VGMaps

General Boards => Map Gab => Topic started by: TerraEsperZ on September 15, 2009, 08:37:04 pm

Title: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 15, 2009, 08:37:04 pm
Another project started with so many remaining uncompleted, but since I actually took time searching/hacking memory values to help me, I don't intend on dropping this until I'm finished.

...

Yeah, I don't fault anyone for doubting me.

Anyway, I was looking through scans of my first real Nintendo Power issue and saw that old game called "The Immortal" which I never actually played. So I got curious and cautiously tried mapping a few rooms and tried to assemble them together to see if it would work or if the game coders had been smoking crack again while designing the levels. Surprisingly, the rooms fit perfectly despite the isometric perspective. So I decided to give it a try.

The game, for those who never played it, is basically a sort of dungeon crawler with involved one-on-one combat where you have to time both your sword swings and your dodging and try not to tire yourself too much. There are a number of simple puzzles and many, *many* deadly traps everywhere, most of them hidden.

Since the perspective is isometric, there is a section of the floor in every room that is hidden by the southern wall, which coincidently usually contains traps; finding every trap so far took some time.

Another thing that annoyed me is how some enemies will start running toward you as soon as you enter the room even if they are off-screen so it was seemingly impossible to find out their starting position. However, enemies would not reset to their starting position if you came back to their room, so it meant that their position would remain in memory for the duration of the level. That's when I decided to do some memory searching.

Using FCEUX's memory search functions, I manage to isolate a range of addresses for the horizontal and vertical coordinates of moving entities relative to their current room. Since there are several ranges of values always in the same order (all the horizontal positions, all the verticals, etc), they're probably memory arrays:

-0698h to 06A2h: Contain the horizontal positions, starting with the player's and then the various other entities (troll, goblin, will o' the wisp, bat, etc)
-06A3h to 06ADh: Contain the vertical positions
-06CFh to 06D9h: I don't know what the values represent, but freeze the value and the entity will no longer exhibit sprite animation
-06E5h to 06EFh: I don't know what it represents either, but freeze it and the entity will no longer react to your position (i.e. turn to face you)

By identifying which addresses represented which entity on each level and freezing the necessary values, I could ensure that after entering a room, every enemy would be completely frozen as if I wasn't even there. That felt extremely satisfying for my desire to be as accurate as possible.

I'm still undecided on how to handle rooms joined by ladders (link with arrows, ladder tiles, letters, numbers?), so don't be too hard when looking at the following previews... Also, these are the ones with all the secrets (traps, triggers, ladders, etc) revealed. I'm actually considering posting finished maps both with everything hidden and revealed.

Level 1:
(http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/5688/theimmortallevel1rawass.th.png) (http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/5688/theimmortallevel1rawass.png)

Level 2:
(http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/4301/theimmortallevel2rawass.th.png) (http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/4301/theimmortallevel2rawass.png)

Level 3:
(https://img406.imageshack.us/img406/3904/theimmortallevel3rawass.th.png) (https://img406.imageshack.us/img406/3904/theimmortallevel3rawass.png)

God I love the new board! It's so much *easier* to use  ;D
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 15, 2009, 08:47:57 pm
Oh yeah, I forgot that I had to spend some time completing the game's font since there are a few missing capital letters. Since each one is at least 16 x 16 pixels, they saved up some space in tile memory by not including letters that weren't used anywhere in the game.  For the sake of completeness (and just in case I ever needed them), I tried my best to edit the existing letters to recreate the missing ones. Tell me what you think:

(http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/8129/theimmortalfont.png)

The letters that I added are B, J, K, Q, U, V, X, Z. I actually think most of them are quite acceptable, but I'm not that happy with the last two which is annoying since I need a capital Z for my name. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: snesmaster on September 15, 2009, 08:51:04 pm
Great job on the maps so far.  I like the way you transformed the arrows so they match the perspective of the game.  Also the way you faded the arrows for Level 3 look great.  I think they are easy to follow.  I had no problem telling what connected to what.  Nice work on finding codes to freeze the enemies.  When I mapped Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa, I was lucky that there was an item in the game that froze all enemies so that made finding a code very easy since I just had to make it so that item was always active.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: snesmaster on September 15, 2009, 08:58:10 pm
I think the letters you added match the style very well and they are all fairly easy to read.  If you had not said what letters you added I would not have been able to tell.  Do you know of a free program that lets you create fonts so you can just type the words in instead of moving graphics of the letters around to make words?
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 15, 2009, 08:59:49 pm
I'm *very* slowly making my way toward being an acceptable sprite artist, in a "functional way" of course. As for the memory hacking, it's my first real try and some of it I only manage to figure out by pure luck, namely freezing their sprite animation and orientation.

This game came out on several other system at the time, namely the Sega Genesis, but from what little I've seen, the NES has been made to have more action. Maybe they thought the kids would be bored? To make up for lacking one full level, a lot of rooms in the NES versions are filled with floor and wall fire traps, there is on average more music while playing, and every time you stop doing anything for a few seconds (or heck, even if you don't) an annoying bat will appear out of nowhere and starting circling you while making you lose health at an alarming rate. Freezing that bloodsucker was extremely helpful. Otherwise, the levels are apparently mostly the same in terms as the puzzle and general geography.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 15, 2009, 09:01:54 pm
There's Bitmap Font Writer (http://www.stefan-pettersson.nu/bmpfont/) which I once used, but I've grown annoyed at all the preparation required to make the font behave like I wanted. I suppose if I included tons of texts on my maps I would pretty much *have* to use it, but make do without at the moment.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: Will on September 15, 2009, 09:41:45 pm
I think what you chose is good. The game reminds me of Data East's arcade game "Dark Seal". The capital letters you recreated were very artisitic and the angled transformed arrows you did make the link seem believable. If you're not happy with the capital X and Z, you may want to use existing fonts as a guideline to recreate them from scratch. Type the keywords in Google "Blackletter Fonts" and "Viking Fonts" to get fonts that are as close to this current font as they can get. Keep up the good work.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: Maxim on September 16, 2009, 01:22:50 am
I like the randomised pixellated fade on the arrows. In level 3 the arrows are somewhat Escheresque, in that a foreground arrow goes behind the stage itself; I'd never draw an arrow over a screenshot, so I'm not sure what to suggest.

Is the "wall thickness" implied by the game or just what looked good?

The top of stage 3 does suggest a small amount of crack, as the two ladders are not far enough apart to leave room for a vertical passageway for both.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 16, 2009, 05:40:03 am
Wall thickness is perfectly accurate between rooms connected by doors (I used Level 2 to check this since it has several rooms connected in a loop), but anything goes once ladders enter the picture. I tried to keep the top and bottom of ladders aligned horizontally, but Level 3 has so many ladders that the layout might be geometrically impossible. I might change its layout eventually.

Oh, and thanks for the font suggestion Will. I thought about it but had no idea where to start looking.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 27, 2009, 08:30:44 pm
Sorry for the lack of update, but for once it wasn't because of loss of interest. I simply had to deal with some family drama lately (nothing really serious fortunately) as well as more obligatory overtime, so what little free time I prefer to spend *playing* games instead of mapping them. Things should clear up soon hopefully.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on February 20, 2013, 11:10:02 pm
Three and a half years later, I've started preparing what I had almost completed for submission (and if time allows, complete the remaining maps).

As you might expect, my style has evolved somewhat since then, and I wanted to share the new layout I've decided to use. Unfortunately, those of who you who liked the angled pixelated arrows might be disappointed to see them gone but I'll likely use some shading effects for lines passing behind rooms once I've reached later levels.

The first map is basically Level 1 with everything hidden, a "beauty map" of sort. The second is a Baldur's Gate-inspired version where I'm trying to point out all the secrets and traps with colored outlines (green for secret passages, yellow for trap triggers and red for deadly traps). It's very busy and lacking a legend for now so consider it incomplete. I'll probably do a beauty map with the secrets and traps added but without all the pretty lines.

A note about the room outlines: you'll notice they make it more obvious that doors aren't aligned at the same angle as the walls. I tried moving the rooms a bit vertically (relative to the canvas, not the in-game map) to have the doors aligned correctly but suddenly that loop in Level 2 didn't match and some walls had to become thicker to compensate. Thus the misaligned doors were retained since in the long run, the overall map looks better that way to me.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on March 24, 2013, 09:14:59 pm
After a dozen hours of tinkering whenever I actually had free time, I'm finally happy with the layout and format I came up with for these maps.

First, a "beauty map" that shows the layout of the rooms as they first appear and nothing else.

Second, a map showing every enemy as well as the location of every item and trap, the whole thing being colored coded for your convenience. As you can see, there's a lot of red signifying all the various instant death traps featured in this single level. This game isn't considered brutal for nothing.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: snesmaster on March 25, 2013, 07:22:26 am
Job well done, they look great!
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 03, 2013, 10:11:31 pm
If anyone feels like I should be further along with this project, there's a very good reason why it doesn't look like I am. I've been redoing these maps over and over for the past few days, adding, removing and correcting minute details to satisfy my cravings for precision and whatever will make my mind at ease. The good news is that I'm moving forward nonetheless, which is a change from my usual "I can't make this exactly the way I want to so I'd rather not do it at all".

Anyway, here are (hopefully) the final revisions of the maps for the first two levels.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 03, 2013, 10:12:06 pm
And for the third level.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 06, 2013, 01:33:39 pm
Here's the fourth level. This one took even longer than usual thanks to having to locate a bunch of traps and an item hidden by the lower walls of two rooms that must be navigated with a magic carpet that punishes you with horrible controls.

Next stop, level 5 which features another deadly room where I'll have to spend lots of time mapping out the narrow safe path through it.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 09, 2013, 08:48:39 pm
Here's the fifth level with that frustrating room I mentioned in my last post, the red one. You're normally supposed to navigate it using the worm sensor, an item that emits (for a rather short time) a tone whose pitch rises the nearer you get to an area where a giant worm will pop out of the ground and eat you, but you get to meet the developers of the game if you avoid using the sensor ;). That must have been quite a challenge at the time.

Only two rather short stages remain. Normally there would be an extra spider level right after this one, but it was cut from the NES version.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 16, 2013, 06:41:13 pm
Level 6's finished with only one more to go. I wish I could map the original Apple IIgs version since I feel it's the best looking version of the game even if it's not the most complete (it's pretty close to all the other version except the NES one which is a bit of a special port). Combats are resolved on the main map with a few sword swings while most subsequent versions feature separate closeup view, enemies with a lot more endurance and some pretty gory fatalities when you kill them. However, I fear this might require means I do not presently master such as a working Apple IIgs emulator with savestates whose memory I can successfully edit with Cheat Engine.

Anyway, I've realized that the "Noteworthy rooms" sections in the "Secrets & Traps" versions are pretty arbitrary and I stand by that. I've included all the truly deadly traps and the secrets but only included strategies for the more difficult puzzles and enemies. There has to be some challenge left for players after all, such as which item is used where for most part.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 17, 2013, 08:01:46 pm
Here are the maps for the last level, Level 7. And I'm finally done!

Considering how old and relatively obscure this game is, I don't expect many people here to be familiar with it, but all the same, I'd appreciate some comments or criticism before submitting the maps to the site.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 19, 2013, 02:34:47 pm
Since I'll be gone all weekend, I've decided to submit these as they are, and if anyone notices a spelling mistake or a graphic error, then I'll simply correct it then.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 24, 2013, 09:03:46 pm
I know I'm most likely the only person who still cares so much about this game, but I recently started poking around the original Apple IIGS version to try and test the feasibility of mapping it.

Simply emulating the game was difficult enough (the controls are buggy as hell with the character always moving downward and left despite no key being pressed, no savestates, etc) and I have no doubt that giving this version the same treatment as I gave to the NES version would be very demanding. But I've already managed to hack the camera using Cheat Engine. It's far from perfect as it doesn't update the memory often enough, jumping at random from the camera's normal position to the chosen coordinates for a split second every few seconds or so, so I have to be really quick with the screen capture. But it's allowed me to capture the full "empty" maps for the first few stages, meaning you see the outline of all the normal rooms without their interior, as well as various inaccessible rooms scattered all around for decoration. Or so I thought...

Below, you can see the full map for Level 1 (in green), which also happens to contain all of Level 2 (in red) as well! There is a lonely unused room on the bottom right whose purpose I haven't been able to determine. Better emulation tools might help there but are unlikely to ever become available given the age of the platform. Also, Levels 3 and 4 are on the same map together, as are Levels 5, 6 and 7, with Level 8 standing all alone.

(http://img46.imageshack.us/img46/790/map12.png)

Another neat thing I noticed is this version uses more capital letters than the NES one with its limited tile memory. Thinking back to the letters I had to "improvise", I decided to try and see just how far off the mark my attempt had been. Kegs32, the emulator I was using, is pretty barebone so there was no way to see the graphics in memory, and I quickly gave up on ripping the font from the game's files which use a proprietary format in addition to being packed in disk image files.

I *did* use an hexadecimal editor on the disk image (which was uncompressed) to search for and replace the very first lines of dialog of the game (thankfully stored in plain text) by all the letters and numbers so that I could *then* capture that while playing.

Turns out the official capital letters are somewhat close to what I came up on my own. You can see the comparison below, with my original letters in the first row and the real letters right below.

(http://img842.imageshack.us/img842/5207/fontstest.png)

I don't know if I'll actually try to map the Apple IIGS version given how difficult it is to simply move around, not to mention edit the game's memory, but I'm always itching for a challenge...
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: Maxim on April 25, 2013, 01:24:34 pm
Challenge: finish your existing projects first! :-)
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 25, 2013, 01:58:52 pm
I can do both! In fact, it's actually better for me to do what I've been doing for the last few months, which is to work on more than one project at a time. I typically spend time advancing older projects toward some semblance of completion (which can be tiring) while at the same time recharging my batteries by playing around with newer, less serious projects. I've found that spending all my time on a single game tends to result in me dropping everything after a couple months, either out of frustration or because I'm just sick of seeing the same game constantly.

As I'm speaking now, I've also been making some real progress in two other unrevealed games. I just want to be farther along that I am before showing anything.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: Will on April 26, 2013, 12:27:15 am
I must say those improvised letters you did for the NES version were very good. The Apple II version of Immortal does have a richer colour scheme and a smoother animation. Go for it.
Title: Re: The Immortal (NES)
Post by: StarFighters76 on May 31, 2013, 12:28:17 pm
Not bad! I was gonna try and map out the game myself, but I couldn't figure out how to even play the game in order to do it lol.