Nick Joebgen

Using Tools: 2D Tilezone for Unity

Posted by admin on August 19, 2015

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So for those of you that don't know, I've been posting on my social media pages about the latest project I'm working on. I know some people take the summer after they graduate to explore and just relax, but I'd go nuts if I tried to just relax. So, anyways, this project is the continuation of Space Scavengers, the 2015 Global Game Jam game I helped make. We've made a lot of major enhancements to the project design, but are keeping the 2D aspect of the game, using the Unity 5 Game Engine. In terms of building levels for the game, the first idea was that I'd construct levels on grid paper and send them to the artist, who would then construct the rooms and hallways needed, and then import a folder of assets into Unity so I could assemble the level. However, we ran into a very big problem with this. Everything was just moving way too slowly, from creating the art to building the levels in Unity. For me, the main issue was getting the rooms to line up and getting the colliders to line up. Quite frankly, it was a pain in the butt and slowing everything down for me. So, after a pow-wow with the artist, we determined that the best course of action would be to find a tileset editor and have him build tilesets for me. So, we found 2DTilezone on Unity, for a fairly cheap price of $25. We did our homework on different tileset editors and this looked to be the best one. I've been working with it for almost a week now and so far, I'm very impressed with what it can do! 

The Basics

So 2DTilezone integrates into Unity just like any other tool would, complete with it's own window with additional tools that aren't found in Unity. 

Tileset1.PNG

This is just an image of the window itself. It doesn't take the place of anything in the editor and can run alongside the scene window, which is necessary to be able to quickly build out a level (we'll get into that in a minute). What you're looking at here is a grid view of a tileset that was made, loaded into Unity as a sprite, converted into a material, and then added as the material. Personally, I recommend using a standard/cutout material, if you want to use lighting in your game. Otherwise, use the unlit/cutout shader. From here, I have a bunch of different options at my disposal. I can select which tile(s) I want to use, by clicking and dragging on the tiles displayed. Anything highlighted in red is selected and will be used when working in the scene. On the right, you may notice a whole bunch of buttons to click on. These are different brushes that can be used in the scene, with the primary one being the paint button (it looks like a paintbrush). It let's you draw tiles onto a grid that is displayed within Unity. There are other brushes, such as a box brush for covering big areas, a tile flipper (mirrors the image), a tile rotation tool, and even a brush for designating where colliders are supposed to be (which is super cool and makes my time a whole lot easier). It makes life a lot easier when working with the layer in Unity. 

Layers

If you look back at the image of the window, you'll notice a button on the right side that says "Create Layer". A layer is how the tool tells Unity that a grid segment gameobject is going to be created in the scene that can be edited with tiles. Clicking on this useful button pops open a window that looks like this. 

Tileset3.PNG

Within this window, you can generate the width and height of the grid, in grid units. Don't worry, if you end up making a grid that is too small, you can always expand it in the editor. The only limitation is that a layer's max size is 64x64 units, which means that you'll (probably) be using multiple layers in your scene. You get a chance to name the layer, which is what the gameobject will be called when it's generated. I haven't really tested out the Create Random Dungeon feature yet (if you have or do so, let me know how it goes). Once you click on "Create Layer", a new gameobject appears in Unity that has a grid on it. It looks something like this. 

Tileset2.PNG

Bam! Fully generated level, ready to go! Not really, it's not this simple, but this image shows a room I was working on. I use the layer system to make rooms and hallways, each one living as its own layer. You can kind of see that in the higherarchy. Anyways this is what I was talking about earlier, using the tool window side by side with the scene window. What you can see in this image is the layer in action, complete with a new grid that you can paint tiles onto. Seriously, why doesn't this just exist in Unity?? I know they have a grid, but this tileset is next level stuff. Anyways, I can draw and paint tiles into this layer system, switching out what I want to use and rotate stuff as I need to. In this image, you can even see the colliders at work. Bam, that's an overview of how this really handy tool works.

What really catches my eye!

It gives me control over the creation of my own levels

This tool really is amazing in a bunch of ways, giving me more control over my designs instead of having to hope that the artist gets the sprite right on the first try, and having to wait for requested changes. Sure, I have to request changes to the tileset, but I get to keep working in the meantime. I can make quick changes to the size of the spaces in the level, without having to stall out waiting for the next change. It also frees up my artist to work on other things, instead of having to construct the same assets over and over for each room. I can spend time doing that while he is doing other things. 

Layering. Seriously, so good.

These layers are really a thing of beauty. I initially was unhappy and discouraged when I saw that I could only have a 64x64 grid, but that quickly faded as I realized that this was a safeguard against stupid mistakes, which I had just been about to make. If I made one layer, as being as I needed it to be, everything living as one big entity, I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I had the edit a hallway and then lower everything. Yes, that would mean redrawing a lot of images. Instead, by making new layers for each section, I can drag the layers around to re-align with proper areas as need be. Seriously, saves me a bunch of time and let's me make quick edits to areas without having to redo a bunch of the level. 

Those brushes (especially the colliders)

Having different brushes to play around with is really a benefit to me. Naturally, I love the painting feature and painting on tiles as I need to. It reminds me a lot of GameMaker. Now, for those of you that know me, I rant about GameMaker being terrible (AND IT IS IN MY OPINION), but the one thing I love about it is the tileset editor, and this tools makes me feel like the good part of GameMaker was fused into Unity. I also love the other tools, being able to rotate objects as I need to, and even having a fill feature. Fun Fact, if you hold shift while using the box brush, you can select a set of tiles already in the layer and then paint them into a different area. Essentially, copy and past. I also love the fact that colliders are automatically generated. Check out this image of how it's done. 

Tileset4.PNG

Anything in blue is designated as a collider. I have the option of selecting the whole box, half of it, or a fourth of it. So this makes things like diagonals easy to do! And the collider can be changed just by clicking on the tile, or clicking and dragging over a bunch of tiles (think of an imaginary box being drawn). Seriously, this is nice. 

What's not so hot

Not everything is perfect. I'll wait for people to come out of shock. There are a couple of things that leave me wanting more, but seriously, it's not much. 

Selecting a material

Here is probably the biggest issue I have with the tool, is that before I make a new layer, I have to drag in the new material I want to use, into the material slot. Once I click on the button to generate a new layer, it's only going to draw whatever material was assigned to it when generated. Even if I change the material, the tool won't register the change. So be wary, make sure the right material is in place before you generate the new layer.

Layers overlapping

Imagine for me that you have two layers overlapping each other in the editor. Crazy, I know? The image I posted earlier, showing a layer I created, actually had two layers to it. One for the walls, and one for the background. Here's the problem, the tool doesn't have a way to designate which layer takes priority, so if a painted grid space overlaps with another painted grid space, the most recent paint job wins and is displayed, which means that my artist is now going to need to create more diagonals so that everything is flush. Yeah, it's a bit of an annoyance and I'm a bit shocked that a powerful tool like this doesn't have a fix for it. 

Final thoughts

If you're making a 2D game in Unity 5, I seriously recommend using this. You'll be saving yourself a bunch of trouble and it's very user friendly. I picked it up in about ten minutes and was off to the races building levels. At $25, it's totally worth it and you should see an increase in production. I'm going to be showing it to the other designer on the team, tomorrow, and I can't wait to see how quickly she picks it up. Honestly, these are things I would have thought to be included in the Unity Engine itself, for 2D projects, but it wasn't and 2DTilezone comes in to save the day. Of course, there are some bugs, but this is a fairly new tool and I'll bet fixes for them are coming in soon. Totally worth it!

Tool Rating: 8/10

 

Comments

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Drink one cup of caffeinated coffee a few hours before you go to sleep. It may seem silly to drink a caffeine drink at night, but this can actually help keep your throat open while you sleep. You may have to play around with what time you drink the coffee to avoid restlessness.

If simple changes in your lifestyle, such as regular sleep hours and losing weight, have not eliminated your sleep apnea episodes, it is time to consult with a sleep specialist. The specific causes of your sleep apnea can be evaluated, and an individual treatment plan can be designed for you.

By reading through the great sleep apnea tips found in this article, you are ready to face your problem head on. While you may not be able to rid yourself of the problem completely, you will feel more confident and start working towards that all-important goal, a good night's sleep.

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