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Messages - mechaskrom

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Mapping Tips/Guides / Re: WideNES - Peeking Past the edge of NES Games
« on: September 08, 2018, 12:16:51 PM »
It's a cool feature, but with limited use and will probably never work with all games and situations.

Like I mentioned in this thread:
I would prefer great scripting support in emulators instead. It's a more general and powerful solution.

Manually stitching screenshots is probably the most straightforward method, but it's tedious and has a high chance of mistakes. It's also hard to map areas without "landmarks" e.g. Solar Jetman (NES) which has big areas with the same color or pattern. You could facilitate this by using cheat codes to move the camera around in discrete values or keep track of it with a memory/ram watcher. That way you know how the screenshots fit together. You probably need camera cheat codes anyway to reach inaccessible parts and cover everything.

Reverse engineering the game to create a tool or editor that can extract maps is probably the complete opposite method to manual stitching. Technically very complicated and requires great programming skills, but in return makes mapping a lot easier and faster.

Fortunately there is a way to automate screenshot mapping with only modest skills and that is to use scripting or an external tool to control the emulator. All my maps are done with this method. Take NES-games for example were I use FCEUX which has many excellent tools for mapping, particularly lua-scripting:
You can write a lua-script that essentially moves the camera, take screenshots and stitches everything together i.e. automating the whole process of ripping a map. Creating a working script can take some time though, but a lot less than manual stitching. You probably need to manually fix some things in the rip afterwards to, but most of the work can be scripted.

Unfortunately good emulators with scripting is a bit lacking. So if any emulator author is reading this, please add great scripting support to your emulator and you'll make me a very happy mapper.  :)

Map Requests / Re: Mission Impossible for NES
« on: December 12, 2017, 07:17:23 PM »
Can you add also the Intro, Cutscenes, Briefing to the Levels? And the different Titlescreens Ultra/Palcom. End Sequence too.

Even if nice to have I think things like these are out of scope for maps. I like to keep it simple so I try to avoid adding to much superfluous stuff.
Maybe I'll add some screenshots from cutscenes if they don't take up to much space. Sorry to disappoint you, but I hope you'll still like the maps.

Map Requests / Re: Mission Impossible for NES
« on: October 30, 2017, 10:12:33 PM »
Yeah, it's a hard game, but pretty good with nice graphic and sound. A typical Konami NES game.

It turned out to be a hard game to map also.  >:(  :'(
I'll probably need to do a lot of manual work to rip everything. It'll take some time, but I'm slowly making progress.

Map Requests / Re: Mission Impossible for NES
« on: October 16, 2017, 07:37:52 PM »
I'm interested in mapping this game so I'll give it a try.

VGMaps Social Board / Re: VGMaps is now 15 years old!
« on: May 09, 2017, 04:41:59 PM »
Happy birthday to this wonderful site.

I had to take a break from mapping, but hopefully I can continue mapping soon. There are many more games that I want maps of so there's that at least, but I agree with Revned that the whole mapping community has probably reached a saturation point. Let's see after 15 more years. :)

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2017/02: Solar Jetman (NES) - mechaskrom
« on: February 13, 2017, 11:27:21 AM »
By the way. Is planet 12 Miplezur supposed to be pronounced "My Pleasure"? Rare being ironic? My suffering (Mizuferin?) would be a more appropriate name.  :)

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2017/02: Solar Jetman (NES) - mechaskrom
« on: February 10, 2017, 08:34:09 PM »
Thank you!

Solar Jetman is an old favorite. It's a hard game, especially the final planet and its auto-scroller section, and the controls takes a while to get used to. It's also a bit repetitive with almost the same objective on 13 similar looking planets. But the graphic is good, the music is very atmospheric, dealing with gravity and inertia is an interesting concept and overall it's quite entertaining to explore the mysterious large planets. Luckily warps exist so you don't have to clear all planets (I wonder how the skipped ship parts were collected though?) and choosing a route is also an interesting part of the game. My favorite is taking the warp on planet 3 to planet 6 and there take the warp to planet 10. Not the shortest way, but one of the easiest. You also got to love Rare's humor. A planet named Shishkebab and some of the treasure chest contents and analyses are also funny:
Can anybody explain why a robot kit apparently consists of marine species? Some joke I'm missing? :)

Solar Jetman mysterious feel is also helped/caused by its succinct manual and leaves it up to the player to discover most things. Even today I learn new things about it. In FatRatKnight's TAS I learned that you can spin orange crystal for bonus money and that there is a short-lived warp on planet 1. While mapping I also discovered a similar warp on planet 4. Rare really like these kind of warps in their games e.g. Snake Rattle 'n' Roll and Battletoads. The orange crystal spin is a game-changer and the extra money makes things a lot easier. You can even do this infinite times if you release the crystal before the final spin for ridiculous amounts of money. I used to wonder why the little green enemy ships went berserk whenever you towed an orange crystal. Now I know why. :)

Mapping this game was quite hard, but thankfully I found some useful codes from TASVideos. Together with some I found myself I could put together a lua-script that screenshot whole levels. I also looked at the ROM-file and realized that Solar Jetman uses 128x128 pixel metatiles. That is big. Most games use something like 16x16 or 32x32. Here is an image with a grid and index (white number) overlay to make it more obvious:
Index is an 8bit value so max number of metatiles is only 256, but they can have different pattern sets and palettes so it's not that bad. Thanks to the big metatiles all level-layout in the game only takes a few kilobytes in total and explains how Solar Jetman could have such huge levels. Detail and variation of level's structure suffer with such big metatiles, but I think the game-designers managed to hide that well and make interesting layouts with them anyway.

The metatiles are also used to directly render the pretty good in-game maps instead of storing them. Each metatile is converted to an 8x8 pixel map tile. It's probably because of this that the map screen takes longer to bring up on the bigger planets. This also means that all levels can be viewed in the in-game map viewer with some trickery. Here is planet 13's ship part level for example:
The in-game map renderer uses a fixed width and will use whatever data comes next to fill the whole width and not stop drawing rows until the height of the level is reached. So on narrow levels that means the renderer will continue with the next row (levels are stored linearly, 1D) and whatever comes after the level. The infamous Preludon map is also a great example of this behaviour. You can see the start of planet 4 on the last row which happens to be stored after planet 1.

There are many interesting things in Solar Jetman to talk about, but this post is already to long. I'm very happy with the resulting maps. It's pretty awesome to look at the huge planets (both zoomed in/out) and the mini-maps are very helpful when playing the game. I'll finish with this funny spot on comic.

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2016/08: Suikoden II (PSX) - mechaskrom
« on: September 10, 2016, 04:23:53 PM »
Thank you for the translation. That comment is pretty funny and true.  :)

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2016/08: Suikoden II (PSX) - mechaskrom
« on: September 09, 2016, 08:53:01 PM »
Suikoden 2 have a lot of weird stuff off screen. I like that "programmer/artist note" in the north of Greenhill. I wonder what that japanese text says? Probably something like "AREA E" also?

You can take a boat from Radat Town, that you actually are in control of, to get to Banner Village (it is the only way to get there the first time). Magician's Island in Suikoden 1 can't be seen on the world map normally that I know of so there you remember correctly.

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2016/08: Suikoden II (PSX) - mechaskrom
« on: August 02, 2016, 02:35:19 PM »
Thank you!

It took a lot of time to map this game, but I'm very happy with the result. Suikoden 2 has really nice graphics and a lot of details, especially in the cities, so having maps of the areas and be able to see all of it is satisfying. It's a real shame that a lot of the offscreen areas are incomplete, for example Milich's house in Gregminster or the two mansions in Kyaro (probably the most beautiful place IMO). I didn't want to change the game's original graphics so the maps are mostly rips straight from the game regardless of how incomplete they are. But seeing what the designers did or didn't do is also interesting in a way.

Suikoden 2 fortunately has relativily simple graphics with few animated background objects, only 1-2 scrolling layers, etc, so it was pretty easy (but still time consuming) to map. The only effect that caused some problem was the water-effect used on the world and in a few cities. I'm talking about that static background layer with a dithered gradient which looks awful IMHO. I had to replace it with a solid color and I hope that my choice wasn't to bad.

I didn't find anything to interesting when mapping Suikoden 2. There is an unused small room in Tinto which probably was meant to be that locked tool shed. There is also an unused small room in Headquarters. So nothing here like that big unused room in Gregminster Palace in Suikoden 1.

My ideal strategy to keeping the enemy at bay was have a line of five footmen/grunts at the front of a bridge or small gap with five archers/spearmen right behind them (with three to five catapults behind them if available).

Pretty much my strategy to and almost the only way to beat the computer player. And to attack you moved these groups near the target and used a bait to lure only a few units to their death.  This defensive strategy made the first warcraft feel very unique and interesting. Very different from other real-time strategy games I have played. The control is a bit clunky, but this is still my favorite warcraft game and it is wonderful to see maps for it. Congratulations Will and thank you.

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2014/12: Solstice (NES) - Guillaume Saint-Amant
« on: December 06, 2014, 10:38:03 PM »
Congratulation! This map deserves it.

It has a lot of detail and info, but is simple to read and looks beautiful. The layout is really clever. In short, you made a really great map. :)

Solstice is an old favorite, great game with awesome music, and I'm really glad to see it getting a nice map.

Map Requests / Re: Nintendo Power - 1988-1996 cover games
« on: November 27, 2014, 09:32:28 PM »
I can map swords and serpents if nobody is already working on it. It is an old favorite and I even drew my own maps for it when I played it many years ago (almost had to to beat the game). I've always wanted to make some more professional maps for it so this would be perfect.

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