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... :)

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