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How do people making 2D games maintain a consistent scale for everything in their game?

Say I'm coding an RPG. A house needs to be proportionally bigger than a person; an item, smaller. Everything from enemies to locations to people.

Is there a technique to doing this -- like picking a single item like the player sprite and scaling everything relative to that?

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It's quite common to not follow real-world proportions in games. Sometimes items need to be bigger to be recognizable or a house could be smaller than it actually would be to avoid visibility problems etc. –  bummzack Jul 24 '11 at 10:37
    
@bummzack agreed. But if you're building a world to scale, no matter what your scale (dwarf scale? human scale? giant scale?), most things will need to be roughly the right size. –  ashes999 Jul 25 '11 at 13:07

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There's no real technique as such. The easiest way is to have a set pixel:real world units scale. If your character is 90 pixels tall, you'd have your ratio at about 45:1 in metres (assume your character is 1.8m, or 6 feet~).

Then you can build everything from this. Your house may be 10m wide, so it would need to be 450 pixels in width.

The main thing here is to build a single scale which is independent of what you started it from. It's easier to work with '10m in real objects is X pixels' than '10m in real objects is X times the player height'. What if you switch to a dwarf?

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I agree with The Communist Duck, but there are other issues. Generally in 2D RPG and strategy games, closed areas and areas that access thru doors are smaller than what it should be. You may need to do that as well to make your towns smaller and easier to navigate. Similarly and potion would be bigger than what it should be to allow user to see and pick it up. Citing The Communist Duck's answer, a potion of 10cm hight will be 5 pixels. So the scale cannot be consistent all the time.

Most of the time these does not apply to 3D RPGs.

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