Yeah, if you ever need my specs let me know. Basically, 1.3 didn't work with W10, VS Community 2017. I was "forced" by W10 to downgrade to W7 (same PC), and I was able to find the same version of VS2015 you had. I installed that version and 1.3 ran fine.
Yeah, the "always on top" 'feature' of 1.2 (as they're not child windows as you correctly describe), is actually helfpul and even necessary when designing stages, because one needs to constantly compare the tiles between the editors, and if you are running some other program at the same time, then the child windows will minimize and you'll have to manually click on them in the task bar everytime. This happened to me a lot when streaming. Also, there was something that happens with my computer, I'm not sure if it's because of the resolution (1980x1080), but basically the location of the texts and boxes in the editors get all messed up. So the text that goes next to each box gets offset and it becomes a pain, even unusable unless you know what each box does from before like my case.
Here's a picture. Happened with W10, happens in W7, in both 1.2 and 1.3. https://i.imgur.com/1m9YVat.png
The mock up is kind of getting close to it. I'd have three boxes:
- First one for the type of event: Enemy, Item, "Level Specific Events" (including Camera Locks, Graphic Loads, Palette Loads), Items and Upgrades, and Misc.
- Second one for the actual event: For enemies, Gun Volt, Spikey, Flamminger, Spark Mandrill, Vile, etc. For Items, 1-Up, HP, Ammo, etc. For Level Specific Events, Camera Locks, Graphic Loads, Palette Loads, Background changes, etc. For Items and Upgrades, you have items, like 1-Ups, HP, Ammo, and upgrades, like SubTanks, Heart Tanks, Capsules. For Misc, you have other events, like Boss doors, floor falling in the intro stage of X1, explosion from gas tubes in Storm Eagle, Igloos from Chill Penguin, hopefully you see what I mean with that.
If you need any help with the VRAM, I know how to load enemies with trial and error. Basically, each enemy needs a certain amount of VRAM, and you need to set a portion of the memory to it, all specified in GfxID in the editor. I don't have the values right now, but some enemies might need 200 bytes, while others like bosses need a lot more, which is why bosses for example can't spawn with many other enemies without messing things up.
If you need help with figuring out how some things work, I have a lot of knowledge, mostly from trial and error, and I know where many tables are located, because I changed them for Hard Type.
Also, to note, I'm simply writing down all that I can think of, but yeah, you already even considering doing one of the above changes is great, and I really, really appreciate it. And you'd do well to do what you say, take things slow and do one concrete change at a time.