So, as I begin writing this summary 2 days before the expo, having been just now convinced by a few people to at least share a little bit of what I've been doing, I feel like I should get the bad news out of the way first: there's no tileset available for download.
That said, given that I'd peg its progress at somewhere between 80-90% complete, I figure it's worth finally going public with it. Yeah, I've dropped a few screenshots and brief mentions of it here and there throughout the forum over the last year, in addition to sending a few PMs regarding permission to incorporate certain resources, but here's the first official announcement.
I love classic, but will admit that it's severely limited when it comes to design possibilities, especially compared to many other available tilesets. So, I set out to expand those possibilities.
The first phase of the expansion was easy - take most of the unused tiles scattered around the tile pages and combo them up.
The second phase was a bit more tedious - tweak the existing resources and add further variations of them (graphically or functionally).
The third phase involved farming numerous resources from PZC's loose tiles and tileset database collections.
The fourth phase involved me still not being satisfied with the possibilities and designing a bunch of my own tiles to compensate.
Not that all the phases happened in that specific order - most were, and still are, simultaneously ongoing.
To be clear, I'm not merely dumping every 3 or 4-colored tile from the database into the set. There's some level of quality control, and a priority focus on resources that, in my opinion, fit the classic style.
There's a fair bit of overworld expansion, including more rock and cave variations, smoothly-contoured cuttable grass, ladder assortments, extra large objects, new objects like fountains/bones/signs/docks/piers, additional tree/cactus/dungeon-entrance variations, snow-covered scenery, flowers, statues, and weather effects. Water variations have also been expanded, objects like lily pads/flowers/logs/stalks can be placed on them, and obviously no liquids collection is complete without lava and ice. There are also functional objects which have options for push, damage, pound, hookshot, block, walkability, and so on. Lastly, nearly every object comes in layerable format, including shaped overhead layers for large objects, because I hate seeing flat layer lines across non-flat objects.
But more than anything, I've developed a severe allergy to strings of rectangular dungeon rooms with miscellaneous block arrangements - especially when it comes down to spending minutes block-humping to find the random pushable one. Thus, the majority of my time working on this set has been dedicated to expanding dungeon design possibilities.
I began with Lightwulf's diagonal and first-tier-down dungeon tiles, and - as the name would suggest - absurdly expanded and reworked them into a 4-tier dungeon setup. This included a dungeon palette expansion for mid-level tile shades, along with additional colors for triforce flats and various nature options like trees.
Other additions beyond angled walls and multiple floor heights include ladders, centered and off-centered doors, lock block variations of doors (with shutter copycats for each), re-perspective'd frames for the sides of rooms, alternate passageways and overheads, more stair options, door-stairs, bombable wall options and hints, and extended foliage overlays.
Floors now have on/off warp tiles, more conveyors, and additional options for object-switches, step-switches, spikes, statues, lock blocks, and treasure chests.
Cycling floors have been expanded to 16 levels of falling and spinning tiles rather than 8, and now include alternating raised/lowered blocks, alternating magic-mirror angles, spike waves of up to 4 different speeds, and number overlays so that you can create a temporary overhead layer to keep track of all these same-looking tiles.
Other things include 16 push-block choices for block puzzles (with multi-directional options using both inherent and on-screen flags), 3 sizes of triforce flats for small tiles or large entries, 3 pit varieties in direct-warp/no-walk/walkable options, barriers in 8-pixel and 16-pixel widths, the latter of which include standard, lock block, boss lock variety and copycats of each. And as with the overworld, anything that can come in layerable format, does.
Dungeon nature is the most lagging section of the project, but basically just recreates overworld landscaping for dungeons.
Finally, activatable objects. This is a section of walls and floors that "activate" (are copycat combos) when you perform up to 6 different actions: step -> next, lock block, boss lock, treasure chest, locked treasure chest, boss locked treasure chest. So if you ever want to open a treasure chest and have statue shooters come alive, or open a lock block and have spikes pop up, or step on a floor switch and have lines of motionless floors turn into conveyors, here it is, no scripting involved. Works great with screen state carry-overs as well.
So that's essentially what the new tile/combo collection comes down to.
Part of what makes this so "absurdly expanded" is that every dungeon tier has its own wall and floor set. Thus, each tier has multiple wall varieties that can end at its own floor, continue down to the one below, or reach up to the one above. Additionally, because each of the 3 main levels has its own color shade, every floor tile has to be done 3 times over for the 3 different heights.
It's a lot, but the point here is to have enough wall and floor variety that nobody has to see a single-height rectangle for a dungeon room ever again.
"This thread is worthless without pics!"
Let's do a visual rehash of some of the stuff I mentioned.
First off, 2 small examples of what I meant by tweaking the existing resources:
The original tree on the left has remaining large-sized 2x2 "pixels" from being upscaled; the tweaked tree on the right is smoothed out to eliminate the blocky upscaled look.
The original animated water on the left has bugged me since the beginning. The 3-pixel-wide water ripples get cut off by 1 or 2 pixels, often multiple times, on nearly every tile that has a horizontal connection to any other tile; the tweaked water animations on the right eliminate this clipping entirely. Yes a few water pixels aren't 100% accurate to their original NES positioning, no I don't care; smooth animation FTW.
Next, a few examples of what I meant by adding further variations of existing resources:
See those empty tan ground patches next to objects placed on detailed ground tiles? Yeah, I can't be the only one getting triggered by that, so for all of us who want consistent ground detail, here we have it:
And no I didn't just overlay the objects onto the grounds; the grounds were adjusted to accomodate the objects so as not to blend into them in odd ways.
Hard to see a difference scrolling between the 2 pics? Need a back-and-forth animation? Here you go:
Next, 2 shoddy test screens meant to show off tile capabilities rather than to actually look good.
This one shows the smooth-contoured cuttable grass, a few of the new land and sea objects, and a dock set:
This one shows some of the winter options, as well as mountain shadows:
Now, on to dungeons!
Here's your new full-height dungeon template:
And the diagonal version:
All diagonal walls and floor tiles also have layerable versions, in case you want floors that aren't the standard 16x16 tiles:
And here's a brief sampling of some of the floor stuff:
Is it all starting to sound overwhelming? Because it feels that way to me. Honestly, the number of tiles expanded to the point that even I want to cry sometimes when I look at the size of combo list - and I made the damn things.
To that extent, I decided to take full advantage of ZQuest's automation features. I had to, if I wanted to release this in a way that would be accessible to more than the most advanced designers. Enter relational modes and aliases.
So, you hate making structures like rocks, lakes, pits, barriers, docks and shadows tile-by-tile? Well, I do too, thus I've set up relational modes for all of those and more.
For those unaware, relational mode is a drawing mode that allows you to automatically create or remove fully shaped structures by clicking and dragging your cursor around the screen. Select the first combo in the structural set, click and drag to create the structure, or hold shift to remove it.
Here's a brief sampling of some of the designs you can create in less than 5 seconds:
This is the core of the tileset.
For those unaware, aliases are collections of combos which form a larger structure. They allow each combo to be placed simultaneously, in the correct position, and on the correct layer. They're the ZC equivalent of what would be called "prefabs" in modern game editing. Just go to alias mode, select the structure you want, click where on the screen you want it, and there's your multi-combo structure.
To that extent, I've been assembling an incredibly large collection of aliases so that people can build large pieces of architecture with a single click. This makes complex structures accessible for intermediate users, and quick for advanced users.
Aliases also serve an instructional purpose. You can place them on a test screen to determine the correct placement and usage of individual combos in the combo list. Once the alias is placed, right-click the combo you want, choose "select combo," and possibly "scroll to combo." This will highlight your combo of choice, and place it at the center of the combo list; then you can see which combo in the combo list goes where in the larger structure.
My goal of the set, particularly when it comes to dungeon design, is to move people away from building screens combo-by-combo, and push them toward placing multiple large structures, only using the combo list for fine-tuning and floor designs.
The alias list is generally set up such that you have a series of structures with 4 variations per structure - the 1st column on the left will give you the default, and the next 3 columns on the right will give you the variations.
Example 01 - Overworld Basics:
A small sample of overworld selections in which you see the 4-variation format:
Example 02 - Combined Trees:
Ever see that miscellaneous inter-tree junk in the combo list and wonder how it all fits together, let alone how to work corners with it? Don't worry, I got it taken care of for you:
Comes in the usual set of 4 ground variations.
Example 03 - Corner Foliage:
Some of you have probably seen the Contra-based jungle overhangs for classic, but corners alone didn't satisfy me, so I rebuilt it into freeform options with 2 different offsets:
Example 04 - Main Dungeon Walls:
Segments of the upper dungeon main-level wall:
Comes with all 4 sides for all 4 levels.
Example 05 - Diagonal Dungeon Walls:
This top-to-mid-level upper-left collection shows the 5 segments needed for full diagonal variety in 4-variation format:
Do these exist for every height combination? Well, we'll get to that in a bit.
Example 06 - Large Dungeon Shapes:
Full shapes are the ones I find most useful. The first 3 columns show 3 of a few different shapes and sizes for upper-left corners, while column 4 rehashes the main upper-left diagonal. These account for all floor height combinations; standard 4-variation format is assumed.
So how big is this collection?
Well, truth is, I broke the alias limit. Despite having 65,520 tiles and 65,280 combos available, it was much to my surprise when I discovered the alias limit was 2,048.
See the green checkmarks and red x's above? The 1st set applies to the first 3 columns, and the 2nd set applies to the 4th column. Green checkmarks are the ones currently in place - red x's are ones that will be added if the limit is expanded.
Honestly, that's why work on this project has been put aside in favor of other projects over the last few months. I don't feel it's fully adequate to release it without these structures complete. Even if the combo collection is complete, the whole point was to move people away from building screens combo-by-combo and toward building them structure-by-structure.
Still, it's been deemed possible to expand the alias limit for either ZC 2.54 or 2.55, so we'll see how that goes.
Sample Room Construction From Aliases:
So, how quick do these aliases help you build a room?
Well, look at this screenshot here:
Seems moderately complex. But how many steps is it really? Open the animation and find out:
"So what kind of screens can I make with all this stuff?"
Well, basically, things like this:
Or dungeons like these:
Oh, and are these Zelda 2 screens?
Yeah, this comes with full graphical support for Zelda 2 also.
And no, I didn't (and likely won't) create Zelda 2 enemy sets, especially if they have to be scripted.
Though, speaking of which...
Potential Script Pack:
For further design and gameplay possibilities, as well as ease of use, I've been strongly considering including a script pack containing what I believe to be either essential functions, or tweaks that make things run or look smoother.
My primary considerations:
Fire Trail Reduction
Permanent Block Secrets
Better Cane of Byrna
Item Pick-Up Message/Heart Piece Message
Item Bundle (such as Bow & Arrow) along with Map & Compass variation.
Stop Compass On Item Pickup/Enemy Death
Anti-Bump Item - because that trash gets so annoying.
Summoner Control System
Moosh Pits - if the move-on-fall issue gets addressed.
I'd also like it to come with ghost.zh configured, so that people can just paste ghosted enemy FFCs into the script pile and be done with it.
But we'll see. I'd probably need some help from somebody who knew what they were doing.
When will it be done?
If you had asked me this in Spring 2016, I would have said Fall 2016.
Honestly, not for at least a few months. Probably more, depending on ZC development. Sometime 2018 though.
That said, I suppose I wouldn't mind passing a beta on to maybe a few people who are genuinely interested in working with it and want a say in how it turns out.
Anyway, this post grew way longer than I anticipated. Let me know what you think.
Edited by Lüt, 19 August 2018 - 12:14 PM.