For characters, their depth depends on the y-coordinate they are on. If the y-coordinate of a character is higher than that of another character, it means that the first character is more “south” on the map and therefore needs a higher depth than the second character.
With tile-layers it becomes more complicated; sometimes you want a layer to be rendered on top of a character, so it’s y-coordinate needs to be greater than or equal to the tile’s y-coordinate. A common example is high grass the character is walking through. You don’t want the character to be above all grass tiles, but only the ones “north” of the character. This requires that the grass be one layer “above” the character.
This can be done by giving the grass layer a
ge_heightShift of 1; then the depth of the grass will be the y-coordinate + 1, so it will be rendered on top of the player.
This picture is an example of that solution in application.