(Read Part 2 here.)
What’s in a Stage
So far we’ve talked about how stages are linked together and how to get from one to another. However, we still don’t know what the actual stages look like internally; let’s think about it now.
At first glance, it feels as if each stage is just a tile map with objects in it. These include collectible objects (gems, coins, inventory items, etc.), traps, triggers (including exits), NPCs, etc. each placed at a specific location of the map grid. But we can do better than this.
In some 2D platformers, action within a stage isn’t just continuous scrolling along a large map: sometimes the player goes through a “door” that leads to a different “room”, typically immediately. Sort of like linking between stages, but within the same stage, and perhaps you can traverse the door back in the direction you came from (but not always: think trapdoors). The goal is to make the stage experience richer by providing different sub-environments, perhaps each with its own mood: a unique visual style, or eve a different BGM altogether.
So, a stage is (again), a (possibly directed) network of tile maps. This generalizes the notion of a gate into a trigger that leads to a specific location on another map, possibly in a different stage.
Coming next: Part 4.