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Topics - TerraEsperZ

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VGMaps Social Board / So... how is everybody doing?
« on: November 11, 2021, 09:49:46 pm »
Given how quiet it's been around here lately, I thought it might be interesting to share how we're all doing, what with COVID-19, the current political climate and message boards in general slowly dying out...

Personally, things are going very well at the moment but that's only because I hit rock bottom a while ago.

Five and a half months ago to be precise, I was diagnosed with occupational burnout after years of being overworked, experiencing symptoms similar to when I was suffering from sleep apnea (lack of mental energy, difficulty to concentrate, no interest in anything) only much worse, up to and including suicidal ideation.

Thankfully, I work in the public sector so I was able to retain my job while my doctor put me on extended leave in order to rest and heal up. Today, after five and a half months, a lot of rest, weekly psychotherapy sessions and the appropriate dosage of antidepressant, I feel like I've been reborn.

First of all, the medication worked wonder to take care of the constant anxiety that has been the background of my life for at least several decades. Also, the psychotherapy has helped me to understand myself a lot better. I now have names for how what has been making my life so difficult for so long, namely "social anxiety disorder" and "avoidant personality disorder". Over the last few months, I've finally been able to do simple things I had been putting off for years because of my anxiety, such as changing Internet provider, contacting an old acquaintance after years of silence or just posting on this forum about my thoughts and feelings without overly worrying about what people will think of me!

I still have so much to do to improve my life, but I feel like I'm finally moving forward at a good pace.

As for VGMaps, I still visit every week but for the longest time, I was just too tired or anxious to post anything. Needless to say, I haven't done a lot of mapping lately aside from trying to give my own twist to a game that has already been mapped several times (Metroid II: Return of Samus).

I've been mostly playing, especially since I finally bought a Nintendo Switch a few weeks before being diagnosed. There were finally enough games I wanted to justify the price and both Super Mario Odyssey as well as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild helped to keep me sane during those first few months before I could start both medication and therapy. I still have several others I haven't even started yet (Luigi's Mansion 3 and Metroid Dread) but I've been too busy with positive real life stuff!

Browsing my mapping folder earlier today, I've been thinking of maybe starting a thread where I could post samples of my many, *many* failed and/or abandoned project and discuss them. What I was hoping to achieve, why I eventually gave up, etc. Maybe it might motivate others to post about their own failed project, who knows?

Anyway, I hope everyone who's still around is doing well and if not, that they get the help and support they need.
Take care everyone!

Map Gab / Equinox (SNES) - Isometric overworld & enhanced dungeons
« on: July 14, 2020, 10:50:07 pm »
So, I kinda started mapping this game a few months ago but as usual, I took too long and someone else (Cleeem) has pretty much mapped the whole game ahead of me :(. Fair is fair though, as I am a master procrastinator after all.

So, what to do with the work I *did* manage to do?

Well for starters, the rotating Mode 7 overworld can't be easily mapped thanks to its rather fuzzy and imprecise rendering. It was the main reason I wanted to map this game so hard and it was a complicated enough process that I'm fairly certain no one else has done it the same way as me.

Behold, the kingdoms of the world:

I'll make another post tomorrow detailing the techniques I used to make this *technically pixel-perfect* (but not screen accurate) isometric rendering of the overworld map. There will be quite a bit of math involved, and most of it should be accurate too!

Oh and as the title implied, I would love to map every dungeon but to also enhance the graphics by adding custom shadows to make the 3D layout of every room easier to understand. Maybe in the distant future...

Maps In Progress / Tower of Heaven v.2.0.0 (flash)
« on: October 12, 2018, 11:44:14 pm »
Hey everyone! I've been on a nostalgia binge lately, as in, I've been working on a couple of map projects I'd been wanting to do for a very long time but never did for a number of reasons. Tower of Heaven is one of these.

I don't know if JonLeung is actually going to accept this map since it's basically an online flash game, but it's a rather famous one that's been around for almost a decade. Most people (including me) remember it for it's great Game Boy-style soundtrack, but it's still a simple but enjoyable little thing.

There's not a lot to say about this map. It shows the whole game along with the various restrictions that the god of the tower imposes on you. That's basically it.

I used a lot of connecting arrows in order to center all the main levels in the form of a tower, except for the last one which I moved to the side both because it takes place outside the tower *and* to make space for the map legend. A player with an eye for details will notice while playing that the graphics of the individual blocks and the positions of the dandelions will probably differ from my maps. That's because there's a bit of randomness; the blocks' positions are the same but their graphics are not. There's also a number of graphical artifacts that I kept in order to be faithful to the game, like the occasional light dot in a darker area that doesn't belong there, of there being nearly identical yet different shades of the same colour in the same map for the same tiles, which doesn't make sense. Anyway, enjoy!

Map Gab / Lilly Looking Through (PC)
« on: April 13, 2018, 06:47:57 pm »
Well, it's been a while since I've posted anything. More than a year in fact, and that wasn't even a full project, just two orphaned maps. But I never really stopped mapping you know; I just grew so obsessed with perfection that I became unable to live up to my unrealistic standards...

...or some stupid stuff like that.

Anyway, this single map has been a long time coming. I'd pretty much mapped the whole game as close to perfectly as it could be about two years ago, but then it all sat untouched until last week because I was never satisfied with my ideas for the overall presentation. Thankfully, I managed to get over that and it's at least functional if not that great-looking. It'll have to do.

Lilly Looking Through is a pretty small and somewhat unremarkable game. It's more or less a classic point-and-click adventure/puzzle game like those I used to play as a teenager, one where you have to "solve" the current area/screen before moving on to the next one. As a game, it's nothing great mind you; the puzzles are somewhat easy for the most part although they can get tedious, and there are some puzzles with color addition and subtraction that can get quite annoying if not outright frustrating toward the end. All in all, it's pretty short with only ten areas and the story, such as it is, is barely a prologue for something bigger that was never made.

HOWEVER, the game still manages to present an intriguing world through its visuals and ambient music, one I would have loved to explore further in a much longer sequel. The title of the game refers to the player's character, Lilly, finding a pair of magical goggles early on that, when worn, allows her to see but more importantly, to interact with her surroundings but in the past. What's more intriguing, you eventually realize that these past versions aren't all from the same time or era; in one location, you get to see it during the last ice age while in another, it's probably just the night before.

Here, then, is the whole thing in one single map :

DON'T save this one, as Imgur seems to convert any .png over 1 MB into a .jpg. I'll be sending JonLeung a link to the full quality file (~35 MB) as an official submission and you can grab that one then if you like.

Hey everyone. Sorry for the major radio silence over the last several months. It's become increasingly harder to motivate myself to map (or play, or read, or do anything that's not a professional or social obligation really) so there's probably something messed up with my body or something. Guess I should get that checked out...

Anyway, the meat of my question, for the umpteenth time since I've started making videogame maps, is *where* oh where can I host all the images I want to share with you guys? I've become so discouraged by having one hosting site after another disable hotlinking (which I'd understand for large images, but even for thumbnails?) or suddenly reduce the size and quality (but no the file size!?) of everything I'd uploaded that I just stopped sharing anything I was doing lately. Granted, I wasn't accomplishing much, but I probably would have posted something if only to inspire the kind of technical discussions that used to be so frequent here years ago.

From what I've gathered, what I apparently want is a CDN, a content delivery network, but I'll be honest in that I don't know what that is, how to get one, much less how to get one that's suited to me, and the hassle behind the whole concept makes me want to not even start looking. ALL I WANT IS A PLACE I CAN HOST FILES THAT ARE SEVERAL THOUSAND PIXELS IN RESOLUTION AND A FEW MEGABYTES IN SIZE THAT WILL GIVE ME THUMBNAILS FOR LINKS AND WON'T ALTER THE FILES THEMSELVES. I'll even pay for it, in the hopes that said sites won't close down like so many others before it.

Am I asking for too much? I'm just so tired of dealing with this shit, which I recognize is incredibly unimportant shit in the grand scheme of things. But it's yet one more factor on top of the pile of stuff that's sapping my motivation.

Can anyone help?

VGMaps Social Board / I created my own font, Crypteuz!
« on: October 07, 2016, 06:10:38 am »
Forgive my enthusiasm, but I'm just really happy whenever I actually manage to create something I'd consider artistic, given how rigid and resolutely logical I tend to be. Anyway, I started thinking about making my own personal font when I was in college (so close to two decades ago!) and I was doodling in the margins of my school planner. I then forgot about the idea until very recently when I felt really inspired and just *needed* to get it out of my system.

You can see/download the TrueType file at but honestly in that format, it's not that good looking or that readable. I just needed a way to officially state that I created it and that website (BitFontMaker2) was the easiest way to do it. I've attached a PNG file with a cleaner version at the end of this post with multiple sizes and shadows, which is what I'll use if I want to make a signature or something.

The name Crypteuz is reallly weird but it's kinda hard to think of a name that nobody else has come up with already, so I just went with a combination of "cryptic", "obtuse" and "TeuZ", the latter being an occasional online alias of mine. As for the font itself, "cryptic" is kind of appropriate since many letters are hard to decipher. I was more concerned with the geometric purity of everything and I gave myself a set of rules concerning how the letters, numbers and the rest could be structured. Like I said, the intent was more to create something that represents me and how I think rather than making a font that was good looking and functional. You can still comment and/or criticize it of course, this is the Internet after all!

*EDITED 2020/07/19*

Attachments aren't working anymore so here's a slightly updated version:

If you've read my recent post in the "What games are we playing" thread on the Gaming board, you know how much I love Antichamber. In fact, I love it enough that I've spent most of my free time over the last four weeks trying to come up with a way to map this 3D puzzle game that features some heavy non-euclidean geometry. And although I'd love to spend all my free time for the next year or so working on this further (actually, that's a big lie), I think I might have to call it quits.

I mean, I've managed to come up with my own working isometric art style that fits this game's graphics and where everything aligns in all three axes, so I didn't do all of this for nothing. And it's not that the whole project is unfeasible, because I think it's totally doable. It's just that it would probably take me several years of taking measurements while playing, of agonizing over how to separate the various puzzles rooms, how to present the whole game space and how to display in a readable format spaces that need to be visited from the inside in 3D to be correctly understood. Add to that a lot of coloured lighting that I have no idea how to replicate without making it exponentially harder to edit certain sections later on and you probably understand why, again, my limited skills and impatience are making me stop before wasting too much additional time on this.

And the thing is, I don't want to drop this, not really. This is one of those games whose map just fired up my interest and my *need* to attempt to depict it. Few games provide me with this much motivation, but I fear that I might never be able to do justice to how I imagine it in my head. It's almost like a dream where you have this clear picture of a plan that is so logical and would totally work to solve some great problem like world hunger or war, and then waking up and trying to write it down only to end up with a few meaningless steps that are nothing like what you saw in your sleep. That's how this feels to me: in my head, I can imagine an amazing isometric map that's comprehensive, yet clear and easy to understand. In Paint, all I can come up with is two good looking views of the starting puzzle room and everything else immediately feels daunting and impossible to represent.

Sorry if I'm having an emotional moment here. I *have* been working on this for a month with little to show for it, so I'm kind of invested. Lo and behold as attachments, the only presentable and somewhat finished pieces of a month of work on Antichamber.

Mapping Tips/Guides / Map versioning?
« on: May 28, 2016, 12:22:24 pm »
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.

Well, after mapping the sequel to this game, JonLeung suggested that also do the original. So here I am, doing just that.

I must say, this game still holds pretty well, especially for a licensed game of the era. The controls are just a tiny bit worse than the sequel and there's less variety in terms of gameplay and stages, but I still kinda prefer this one for the (in my opinion) better graphics and better-looking stages. For the stage names, there are none mentioned in the manual so I went with those from the Nintendo Power issue that covered the game with the exception of one (that's a castle, not a cave) since those are the only names I found repeated on a few online FAQs.

I should note that contrary to the minigames from the sequel, I also added the reward for each basketball court since all three maps are otherwise identical. I realize I didn't mention the rewards in the sequel but that's because not only does the game not tell you what they are, but I never found out from playing the game, reading the manual or searching online. I wonder if that might even a been a dropped feature...

Anyway, here's what I've completed so far:

Stage 1: Bedrock

Basketball Court 1

Stage 2: Reef Rock

Basketball Court 2

Stage 3: Icy City

Stage 4: Jungle

Basketball Court 3

The old-timers around here probably know about my extreme reluctance in switching to a different emulator after years of using another. Well, the time has finally come where I'm willing to jump ship and start using BizHawk for its many debugging features. However, I need some help before fully committing to it.

BizHawk emulates many different systems but so far, I have no idea which systems it does better than existing emulators. So I need to know from those in the know if I should use it for the following systems or stick to a separate program in a few cases:

-NES (currently using FCEUX 2.2.2)
-SNES (currently using ZSNES 1.51)
-N64 (currently "not using" Project 64 1.6)
-GB/GBC/GBA (currently using VBA-RR 24 svn480)
-NDS (currently using NO$GBA 2.8 Debug version)

-SMS/GG (currently using Meka 0.73)
-GEN/SCD/32X (currently using Gens-RR 11c svn341)

-Wonderswan (currently using Oswan 1.7.3)

Some of the above I'm still using mostly because they are familiar (like ZSNES), others because they have great built-in functions like Map/Tiles/Sprites viewing and Lua support (VBA-RR, Gens-RR, Meka) and at least one because it's unique in having the debugging functions I need for a project (NO$GBA). But to be honest, being able to do as much as possible with the same program, the same interface, the same added functions would be a godsend.

I just want to know in advance if there are functions I might "lose" because BizHawk doesn't support them yet. The most important features I require are Map Viewing (basically see the content of the Background layers currently loaded in memory), Tiles and Sprites viewing, Lua support, and the last but most important, the ability to enable/disable graphical layers at will and the option to change the background color (typically the first color entry on the background palette) to allow easy separation between layers.

Thanks a lot in advance!

Map Gab / The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak (NES)
« on: March 30, 2015, 09:07:36 pm »
I actually got a request by littlesamson702 to map the second NES Flintstones game a few days ago. I remember liking the first game enough way back when NES game rental was a thing and I never played the second one so I thought, why not? It's a relatively low challenge project, which is nice from time to time.

Note that for now, I haven't named the stages since some have official names (like Bedrock and Slate and Gravel) while others would be stuck with descriptive names like "Jungle" and "Sea". I'll see if I change my mind about that once the whole thing is done.

I've decided to name each stage in the end even if the names aren't all official. Who's going to care for such an obscure NES games anyway?

Stage 1: Bedrock

Stage 2: Jungle

Hockey Minigame

Stage 3: Mine

Stage 4: Sea

Stage 5: Slate and Gravel

Stage 6: Giant's House

Basketball Minigame

Stage 7: Witch's Tower

Stage 8: Pterodactyl Ride

Stage 9: Dinosaur Peak Exterior

Stage 10: Dinosaur Peak Interior


All complete!

*EDIT 03/05/15*

As always, I have to do some tiny corrections *after* the maps have been posted. Turns out that the location for Stage 9 and 10 has a name mentioned in-game, that is the titular "Dinosaur Peak". It has now been fixed.

Maps In Progress / Shantae: Risky's Revenge (PC) - A partial attempt
« on: December 04, 2014, 09:29:30 pm »
This will no doubt seem like cruel teasing on my part, especially given the slim chance of ever completing the whole thing, but I've decided to share a few maps I've managed to assemble of this great game. Given how little free time I have nowadays, I can barely work on mapping at all so I tend to not stick to anything even more than before. In any case, these aren't official submissions at the moment, more like works in progress, though I might eventually submit them if I ever get the time to polish and finish them.

Scuttle Town:
*EDIT 2017-02-05* See this later post for updated version

Tangle Forest (main area):
*EDIT 2017-02-05* See this later post for updated version

These two areas have always fascinated me because of the way you can switch layers in certain spots and you literally jump either into the background or out into the foreground. When on the foremost layer, you can still see monsters and NPCs move around in the other background layers and it makes these places feel much bigger than they really are.

Mapping this game (using the Steam version since apparently no ROM dump of the DSiware version exists) was quite a pain:

1) First I had to take a lot of screenshots, and then process them for use. There's no way to configure the game to run using its original resolution (256 x 192) but running it in full screen on my end (1680 x 1050), cropping the exact gameplay window and then resizing it without resampling results in an almost pixel perfect image (256 x 191, only the uppermost line needing to be resized separately and added back). This preserves the graphics of the game perfectly.

2) I then remove the backgrounds using a colour replacer tool (thankfully, there is almost never a colour shared across multiple layers which makes this easy) and use multiple images to remove sprites and the player's status icons (they disappear during conversations with NPCs, but this doesn't happen in every area unfortunately).

3) For the backgrounds (especially the one from Tangle Forest), they couldn't be ripped in their entirety just by playing since there's always a portion that's not visible. I then used a rather unorthodox method to obtain it: doing a memory dump of the game's process using the Windows Task Manager, and then combing through the resulting massive file using the TextureFinder v2.0 utility. This is basically searching through the game's memory at the time of the dump and trying to find the graphic I'm looking for using the various graphic formats it can recognize until I can make out something that looks like the game's background and then keep adjusting the program's settings like offset, horizontal resolution and skew until I get the tiles for the texture. It took almost an hour to find what I was looking for.

4) Once the individual layers have been assembled, there's still the matter of assembling them in the same way the game does for those multi-layers areas. I quickly calculated that any playable layer, when seen in the background, is scaled at 90% of the size of the one in front of it, meaning that if I'm standing on the first layer (out of three), the second will be resized to 90% of its original size, and the third will be 90% of 90%, so 81%. A hypothetical fourth would be 90% of 81%, so 73% of its original size. Since the layers, when resized, are no longer as large or tall as they used to be, I then had to extend them in every direction to account for the empty space. It's all a bit hard to explain and I'll see if I can attach a sample of the back-most layer for the forest.

5) Finally, when standing on anything but the rear-most layer, all the background layers become lighter in colours. Using some pixel colour values and doing some quick calculations, I managed to obtain with 98% accuracy the required amount of brightness to apply to them. For Scuttle town, it's a 59 out of 255 increase (using Irfanview's measurements) and for Tangle Forest, it's 132 out of 255.

Maps In Progress / Sonic Spinball (Genesis)
« on: October 30, 2014, 09:57:33 pm »
Still pretty much on a major Sonic kick. I actually started mapping the first stage two and a half years ago, but quickly gave up because each map features several changing or rotating colour values which are hard to capture. That goes double for the first map where the whole palette changes four times as Sonic travels upward.

In any case, although the first two maps are essentially finished, I won't be submitting them officially right away. You see, these maps have been done using a prototype ROM with a handy Debug mode that allows you to move Sonic anywhere and although the maps are seemingly 99.99% identical to the finished ones, I doubt anyone's ever gone over them with a fine comb in order to spot every minute change (like, say, a partially corrupted background tile on the second map that's fine on the released game). It's a bit hard to capture the final maps while playing them so it might take me a bit longer to ensure that everything is accurate.

Stage 1: Toxic Caves

Stage 2: Lava Powerhouse

A simple question seeing as I'm aiming to build myself a new computer and inevitably, the question of whether I stay conservative and go with Windows 7 (where hopefully most/all of my present software will still work perfectly) or be adventurous and give Windows 8.1 a try. Not that I need the absolute latest OS, but I have to move on from Vista eventually (and before anyone says it, no, Vista is *not* horrible and has always worked 99.99% flawlessly for me).

Unfortunately, there is no online listing anywhere to check up if every piece of software I'm currently using will be compatible with Windows 8. I'm especially worried that my various emulators won't work anymore (and the less said about Windows Compatibility Mode, the better, unless there's been a major overhaul on that front I'm not aware of). Fortunately, most people here *do* use emulators so hopefully I can get an idea on what to expect if I upgrade.

So, any comments regarding the following emulators running in Windows 8 would be appreciated:

-VBA ReRecording
-Gens with KMod
-Gens ReRecording

Maps In Progress / Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
« on: September 01, 2014, 06:43:48 pm »
I first tried mapping this game in 2005, which was nine years ago :o! Needless to say, I was nowhere near as good at mapping at the time as I am today (and compared to some, I'm still not that good so don't think I'm on some ego trip) so I gave up after assembling serviceable maps of a few stages that had a lot of areas I couldn't capture.

Anyway, after experimenting with Sonic Advance 2 on the GBA, I decided to see if I could use a modified version of my camera Lua script for this game since Gens-ReRecording also supports Lua. I wasn't as successful as I would have wanted since I was not able to control the camera directly this time; although I found the coordinates for it, trying to change them makes the display super jittery and only shows the sprites at the intended location, with the actual stage graphics being all messed up. I *can* move Sonic himself around freely though along the isometric axes, and since the camera automatically centers on him I can eventually capture the entire map, even if it's harder than by moving the camera vertically and horizontally like on the GBA.

I wasted a lot of time capturing the starting position and orientation of the various enemies and obstacles only to eventually realize that that there's absolutely no consistency there, with enemies of the same type never starting on the same frame of animation as each other. I decided to introduce some order, by only using one or two frames per type of enemy and obstacles and using the closest one as seen in game because otherwise, it would have looked sloppier while being more accurate.

I also decided to use transparencies to add in two hidden paths, one leading to a cannon on the right edge of the stage and another behind the waterfall. Something to note (if you care about such details) is that the graphics of the right path are actually there but are hidden underneath those of the cliff, while there are no graphics for the path behind the waterfall so I had to assemble it by hand based on the space where Sonic can move after hiding the layer with the waterfall.

Finally, I've attached two pictures at the end of this post to show just how much empty space there is on the first map and how much filler I had to add (don't mind the eye-searing purple). At first, I thought I'd leave the map as is but after taking a look at smaller versions of all the maps on another site, I realized I could pretty much extend the map vertically with very little editing. I only had to remove a few tiles on the outer edges that weren't visible anyway.

Green Grove Zone, Act 1:

Green Grove Zone, Act 2:

Green Grove Zone, Act 3:

Rusty Ruin Zone, Act 1:

Rusty Ruin Zone, Act 2:

Rusty Ruin Zone, Act 3:

Spring Stadium Zone, Act 1:

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