Example Loading a File from Tiled

Tiled is a popular tool for creating environments from tiles. This example will show how data can be extracted from a Tiled JSON file and loaded into the engine. This example will also illustrate the use of the X and Y coefficients to achieve parallax scrolling.


This example builds on the Wattage Tile Engine Template which can be found here. The completed example, including a Tiled file and tileset can be found here. The version of Tiled used for this example is 0.15.1


Starting with the template, the following changes need to be made.

In the main file, set the background color to a pleasant sky blue color.

display.setDefault( "background", 0.4, 0.4, 1)

In the config file, drop the resolution down to 320x480.

application =
	content =
		width = 320,
		height = 480,
		scale = "letterbox", -- zoom to fill screen, possibly cropping edges
		fps = 60

Inside the scene file, add an import for the Utils library. Then remove the default environment. Next, add constants to store camera speed and boundaries.

local CAMERA_VELOCITY   = 5 / 1000          -- Camera velocity in tiles per second
local CAMERA_START_X    = 15                -- The start of the camera movement range
local CAMERA_END_X      = 60                -- The end of the camera movement range

Add variables to store the number of rows and columns which will be taken from the Tiled JSON file.

local rowCount                              -- Row count of the environment
local columnCount                           -- Column count of the environment

A small tweak is necessary for the SpriteResolver. In this example, there is no need to translate a string key into an index. Instead the index will be taken directly from the Tiled JSON file.

local spriteResolver = {}
spriteResolver.resolveForKey = function(key)
    local frame = spriteSheetInfo.sheet.frames[key]
    local displayObject = display.newImageRect(spriteSheet, key, frame.width, frame.height)
    return TileEngine.SpriteInfo.new({
        imageRect = displayObject,
        width = frame.width,
        height = frame.height

Since lighting will only be from ambient, all tiles can be considered transparent. The isTransparent() callback is altered to reflect this.

local function isTileTransparent(column, row)
    return true

Add helper functions for loading a layer by name and for loading the contents of those layers into the tile engine.

-- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- This function is a convenience function to retrieve a layer from a Tiled file.
-- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
local function getLayerByName(name, levelDefinition)
    for i=1,#levelDefinition.layers do
        local curLayer = levelDefinition.layers[i]
        if curLayer.name == name then
            return curLayer
    return nil

-- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- This function is a convenience function to load tiles into a layer.
-- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
local function loadTilesIntoLayer(layer, layerData)
    for row=1, rowCount do
        for col=1, columnCount do
            local tileType = layerData.data[(row - 1) * columnCount + col]
            if tileType ~= 0 then
                        resourceKey = tileType

In the onFrame() function in the section that only runs on the first frame, set the initial position of the camera.

-- This is the initial position of the camera
camera.setLocation(CAMERA_START_X, 10)

In the onFrame() function in the section that runs after the first frame, update the position of the camera to bounce left and right.

-- Update camera location
local newX = camera.getX() + deltaTime * CAMERA_VELOCITY
if newX > CAMERA_END_X then
    newX = newX - (newX - CAMERA_END_X)
elseif newX < CAMERA_START_X then
    newX = newX + (CAMERA_START_X - newX)
camera.setLocation(newX, camera.getY())

Inside the scene:create() function are a number of changes. First, load in the JSON file and use the data to set the row and column count.

-- Load the Tiled JSON file
local levelDefinition = Utils.loadJsonFile("map.json")
rowCount = levelDefinition.height
columnCount = levelDefinition.width

When instantiating the module, pass the row and column variables in.

-- Instantiate the module.
local module = TileEngine.Module.new({
    rows= rowCount,
    columns= columnCount,

In the Tiled file, there are 5 layers: Clouds, Leaves, Trees, Platform1, Platform2. Each layer is loaded into the tile engine.

-- Create a TileLayer for the clouds.
local cloudLayer = TileEngine.TileLayer.new({
    rows = rowCount,
    columns = columnCount
local cloudData = getLayerByName("Clouds", levelDefinition)
loadTilesIntoLayer(cloudLayer, cloudData)

-- Create a TileLayer for the leaves.
local leavesLayer = TileEngine.TileLayer.new({
    rows = rowCount,
    columns = columnCount
local leavesData = getLayerByName("Leaves", levelDefinition)
loadTilesIntoLayer(leavesLayer, leavesData)

-- Create a TileLayer for the trees.
local treeLayer = TileEngine.TileLayer.new({
    rows = rowCount,
    columns = columnCount
local treeData = getLayerByName("Trees", levelDefinition)
loadTilesIntoLayer(treeLayer, treeData)

-- Create a TileLayer for the platform 1.
local platform1Layer = TileEngine.TileLayer.new({
    rows = rowCount,
    columns = columnCount
local platform1Data = getLayerByName("Platform1", levelDefinition)
loadTilesIntoLayer(platform1Layer, platform1Data)

-- Create a TileLayer for the platform 2.
local platform2Layer = TileEngine.TileLayer.new({
    rows = rowCount,
    columns = columnCount
local platform2Data = getLayerByName("Platform2", levelDefinition)
loadTilesIntoLayer(platform2Layer, platform2Data)

Now that the layers have been initialized, reset the dirty tiles on all of them.

-- It is necessary to reset dirty tile tracking after the layer has been
-- fully initialized.  Not doing so will result in unnecessary processing
-- when the scene is first rendered which may result in an unnecessary
-- delay (especially for larger scenes).

Insert the layers into the module. In this case, no scaling delta is needed between layers, so that will be set to 0. An X coefficient is needed to create the parallax scrolling. The Platform2 layer should follow the camera precisely, so its X coefficient is set to 1. The other layers need to move progressively slower than the camera so they are set to values less than 1.

-- Add the layers to the module starting at index 1 (indexes start at 1, not 0).
-- Set the scaling deltas to zero and stagger the X coefficients to create
-- parallax.
module.insertLayerAtIndex(cloudLayer, 1, 0, 0.6)
module.insertLayerAtIndex(leavesLayer, 2, 0, 0.7)
module.insertLayerAtIndex(treeLayer, 3, 0, 0.8)
module.insertLayerAtIndex(platform1Layer, 4, 0, 0.9)
module.insertLayerAtIndex(platform2Layer, 5, 0, 1)

When run, the camera will automatically scroll right and left and the layers will scroll at different rates.

The code for this stage can be found here.

A video of the results can be found here.