trouble fitting things in, rather than having trouble trying to fill space up.

Just before we move on, I'd like to say just a couple more things: bunching objects together can be good, and boundaries made with cliffs and mountains look quite effective too. Here's a picture of somewhere I created called Lilika Path...

You can see that I have bunched things together (the green plants) and I have used mountains to create a boundary. Also - autotiles are great: use them! I used four autotiles in this map - the water, the waterfall, the shadow under the trees, and the path. The cliff borders are a technique often used in maps, and it's probably useful to know how to do it. Firstly, select the corner that you need. In the example that I'm going to show you, I'll need the bottom right-hand corner. Now place the corner randomly on the map, going right and up. Look at the picture below to see how I did it...

Note: When doing mountains like this, it's best to put as much as you can of them on layer 1, because then you can use layers 2 and 3 for trees and other things - and because it works. The only mountain tiles that you can't put on layer 1 are the top three tiles.

Then, fill in the gaps with the other tiles. Use the inside corners to complete the row.

And finally, fill in the bottom half of the cliffs using the tiles supplied. As you can see, this creates an effective and attractive border - and it's a technique I use in almost all my maps - so it's good to get the hang of it!

There! A complete cliff border! In the next tutorial (last tutorial on maps) we'll be looking at towns, cities and interiors.

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