Thursday, June 13, 2013

Zelda Starring Zelda SNES: Link to the Past -- Dev Blog

Number of sprites completed: 27
Number of sprites left: 186

There's so much to do in this game I figured I'd take the time to do a proper dev blog. Well, not a "proper" one, if such a thing exists, but I at least want to show you my work flow so you can make your own edits to these kinds of games.

Link to the Past is one of those games where I have to be extra careful to get everything right. If your friends are anything like my friends, Link to the Past is THE Zelda game and they would absolutely murder me if I got the feel of the game wrong. Well, that and Ocarina of Time. I have to be very careful to make it feel like a Zelda game. Zelda can't just be a female Link. This isn't Link's Drag Race (although someone should make that game) She has to be the Princess. She has to move right and the story has to make sense.

The first thing I did was to drop Link to the Past into Tile Layer Pro (an easy to use sprite editor) and see what I could work with. No research. No nothing. I was the kind of kid that didn't use the instructions to make my lego castles. Instructions are for the weak. Sometimes this works out and you end up with a castle. Other times, the "castle" you want to build is one of only two SNES games that used compressed graphics that can't be read by Tile Layer Pro. And then you cry.

Nah, just kidding. Then you google. If you're not very tech savvy, this is he Great Big Secret That Your Tech Support Person Doesn't Want You To Know: your tech support person is google-ing the CRAP out of your tech problems. Tech savvy people aren't smarter. We just google really good.

That's when I found two new tools: ZCompress and YY-CHR. The first tool decompresses the graphics in Link to the Past and puts them in a .bin file. The second tool is a new tile editor that can read .bin files. After you edit, you just use the same zcompress tool to repack the new graphics into the old file. ZCompress is a little harder for me to use since there's no GUI. Instead you have to run it through Command Prompt -- a scary little black box that looks like an old DOS screen.

Up. Enter. Up. Enter. Up. Enter.

If you've never used it before, it can do all of the normal things you do with your mouse (open files, move from folder to folder, copy files, check the status of your network, etc) but Command Prompt does it with text instead of graphics. I've mostly stayed away from it over the years, but my boyfriend warned me that I'd need to get comfortable with the basic commands if I wanted to get into game development. (I do understand why now. Developing a GUI is a lot of unnecessary work for such a simple program.) I have to use Command Prompt and ZCompress each time I want to check my animations. And the animations need a lot of checking.


They're not in order. o.o The frames are OUT OF ORDER. WHAT IS THIS I DON'T. I can kinda sorta see how one might relate to another one, but there's some that I'm completely lost as to what they do. I'd kill for a map right now.

In order to keep everyone looking right, I'm doing my best to work off of the original images. That means I've dropped the "official" Zelda sprites onto similar looking Link sprites and then I try to edit Link's existing sprites down to something that resembles Zelda. Like so:

Animation powers activate! Anyway, she won't be orange in the final edit. I have one more tool to use after I get the sprites all in the right places. Zelda WILL be purple and Link WILL be green. If I have to go in there and paint them myself, they will be purple and green.

And that's where I'm at. As always, a big thank you to all of the modders who did the heavy lifting in creating these utilities.
Till next time. :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hire Me!

UPDATE! I've got a Linkedin account now! Please contact me there. Thanks!

Just a brief heads up: I'm available for hire. As you can probably tell, I have a fondness for game design and animation. I'm especially fond of adventure games and hand-drawn animation, but I'm familiar with Blender, Maya, and Unity. If you have a project in the works, make me an offer.

I'm also available for speaking at conferences and for press interviews. I can be reached on Google+ or my youtube channel. Or just leave your contact information in the comments.

Oh! And a BIG thank you to my donors. It's deeply gratifying to know that other people have the same enthusiasm for my projects as I do. You're all wonderful.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to make some more SNES sprites for Zelda...