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October 10th, 2012 (8:56 AM).
Lead Dev of Pokémon Essentials
I agree that tilesets do seem to be a better method than map images. RMXP has rather severe limitations on what tiles can do (7 autotiles limit, 7 terrain tags limit, 3 tile layers plus events), all of which you can easily improve on, but I think the ability to "define once, map infinitely" is much better and more efficient than requiring 3 picture files per map.
If you're worried about huge tilesets, then you could be inspired by the GBA games, wherein each map has two different small tilesets defined for it to use. You don't need to limit it to just 2 tilesets per map, though; the user could import whichever tilesets/autotiles they want to use on that map. This would also make it much easier to add custom tilesets.
Having images for each map requires that the user create those images. This in turn requires that they place graphics so that they match up to a grid, which many claim to be incapable of (it's like creating a Town Map picture,
but hundreds of times over
). There would need to be a map creator program which uses tilesets to properly draw maps
(half of RMXP is such a program), and if you're creating maps like that, you might as well just use the raw data from that program rather than convert it to three pictures then into usable data.
Space is also an important factor (remember, people need to download these games). One map in Essentials has an RMXP map file which is 28kB in size, which includes the graphics data and all the events in it. A screenshot of that map is 77kB (and you'd need 2 full-size screenshots plus a movement picture in your system, plus events on top of that).
You don't need to be different for the sake of it. It's no coincidence that even the official games use the tileset approach. I severely doubt there would be any noticeable lag caused by drawing maps on the fly during the game - there is none in RMXP, and you claim your system will be better and faster. I don't think tilesets are even that difficult to work with, once you understand what is needed.
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