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Messages - TerraEsperZ

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It's nice to hear from all of you!

JonLeung, I've also thought of this place as a kind of second family over the last two decades. Months ago, when my thoughts were at their darkest, I was worried that nobody here would ever hear about it if I was gone. Now that I'm feeling much better, this isn't really a concern anymore but I should probably leave a note in my safe about it. If anything happened to any of you guys, I would hope to hear about it also.

You mentioning your physical health reminds me that I really need to take better care of mine now that my mind is doing better. My eating habits have been pretty bad over the last few years and my addiction to soft drinks certainly isn't helping. I've started cooking real, healthier meals lately which is good but kicking the soft drinks habit is going to be hell.

Electromax, I'm glad that working from home turned out alright for you. Most of the people I know found it really isolating. As for myself, I was part of the only team at my job which was required to be on-site (since we provided and repaired the laptops the regular workers used to work from home) so I had more social contacts that most people during most of the pandemic.

By the way, I just took a look at your DeviantArt and wow, you are a mapping *beast* and I'm definitely going to spend an hour of two browsing your gallery! I'm envious of your technical skills, as they apparently enable you to map so many more (complicated) games than people like me who have reached the limits of their abilities. Or at least, I'm not ready to invest the time and energy required to approach your level, or the interest really. I still make maps when the mood strikes, but I'm also splitting my time with another recent hobby. Working on my own personal fonts have guided me to the amazing world of conlangs and although I'm a complete amateur, I'm having fun coming up with ways to "encrypt" text graphically!

DarkWolf, I hope you're taking care of yourself and that your work situation improves. Also, your mention of Black Stone reminded me that I still grateful for your Texture Skewing utility. It helped fuel my interest in mapping isometric games.

Revned, it's good to hear from you too. We haven't talked in ages!

Don't feel too bad about having trouble socializing. I'm only just starting to socialize on my own after nearly three decades so you can't be worse than me ;). I think my gaming evolution has reached a similar point to yours, in that I find games for the platforms of my youth (NES, Game Boy, Genesis, SNES) increasingly harder to enjoy as time passes. Nostalgia doesn't seem to work as much as it once did, though I'll still occasionally play an old favourite. Lately, I've been playing Switch exclusives as well as some smaller indie PC games and having a lot of fun.

Like you, I've also given up on my more ambitious mapping projects or at least, I'm not holding hope that I'll ever finish them. I'm usually working on more personal maps for obscure games that few people know about or trying to put my own spin on famous games (which is hard to do when you're assembling screenshots), but I'm still having fun, which is the goal for me after all. I hope the passion comes back to you sometimes soon!

Grizzly, it's too bad that your mapping tool fell through and I think I sort of understand the feeling of working so hard for so long on something but ending up making it worse in the long run. Hopefully, you still find enjoyment in your other coding projects because it sounds like you're not lacking in terms of ideas, which is good. As for playing for play's sake, I think that's very healthy! I'll usually oscillate between "playing for fun" and "playing to map" a few times a year with each phase lasting several months. To me, it's almost like a mental "detox".

Your mention of finding it exhausting to talk to other people reminds me a lot of myself before I starting my medication (not suggesting your situation is like me though). I don't know about you, but what I found difficult to deal with was this constant anxiety about saying the wrong thing and being judged for it. Constantly second-guessing myself during *every* single social interaction was incredibly exhausting and such an ingrained reflex that I only felt the fatigue while not even noticing most or all of the toxic thoughts. I don't know how much of an obstacle this is for you but I hope you find some way to relax and enjoy yourself without worrying about all that pandemic stuff.

StarFighters76, I have to admit that for the longest time, I hadn't realized (or had simply forgotten) that you were the author of the vast majority of the original maps on GameFAQs! Given that you never use in-game graphics for your work, you're probably the mapper in the best possible position to try and make money with them, though you should still be careful from a legal standpoint.

A number of months back, someone named Phillip Summers started a Kickstarter to create hand-drawn game guides for older NES games that would not feature any official graphics or artwork. The project looked really cool and the art style meshed really well with those from game manuals of the time. Unfortunately, he was contacted by an unnamed lawyer and had to cancel the campaign. The guides are thankfully still available though and for free (check out the latest updates on the Kickstarter page for the links) but it sucks that the creator can't make money for his hard and impressive work (although you can pay what-you-want for a kind of making-of art book for the series). But hey, if you ever manage to make it work financially, make sure to tell us so that we can celebrate!

As for the various mentions of a Discord, I used to be pretty much against the concept. I grew up with message boards and I was never into linear chat rooms where things go too fast and discussions are hard to follow. However, my position has softened somewhat lately as I've been following a Discord server, Marioverse, that was the successor to the Reddit board Project Marioverse which is centered around mapping out the Super Mario universe. If a VGMaps Discord was ever created, I can't promise I would be a big participant but I would certainly try to be more active than I've been here.

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!

Maps In Progress / Re: Mike007's Map Projects
« on: July 19, 2021, 12:58:06 pm »
Weirdly enough, I've also been experimenting while mapping The Simpsons: Road Rage (GBA) over the last few weeks.

I was hoping to present the main six maps with an isometric view like with my Equinox world maps but I've been frustrated by the way the sprites of objects like buildings, mail boxes and billboards are sometimes placed *very* sloppily. Like, most buildings are placed in the center of an enclosed square but there are a few that lie almost entirely out of theirs, which really aggravates my desire for proper alignment.

I have no idea if I'll ever finish these (chances are high that I won't!) but if I do, would you be upset if I submitted them to the site?

Maps In Progress / Re: Electromax - getting to work on PS1 maps!
« on: May 19, 2021, 08:51:53 pm »
I love seeing 3d maps rendered in an isometric perspective like this, even though they're not always easily "readable" because rooms will overlap with one another and ceiling geometry is sometimes visible.
Also, because of the primitive graphics of the game, it's not always easy to tell where edges are located. When older 3D games are rendered like this, I've always wondered how much better/worse it would look with a visible outline around edges.

Thank you for such an amazing video, and I'm glad that you'll be making maps for the next two games as well.
Can't wait to check out the maps by myself!

I wasn't trying to nitpick or find faults, honest!
It's just that door alignment was a pet peeve of mine while mapping and the Cackle Mound in particular drove me crazy when I was working on it so I noticed those adjustments right away.
And in terms of misalignment, I meant when moving around the map in debug mode. The first two labyrinths are nearly perfect in their raw forms but then the third has neighboring doors that are off by 48 or even 56 pixels. That's huge to me!

I didn't notice any of the other things you mentioned or at least, they felt natural to me.
I guess I'm still just a bit too invested in Shantae's maps to be objective!

I'm sorry if I came off as being judgmental as that wasn't my intention. I'm just not that good at expressing myself and the language barrier doesn't help.

My intent was simply to discuss the choices we make as mappers in representing the truths of a game's world and how we fell about them.
We all have changes we are personally fine with and others we aren't.

For example, fixing a few missing tiles feels more like correcting a bug to me. It's not accurate to the game, but it *feels* right and I did it a few times with Sonic Advance (GBA).
When mapping Gradius (NES), I even flipped a tile horizontally in the last level because it was the only one that didn't fit with the rest and was clearly a mistake. And in the next to last level, I moved an enemy a bit because it was the only one that was off-centered inside a background "cell".
Like you said, developers don't always have the time or interest in making such things perfect as it's barely noticeable while playing but plain obvious when laid on a map.

And that ROM hack is probably something I'd do myself!
It was very common for NES games for example to have all sprites being lower vertically by one pixel for complicated programming reasons.
That's totally something I'd fix *everywhere* if I was mapping such a game!

So please, take my previous comments not as an attack, but as the personal opinion of a colleague who doesn't always agree but fully respects and supports you!

Having just perused through the finished maps, I'm happy to say that they are great looking!

You've managed to solve in a very elegant way an issue I was struggling with, namely those smaller forest and waterfall areas reached through caves and how to name them.
It never even came to my mind to simply group them along with the connecting caves on their respective main map, thereby avoiding the naming issue altogether!

However... I have to be honest and say that I'm not a fan of the various little adjustments you made to the labyrinths to make sure that all the doors would align correctly.
I too was frustrated by the way connected labyrinth doors would sometimes be completely off vertically with one another but actually changing the rooms that are visible in-game themselves would kinda feel like lying to me.

I hope you don't mind me being honest here and take it as the constructive criticism I mean it to be.
I'm no stranger to edits myself like with my Sonic 3D Blast but I've always kept it limited to offscreen areas.

I do understand the impulse though. I remember on a previous iteration of VGMaps that's now gone, there was a discussion about what to do with the vertical "gaps" between areas in the 2D Metroidvania games. An old forum member (either Zeric, Wileee or Edsword) made a mockup for Symphony of the Night's Long Library where he added in a connecting area that required editing the existing portions to fit it in.
It was impressive work but it was felt that altering the existing map was dishonest, not to mention how much work it would have been to do the same for *every* other gaps throughout the whole castle!

Anyway, it's one hell of a project that you've managed to complete so kudos to you!

Hi JonLeung,

There's a bit of grieving involved for every project that I end up abandoning, like a dream I have to give up because I'll never be able to make it come true.
Some are closer to my heart though but I often have difficulty making the hard choices as to which project to hold on to, and which to abandon.
I think it's ultimately a good (though painful!) thing when someone else comes along and submit full maps for a game I've been working on and off for years without much passion and often, just hanging on to that dream. That means I can finally move on to other, more meaningful games.

I think my present signature is actually honest for once as to which games I really want to finish mapping.

1) Drill Dozer (GBA): I stopped mapping this for a very stupid reason at a time where lack of mental energy (cause by a combination of untreated sleep apnea, work-related stress and severe social anxiety disorder) made me very susceptible to stop for a stupid reason.
It's back on but it's moving forward at a slower pace because:
   a) I never stopped working throughout the whole pandemic so not much free time;
   b) I actually pushed myself to have more regular social interactions for the last year or so and that ends up eating several hours I would otherwise have used for mapping;
   c) I try to play more games in general so that too takes time away from mapping.

2) Sonic 3D Blast (GEN): I don't know when I'll get back to this one but I'm at least confident that if someone else maps it before me, they'll most likely stick to the actual in-game maps which do not fill the whole area between the screen borders and are full of bad tiling and inconsistencies.
I want to correct as much of those problems as I can which won't make them perfect (some perspective problems aren't fixable for example) but will at least make them much nicer to look at.

3) Naya's Quest (PC): An unknown indie flash game that plays with perspective, this game was practically made for me and is probably the single most stimulating challenges I've encountered while mapping since Battletoads' last level with the rotating tower.
It just takes so *long* to make a single animated map that visually portrays the location of each tile through elevation and rotation and there are 30 rooms in the normal mode in addition to several more in the New Game+ mode.

Hi Cleeem,

Sorry for the overlong psychoanalysis, I didn't mean to hijack your tread!
I'm really curious to see your final maps.

Regarding the map names, you most likely used that huge scanned one from also appears in the manual but with all the area names added to it.
I've been trying to find out whether that map is official of not for years!

Strangely enough, according to The Cutting Room Floor, there are a bunch of unused names inside the ROM that would have indicated the name of the area you've just entered, as well as the areas east and west respectively. They were most likely from an earlier version of the game because they don't fit the final game but it's a neat thing to discover!

If you are curious, here are all the unused directions :
Welcome to the Scarecrow Field.  West: desert, East: Spiderwood Forest
Welcome to Spiderwood Forest.  West: Scuttle Town, East: Dribble Falls
Welcome to Dribble Falls.  West: Spiderwood Forest, East: Water Town
Welcome to Flushstone.  West: Dribble Falls, East: Slime Flats
Welcome to Slime Flats.  West: Flushstone, East: Quaggore Swamp
Welcome to Quaggore Swamp.  West: Slime Flats, East: Splinter- Grave Grove
Welcome to Splinter-Grave Grove.  West: Quaggore Swamp, East: Stumprot Forest
Welcome to Stumprot Forest.  West: Quaggore Swamp, East: Mount Brazier
Welcome to Mount Brazier.  West: Stumprot Forest, East: Pinestone Bluff
Welcome to Pinestone Bluff.  West: Mount Brazier, East: Mud Bog
Welcome to Mud Bog.  West:  Bandit Town, East: Sandy Dunes
Welcome to Sandy Dunes.  West: Oasis Town, East: Scuttle Town
Welcome to Skitterclaw Desert.  West: Golem Mine, East: Wasteland
Welcome to Wasteland.  West: Skitterclaw Desert, East: Scarecrow Field

Maps Of The Month / Re: 2021/02: Sonic Battle (GBA) - TerraEsperZ
« on: February 22, 2021, 09:31:48 pm »
I was just really lucky that the game doesn't have a real 3D engine with texture mapping and true perspective.

Rather, it's all just distorted maps and sprites I think, with everything using the same "scale" so to speak. After learning how to turn flat images into 2:1 isometric surfaces for walls and floors while preserving every single pixels, I was able to basically recreate the maps as perfectly as possible.
This was actually really helpful in helping me map the overworld for Equinox.

I sadly can't get my head around real 3D modeling (I'm stuck with outdated notions of textured polygons like in the old DOS days) so this is the closest I'm likely to ever get to mapping a "3D" game!

Also, reading the dedication and the submission date just reminded me that it's been both only and already more than 6 years since my Grandma died :(.

I always thought there were supposed to be only two color palettes, daylight and nightlight.
And that the slight differences after the transition between the two was simply a slight coding error (like a loop calculating the color values between day and night going from 0% to 99% instead of 1 to 100%).
I would consider the palette you get after pausing/unpausing to be the true one but that's just me!

Since you're going to post a full map set, I'm almost certainly not going to keep working on mine. I was only done with the day version of each area and only had about 1.5 labyrinths done so there would still be a lot of work to do and not a lot of incentive to do it.

What I am honestly super interested in is the map names you'll be using. There are a couple of hidden areas that don't have official names that really bothered me when I was working on it.
Can't wait to see the result!

Personally, the text and the pictures seem to indicate a new game "in the style of" A Link to the Past.
I think those pictures are most likely mockups to showcase their engine and give an idea of what to expect.
That minimap certainly looks rough and unfinished.

Map Requests / Re: Full map set for Sonic the Hedgehog's games
« on: January 11, 2021, 08:14:58 pm »
I know I don't really have the right to claim anything, given my poor track records...

But once I'm done with Drill Dozer (GBA), I'm really hoping to pursue mapping Sonic 3D Blast.

Maps In Progress / Re: FlyingArmor's Map Projects Present and Future
« on: January 04, 2021, 10:49:19 pm »
And just a little bit ago, I got the bathroom level done for The Addams Family: Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt (SNES) and it should be up fairly soon. It was quite an ordeal getting all the elements of each room together the way they're presented in-game. I had to come up with a solution for the backgrounds in the taller rooms, since the art for the background doesn't scroll vertically, so I just took the gradient part and stretched it to the height of the room, and kept the sink, mirror, and door elements at the bottom along with the horizontally parallax scrolling bubbles.

For the underwater portions, I managed to get the colour math correct for most of the layers except for the wavy water layer, but just as I am typing this out, I may have stumbled upon a solution, so I'll need to resubmit this map once that's figured out.

This is the kind of challenge I miss the most about mapping.
Sometimes, you'll just run into a game where some elements just seem impossible to represent properly on a static map. You get frustrated and might spend days, weeks or even months trying to come up with a solution. And one day, it finally just pops into you mind and after a bit on tinkering, you implement your workaround and produce something amazing!

I too am curious as to how you'll handle the crystal ball stage ;)

Maps In Progress / Re: Drill Dozer (GBA)
« on: December 29, 2020, 09:09:45 pm »
This is just a small update to indicate I've gone back to work on this and I'm almost finished with Area 4-1.

Map Requests / Re: Mother 3
« on: December 08, 2020, 06:27:54 pm »
I was just about to post about the same thing!

I bought a digital copy of this guide years ago for the maps alone since I've never even played a Mother game before...
As a fan guide, it is easily more professionally made than many of the last few game guides published on paper.

Of course, it's a guide and not a series of image files on VGMaps but if you're looking for an amazing walkthrough for Mother 3, this guide is the best thing available.

Maps In Progress / Re: Jackster's Map Projects
« on: November 14, 2020, 03:21:48 pm »
Great job on those Faces of Evil maps Jackster! I was hoping someone would finally map those stages because I find those graphics gorgeous.

Can't wait for you to do the same with Wand of Gamelon!

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