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So I'm making this simple platformer where the Hero is 16x16 in size, but also, the tile size is 16x16. Which sounds fine right? But my game window/world is 800x416, which makes the Hero is really really tiny in comparison. This really surprised me, but given Ive never made a platformer before it is also a new discovery.

Is there a rule set for scale in platformer games?

I'd like to have my game window remain the size it is (800x416), cause the game involves large levels. But how big should my hero be?

I hope I was clear with the question, and I appreciate any insight.

Thanks

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There's really no rule, though many platformers have characters that are 2x the size of the tiles. –  thedaian Nov 10 '11 at 14:44
    
I second the 2x rule. A character who's 16x32 will still be able to platform happily on a 16x16 tilegrid, and will be more than twice as large thanks to the fact that people aren't square. –  Gregory Avery-Weir Nov 10 '11 at 15:17
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I'd think the ratio of hero to screen size is more important than hero to tile size. –  Jimmy Nov 10 '11 at 15:49
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@Jimmy, what do you think would be a suitable ratio between screen size and hero size? –  Kid Nov 10 '11 at 16:39
    
@Jimmy, you may want to make that an answer so you get the points you deserve for it. –  Nick Wiggill Nov 10 '11 at 19:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's mostly a subjective question, and it depends a lot on your intended game aesthetic and mechanics.

The important ratio is feature size to screen size, not feature size to tile size. Some numbers are given here : http://kotiro.petermichaud.com/visual/resolution/. As you might notice, the original Mario Bro featured a really small mario, not only in terms of pixel resolution, but also in terms of screen real-estate (1/20 of the height). You barely knew what your character was supposed to be, and it's hard to build attachment to something that small. Later games in the series (whether it was Mario 3 or Mario World or Paper Mario) had a character roughly 1/8 the height of the screen, regardless of the resolution.

I'd also argue that the speed of your game somewhat influences the size. For example, Super Meat Boy features a fast-moving blob in a unforgiving environment. The view is zoomed out further and the features and characters smaller, but with how fast Meat Boy moves, it would be claustrophobic and deadly obstacles would severely test player reflexes. There's still a lot of times when the camera zooms in, so that you can identify with the character better. For contrast, Castlevania features a slow-moving protagonist and the game centers around interaction between you and nearby enemies, so the larger feature size works well.

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Great response! The thing is, my game moves almost as fast as super meat boy (20 tile jump distances), so thats mainly why Im asking. But now that you mention the feature size to screen size, I see that my 16x16 character is 1/28 of the screen size in most levels, although in some levels where you zoom in, it does get down to much less. He's still way to small, even if he was a big eyeball he looks minimalistic in comparison to the environment. But the game feel is so much better when my Hero is smaller. Any ideas how to compromise? (I changed character to 1/14 now, feels clumsier :/ ) –  Kid Nov 11 '11 at 0:40
    
You could make the camera smarter about zooming in and out depending on the current position and velocity of the player (Zoom if if you're against the wall of a level, for example, since you don't need to show anything behind the wall, or zoom in when the character isn't moving very fast). As long as the player can see the zoomed-in character for a good amount of the time, imagination automatically lets them fill in the gaps during the parts when the character is small. –  Jimmy Nov 11 '11 at 16:19

Is there a rule set for scale in platformer games?

No. This is generally a matter of taste and the visual style you want your game to have. You should try a few different ratios of tile size to player size to screen size and see which feels best to you.

As Jimmy pointed out in the comments, the size differential between the player and the screen is likely going to have a bigger impact on the feeling of the game. The size of the tiles relative to the player should be an implementation detail (for example, consider that on many old consoles, hardware sprites were a fixed size, and so in-game "sprites" that were larger were just composed of multiple tiles).

In order to do this, it's important to structure your game so that those ratios can be changed relatively easily -- so you don't want a lot of hard-coded tile bounds in your code, for example.

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