AuthorTopic: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest  (Read 20269 times)

Offline Ryumaru

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The purpose of this challenge is to give the environments of Castlevania a little love. While they do have a lot of that old school grid-like charm, there's lots of room for improvement! with a focus on design, eliminating the grid, and more organic feel, there are lessons to be learned here that can apply to modern pixel art, and even hi res 2D games.

Here is the NES palette, as well as a link to Kasumi's post on some of it's restrictions:



http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=10784.msg115062#msg115062

The most important restrictions being: 4 available 4 color palettes that all share one universal color (usually black), and that each 16x16 area must share the same palette. Keep in mind that the HUD needs a palette, so if you have 4 on screen, one of them needs to be shared with the hud!

However, as if things weren't hard enough with just those colors to choose from, we also have a tile limit due to how this game handled graphics, says the great Kasumi ( I pleaded with him, but he didn't budge) here is your blank canvas of 128 tiles.



Choose one of these screenshots to give a makeover to ( or find your own!). It can be a near 1:1 translation, or you can go nuts and do your own thing! That goes for placement, design, everything. As long as it fits the restrictions.





Here is an example I put together to get the ball rolling. Mine is perhaps a bit busy, so I challenge you to show me up! Note the extra tiles left over that could be used for stairs and other things further into the level.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 04:35:04 am by Ryumaru »

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 12:24:58 pm
Most of the images in my restrictions post have been dead for months, and I haven't gotten around to fixing them. I'll try to get to that.

I'd recommend the NTSC palette from Bisqwit's palette generator over Nintendulator's PAL palette.



The text says 120 tiles, but it's 128. (The image itself is the right size for 128.)

I'd also like to share these: http://imgur.com/a/kUrra

They're from a cancelled and never released Castlevania II hack, but they might still give some ideas how to play within NES restrictions. (I wasn't involved in said hack, just sharing the pretty stuff.)
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Offline Phoenix849

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 07:24:31 pm
Good timing, I was just itching to do some NES mockups, though have almost zero experience with it. Also not a Castlevania player, just wanna pixel something nice.

Here's what I've manage to do over evening. Image cropped from VGMaps. Palettes are all over the place, those diagonal stairs unexpectedly screw me over due to 16 x 16 pixel region color limits. So yeah, it doesn't follow restrictions currently. I have to rethink the whole color scheme all together. But I feel inspired, and want to play with different areas. Really excited to see how far you guys can push those graphics.



I'd also like to share these: http://imgur.com/a/kUrra

Saw this kUrra album earlier and was incredibly inspired by this playing on NES limitations so perfectly. I'd say it's my favourite NES mockups I've ever seen. I'd like to post some sweet stuff by ptoing I've discovered just yesterday. I feel it is relevant for Castlevania thread:
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Offline Phoenix849

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #3 on: March 26, 2016, 10:58:41 am
Okay, it seems I've underestimated the restrictions due to being inexperienced with NES tilesets:

1. Does HUD also count towards limits? That's why interface and walkable platforms are constantly red/orange?

2. Does the whole first level (VGMaps link) have to use only one palette for outside AND inside areas? Just when I thought I was going to make some sweet forest graphics outside of the castle :(



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Offline Gil

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #4 on: March 26, 2016, 03:38:28 pm
1. Does HUD also count towards limits? That's why interface and walkable platforms are constantly red/orange?
HUD counts yes, but I think the 120 is already excluding the HUD (hence why it's only 120), so you don't need to worry about it. Depending on game, recolors even count, so if you have a tile and you want to use it in two separate palettes on one screen, you double it. There's plenty of ways around that though, so you can skip it if you want.

2. Does the whole first level (VGMaps link) have to use only one palette for outside AND inside areas? Just when I thought I was going to make some sweet forest graphics outside of the castle :(
No, you can switch tiles per screen, or even on scanline sometimes, depending. For this exercise, just don't mix the two and you're fine. Like, if you make outside and inside areas, and you want to mix those tilesets, you make sure the combination doesn't go over the limit.

Offline Phoenix849

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #5 on: March 26, 2016, 04:37:53 pm
Thanks, Gil.

Okay, here's my second take. Afterwards I might take this palette and use it for castle hallway as well. Plenty of colors left unused yet. I'm happy with it so far. Can't decide on version with space in between trees or without. Obviously, WIP.



Haven't felt this inspired for a long time. Would be cool to make a whole series of those.

UPDATE: Had an idea to reuse castle tiles for fish dungeon. Still have to merge all tilesets in one and decide on 4th tile palette. Not sure if I can fit in 120 tiles in total. Might need to cut something out afterwards. WIP, of course:



« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 09:21:33 pm by Phoenix849 »
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Offline Mnots

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #6 on: March 27, 2016, 03:40:48 am
"I'm interested in this" - me

This topic seems really awesome. I'm gonna try and do a screen or two myself. :D

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #7 on: March 27, 2016, 06:44:02 am
Phoenix849: Awesome stuff man! I like that you stayed conservative with your tiles but still vastly improved the look. The palette change in the first area especially gives off such a stronger mood. I bet you have a good many tiles left, perhaps try to think a bit outside of the box now!

Mnots: heheh, go for it!  :crazy:

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #8 on: March 27, 2016, 07:58:29 am
Castlevania's hardware setup would not allow you to switch tiles per scanline, that's more of a CHR ROM thing. (Because people can be pedantic, it can be done with CHR RAM, but not with the amount that Castlevania had.)

Using two separate palette to display a tile doesn't need extra tiles on NES, unless the tile would need to be "remapped". Like if you had a palette of black, brown, white. And a palette of green, dark green, light green.

If you wanted to display a tile using the green palette such that dark green was used where black was, you'd need two tiles. But if the second palette were dark green, green, light green (the same colors in a different order), you would not need a second tile to do that.

The forest and castle areas of the first level actually do use the same set of 128 tiles and palette. (Palette would be easy to change, though, they just just didn't.) I'm not saying don't use another set of tiles just because they didn't. Go for it. It's just information.

The HUD does not count towards your tiles. All reserved tiles are in one half,  so the 128 you get are the other half.

The HUD does affect your palette choices, though. In Castlevania, the HUD always uses the same palette in every level (At least, so far. I'm beating it again to check, and I'll update this post if it changes. Edit: Doesn't change during gameplay).

For your mockups, you can have a different palette for the HUD so long as it remains readable. Battletoads changes its HUD colors per level to get the most out of its palettes. Castlevania doesn't, but it could.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 08:25:36 am by Kasumi »
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Online wolfenoctis

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #9 on: March 27, 2016, 03:59:37 pm
Quick and dirty edit of Ryumaru's excellent piece, have no idea whether it would work:

Basically made the tiles in the foreground big to create a sense of depth and obviously changed the colors, based on the palette in Ruymaru's original post.

If I understand the color restriction correctly you have one color that can be used anywhere and four 3 color ramps where you can only utilize one ramp and the omni color in a given 16x16 area?

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #10 on: March 27, 2016, 06:01:35 pm
You are understanding correctly, wolfenoctis.

Here is a post that explains this in more detail since most of the images in my restrictions post are still dead. (And... I think they'll stay that way for a bit, sorry. I am trying to finish something else.) I see that you've already found the linked post, wolfenoctis, but I've been asked on slack to clarify more generally.

Specific to Castlevania, the HUD uses the universal color which is always black. This means that without editing the HUD tiles themselves, changing the universal color to something not black will change everything that is black on the HUD to that as well.

What this post really boils down to is, "Do not forget about the HUD when choosing your color palettes." I do not mind anyone changing the colors of the HUD for their levels as Battletoads does, or even remapping its tiles to allow for something other than black as the universal color. You could even do away with the lighter color if you want (For the bars next to ENEMY), which would get the HUD down to 3 colors, not 4. Just don't make a mockup like it won't be there at all, it's a large part of the game that the original developers had to work around and with. Also remember that there are things in the levels that currently use the same palette as the HUD.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 06:05:42 pm by Kasumi »
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Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #11 on: March 27, 2016, 11:35:06 pm
Quick and dirty edit of Ryumaru's excellent piece, have no idea whether it would work:

Basically made the tiles in the foreground big to create a sense of depth and obviously changed the colors, based on the palette in Ruymaru's original post.

If I understand the color restriction correctly you have one color that can be used anywhere and four 3 color ramps where you can only utilize one ramp and the omni color in a given 16x16 area?


Man that's great wolf, It's amazing what a palette change and some simplification can do. The rimlight on the left side of the walls is a great touch, as NES apparently cant flip/ rotate tiles anyway, so there's no reason not to have them be unique if it will help sell an idea like that. When you do stuff like this you realize that the 16x16 same palette area is a more limiting restriction than the number of tiles themselves.

Also, I've updated the first post with the NTSC palette, and corrected the number of tiles available (128). Keep it coming, folks!

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #12 on: March 28, 2016, 08:01:42 am
Hey folks. It may surprise you all to know that I didn't have a program that checks restriction breaks. I've been checking manually, but enough people have been asking me stuff that I made a program. I may try to release if I can make it a little more user friendly. (But that... may... prove difficult. There are also probably times it can say you're not in restrictions when you are, just due to ambiguity of how palettes can be put together.)

One test image was Phoenix849's (Sorry man!)

Blacks are areas that are using too many colors. (The only useful output right now is that, but it does keep track of all palettes and other useful information, so if I clean up its output it could in theory help one detect more than 4 palettes and where they are.)

Anyway, it caught some stuff I didn't see. The gray beneath the stairs is different than the two grays of the banisters, so those three colors plus orange plus black is five colors in a 16x16 pixel area. The green vines underneath the bridge are similarly too close to the "orange" palette. (Apologies if I just have it offset wrong)

Wolf's edit of Ryu's start checks out. Anyway I'm not going to really check everyone's unless people actually want me to. I don't wanna ruin the fun of this.
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Offline Phoenix849

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #13 on: March 28, 2016, 09:51:42 am
One test image was Phoenix849's (Sorry man!)
I actually didn't check it for 16px regions yet, so I presumed it contained mistakes. It's still unfinished, so I'll be manually looking through when I merge these 3 mockups into one. Right now it's in 3 different Pyxel Edit files, where you can't switch grid from 8px to 16px without resizing tiles themselves.

Considering my shallow knowledge about NES, could you also link or talk about palettes? Why choose Bisqwit's over Nintendulator's?

Also, finally played Castlevania myself first time ever. Keep falling to death on medusa heads on 2nd level :D
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Offline Prism

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #14 on: March 28, 2016, 09:54:31 am
Here's my take.

TILE COUNT - ~70


Experimenting with NES limits is a real joy. I haven't tried anything NES for...years, really. So seeing what tricks I could use was refreshing. (seeing how negative space could be used as an advantage, technically and visually, turned to be useful)


Since Kasumi is the fucking bomb, he was kind enough to run my piece through his NES checker, and gave me pointers along the way to keep this thing within limits.
Having a little less than half of the tile space left over is also nice. The foliage could still use more cleanliness, variation, and form, so it may be worth revisiting to see how those extra tiles could be put to use.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #15 on: March 28, 2016, 10:01:53 am
Awesome stuff prism, was great seeing this one take shape! The lighting and atmosphere is spot on. If you do revisit it, I would love to see you tackle the foliage more in depth, as that might be the weakest part currently. I actually enjoy it from a certain aesthetic standpoint; looks like a cool base for procedurally generated trees, but I think a more organic presentation could be found with more tiles. Also since you have so many free ones, maybe the fence posts and foreground could have more variation!
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 10:04:27 am by Ryumaru »

Offline Prism

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #16 on: March 28, 2016, 10:20:35 am
For sure, it's appreciated. I still consider it a WIP for that reason! Trying a few completely different approaches to how the foliage is tiled would only help...Also, I maaaaay take a peek at the rest of stage 01's assets to see what could realistically need those remaining tiles, but using them to give more organic life to the stage is also resources well-spent.  :)

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #17 on: March 28, 2016, 10:29:41 am
Oh yeah, you would want to keep the castle in mind as that can be pretty resource intensive. Peeking is totally allowed! Goodluck  :crazy:

Offline Night

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #18 on: March 28, 2016, 09:11:29 pm
Was pretty fun! Not sure if I've done it all correctly though.
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Offline Phoenix849

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #19 on: March 28, 2016, 09:44:49 pm
Night, that looks awesome! I think Belmont stands out too much in the picture. You probably should've made him a bit darker, or made floors more contrasting with background.
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Offline Night

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #20 on: March 28, 2016, 10:06:45 pm
Thanks Phoenix! I originally intended to make the floor and fences have a completely different palette to the background, but that didn't work out too well because of the walls (dithering) and one of the restrictions (16x16 squares with the same palette).
I wasn't planning on editing Belmont's sprite, but you're right.
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Offline Prism

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #21 on: March 28, 2016, 10:32:51 pm
I dig your color choices, Night. The dither half-tone gives the wall a texture of wallpaper, and it the tears (with the exposed brick) add a good amount of visual variance without using too many tile resources.

By the way, it appears like you added a panther statue to the scene? The panthers in the original screenshot are enemies, so it makes for an interesting interpretation.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 10:41:01 pm by Prism »

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #22 on: March 28, 2016, 11:52:55 pm
Phoenix: Palettes... are not something I think I know enough about to give really good info on. I recommend an NTSC Palette over a PAL one because that's what the Japanese developers of this game had in mind. I recommend that specific palette generator because it was made by trying to recreate how the colors are generated by the hardware in software rather than say... looking at my specific TV and trying to match colors by eye.

There's a lot of weird stuff that changes how the signal is generated. There's a thing where a color will appear different based on what it's next to.

What appears to be brown on top, and orange on the front face are the same color. (Ignoring jpg compression.) Paint one on top of the other to see.

Except on NES, the actual color can change depending on what it's next to, and not just how it appears. So any "eyeballed" palette is basically gonna be wrong. I think that's... as far as I can get into it without really getting into things I can't explain.

tl;dr: There simply isn't a way to get an exact RGB triplet for any color in the NES palette. Bisqwit's the is one I use to make graphics for my actual NES games I run on my actual TV. There's also Drag's which similarly tries to replicate how the hardware generates color in software. Either one is fine. It's just there are a lot of "NES Palettes" on the internet that aren't that at all, and I'd prefer people don't use them.

There's more weird NES stuff too. Like... Pixels aren't "output" square. Some games actually made circles differently to compensate. Here is the magnifying glass in Dr. Mario:

It is 72x80, rather than 80x80.

I personally don't worry about that for my own games, but it's interesting.

I'll end this post with one of my favorite images about the futility of choosing palettes on NES:

I made the above ROM from a ptoing mockup. (I edited it badly myself to get it into restrictions. He could have made it flow better.)

The exact same rom, using the exact same NES palette indices on different emulators. Look how different they are! None of them match my TV, and none of them will match your TV. If I recall correctly, Nestopia gets the closest as far as its default palette.

Edit: If anyone wants to try to get their graphics in the actual game, I recommend Stake. You may need to use it in tandem with something like YY-CHR to make actual tile changes, but maybe not. I haven't fully explored Stake, but it seems to be far better than all other choices I found. A few people have asked, and I personally have zero interest in putting any of these graphics in the actual game. I'm working on a thing like Castlevania from scratch right now, and displaying any graphics in something new like that would actually be less trouble if you ask me. But I don't really intend to even do that. Maybe if something really speaks to me.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 12:15:41 am by Kasumi »
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Offline burritoEclair

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #23 on: March 29, 2016, 01:17:04 am
Was pretty fun! Not sure if I've done it all correctly though.


Careful with that dithering. It creates a less than ideal wave effect.
I think some occasional noise clusters might work better than the constant dither. Really love that brown/blue combo though.

Offline Phoenix849

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #24 on: March 29, 2016, 05:48:08 pm
Thanks for talking about palettes. Studying screenshots with 16px grid in Photoshop on I've envountered another questionable area. Look how tiles are 50% displaced from the grid. Also we have those 8px tall black bars on top and bottom. What are they? Can we use them?



I figured it has something to do with a thing called "overscan". While NES PPU generates a 256x240 picture, most TVs display area about 256x224. Like resolution of screenshots in this thread.

I guess the main question is if we can put tiles there. And also how to correctly check it for 16px regions? Just forget about all that and move it for 8 pixels to align with the grid?
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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #25 on: March 29, 2016, 08:35:45 pm
I would guess it has something to do with this.
So vertically scrolled half an attribute cell to prevent stuff being cut off on some TVs?

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #26 on: March 29, 2016, 09:00:57 pm
Some emulators hide some lines by default, but I always turn that off. I'm of the opinion all mockups should be 256x240. The NES has no information about the TV, as a developer you have no guarantee your consumer's TV will hide any lines.

But you similarly have no guarantee the TV won't hide lines, so you still have to plan to not put important information on the edges in case the TV does hide some. TV Shows usually do the same thing. They don't put text very near the borders.

Quote
we have those 8px tall black bars on top and bottom. What are they? Can we use them?
There's certainly nothing in the hardware that stops you from using them, but Castlevania specifically seems to not allow tiles there. I hacked in zeroes to the lowest structure:

This decision was probably based on the fact that the game doesn't scroll vertically and the fact that some lines may not be displayed. The game's levels are built out of 32x32 structures. There's only 16 pixels below the zero tiles. Moving the HUD up to allow another full row of 32x32 structures would ensure the top of the HUD wouldn't be seen on most TVs. Doing that would also have probably made the level data take up more space (an extra row to store information about after all), so it's a reasonable choice.
Quote
I guess the main question is if we can put tiles there.
So yes on NES, no in Castlevania.
Quote
And also how to correctly check it for 16px regions? Just forget about all that and move it for 8 pixels to align with the grid?
This is going to sound like a sarcastic answer to the question, but I promise it's not. If you can put the grid anywhere on the image and create no problems, well, that's where the grid would be. If you put the grid someplace where there are problems but there is a place where the grid could not cause problems why would you put the grid where it causes problems? NES scrolls in hardware. If you had a screen that was problematic with the grid starting at the top left corner of the screen, you'd absolutely offset it in a way that would make your graphics work. One caveat: The 16x16 grid must always start at the top left of an 8x8 tile.

This is what a game that scrolls in all directions looks like on NES' hardware tile map:
(Linked image because it's more than a megabyte)

On the left are the tiles stored in hardware. The 16x16 grid starts at the top left of this. Where the gray line is represents where the topleft of the screen is. You can think of this map as infinitely repeating. If the gray line is very close to the right of the screen, it will start rendering from the right of the map, and loop to the left when it reaches the end. You can start displaying from any part of the map, so the 16x16 grid can technically start anywhere on the screen.

In theory it has 4 screens of tiles, but in practice two of them are usually "mirrored". Games that scroll horizontally tend to have the left  two and right two be different. Games that scroll vertically tend to have the top two and bottom two be different. Game that scroll in both directions... tend to have to make sacrifices. That's probably offtopic.

Slightly more on topic. I did try to hack some of these mockups into the actual game, but the engine is more restrictive than I thought. It can still probably be done, but my attempt was time consuming enough with no playable result that I don't think I'll try again. I did do something else which I'm probably not going to post, but you can look forward to a PM on that front, Phoenix849! ;)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 09:41:41 pm by Kasumi »
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Offline empixel

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #27 on: March 30, 2016, 05:00:51 pm
Hello! First post in the forum, I hope I'm not breaking any rules.

Phoenix849 brought this challenge to my attention, so I decided to take part in it by remaking Dracula's room. Here it is (without sprites and with sprites):



I tried to keep the overall idea of the original intact (coffin in the center, pillars by the sides) but I went a bit crazy. Here is the tileset.:



I managed to save 13 tiles, and if I sacrifice one of the floor brick tiles, I get one more :P

Also, thanks to Phoenix849's input, I also fixed some issues that had escaped me. So, kudos to him there.

EDIT: OK so I went back for those tiles. Turns out I saved three more. At this rate I'll end up saving enough tiles to rebuild the entire scene starting from the staircase ;D

« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 06:46:35 pm by empixel »

Offline Night

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #28 on: March 31, 2016, 09:47:14 am
I dig your color choices, Night. The dither half-tone gives the wall a texture of wallpaper, and it the tears (with the exposed brick) add a good amount of visual variance without using too many tile resources.

By the way, it appears like you added a panther statue to the scene? The panthers in the original screenshot are enemies, so it makes for an interesting interpretation.
Thank you! Indeed, I think I could have even added a few extra tiles using the grey to create the look of indentations that don't go as far as to reveal the bricks behind them.

Haha, I wasn't aware it was an enemy. I noticed that a few things in the scene used the same colour palette; being the candles, curtains and the panther. So I thought, with the first two behind inanimate, the panther is probably inanimate too and as such a sculpture.
Careful with that dithering. It creates a less than ideal wave effect.
I think some occasional noise clusters might work better than the constant dither. Really love that brown/blue combo though.

Huh. I'll keep that in mind in case I work on another one.

I would agree if it weren't for the fact I'm using the NES palette provided by Kasumi; noise clusters work quite well when they aren't too far apart from each other value wise, which isn't the case with said palette (if I were to create random patches with the grey and orange, it would look somewhat bad I reckon).
However, there is a pretty big problem with using dithering as an extra tone the way I did with the limitations given, as it eats away at two colours in a palette (out of 4) whenever an object that isn't a block is needed, like the staircase railing for example. I was basically sacrificing an extra colour in favor of depth, I feel.
Thank you, I appreciate it!
There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Offline Pix.Ed.

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #29 on: April 03, 2016, 10:06:35 pm
Hi. I was going through the nes restrictions posted here and in the linked post and I'm not clear if we get four palettes for background tiles and four paletttes for sprites, for a total of eight usable palettes or if it is only four palettes in total that need to be distributed amongst background tiles and sprites.

If anyone can help clarify or point me to a source that does, I'd appreciate it. Thanks in advanced.

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #30 on: April 04, 2016, 12:43:36 am
Eight separate palettes. Four for sprites, four for the background.

Four three color palettes for the background, + one color that can be used anywhere. In Castlevania's case, one of the four background palettes is used for the HUD.

Four three colors palettes for sprites + transparency that can be used anywhere.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2016, 12:52:47 am by Kasumi »
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Offline Pix.Ed.

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #31 on: April 04, 2016, 03:58:44 am
Awesome. Thanks Kasumi for the clarification and quick response. Much appreciated.

Offline inkajoo

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #32 on: April 04, 2016, 07:38:51 pm
This is actually my first post here ... so, hi :)

The proper way to make NES-true mockups is a nifty little program called NES Screen Tool.  http://www.romhacking.net/utilities/802/

It enforces all of the NES's limitations with the added bonus of exporting data that can be used by an actual NES ROM.

You may still want to start in Photoshop or your favorite editor - as the editing capabilities are limited - and then import them into NESST.

Offline Prism

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #33 on: April 06, 2016, 06:34:37 pm
Hello! First post in the forum, I hope I'm not breaking any rules.

Phoenix849 brought this challenge to my attention, so I decided to take part in it by remaking Dracula's room. Here it is (without sprites and with sprites):



I tried to keep the overall idea of the original intact (coffin in the center, pillars by the sides) but I went a bit crazy. Here is the tileset.:



I managed to save 13 tiles, and if I sacrifice one of the floor brick tiles, I get one more :P

Also, thanks to Phoenix849's input, I also fixed some issues that had escaped me. So, kudos to him there.

EDIT: OK so I went back for those tiles. Turns out I saved three more. At this rate I'll end up saving enough tiles to rebuild the entire scene starting from the staircase ;D


Stellar! You got nicely creative with the room composition. Love the coffin in the center, the inclusion of the organ and angled windows, et cetera.

Offline TOMOYA

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #34 on: April 16, 2016, 07:30:31 am
Hello! Another new user here! Have been interested on joining Pixelation for a while and this challenge was exactly the motivation I was looking for, so I took the chance to take part on it.
Here is my take on the castle's gardens at the start of the game. Took big liberties with it and reimagined a lot of stuff, having a more dark and realistic look in mind, but still keeping the picture recognizable. Hope my work is good enought, since everyone has done amazing stuff so far.

WITH SPRITES


WITHOUT SPRITES


TILES AND PALETTES



Used a total of 125 tiles. There probably are a few tiles that could be reused here and there to get more free space (specially since I totally forgot about the castle at the end of this screen), but I wanted to post this already or I will keep working on it forever.
As an aditional challenge, I used only 3 palettes on the background itself, and saved the last one just for the UI.
I went a little bit crazier with the sprites. Changed everything in the way the torches work, the base is now made out of backgrounds tiles, and only the fire is made out of sprites. I use the same 6 sprite tiles the original torch used, but in a total different way to get a 4 frame animation cycle instead of 2, like the original one has.
Didn't change Simon's sprite, but maybe, I'll get to work on him someday, since I had a lot of fun getting creative with this game I like so much.

Offline Cherno

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #35 on: April 16, 2016, 10:26:51 am
Absolutely beautiful, especialy the flame animation and the light on the statue. I also like how the scene gets progressively darker in the background, just like it should.

Offline Arne

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #36 on: April 19, 2016, 04:22:58 pm
I ended up with a noisy turd.

Reasons:
I wanted a different brick size for the background (smaller to suggest distance), but this added extra noise. Could probably throw in more blank/flat tiles.

I didn't want to do leaf blobs for the plants, so I started dithering, thinking it might work on a TV.

Tried to keep the tile count and 4*4 layouts somewhat low, but sort of creeped away doing a few decorative tiles.

Tried to keep the original 3 palettes to the end, but had to lighten the sky to reduce noise and replace GUI palette red with brown as I used that for the lit ground tiles.



*Edited in some more flats. Plant dither still a mess.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 10:52:51 pm by Arne »

Offline mobichan

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #37 on: April 22, 2016, 03:36:16 pm
I've been lurking in here for a while now and man are these impressive.  Sorry to nitpick, but I just wanted to point out to Phoenix that the castle gate/entrance can be jumped past to reveal a hidden item.  So you need to continue the floor past the entrance instead of stopping it at a bush wall.

Offline moket

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #38 on: April 24, 2016, 08:37:05 pm
Inspiring thread  :y:

Gave a try at it, the lack of a saturated bright red in the NTSC palette makes it quite hard.
Went a bit overboard with the tile count...can't draw stairs and props anymore.


« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 09:49:13 pm by moket »

Offline Probo

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #39 on: April 24, 2016, 10:17:47 pm
Wow some great edits in here. that ntsc palette that kasumi provided really lends itself to some grungy, dark visuals. I love that shit. However one of my favourite things about the pal nes I grew up with is bright, weird and sometimes garish palettes so I leant into that :D

I chose Death's level, looked like it could do with a lick of paint:



I had a go at the existing metasprites in the room too, trying to stick to their existing real estate in terms of 8x8 or 8x16 sprites.

I wanted to keep the HUD palette the same as its iconic to me, but I also used the HUD palette on the fire in the top left, which I assume could be animated by switching out tiles? maybe not in the cv1 engine? Kasumi help me XD. in a perfect world it'd be whippable too, like a candle.

enjoyed making the upgrade 'III' in the HUD a bit more readable, after so many years playing this game haha

I haven't checked for errors or tile count :S

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #40 on: April 24, 2016, 11:56:23 pm
About Castlevania's Engine: I learned that Castlevania (at least appears to) hardcode which 8x8 tiles are collision enabled. (Most games tie it to larger structures.) So (quite laughably), what makes a lot of these not work is too many unique tiles that are meant to be collision enabled.

I wouldn't consider adding that restriction to this challenge, since it's conceivably a thing they'd have changed if they had art like this. But it's the main thing that made hacking art in no fun.

Probo: You've got 134 non unique tiles, and no palette errors. Getting under tile count would be pretty easy for you. You've got three unique floor brick structures. Could use just one.

As far as animating the fire (assuming its background), it's possible with CHR RAM (which Castlevania uses), but easier with CHR ROM. And I don't remember Castlevania updating tiles that way mid level anywhere. (Could be wrong. I should note it'd be a bit of a different thing than the breakable walls that exist in the game.) 
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 11:58:41 pm by Kasumi »
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Offline Probo

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #41 on: April 25, 2016, 11:05:02 am
Oh that's interesting, so is that restrictive because it would have to hold a long list of collision objects in memory, memory that could otherwise be used for more important things? Or it'd slow performance because it has to check through the list every time it checks for collision or something?

Thanks for checking the pic for me, I might edit it to bring it under later in the week.

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #42 on: April 25, 2016, 10:54:38 pm
Collision detection on NES is the same as any other tile based collision. Choose a point on the screen, see if "what's there" is collision enabled. "What's there" being whatever structure contains if a thing is solid or not.

Castlevania's levels are built out of 32x32 (four by four 8x8 tiles) structures. They could have stored collision info with these structures. If having collision as fine as 8x8 was important to them, that means they "needed" a bit per tile (solid/nonsolid). Which is two extra bytes (16 bits at 8 bits per byte) per 32x32 structure.

Or... one could use the tile's number to store that information for "free." If the first 128 of the 256 tiles in the set are collision enabled, and the last 128 are not I can use the highest bit of the tile number itself to check if something is solid or not. Obvious caveat that you can't have more than 128 of either solid or non solid things. To get around the caveat, you could store a byte with every set to define the numbered range of collision enabled tiles, which is not "free" but is more versatile, and also way better size wise than two bytes per 32x32 structure.

Castlevania certainly appears to (I'm not getting out the debugger) tie its collision to 8x8 tiles in some way, which depending on how they did it might have saved them a fair bit of ROM. Less to do with RAM or performance since they (probably) didn't save a lookup.

But most games do store their collision information with some larger structure. For one thing, the same tile might need to be used in multiple contexts. (A solid color tile that is not solid/water in on structure, and solid/grass in another.) To do something like that, you'd need to have duplicate 8x8 tiles in your set. Generally you're storing more than solid/nonsolid, so even if you arrange tiles to save one way, it's tough/impossible to arrange them such that a range check will work for all the information about a tile. A lot of games store collision info with some 16x16 structure because NES palettes can't really be set per 8x8 (barring rare hardware). Since there already had to be definitions for palette at that size, why not put collision there too and be done?

So it didn't occur to me that Castlevania would... not do that until I was a bit of the way through putting graphics in, and then Simon kept falling through the floor. Changing the tile numbers of the floor alone seemed to make him fall, even though it was the same structure. May as well just post this:


The graphics I was working with were Phoenix849 and Prism's. Though Phoenix849's may not appear in the gif.

End note: Like I said, haven't got out the debugger to check the game. So if anyone wants to do that to tell me I'm wrong, or find out where/how it's storing collision info feel free. With that knowledge, hacking the game is... easier. I wish I had spent the time I spent hacking replicating the movement in my own personal engine. Because... getting the graphics in that was easier.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 10:57:20 pm by Kasumi »
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Offline Probo

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #43 on: April 26, 2016, 08:50:16 pm
that's really interesting, thanks. I love the idea of programming nes games but its way over my head! Maybe ill make a nes-faithful game in game maker one day :P

I need to make some more castle tiles for my game at some point, i got some ideas doing this!

Offline TOMOYA

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #44 on: April 27, 2016, 01:28:54 am
Great info there, Kasumi. Since I discovered this thread I was wondering about the posibility of getting these mockups into the real game, and how difficult it would be. It would make a great long-term project for the forum if we managed to get a lot of people interested on it.

I love the idea of programming nes games but its way over my head!
Totally agree with this. I also have an unfinished Castlevania engine that I started some years ago, after realizing how much time, work and how many headaches would take me to put all my ideas on an actual NES hack.

Offline SeanNoonan

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #45 on: May 02, 2016, 09:43:59 pm
I don't think I'm ready to contribute just yet, but man, I'm seriously impressed with this stuff.

It would be great to see a remake like this :)

Offline 7Soul

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #46 on: May 17, 2016, 09:46:59 pm
>

Tiles and palette:


Edit: another one
>
(also nice in blue and orange)

Tiles and palette:


Edit2: Can't stop won't stop
>

Tiles and palette:
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 08:07:09 pm by 7Soul »

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #47 on: May 21, 2016, 04:39:13 am
Hello, I was poking around on the internet and came across this thread.
I just wanted to take a moment to express how pleased and even amazed I am to see a lot of these images.

I am currently building a Castlevania-inspired game within the exact NES limitations, and if I had the money for it, I would be offering to hire a lot of you folks.  This art is great!

I just want to say, some of my favorites:

By Phoenix849:

This gives me a lot of inspiration for some of the designs I'm making in my game.  I love how rustic and rich the castle looks!  Although I do think it ought to have a few more tiles at the top so that it looks like it goes past the top of the screen.


This is really great!  I love how dark it appears, but you still have given plenty of definition to the tiles the player can collide with.  The hanging greenery adds a nice touch.  I love how the second platform has a slightly different pattern than the first, giving that much more personality.

By wolfenoctis:

It overall looks a *little* more cartoony than the Castlevania series ought to, but the colors are fantastic!  I love how that whole wall looks so grey but gets those blue highlights!

By TOMOYA:

This sepia look is visually stunning!  The only real problem with it is, how do you follow that up?  I just don't see how you could keep the rest of the game follow that theme without going overboard on the sepia tones, which would ultimately dry out and look bland.  But as a stand-alone piece of art, it is simply incredible.

By 7Soul:

This one honestly stunned me.  That sunset just popped right out and looked amazing!  And the colors for the rest of the scene contrast so well with it, too.  The green block look a bit off, though.  I think it is great how they are clearly different from the rest of the scene so that the player doesn't have to guess about what is ground and what is not, but you might consider experimenting with a different shade or two.  Possibly a deeper green, possibly a less-yellow highlight.  Also the bulbous shape doesn't really suit the setting, (It should be hewn stone, not natural rock,) and adding in a variant of the tile every few blocks would really sell it.  But the whole rest of that scene is fantastic!


I love everything about this one!  I love that grey part of the background, I love the look of the blocks, I love how some of the blocks have a colored top on them, I love the broken stones and the broken pillar, and I really love how those stairs stand out more than they did in the original!

Great job, people!  I'm impressed!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 04:43:21 am by Marscaleb »

Offline TOMOYA

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #48 on: May 22, 2016, 08:44:17 am
Wow! We keep getting amazing art on this challenge!

Marscaleb: I'm glad you liked my mockup, and you have a really good point on your review of it. The dark and sepia choice of colors can really get dull and boring after a while, and I didn't think about it too much when making this mockup, so I don't have a long term plan for the rest of the game. But right now I'm having some small ideas for little bits of color variation without breaking the previous tone too much. I think I could play a little with different light sources, providing different colored lights, or even some bright colored enemies. As soon as I get some free time I'll try making a mockup of another part of the game to see how those ideas could turn out.

Hope to see something of your game soon! I love Castlevania, and I love games that follow older systems' limitations, so I'm already really interested in your project!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2016, 09:08:47 am by TOMOYA »

Offline zodiac

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #49 on: June 23, 2016, 02:08:37 am
Saw this and couldn't resist giving it a try, here's the famous "enemy hall" before the grim reaper. Looking for some thoughts and critiques though, I tried a purple curtain version to free up the HUD palette, but I think the red curtains are an iconic callback to the original. As a cool twist, the glowing eyes on the 'Bona Lisa' would kick in as you approach, using an 8x8 sprite to animate.

> >


« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 02:18:55 am by zodiac »

Offline CandyFace

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #50 on: July 29, 2016, 08:30:49 pm
This is such an awesome idea! and you all have made some pretty amazing looking mockups so far. Here's my attempt. I've tried to keep it close to the original, but colorwise gone nuts with a more purple look except for the foreground, which was painting yellow/brown as if the bricks were being highlighted by the light of the moon. I also tried to get a more ruined look, as well as more foliage in the background.

« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 08:44:52 pm by CandyFace »

Offline BatElite

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #51 on: August 12, 2016, 04:06:43 pm
Hello again
I based my thing of the stage 2 boss room:



---



This more or less started with an idea for a palette cycling animation. I hadn't taken the 16*16 areas rule fully into account, so I discovered halfway through assembling the animation that I didn't align the windows right and that they wouldn't work in this setup at uniform length anyway. Not without having to remove the window frames.



This requires three out of four palettes, so the rest of the room had to be monochrome. I got a bit lazy with the foreground. The doors look rather poor to me now as well.

I haven't made a animation going from the static version to the cycling, although I have one planned. The head wouldn't be around anymore during the animation in-game.
Before I fix anything or work on the forground though, I'd like to know if the cycling and colour choice looks good. Other comments are welcome as well.

These are the current tiles, by the way:



-------UPDATE-------



This version should obey restrictions. Also messed with some tiles. I guess the doors are pillars now.



...and animated.



Current tile use.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 02:08:22 pm by BatElite »
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Offline DerZocker

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Re: Commercial Critique Challenge - Tilevania: pixel's quest

Reply #52 on: February 28, 2017, 01:23:38 am
kinda late to the party, but I gave it a shot

the first is based on this area http://share.cherrytree.at/showfile-27513/mainhall.png
and the second is more or less freestyle. I hope I didn't screwed up the 16x16 color areas too hard.
It's really incredible what can be done already with so few tiles.