I’m a big fan of Flixel. Sure, it has its idiosyncrasies. But for rapid game development, or certain styles of game (fast paced pixel pushers) it’s perfect. One of its powerful features is the native tile map support. To create a tile map you can either bang one together in Notepad (if you’re pretty insane) or use a mapping tool. Some of the more popular ones are Mappy and Tiled, but neither were created for Flixel, or even Flash, and their feature sets are sadly quite lacking.
Enter DAME. Created by Charles Goatley this neat AIR app allows you to build complex 2D tile maps quickly and easily. As it uses Flixel for its rendering engine you know that whatever it looks like in Dame, it’ll look the same in your game too. I’ve been using it for several weeks now, during which time the developer has actively listened to feedback on the Flixel forum, and fixed bugs and added powerful new features.
You can put down multiple map layers, each with custom scrollfactor values and varying block sizes. Onion skinning, resequencing and editing is easy. One of it’s most powerful features is the handy matrix tool. By defining a grid of tiles you can then “paint” intelligently using this grid, and it’ll map all of the sides together sensibly. This allows for very rapid level generation indeed. With the new 1.0.5 update you can even assign custom tile connections, meaning you can set interior tiles as well. Hard to explain, but super easy to use, and once you have experimented you’ll be in tile mapping heaven.
Sprite layers are another great feature. Sprites can be imported and all of their Flixel attributes set, as well as any custom properties you may need. Sprites can be positioned anywhere, not just on the tilemap grid of the current layer, and can be rotated, scaled, flipped and duplicated. They can also be set to follow paths, which you can drag out and draw easily using polygons and splines. So if you had a platform sprite that you wanted to make follow a certain movement pattern, just draw it as a path and then attach the platform to it.
Text can also be added to the map (again any place, size or orientation). And shapes – both circles and boxes – can act as “triggers”. So you are able to draw a shape over an area of your map and have it trigger an event when the player enters it for example.
There are several exporters included (a complex and a simple one), and you can easily just export the map data as CSV if you wish to use Dame in a non-Flixel game. In fact you can even use Lua to script your own export system!
Dame is still very new and as such has a few teething troubles. But I would still encourage you to check it out and participate. The developer is friendly, responsive and open to ideas – lots of which I’ve seen implemented extremely rapidly. All quality attributes in my book.
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