Sunday 22 June 2008

DDD 40: Bunch o' gravestones

40. 11 January 2008

A creative day in perspective of tileset progression, although not so much space was used. I did a small stone for layer three and two gravestones for layer four. The cross and the gravestone were created easily with help of reference pictures found with browsing Google. Especially the gravestone looks good. The cross isn't bad, but its shape brings jawed edges and even my beloved anti-alias drawing style didn't cover it all up. Now there are 46 tiles of empty space. This is just great :)

22 June 2008 note: that gravestone I am talking about in this entry is seen in the 36th screenshot provided above. The text is actually just font Symbol, and it reads Hyvä Tampere, meant to mean "Good job, Tampere". Tampere is a city located in Finland. The reason this text is there is unknown for me. I could have put there something that would have amused me or mean something to me or somebody else, like the whole JJ2 community, but for some damned reason I just came up with this, and put it to the tileset :)

Thursday 19 June 2008

DDD 39: Trees

39. 9 January 2008

Nothing else today but making of three different trees for layer four. It was actually very simple task, but full of working in pixel size scale. There are possibilities to add the trees to brick and sand ground. 67 tiles to go!

19 June 2008 note: Dungeon development diary is going to be back for three times after this entry. To your knowledge, the entry going with number 41 is a gigantic text about finishing Fortress of Forgotten Souls and if this development hasn't been interesting, that entry might be :)

Wednesday 18 June 2008

DDD 38: Small but vital additions

38. 8 January 2008

The updates today are small in size, but still a good start for the eye candy part of Dungeon. I have 98 tiles empty space (aiming for the size 1010 tiles like before) left to work with. I did some grass and weed originally for layer five, but they fit well the the fourth one also. In addition I made the tileset more efficient by replacing duplicate tiles with actually new ones, like the normal brick platform can no grow grass. Brilliant idea to my opinion, and I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier. The 34th screenshot shows these fractures a bit.

I did some foreground stones for layer three and two spiky bushes for layer four. They proved to be a nice addition to the tileset. Tweaking the warp background, smoothing of sawed edges. The last thing I did for today was a gravestone for layer three that looks like a milestone.

Sunday 15 June 2008

DDD 37: Ditching the wall

37. 7 January 2008

I have been working in the past days without making diary entries. I am summing it up now. For example, I was completely broken yesterday so that I had no intentions on writing anything anywhere. I almost didn't have the motivation to draw, but I did the sloping grass lands anyway. Today the slopes got their rocks on them, and a new eye candy element window was finished very quickly. 32th screenshot show that the dirt ground can now be shadowed, if there are bricks above.

The biggest change in Dungeon for a while was scrapping the layer six great wall. I came to that solution when I couldn't make it look good enough in the time I was concentrating on it. So it had to be a bad idea. I replaced the wall with near layer 5 gravestones and normal stones, and the result looks magnificent. This is the way it should go. With the background stuff finished, I can finish the last remaining tiles, eye candy tiles. The layer 5 can get something more, and I will add for the level makers convenience an option to not to use the warp background. Stars and moon will appear. Maybe I'll update the rain tiles.

Saturday 14 June 2008

DDD 36: Concentrating on background stuff

36. 5 January 2008

I didn't have so much time to give to Dungeon today, but the following was done. The warp background, as I said yesterday, came easily to its final smooth version. I did a 512*512 tiling texture with the program XFader giving the brightest and darkest colors for it from my 8 bit Dungeon palette. After this reducing the color scale with Paint Shop Pro 8 was easy and was finished with haste. The earlier version looked rude, because I had done the palette entries for the warp background before and then copy-pasted Twilight Park's warp background with the PSP8 function "maintain indexes". Result - real bad. A mysterious bug breaks the 8-bit warping background every now and then, but it seems that I can fix the problem every time it occurs. Annoying it is of course. This happens when I save the source image file .pcx.

I also made towers for layer six wall. They look somewhat good, but I should not let them be just yet. I probably don't have to shade them so that they seem round. Overall the layer six wall disturbs me. I still have to find good ways to make it look more logical and prettier.

My christmas break from my university of applied sciences is ending soon. I hope the tileset progress doesn't get halted because of it. This could be possible, but I now that I finished Jade Empire in a week (yes, I managed to play it simultaneously with the creation of Fortress of Forgotten Souls :P), I have no intention on starting to play some new game and get carried away with it, like GTA: San Andreas kind of did. I have recently acquired Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition, and starting to play that now could prove a bad decision :)

Wednesday 11 June 2008

DDD 35: 8 bit points of interest

35. 4 January 2008

I fixed the palette, and now I at least won the "7 colors too much" notification from the tileset compilation window. To my luck the 8 bit version is now closer to my vision (the one I actually drew!) when compared to the 16 bit color circus! What the heck is going on with this thing?! Anyway, I finished the layer 7 and there shouldn't be anything to be fixed anymore. I dreamt about a background castle, but when I drew one, it didn't look good enough. I feel that when the other tiles in the background are so simple, I can't even create a good looking castle. Maybe some palette tweaking could result in something good but at this point I didn't consider it worth of my time. We'll see if this continues to bother me.

I also noticed, that the warping background looks good with the background stuff I been creating in the last days. In addition the 8 bit warp background doesn't fully work. Maybe fixing that will help with the mysterious 8 bit - 16 bit color problem. Maybe. I don't know what to expect anymore. Now I feel I would make the warp background again from the beginning but with the current palette colors. That is pretty easy job when I get started with it. After that I must concentrate on the last of the last essential tiles and eye candy. I think I need a sloping grassland tiles, so that the grass scenery would not look blocky. There is no possibility to add a sloping sand land. I feel I would not have the space for the ordinary sloping land. Finally I must think about possibility to look through the ground insides, where players can explore sand and gravel. Some empty spots to see through to the graveyard? Anyway, finishing of Dungeon draws close.

Friday 6 June 2008

DDD 34: Mysterious color problem

34. 3 January 2008

Not so much new in the tileset today, shadows for hills in the layer 7. The rest of the time I tried to fix the mysterious color problem. Check the screenshot for more information on that weirdness. It occurred to me that the strange color tile (positioned 10, 97 in Fortress Of Forgotten Souls) is causing this and I decided to create it anew. I copied the color tile from Twilight Park with Paint Shop Pro 8's maintain indexes -conversion. I probably have to check if all colors in the palette really are in that tile. I'll save that for later moments with more motivation.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Tileset 6: Wasteland

Finding the fun in writing these retrospective entries again, I am back to tell you all about Wasteland I can remember.

I still amaze myself sometimes with my working esteem back in the days (essentially year 2000). A whole lot of tilesets in addition with several single player things and battle packs. Between the fifth Blade tileset Desert and the next tileset Wasteland, I took some time to create the much praised Blade's Battle Pack. Nowadays I am pretty critical on anything about the Blade's Battle Packs. I think it's generally very okay, since they are made in a early point of my tileset making "career" and include the first, and also less developed tilesets and levels made by me. In addition, today I appreciate single player levels over battle levels. This opinion really could drive me into creating Energized Action 2! :) That'd be fun, I've made three more tilesets since that 2003 level pack.

It is likely that Wasteland was under development simultaneously with Blade's Battle Pack. My notes say that it took me one month to make Wasteland, a pretty long development cycle comparing to earlier releases. Not to complain, because I would release the seveth tileset, Woodlands, seven months after Wasteland. And from that, you all know, the developing times tended to stretch longer and longer. The thought about a techno style tileset is probably inspired by Dethman's famous 7th Lava Fall tileset, a truly classic Jazz Jackrabbit 2 tileset even with its flaws of somewhat raw structure (my guess about that: imported graphics from another application and dropping down the color amounts). I feel I could mime 7th Lava Fall way better nowadays, but at the end of 2000, Wasteland was all I could do. Not that I was making a copy anyway :) I was satisfied with the finished Wasteland. It is my first tileset that starts to resemble my later tilesets. This is because during Wasteland creation process I suddenly noticed, that I am not using enough shades of each colors. This made me move from the regular 8 shades of each colors (JJ2 basic palette had previously dictated my shade use) to 16 shades per colour. I had started to make the basic tiles of Wasteland but then took some time to enhance the tiles with more colors. The picture here shows a part of the original mask picture of Wasteland. It still has the 6-shade versions of all tiles. The result was superior comparing to my earlier works, and actually this led me to update all the warp backgrounds of the previous tilesets. I shipped those new versions with Blade's Battle Pack 2 in early 2001.

There is not much to tell about the drawing process, I feel it progressed very smoothly. Apart from the enhanced colors, there is little new in Wasteland. It is a basic block structure tileset like Aztec and Rocks. Tilesets like that are easy to start with and continue. To think it, the pipes are a new and essential thing to my tilesets. They play a important role in masked tiles and as well as eye candy. When making a Wasteland level, pipes and the background metal blocks must be used creatively as no else eye candy is available. I probably started to make the tileset a way where I did not plan any special eye candy stuff in it, and hence I couldn't think of anything when the tileset creation progressed.

From all of my tilesets, it feels like it is Wasteland I couldn't lay down to rest. There was always something to mess with. The basic versions of Wasteland are very alike. The initial release was released in 10 November 2000, as a expansion to Blade's Battle Pack - something I wouldn't have done today. Those battle level compilations were a honour thing for me back then, for the time of 2000-2001, and after that I have concentrated on the single player side of Jazz Jackrabbit 2 as it is closer what I would like to play. Released as "Wasteland" in Jazz2Online, it fared pretty good. Scored with 8.4, it was my top tileset achievement at that point. Like with the other tilesets, a got a lot of positive feedback on Wasteland. That has always encouraged me to create even more tilesets. After the first release a slight update was with Blade's Battle Pack 2 in February 2001, and finally that final release with Energized Action in 2003. My tileset building was pretty established at the end of 2000, and I didn't need to change much, only some little mask problems with tiles representing vines.

Wasteland is also pretty rich with unreleased or semireleased add-ons. Many of you may remember the Wasteland Second Edition. Remaining still on my computer, withdrawn from the Internet, I can get the information that I made that version in July 2001, most probably just after Woodlands release. Leaving Wasteland without background stuff bothered me half an year, and in the summer 2001 I tried to fix my previous decisions to what I thought was best for the tileset. So I added stuff for two background layers by actually copying the round hills from Desert and creating weird looking factory buildings. I added the new Second Edition to Blade's Battle Pack 2 with the release of Forest in September 2001. People at Jazz2Online seemed not to like much the update and this quickly led me to abandon the Second Edition. The strongest thing I did was not to include the hills and the "giant paper bags with straws", like Cell wittingly said, to the definitive release Energized Action. Summing this mess up, I was not completely satisfied with the lack of background stuff in Wasteland. That led me to create that missing art, but didn't notice them to be unimportant early enough. and lo, the Second Edition mess is complete.

A Wasteland Evening was also made. I never released as I looked it as a test would it look interesting enough. I thought not, because a color modification should change lots of colors, but in Wasteland's case, there was only on used, grey. It is a miracle I managed to make Wasteland look interesting with basically one color. So, Wasteland Evening exists and works well with this more warmer appearance. The screenshot here shows the tileset applied on Energized Action level "Grey Matter Adventure". Also the Second Edition screenshot was based on the level by the way.

Like with Desert, I chose a work of the Finnish artist Quasian for Wasteland. Called "Second Time", I actually used it as a music in my less known capture the flag level Blast The Bunny. In short, I created it because I wanted to use Mez's MEZ02 better I did in an ancient SP episode of mine "Another Dimension", in secret level "Hulabaloo". Accessed from the first level, "Spike Beach". The reason for re-use was simple, I thought Second Time fitted Wasteland good, and no one would mind if I would have same music in two levels. Especially when Blast the Bunny was not so popular amongst J2O community.

5 June 2008 note: As I am now talking about the block structure tilesets, I could notify you about my future tileset plans. I have told you about Winter War and Seven Depths of Abomination plans, but there are also thoughts on revisiting Aztec and making it new and shining. That'd be cool, maybe it could be a anniversary release in 2010 :D In the mean time, maybe I take that Viking idea you've been telling me about into consideration... :)

Tuesday 3 June 2008

DDD 33: Background taking shape

33. 2 January 2008

Background work, the real stuff. The layer 5 trees got shadows and hanging vegetation and by instant the picture for that layer was close to being finished. There can still be something that needs tweaking, but layer 5 is finished after I've done some gravestones to break the 2D-ness of the picture. The tree shadows antialiasing took a long while, so that remains the largest effort to Dungeon that I made today.

I also tested how the castle wall in layer 6 should look like. I made four different variations, but nothing seemed to look good and fitting. For now I decided that the wall should be of clean color with only texturing in some places like the 28th development screenshot shows.

I did a few tricks to layer 7 material. It is now eight tiles wide and some distant trees and stones were made. Even though not finished, the background layers look good together already. Ditching the old graveyard was a right decision. I have a really good feeling about the progress of Dungeon and there should not be a long time until the tileset release. Personal matters could still interfere with this, but I hope not. For your knowledge, there is one particular girl who is responsible for Dungeon release delayment for even two months :D

Sunday 1 June 2008

Tileset 5: Desert

I am paying a visit to my old computer and so I can now explain something about tileset five, Desert.

Pretty soon after finishing Glacier in early September 2000, I started to think about the next tileset. There is little information left what were the alternatives I thought about concentrating on, but making the decision didn't take long keeping in mind that the first released Desert version was done on 29 September 2000. I have notes that say that finishing this tileset took a long time. Heh, "hardly" says Blade in 2008. The initial inspiration to start making the tileset was once again influenced by Donald Duck comic artist Don Rosa with his series "The Three Caballeros Ride Again", published in Finland just at that time. What impressed me in that was the way all the Mexican cliffs and rocks were drawn. They were done a way I thought would look cool in a new tileset. Mostly I replicated Don Rosa's style in the background layer desert landscape. Many of you who can get your hands on the particular comic series will probably not recognise any similarities with what I did with Desert and what is in "The Three Caballeros Ride Again", but there they are, Don Rosa influences.

In many ways I consider Glacier and Desert brother tilesets. They are of the same size, contain same type of tiles (I've always had the feeling that Desert is Glacier turned hotter) and have similar eye candy content all the way to the lone flower. They were released between small intervals. From these two, Glacier has always been more pleasing to me and Desert is some kind of middle work with little progress in graphics compared to the previous release. Apart from all this bashing Desert still achieves a nice atmosphere and the tileset can be used to make a good basic desert level in your episode :) In my case, Energized Action. What was new in Desert was the tampering of the original Jazz Jackrabbit 2 palette color entries. For unknown reason I changed only the greens that affect barrels. Pretty surely it is accidential that the result made the tileset feel dryer as anything that would appear lush and lively (foods and carrots) now look like they have had lots of heat in the recent time and not so much water.

I released Desert in Jazz2Online for the first time in 29 September 2000. Since then there have been at least three new versions. All the versions are 1; the initial release, 2; Blade's Battle Pack update in late 2000, 3; Blade's Battle Pack 2 update in early 2001 and 4; Energized Action final version from 2003. The initial release in Jazz2Online was in fact named "Burning Desert" emphasizing the fact that I no longer released my tileset with useless example levels, but functioning battle levels. This was done for the first time in the later releases of Glacier. I started to do this because the fall 2000 was my "golden time" in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Internet multiplayer. Although never really becoming a formidable Jazz2 internet player and never joining any clans, I had lots of fun (e.g. Blade & Aiko tha iSDN Army (tm) :P). For the Internet reasons I started concentrating on battle levels and this later resulted in creation of the Blade's Battle Pack - well - battle packs.

Burning Desert did well in J2O. Today it has a average score of 8 with seven reviewers. Some remarks were made on the music choice and the eye candy content. As many of my early tilesets, Desert had many problems I left undealt. A major one was the broken warp background in 8 bit color modes. This was finally fixed with the Blade's Battle Pack update with the JJ2 community figure Iceman's aid. The next time Desert popped into general public in Blade's Battle Pack 2 with 20 more tiles. These are 100 per cent essential tiles that should have been in the first release. Like with rest of my tilesets, a final version of Desert was released with Energized Action single player episode in 2003. As I was starting to get better in planning my releases, not so much changes were made to Desert version 3. The new 4 updated the masking to flawless and added further 10 more essential tiles. Nothing mind blowing, but especially dealing with flawed masks is really important for comfortable use of any tileset. It appears that I had some plans on making a night version of Desert. A file named DesertNight.pcx on my computer indicates this, although the insides is identical with the day version.

The above screenshot of Burning Desert exhibits the first version charasteristics of Desert. Here the altered basic color entries are visible with the brown barrel and the first version warp background is less smooth than it would later be. Mostly, as I told before, the largest changes made in Desert over the years remain in the mask side of the tileset.

There is not much to say about the music choice of Desert, System 51. Is is an energetic rock release from Finnish musician Quasian. I have no clue how I came across this release, but one possibility is that I was browsing through Assembly computer event (held every year in Helsinki, Finland) music competitions, where Quasian had success in 1998 with this track. In today's point of view I feel System 51 is way too loud and restless. Today I'd choose something more smooth but oh well, seven and half years have passed. Quasian seems to be so different name, that Google finds him easily. There's a homepage left at and a entry in