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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, Aztec is a nice setting for a mountainous Greek temple. A future remake would not be badly received.