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Messages - DarkWolf

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I don't have a count of the number of contributors.  Someone once used something to scrape info off the site and got an exact count, but I don't recall who that is and I'm sure it's been long since it's been updated...

I had something that did that, but I haven't run it since 2007 it looks like, and it's using a library from PHP that has since been dropped, so it doesn't work anymore.

Map Requests / Re: Solar Winds Sector size [Map Request or Mapping Tips?]
« on: January 17, 2022, 10:32:37 AM »
I submitted the ships and planet sprites from the second game to TSR some years ago:

One day I need to finish the rest of the graphics if no one else does. My guess is that the file you're looking at probably has some small amount of header information to give the number of sprites and then there's probably a height & width value for each frame. The ships and planets use run-length encoding if I remember correctly. I didn't figure out the communication portraits, but I am guessing they're similar.

Terra, I'm glad you found help with your burnout. I had to take a job in 2016 that I didn't really like, but the contract I was working on previously fell out and need to find work quickly. Then, I stayed there because I couldn't find something better in the first year I was there. So that's taken a lot of energy out of me and I haven't really done any VG related stuff until recently. 2020 and 2021 have been an additional challenge and I find myself having to take time off of work just so I don't walk out. I managed to get back into some minor things this year, I've worked on the remake of the Blake Stone maps off and on, and I've submitted a few things over on The VG Resource. I would like to ramp things up, but the motivation isn't always there, so I'm limiting myself.

I'm definitely interested in the idea of a Discord space. I actually find it easier to keep up with than a bunch of separate forums.

Maps In Progress / Re: Blake Stone SVG remake
« on: October 31, 2021, 09:32:39 PM »
These are almost done. I just need to run some double checks on the later episodes. I would appreciate if some folks could look these over and give me some feedback. I could particularly use a few people to try these out on Apple devices. The viewer should work with a modern browser, and should be phone/tablet friendly. Maps are temporarily here on my hosting: (removed)

The viewer should have a nav bar at the top which should let you, from left to right:
  • Open a dialog of bookmarks and the view should center on it as best it can when you click/press on an item in the list.
  • Open a dialog of display options and let you toggle different items/layers in the map. There are two options for Blake Stone.
  • Zoom in
  • Zoom out
  • Open a dialog for map info which should contain game, level and contributor information.

Know issues / limitations:
  • Some Floor 9 maps have multiple Gold Access Key (Dr. Goldfire) entries because there are multiple spawns, although the key will only drop once. Just need to figure out a better solution for this.
  • Exits on Floor 9 need a bookmark.
  • Generators on Episode 6 Floor 9 need bookmarks.
  • Using your browser zoom can create issues. Use viewer controls for now.

Maps In Progress / Blake Stone SVG remake
« on: September 02, 2021, 09:15:35 AM »
I'm getting close to finishing this, so I wanted to share a preview. I've been working on re-doing my Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold maps in SVG. Those files can then be loaded into a webpage to create a viewer with some interactive options. Not sure when it will be done, as it's always the small details which take the most time and energy right?

If the image tag doesn't work:

Is your web hosting using Linux? If so check your folder and file permissions. There exists scenarios in Linux where you can delete files from a folder because you have write access to that directory, but you can't overwrite a file in that directory because you don't have write permissions on that specific file. I would expect you'd see an error message with this sort of thing, but it's possible the server or maybe your client isn't properly handling the error or suppressing it for some reason.

Text vs binary mode can also create issues, but this usually has to do with white space or character encoding, that is, I would not expect the behavior you're describing. Doesn't hurt to try though.

Here's what I've found. The bh_start.dat and save games have object locations.

First, how the game stores object positions in these files. Each object has 8 bytes that determine the X/Y coords for sector, and 2 bytes for sub-sector.

All objects have positions stored as:

X4 Y4 X3 Y3 X2 Y2 X1 Y1 XS YS - each of these being a byte

Calculate sector X Position as seen in game display:
Code: [Select]
((X4 - 127) * (1 << 24)) + ((X3 - 127) * (1 << 16)) + ((X2 - 127) * (1 << 8)) + (X1 - 127)
Calculate sector Y Position as seen in game display:
Code: [Select]
((Y4 - 127) * (1 << 24) * -1) + ((Y3 - 127) * (1 << 16) * -1) + ((Y2 - 127) * (1 << 8) * -1) + ((Y1 - 127) * -1)
Note that the 4 and 3 bytes are only used by the game to move ships temporarily out of the play area. At the start of the game the Rigian scout and Nightshade ship are located way out of the play area since they appear after triggers.  Not sure why numbers are stored this way instead of 32-bit signed integers, but maybe this is some coding strategy I'm not aware of. I'm sure this math can also be simplified but I couldn't be bothered. ;)

The sub-position of each sector is represented by XS and YS and these are unsigned bytes.

The player's ship position is stored at: 0x0321 and is 10 bytes long, matching the byte pattern from above.

Immediately after this starting at 0x032B starts a chunk of data that contains the positions for planets and NPC ships. These records are 13 bytes long. The first 10 bytes represent the position of the object as described above, the last three bytes are as follows:

Byte 11: Controls the graphic the object uses, also determines the mini-map colors
Byte 12: Not sure exactly
Byte 13: Something to do with the SCIENCE descriptions

I'm attaching an raster of an SVG I put together using the data from the starting save game file. Limited to the first solar system. Note that objects are scaled larger than what they would be in a sector. A 1:1 scale of the planet sprites to the sector size was too small. The largest planet takes up about 75% of a sector when it would only take up 25% in-game.

Anyway, hope that helps if you still decide to do a raster map. I will probably file this SVG version away for the moment, as I'm not 100% happy with the outcome and have other things I should be getting done.

Attachments and image tags don't seem to be working. Here's a link:

I only tested this out on the first game, although I imagine the second one would be similar if not the same.

I also forgot to mention that I didn't find interesting in the way of secrets in the first game. You can teleport your ship to the far-off stars that you can see on the furthest scan level that you normally don't get to travel to in the game, but there's no planets or anything. There's also a lone asteroid, but based on its location I think the X coordinate was just screwed up in development and it actually belongs in the belt with the others.

I didn't have a ton of time to dig into it, but I did find something interesting. It looks like the bh_start.dat contains a save game file that is loaded at the start of a new game. So a lot of the game's data can probably be found here. The positions of ships would pretty much need to be stored here, so the planets might be as well. You can even find text for the SCIENCE option on the objects.

Also my worries about the size/scale might be off. I had misremembered the sector size being larger than it is.

Have you done a search for an incrementing/decrementing value as you move the ship in one direction? They may have used a separate variable to keep track of the sub-sector position, or used a fixed precision number where some of the bits represent the sector and the others the sub-sector. Just a guess though.

Also, do you need the map to be pixel perfect? I thought about mapping this game before, but I felt like there would have been a lot of empty space and the scale of planets and ships would be weird, especially for the second game. Even though I have nostalgia for these games, looking at it today, it kind of wasted the open space feature with a very linear story line. I have always been curious if there were any secret areas though. Wonder where the object locations are stored...

Map Requests / Re: Sega Genesis Mini - full map set
« on: March 03, 2021, 01:12:51 PM »
I think that DarkWolf don't ripped this level, because it non-platformed level without objects. It includes only three small platform and enemies with a bombs or 200 JPY.

Yep, at the time I wasn't really good with generating maps from savestates or rom data.  I also made these before video recording was practical and it would have been hard to place everything accurately.

Out of curiosity, why is ToeJam & Earl marked with a dash? Does that mean incomplete? The maps uploaded should be all of the static maps possible in the game. If I remember correctly the randomized world, according to the devs, should actually be randomized and not just a random selection from a bank of possible maps. If that's the case, it's not really possible to make maps of the randomized game. It's has been a while though since I worked on this, and if someone has information otherwise, please let me know.

Gaming / Re: What's the best sprite resource on the Internet?
« on: September 11, 2013, 07:46:39 AM »
Ok, I updated the image, it has some additional sprites on it now.  Unfortunately in the player select image the text is part of the sprite.

Gaming / Re: What's the best sprite resource on the Internet?
« on: September 04, 2013, 08:49:34 AM »
Kawaks makes Neo-Geo and CPS1/2 sprite ripping pretty easy.  If I have time I might add the other images you mentioned, the ones along the bottom are for the good-ending credits screen, so I suppose I should include the other stuff.

Map Requests / Re: Sega Megadrive (Genesis)/Sega CD Game Atlas
« on: July 11, 2013, 07:45:37 PM »
Alex Kidd Enchanted Castle "technically" isn't complete.  There's a sky level that I didn't map, but due to the lack of detail, it would be pretty damn hard, and not a very useful or pretty map.

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2013/04: Xargon (PC) - Zerker
« on: April 01, 2013, 08:34:28 AM »
Any particular reason my overworld maps disappeared?  I actually put some work into those so they didn't show the abrupt endings that appear in the map data since the player never sees those on screen.

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