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Author Topic: How long does it take to make a map?  (Read 3516 times)
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Maxim
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« on: November 25, 2008, 11:06:34 AM »

Of course, the answer is "it depends". But since writing my autostitcher I've pretty much given up on making maps without it, because I'm convinced that it is hugely faster.



Old process:



1. Play game

2. Take screenshots roughly every half-screen-width-or-height, possibly with extreme use of hard pause/frame advance if the game is fast-moving

3. Open screenshots in Paint Shop Pre in groups of 30 or so

4. Ctrl+C to copy, Ctrl+Del to close and delete from disk, and then (Shift)-Ctrl-Tab to get to the "map" image

5. Ctrl+E to paste

6. Mouse to erase the bits I want to get rid of (sprites, mainly)

7. Go back and re-screenshot as needed to patch it up, also edit things to look good (eg. fill in inaccessible gaps)



With this process I'd guess it'd take an hour or so to map a decent-sized level.



New process:



1. Play through game, trying to make sure I see every part of the level, and avoid getting a predominantly blank screen (which the autostitcher can't handle very well)

2. Autostitch, watching how it goes and tweaking the parameters until the stitch is fast/reliable

3. If the stitch is hard (lack of detail on-screen), doing stitches of the parts that work and merging them together by hand

4. Go over and edit out/fix up sprites that are left on the stitched image

5. Hacking/rescreenshotting/reautostitching as needed

6. Edit to perfection



This seems to produce a map in 20-30 minutes. If I'm being anal about adding enemies, with the exact correct animation frame, then it'll add more time on to both methods.



One way I can check up on this is to look at the times when I "live post" my progress; for example, on Chuck Rock II it seems it took me 25 minutes to completely map a boss and a 4096x288 stage, PNGOUT, upload to Imageshack and type in the link/pic tags to post it as #006. For Micro Machines II, it took me 21 minutes to map a 2432x3432 level for post #030.



Are these times consistent with what others are doing? Am I really slow because I'm not using l33t MSPaint skillz?
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Revned
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 11:48:44 AM »

The first one is about how I do it. I also use the grid in Photoshop to make alignment easier. Overall, though, it takes me an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the game/level.



Personally, I wouldn't enjoy using your autostitcher. I like seeing the details and how it all pieces together.
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TerraEsperZ
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2008, 12:29:31 PM »

Of course it depends on the size of the map, its complexity (palette change, color cycling, transparencies, dynamic change in the layout) and whether I include enemies or not.



Things like palette change can slow me down if I have to change all the colors in a section to match up against those of an earlier one (like, say, a level where nightfall happens midway through) if I want to make a "pure" map in daytime.



Color cycling can also be a time waster if it cannot be disabled while playing or it happens too fast or randomly to take screenshots when the colors are always the same. I usually have to edit the troublesome color(s) in every single frame before even beginning the assembly.



Finally, including enemies can really slow me down because I'm always trying to get their exact starting/appearance location, which usually requires me to first capture the level itself, and then play through and advance frame by frame to capture where each one appears.



Not counting the header, a map can take me as little as ten minutes or as much as four or five hours, and that's *if* I have easy access to the entire level to take the screenshots (like with a level editor, a debug mode, a no-clipping or hyper-jump code). Otherwise, the time required can easily double, triple or worse.



---

Current projects: Bucky O'Hare (NES), Metal Storm (NES), Clock Tower (SNES), Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES)
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Current project that I really should try to finish:
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)
-Lilly Looking Through (PC)

Pending project:
-A ton of stuff that will never be finished
DarkWolf
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2008, 06:16:50 AM »

For emulators that support a 1:1 windowed output I skip dumping the screenshot to disk.  I just alt+print screen and paste it into a working instance of MSPaint, then edit/select what I need from there and copy paste it into another instance of MSPaint that has the map in progress.



The next map I do I may try Paint.NET though instead of MSPaint.



Having a multi-head machine helps too, since it eliminates some of the window switching.



I wonder how well the autostitcher would work on something like Crusader: No Remorse.  I may try it one of these days.  I started doing the first level for this game, but it was taking forever.
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