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/