Author Topic: Annotating screenshot maps  (Read 10949 times)

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Offline sagatwarrior

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Annotating screenshot maps
« on: September 08, 2023, 04:00:05 pm »
Anyone know of any programs that are made for adding annotations to screenshot maps? Or any particular means/tutorial for doing so efficiently and easily?

Offline eishiya

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Re: Annotating screenshot maps
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2023, 07:06:28 am »
Every game is different and calls for different annotation approaches, so just like there isn't a program for mapping most games automatically, there isn't one for annotating them. It's theoretically possible to write such programs on a per-game (or, in some cases, per-engine) basis, but generally it's easier and faster to do it manually.

The manual process is generally to screenshot items/NPCs/etc in situ and add them to the map, typically using the same image editor you used to arrange the map. Some people type out their labels (item names, shops, etc) themselves, but I generally screenshot them from the game, it looks nice and is usually quick to do. I usually keep all this stuff on separate layers, so I can make unlabeled maps easily by hiding those annotation layers.
If you're using an emulator for your screenshots, you may be able to avoid the need to manually remove the backgrounds from the item/etc sprites by using the emulator's VRAM viewer to view the sprites and backgrounds in isolation from one another.

For door and button connections in games where it's not obvious from the map you'll generally want to add some lines showing the connections. The style of these will depend greatly on what you're trying to communicate, and the game's structure and visual style. For example, compare VGCartography's tidy connectors on Vagrant Story, to the letter indicators on this Magical Starshine map (which I apparently never submitted to VGMaps, oops), or to the chaos of my Casper maps. For Casper, I initially roughly hand-drew the connections in different colours as I mapped, and as I finalised the map, I replaced them with vector paths that I applied different brush strokes to.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2023, 10:27:00 am by eishiya »

Offline JonLeung

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Re: Annotating screenshot maps
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2023, 08:41:22 am »
I like it when maps are annotated using the game's actual font(s).

A handy program to help in this case is Bitmap Font Writer.

Creating a font will first require you to create a bitmap (.bmp) image file with all the characters (letters/numbers/symbols) that you want, with a single row of pixels at the top and separating each character by marking that row with a single pixel of another colour.  When you download it, it should already come with some included fonts, so it's easy enough to see how they do it by looking at them as examples.

Grabbing them from the game is usually easy if there's a name entry screen, or a password screen, or it might require viewing the data (like tilesets loaded in memory)... worst case scenario, you may just have to hope they say everything in every letter you need (I remember having to go over the end of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge several times until I saw every letter in that font so I could recreate it at the end of my Monkey Island unboxing video).

It's easy, but it can be a lot of work.  But it's worth it if there is a lot that you want to type out in that font, and once it's created, you have a font that you can use in other applications, too.

Offline G.E.R.

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Re: Annotating screenshot maps
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2023, 10:54:08 am »
Do you use Bitmap Font Writer for "Maps of the month" or other announcements/news on the index page?

Offline JonLeung

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Re: Annotating screenshot maps
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2023, 01:22:08 pm »
Do you use Bitmap Font Writer for "Maps of the month" or other announcements/news on the index page?

I do!  It's a font I made myself long ago, trying to make something nice and compact.  I suppose there's no harm in sharing the file so you don't have to recreate it.  Here you go!


Offline ReyVGM

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Re: Annotating screenshot maps
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2023, 12:09:36 pm »
Here's a collection of Bitmap Font Writer fonts I've created over the years.

https://mega.nz/file/rFQVHKaZ#irlWoay0-lGX9FUSxCFkXHMj6jN4C0sr36ZjFWJYLaM

They do not have a complete character set because I just create the characters I'm going to use, but most have the basic alphabet at least.