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Author Topic: Shadowgate Classic [NES]  (Read 9629 times)

contra

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Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« on: March 12, 2015, 02:06:42 am »
I figured I'd document my latest hack project here to help with motivation, vent some frustration and maybe get some input. This might get ranty but for tl;dr there's pictures!

So after being really disappointed with the Shadowgate PC remake I'd really wanted to go back the original (the NES port of the original to be exact).
Shadowgate has always had a special place in my heart thanks to it's great atmosphere. To be honest most of the games puzzles are fairly illogical trial and error runs and it has little to no replay value once you've solved it's riddles. But it has some of the best NES music ever and the sense of exploration is great since the graphics are so varied as each room has been given a unique design.

The graphics in the NES port suffers from inconsistent quality and some poor palette choices that begs to be improved upon.
Actually Kemco did this themselves when they re-released Shadowgate Classic for Gameboy Colour and I've based my hack on this version of the game.

So, the idea is to beautify the games graphics (no gameplay alterations are planned at this point). I'm doing this by:

- Using GBC port graphics where possible/suitable
- Enhance and/or make new custom graphic where it's not
- Increasing contrast and colourcount where possible
- Changing palettes to be more cohesive and not so...weird (eg: less pink)
- Cleaner font and other minor UI improvements

The GBC version stores it's graphic in pretty much the same way so it would be easy enough to just do a cut and paste job, change the colour attributes and palettes BUT unfortunately the NES handles colours in a different way so many GBC designs just doesent work. That combined with the fact that the game uses sprites sparingly and that some room designs are better suited for the NES grapichc abilities then others makes the need for a lot of custom work.

The game has 44 rooms, each unique and with it's own palettes. In addition to this each room is stored multiple times for each change/interaction you've made.

For example, the room with 3 doors seen below, as far as the game is concerned that room is actually 9 rooms. One for each combination of open doors. A more elegant solution (from my hacking perspective) would have been to use sprites for the doors which also would have added the benefit of an extra palette to work with along with no need to respect pattern/attribute colour tables. But since hacking in more sprites is not an option I have to work with what it is.

So all in all, theres well over a hundred rooms to hexedit and thousands of tiles to edit, pretty much every single tile in the game will be edited. It's a pretty big project.  The good news is that I've done most of it already, 35 of the 44 rooms are complete and imho I think it was worth the effort Examples below.

Original on the left. Click for 2x size.





As mentioned before some rooms are just better looking then others by design alone so some rooms will have more changes then others and theres only so much I can do with the restrictions given. But even a simple thing as increasing contrast (see room2 above) does wonders imo. Another challenge is to make the game look coherent. I will be going over them again once I've completed all of the rooms to ensure a coherent look and feel so palettes etc might change. I'll post some more pics of the new UI and font once thats done.

Edit: Hack is done! Get it here: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/2369/
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 09:15:18 pm by contra »

Spooniest

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2015, 08:31:22 am »
Is cool! Keep working on this!

I admit I only skimmed it, but I wonder if you can make a new font? The ALL CAPS thing gets on my nerves.

M-Tee

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2015, 01:34:02 pm »
Say what you will, but being involved in both mods and homebrew development, there are only 256 tiles per background pattern table.

You have to cut the available tiles by more than 10% for lowercase letters, and that's not a decision I'd ever support. All caps lettering is standard for NES-era games, and for a very good reason.

The fact that fan-localisations and re-translations utilize the extra space leftover from the larger space required to hold a full Japanese character set for proper casing has done nothing but spoil the user base of this forum. I'm not going to throw open the ROM and look, but considering that its a Western adventure title, it was probably developed in English, and therefore, does not have 20-something blank tiles hanging around in every BG pattern table for fancying-up its case.

If it does, consider my foot in my mouth.

standigz

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2015, 02:43:49 pm »
"http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/75/" already enhanced the font a little bit, the readme gives the email "skipfreethrow@gmail.com", maybe the author could give you some advice.

Gideon Zhi

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2015, 05:07:01 pm »
Hey, since you're poking around in the graphics, have you seen any potential remnants of the goblin mess hall? I figure it was cut from the NES version because there's absolutely nothing to do in there except die, but the music that was going to play in the room is at least still present in the game. I'd be interested to know if there are any other artifacts remaining, and if so, how feasible it would be to add the room back.

dACE

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2015, 05:18:47 pm »
Just wanted to show my support to a fellow hacker and sweed - hang in there contra, the modified screens looks considerably better than the original ones.

Ha det gött!

/dACE
« Last Edit: March 12, 2015, 05:46:03 pm by dACE »

contra

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 07:14:48 pm »
Regarding the font, there actually might be room to squeeze in lowercases in the tilebank (uncommonly there's plenty of unused tiles there for once) but the problem would be changing the script to use it as the game uses compression for the script. There's alot of text in this game so that's a big undertaking I'm not willing to do since the project is pretty big as is and I must say that personally I dont think it's worth doing because all-caps never bothered me in NES-era games. As M-Tee says it's standard and I actually kinda like it. In the low-resolution enviroment I think it looks pretty good and fitting. The default font is pretty bad though.

It's funny cause I looked at that font hack and my first choice for font was the one used in Gargoyles Quest 2 which also seems to be what he based his hack on. Anyway I'm using this for now (GQ2 font) but it might change later.



The UI looks abit cramped but moving the lines 1 pixel helps. I changed "card" into "page" first but ultimately decided to just erase it. The arrows are selfexplanitory enough and I think it looks better with no text there. All in all the new UI still isn't exactly pretty but an improvement in any case.
One thing I'd really like to change is the frame around the rooms but I'm not sure how to go about it. This is all WIP and I'll be tinkering more with this.

Jonesy47

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2015, 07:18:25 pm »
Ohhhhh man, do those after screenshots look better.
Just showing my support and wish that more hacks decided to port the improved gameboy/gbc sprite designs back into the original nes versions. So far, the only other game I can remember that did this was Kid Icarus. Good job and keep up the god work!

contra

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2015, 07:32:35 pm »
Hey, since you're poking around in the graphics, have you seen any potential remnants of the goblin mess hall? I figure it was cut from the NES version because there's absolutely nothing to do in there except die, but the music that was going to play in the room is at least still present in the game. I'd be interested to know if there are any other artifacts remaining, and if so, how feasible it would be to add the room back.

The thought of putting the goblin room back in was definetley on my mind when I started this, but unfortunetly no there doesent seem to be any traces of the room left in the game beside the music. There's no graphic left for it atleast and I havent found any room data or anything like that for it either. The hacking involved in coding this room from scratch is way beyond my skill level.
I might put the music to use in a different room though but I'm not sure. The track is kindof short, repeative and not that great tbh.

@dACE @Jonesy47
Thanks for the support! :)

Dr. Floppy

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2015, 10:04:55 pm »
Say what you will, but being involved in both mods and homebrew development, there are only 256 tiles per background pattern table.

If he upgraded to MMC5, he could use the EXRAM to expand the number of unique tiles available onscreen AS WELL AS tile-specific Attribute assignments.

Jorpho

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2015, 10:24:05 pm »
So after being really disappointed with the Shadowgate PC remake I'd really wanted to go back the original (the NES port of the original to be exact).
What was so bad about it, if I may ask?
This signature is an illusion and is a trap devised by Satan. Go ahead dauntlessly! Make rapid progres!

dACE

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2015, 02:04:17 pm »
... So far, the only other game I can remember that did this was Kid Icarus.

Hey, I made that hack. I have actually updated it with a custom title-screen (and some other gfx updates) but newer uploaded it. If you want me to - I could upload it?

Sorry for hi-jackin your thread there Contra  >:D

/dACE

Jonesy47

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2015, 06:39:53 pm »
Hey, I made that hack. I have actually updated it with a custom title-screen (and some other gfx updates) but newer uploaded it. If you want me to - I could upload it?

Sorry for hi-jackin your thread there Contra  >:D

/dACE

DOOO EEET!
I wish someone could do it for metroid also. Would require some asm to mess with the run/jump animations but man is it hard to go back and play original metroid after 2-4+Zero Mission. Metroid Mother is close but that jump animation is just wrong wrong wrong.

Dr. Floppy

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2015, 07:49:13 pm »
Has anyone yet made a "Samus Shoots Downward" patch for Metroid?

contra

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2015, 12:33:06 am »
So anyway, I'm down to the last couple of rooms but as stated I'll be revisting all rooms for touch ups.
Also made a new titlescreen for it.



Titlescreen hacking is usually one of the easiest (atleast technicly, designing can be another story) part and the original screen already looked good enough so all I really wanted was to add "classic" and also put the skull back in which I always felt was missing. There was plenty of room for the custom tiles after replacing the KEMCO logo using ordinary font, but the data was more tricky as it used some form of compression/control codes for repeating tiles so in the end i opted to skip the push start line and move the "ICOM" credits to the preceding boot-up screen.
imo romhackers should try to keep and respect original credits as much as possible and not just erase them unless it's necessary or if its just reduntant shit like "Licenced by Nintendo".

M-Tee

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2015, 02:02:48 am »
It all looks great, man. Another one for the definitive version list, for sure.

Midna

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2015, 03:34:35 am »
This looks really nice! It's always interesting to see classic NES games getting a fresh coat of paint. Considering the games were originally made by a small dev team for the Mac, then ported to the Atari ST, then to the NES (there's some evidence that the Atari ST ports are what the NES versions are based on), maybe some inconsistent art quality is to be expected. It's good to see you'll be fixing that up.

Were you planning to do this to any of the other NES MacVenture ports? Uninvited could use some touching-up too, particularly the death images. Most of them are fine (skeleton lady is freaky as hell), but the dogs outside the church look more like bears than what they're supposed to and the animals that can attack you in the maze are downright cartoonish.

contra

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2015, 05:39:29 am »
It all looks great, man. Another one for the definitive version list, for sure.

Thanks, that means a lot coming from you whom I consider to be one of the top artists in the "scene".

Were you planning to do this to any of the other NES MacVenture ports?

No plans but the thought have crossed my mind as Uninvited is also a game I hold dear from my childhood. While I do this for fun it's a lot of work and time consuming. I've been working on Shadowgate Classic pretty much daily for a couple months now and theres still lots to do before even thinking of any new projects. Have to say, doing it all over again isn't that appealing at this moment, but who knows? I might.

Dr. Floppy

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2015, 07:46:19 am »
So.....

...no chance on MMC5 expansion?!?!?

contra

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Re: Shadowgate Classic [NES]
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2015, 08:11:14 am »
So.....

...no chance on MMC5 expansion?!?!?

No, I'm afraid it's beyond my hacking skills. I might look into it, tile-specific attributes would have been sweet, but it's not a huge issue and doesent seem worth it tbh.