General Boards => Mapping Tips/Guides => Topic started by: ozzy88 on September 11, 2012, 04:22:08 AM

Title: Emulator for PC games
Post by: ozzy88 on September 11, 2012, 04:22:08 AM

It's been a while since my last post here and in there I was asking if people knew any good methods for mapping dark areas. What would be really easy and not so tedious would be playing the game in an emulator so that I can turn of that layer (darkness).

I've looked around and haven't figured out which emulator could do this. I know for a fact that it is possible to run it in an emulator due to a TAS of the game in question, but I can't ask what the TAS'er used because he's japanesee and put his video on nico nico douga (or however your supposed to spell it).

Any help on the matter is greatly appreciated!

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: DarkWolf on September 11, 2012, 06:50:19 AM
Your best bet is to use something like Cheat Engine and see if you can toggle the darkness "off".  You'd have to run your searches in areas where the darkness layer appears and where it doesn't.  If you're lucky there will be some sort of variable that tells the game engine whether or not to draw the obscuring graphics.

PC games with 2d graphics typically have different ways of rendering scenes.  There is no hardware on the PC to support the Genesis/SNES style of layers.  And even with modern video cards, 2d engines can be implemented in various ways.  So no emulator or program is going to have a "layers" option for PC games.  You'll have to deal with it on a game-by-game basis.

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: ozzy88 on September 17, 2012, 12:09:48 AM
Alright. Thanks for the help, I'll look into it and see if I can understand any of it. Otherwise it's back to taking lots and lots of screenshots to edit out all the darkness correctly...and not sloppy like I did the first time.

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: Zerker on November 10, 2012, 03:44:40 PM
Some old PC games have very simple data formats and tile-based maps. Sometimes it can be more fun to decode the format and fill in the result. For example, Jill of the Jungle and Xargon (old Epic games) map formats are simply 128 x 64 2D arrays with each number determining the image tile to use.

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: ozzy88 on November 13, 2012, 01:53:09 AM
Well the maps I were working on were replaced by someone who know a thing or two about mapping. It was an interesting experience to try it out but when I read what mappers on the site are talking about I don't understand much of the details. Post above being a good example.

The way I tried to make maps was very time consuming and this hobby doesn't seem very beginner friendly. I gave it a try because I really wanted the maps and at the time I finished the first one, the speedrunning community already had the game routed and maps wouldn't serve much purpose anymore. In the end I was unable to make it happen and I am glad someone else did.

Sadly this community seems to be way too much focused on them selfs and won't even post about what they are working on or how it's going for them. I find that instead working together and having an active conversation leads to more things getting done and less wasted time on making the same maps.

This may not be true since there might be a better exchange of information through some other format then this forum. This is just how I've experienced it during my time spent here.

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: TerraEsperZ on November 13, 2012, 05:04:35 PM
Sorry you had such a bad first experience. You've touched on a number of points in your post and I'd like to expand upon them a little.

First of all, the "mapping community" probably is pretty small and I doubt the majority of it hangs around the VGMaps forums. The regular contributors tend to post about the games they're mapping, asking for help when necessary but there's always the chance that an outsider might post finished maps ahead of them. It's happened to me a few times since I usually take so long to finish a game. I know it sucks but unfortunately there's not much we can do about it unless those mappers decide to join the board and keep us updated.

As for this hobby not being beginner-friendly, you're definitely right. There are many different platforms with games on them, some being much easier to map than others. I know you felt lost about what we were telling you but in our defence, there are concepts involved that we are all so used to that they are difficult to explain to the uninitiated. Don't be offended, but it can feel like trying to explain "Google" to your grandmother when she doesn't even grasp the concept of a mouse. It's not her fault but that first step is a big one to overcome.

It's hard to know just how basic to get in explaining stuff, especially if one has never mapped before. You pretty much have to learn partly from experience by playing around with screenshots and whatever paint program you decide to use. Different systems (and/or emulators if required) will require different methods to capture the images you need. Most of the pre-PSX consoles and pre-DS handhelds are pretty straightforward since they usually have rigid ways to display the graphics (layers).

PC games don't have it that easy. Basically, most PC games display graphics in their own way. There's no built-in way to, let's say, remove the background, transparencies or a "darkness" effect the way you usually can with consoles and handhelds. It doesn't help that you seem to have trouble understanding what an emulator is exactly. But we're honestly ready to help you if you want to keep trying.

It's alright not to understand some of that stuff; it doesn't make you stupid, just inexperienced. Taking screenshots is basic stuff while turning off layers is a standard technique; changing memory values is more advanced and decoding data format is for experts only. To give you an idea, it took me a decade and a half to graduate to playing around with variables in memory. So don't feel discouraged; we've all been there and some of us will get better than others (I'm not one of those betters by the way).

I personally feel that forums posts are a bit limited to provide a sort of "Mapping 101" guide, but the only alternative I can think of would be to stand next to a mapper and try to guide him/her through the early steps while answering every question he/she might have along the way.

Anyway, long story short. Don't give up and if you want to map another game, feel free to post about it and we'll help you as best we can. I can't promise we'll be easy to understand but just keep asking those questions and we'll answer as best we can :).

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: Zerker on November 14, 2012, 04:10:47 AM
Agreed, decoding map files is not for everyone. I'm an Engineer, so tinkering with stuff is a fun exercise for me. It does require some programming knowledge, recognizing common patterns, and some guesswork. However, I find it a lot more fun than piecing together a basic screenshot map. Since I gave the example of Xargon above, and only the map screens and level 1 of Xargon have actually been submitted to the site, I think I'll tackle mapping the rest of the (shareware) game next. I will start a thread once I start on Xargon and document the process from beginning to end.

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: DarkWolf on November 14, 2012, 07:42:18 AM
I meant to revisit Xargon, especially after I found the source code somewhere on the internet, but I just never got around to it.

FYI, the world maps have some alteration by me.  They abruptly end in places where the camera never reaches, so I had to fill out some things.

Title: Re: Emulator for PC games
Post by: ozzy88 on November 29, 2012, 07:16:17 AM
Thank you for your explanation TerraEsperZ!

I don't feel at all offended, you are just telling me how things are. It's kind of a shame this is how the community works, speedrunners have one forum that everybody use and where everybody works together to find uses for exploits and such. This is a simplified truth that can be discussed much further, but not here.

It's not so much that I'm giving up on mapping, more like the maps I wanted now exists and therefor I don't want to make any.

I didn't ask for any help because I didn't have any specific questions really. I just cropped screenshots, edited out health bars and tried to put them all together so that they'd fit. I put all my results and questions in the maps in progress section meaning that only those interested in the game would even read it. I'm sure there are better methods but I didn't wana be that guy who just askes vague questions like, "How can I map this better/easier?".

I think if you want to spend a lot of time, a guide for newbies would be possible. Gotta split it up between platforms and then recommended programs and how one should aproach it. Examples that you can follow and re-create just for the purpose of learning. A lot of work and in a small community possibly not worth the effort.

As for getting people on the board and getting people to work together more, you can always try to be a role model for it. Maybe start up some work on maps where you colaborate, encourage new mappers and give them a hand when you can. I know that you post your work TerraEsperZ so just keep up the good work, it's awesome to see your progress!

You said that to help out new mappers you'd need to basicly watch what they do and guide them...not impossible if you use livestreaming. I actually streamed all of my mapping and screenshot work live, some people in the chat helped me out with some stuff. Still, I see how this is a very annoying method and I would not blame anyone for not wanting to.

Basicly all I said is that there are no easy methods of teaching this to bad.

I'm going all kinds of off topic for this thread, alpologies for that.