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General Boards => Map Gab => Topic started by: TerraEsperZ on January 06, 2012, 03:50:35 pm

Title: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on January 06, 2012, 03:50:35 pm
One of my resolution for the new year has been to (as much as possible) stop starting new mapping projects when I get tired of the current one, and to instead go back to previously incomplete ones to try and finish them, and to improve them whenever possible. Which leads me to this old thing.

I started mapping Sonic Advance 6 years ago and I never finished it on account of the massive amount of time needed to fully capture and assemble any single map. A single act usually took me several weeks to capture which made the whole thing take way too long to do. So I made a few of them, got tired and put the whole thing on ice for a while.

I decided to restart this project after playing through Sonic Generations which rekindled my love for classic 2D Sonic (which, to me, includes the first Sonic Advance game). After playing around with memory codes, my slowly improving skills have allowed me to find memory locations that would be quite useful and make this project, if not a quick one, a more accurate and easier one.

I first found the locations for the X and Y coordinates of the game's camera. It's a bit tedious to have to change the memory code for every screenshot to move the camera exactly one screen to the right time after time, but it still made the screen capture much faster than before, as well as allow me to capture every stage perfectly including previously inaccessible areas.

I also, after many efforts, found a memory location which seems to act as a sort of timer (it constantly increases) used to manage all the repeating behaviours in states like moving and rotating platforms, springing spikes and more. Aside from a few obstacles where freezing the timer makes the game crash once said obstacles are on screen, it means that all the platforms can be captured in their initial positions. A big plus for me.

It even helped me to freeze all the shifting colours in the Casino Paradise Zone after quite a bit of searching. There was something like over 70 palette entries constantly moving around, and none of those were synchronized with one another so taking screenshots at just the right frame wasn't guaranteed to always yield consistent colours. After finding and entering all the required memory cheat codes, I could safely capture the whole thing with impunity.

Lastly, I decided to share this because I was tired of working on stuff and never showing any of it out of fear that people would build expectations that I would most likely not deliver on. But considering that I've already almost done half the game, I figured that whatever I manage to do this time, even if I don't do the whole game, would be enough to be submitted to the site. As always, I'm aiming to do the whole thing but you never know with me. At least I haven't encountered a single technical hurdle that I haven't managed to completely flatten with a bit of work!

So here's what I've done during the last month or so, with more as I complete them. If you find the thumbnails a bit big, it's because I got tired of Imageshack not sending them back after submitting images so I decided to do my own.

*EDIT 09/10/12*

*Images removed*

I needed space in my free ImageShack account, so I've decided to remove the maps from this post. You can find them on VGMaps here. (https://www.vgmaps.com/Atlas/GBA/index.htm#SonicAdvance)
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: Trop on January 07, 2012, 02:21:13 pm
These are fantastic!  And you're a good way in too.  I've been looking over old unfinished projects myself.  The harder ones like this really pound your moral but once complete they're such a huge achievement.  You've still got a mountain to climb to finish this game but looking at these I think you can definitely do it.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: alucard on January 14, 2012, 07:54:58 am
These maps are looking great. I agree that people should not start new projects before they finish current ones, because it is hard to back to finish, or you may just simply forget. This goes with anything in life really. Any type of project or job you are working on, not just making maps. Even playing a video game, I often dont want to go back and finish the game once I put it down and start playing others.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on January 15, 2012, 07:42:48 pm
Updated the first post with Angel Island Zone Act 1.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on January 17, 2012, 11:22:27 pm
Updated the first post with The Moon Zone.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on January 20, 2012, 10:31:05 pm
Updated the first post with X-Zone.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on January 28, 2012, 03:15:34 pm
Updated the first post with Cosmic Angel Zone.

I'm really unhappy with the extended background for this one. I tried to retain as much of the original as I could for the extended portion but I still had to remove the green horizontal bars with red and blue lights on them. They just clashed with the foreground and sprites too much because of their colours and shapes, and made it difficult to mentally separate the layers at first glance. You can see this for yourself at the top of the map where I've kept those of the original backgrounds; you can hardly see the rings and enemies in front of them.

The result of my edits is adequate at best, but unfortunately doesn't communicate the same feeling you get while playing the game. While it suggests a huge dome inside a giant rotating space station, my edited version simply looks like a giant flat purple wall with blue lights. Repeating the big circular light at the top also works against the idea of a dome, but it honestly looked even worse with just one in the middle and the rest being empty. I spent several hours on the problems but this game, with a few exceptions, doesn't make it easy to tile the parallax backgrounds since they almost never scroll more than a few pixels and haven't been drawn to tile well in any direction. For reference, here's the complete background as it exists in the game:

(http://img820.imageshack.us/img820/8787/backgrounds07cosmicange.png)

If anyone has any idea on how to improve this one, don't hesitate to share them with me. I'm no artist, so there's undoubtedly some possibilities that I haven't considered.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: Will on January 28, 2012, 03:40:50 pm
Your problem is that two bright colours i.e. yellow and blue don't mix and blend very well. To preserve the original background and make the rings and other foreground objects visible simultaneously, I suggest you keep the first two upper rows of blue lights and replace the rest with square holes. Of course that means you'll have a lot more purple covering roughly nine tenths of the background, but the visibility of the rings and L-shaped objects should be optimum.

The spaceship dome is another matter. I've had similar, yet easier problems in backgrounds which should only one moon in the sky, not several. You'd best centrally place the dome in the middle of the penultimate shaft, the one that comes before the rightmost one at the end of the level. If you don't like leave the areas left and right of the dome empty, jazz it up a bit by extending the blue light pattern till it overlaps the top edge, but leave enough emptiness that originally appears left and right of the dome.

This post is merely to give a brainstorm Terra. I'm going to try and use those methods myself and post you the finished result. If it doesn't work out for you, perhaps you'll have thought of something soon. Best of luck.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on January 28, 2012, 04:12:42 pm
Your problem is that two bright colours i.e. yellow and blue don't mix and blend very well. To preserve the original background and make the rings and other foreground objects visible simultaneously, I suggest you keep the first two upper rows of blue lights and replace the rest with square holes. Of course that means you'll have a lot more purple covering roughly nine tenths of the background, but the visibility of the rings and L-shaped objects should be optimum.

I actually thought about doing that but the preliminary test made the background look too bland to me. But you're right, it did improve the legibility of the map even more.

The spaceship dome is another matter. I've had similar, yet easier problems in backgrounds which should only one moon in the sky, not several. You'd best centrally place the dome in the middle of the penultimate shaft, the one that comes before the rightmost one at the end of the level. If you don't like leave the areas left and right of the dome empty, jazz it up a bit by extending the blue light pattern till it overlaps the top edge, but leave enough emptiness that originally appears left and right of the dome.

That's actually very clever. I tend to think in a very mathematical way so to me, a big dome would by default go in the middle. But that right-most shaft is the closest thing to a central structure that the level features. As for extending the blue lights up, I assume you mean to do it progressively to retain the idea of a curved ceiling. I'll also give it a try and we can compare the result.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: Troy Lundin on February 01, 2012, 07:09:03 pm
For the very pink one: have you thought about having just the top border of the background then instead of repeating the pink area just leave it black? how would that look?
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on February 01, 2012, 08:02:35 pm
I just gave it a try but it makes the whole level looks a lot duller than it should, since there's a lot of bright colours visible when playing. I think a mostly purple background is the best compromise, to me at least. I'll update that map probably sometimes next week, since I've already started working on Egg Rocket Zone which is halfway done already.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on February 11, 2012, 06:04:30 pm
Updated the first post with Egg Rocket Zone.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on February 11, 2012, 08:33:53 pm
Updated the first post with the updated Cosmic Angel Zone.

I finally went with an even simpler version of what Will suggested, as it didn't feel right to add details on the top portion of the background where there weren't before. I also decided to keep the lighted dome thing in the centre of the map since although the rightmost portion of the map could sorta pass for a shaft, the fact that it shrinks on one side half-way down broke the illusion for me. In any case, the main goal of making the map easily readable has been achieve to my satisfaction.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on March 04, 2012, 10:00:34 pm
Updated the first post with Angel Island Zone Act 2. I estimate that it took me about half the time it normally would have to map thanks to my Lua script *and* didn't leave my wrists aching for days because of all the keyboard action I had to do to enter a memory cheat code everytime I moved the camera. Only two maps left!

Also, for some reason, ImageShack can't access the thumbnail for Angel Island Zone Act 1 through its direct link even though I can see the image fine through their interface. I've been having all kinds of little problems with their (admittedly free) image hosting. Are there better free alternatives?
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: Troy Lundin on March 04, 2012, 11:32:07 pm
Imgur is a better alternative.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on March 12, 2012, 06:55:08 pm
Updated the first post with Ice Mountain Zone Act 2. Only one map remaining!
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on March 22, 2012, 08:51:45 pm
Updated the first post with Casino Paradise Zone Act 2. Every zone has been mapped! Now I just a couple more days to fine-tune everything, check for any remaining mistake, check the position of all the enemies, do the map headers and finally submit the whole package. I should be done sometimes next week.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: Zeupar on March 27, 2012, 01:11:50 pm
I have just read your post on The Sonic Center. Thank you for making these maps. I know this game like the back of my hand and didn't spot any errors or omissions that you had not addressed already. Excellent job. Can we include them in our section for maps at The Sonic Center?
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on March 27, 2012, 06:55:47 pm
I'd ask you to wait a few more days before doing anything. Like I said, I'm still going over everything to make sure all the enemies are in pixel-perfect position (according to my personal OCD rules at least). I'd also like to know how VGMaps's owner, JonLeung, feels about posting my maps elsewhere, out of courtesy if anything.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: JonLeung on March 27, 2012, 08:46:47 pm
Terra, those are your maps (at least in terms of how much you can really "own" someone else's graphics, anyway).  You put them together, so that counts for at least some bit of ownership.

I am always grateful for your submissions, but by no means do I have a say in what you do with any of your own stuff.  If you wish to submit to or share your maps with other sites, you don't need my permission.

Exclusivity is always a nice thing, but I don't recall requiring anyone to pledge that to me or VGMaps.com.

It is nice of you to ask, though.  :)
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: Trop on March 28, 2012, 08:09:09 pm
Congrats on finishing this Terra.  This'll be one of VGMaps' epic map sets.
Title: Re: Sonic Advance (GBA)
Post by: TerraEsperZ on April 05, 2012, 12:38:25 am
PNGGauntlet is currently busy optimizing everything so with any luck, everything should be ready to go tomorrow (er, tonight) in the evening.

*EDIT*

It's finally done and submitted! Do note that I haven't updated the first post with the finalized versions of the maps since they'll be on the site anyway.