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Transparencies are like a horrible twisting monster version of background layers.  They have to be extracted and added separately and they always have their own unique problems.  Fortunately this particular level offers only one real issue as far as its transparencies go.  But first let's handle extraction.

If we take a closer look at these waterfalls we see we have a problem right off the bat, they stretch.  More often then not transparencies will have some kind of physical distortion accompanying their translucence.  Fog transparencies can waft back and fourth, water can ripple, reflections can bend toward the horizon.  This transparency is stretched from top to bottom to give it a falling water effect.  Very creative design but very difficult for a mapper to duplicate, not impossible, but let's remove it.  We don't want to be stuck on this map for years.

Extraction with screenshots:
So how can you accurately screenshot a distortion?  With.  Great.  Difficulty.  Fly Squaks to a nice spot that lets you view one of the waterfalls in its entirety and turn off all layers but the waterfall, then take a screenshot.  Open the screenshot in your image editor and zoom in on it.  If you look closely you'll see locations in which one pixel was stretched into several by the distortion, and you can cut the image apart along those lines.  As you can see it's extremely complicated, but you can undo the distortion by shaving all but one line of pixels off each row, then reassembling them.  Unfortunately you'll discover here that the top and bottom of the finished product don't line up, which means part of it is missing.  And that means repeating this process with more screenshots until you find that part.  Once you do you'll have your transparency.

Extraction with BGMapper or other tool:
Just as you did for the background, move a copy of your zst file to Piken and bring it up in BGMapper.  Press 1 on the keyboard, then 0 and 2 to take your giant capture.  And yes you had to leave the background in the image, it's a restriction of BGMapper that you can't get around, and it also means you'll have to modify the image BGMapper just created.  Get out of BGMapper and open your new BGIMG image.  Note there's no distortion, BGMapper always removes physical shape distortions.  What you need to do now is separate the waterfall from the background rock.  There are many ways to do this but we're going to take a shortcut.

I'm going to use Irfan View to do this.

It's a great program that's a way around the clutter of Photoshop.  But you can use whatever you like as this trick works in almost any image editor.  You are going to be making a cutout.  Move the waterfall image into the image editor and open the menu that allows you to edit contrast.  In Irfan View this is Shift+G.  Increase the contrast until the image is blown out into only a few colors.  Then clean it up just a little further until it's only two colors.  Now erase the colors of the waterfall and drop it over the original waterfall image and you've got it.  Also just like the background capture these will perfectly tessellate.

Reload your save with Squaks at the top left corner of the stage.  Turn off layers 1, 2, 4, and 5, and you see the stage background.  If you turn layer 5 back on and fly around with Squaks you'll see the background move just like the foreground does.  But if you turn all the layers back on and fly past one of the waterfalls you'll notice the background and foreground scroll at different speeds.  The fact that they don't automatically line up is the reason backgrounds need to be extracted, although in some games this is not a problem.  The waterfalls count as transparencies and while they do line up with the foreground they don't with the background.  Also transparencies usually put up the most difficulty when it comes to mapping due to the way the blend with whatever they overlap.

Backgrounds and transparencies can also have the annoying habit of mixing with each other.  Backgrounds can be on multiple layers and transparencies can change more then a backgrounds color.  Sometimes they do it to foregrounds too.  To put the backgrounds and transparency into our map first we need to get them out of the game.

The bgmapper tool I mentioned before, and it's front end, are especially useful here, but not essential:

I'll go over how to do this part with both screenshots and the BGMapper extraction tool.

Extraction with screenshots:
With Squaks back at the top left turn off all but the background layer and fly around.  Study the pot marks in the rock face until you can see the repeating pattern in them.  It looks like it's only about a single screen both left right and up down.  So just take four screenshots of nothing but the background, using the same landmark trick you did with the foreground, only with pot marks in the rock face, in a 2x2 grid.  Next line them up like you did the foreground shots and look for the edges of the repeating pattern in them.  Mark those edges with lines, cut away everything outside the lines, and the lines themselves, and now you have a tile that perfectly lines up with itself so you can duplicate it to make infinite background.

Extraction with BGMapper or other tool:
Make a new folder on your computer somewhere and call it Piken.  Into Piken put the BGMapper program an it's little helper UpFront.  Go into the Zsnes folder, find the Donkey Kong Country 3.zst file, and make a copy of it.  Put the copy into the Piken folder then double click UpFront.exe to start BGMapper through Up Front.  In Up Front's main window you should see the names of all the files in the Piken folder.  Select Donkey Kong Country 3.zst and click the big words BG Mapper under Up Front's main window.  Now you should be looking at a garbled version of the level we are mapping.  Play around with the number keys a little to see what everything does, don't worry you can't break anything from this screen.  When you're done experimenting press 1 and 2 on the keyboard to turn off the layers we don't want.  Next press 0, then 2, to take the largest size snapshot you can and press Esc twice to exit the program. There's a new file in the Piken folder: BGIMG000.bmp.  This bitmap file is the background we wanted.  It also tessellates perfectly with itself so it doesn't need to be modified in any way.

Next up transparencies.

Now you can build your first whole basic map.  Turn off camera scroll left and just fly Squaks to the right until only a strip of your previous position is visible.  Then scan down and up again capturing your screenshots.  Back at the top go right more until again you see only a strip of your previous position and do the down and up scan and screenshot.  Keep this up until you hit the far right wall of the level, at which point turn on camera scroll right so you don't miss anything and do one final down and up scan.  Next take your enormous pile of screenshots, should be about 200, and assemble them in your image editor and congratulations your foreground map is complete.

Next we'll work on making the level appear as it did in the game.

Once you have a bunch of screenshots putting them together is easy.  But first you'll need some kind of image editor program.  Anything from MS Paint to Photoshop will do.  Since all image editors have a different style of operation pick the one you like the best.  It may be a long process to experiment with different kinds but it's worth it.

Assembling your screenshots is usually called stitching because of how each screenshot acts as a piece to a whole to make a map.  All you have to do is line up one part of a screenshot that overlaps another and keep doing that until you've formed a larger image.  This is why landmarks are so important.  A bush, a crack in the rock, or some other static object appearing in two screenshots can be used to line them up into one.  If the same landmark appears twice while you are capturing screenshots then once your done just go back and count them to create a measurement.  For example between the top of the screen and the first ledge in this level there are four little bushes.  So even if you get confused as to where a screenshot in your stack was taken you can figure it out.

Sprites follow the same rule.  You can re-scan the area you just shot to re-find them, and use landmarks around them to pinpoint their exact location.  Some people like to use a standard set of sprites in their maps, for example always showing the little purple alligator in the same position wherever it appears on the map, but for this map I'm only going to record non moving sprites.  This is entirely a personal choice and every mapper uses a different standard when it comes to how much detail to add to their map, so it's up to you.

So with your image editor of choice stitch your current handful of screenshots together and you'll have your first strip of map.  Which also gives you the levels height.

Now that you're in position turn off layers 2, 3, 4, and 5 and press your snapshot button to take a screenshot.  Then go into the cheat menu and turn the scroll up off and the scroll down on.  As Squaks falls the screen will scroll down, and as it does you can take a new screenshot a certain intervals.  But now we have a new problem: how do you judge intervals and how do you keep track of screenshots that are almost identical.  The answer is landmarks. 

At the top of the level there are three little bushes on the screen.  As Squaks floats down the bottom bush rises to the top and another little bush appears.  This is a good time for your second screenshot.  As Squaks keeps falling another row of bushes appears so again time for a screenshot.  Finally Squaks reaches the first ledge which makes another good spot for an interval screenshot.

Now two of your screenshots are nearly identical #2 and #3.  How are you going to tell them apart when you start assembling them.  Simple, during assembly you are going to go back and count.  But for now lets move on.  As Squaks hits the ledge he stops and bounces and the screen stops scrolling because my codes are not perfect.  To get the scroll down code to kick in just move him to the right of the screen.  The camera will attempt to adjust itself, it will scroll up, then start doing what the code instructs it to do.  As is slowly scrolls down the level you can take your screenshots at whatever landmark intervals you like the best.  When I find an interval I like I like to press the in game pause button to avoid camera jitter.  The jitter is another side effect of my codes.

Keep doing this until the camera stops because it's at the bottom of the level.  For me it was about twenty screenshots from top to bottom.  Now press 5 on your keyboard because next we're going after sprites.  Sprites are all the little animated characters and objects in a game.  They are usually closer then the foreground so you don't need to worry about layer overlap.  Turn off the camera scroll down code and get ready on the in game pause because the camera is going to race back to your position fast.  When a sprite, like a banana, a monster, a barrel, or whatever appears on screen hit pause and take a screenshot.  Keep this up until Squaks is back on screen then fly to the top and and use the scroll up code to make sure you didn't miss anything.

Now that you have a stack of screenshots lets move on to assembly.

So the first thing we have to do is check to see if anything is missing.  It looks like were at the start of the stage in the bottom left corner, but are we?  Hit escape to pause Zsnes and click the top middle bar called Cheat.  Under that click Add Code, then Load in the row of buttons.  The list of codes that pop up are more or less everything you need to map this particular game.  On the list of codes double click camera scrl left at the bottom and walk forward in the game.  You'll get stuck as the code prevents the camera from leaving the stage's left wall.

So we know where the left wall is how about the stage bottom.  Turn on the camera scrl down code and jump around to see if the camera moves lower.  In this instance the stage truly does begin at its bottom left corner.

Now the best way to map any video game level or stage is to remember that all game stages take place in a big box.  So all you have to do is scan that box back and fourth until you get everything.  You can scan in any direction you like but for this stage lets go top down, left right.  That means before we start we need to be in the top left corner.  Back in the cheat menu turn off all other codes and turn on invinc, animal activator, and squaks.  This will make you the games flying character, the parrot Squaks, and make you invincible since you don't need to worry about dying while trying to make a map.

Use the jump button to fly squaks to the top of the map, and once there turn on the camera scroll left and camera scroll up codes and press F2 to save.  Now you are at the top left of the stage and we can begin to scan it down and right.  On the Zsnes menu screen you see when you hit the esc button you'll find a misc button at the far right, click it.  On the misc menu under Quick keys there is a snapshot box.  This is what you are going to use to take your screenshots.  Pick a button on your keyboard and assign it to snapshot then go back ot the game.

Those could work.  But for now I'm going to do simple screenshots.
Another important program:

Once you've downloaded all the stuff on the links I posted create a folder called zsnes and move them all into it.  Start the Zsnes program, load Donkey Kong Country 3, and press F4 on the keyboard.  Then just play around in the level to get used to it if you've never played this game before.  Just press F4 again if you die.

Now that you've gotten the basics of everything let's get started.  The most important part of a video game map is the foreground so we'll map that first.  On the keyboard press 2, 3, 4, and 5.  That will make everything but the foreground disappear.  In Zsnes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 control the graphical levels of the game.  Play around with them to see how they work.  For this level 1 is foreground, 2 is transparency, 3 is background, 4 is not used, and 5 is sprites.

With only 1 on all you see is the foreground, so when you take a screenshot all you'll get is the foreground.  If you move forward taking screenshots you can overlay them to make a single image that shows more of the foreground then just one screenshot does, even though it leaves out some of what you wanted to capture.  And with that you have the beginnings of a map.  Also you can now see the two biggest problems with game mapping.  How to disassemble the game to only get the parts you want.  And how to get all the parts you want without missing any.

*phew* Terra's right.  I tried making a guide and there was just too much to write.  So I have an idea.  Yiorgos, let's make a map together.  I'll show you where to get the parts you'll need and you can follow along as I go through it.

If you're interested pick up these things:

You may also need Photoshop or at least something that can do the things Photoshop can do.

Mapping Tips/Guides / Re: Unstitching?
« on: May 31, 2016, 09:33:56 am »
You could unstitch by grid like Jon said but then you would have transparency contamination all over.  Of course if you were going for the original game look that wouldn't matter.

Mapping Tips/Guides / Re: Map versioning?
« on: May 31, 2016, 09:24:29 am »
I originally put version numbers on my maps but I don't do it anymore.  Version numbers are really for programmers so they can go back if they made a mistake in the code.  Version numbers of images don't mean much since you won't be publishing revision after revision of the same image the way you would software.

The biggest thing I remember about grabbing all the random stuff was discovering I was losing Karma since the game considered it stealing.  Can't wait to see you do one of the big un-virtue dungeons like Pride.

Maps In Progress / Re: herc's adventure and more
« on: May 21, 2016, 08:18:04 am »
It looks fantastic.  It's funny how small each area looks when it's shown side by side with all the rest.  This is a mapping gem.

I meant to say Flying Armor, I love the new Ultima maps.  You may be the only person to make in depth maps of a later Ultima game like this.

Map Requests / Re: Super Princess Peach Maps
« on: May 09, 2016, 10:22:38 am »
You mean like create a hierarchy of which games are most requested from a series that is so popular all its games have been requested already?  Go right ahead.

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