Author Topic: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style  (Read 12753 times)

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Offline TerraEsperZ

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NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« on: November 20, 2008, 08:25:20 PM »
The title is probably overly obscure and not that informative, so I'll explain in more details.



While mapping NES games, I sometimes have to use some sort of visual effects to denote transparencies, temporary effects, hidden passages, or other situations where I need to alter a map's raw graphics.



Up until now, I've only ever needed to use a simple 2x2 dithering pattern to point out temporary platforms (like in Mega Man) or hidden falling blocks.



But what if that isn't enough? I'm interested in hearing your opinion on what would and wouldn't be acceptable for 8-bit maps. Of course, lense flare and other advanced effects would look stupid, but what about playing with colors and using transparencies?



I prefer simpler effects that mesh well with a game's graphics, but Bucky O'Hare has some parts where I'm tempted to go a bit beyond.



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Current projects: Bucky O'Hare (NES), Metal Storm (NES), Clock Tower (SNES), Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES)
Current project that are on hold because job burnout :
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)

Offline Revned

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 01:24:04 AM »
I couldn't come up with an elegant way to show the disappearing blocks in Mega Man 3. The first time I mapped it I just left them out, but then I put them all in the next time. Ideally there would be some way to represent the different groups, but I can't think of anything that would look natural.



I also wish I could find a good way to show palette shifts without leaving glaring seams, but as your Mega Man ending rips showed, it's not very straightforward. I experimented with dithering myself, and it just didn't fit the style.

Offline TerraEsperZ

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 09:42:29 AM »
The graphics themselves don't always help.



Case in point:



User posted image



When I started mapping the first three NES Mega Man game for fun, I used dithering for the pop-up bricks, and I thought it looked pretty good for Ice Man, Elec Man and Heat Man (the first three in that picture). There's enough difference between the backgrounds and the blocks to make them stand out.



But the tiles used in Magnet Man (the last one in the picture) both for the background and for the blocks make the effect pretty much unusable. There's too much detail so they both kind of merge together, and the block itself is too detailed and doesn't really survives the dithering.



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Current projects: Bucky O'Hare (NES), Metal Storm (NES), Clock Tower (SNES), Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES)
Current project that are on hold because job burnout :
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)

Offline Maxim

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2008, 10:18:13 AM »
What does it look like with 50% transparency?

Offline dammit9x

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2008, 02:23:08 AM »
Just leave them opaque. When the map user reaches that point in the game, it will be perfectly obvious what's going on.



There's no way to make transparency or dithering look good on tiny areas like 16x16 pixels.



To represent different overlapping groups, I'd recommend thin color-coded borders, or slight color-coded tints. It's unobtrusive and easy to read, and no less authentic than the alternatives.

Offline JonLeung

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2008, 01:03:07 PM »
There's also the possibility of making the maps as animated .GIFs.  0_0



Then you could use the graphics exactly as they are, and with the right timing and all the proper in-between frames, you could make dynamic elements appear exactly as they do.



I would guess it might make the filesize ridiculously large if there are many frames - but it certainly would look neat!  It would make the worlds seem alive.



(I recall Raccoon Sam starting to map out Gimmick! (J) with animated .GIFs...)

Offline Maxim

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2008, 02:09:30 PM »
There's animated PNG support in Firefox now. I don't know how easy it is to PNGOUT animated PNGs, though.

Offline Revned

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2008, 05:42:17 PM »
Huh, last I heard of animated PNGs was MNG, and that didn't catch on. Hopefully if you optimize the frames before assembling the animation it stays optimized. I'll try it out with one of my maps.

Offline TerraEsperZ

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2008, 07:37:03 PM »
It makes sense that PNGOUT would delete it since animations are not officially part of the PNG specs, instead they are present as custom data blocks in the PNG file, and is simply ignored by applications who don't support it. Apparently you can pretty much include whatever data you want in a PNG.



As for that Shadow Man map, at least with only having to animated color cycling, it's a lot easier to assemble the map instead of having to capture it completely multiple time.



Animated maps really aren't practical, especially if parts don't cycle with the same frequency as Revned said.



Personally, so far dithering is fine so far, with the occasional use of transparencies when dithering or pixelated effects just don't do justice to the graphics (like my still-unposted Mega Man ending maps).



I might play with the brightness with my last Bucky O'Hare map, Salvage Chute; Acts 7, 8 and 9 go completely dark after a few seconds and only a couple of passing fireflies show you bits of the level. I could show the rooms fully lit as they first appear, but I'd like to actually darken the room but include the fireflies and the bright spots behind them.



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Current projects: Bucky O'Hare (NES), Metal Storm (NES), Clock Tower (SNES), Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES)
Current project that are on hold because job burnout :
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)

Offline Maxim

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2008, 03:03:26 AM »
pngout /k1 /ks filename.png

gets you a little bit of compression. I think it's only compressing the first frame, but it ought to be simple for the author to make it work on the animation frames too.



And the palette-cycled animated map is just too cool for words. It's a shame we can't specify the palette cycling "natively" and add about 10 bytes to the file instead of multiplying the size by the number of frames.

Offline Ryan Ferneau

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RE: NES maps VFX: 8-Bit Style vs. Photoshop Style
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2008, 09:22:42 PM »
Revned Said:
I couldn't come up with an elegant way to show the disappearing blocks in Mega Man 3. The first time I mapped it I just left them out, but then I put them all in the next time. Ideally there would be some way to represent the different groups, but I can't think of anything that would look natural.



I also wish I could find a good way to show palette shifts without leaving glaring seams, but as your Mega Man ending rips showed, it's not very straightforward. I experimented with dithering myself, and it just didn't fit the style.

Are you talking about showing the order in which the temporary blocks appear?  Other than making an animation like Revned showed, I guess you could stamp big numbers on each block to show the sequence, though that would look kind of ugly.