The levels in DC3 are composed of seven layers (yes, like the burritos). Each layer is dedicated to a specific part of the environment, and made up of hundreds of pieces (32x32 pixels square). Larger objects in the levels are built out of many of these smaller squares. Some pieces have transparent areas the allow us to see the layers behind them. Like painting a picture, we start with a blank canvas and overlap images and objects to compose our final scene. Well start with the back most layer and work our way forward. (Note: The sky and other scrolling backgrounds are not part of these layers. The sky and distant objects such as the sun, moon, stars, & horizon are all drawn before our level layers.)
Layer 1 (Scenery) - This layer is used primarily in outdoor levels, and even then it is rarely needed. Objects such as trees, rocks, and bushes that need to be partly behind houses, towers and other structures will go in the Scenery layer.
Layer 2 (Background) - Used mostly for wall textures. The brick patterns seen throughout the castle are all on the Background layer.
Layer 3 (Midground) - Here is where you will build walls and floors that the hero, monsters, and most other moving objects will interact with.
Layer 4 (Items) - Stairs, ladders, ropes, orbs, and other items that either overlap the walls and floors or are picked up by the hero. (Note: Most smaller pickup items such as rock bags, elixirs, and weapons are actually sprites created by special pieces called Stamps, which are explained with Layer 7.)
* Layer 5 (Animation) - This layer is also rarely used. Most small animations (torches, flags, etc.) are handled by sprites created with Stamps (see: Layer 7). In areas where a lot of animation is needed (water, conveyor belts, and blowing grass) the Animation layer is used instead.
Layer 6 (Foreground) - Anything that needs to be above all else. Grass and overhanging branches are some examples. The hero and most monsters will be behind the Foreground layer.
Layer 7 (Stamps) - The term Stamp refers to a hidden piece (only visible while editing) that either marks the location of something or sets special parameters for a level. Stamps have many very special uses:
Placeholders to indicate where monsters, items, or traps will appear when
the level is opened.
Generators to produce continuous monsters or items.
Locations where ladders or stairs will be built. (Although its not obvious to
outsiders, the complex nature of these items require special procedures to
build them. Ropes do not, however, and are created manually.)
Ambient sound effects (crickets, owls, wind, machinery) or sound effect
modifiers (cave and large room reverberation).
Side Exits: Indicate where on the sides of a level the hero can exit to
adjacent rooms (top, bottom, left, and right).
Door Exits: Mark doors and passagways to link to other rooms and areas.
Monster Exits: Indicate where monsters (usually from a generator)
leave the room or area.
Stoppers: Indicate limits for monsters, floating platforms, and other moving
Modifiers: The general purpose of modifier stamps is to affect adjacent
stamps (above, below, or to either side, depending on the type of modifier).
A modifer stamp may tell a generator stamp how many monsters to spawn, or tell a placeholder to offset its object (see Offset Stamps below).
Offsets: These tell adjacents stamp to shift the monsters or items they create
by 1/2 a square (16 pixels) left, right up, or down. Remeber, pieces and
stamps are on a fixed grid of 32x32 pixels, so Offset Stamps are extremely usefull for precise alignment.
Backgrounds: Both the standard sky background and horizon (mountains) can be substituded with other built in graphics by using Background Stamps.
(There are a number of other miscelleneous stamps that will be covered in detail later in the documentation.)