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.