Maps

Map Types

Map Types can be classified by Tile-Type and arrangement:

1. Orthogonal (Square/Recangle)

Orthogonal means “at right angles,” and therefore is made up of Squares and Rectangles. The simplest Tile Maps are Orthogonal.

Orthogonal Maps - Square, Rectangle, Plain

2. Axonometric Projection

Axonometric Tiles use projection along 3 axes to produce a 3D effect. The most common form used in 2D games is Dimetric, although this is usually referred to as Isometric. For our purposes, we will use the term “Diamond” to include both true Isometric and the related projection Dimetric.

A. Diamond (Isometric/Dimetric)

Diamond Maps do not lend themselves to display in a rectangular area, due to their foreshortened shape. For this reason, Diamond maps are sometimes displayed in a staggered arrangement. Because of their foreshortening, they do lend themselves to 2.5D, using tiles which “elevate” above the plane. 

Shown here are the matrix, staggered, and elevated varieties.

Dimetric Map - simple matrix Dimetric Map - Staggered Dimetric Map - Matrix Elevation Dimetric Map - Staggered Elevation

B. Trimetric

Trimetric Maps are foreshortened to different degrees on all three axes, as opposed to Dimetric Maps which have two equally foreshortened axes. Most of the same properties true of Diamond Maps (see above) are true of Trimetric Maps, although the math for placement is more complicated, and they are not as easily staggered. Because of their foreshortening, they do lend themselves to 2.5D, using objects that “elevate” above the plane.

Shown here are matrix, staggered, and elevated varieties.

Trimetric Map - Matrix Trimetric Map - Staggered Trimetric Map - Matrix, Elevated Trimetric Map - Staggered, Elevated

3. Oblique (Cabinet Projection)

Oblique Maps are always parallel to the horizontal axis, so they appear slanted to one side. They do not lend themselves to staggering, like Diamond Tiles (above). However, though they do work well using elevated tiles.

Shown here are matrix and elevated varieties.

Oblique Map - Matrix Oblique Map - Matrix, Elevated

4. Hexagonal

A. Pointed-Top Hexagons

Hexagons which are pointed on the tops and bottoms seem to be the most popular form in computer games. This is most likely due to two side-effects of this shape: 1) elevated objects do not obscure the tile directly above (as in Flat-Top Hexagons), and 2) the shape of the staggered arrangement tends to be wide, accommodating most computer screens.

Pointed-Top Hexagon maps may be displayed as a matrix of columns/rows like 4-sided tiles, but this results in a diamond-like configuration. They are therefore usually staggered. Another arrangement they lend themselves to is a Flat-Top Hexagon (rotated 30º from tile).

Shown are matrix, staggered, hexagon, and staggered with elevation.

Hexagon-Point Map - Matrix Hexagon-Point Map - Staggered Hexagon-Point Map - Hexagon Hexagon-Point Map - Staggered, Elevation

B. Flat-Top Hexagons

Hexagons which are flat on the top and bottom are another form of Hexagons that are rotated 30º from the Pointed-Top variety.

Flat-Top Hexagon maps can be displayed as a matrix of columns/rows like 4-sided tiles, but this results in a diamond-like shape. Therefore, Hexagons are often displayed in a staggered arrangement. Another arrangement they lend themselves to is a Pointed-Top Hexagon (rotated 30º from tile).

Shown is a matrix, staggered, hexagon, and staggered with elevation.

Hexagon-Flat Map - Matrix Hex-Flat Map - Staggered Hexagon-Flat Map - Hexagon-Point Hexagon-Flat Map - Staggered, Elevation

C. Trimetric Hexagons

There are other Hexagons which don’t fit in the first two categories because they employ another type of projection. I’ve termed these Trimetric Hexagons. Maps made with these tiles are more difficult to stagger in a rectangular area, but provide a more angular appearing surface to work with.

Hexagon-Tri Map - Staggered Hexagon-Tri Map - Staggered, Elevation

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