Thursday 27 December 2007

Dungeon development diary entry 7

7. 18th August 2007

Now I feel, that I have passed my point of no return. I will not scrap this idea from this point on. The two different walking platforms work and look pretty good. Not the same as in the concept drawings, but I have never worked the same way as the admirable Agama. I feel the concept drawings had Agama-feel to them. The work I've now done don't show crearly that it's me behind all this. The closeness to the nature I've had in my previous tilsets is still missing from this one, as everything is still quite monochromatic. I have the feeling that this is not a pretty good way to start to build a tileset, but what choice do I have now? :) I have big plans for this Dungeon tileset and I have strong beliefs that the quality remains what I've had before since I do not hurry much with my tilesets. In addition, I would not dare release anything, if I was not satisfied with it.

Today I made the first background test. To a more detailed version I will concentrate much much later (although Twilight Park had its own quite fast...). I made the regular brickwalls borders, so that the seamless brick tile doesn't stop to the floor/ceiling/walls so abruptly.

Wednesday 19 December 2007

Dungeon development diary entry 6

Hello everybody!

Not much new to tell, except that there is now a official name for the Dungeon tileset. I will reveal it closer to the tileset release :)

6. 17th August 2007

Looks like this could be it! I am not extra satisfied with these new drawings, but I may really have something real stuff here now. I have added shadows to the tiles I made yesterday, and the result has been somewhat good.

In addition, I made the first ground tile vegetations. As a test, of course, but this looked actually pretty good. I also made a start for the dungeon interior, but I grew tired of it, and it felt like the best decision to concentrate to that later. Now that the basic tiles are getting better, I think it is not good idea to create something new. I should take care of what has been created so far. I am still concerned that drawings I've done don't reach the vision of the concept art I did in spring this year. The first vegetation and some cracked tiles promise good, but something is missing.

Friday 7 December 2007

Dungeon development diary entry 5

Hello people!

Time for the entry from mid-August, pretty near my birthday ^^. And behold, the first development screenshot from Dungeon there is! There is only one way from all that scarcity - it goes up :)

5. 16th August 2007

The new way I chose didn't prove to be as useful as I first thought. I spent almost an hour
drawing the plates that Jazz would walk on. I am getting a bit frustrated, because the similar ones in Twilight Park were finished almost instantly. Defending Dungeon I could say that now I am working on a harder subject. Usually I have plenty of nature in my tilesets and so will be also in Dungeon. It however feels more natural to begin with the man made constructions. Anyway, I have the very basic versions of the bricks, walls and walking plates. I find this state of the tileset amusingly Prince of Persia -looking. I hope that I get to better the tileset graphics as I continue further.

7th December note: I did get better graphics ;)

Monday 26 November 2007

Dungeon development diary entries 3-4

Hello everybody!

No screenshots today, but after this I present one almost everytime with an development diary entry!

3. 14th August 2007

I made a variation of one of the July brick blocks. I didn't manage to fade the dominating brick away, but instead I got a feeling, that this whole project could start rolling from this point. I still have to change my working style a bit, and then I'll have the perfect basic blocks at my disposal.

I may make a 2*2 sized block of different kinds of bricks, which together are an entity, but they could be used separately. Out of these bricks will come also cracked versions and ones with vegetation on them. It is important to finish the basic tiles, they have so visible task in this tileset. I must make them darker somehow, because the tileset is supposed to be a dark one.

4. 15th August 2007

I made four new brick-candidates in about one hour. Unfortunately, they were not that good and the previous candidates remained better. These new ones tile better, though, but I can not make use of them in my tileset.

Frustrated, I looked in to my concept drawings made in spring 2007, and noticed, that even the first bricks were designed in the wrong direction. So there is a possibility I have to start designing the bricks completely from scratch. As always, I should have started with the walking platform tiles. At the same time, maybe, I could dictate to myself how the bricks should look like. I think it is better for everyone I noticed this little problem in time, because this could have led me to a painful dead end. I am thinking that now I really could get a hold on the wonderfulness of creating new :)

26th November note: A small piece of information to this point. I often listen to music while I make tilesets. I can always name some favourite tracks of certain periods of time, like when I was drawing Twilight Park, I listened a lot of Kingston Wall. Dungeon's top1 inspirational piece of music is from Armin van Buuren's A State of Trance Year Mix 2006. It's of course Mike Foyle with an exceptionally good dance track Shipwrecked (John O'Callaghan vs. Mike Foyle Club Mix). If you are even one bit interested in electronic music, check it out at YouTube:

Saturday 17 November 2007

Dungeon development diary 1-2

Hello posse!

Here begins the real development diary I have been promising. I will refer to Castle of Cadavers as "Dungeon" from now on, because there is no chance that the tileset would be named Castle of Cadavers. That name has never satisfied me. So, it is codename Dungeon from now on :) After the simple name period (e.g. Desert, Glacier) I have liked to name the tilesets more specifically, but leave one word to shorten it to (e.g. Islands). This will be the case also this time. Expect some really witty name for the tileset! :P

Now to the diary. To date there are 23 diary entries. These 23 entries accompany 19 pictures or screenshots from the development process, so you will have lots to see. Today I translate you entries 1 to 2, and some days after 3 and 4. The fifth entry comes with the first Dungeon gameplay screenshot there is. From that point all of the entries will be added to this blog separately. Some of the entries are not very long.

I consider that the Dungeon development process started in August, but there are some things I did before that. For example, I have had an empty Dungeon.pcx in my computer for at least few years. I don't really remember when I created it or how it would have looked. More recently, in the spring, I created the first brick tiles, which, I think, can be seen in the picture below. The Dungeon development diary starts from July 2007.

1. 4th July 2007

Third attempt made to make the basic brick tiles work. These new ones look pretty good to me. They could end up in the final tileset release.

2. 14th August 2007

To add more variation, I made more of the same style bricks like I did in July. Unfortunately these don't look as good as the originals. There is one particular stone that dominates the big picture too much. I probably have to redraw both of the brick tiles, and remove the domination problem that way. I have the models to base the new ones, that should prove it pretty easy task to do.

17th November note: What's in the picture: in the lines 1-3 are the first generation bricks made probably in the early summer 2007. They didn't look good and that reduced the will to make more proposals. Line 4: the second generation showed the way to the third that looked the best of these brick tiles. Line 6-7: These are the tiles I speak in these two diary entries. Tile 4*6 is the one that has the domination problem. In the right there are three steps visible how the brick tiles were made. In the two bottom lines are the ground tiles that preceded the ones that are used in the current version of Dungeon. They look very much like those in Twilight Park :)

Saturday 10 November 2007

A quick update

Hello Jazzers!

My Castle of Cadavers tileset has progressed very much during the last month. The screenshot you see below in the previous entry is, I am proud to announce, very obsolete! I will actually soon start having space problems, since about 600 tiles out of 1010 maximum are already used. The dungeon part that the screenshot shows is already very enjoyable and playable, but lacks the primary eye-candy. Many of the essential tiles are done however.

When I started this blog, I said I would be writing to this blog in real-time, meaning that if I made something to the progressing tileset, I'd say it here. This has not come to reality unfortunately. However, I have made diary entries to a text file, that's here on my computer ^^. In addition to these texts I have captured screenshots from according development phases. They are fun to examine!

From the back row: "To the point already, Blade!" Yes, very well :) Soon I will be start adding these diary entries to this blog, and you will be having the excitement of reading what has been really happening in the tileset creation during this summer and the fall. There are two primary reasons why I didn't do this real-time. 1. I was lazy. 2. Most importantly, I was not so excited about releasing very unfinished screenshots of the tilesets. They could have parts that do not make it to the final release and would make people angry or some other unwanted mood. This would also interfere to my vision of the upcoming tileset since people would like to give their opinions on the tileset. This is not always bad thing, you guys have given me a lot of advice during these years in the great JJ2 community. The base of the tileset is a hallowed thing that I need to do by myself :) Now that the tileset is well on the way, and know that this is going to be released, I can show the screenshots and my thoughts more openly.

Yes, that's all folks for this time.

P.S.: Mike, I am waiting for another entry in your blog! ;)

Friday 19 October 2007

The curtain unveils...

There has been some nice development in The Castle of Cadavers in the recent days.

This led to the decision to show everybody who's interested how the new tileset looks right now. Remember, work in progress! :)

This screenshot here features the dungeon part of the tileset. It is basically a dark, old and repelling place with spider webs and in the future, more prison stuff to literally make it a dungeon. The most recent additions to the tileset are the pillars and the spider webs. Both will change before the final release, but this screen shows their inputs for the tileset pretty good. This picture also features two kinds of walls and floors for flexibility, and the wall texture with three different variations of cracked bricks. The three versions don't differ dramatically but believe me, only one variation would have looked dull. The three brick textures are, however, only a beginning. Expect to see much more stuff inside the ground/wall in the final release of Castle Of Cadavers! (no buried shovels, though)

So, what next? More dungeon stuff! There are essential tiles to be done, as the dungeon part is the base of this tileset. Essential tiles are not so fun to draw, as variations of everything are always needed and therefore much, much repetition.

The development of Castle of Cadavers seems now to be back on its tracks, and I see no obstacles ahead. But one! I don't have not found any good music tracks that could fit in the atmosphere of the tileset. So, I challenge you, dear readers, to tell me what would you put in the background of that screenshot above. It can be dark, melancholic, angry, eerie or pretty much anything you'd hear when playing a centuries old, abandoned castle level. With rain outside! Write your suggestions in the comments or e-mail me. If I pick your choice for the final release, you get mentioned in the credits! Think about that :)

P.S. The current state of Castle of Cadavers reminds me strongly of the original Prince of Persia.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Tileset 3: Rocks

Hello Jazz Jackrabbit population!

It's been a little while since the last post. I am here again, however, to explain some things about Rocks. My tileset number three that, to my opinion, never brought up any major feelings. Rocks is as neutral as it is grey. I am not bashing my old production, though. After all these years (7,2 or something) Rocks is very usable tileset to build a level where it is moderately hard to make it look like (s)crap and have lots of masking problems. And the secret is... you have no other choice! The first Rocks tileset has 270 tiles, and even the final version (packaged with Energized Action) is 280 tiles in size. You don't have many tiles to choose from! I think this could be genious, actually. To everybody's relief/worst fear, this geniousness is far gone, because I won't be doing tilesets of this size ever again. Since Forest I have had too much to say to put it in 300 tiles.

What about history of Rocks? The reasons Rocks exists are long gone, but I remember a glimpse about drawing it. As you may see the simple base of the tileset could be drawn in maybe minutes, and the whole tileset dAone in some weeks. Rocks is the last Universe Jazz release I made before moving on to a certain website formerly known as More about that later in the Glacier blog entry. The first Rocks, finished on 14th June 2000, was most probably the fastest tileset to draw. Considering that Rocks has no background stuff for layers 5-7 and the amount of eyecandy tiles can be counted with one hand fingers, it is not hard to believe.

There are some interesting things about Rocks anyway. Inspired by the old Aztec tileset, I put in the same file day and night versions of the tileset. Back in those days I somehow realized that it was possible to have two different warp backgrounds in one tileset, and behold, two tilesets in one. I have not heard about attempt like Aztec's and Rocks' before and ever since. Maybe because of the drawback. The second warp background suffers about "the infinity problem", in which the fog plane disappears and reveals that the sky effect continues pretty far away. Fortunately this applies only to 8 bit color modes. Nowadays the infinity problem causes almost no damage to anyone, since you would have to have a computer running at 133 MHz (and a very, very sucky video card), to have to turn on the 8 bit color mode. Rocks introduced the two parts of the same tileset in two example levels which were actually different this time. I recently tested the example levels to notice pretty amateur level design and an annoying loose bridge fetish.

Rocks hasn't changed much in its appearance since the tileset conception. Sure, the warp backgrounds had their face lift in 2001, I believe, but most of the changes are invisible. Rocks' masking was very flawed, and there was a possibility to get stuck in every tile corner there is. I don't remember this happening to me, but I was convinced to change the masking anyway. In addition, V- and H-poles were fixed. I find it very hard to believe that I had broken poles in my tileset for three years! Yeesh. Nobody mentioned about it, though :) In these two screenshots you see the first Rocks release (up) and the final release from 2003 (down).

The official "fact you most probably don't know" about Rocks is that once, in 2001, there was a Rocks version called "Rocks SE", SE standing for Second Edition (way to go, Win98SE!). For an unknown reason, there was never any background tiles for Rocks. This didn't bother me in the beginning, but along with the later tileset Wasteland, Jazz2 players didn't understand why these tilesets didn't have background layer stuff. In response, I created Rocks SE. It is basically the first Rocks release with ugly background hills. I can't remember was this version ever released, but if it has, it was done quietly resulting in that small amount of people ever learned about the Second Edition version. Rocks SE didn't stand up too long, and I quickly left it in the back of the hard disk. I show it to you this day, but don't think it's anything extraordinary. Because it is not.

Now, let me tell something about Rocks music. As in the earlier tileset releases, Rocks didn't have "Mysterius Times" theme from the beginning. There was "Try 17" By Queek. I liked that track at that time, but with Blade's Battle Pack the theme changed to the DreaMSectioN track, that indeed is better than Try 17. Yep, that's all there is to say about this topic.

Before I end, I will say some words about the progressing Castle Of Cadavers. There has been a month long hiatus in its creation. This doesn't mean anything, the developing will continue soon enough. The graveyard background has come obsolete, however. I like this primary idea, but somehow it doesn't look cool enough. I think I must do some more essential tiles before starting to work with the background stuff.

Tuesday 21 August 2007

Tileset 2: Beton


I have real news this time, Castle of Cadavers has really been in works for a week now. It looks promising! I had done many tests with various bricks for basic ground tiles, including the ones you saw a couple of blog entries before, but I came to a solution to abandon them all. Therefore the preview tiles are not going to be in the final tileset.

What has been done so far? Surprisingly, there is already 90 tiles ready for use. With those it is possible to build pretty crude castle environment, because there is basically no eye candy present, not just yet. I may show you some in-development screenshots about this stage later. Much progress must be made before the first screenshots will be released. Additionally, today I drew a landscape for a background layer. I will not go through the content not just now, as it is still a bit unfinished. I feel it is important that it is present in my tileset level tests even though it may be like 75% ready. All the black and grey is enough to make anyone annoyed! I have been keeping up a journal about the tileset progress. This prevents from forgetting stuff. For example, next I will be complaining for 1000 words about how I have forgotten everything about Beton creation progress.

Okay, Beton it is. My second official tileset, featuring a brownish ground where to walk, some concrete-like blobs for layer 4 background, and in the background layers some enormous steel elements (I wonder did anyone understand this during these years :) and mountains. I bet this tileset was far less popular compared to Aztec, as this is actually pretty little tileset with little possibilities to do exciting stuff to play. Compared to Aztec's several years of development, the first version of Beton was ready for release in one month. It is more simple than Aztec, and looking this Beton version 2 screenshot here tells everybody that the example level was build in approximately four minutes.

I have never given Beton so much attention, but I will try to concentrate to it now. It deserves it, after all. There are some things that are interesting to it. Some people may have noticed the slight resemblance between Beton and master Mez's tileset Mez03. It is not your mind playing. I tried to duplicate some parts of that tileset to Beton. Mostly the "copying" is visible in Beton ground tiles and the stuff you can put inside it. I knew it then like I know it now, the duplication is far inferior from the original. This didn't stop me much, I just drew stuff and soon after I had the finished tileset at my disposal. The finished tileset did not look so much like Mez's, so I was even happier (about not getting sued, heh). Probably inspired by Mez, there is also a night version of Beton. It looks actually better than the day counterpart. The kind Alienator of Universe Jazz gave Beton three stars, the best. Beton was first seen there around the beginning of March, 2000.
The current Beton version is, like the up-to-date Aztec, heavily modified from the original. During the years it gained 50 more tiles that are positioned in the bottom of the tileset. You could live without these late additions, but after all, they are essential tiles and should have been there in the first release. In addition, many cosmetic changes were made. The warp background, the background layer stuff and metal parts of the sucker tubes got more colours, now looking smoother than at first. The last addition, made with Energized Action, was numerous tiling problem corrections and masking corrections. The tileset is pretty much flawless now :) The final Beton is pretty nice to use. The tiles you would like to use are there, though eye-candy is still pretty scarce. I enjoyed making the pictured Energized Action level, Construction Site.

Since I am talking about Beton here, I might as well tell again the etymology of the tileset name Beton. I was a mere kid back those days (14 years), and didn't much think about the tileset names. Hence all the simple names Aztec, Beton and Rocks etc. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that there is no English word Beton. In Finnish there is, betoni. That means "concrete". Many sophisticated words (like science words) can be easily made English in Finland by taking out the last vowel of the word, like in my case 'betoni' to 'beton'. And so Beton was born.

Three songs enrich the past of Beton. One of them you have never heard in this context, the next you are very likely to be unknowing, and the last is most familiar to JJ2 community. The first track is Michiel van den Bos' "Run". Ringing any bells? :) Take your time to Google the name if you wish :) Yes, it is a track out of the original Unreal Tournament soundtrack, hailing from 1999. It was never meant to be released with the finished tileset, I just liked to hear the wonderful piece of module music while testing Beton. The next track was used in the first releases of Beton. It was called "Time Reflection" and composer was a Finnish guy Queek (of the group Probe). It was a slow track and had a dreamy atmosphere. I guess I wasn't so satisfied with it, because as of Blade's Battle Pack I Beton's official music has been "DreaM LanD" by DreaMSection. I like this track today, but it is definitely not amongst my favourite songs picked for the tilesets. Maybe I'll list these top5 songs later... Heck, I'll do it now :)

Now Blade lists his favourite JJ2 songs which he picked himself in the first place (lol)

1. World Of Dreams (Aztec)
2. The Summer Planet (Glacier)
3. Challenger (Woodlands)
4. Pools of Poison (Islands In The Sapphire Sea)
5. Static Universe (Forest)

The rest in order are: Organic (Twilight Park), Dreams Of Hope 2 (Space), Heatwave (Oasis), Mysterius Times (Rocks), DreaM LanD (Beton), System 51 (Desert) and Second Time (Wasteland).

I decided the order mostly by my affection to the songs. For example, lots of old memories surface when I listen to The Summer Planet. Some songs are just plain good, like Pools Of Poison. But more about these songs when their companions are introduced later in this blog.'

Well... what else? I think that's everything for now. See you later!

Monday 13 August 2007

Tileset 1: Aztec

It's about time I got back here to tell some new stuff.

I regret to tell you guys, that Castle of Cadavers has not progressed as I previously wished. Because of this, I must add several months to the tileset release estimate. So, I believe I have the finished tileset for public download before the year changes. Sorry about this.

Now, I continue with my old tilesets. The first official of them all, Aztec. It's development to the final version (released with the grand single-player episode Energized Action, May 2003) took pretty much like five years, and it was first created at the same time as Bay and A-Space. I have a hunch that there was an ancient prototype version of the tileset very soon after I was given Jazz Jackrabbit 2 as a birthday present in 13th August 1998.

The tileset you see to the right is the oldest version I have left. I really don't have an idea how old it is, however, it is old. I know this because of the 4x4 tiles background image that I ripped from the 1998 3D action game Montezuma's Return. I marveled the graphics of that game, and took a part of it to myself :) As I did not undestand anything about palettes at that time, I threw the image away. It is actually possible, that the Montezuma game encouraged me to start making Aztec.
As you may know, I have never truly mastered the Jazz Jackrabbit 2 palettes (Just look at the Islands in the Sapphire Sea water in 8-bit mode), but before 2000, I never understood anything of it! The inability to learn the palettes is the cause there was no Blade releases before spring 2000. Well, I'd say you lost nothing. Just look at that Aztec draft, heh. However, I discovered something about the palettes in that spring. I would think that it was the Jazz Jackrabbit 2 palette template that I found from some tileset making guide. Before this, every sprite in my levels were black. This discovery led to quick development and quick release at Universe Jazz. Fortunate for me, Alienator, an admin of the site, gave it the best score.

Really fortunate. The first Aztec was really flawed, and was nothing near the quality of my later tilesets. I am not talking about graphics, but about tons of masking problems and tiling problems and other little glitches. The biggest of them all, the 8-bit colour mode incompatibility. That was a problem that I believe affected also Aztec's successor Beton and Beton's successor Rocks. Glacier could have been free of this stupidity... Anyway, the first Aztec is very different from the final version. The most visible change is that the version one had two warp backgrounds. It works, I was delighted to tell, but the second warp background had a certain infinity problem :) So, the night sky was removed later, and there has not been an Aztec night since. There were some other removed tiles that were not needed. Despite of all the tileset cleaning, Aztec tileset grew over 100 tiles to the final version in Energized Action. Most of the new tiles are easily viewable below the purple mountains in JCS.

I was satisfied with Aztec only after Energized Action was finished. No more tiling or masking problems, and the tileset was finally what I meant it to be in the first place. Sometimes I've thought that I should have left the tileset to the first version, but I know that wouldn't be possible. That infinity screenshot is taken from the oldest Aztec I have, version 2.5. The version numbers tell nothing, probably that it was the third revision of the tileset. I you look close enough, you can see many flaws. The vertical vines have them, the cracked bricks have them, the pillars, the small background bricks. Heck, the sky continues to infinity! Additionally, the first Aztec didn't have all the slopes ready for use. Some had to be mirrored for different kind of slopes. And if you tried to use an mirrored animation... well, that causes problems.

There is not much Aztec about Aztec. I have never though about that so much. It must be remembered, that I was twelve at the time of the naming. Twelve is no age for research. So, even greek letters made their way to the tileset! And apes and stuff, but that is a bit more understandable as Devan Shell could have summoned them somehow. To the right there is a picture from Aztec 2.5 from probably 2000 and then the Aztec level from Energized Action. I never numbered the Energized Action tileset versions, but I guess you could say that the final version is the fifth revision.

Aztec music is provided by an module artist named AlienZoul. He is definitely not a big name in the scenes, but I liked his music so much that I used two of his tracks in different versions of
Aztec. At first, there was "No One Like You". Pretty good dance track, but somehow empty. I thought it made a nice atmosphere to the tileset, and I left it there. It was probably Aztec version 3, introduced probably with Blade's Battle Pack I, that had as its music AlienZoul's "World Of Dreams". It is significantly better than

"No One Like You". Ever since the Battle Pack, this has been the official music of Aztec. It also remains as my favourite module music track. I just Googled with entry AlienZoul. It gives his name, Thomas Persson, and some of his music, but neither of these two. I spotted AlienZoul probably from the ModPlug Central, the home of the tracker program ModPlug Tracker. As there is no submitting possibility at the site anymore, ModPlug Central no longer recognizes AlienZoul.

Saturday 7 July 2007

I actually made something!

Hello people!

I have something to show, folks. It is, essentially, old bricks. But not just any bricks, they're Castle Of Cadavers bricks! Please, try not to faint. I know, I know, this is ground-breaking :)

What you see here, is actually the fourth generation of Cadaver bricks I have experimented with. The first one looked pretty stupid. They were probably not so bad, but it's something like this I'm looking for. Maybe I'll release all the brick generations at some point. These bricks here will provide a solid wall for the various ruins that will be scattered all over Castle of Cadavers levels. I must point out, that these tiles will most probably change before you get to download the whole tileset from Jazz2Online. I am sorry to say, but that is still a far, far away date. These blocks are pretty much there is in this tileset right now.

My obligations to the studies are now over so, expect many additions to this blog during the summer and late summer. Unfortunately for the tileset creation progress I'll be going to the U, S and A in like, 24 hours. That will halt the progress for two weeks. I really hope to get the basic blocks of the Cadaver finished after the trip. After the basic essential tiles are done, I am fast at finishing the rest :)

Sunday 20 May 2007

More Cadaver concepts

Hello once again dear readers.

I now know I have had at least eight readers since I have started writing this blog :) That is a start, yes, but I encourage everybody who visits my blog to comment anything you might come up with concerning this blog, my Jazz Jackrabbit 2 works or something else. What question would you like me to answer you? What would you like to read about in this blog? I am open for suggestions to make this blog more enjoyable!

Today I am back here to tell you more about the Castle of Cadavers project. There are two concept drawings I have made about the subject. I have already introduced the first one (see this post, and the second one, the one to your left, will work greatly as source material for the coming tileset drawing process.

It is a full A4-sized drawing with somewhat more mature ideas for the Castle of Cadavers. Like the first Cadaver concept, this one was drawn during my days in the military. In fact, these days were in the last of what spent in that institution. That means that I drew this in the end of March 2007. There are many details to this piece of work, as you can see. It will open best for the Finnish people, as the notes in this drawing are in finnish language. I will translate some of them to non-finnish speaking people.

This drawing shows you kind of an extended version of the tileset than that you saw in the first concept. The platforms divide to more tiles, like in the Holiday Hare '98 tilesets. Not like in Castle, where the main standing platform was one simple tile, if you wanted to. This makes the tileset more challenging to me to create. As you may see, I made a perspective mistake even to this drawing. The part in the upper left, the floor bricks should go diagonal right, but they don't. Otherwise this part shows quite much the feel I would like to have in the tileset. Really abandoned, really old, really decaying. The nature has taken over. Just as in my thoughts. If you have ever played the old game Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and The Flame, I am going for the atmosphere in the centuries old castle which had those detached heads floating all over. At least for the atmosphere I have in my memories about the place; I played that game like ten years ago :)

The other parts of the drawing show a small part of dungeon, and a clear outside area. At first, Castle of Cadavers project started as a dungeon project, but evolved to this current state while I was in the army. The dungeon idea had only inside areas to it. The dungeons in the coming Cadaver tileset will not have much stuff. Heck, it is a prison, who would have all that stuff stored in there? Again the inspiration comes from the old Prince of Persia 1, where the dungeons were very ascetic. As the drawing shows, some of the walls will be covered with darkness. This will make the whole place more ominous. The outside area shows the tileset when there are no layer 4 castles around. It may look like the The Secret Files' Haunted House tileset, but I will make it better. At least to my taste :) No see-through ground in Castle of Cadavers, that would be stupid. The background is a slightly rough terrain with those tree carcesses, rocks and gravestones everywhere. A distant castle could be nice to add. If it had one window with light in it, that would be scary, wouldn't it? :) It's fun to have stuff buried in the ground, The Twilight Park showed that. No one buries shovels this time though.

Now, to the texts. The dungeon part says primarily the following. The ground will be like in Twilight Park. Sometimes with lots of details, but when a level builder wants, it will be one-coloured. The dungeon will have small jail cells, but on the other hand it can have dramatic heights, just like those very unpractical prisons in Prince Of Persia 1. I have mentioned that we will probably see some torturing equipment, heaps of bricks and bones. Most probably full skeletons also. Collapse scenery events will be in frequent use.

A lot more notes on the outside area (finnish: ulkoilma). Outside area consists of grass and bricks, basically. There are plants everywhere, as can be the bricks. Nothing has fully survived the time except for the metal, and you will not see much of it. Lots of sturdy constructions like towers and pillars. The tileset will feature a cemetary with feral vegetation all over. A well will provide an access underground, where ever you like.

There is one part of the tileset not visible in this concept drawing. I haven't drawn it, and I believe I won't. It will be a small part of the tileset, and will work better that way. This part is a inside area, that would include a dining table with full meal served and with candles lit up. The wall clothings and other fabrics are in perfect shape, but there are nobody in sight. Eerie-o-meter goes for the maximum :)

Now you have seen all that there is to this tileset so far. The next picture I show you about Castle of Cadavers will be an actual part of the tileset. Until then... watch this space :P

P.S. A point of interest before the real ending for this post. When I was drawing this draft, I stored it in a public place. Well, in a public place for us military police men in our duty. During the two days storage somebody saw this drawing, and couldn't make any sense of it. Really, how could he? To outsiders it must seem that there is no point in this. So, because of this there is the comment in the middle (not written by me): "Kuka vittu sekoo käsiin?!". This literally means "Who the f*** is going mad?!". Well, I must be mad for doing this tileset stuff for almost ten years now. But what can I do, it's something I like very much.

Sunday 13 May 2007

The Blade tilesets you never saw

Summer is approaching, and so is the Castle of Cadavers development process :)

However, this time the subject is not the upcoming tileset, but the very beginning of my Jazz Jackrabbit 2 tileset making fever. Heck, at that time I didn't even use the nick you guys know me today.

I have little knowledge left of those early days. Almost nothing was saved to computer hard disks or if something was, it has been long gone from this newest machine I've been using. I have to rely on the early documents I included in my first public JJ2 releases and my dear teenager memories :)

I do not remember what my first tileset was like. Blade's Battle Pack (2000) readme implies, that before Aztec there could have been two to three experiment tilesets. Some of the JJ2 community people who were present in the Jazz2Online ( in years around 2000-2001 may remember some of my talks about these covert operations. These two years were my most active in the Jazz Jackrabbit 2 community, as eight tilesets were released and continuously updated to new versions. Additionally, I spent a lot of time playing Jazz2 online. At those times I also uploaded some level packs. You may remember Another Dimension. It was a episode that featured every official Jazz2 there are. The first level in the episode, Spike Beach, is the first Blade level there is.

I can't tell you what I don't remember, so obviously, now comes the part that I know. Two tilesets were before Aztec. These were called A-Space and Bay. A-Space was a short lived space-tileset, where I added to the tileset a bunch of planet pictures from the Internet. The idea didn't work, although it was entertaining to walk on a miniature Saturn. The major problem was, that I didn't know how to get the 256-color palette working. My tileset source picture was in 256 colors, but I didn't realize that the game needs some colors from the palette to its own use. Outcome: the surroundings were in blossom with all known colors, but Spaz and Jazz are totally black. All the carrots, lizards, normal turtles and apples black, black, black. 14-year old me didn't know what to do. There is no picture left of A-Space. I don't think it is a major problem, I didn't use much time making the thing. I drew (and extercised copy-paste manouver) the tileset with attitude: "Let's see what happens when I do this".

In early 2000, some months before Aztec (here's a link to a slightly newer version of Aztec, although earliest that still exists in the Internet: was released, I made a tileset called Bay. This is the tileset you see to your right, and as you can see, it shares many things with the Aztec tileset. Bay was the first tileset I knew how to handle the color palette, and lo, I had accomplished in making a working tileset. I vaguely remember that it was a day of great joy for me. For an unknown reason Bay was not released as my first JJ2 creation. I instead started to invest to a new tileset we now know as Aztec. One of the reasons I can think of is that Bay and Aztec were actually created simultaneously, and I thought Aztec to be more interesting idea. Bay was, after all, only a skeleton of a tileset with a few ground tiles and scarce mountains in the background. The airbrush-made clouds looked funny in the background layers 5-7, and were not looking very good with a warping background in layer 8.

The Bay version you see here is not exactly the first one. Above the darker mountains you see the one tile with the tileset palette in it. This one tile has been the key to me to make warping backgrounds to work in 8-bit mode in Jazz Jackrabbit 2. An old JJ2 buddy Iceman introduced this trick to me, and I have been using it ever since. Interestingly, I have never understood why one petty tile makes the color mode problems go away. This particular tile must act some part in the tileset compiling process.

One of the interesting facts visible in this Bay tileset is my nickname. I became Blade for good only a few months before the release of Aztec in the late Universe Jazz in March 2000. It shows that in Bay I was called "Giant". Heh. I speculated some options on nicknames, for example, the third option was "Atomic". Not so surprisingly, I got the "bright" idea when I was on a skiing trip in the northern Finland. I can't remember the origin of the nick Blade. I probably used the name for the first time in 1998 when I used to take part in conversation in the Internet chat rooms ( ^^). I am pretty sure the name Blade is taken from the 1998 feature film, which I didn't even see before the new millenium.

Monday 23 April 2007

The first corpse creation!

Hello world!

I couldn't resist from adding this second entry to the blog. Then I am going in for the studies (I wish...?)!

This picture here is the first Castle of Cadavers illustration there is, and the second JJ2 tileset illustration I have ever made. More about this later on. The most important part of this mess was already released in the JJ2 community forums, but here I present the thing in its full glory :P

Some interesting facts surround this creation. It was drawn in December 2006 in the Defense Forces of Finland ( during my nine-month military service (Blade is a military police man, stand aside!!). The Cadaver part (which, by the way looks much like I'd like to replicate it in digital manner) introduces several types of things you can expect to see in the future set. Chains, some more chains with skeletons, more or less broken bricks, vegetation everywhere to add ancient feel and dark background layers, that are in this drawing:

- Nightsky and moon in the layer 8 (warp background is probably not returning to this set)
- Far away cemetary hills with leafless trees and old tombstones in layer 7
- Dark fortress walls in layer 6
- I'd like to reserve layer 5 for layer-4 related tricks, but if not, we will see more tombstones and cranky trees

The tower you see in the "layer 4" area will be difficult for me to replicate with the computer. I would very much like to make it like the big trees in Agama's outstanding tileset classic Swamp of The Sleeping Jaguar ( This would allow level makers to build exactly as high towers as they wish to. To add variation, some of the bricks from the walls will be missing and have a dark spot in the place. A feel of decaying is achieved with this.

The intended atmosphere will be a mixture of grim and playful. This is, despite of everything, easily done: although the tileset palette will be dark and landscapes with all the tombs won't appear so cheerful, all the skeletons around will be cartoonish. To emphasize the style, there could also be something like the crazy gazes from the windows like in this Cadaver illustration you see here in this entry.

You could be wondering, why did Blade choose this rotten, decaying, disintegrating pile of brick dust to be his next project. There are many castle tilesets made before this, even the original 'Castle'. Does the JJ2 community really need another one? Many great -unique- tileset ideas remain unused. Do I waste my time? I would say that if I pick an idea for a tileset, I have something of my own to say. About the tileset idea thinking process: I simply come up with some nice ideas, and pick the most appealing idea. This doesn't mean I will not get back to my earlier ideas. In fact, right now I have so good ideas for tilesets, I KNOW I will be back for them. Let me list them for you:
  • Seven Chasms of Abomination. It's a spectacular underground cave with subterranean lakes and stuff. Ground will be created a bit like in the original 'Hell' tileset.
  • Tellus Rising. Moon tileset! No space stations, just like Buzz and Neil left it ;)
  • Aztec Reprise. Aztec tileset lifted up to a new glory.
  • Winter War. Snowy forest with destroyed military hardware everywhere...

Don't get too excited pals, Castle of Cadavers first :) The Cadaver tileset illustration gets its backbone from several different directions. These clues will be essential when making Cadaver tileset reality. The ideas in this illustration are taken from the original Jazz Jackrabbit 2 tilesets 'Castle' and the The Secret Files 'Haunted House'. The Donald Duck artist Don Rosa influences me as well, as it has been for many years. For example, the tileset Desert wouldn't have been created without one particular Don Rosa Donald Duck (Three Caballeros) series. Through some twisted way of fate, the tower in my illustration gets its base idea from the Moomin house! ( The TV-Show 'Muumit' was around for every single year of my childhood, and haunts me to this day :) Also a mention about Disguise's Corrupted Sanctuary. After seeing this great piece of work I though for the first time of doing a castle tileset of my own.

A word about the other stuff in the paper. The text "Tai R.I.C. = Rest In Chaos = Soukkari tykkäis = No rest for the wicked" (Translated "Or R.I.C. = Rest In Chaos = Soukkari would like it = ...) is a homage to my conscript friend. Soudunsaari was a hard cooked death metal listener and his playlist featured songs like "Dead Human Collection" by Cannibal Corpse and "Drilling For Brains" by Mortician. These were so grotesque names that I found them actually amusing. To pay homage to my friend, you might find texts like this in the tileset if searched properly...

As well, I drew the baby and the text to this paper. It says "Me before the military. The Defence Forces made me a man". That's a parodic observation about the days in the military. Even 20 year old men can be enormously childish under the circumstances in that organisation.

...And that's Soudunsaari who claims that Jose Barroso is evil :D

Sunday 15 April 2007

Blade begins

This entry launches the one and only Blade blog. Welcome aboard people! :)

First some answers. I do not thoroughly know who will read this blog over the time, and I won't assume that you readers know who is this guy Blade.

I am Blade, a character from Finland. Years ago, in 1998, I received a birthday present of my life. It was the PC platformer game Jazz Jackrabbit 2. (, sequel of the widely known classic computer game Jazz Jackrabbit. JJ2 offers its players a chance to make their own levels to the game and create new environments (tilesets) by drawing them for example with the modest painting program Microsoft Paint. I believe I started experimenting with JJ2 levels and tilesets because I felt the original levels didn't match with the outstanding graphical quality of the original tilesets. Epic MegaGames pretty much wasted all the superior 2D graphics because of rushed level design. In addition, the single player campaign is finished in few hours. Things led to another, and here I am, planning my 14th tileset, codename Castle of Cadavers :)

The reason this blog was created comes here. I feel the need of documenting the whole Castle of Cadavers creation process. Firstly, I feel like owing this to you JJ2 community guys because of the countless silent months I've been having over the years. Also, there has been very little information on the previous tilesets, and I would like to write the stuff to paper (or similar :) ). With this blog I intend to:
  1. Record the planning and drawing phases of the upcoming 14th JJ2 tileset.
  2. Tell about the problems and slowdowns I know I will encounter :)
  3. List a lot of points of interest
  4. Show many pictures of the coming tileset.

However, this blog is not all about Castle Of Cadavers. I plan to go through also my old tilesets one by one, and tell many interesting things about them you haven't even imagined before. One upcoming topic will be the Blade tilesets before the Aztec set (It's actually my third tileset! ;) )

Unfortunately I have some bad news to tell. I won't be updating this blog very often this spring. I must concentrate on the economy studies I have and the test in June will decide lots of things about my future. This is the reason this Blade really begins some time after 19th of June, 2007.

Stay on the same channel, maybe I still have some quick additions to the blog before June ;) Jazz Jackrabbit 2 forever!