In game development, a map is a virtual representation of a game world or level that the player can navigate through. It typically consists of a grid or other layout that includes various objects, obstacles, enemies, power-ups, and other game elements. Maps can be 2D or 3D, and can range in size from a single screen to a vast open world.

map editor is a tool used to create, modify, and manage game maps. It allows game developers to design and customize the layout of game levels, including the placement of game objects, to create the overall design. 

Here is an example of a 2D map, used in a side scrolling platformer, from the demo cart "jelpi.p8".

Jelpi Map Editor

Jelpi Gameplay

Here is an advanced technique of taking a 2D map from the map editor and rendering it to make it look 3D in PICO-8. This is also from a demo cart named "cast.p8". This is not a built-in feature of PICO-8, but it is possible using code with a technique called "ray casting".

Cast Map Editor

Cast Gameplay

Overall, map editors are an important part of game development, as they allow developers to create and iterate on game maps quickly and efficiently, while also giving them the freedom to be creative and experiment with different designs.

Game maps can be created using the map editor, or pure code, or a mix of both.

Using a map editor can be a good option if you're just getting started with game development and want to focus on creating maps quickly and easily. With most games, you'll want to use the map editor, but also draw what appears as background using code. The map tends to be good for static objects, while it is easier to update and draw moving or animated objects on top of the map in code.

Using pure code to create a map can be more complex, but also offers more flexibility and control over the map generation process. You can write code that generates maps based on certain rules or algorithms. For example, you could write a script that generates a maze-like map by randomly placing walls and corridors, or a script that generates a terrain map by applying various noise algorithms to a heightmap. Some of the more complex games in PICO-8 don't use the map editor in a traditional way, and instead use the map's data storage space to fit more in their game.


15 Sep 2023