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I'm making a top down rpg game and was wondering if it was possible to show hills on a map instead of having everything completely flat. I've thought about changing to an isometric view, but if it can be avoided, I would rather do top down. How would I do this? Would I draw the tiles on an angle or something? Or is not possible without switching levels like in dwarf fortress?

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By map you mean the actual level right? Hills have shades indicating their slopes. You could slow down players when they walk over it ( depending on the slopes direction ) –  Sidar Oct 12 '12 at 0:34

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Since you're not looking to create layers, or do Isometric, my best idea would to create something similar to a topographic map. The higher the mountain, the darker it gets, and possibly adds distinct features based on your environment (Eg: Add snow the closer to the top),

Not sure the scale of your game, but this image shows what I mean:

Example

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That's a good idea, thanks :) –  Wallace Oct 12 '12 at 0:40

Look at one of the classic-style Zelda games. You can create the illusion of hills by using cliff faces.

enter image description here

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Also it doesn't matter if the perspective is off, as long you make your gameplay tight and awesome! –  Sidar Oct 12 '12 at 1:49
    
That's also a good answer, thanks :) –  Wallace Oct 12 '12 at 5:38
    
Your gonna get the populist badge :) –  Kinected Oct 13 '12 at 0:55
    
It's weird. I keep getting the most votes on my shortest answers. The longer, more detailed ones get me hardly anything. –  tyjkenn Oct 13 '12 at 1:12

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