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31  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!
32  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!
33  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.
34  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.
35  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.
36  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...
37  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.
38  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.
39  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.
40  General Boards / Mapping Tips/Guides / Map versioning? on: May 28, 2016, 11:22:24 AM
Here's something that's been going around in my mind over the last couple weeks. Should I use versioning in my maps?

At first, the question might seem silly. We're not talking about something major like software where newer versions might add or remove features and correct bugs. Still, simply using the month and year to denote when a map has been altered doesn't feel satisfying anymore.

I've been thinking of adding a version number, something relatively simple like "Major.Minor.Patch", with a major version number (only changed if I redo a game completely in a visually different way), a minor version number for cosmetic alterations or format changes (deciding to present information differently), and a patch number for corrections and fixes.

Now, I've never had to handle versioning. While newer maps would start with a v1.0.0 right off the bat, I'm not sure how I'd handle existing maps for incomplete projects. Should I start them at v1.0.0 if I don'y remember how many times I've changed them? Also, I'd prefer to avoid JonLeung being pissed at me for having him re-upload a whole bunch of maps just to add a version number.

I'm not really looking for confirmation or anything, just your comments and thoughts on the subject.
41  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: FlyingArmor's Map Projects Present and Future on: May 22, 2016, 09:54:58 PM
Great work as usual FlyingArmor! I just don't tend to comment on your maps since they're almost always about game I don't play, but I appreciate the efforts all the same.

Tell me, since you're usually mapping pretty complex RPGs, are you afraid that you might miss stuff? I've found over the years that even games that are considered classics still might have secrets to them that aren't know to most and thus, would not be mentioned in FAQs or walkthroughs. I tend to be stressed that there might be some secret areas or items that I didn't find, that aren't really listed anywhere online yet might be known to some gamers and then I'd come off as being kind of an amateur...
42  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: What a horrible night to have a curse. on: May 22, 2016, 07:07:24 PM
The mistranslation of "Wallachia" into "Warakiya" isn't a problem for me since Wallachia is a region while "Warakiya", although fictional, would be the actual name of the town. Curse of Darkness, which is a direct sequel to this game, introduces a lot of fictional places with names that have nothing to do with the actual Romania like "Baljhet Moutains" and "Cordova Town". I think you're safe using "Warakiya" as the town name even if, in reality, it was a mistranslation of "Wallachia".
43  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: What a horrible night to have a curse. on: May 22, 2016, 06:16:00 PM
This has become one of my pet peeve lately, when only some stages have official names or when the manual conflicts with the actual game or with supplemental material like an official Japanese strategy guide.

I know it's not unusual for people to start using song names from the soundtrack to name the stages. I still have in mind a slight update of my Gradius II (NES) maps to correctly name the stages and it was frustrating to find that there was very little out there that was backed by official sources, including the Gradius wiki and the Gradius Homeworld forums. I actually had to track down a translated interview published in the "Gradius Portable Guidebook" where the stages for all four main games where definitely named. And even then, I had to use the other games as inspiration for the last NES stage since it is exclusive to that platform; I used "Cell" since that's the official name for every organic level in the main series.

In your case, the manual does give us some names that I think you're right to use. They sound a bit corny, but it works better with Castlevania's original horror movie aesthetics than with Super C's (slightly) more serious science-fiction setting. However, you might find yourself having to come up with names by yourself, which you did and I think they work very well for the remaining stages. My only fear when doing this is the possibility that my invented names might be quoted elsewhere as being official later on when they're not. I find it really aggravating when I want to be as comprehensive as possible and there's only partial information. Do I use what's official and invent the rest, or do I stay with numbers? And even that wouldn't work here since level numbers are reused across multiple paths.

My honest opinion? The current names are perfect, and I'm saying this as the person obsessed with being accurate and as official as possible.
44  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: What a horrible night to have a curse. on: May 17, 2016, 04:18:39 PM
Actually, several stages aside from the Clock Tower have their layout represented accurately in that minimap, which I find to be a nice effort on their part. It certainly wasn't necessary but is a nice thing to notice.

Ah, yes, The Tower Of Terror is for sure another one.  (And now that I look at it I seem to be missing the "The" in the name in the clickable link, I'll have to fix that soon...)  Probably easy to spot because it's a vertical stage as well.  But I'm having trouble distinguishing how the other ones are supposed to be like their mini-map (especially since it's twisted around counter-clockwise-like), at least just by looking at the tiny thumbnail image of the full version.  Lacking a third dimension in the actual stage (in and out assumedly correlating to north and south, when the stages generally go "right" or east), I can only assume some of the paths that deviate north and south on the map are doing that without necessarily having a visible clue of that.  If that makes sense, I could be rambling...

I can clearly see the layout of the following stages which, interestingly, I would consider to be "hard" structures unlike the others that are more general areas like tunnels, forests, etc:

The Clock Tower of Untimely Death
The Haunted Ship of Fools
The Tower of Terror
The Causeway

Anyway, I love that you two have dedication to go back and redo maps that you feel could be improved.  I love that you even have dedication to keep mapping - so many other mappers have come and gone but you two are among only a few that have been around since near the beginning of VGMaps which was fourteen years ago that still put out maps, whether revisions or totally new.  Keep up the great work!

I think I'll always love mapping. I just sometimes lack the time or motivation to go all the way through a project. I've been fascinated by fictional maps ever since I read The Lord of the Rings at the age of 12 and I was already doing maps for some of the first computer games I played on my own PC (Wolfenstein 3D and Lands of Lore). I wish I still had the files to those maps so I could share them with you Smiley.

Of course, that will lead into my next problem these days which is that I rarely find things that I both want to map and aren't already mapped by someone else.

With me, I seem to be pretty lucky in that most of the games I tend to want to map are available for the taking, which is a little strange since a number of the games I've mapped are from very popular series (Final Fantasy being the predominant example). Even Jon has made that observation numerous times over the years. And even if someone does take on a game I would have liked to do myself, I usually see that as a good thing; it's one less game that I have to worry about.

The best thing is either to prefer games that aren't well known and/or liked, or games that are more likely to be mapped to help players rather than look good. The majority of Sonic the Hedgehog games still haven't been mapped well in my opinion. Sure, you'll find a ton of maps with technical information for speedruns and such, but nobody bothers making a full map that includes a modified background that fits the layout well. That suits me fine since I'd love to tackle that very aspect if I had the time.
45  General Boards / Maps In Progress / Re: What a horrible night to have a curse. on: May 16, 2016, 09:09:46 PM
Hey, it's your work and you decide how it works best for you. Over the last few years, I've noticed how much more critical I am of the choices made by mappers in terms of labeling, layout, including important sprites like visible weapons, items and bosses, etc. Heck, I'm often critical of my own past work, but I lack the time and motivation to go back and redo them. Besides, I'd rather not start going "George Lucas" on said work if I can help it; the urge is there to "fix" my "mistakes" but I try to keep it in check since said "mistakes" are simply different choices I made back then and would be likely to change again sometimes in the future. Better to keep the past as is.

Going back to my comment. There was a time when I loved just about any well assembled screenshot map I would lay my eyes on, but as I grew in experience and as my tastes changed, I started noticing little things that I would have done differently, little annoyances that made me wish I had the time to do those maps all over again but do them "my way". Of course, that would be completely *nuts* since the list of games I'd want to map again myself keeps getting longer as I get pickier. So, consider my comments for what they are, personal suggestions but nothing more. You already did an amazing job mapping that series and you've certainly achieved your goal of making great-looking art.
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