Building A Town

Towns in a game are the perfect place to house a lot of NPCs and to add life to an otherwise monster-infested world.  In lots of RPGs, it is often the place your hero starts in.  You may have noticed that the rooftops of all the main houses are transparent.  This might be all well and good, but the problem is that Link will be visible when he walks behind the house.

This simply won't do.  So, we'll be placing colored tiles underneath the roofs in order to hide Link when he passes behind the house.  This will also prevent him from completely walking underneath it.  Open Solarus if it's not opened already.

Create a new map and assign my tileset to it.  make sure the tileset and data file are placed in your game's 'data\tilesets' directory.

First, let's build a basic house.  You can make it any shape you like. (quick tips: Use R on a highlighted tile to resize it.  If that does not work, either the tile cannot be resized, or Solarus is bugged and the tile will need to be resized manually.  If that happens, right-click on the tile and select "resize" if the option is available.  Use T to bring a tile to the front of all other tiles in the current layer.  Use B to put it behind all other tiles in the current layer.  Right-clicking on a tile that is attached to your mouse cursor will lay down a copy of that tile, while left-clicking will simply lay down the tile).

You can decorate the town once your houses are made, adding sidewalks and grass, flowers and maybe a few mailboxes and signs.

Now that our little town is ready, we'll need to color the rooftops.


Using the colored tiles (located above the tent roof), place the appropriate tiles on top of the houses.  You'll notice that when you do, not all of the colored tiles will appear properly.  That's okay.  We can adjust the order in which these tiles appear once you are happy with the way it looks.  Plus, as long as the tiles do not appear behind the houses, it will make changing the roof colors easier, should you change your mind.

While holding the Shift key, left-click on all the colored tiles.

Finally, and once you are satisfied with the color you want, right-click on any one of the colored tiles and select Bring to Back.

Alternatively, you can simply press B while the tiles are selected.

If, for some reason, one or more tiles do not move properly behind the house, right click on it, and check to see what layer it is currently on.  By default, the colored roof tiles are on Layer 0, and sometimes, Solarus will misplace tiles when laid.  Simply tell Solarus that you wish to return the faulty-layered tile to the correct layer. Then, make sure the newly moved tile(s) appear behind the house.  If they don't, press B or right-click and choose Bring to back

Keep in mind that in order for Link to appear behind a house when he collides with it, the tiles that make up the top of the house must be on Layer 1, or one layer above the rest of the house.

Congratulations!  Your houses now have some color.  In A Link to the Past, there were only two colors to choose from; red or blue.  In my tileset, you have 10 color options to choose from.



Now that your town is looking good, perhaps you may want to change the houses' walls, or perhaps cover them in snow.  Well, my tileset does not limit you to a single house type, like the default tileset did.  Now you can have, let's say black walls, or a much darker stain on the walls of your houses.  Let's start by changing the trim of the house.

  Something you should be aware of:  In order to recolor the house, essentially you will need to rebuild it--almost from scratch.  So, a good way to do that is to do it in chunks.  Don't simply remove the entire house and build it (unless you are going by a reference image or something).

Start by changing the color of the rooftop trimming.  Select all the tiles relating to the trim by holding Shift and left-clickingDO NOT click and drag.  Doing so will select everything within the square region, including the color tiles underneath the house!

  At this point, you have one of two options:  You may either choose to delete the selected tiles (Press the Delete key), or you can simply move them out of the way and keep them for reference temporarily until you are satisfied with the changes you have made.  However, if you wish to keep them around, you could always create an empty map (for storage) and place the now unnecessary tiles there for later.  The choice is yours.  In my example, I'll just move them away from the houses.

  Let's change the trim to black, shall we?  Navigate to the black town tiles in the tileset, and begin reconstructing your houses with the new trimming.  Don't forget to make sure the doors are in front of the trimming.  Select the trim over the door and press B to move it to the back.

You'll notice that the corners are still the original color.  That's because these corner tiles have to be left in place, as they are part of the trimming.  So, in order to fix that...we'll need a little workaround:

  Scroll a bit to the right in the tileset selector window, and select the two bottom corner tiles.  Place them directly on top of the trimming on the corners of the house and problem solved.  Since Solarus renders everything in game as a single image per layer, there will be no performance issues as the program will not be able to tell the house has many overlapping tiles to make it look prettier.  You can do the same thing with the doors as well, just make sure that you place them on the top (by pressing T) once they are placed.

If you want to do walls, then it's a simple matter of repeating the process you did with the rooftop trimming.  Select the wall tiles, move or delete them, and then replace them with a new color



One of the most iconic houses in A Link to the Past was the Witch's Hut, which was located just north of the Eastern Palace.  Christopho added this building to the default Link to the Past tileset in Solarus, too.  I separated it into parts to allow customization.  Let's take a look:

  Locate the trees in the tileset (They will be among the rock tiles, to the left of the beach tiles).  Select the entire tree above the stump, except for the top, and place it down.

  Next, locate the Witch's Hut tile pattern.  It will be in the town section of the tileset.  Select the entire pattern, but do not place it on the tree just yet.  We need one more tile first...

  We need this tile here.

"But ffomega, why didn't you just fill in the space inside the door in the treehouse?"

Originally, I did.  But I considered the possibility that someone might want to make the inside of the door appear different, such as adding a brighter colored tile inside to give the appearance that there was light coming from inside the hut.


Resize the tile to be 2 tiles high.  It should look like this.


Next, place the newly resized tile on top of the tree in the center, like this.


Move the treehouse pattern on top of the tree.  Make sure the bottom of the stairs is flush with, and in the center of the bottom of the tree.

The treehouse looks finished, but just like the other houses, this one needs a roof color otherwise Link will walk right through it.

  This will be done slightly differently.  We will need to make a wall out of the tile as well as make the edges passable.

Create a pattern exactly like this over the roof of the tree.  For a better idea on how to set this up, here is the same pattern, not on top of the roof:


Remember earlier that I said, by default, the roof color tiles were on Layer 1 by default? Well, before we finish off the treehouse, we need to create a wall so Link won't be able to walk under the house.  To do this, we will select the large rectangular tile in the center of the pattern, and then send it back to Layer 0 (right click on the tile and select Layer 0).  Then IMMEDIATELY press B to send the tile to the back.  This will place the overlapping tile behind the tree.


Once that's done, all that's left to do is select the outer tiles of the pattern, and send them to the back (Right-click > Send to back or B). 

At this point, the treehouse is complete, but you have the option to put a sign above the door.

Options include the wooden skull that originally appeared there in A Link to the Past, or a sign that blatently explains the type of building it is (a shop, an inn, a mask shop, etc).

Here are the available options (in just one color) to give you an idea of what they all look like.

Happy mapping!