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Unity 2017.2 brought the Tilemap tool and with it, a major workflow change to many 2D developers. And they report that it makes an incredible difference. Without Tilemap, it can feel like you’re a 3rd-grader carefully filling in a coloring book between the lines of each tile. With it, you can spray-paint your layout and let Tilemap worry about things like corners or even collisions.

Russ Scammell, Unity’s technical product manager for 2D, explains why we developed Tilemap and what you can do with it in this Unite Austin interview:

From game-jam to Unity Showcase

When we originally introduced experimental versions of Tilemap in betas, creators immediately took to it. For example, the tool played a major role in the creation of the 2D shape-shifting platformer, Phased, which was showcased at Unite Europe 2017.

The creators were Tim van het Kaar and Joshua Boren, who worked on it in their spare time. Tim is a student and Joshua holds down a full-time job, so they worked on Phased at night and on weekends, and every other free moment they had. During development, they decided to try the preview version of Tilemap and found that it saved them 10-20 hours of development time per week.

“We soon realized that we could extend it with brushes and features that matched our own workflow, and it was making it very easy to prototype and iterate on new levels,” van het Kaar says. “That meant we could just try out a feature in a separate scene and then once everything worked, put it in the main level, and we didn’t have to break things before they were ready.”

Get the whole low-down of how they developed Phased from our developer story.

Learn 2D World building with Tilemap

Interested in learning new features like Tilemap? Remember that we hold regular live seminars on our Live Training site! All past sessions are always available in the archive. In this one, Matt Schell shows you how you can paint levels using the tile and brush tools which allow you to define rules for how tiles behave when placed, creating platforms with dynamic edges, animated tiles, random tiles, and more.

For step by step advice on how to use Tilemap to create 2D levels starting with a sprite, check out this post by Andy Touch!

12 replies on “The 2D tool that’s changing how levels are built”

Thanks, Richard. I’m used to seeing “Fixed in (version)” rather than “Fixed in future release.” I guess they want to keep us guessing. ;-)

Tried the tileMap tool, it is quite good and customisable tile and brush are amazing;

However, some map editing operation isn’t as good as the famous Tile Editor “Tiled”, for example, no “Ctrl+C/X/V” to do copy and paste. Hard to switch between tileLayer; Hard to toggle the visibility of different layers (no hot key).

Hope Unity 2D team could improve them in the future.

Bring smart sprite into unity, its 2018 already and we cant do spline based 2D geometry without buying ferr2d? Pathetic!

And what? The free engine is not a surprise these days. Godot is free and opensource, UE4 is free and opensource.

Unity is free, indeed, but in comparison to other engines it sucks — most of the useful tools that are in UE4 (for example) aren’t in Unity. And there is no excuse we should pay for plugins and other stuff to have basic and simple features.

Ok, we can buy some plugins, but with the new update they will be broken, so we will be forced to stay on older versions just because “we simply can buy missing part in the asset store”. No, thanks.

Stop bullshitting people with “Unity is already free, you ask too much”. Because Unity is free doesn’t mean it can forget about the core engine parts and give us asset store to expand the engine with basic features.

And the article is such a bullshit with a loud title “The 2D tool that’s changing how levels are built”. Come on, Unity, TileMap is 14 years old now, it’s not a revolution, you’ve just cathed up an old technology and that’s a shame you are trying to post such marketing posts. Unity now is not a pioneer, Unity is trying to catch up technologies and tools years behind current gen.

Interpol, please post a link to your portfolio of completed and launched games. You are clearly such an expert; I’d love to see your work.

Specially looking forward to it’s so called 2D features Unreal has that Unity not, because AFAIK Unreal engine 2D is not comfortable at all and has not smart sprite, that btw, it’s on the works.

The fact that’s he’s blaming the entire engine as pathetic people it’s so toxic, specially for the new features that makes development more comfortable and if you don’t like it you can make your own/look for another third party one.

or perhaps go and switch to unreal, waiting for your portfolio.

How about you try to learn C++ and C# .NET and make a better one. And also try to make a 2D or 3D game without unity, and see how much longer it takes.

I guess you have a few options. Buy ferr2D or implement your own. Unity is a great game engine given out for free. As a programmer who has worked with c++ and opengl I am greatful to be able to use Unity rather than having to spend a very long time trying to implement a cross platform graphics engine.

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