Good day, ragged survivors! If you’re a connoisseur of the wonderful world of community maps, you’ve probably already come across Throttlekitty’s Tiles mod, which many of the maps use. The mod adds dozens of new tiles to let mappers’ imaginations run free – and for players to use to decorate their bases.
Throttlekitty’s tiles tend towards the believably mundane: fire extinguisher holders for walls, oil and gas tanks, dumpsters, coffee and sewing machines, fuseboxes, bench grinders and vices, along with some Fallout-style walls made from junked cars.
Not only has Throttlekitty made all these tiles, but they also are very active on our official Discord, helping new and experienced mappers and modders to make the creation of their dreams, and you may have seen them thanked by some of our previous mod blog interviewees.
We wanted to find our more about Throttlekitty, so we scrambled our way through a building filled with new and interesting objects, and managed to find a bloodstained notebook featuring an interview with the famous tiler themselves! Take it away, TK…
Who are you in real life? Tell us a little about yourself.
“My name is Joel, and I work at a small indie studio making games, primarily doing rigging and some character art. I’m a long-time gamer and occasional modder as well. I’m at my happiest when I can put on some noisy music and just make things. I have a recent obsession with using AI to create images, very exciting times in that regard!”
How did you first discover Project Zomboid? Why do you like it?
“I remember passing on the game a couple times, but I’m very glad I did eventually give it a go, though I really don’t remember when, it was many years ago now! I love everything zombie-related, and Project Zomboid hits a lot of the marks: just the right mixture of grit, desolation, panic and hope. I think what I appreciate most is how detailed the games systems can be, without feeling overbearingly tedious, or like you’re playing off a predetermined checklist of things to do.”
Tell us about your tileset. How many individual tiles are there? Can you talk us through your process of making a single tile? What references, if any, do you use when making your tiles?
“I think I’m at a little over 100 assets released right now, not counting variations and overlays. I didn’t think it was so many already, and there’s still never enough! I built up a good workflow using Autodesk Maya and Adobe Photoshop to make my tiles; I try to do as much as I can in 3D to keep things simple for myself. To match the game style, I keep the models and textures from being overly detailed, and I use a toon shader to pick my colors in a way that I would when doing traditional pixel art. I constantly do renders while I work, to make sure that what I’m working on is on-target for the game.”
“On the 2D side in Photoshop, I’ll add hand painted details, dabbing in additional grunge or highlights, along with some basic compositing and color corrections before setting the final tilesheet layout for use in the game. As for reference, I’m usually making something based on the real world, so I’ll pull up images of what I want to make, and use those as a guideline. I find avoiding 1:1 copies a lot more fun anyway, and working in the confines of smallish pixel art makes the whole process a good challenge overall.”
How did you get into making tiles for PZ? Have you made artwork for other games before? Do you have any training in art/drawing etc.?
“I’ve been an artist my whole life, so doing graphics mods is something I always gravitate to. No particular training, a person’s growth in art is a very fluid ongoing process, I think! I’ve done similar mods for other games in the past, I did a fair bit of it in Oblivion way back. Sometimes I’ll get the itch and make little personal projects for myself too.”
You’re known for your helpfulness towards other mappers. Can you tell us about some of the mappers/modders you’ve aided, and the projects you’ve helped with?
“It’s hard to keep count! I tend to be a very technical person, I like to dig deep into how things work. I know that not everyone wants to spend their time that way, so I’m always glad to pass along interesting tidbits that I’ve found along the way on Discord or wherever. Plus it’s always great when someone else is trying to push the limits a little further, brainstorming is fun! Other people are doing the same too, communities are great for that. I generally stay away from jumping into others’ projects, I’ve a pretty full plate most of the time.”
Your tiles have that unique “PZ” look. Is that hard to achieve?
“Thanks, and it did take some work to get my tiles matching Mash’s style, seeing as how they come from 3D, and not pure 2D. I mentioned using a toon shader before. With my scene lights set up a particular way and with simple modeling techniques, I found that I was able to match the shades and palette quite nicely. A big benefit is that I get all the facing directions for free, and it can be easier to make more complex assets that would be difficult in traditional 2D.”
Your tiles are very varied, from new walls and containers to piping and industrial equipment. Is there a specific type of tile you enjoy making the most?
“I think I like working on pieces that say ‘I’m going to look awesome in your base, please loot me’ the best, and I should make more of those! I’ve made most of the industrial kits to help fill out those types of spaces.”
Is there anyone in the PZ community (or beyond) you would like to give a shout-out to? Which mods or maps (or tilesets!) by other users do you enjoy or find interesting?
What’s next in your tiling plans? What’s the dream?
“My Big Plan is making an absurdly large map for Zomboid! I jump back and forth between that and making new tiles. I wanted ways to make the locations look more interesting, and eventually more unique. One problem about big open world games is that there’s never ever enough art assets, so any way I can push that further helps.”
Thanks to Throttlekitty for answering our questions! You can find their tileset here.