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16  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: NES - Hudson's Adventure Island 1 on: August 28, 2016, 08:10:46 PM
I'm eager to see the maps for the later levels. Somehow I expect that they won't look anywhere as interesting as I remember them to be from... wait, let me do the math... 28 years ago!?
17  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: Antichamber (PC) - A frustrating attempt at mapping the nearly impossible on: August 24, 2016, 05:10:09 PM
Doing little details at that size also proved really hard to do efficiently, and although making everything at double this size made it easier for things like that little tunnel with a purple cube inside, it was also much less manageable in terms of additional work and not ending up with impossibly big images. See again the attachments for comparison.
18  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Antichamber (PC) - A frustrating attempt at mapping the nearly impossible on: August 24, 2016, 05:07:05 PM
If you've read my recent post in the "What games are we playing" thread on the Gaming board, you know how much I love Antichamber. In fact, I love it enough that I've spent most of my free time over the last four weeks trying to come up with a way to map this 3D puzzle game that features some heavy non-euclidean geometry. And although I'd love to spend all my free time for the next year or so working on this further (actually, that's a big lie), I think I might have to call it quits.

I mean, I've managed to come up with my own working isometric art style that fits this game's graphics and where everything aligns in all three axes, so I didn't do all of this for nothing. And it's not that the whole project is unfeasible, because I think it's totally doable. It's just that it would probably take me several years of taking measurements while playing, of agonizing over how to separate the various puzzles rooms, how to present the whole game space and how to display in a readable format spaces that need to be visited from the inside in 3D to be correctly understood. Add to that a lot of coloured lighting that I have no idea how to replicate without making it exponentially harder to edit certain sections later on and you probably understand why, again, my limited skills and impatience are making me stop before wasting too much additional time on this.

And the thing is, I don't want to drop this, not really. This is one of those games whose map just fired up my interest and my *need* to attempt to depict it. Few games provide me with this much motivation, but I fear that I might never be able to do justice to how I imagine it in my head. It's almost like a dream where you have this clear picture of a plan that is so logical and would totally work to solve some great problem like world hunger or war, and then waking up and trying to write it down only to end up with a few meaningless steps that are nothing like what you saw in your sleep. That's how this feels to me: in my head, I can imagine an amazing isometric map that's comprehensive, yet clear and easy to understand. In Paint, all I can come up with is two good looking views of the starting puzzle room and everything else immediately feels daunting and impossible to represent.

Sorry if I'm having an emotional moment here. I *have* been working on this for a month with little to show for it, so I'm kind of invested. Lo and behold as attachments, the only presentable and somewhat finished pieces of a month of work on Antichamber.
19  General Boards / Gaming / Re: What Games Are We Playing on: August 23, 2016, 08:00:54 PM
I know this thread is super old and nobody's replied to it in over a year and a half, but it's been too quiet here lately and I've finally managed to play a whole bunch of games over the last year I'd like to talk about! Maybe that would get the ball rolling again? Anyway, here's the first bunch of them (I have almost as many left to write)!

Note that I'm not taking into account the price of each game since nowadays, most of these are regularly on sale on GOG.com, Steam and other places with 50% off or more.

-Antichamber (PC): This game is one of my favourite game of all time and is a first-person puzzle where the goal is to reach the exit of the complex you're in and, alternatively, solve every puzzle room and find every sign. The art direction is great both in terms of visuals (everything is cell-shaded and white with the occasional dash of colored lighting) and sounds (very ambiant music with sound cues like bird wings or thunder to help situate yourself). The thing is, the game world is made up of a large number of puzzle rooms that are connected in all sorts of counter-intuitive and/or impossible ways; if you like non-Euclidian spaces, this will be right up your allway. The world is confusing enough that the game keeps an updated map of the world keeping track of what you've explored and/or solved in the starting "lobby", a separate room you can always return too where you can use said map to travel to any previously visited room of your choice instantly.

Anyway, completing every puzzle isn't required but really fun and finding every hidden dev room adds some challenge to the game. The puzzles are never explained but the game teaches you its mechanics through environmental storytelling, and the solutions can be a simple as finding and using every exit from a room (some might be hidden) or opening doors locked behind block puzzles which involve manipulating little blocks using colored "guns" once you've found them. The game also likes to play with your expectations, like showing you the exit door behind a large window in the lobby; you'll actually end up behind this window several time while playing but the exit door will only actually become the exit door near the end of the game. I'm really bad at summarizing why I loved this game so much but basically, it's both calming and stumulating and there's nothing else quite like it.

-Back to the Future: The Game (PC): One of the older Telltale Games, it doesn't look or play as well as more recent offerings but it functions pretty well as an interactive fourth Back to the Future movie. The story is pretty good and does explore Hill Valley during a new time period (1931 during the prohibition), and it does get somewhat epic in places. Overall however, it feels a bit uneven and the final story runs out of steam a bit early. Still, the voice acting is great (with Christopher Loyd reprising his role as Doc) as is the music, we get to meet a teenage Doc, and experience a whole bunch of time alterations and paradoxes that don't always make sense but that's Back to the Future for you.

-Broken Age: The Complete Adventure (PC): It's funny that so many people still don't get what Kickstarter is about (funding an idea, not pre-ordering a product) or in this case, don't get what the campaign was about (making a documentary series showing the realities of developing an adventure game). By the way, the Double Fine Adventure documentary is amazing and practically required viewing to see all that goes on behind the scene.

As for the game, while I loved Act 1, I felt let down quite a bit by Act 2. Technically, it's very good (graphics, music, voice acting) and the story premise is intriguing (two teenagers from widly different circumstances, in this case a supersticious village and a futuristic spaceship, find their destinies intertwined). However, the second act barely introduces anythying new, taking place in almost all the same locations from act one but with harder puzzles and the story resolution just doesn't work as well as they though. I still enjoyed playing it though.

-Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC): This was one of my favourite puzzle/adventure game in recent years. Set in a medieval fantasy world, you play two brothers as they set out on a long quest across many perilous regions to find and bring back water from the Tree of Life in order to save their dying father. You control both brothers at the same time for which you should really use a gamepad (unless you have a keyboard with n-key rollover) with each brother being assigned one joystick for movement and one trigger for action, a setup that becomes surprising intuitive really fast. The brothers can never get too far from one another and must help each other for all sorts of puzzles all the way through the game. I won't spoil the story, but the bond between the two made me really emotional near the end.

-Day of the Tentacle Remastered (PC): Well, there's not much to say about this game except to say that they've remastered one of the best classical graphic adventure game. I'm not sure a newcomer to the genre would like it as much as an old-timer like me, but as far as remastering goes, it's the best one yet for a Lucasarts game. The graphics, sounds, voices and music are practically identical to the original, only with higher quality/resolution and you can actually compare to the original with the touch of a key at any time. Aside from that, the new interaction interface streamlines the game a bit by removing useless commands on a given object, the puzzles are still somewhat logical considering the horrors of the adventure genre and the story (three geeky friends try to stop an evil tentacle from conquering the world) is amazing!

-Expand (PC): I really enjoyed this relatively unknown game and I really wished its maker had enjoyed more success with it. It's basically as much a game as it is a meditation. The gameplay is simple, you guide a little square around a circular "labyrinth" while really soothing piano music plays out in the background. You move in relation to the center and the path is always circular. Each time a "screen" is completed by reaching the end of the path, the whole screen rearranges itself as a new path with more obstacles opens up. Sometimes, the path requires that you move inward or outward with the whole labyrinth "zooming" in or out, which is weird but cool. There are actually 6 areas in total to traverse, with the first five teaching you each a new mechanic (touching anything red resets the current room, some obstacles disappear in certain areas, etc). I know it sound simple and to be fair, it's not a very long or difficult game (probably a few hours at most) unless you're really bad at hand-eye coordination. But the music coupled with the themes of the various areas of the game just work really well. The music in dynamic and in general is really soothing except for the final area where the intensity just keeps increasing with the danger of the level itself. This definitely goes into my favourite games of all time list.

-Firewatch (PC): This game is more of an interactive experience (which sounds better than walking simulator) but I love those, so it's not a problem for me! I can't really say much without spoiling the story, but you play as newly-hired fire lookout Henri who took the job to get away from personal problems. The game stretches across a number of (non-consecutive) days as you complete your daily tasks while your only real contact is with your supervisor Delilah via radio. As time goes by, you get to explore your feelings with her regarding your life and problems as mysterious events start taking place in the area you monitor. All I'll say is that the game's stylized graphics look amazing and I really got involved in the story and my character. Some people hated the ending but I was quite happy with it, and even though it wasn't a very long game even after exploring everything (3 to 4 hours), I enjoyed the experience a great deal.

-Fran Bow (PC): A good old graphical adventure games that ventures into both horror and fantasy quite a bit. I won't say too much about the story except that you play as Fran Bow, a little girl held in a psychiatric hospital in 1944 following the murder of both her parents before her eyes. She eventually gets pills that allow her to see another, more horrifying layer of reality and that's when things really start unraveling. As the game progresses, what's real and what's in Fran's possibly deranged mind becomes less and less clear as she attemps to escape from the hospital and find out what really happened to her family. The art style for the game is rather unique but it fits the theme well. I liked it very much all the way to the end even if I found the ending itself too open to interpretation.

-Gateways (PC): This is an indie platformer that is the closest thing to a 2D version of Portal (aside from the actual "Portal 2D" flash game). The graphics are a bit amateurish yet charming and the gameplay is really solid. As you explore a rather large laboratory with your portal gun, you can at any time create two linked portal and the genius lies in using line-of-sight to display exactly what lies beyond each portal from your point of view. Eventually, you'll find a few upgrades like the Size Gun (allowing you to come out smaller or bigger than when you entered), Rotation Gun (when exiting a portal, you kept your orientation as if still affected by gravity on the other side, so this allows you to flip the whole world by 90, 180 or 270 degrees) and the Time Gun (allows you to exit a portal before entering it) which lets you complete puzzles with more than one instance of you! The puzzles mostly involve opening doors by holding down switches or redirecting laser beams but thanks to the gun upgrades, the solution eventually become very involved and complex so if it gets too difficult, you can just go do another puzzle since it's an open world. I loved Portal for its mechanics so of course I enjoyed this too.

-Gone Home (PC): This "infamous" narrative experience probably doesn't require much introduction, but I'll offer one anyway. Basically, you play as a young woman in 1995 coming home on a stormy night to the new family house after an extended time overseas only to find out that both her parents and her younger sister are missing. Saying anything more would spoil the game and the impact it might have. In terms of gameplay, all you basically do is explore the house while trying to piece together what happened to everybody (hopefully nobody here on VGMaps is ideologically and rabidly opposed to this type of game or its story). I love this type of game, was really taken with the story and the characters and didn't regret buying it.

-Knock-Knock (PC): This is a rather bizarre 2D puzzle games where you play an unintelligible man with insomnia trying to make it through a number of nights in an ever-changing house where nightmares or entities keep appearing in rooms left in the dark for too long. You have to visit these rooms to fix the light, but it's not clear if doing that is ultimately good or bad, as lights tend to burn out and can attract the attention of "things"... I'll be honest, this game is strange and as intriguing as is it frustrating. It doesn't really explain its rules to you and you pretty much have to experiment to know which light to fix, where to hide, what to do if you can leave the house... It's been quite a while since I've played and I've forgotten much of what little I'd determined so it's hard to explain clearly. It's a trippy experience though, so if you like bizarre unsettling games that *aren't* gory, you might take a look at this if it's on sale.

-Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition (PC): Okay, I know I keep saying "favourite games of all time" but I guess it's inevitable considering I'm going through a backlog of games stretching several years. So anyway: this is one of my favourite games of all time Tongue. Imagine a 2D Metroidvania platformer with the look and feel of Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke and you'll get the idea. You play as Ori, a little guardian spirit tasked with reviving the forest of Nibel after the Spirit Tree had its light stolen. As you travel across the forest looking for the Elements of Water, Wind and Warth, you'll both heal the world (making the water safe to swim in, creating large wind currents for vertical travel) and earn new abilities (wall climbing, dash, ground stomp, swimming, etc), becoming almost as mobile and powerful as Samus Aran herself at her most powerful. The graphics and music are amazing and you really have to see and hear it to understand how good this all is. It's also quite a challenging game even after you've earn every upgraded and max out your skill trees. I heartily recommend the Definite Edition which improves on the original (which it comes with if you buy it on Steam) by adding instant travel across save points, the ability to revisit a few areas that used to become inaccessible after completing them, and two new areas with their accompanying abilities and story extension. If you like beautiful platformers, you need to play this!

-Soldats Inconnus: Mémoires de la Grande Guerre (PC): Also known in English as "Valiant Hearts: The Great War", this is a puzzle adventure game with comicbook style graphics taking place during World War One inspired by letters from soldiers and people of the time. You alternatively play as Frenchman Emile, his German son-in-law Karl, Freddie the American volunteer and Anna the nurse. Each of these characters find him or herself serving, willingly or not, in this terrible conflict. This isn't a shooter however, and you usually find yourself avoiding gunfire while making your way across the trenches, healing injured soldiers, saving civilans from chemical attacks and just trying to survive in general a conflict that brought out the worst in humanity. I really can't say much more since that would rob the story of its impact except to say that as cartoony as the game looks (and sounds in a few places), it really helps to understand some of the horror and insanity the people caught in that war went through. I played it in French since it was originally a French game, one of the character is from France and the voice acting, especially at the end of the game, was just so moving... I cried. Not just a few tears, but a whole bunch of tears for a minute or so.
20  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: KB's Maps in Progress on: August 14, 2016, 10:21:57 PM
Sorry to hear about your (ex) best friend. It's common knowledge that doing business with friends is usually a bad idea but having the same thing happen over a hobby? That really sucks and  you have my sympathy. I'm impressed you managed to keep mapping other games in the mean time and hopefully that will help with your motivation. I guess all I can say is take of yourself  Embarrassed.
21  General Boards / Maps Of The Month / Re: 2016/08: Suikoden II (PSX) - mechaskrom on: August 02, 2016, 06:29:25 PM
Amazing work considering the size of the game!
22  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: Tropicon's map projects on: July 20, 2016, 04:21:00 PM
Congratulations, that's another massive project under your belt!
23  General Boards / Maps Of The Month / Re: 2016/07: New Ghostbusters II (E) - TerraEsperZ on: July 05, 2016, 06:57:02 PM
Sorry for taking so long to reply. It is summer after all, and unfortunately that means less time for gaming in general!

I'll be honest, I don't even remember how I heard about this game but it was probably from reading one of those "forgotten NES gems" web page while the movie was playing on TV in my area. I knew both official NES Ghostbusters games were horrible, so I was really happy to learn a good adaptation of the franchise had been made considering I was a fan of the franchise, having grown up watching The Real Ghostbusters cartoon.

As for this game, it's neither very long nor very difficult, and it only took me a few hours to play all the way through and capture everything. However, assembling all the rooms together the way I wanted to made me uncomfortable because it would have required editing the captured screens a little. At the time, I was really struggling with whether I felt okay with editing a game's maps for presentation purposes (2009) so I put this project aside and only came back to it in 2013 when I felt better about the whole "editing" thing.

Why assembling the room was hard for me is simple: the stages are all divided in small maps that seem like they'd fit together perfectly (you can often see glimpses of neighboring rooms right outside the walls of the room you're currently in) but when you try, walls and doors stop aligning pretty quickly, messing up what at first seemed really easy and neat. At the time, my solution was to keep the playable areas of each room intact but edit their "outside" whenever necessary to assemble all the rooms together. This gives the impression that each stage is one big interconnected map and some stages *do* look like that while playing (stages 1, 3 & 5) but others don't because they don't show anything outside your immediate room (stages 2 & 4). So I guess my maps for this game are a bit of a lie and in retrospect, I probably would have done things differently today.

Thanks again for this honor!
24  General Boards / Gaming / Re: 3DNES - Turning NES games 3D on: June 30, 2016, 07:29:20 PM
I remember seeing this process a number of months ago, and the major flaw seemed to be how the emulator was trying to determine the shapes and depth all by itself. But if the user can create some presets so that some elements always appear the same way, then the concept becomes a lot more usable in addition to looking a lot better.
25  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: herc's adventure and more on: June 13, 2016, 12:08:30 PM
I just took a look at that area with a Longplay video and yeah, I hate those static non-scrolling backgrounds the most. You *can* sometimes turn them into a repeating pattern with some clever (or at least, acceptable) tile editing if you're not too fixated on absolute graphical authenticity.

Looking at your map of the area dark_lord_zagato, I think it was the right decision to retain the background for those horizontal areas. I think you could assemble something that works for the rooms where you left it blank but you'd have to be creative for those large rooms with a sloped ground.
26  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: Marble-Man Marble Madness 2 on: June 13, 2016, 11:53:25 AM
Well, you gave it a nice go at least. It's just frustrating to know that something unique like this game, a literal piece of videogame history, might end up being lost forever simply by virtue of someone hoping to make big bucks by keeping it exclusive Sad.
27  General Boards / Mapping Tips/Guides / Re: How to make a video game map. Basic Mapping Methodology. on: June 02, 2016, 04:59:02 AM
This question always stumps me. Not because I don't want to answer it, but because it feels like I could write an entire book just covering my own methods and techniques. And I'm far from the most talented or skilled mapper here.

So I'll try to give a short (and very unsatisfactory) answer for now. See, how you map a game depends entirely on the game in question (2D or 3D, tile or vector-based graphics, etc) and on what system it's running. The more simple the game's graphics and the older the system, the easier in general it is to map well.

...I'll have to get back to you with a more detailed answer because it feels like there are so many different things I'd like to talk about on the subject but don't have the time to right this moment Tongue...
28  General Boards / Mapping Tips/Guides / Re: Unstitching? on: May 31, 2016, 08:36:24 PM
I'm trying to understand what's the intended purpose for this. Unless a game has absolutely no visible UI elements and no parallax scrolling, there's no way you can actually "recreate" the screenshots it was assembled from because they would almost certainly have been edited or cropped in some way before being used.
29  General Boards / Mapping Tips/Guides / Re: Map versioning? on: May 31, 2016, 08:32:33 PM
Like I said (or should have said?), I just find the idea of versions cool. Some of it I think stems from cartoons and shows where robots, weapons and vehicles would often be replaced by superior iterations denoted by having a "version 2" or "mark III" after the name. Heck, I love the idea of the Iron Man armours in the Marvel Cinematic Universe even if the several dozens of new armours in the third movie weren't actual iterations of the same model but a whole bunch of specialized armours with distinct functions.

I fully agree that using the full date instead of just the month as I've done would be best. In retrospect, I wish I'd kept previous versions of final maps that were replaced if only to be able to see the progression in design as time went by. So yeah, actual version numbers don't make sense.

It still sounds cool though Tongue.
30  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: What a horrible night to have a curse. on: May 29, 2016, 06:48:38 PM
Wow, those are definitely good improvements!

The new names are very good but more importantly, denoting the paths with a letter was very much needed. The only name I'm not crazy about is "The Outer Wall" but that's mostly because that level doesn't seem to fit aesthetically with the rest of the castle and no other name would really fit better. It's more like a mishmash of some previous levels that don't feel at all like they belong together, or inside a castle, much less in the upper parts of it (a forest, a waterfall *and* an aquaduct near the top of the castle?). At least "The Outer Wall" is consistent with the series as a whole.

As for the graphical improvements, aligning the staircases when the backgrounds don't clash looks a lot better, and I've always found it weird how prevalent this misalignment is. It's like a constant example of "so close, yet so far". And it's amazing how much more vibrant this new palette is, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. By the way, which is the two newest palettes are you using? I can't seen much difference between the two but that's mostly because I'm not that good with subtle colours.
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