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.