Romhacking.net

Romhacking => Personal Projects => Topic started by: Trax on September 28, 2018, 12:16:22 am

Title: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on September 28, 2018, 12:16:22 am
Hello everyone. I started working on a new Zelda II project, and I'd like to have your input for some features that may or may not appear in the game. For now, I don't have a lot to show because I'm at a very early stage where I want to setup the basic skeleton for the new features, which also involves expansion relative to the original game.

Some of the features I want to implement come with implications that may not be desirable or hard to implement. Changing one game mechanics may please some players, but displease others. There's no perfect mix, of course, but I'll do my best to balance these things as much as possible, without sacrificing fun and challenge. Having your opinions will help me orient my efforts.

For those who have not seen it yet, here's a demo of the Ice Tile on the Overworld, that will be part of my hack:

www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/icetile.zip

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/icetile.png)

Here's some of the things that will (almost certainly) be part of the hack:

- Expanded ROM, from 8 to 16 PRG banks, and from 14 to 16 CHR banks. Of those PRG banks, 4 will be dedicated to the Overworld, 2 for Towns and 6 for Palaces.
- Expanded world, obviously. The Overworld will be more than twice the size of the original, with more diverse terrain, at least one new functional tile (Ice Tile), Overworld may change over time and random battles will be more diverse. More palaces and/or larger ones.
- Only one saving slot. Since most people will play on emulator, I think it's a small sacrifice. The main reasons are to simplify the saved game interface and free up space needed for expansion. The original game has considerable free space in Cartridge RAM, but it can't be expanded.
- New graphics, for all sections of the game. Intro, saved game info, Overworld, Towns, Palaces, Ending.
- New spells. Improvements on the original ones and/or replacement of certain spells.
- New enemies, and enemy behavior. Most original enemies will remain, but they will change behavior, either permanently or become stronger later in the game. Same goes for bosses, either change their current behavior and/or create new ones.
- Pieces of Heart and Magic Containers.

Here's some things that may be part of the hack, all depending if I have enough time and if I can actually code them reliably:

- Map system. Press Select on the Overworld to display a map of the current region. Map pieces will have to be found. With the expanded Overworld, this could become more than a mere caprice.
- More spells. From 8 to 12 spells, most likely. If there's a real need for more than 8, there could be a way to have more, but it involves new coding. The original game has a few spells with questionable usefulness.
- Upgradable spells. For example, Shield protects more, Life heals more, Fairy becomes revertible, etc.
- Upgradable items. For example, Candle reveals more, Glove breaks more blocks, Raft lets you reach other places, etc.
- New special moves, other than Downstab and Upstab.
- Extended dialogs from friendly NPCs. Have more meaningful and longer dialogs that reveal the story in more details.

Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

- Lives and health system
- Experience and stats system (Attack, Magic, Life)
- Difficulty levels
- Save system

Lives and health system. Zelda II is the only game of the series with a lives system, and many people don't like it. It does seem out of place for a Zelda game. However, without lives, other aspects of the game would become inadequate. Lava pits would become a disproportionate threat to the player. One badly timed jump and it's game over. Having 3 lives (plus extra lives that can be picked up) is basically the equivalent of having as many separate health bars.

The alternative would be to make pits non-lethal. Subsequent Zelda games don't have jumping mechanisms as elaborate as Zelda II, but they do have pits of all kinds. Falling into a pit makes you lose a small portion of health and takes you back to a determined point. Doing that with Zelda II could be an interesting modification to the gameplay, but also a considerable coding challenge. Also, it would have the consequence of making pits a lot less dangerous. Calculated jumps would become less important, especially if the health penalty is small. On the other hand, losing all your health in one shot because an enemy pushes you back in lava can be frustrating.

Another aspect unique to Zelda II is the absence of items that replenish your health. Most of the time, you have to rely on the Life spell. Other ways include towns, leveling up, finding a Heart container or losing a life. Other Zelda games have hearts randomly dropped by enemies after defeating them. Again, adding this item in the game has consequences. Does it mean the Life spell becomes less important, or that it should be reduced in strength? Can having hearts competing with magic jars in random drops lead to a lack of magic available? Will it cause the Red Lady in towns to become obsolete?

Experience system. Again, unique to Zelda II. Instead of having to find swords and protective gear, you must earn experience points that are "traded" for more attack strength, better magic consumption and defense. Since Zelda II is a game centered mostly on combat, it makes sense to expect the player to fight enemies to get better. If we decide to remove the experience system altogether, there must be a way to make our character stronger.

One idea I had is that you would have to find different swords for Attack, and some other items that would increase your Magic and Life stats as well. One severe consequence of such a change is that it removes the incentive to fight enemies, and I think it could encourage players to avoid difficult fights. I don't like that much. However, I do like the idea of having to find stronger swords, which is similar to many other Zelda games. An hybrid could work too, but at the cost of more complex coding.

Difficulty system. I've been thinking for quite a while about integrating levels of difficulty in the game. Several hackers in the past used an alternate solution, by simply making an alternate ROM with more or less difficulty, and the players could choose according to their skills.

One of the main reasons I want to integrate difficulty levels is to provide an incentive to tackle greater challenges. Beating the game at a higher level could lead to secrets of all sorts, like special dungeons, hidden items or an alternate ending. Now the caveat is that players could find it a bit daunting to restart the game entirely, without knowing exactly what lies ahead, just for bragging rights.

Another idea is to make the game end prematurely on lower levels, to encourage players to take the next level of difficulty to progress more in the game and finally see the "real" ending. Again, similar problem, you get to play a shorter game, with a fake ending, just to be told that you need to be more skilled. I'm still trying to find a balanced formula. Find a way to have a relatively satisfying ending at the lower levels, while making it worthwhile to restart the game and increase the difficulty.

Save system. In my opinion, this one is less divisive among most players. Many have complained about the fact that you have to restart at the very beginning of the game after a game over. No mercy, not even at the start of the current palace (like in Zelda 1), except the last one. Now, with a larger Overworld, this could become even more annoying.

Instead of these limitations, there could be a few key points where you can restart from, including when you reload your saved game. Similar to A Link to the Past. You start with one starting point, and then, along the game, you find other points that you activate and these let you restart from there. I think it's fair, assuming the Overworld will be larger and arguably less linear than the original game. That, however, would be at the cost of being able to restart at the beginning of the palace you just died in.

Thank you for reading. Any other idea? Anything that stands out? Do you agree or disagree with anything? Let me know what you think of all that...
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: hollowshadow on September 28, 2018, 04:06:58 am
Sounds amazing! I'm sure it will blow everyone away!
It's long overdue someone takes a Zelda II hack to the next level with custom coding & expanded ROM.
It sounds like quite the undertaking :laugh: I wish you luck with setting up all the new features.
Always happy to see more hacks for Zelda II.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Shadic on September 28, 2018, 10:02:41 am
First of all, seeing this thread posted makes me incredibly happy. Even just seeing you spitball out ideas for the game while reflecting on their greater effect.. It's fun to see. I'm just going to reread your thread and comment on certain posts that you've brought up in order.

Here's some of the things that will (almost certainly) be part of the hack:
- Expanded world, obviously. The Overworld will be more than twice the size of the original, with more diverse terrain, at least one new functional tile (Ice Tile), Overworld may change over time and random battles will be more diverse. More palaces and/or larger ones.
This is definitely a good idea, although obviously with greater design considerations to consider as well. A larger world becomes much more difficult for the player to keep track of, especially in older games that often lack recognizable setpieces. The (later mentioned) map would certainly help in this regard, but additional world map tiles may help with this as well, even if they function identically to grass/desert/graveyard. This would also mean another tileset for random encounters, which is more effort, but would also help the world feel less repetitive.

Towns could actually use the same variety, come to think of it. I'm not sure the tileset limitations that exist, but having each town look different (just as palaces do) would really help, even if it's just a palette change. We all remember the weird feeling we had when we first entered Old Kasuto!

- Only one saving slot. Since most people will play on emulator, I think it's a small sacrifice. The main reasons are to simplify the saved game interface and free up space needed for expansion. The original game has considerable free space in Cartridge RAM, but it can't be expanded.
I don't see any issues with this, honestly. Two may be preferable and has history in the series already (Majora's Mask), but this is indeed a world of emulation. One is fine.

- New graphics, for all sections of the game. Intro, saved game info, Overworld, Towns, Palaces, Ending.
Definitely agree with this. While I'm a fan of the current graphics, they can definitely be improved. It will also help your project have more of its own identity. This very well may not be your area of expertise, but what about music? If people were interested in assisting, this would be a cool way to further feel different, though I'm not sure how easily expandable Z2 is in terms of music, both overall length and amount tracks. (I may just be a huge fan of how cool this "demix" sounds. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0iyJQIDsng))

- New enemies, and enemy behavior. Most original enemies will remain, but they will change behavior, either permanently or become stronger later in the game. Same goes for bosses, either change their current behavior and/or create new ones.
Also a great idea. Taking other enemies from the series may help this feel more like a "proper" Zelda game, which was a common complaint of the original.

Here's some things that may be part of the hack, all depending if I have enough time and if I can actually code them reliably:

- Map system. Press Select on the Overworld to display a map of the current region. Map pieces will have to be found. With the expanded Overworld, this could become more than a mere caprice.
As mentioned prior, this would be great if possible. Especially with the larger map.

- More spells. From 8 to 12 spells, most likely. If there's a real need for more than 8, there could be a way to have more, but it involves new coding. The original game has a few spells with questionable usefulness.
I'm mostly curious as to what spell ideas that you have. The original game does indeed have spells of questionable usefulness (Fire, Reflect, Spell, and Thunder). Buffing Fire and Reflect should be easy enough to improve, since they don't really apply to most enemies in the game. Having Fire actually damage everything (and do more damage), while having Reflex allow Link to block effects that he couldn't before would do wonders already.

My main concern with more spells is wondering what sort of niche they'd have, while still providing general usefulness.

- Upgradable spells. For example, Shield protects more, Life heals more, Fairy becomes revertible, etc.
- Upgradable items. For example, Candle reveals more, Glove breaks more blocks, Raft lets you reach other places, etc.
- New special moves, other than Downstab and Upstab.
A fun idea for sure, but I'm not sure how to make these improvements feel impactful without making the original item/spell not seem weak. This may require some brainstorming. As for special moves, I'm curious what other functionality you could give Link, the combat as-is feels simple, but is somewhat graceful.

- Extended dialogs from friendly NPCs. Have more meaningful and longer dialogs that reveal the story in more details.
A great idea. With a text-speed increase, of course.  :thumbsup:

Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

- Lives and health system
- Experience and stats system (Attack, Magic, Life)
- Difficulty levels
- Save system

Lives and health are indeed intrinsically linked, and I'm glad you see that as well. My own personal opinion is as follows:
- Heart/Life drops should be a thing off normal enemies, and approximately as common as you'd see in a game like Link to the Past.
- To counter that, that the "Life" spell should be moved much later in the game, and provide more health at the expense of being even costlier. This would cement it as a very powerful late-game ability that lets Link not necessarily be reliant on enemy drops in dire situations.
- Falling into a pit should not be a cause of instant death. While a common trope to platforming games, it does not mesh well with the Zelda spirit/gameplay flow. Instant-death effects should be rare and highly telegraphed.
- Lives may need to be looked into if things were balanced this way. I think if done properly, they could gotten be rid of.


Experience system - It's a part of the feeling of the game, though Another concern with doubling the size of the world would be that the level cap of 8/8/8 may feel insufficient. Either it takes too long to level, or leveling caps out way too early in the game. Increasing it to 10, or even 15 would really make the player feel more powerful by the end of the game. Also, losing all EXP on game over feels bad and limits what you can do with the Lives system.

Difficulty - This is complex. While we live in an era where most NES games are way beyond the difficulty scope of most gamers, hacks like this typically aren't found by the "average gamers," either. Most people playing will be fairly seasoned gamers.

I'm not a fan of locking the best ending behind difficulty settings, personally. Most games will hide the best ending behind certain accomplishments, instead. Finding all ___ plot MacGuffins, as an example.

While it would accomplish the same thing as requiring more skilled play, perhaps there could be some (well marked) bonus/challenge areas that would need to be completed for the best ending?

Save System - I'm much more a fan of restarting in the current palace than the system you've suggested. Though I also would like to see towns feel more important at the same time. Most older RPGs put the player in the last town they visited when they die. Perhaps a combination of the two? If you die in a palace, you start there. Otherwise, you come back in the last town you've visited.

Again, I'm super happy to see this thread! Hopefully I don't feel like the obnoxious "ideas man" that dictates things without contributing to their implementation, as I've been on the other side of that coin before. Best of luck with this project! I'm very much excited to see how this ends up.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: ultimaweapon on September 28, 2018, 10:53:05 am
@Trax

Expanded World - You already know I agree with this and you know I'm a big fan of the ice tiles thus why I put my hack on hold. If you can find a way to incorporate ice in the palaces too, even better.

One Save Slot - That's really not that big of a deal. A worthwhile sacrifice to expand the game.

New Graphics - Definitely a plus as well. I believe Revility had made big strides in how good the graphics can get. If you can improve on that, that would be totally awesome.

New Spells - This is a most welcomed addition. On top of that, some of the current spells are in dire need of an upgrade such as Fire, Shield, Fairy, Reflect, and Spell. The Fire spell is so underwhelming. It needs to be made a bit more ferocious something like Ryo's Haoh Shou Ko Ken from King Of Fighters. At higher levels, Shield should reduce how much damage you take, and Reflect should reflect more attacks. Fairy should actually heal and also be on a timer for how long you can be in it or you control how long you're in it.
Incorporating new spells like a Freeze spell, your Dash spell from Shadow Of Night, a double jump, even a modified version of Njosro's Ghost spell are some things that come to mind.

New Enemies - I agree with this as well. I also think the final palace should have every boss character from previous palaces as well as a new final boss. I always thought a good idea would be after you defeat Dark Link, he actually transforms into Ganon and you fight Ganon.

Map System - That also sounds good as well. This part you can keep a bit simple. Just pressing either Start or Select shows you the map and your current location. Use the extra space for all the other more involved stuff.

Extended Dialogs - Definitely makes sense here.

Experience System - I actually like the experience system. Keep Zelda 2 unique. Expand on the experience system and increase the level caps.

Upgradable Items - I definitely agree with this. Giving the items more purpose would be awesome. Also adding new items if possible be be even better.

New Moves - It would be great to see some new moves like a charge slash, spin attack, dash attack or psycho crusher style attack would be cool. Also, upgrading the sword would also be a big plus.


I'm definitely interested in seeing what you present.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: njosro on September 29, 2018, 04:49:55 pm
I did a double-take when I saw this thread. I'm so excited!!
Those are ambitious ideas you mentioned, and I love them.

Map System: How would you feel about palace maps? I was thinking you could hard-code the in-game palace maps once you finalize the layout. The player would have to find a map and compass like in the game boy games, where the map just gives the general layout and the compass reveals the main item and boss location. You could display the map beside the list of spells when you press Start.

New and upgradable spells: YES. Some of the game's original spells were too weak or specific.

Upgradable items: This sounds really cool, as long as it doesn't get to the point where every item has an upgrade and suddenly all items are only half as useful as before.

New enemies: That would be awesome. Even if all the enemies stayed the same but had slightly different behaviors.

New techs other than upstab and downstab: What kind of new moves do you propose? A charged blade maybe (instead of spin attack)?

Lives and health: Both you and Shadic made really good points.
About the life spell vs heart drops: I personally think that as long as you make the life spell fair, there's no need for heart drops from enemies. Also, the life spell has the potential to be upgraded (if you decide to have upgradable spells), which further decreases the need for heart drops. On the flip side, you could have the rare fairy appear once every, say, 12 to 16 enemies kills.

About the lava: I really wish I had kept the file, but I once made it so that lava just made the room refresh and you just lose health as if you hit an ironknuckle. It had one or two glitches. I think with your hacking skills it would be a lot easier than you might think. (If I could do it, then you definitely can!) I could look into it again if you want.

Experience system: I think the exp system is important and should remain. Like you said, it gives the player a big incentive to fight! As for a sword upgrade, how about an upgrade that makes the sword a bit longer?


Misc idea about jump: How do you feel about having a JUMP stat instead of a MAGIC stat? Basically you jump higher as you level it up. Or, if that sounds completely stupid, how about a collectible item that permanently increases your max jumping height by one or two blocks? (and eliminate the jump spell)

Misc idea about healing: You could have an optional, collectible item that refills one square of health after every 8 large enemy kills or something like that. Then hearts wouldn't be competing with potions in the random drops.


Whatever you decide on doing, I'm sure it will be amazing.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: hollowshadow on September 29, 2018, 10:33:26 pm
I had coupke ideas for new spells:

#1. No knockback, could make passing tough jumps easier when projectiles are on screen. An upgraded shield or reflect.

#2. Shrink, make link smaller to the size of 1 block to fit through tight spaces. Maybe possible changing fairy spell to keep link on ground and graphics edited to mini link.

i'll let you know if i thing of more  :)
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: KingMike on September 30, 2018, 01:47:37 am

I don't see any issues with this, honestly. Two may be preferable and has history in the series already (Majora's Mask), but this is indeed a world of emulation. One is fine.
I have read that was a localization change.
I read the Japanese version originally had the standard three save files but one was cut in order to add the Owl Statue temporary saves to the western versions.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: itemdrop on September 30, 2018, 12:29:36 pm
I wanna Start by saying i'm very excited by the ideas and this project in general. Now that I got that out of the way this is a very ambitious project and with that being said it usually means something that will take years to make. The more ambitious the more likely your not going to finish it as these types of project are always passion projects. I'm not trying to be a downer but stating the obvious. It might make the game better by not trying to implement so many ideas. the more ideas the more the game might feel disjointed (potentially). I see how your attempts to tie everything together so I think overall you can have all work with all of these ideas it's just something to consider.

Some of the features I want to implement come with implications that may not be desirable or hard to implement. Changing one game mechanics may please some players, but displease others. There's no perfect mix, of course, but I'll do my best to balance these things as much as possible, without sacrificing fun and challenge. Having your opinions will help me orient my efforts.

One of the things with Zelda 2 I feel is it suits a certain play style. You can easily make it hard but usually it's at the expense of being cheap hard or potentially boring hard ie too much grinding, repeated cheap enemy placement or having to cast multipal magic spells and not having enough magic to do so.


For those who have not seen it yet, here's a demo of the Ice Tile on the Overworld, that will be part of my hack:

I have played this demo and it's very good for what little there was to play. I could so this being used specifically on an entire map or having distinct little pockets of this idea spread around every map.


- Only one saving slot. Since most people will play on emulator, I think it's a small sacrifice. The main reasons are to simplify the saved game interface and free up space needed for expansion. The original game has considerable free space in Cartridge RAM, but it can't be expanded.

I have a big question here I dont think your implying it will only play on emulator but I hope this game will play on original hardware using everdrive or a powerpak.

- New graphics, for all sections of the game. Intro, saved game info, Overworld, Towns, Palaces, Ending.

When I started making my hack I wanted to do all new graphics. I mean everything and to me this is a huge time sink especially if your picky which I am. Are you planing on doing everything on your own. music, hacking, dialogue, maps, dungeons and sprite work.

Are you planing on getting help ?



- Map system. Press Select on the Overworld to display a map of the current region. Map pieces will have to be found. With the expanded Overworld, this could become more than a mere caprice.

insanely cool idea. collect a thon are awesome.

- Upgradable spells. For example, Shield protects more, Life heals more, Fairy becomes revertible, etc.

After playing cv3 I had this idea too. To make fairy revertible it could have different puzzle elements allow you to go back to old areas etc etc etc. HUGE POTENTIAL.

- Extended dialogs from friendly NPCs. Have more meaningful and longer dialogs that reveal the story in more details.


I feel if your going to be this ambitious you'll definitely need this in your hack.


Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

I hear what your saying here but your definition of what you determine what fun is about z2 isn't going to be the exact same as anyone else. Just from my own experience I always aimed to make the game fun for me and hope others will enjoy it. That's not to say I didn't think about what others like and didn't like I def did.

Lives and health system. Zelda II is the only game of the series with a lives system, and many people don't like it. It does seem out of place for a Zelda game. However, without lives, other aspects of the game would become inadequate. Lava pits would become a disproportionate threat to the player. One badly timed jump and it's game over. Having 3 lives (plus extra lives that can be picked up) is basically the equivalent of having as many separate health bars.

The alternative would be to make pits non-lethal. Subsequent Zelda games don't have jumping mechanisms as elaborate as Zelda II, but they do have pits of all kinds. Falling into a pit makes you lose a small portion of health and takes you back to a determined point. Doing that with Zelda II could be an interesting modification to the gameplay, but also a considerable coding challenge. Also, it would have the consequence of making pits a lot less dangerous. Calculated jumps would become less important, especially if the health penalty is small. On the other hand, losing all your health in one shot because an enemy pushes you back in lava can be frustrating.


Im not sure changing this core mechanic is a good idea. I feel like you can always make something hard but fair you just have to work for it. I also think that this is what makes z2 different its a side scrolling platformer trying to take that out or make it less prevalent would make the side scrolling aspect less rewarding and less impactful.


Another aspect unique to Zelda II is the absence of items that replenish your health. Most of the time, you have to rely on the Life spell. Other ways include towns, leveling up, finding a Heart container or losing a life.


Well you forgot one thing Fairies!!!! in the overworld and in palaces. XD


Other Zelda games have hearts randomly dropped by enemies after defeating them. Again, adding this item in the game has consequences. Does it mean the Life spell becomes less important, or that it should be reduced in strength? Can having hearts competing with magic jars in random drops lead to a lack of magic available? Will it cause the Red Lady in towns to become obsolete?

To your point. Once you have life spell the red lady in all the towns becomes obsolete if there is a magic lady in the same town. Maybe you could make the red lady do something completely different.


Experience system. Again, unique to Zelda II. Instead of having to find swords and protective gear, you must earn experience points that are "traded" for more attack strength, better magic consumption and defense. Since Zelda II is a game centered mostly on combat, it makes sense to expect the player to fight enemies to get better. If we decide to remove the experience system altogether, there must be a way to make our character stronger.

One idea I had is that you would have to find different swords for Attack, and some other items that would increase your Magic and Life stats as well. One severe consequence of such a change is that it removes the incentive to fight enemies, and I think it could encourage players to avoid difficult fights. I don't like that much. However, I do like the idea of having to find stronger swords, which is similar to many other Zelda games. An hybrid could work too, but at the cost of more complex coding.

this would be a huge undertaking to implement but would be insane and complex. I do like the idea of having upgradeable swords. I'm trying to do something similar in my hack but only one sword the master sword ala Attack 9 sword. I also see people doing as you stated basically avoiding enemies. For me personally Combat is the thing that always makes me come back to Z2 to no matter what. So this could really effect the game in a negative way if not carefully done.


Difficulty system. I've been thinking for quite a while about integrating levels of difficulty in the game. Several hackers in the past used an alternate solution, by simply making an alternate ROM with more or less difficulty, and the players could choose according to their skills.

One of the main reasons I want to integrate difficulty levels is to provide an incentive to tackle greater challenges. Beating the game at a higher level could lead to secrets of all sorts, like special dungeons, hidden items or an alternate ending. Now the caveat is that players could find it a bit daunting to restart the game entirely, without knowing exactly what lies ahead, just for bragging rights.

Another idea is to make the game end prematurely on lower levels, to encourage players to take the next level of difficulty to progress more in the game and finally see the "real" ending. Again, similar problem, you get to play a shorter game, with a fake ending, just to be told that you need to be more skilled. I'm still trying to find a balanced formula. Find a way to have a relatively satisfying ending at the lower levels, while making it worthwhile to restart the game and increase the difficulty.



Speaking from experience I really dislike the idea of a shorter game. they did something like this in castlevania 64 if you played on easy you could only get to a certain point and the game just abruptly ended. I didnt know this or I would have played on normal. This could cause great confusion and anger if a play doesnt read your note !!!!! if you could have the player continue his quest by choosing normal or hard after a certain point this might work but abruptly ending it or prematurely ending it for me is a bad idea. Why not implement a second quest for hard or have new game plus be an actually hard mode ( I want to do this in my hack) were new game plus increases all enemies strength and starts you off with nothing.


Save system. In my opinion, this one is less divisive among most players. Many have complained about the fact that you have to restart at the very beginning of the game after a game over. No mercy, not even at the start of the current palace (like in Zelda 1), except the last one. Now, with a larger Overworld, this could become even more annoying.

Instead of these limitations, there could be a few key points where you can restart from, including when you reload your saved game. Similar to A Link to the Past. You start with one starting point, and then, along the game, you find other points that you activate and these let you restart from there. I think it's fair, assuming the Overworld will be larger and arguably less linear than the original game. That, however, would be at the cost of being able to restart at the beginning of the palace you just died in.


A couple of things here. I like the idea of starting players at the beginning of palaces if they game over. You could make it were you have only one life but you start at the being of a palace this might be a simple solution to having players only have one life and being more like the series. better yet you could have it that they start the palace with only 3 hearts not 4 5 6 7 8 if they have more hearts. so there is a punishment for game overing but you still have 2 more men at full health and magic. so its punishment but not a sever punishment as it is in The Legend of Zelda.

I just want to put this out there if you ever want some help working on rooms, palaces or sprites I'd def be down to help. either way I hope you are able to make this project fully realized.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on October 03, 2018, 01:29:37 am
Well, thank you all for your comments, I'm glad to see there's a strong interest in this project, even though I admit there's not a lot to show right now. I prefer to make things clear from the get go and not get ahead of myself. I want to make it a priority to have the basic skeleton well done before going in every direction. I think that when the bases will be set, the rest will go smoothly and, hopefullly, this will let us not worry about the project's completion.

Don't be afraid to throw ideas and show opposition, that's the very reason why I asked for your input, and I can take it, don't worry. It is by having multiple points of view that we eventually come to a balanced solution.

Some people offered their help, and of course, I will gladly accept it. If you have ideas for graphics, why not try a few things right now, and submit them to me? I can work with mockups, even. For the story, it should wait because stories can be pretty much anything and I want to setup a basic context. We can flesh out the text later in the game, and since the extended dialogs are in the "maybe" list, the extent of the story is not determined yet. My strengths are level design and coding, so I'll probably do the lion's share, but I won't refuse a good idea. As for music, I don't have any specific plans, and I know it's a complicated area. I disassembled some of the music data in Bank 6, so I know the basics of the music engine. I would not mind having the same songs, but the minimum would be to have different instruments, something like that.

Itemdrop. I completely understand your warnings about big projects, and it's good that you mentioned it. I made a similar lecture about the Zelda II Redux project early on, so I would be stupid to not follow my own advice!

I have a text file in my Zelda II folder with a lot more ideas than what I listed here, that I accumulated over the years, and I'm sure many of them are unworkable or unreasonable by their complexity. So, of course, not everything can be done, that's the thing with imagination, it's almost infinite. But we have to work with the limits of the system, the limits of the game, and the limits of our own skills. That's the reason why I made two lists: ideas that are reasonably accessible and expected in a hack of that undertaking, and the other list is everything that would make the game more awesome, but are not essential for completion, if time or whatever else gets in the way.

Another important point. There are a few things that I may want to keep secret, for the surprise at release. That said, it's a bit in contradiction with me asking for your help, right? Anyway, for a start, I already have two ideas for special moves, and one of them is about 75% complete. But they are also in the "maybe" list, so they could be skipped over unless I want them to become essential to the gameplay.

So, here to go over some points you talked about, and add more of my own.

The expanded ROM structure is pretty much set, except I have yet to decide if Towns should have one or two banks. If not, then the bank could be used for more Overworld or more Palace rooms. As for the Overworld, the original game doesn't even use near the maximum it could have used. Death Mountain and Maze Island don't use the same map per se, but they are exact copies of each other, and they share the same range in Item Presence RAM. There's 4 maps data-wise, but the entire Overworld is basically 3 maps big. My hack has potential for 8 maps. Check this image I made that illustrates the approximate proportions we could expect with the expansion:

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/extendedmap.png)

Alternative to saving points and all that. Each region could have one arbitrary starting point, and whatever region you were in when you last saved or died would be the region you start from when you restart the game. That could be a reasonable compromise and would be relatively easy to code. Also, I'm not against the idea of being able to restart in the Palace you died in, but this feature alone doesn't feel like it's enough of a penalty for dying. The other one is the loss of your experience points. No matter which method we settle on, the basic rationale for me is because of the larger Overworld.

Here's my comments on the possible change/upgrade for spells:

- Shield. Universal use. If you think there's danger ahead, you can give yourself a boost at the cost of magic. The Shield spell could become stronger as you increase your magic level. That would count as a "silent" upgrade, as you don't need to actually learn a stronger spell.

- Jump. Can be used in many places. Can be combined with the Dash spell, used successfully in Shadow of Night. Njoro's idea of having Jump making you jump higher is something I thought about some time ago, but the problem is one of expectations, both for the player and for the level designer. We can't know for sure when the player will have reached a certain level for a certain pit, for example, and that could be seen as a cheap death. There's also the danger of having Link actually jump too high for a specific jump to take place.

- Life. The ubiquitous spell. Similar to Shield, could heal more as you level up. Or even have some sort of randomization.

- Fairy. Meh. Limited use. Can be used to escape a sticky situation. In the original, it's essential in a handful of places. Having the revert upgrade could provide a bit more interest, with possible puzzles of some sort. Also, the locked door glitch.

- Fire. Limited use, not even essential. Not particularly powerful, only a few enemies need it, not even one boss. Enemies later in the game are almost all immune to it. Funky idea: an upgrade lets you activate a "shield" of spinning flames. Lots of coding.

- Reflect. Essential to kill exactly one type of enemy and one boss. Also, strengthens the shield, which is more interesting, especially against strong weapons, like axes. Reflecting other types of projectiles would require some coding.

- Spell. Essential for exactly ONE use, in the same town where you learn it. Lame. Its other use is not very interesting, unless you want to escape a bad situation. Could be replaced by something else.

- Thunder. Powerful, but costly. One essential use on the Thunderbird. I think the cost in magic balances its power, and prevents its abuse.

Here it is for now, my reply is already quite long. I'm sure I didn't comment on everyone's ideas, but I will eventually. Let's keep this thread alive and keep the ideas coming.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: ultimaweapon on October 03, 2018, 09:17:54 am
@Trax

I agree with keeping this thread going, and one of the best ways is for me not to respond to everything, so I will tackle a few of the spells.

Fire
Through some testing of my own, I found a couple of bosses the Fire spell can be made to be useful for. My current complaint is its current design. It's a tiny fireball. A complete mess. Nothing ferocious when you think of fire spells in general especially if you compare it to the spells from A Link To The Past. The Fire spell doesn't have to go. Redesign it to make it more appealing. Also make have to be used against some bosses.

Jump
I think the jumping higher should be replaced with a mid air jump. That would be much more appealing and would fit better than just jumping higher. And combining that with the Dash from Shadow Of Night, and you have a total winner. I know the mid air jump would require a bit of coding to get correct.

Spell
Spell spell has been absolutely useless. You don't need the Magic Key to beat the last 2 palaces or The Great Palace, so taking the time to even use the Spell spell to get the Magic Key isn't necessary. Replacing that spell with something new would be best. A Freeze spell or Njosro's Ghost spell would be a couple of good ideas.

Let's here some other ideas. 
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: azul120 on October 14, 2018, 02:06:36 pm

This is of great interest. I thought of a couple things:

Longer sword/hitbox, naturally.

Ice Spell: Ice-element damage, and also freezes enemies in place Metroid-style.

Fairy Spell: If you implemented a miniature spell, you could make this into a warp spell to warp to any previous location, a la Dragon Quest series.

The health penalty for water/lava pits is something that should definitely be done. The Monster World games have also done it. Lives could be excised as long as reasonable save points are provided.

I've thought of doing something like this in Unity (after learning how to use it, heh), but also add item usage into the mix, a la the grappling hook, to make it more Zelda/Metroid-like.

While they could be extraneous, any thoughts on other Zelda hallmarks such as shops and rupees?

Some of the Ys games could provide excellent reference in balancing item/weapon/xp level upgrading as well as salables/consumables.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on October 23, 2018, 10:45:34 pm
Sorry to keep you waiting, guys. Got some major hurdles tackled. In a nutshell:

THIS. GAME. IS. COMPLICATED !!!

Exceptions everywhere, weird code that seemingly does nothing interesting, mysterious variables, it never ends. I've been working mainly on three things:

- Make sure every region can be connected to each other by land, i.e., by stepping on a Key Area. Using the Raft should be similar, to be tested. Having more than one possible Raft travel dock will be a bit trickier.

- Create a reliable system for more Random Demon Battles. Each Terrain Type will have up to 8 different Random Battle areas. Most likely, the distinction between "weak" and "strong" Demons will be discarded. Difficulty will be totally random throughout the region. The original game uses Key Areas from the 62 possible choices to store Random Battles. There are 7 types of terrain, and 2 versions (weak and strong) for each. It means 14 Key Areas are "wasted" on Battles, where they could be used for regular areas. Now, the Battle Areas have their own Map Data and Enemy Data.

- Selection Screen, which will have only one save slot. Name entry will be discarded. The screen will show more details on your currently saved game. This is work in progress.

As a side bonus, I made a little hack where Link is partially hidden when walking on a Forest Tile in the Overworld. See:

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/halfsprite.png) (http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/halfsprite.png)

Some other work in progress includes the Pause Pane that will be redesigned and extra tiles on the Overworld. Now, for more discussion on your comments.

Here's a general observation about new tiles to be added to features that are essentially "universal". What I nea by that is, if I want to add some visual aspect to the game that must be accessible everywhere, I have to "reserve" one or more tile slots for every graphics banks that are bound to use it. Not that it's not possible, but most sprites graphics banks are already loaded. So this has to be done sparingly. For example, having a bigger Fire sprite or a more impressive Flying Blade would be very interesting, but it also means that it would take 2 sprites instead of one. This represents not only a challenge in coding, it also means that everywhere the new sprite is going to be available, the tiles must be "sacrificed". Some graphics banks may be more accomodating, but others not so much. Anyway, just so you know about that detail and keep it in mind.

Shadic, I like the Demix you linked to. It could be an alternative song for some towns. Right now, my knowledge of the song system in Zelda II would allow me to code the song by hand, which would be tedious work. As for adding a completely new song to the repertoire, I'm not sure. Music is complicated on the NES. I'm not turning my back to the idea, though.

Some of you brought good points about the Lives/Healing/Hearts/Falling in pits question, and I'm still thinking about it and how I will mix everything together to form a coherent system. Right now, I like the idea of having Hearts drops, and pushing the Life spell further into the game. Another arrangement that you guys brought up, is having pits deal only damage (and restart the area) and ditch the lives system. I think we can get some balance in that, too. Having Save Points to complete the picture is also interesting. All in all, if I think the reprogramming of this system is too complicated for some reason, I'll fall back on the lives system with not much changes. I can't tell yet.

I think most of you agree on the idea of making the game shorter for lower difficulty levels is a bad idea. I also think that, but the general concept of having difficulty levels spawns from two major points:

- Allowing less skilled players to play more "casually" and not be too frustrated by the difficulty, and still make the game worthwhile. At the same time, allow more hardcore gamers to really tackle a challenge, AND reward these players for facing great danger.

- Create a reasonable amount of replay value, by adding extra stuff to the game, expecially for those who try at higher difficulty levels. The counterpoint to that is the possible repetitiveness of starting all over with more difficult enemies. So, adding extra regions or rooms in palaces could be interesting, without sacrificing the general storyline. An alternative, more complete ending is a good idea, I think.

My take about the lack of money. Zelda II is not based on money, and even though every other Zelda game have rupees, I don't think it would fit in the Zelda II universe and gameplay style. What resembles money is experience points. They are, in a way, the "currency" by which you get stronger stats. You don't buy items, you have to find them.

Sorry for not having much to show to you guys, but the project is going forward. More visual things to come in the future. Stay tuned!

By the way, I don't think the Magic Key is relevant. It simply destroys the idea of having locked doors for the rest of the game. If you have any idea of something that could take its place, let me know.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: ultimaweapon on October 24, 2018, 03:20:13 pm
Let me start with the last item first. The Magic Key is totally irrelevant. There are absolutely no locked doors in the Great Palace which gives the key no significance. Maybe you can turn the Magic Key into the Master Sword or at least the Magical Sword from Zelda 1. Having a different sword that's more powerful than your sword at level 8 would be much more beneficial.

After you get to level 8 for everything, the only thing your experience points do is allow you to get extra lives every 9000. Maybe you can build something into the game that allows you to spend those experience points after everything is leveled up for additional items or stronger versions of your magic. This option would not open up though until Life, Magic, and Attack are all at Level 8. This would keep the Zelda 2 formula in tact but give it something fresh.

I'll comment on the other stuff when I have more time.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Revility on October 24, 2018, 08:05:36 pm
Here’s some ideas for you....

-replace the fire spell with boomerangs.

-reflect & shield turned into tunics & always on.  Red would replace shield,  blue would replace reflect & grant shield also. Both are always on.  no more constantly casting shield.  Reflect would be way more useful if always on.  This would also give Link a visual upgrade.

-hearts cut into 4 pieces to collect...  would give the player more reasons to hunt through all those extra caves & empty homes.

Replace the hammer with bombs.  You could change the sound in the overworld when breaking rocks & some sort of pow effect. 
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Thanatos-Zero on October 27, 2018, 04:44:25 pm
Reflect is more of the obligatory Mirror Shield upgrade from Zelda 3 to Wind Waker.
After that the Mirror Shield was no longer a staple in future games.

Regarding Shield, we could have a blue and red variant.
Still those upgrades came not for free, but had to be earned.
The Blue Mail could become available after beating the first two palaces.
And the Red Mail becomes available in the real town of Kasuto.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: itemdrop on October 30, 2018, 09:16:59 am
Slow and steady wins the race. glad this project is still moving along. my hack is getting close to the end after its done I might try a do a few sprites for you. if you don't like any of them just throw them out XD.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: wolpak on November 30, 2018, 11:52:04 am
I like the idea of broken heart pieces.

Also, if you keep the EXP system (and you should, it's makes Zelda 2 unique) you could find a way to make upgrades as well.

Maybe you can find the Master Sword and it makes your sword longer?  Or if you leave levels at 8/8/8 only upgrading with found items can increase to a 10/10/10?
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: IcePenguin on January 02, 2019, 01:48:54 pm
This is awesome Trax!  I'm really, really looking forward to this.  There has been some great feedback from everyone who posted, and I hope you find success in your progress.  This will surely be the ultimate Zelda II experience.   :happy:

Love the half sprite for Link in forests!
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: ultimaweapon on January 02, 2019, 03:31:46 pm
WOW! IcePenguin is back!!!!! I hope all is well.

@Trax - If could add a new final boss, that would be the coolest thing. Also, added 5 of the 6 palace bosses in the great palace would als be awesome.


Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on January 06, 2019, 05:35:38 pm
Hey guys, happy new year 2019. Sorry for not replying sooner, I had serious family business to attend to, and then Christmas, which was very busy. Things went quite slow, but not completely halted either.

Most of the stuff I did are "invisible", because, yadda yadda, basic skeleton, you know the drill. Today, I learned something new. The items in the Pause Pane are actually sprites, not background tiles. This means it will be way easier to modify their palette or position, and to add more if necessary. The items can be set to any of the 4 sprite palettes (click image for full size) :

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/itemsallcolors.png) (http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/itemsallcolors.png)

In a previous message, I talked about the idea of upgradable items. It's now close to be an official feature. The Magical Key will be replaced by another item, already set. The upgrades for Candle, Glove, Raft and Boot are already set. The Flute is mostly used to find secrets on the Overworld, I'm not sure exactly how it could be upgraded. Someone suggested that it could have an effect on the Demons, like delay them or prevent them from appearing. The Cross is a bit "meh", invisible enemies are cheap shots, and once you have it, it's a passive effect. The Hammer can be upgraded to break more stuff.

Also, I wish I could change the graphics for the upgraded items (for example, Candle becomes Lantern), but this takes place in the graphics banks, so a color change would be the way to go. Items tiles (2 tiles by item) must be present everywhere, except the Overworld, so all graphics banks related to side scrolling must have both the standard and upgraded tiles. If I wanted to do it anyway, I would have to sacrifice up to 16 tiles. It's not impossible, but it would mean removing enemies or background objects, etc.

The Pause Pane will have the spells compressed, one spell per line, to give space for more stuff at the bottom. Here, I made a partial mockup of what it could look like, appart from any eventual changes in graphics. I added the two icons for the Pieces of Heart and Magic Containers. The rest of the space will be used for other items, like keys, crystals, or some other new info that doesn't exist in the original game. The spot on the left of the Magic Container will be used for sword upgrades. The graphics are still to be determined, let me know what you think (click image for actual size).

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/pausepanemockup.png) (http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/pausepanemockup.png)

As for the idea of having more spells, that's a no go. There will be 8 spells, some of them will be replaced by something else. Upgradable spells? Quite possible. Also, I thought about making keys belong to their respective palaces, if only to avoid possible conflicts that could lead to unwinable situations.

Here's a new map for the road (click for actual size). Its design is [loosely] based on a real map of the Manicouagan Reservoir. This forested archipelago will be full of secret passages and enemies with weird powers. It's not definitive, but still a good preview of one of the major areas of the complete map.

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/archipelago.png) (http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/archipelago.png)

So those are the news so far. I'm still working on a way to make the Overworld less "blocky" and have more variety of tiles, but it's technically demanding. Once it's done, it will (hopefully) make the Overworld a lot more interesting without sacrificing too much ROM space or map data.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Turambar on January 06, 2019, 07:54:38 pm
Speaking of Fairy, I was working on a hack 2 or 3 years ago where I made Fairy reversible. It was pretty neat. I had some other ASM hacks too. I haven't worked on the hack since then though. I had the overworlds designed, but not the side views.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Googie on January 06, 2019, 08:36:23 pm
OMG this is so cool! This hack has the potential to be a classic, I hope to see more in the near future. :)
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: ultimaweapon on January 07, 2019, 04:29:43 am
Speaking of Fairy, I was working on a hack 2 or 3 years ago where I made Fairy reversible. It was pretty neat. I had some other ASM hacks too. I haven't worked on the hack since then though. I had the overworlds designed, but not the side views.

@Turambar - What other things have you done with Zelda 2?


@Trax - That indeed looks great. And I was wondering if the colors for the items could be changed.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Turambar on January 08, 2019, 02:09:54 am
@Turambar - What other things have you done with Zelda 2?
When you're on the overworld and standing on a road tile and an enemy touches you, it forces you into a battle with a blank screen. If an enemy touches you when you're on a water tile, the enemy just disappears. I made it so that road tiles behaved more like water tiles.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: IcePenguin on January 09, 2019, 01:30:25 am
That world map image looks super!  I wanna explore it!  The possibility of having more tiles for the map boggles my mind.

As I was reading your post, I started wondering, have you considered adding some kind of ranged weapon?  What you said about the cross being "meh" got me thinking about Castlevania.  The cross weapon from that would be pretty neat in Zelda II.  Pressing UP+B could activate it similar to how it is in Castlevania, and it wouldn't mess up Link's other movements/abilities.  Or maybe it was UP+A.  I can't remember clearly.

Great update, Trax!  Most excellent I do say.

Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: itemdrop on January 10, 2019, 08:46:01 am
The map def makes me want to play this so bad.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on January 12, 2019, 06:03:08 pm
Turambar. Revertable Fairy spell would definitely be a cool upgrade. That is, assuming I will keep the spell as is, because it's possible to it will be replaced by something else. I'm still pondering about the idea. Also, I agree that the idea of having an empty area when you're hit by a Demon on a Road tile is kind of pointless. Having Demons disappear on touch when on a Road tile would be trivial in terms of programming. Alternatively, I could make roads populated by enemies, but easier ones.

About the tunics, I like the general idea, following from other Zelda games of the series, but something makes me hesitate. At some point, I'd like to have enemies of different colors. I know it's important to have color codes in a game. In Zelda II, colors are supposed to provide a hint on the enemy's toughness. Goriyas and Ironknuckles are good example of that, with 3 different "skill levels" of the same enemy. So, making enemies different colors would break that code. That's a point against. My point is that it would certainly add more variety to the game, and give the player a feeling that they really are in another region of the world. That said, if I change Link's tunic to any other palette, he will turn different colors depending on where he is on the global map, and it may feel weird or confusing to the player. A good tradeoff would be to keep the current color coding, or to have another one, but constant, and make slight variations along the way. For example, Blue enemies could be a little lighter in some places, and more towards purple in others.

Here's my thoughts on new weapons, like boomerangs, bombs, or any other things that already exist and could be upgraded. Unfortunately, I will have to be sparse with new things that may take a lot of coding and introduce new visuals to the game. The main reason is lag. Zelda II has quite a lot of intricate details about combat, and that's what makes it exciting and challenging. But that comes with the price of lots of CPU cycles. In the original game, having 2 or 3 enemies with projectiles on the screen at the same time will produce noticeable lag. Every frame, the engine must do a lot of things, and adding new things, while possible, increases the possibiliy of causing lag with several sprites on screen. Every frame, the engine must process quite a lot of things: Link's sprite and movements, update experience and both meters, update the HUD, check for collision with tiles, check for sword hits, process all enemies, process projectiles, apply spells, change palettes, apply scrolling, play music and sounds. And more.

That said, I will upgrade things and add new stuff, but it will be limited. If new stuff causes lag, I'll make the sacrifice, because lag is a deal breaker. The silver lining in all that is, no matter what, having too many enemies on the screen at the same time, especially ones with projectiles, can quickly become unfair, so it's something I will balance anyway through level design. There will be special moves that you can learn, and I'll probably settle for Up+B as an alternate attack command.

As for upgrades and experience, I like the idea of having different swords, but also be able to upgrade them with experience points. I think I'll leave the stats to 8-8-8, since increasing it to another number, like 16, would be more hassle than it's worth, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: IcePenguin on January 24, 2019, 04:50:42 am
Ah, lag.  It is quite easy to run into lag when testing enemy layouts.  It's been quite a while since I played the original, but I don't recall any instances of lag.  The game always seemed to run pretty smooth.  I can't imagine the lag being too terrible if enemy abundance was on par with the original.

It's great that you are considering so many variables on this project.   :thumbsup:

Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Spooniest on January 26, 2019, 10:55:07 am
I don't really have the time to read the entire thread, but this seems like a very well-thought-out project, and it's now on my romhack radar.

I have a strange idea, one that may or may not be met with some form of attention, no idea how others might feel, but I always felt like the black blobs and goblins on the map were a little silly. I know that the FDS version had different monsters (some kind of evil balloons?) but they are equally ridiculous.

One solution would be re-drawing the overworld monsters to resemble in-battle monsters more closely, but in this case, it still is an off-putting visual cue, since they will still not always match the actual monsters you end up fighting.

So, I thought, why not take out the entire mechanic of avoiding random combat altogether, take the "display sprite" code out of the game, but leave in the mechanics for having the monsters attack you when you're on a danger tile (desert, forest, swamp, etc.)? This makes the game a bit more like a traditional JRPG, in that you could be pulled into combat at any time, and you won't expect it, but you can still sort of finagle with it, since the 'map monsters' will still start chasing you after predetermined intervals, and you can retreat to the path, and even if one runs into you, it will just put you on a single screen "safe encounter."

But the idea that the player will not see combat coming all the time, could make the game a bit more exciting. It could be as simple as removing the part of the code responsible for displaying the sprites, but I do want to say that I'm only guessing about it, not being much of a programmer, myself.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: IcePenguin on February 09, 2019, 09:16:46 pm
Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

- Lives and health system
- Experience and stats system (Attack, Magic, Life)
- Difficulty levels
- Save system

Lives and health system. Zelda II is the only game of the series with a lives system, and many people don't like it. It does seem out of place for a Zelda game. However, without lives, other aspects of the game would become inadequate. Lava pits would become a disproportionate threat to the player. One badly timed jump and it's game over. Having 3 lives (plus extra lives that can be picked up) is basically the equivalent of having as many separate health bars.

The alternative would be to make pits non-lethal. Subsequent Zelda games don't have jumping mechanisms as elaborate as Zelda II, but they do have pits of all kinds. Falling into a pit makes you lose a small portion of health and takes you back to a determined point. Doing that with Zelda II could be an interesting modification to the gameplay, but also a considerable coding challenge. Also, it would have the consequence of making pits a lot less dangerous. Calculated jumps would become less important, especially if the health penalty is small. On the other hand, losing all your health in one shot because an enemy pushes you back in lava can be frustrating.

If you're open to the idea, I recently made a small hack that let's you restart in the same room you got a game over on.  That could help create an alternative to having a life system.  If used in conjunction with njosro's "restart in palace" hack, it could be a neat idea.

For example, dying out in the world would always restart you on the screen you died, but inside a palace, you would restart at its entrance.  This would allow you to remove the life system altogether.

Here is my post about it, in ShadowOne's topic:
Spoiler:
This is unrelated to anything you had planned, but I made a little hack that addresses a common complaint about Zelda II - Losing all your exp when you get game over.  This hack will keep your current exp if you game over, and you choose the "continue" option.  However, if you choose the "save" option, it will wipe any exp you may have.  Works similar to the restart in palace hack.

Info you'll want to know beforehand:
1. In RAM, the player's current exp is at $775 and $776.
2. In RAM, the gained exp counter is at $755 and $756.  Gained exp is loaded here first, then added to your current exp.
3. In RAM, the position of the cursor in the game over screen is at $488.  00 is positioned on "continue" and 01 is positioned on "save".
4. The game wipes your exp at 2 different times.  Exact moment of game over, and when you choose "continue" in the game over screen.


With that knowledge, here is the hack:


At 0x1CA6D you have the following data:

A9 00 8D 75 07 8D 76 07

This bit of data wipes your current exp the exact moment you get a game over.  It loads the immediate value of 00 into the high and low byte for current exp, thus reducing it to zero.  So our first step is to change this.  Let's change it so it loads that 00 into the gained exp counter instead.  So change the code to:

A9 00 8D 55 07 8D 56 07

Next, let's go to address 0x1CAC7 to find the following data:

AD 88 04 F0 08 A9 40 8D B0 07 4C 05 CF 8D 75 07 8D 76 07 8D 56 07 8D 55 07

The first 5 bytes is checking RAM address $488 - the position of the cursor in the game over screen.  If it's equal to 0, it branches to the code in bold at 0x1CAD3, which is the code to wipe exp when choosing the "continue" option.  If it's not equal, it goes to the underlined code at 0x1CACC, which is for choosing the "save" option.

So what we wanna do is change how far it branches if the cursor position is on the "continue" option.  At 0x1CACB you'll find 08.  If the cursor is on "continue", it will branch ahead 08 bytes, skipping over the length of the underlined code.  Change this value to 14.

At 0x1CAC7 paste the following code:

AD 88 04 F0 14 A9 00 8D 75 07 8D 76 07 EA EA EA EA A9 40 8D B0 07 4C 05 CF

With this, it branches ahead 14 bytes, to the data in bold CF.  The data after this is related to how "continue" option works, but it's not relevant now.  The new underlined code will now wipe your exp when you choose the "save" option.  And selecting "continue" won't wipe it anymore.

Anyway, that's it.  Feel free to use this, or anyone else who is interested.  :)



February 07, 2019, 05:31:10 am - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
As an extension to that hack, here is an another way to do it. 

This way works the same, but in addition, when you get a game over and choose the "continue" option, you will always start on the screen you died on - be it on the world map, caves, towns, dungeons.

I know you have the "restart in palace" hack, but this could be an alternative to that, being able to continue on the screen you died on.  (even boss rooms!)  Plus, you wouldn't have to go all the way back to Zelda's Palace if you died in a cave somewhere.  :P

At 0x1CA6D paste the following code: (this is explained above)

A9 00 8D 55 07 8D 56 07

Next, at 0x1CAC7 paste the following code:

AD 88 04 F0 10 A9 00 8D 75 07 8D 76 07 A9 40 8D B0 07 4C 05 CF A9 03 8D 00 07 20 30 CF C9 0F F0 07 A9 06 A0 01 4C F0 CA 20 58 C3 EA EA A9 00

This difference here is the code in bold.  Your current exp is still saved, but now when you choose "continue" it will set your lives to 03 (with A9 03 8D 00 07), without resetting your location.  Resetting lives was needed, because without it, your lives would just keep counting down to 0, then to FF and so on.

With A9 06 (the part that is underlined), it prevents the game state from resetting your location.  I'm not sure on how to explain this part, ha ha.  You'll basically remain where you are in the world without it sending you back to Zelda's Palace.

I tested all this up though palace 1, and it worked fine.  More thorough testing could be done, but I believe it works with no issues.

Video:
https://youtu.be/-eYl_p-g_Uc

Since that would greatly reduce the penalty and risk of dying, a new system could be set in place as a penalty for dying.  njosro mentioned that he started working on a mechanic where you would have to sacrifice some exp upon death, based on the current stat you were trying to level up.  If something like that were to be implemented, I think it would be an adequate substitute for a penalty.

In case you didn't notice, I'm strongly for removing the life system entirely, ha ha.   :happy:

If all these ideas came together, you'd have something like this:
With the way this would be set up, the EXP penalty could be greater while in dungeons, to make them more punishing and dangerous.  Anyway, just a thought I had!

February 09, 2019, 11:32:19 pm - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
The Pause Pane will have the spells compressed, one spell per line, to give space for more stuff at the bottom. Here, I made a partial mockup of what it could look like, appart from any eventual changes in graphics. I added the two icons for the Pieces of Heart and Magic Containers. The rest of the space will be used for other items, like keys, crystals, or some other new info that doesn't exist in the original game. The spot on the left of the Magic Container will be used for sword upgrades. The graphics are still to be determined, let me know what you think (click image for actual size).

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/pausepanemockup.png) (http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/pausepanemockup.png)

I was going through your topic again, just reading everyone's ideas, and I totally missed the part of your post with the inventory menu.  I remember being so enthralled by the archipelago, that I ended up googling pictures of the real place, ha ha.  Speaking of, do you plan to have other areas in the game that are based on places in the world?  It definitely has a certain quality to it that makes it appealing.

Anyway, back to the inventory screen - It looks AWESOME!  I love the layout you did, and looks like there is plenty of space so things don't get squished.  Do you think you'd add a counter that let's you keep track of enemy kills?  Sorta like what I did in Shadow of Night?  It's not really an important thing, but after having it, then playing without it, I miss being able to see that info.  Also, about the heart and magic elements, what's the required amount you'll have to collect?  Having a higher requirement would be cool, so there is more to collect in the world.

Well, I hope your project is going well!  I'm excited for the next update!
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: 8.bit.fan on February 13, 2019, 01:54:27 pm
I love Zelda II and I can't wait for this! Great work and progress so far and I'm loving what I'm hearing in terms of expanding the game! :D

Just wanted to drop in and show my support! Hope this will be a 'fun' hack, as all of the other Zelda II hacks I've played were on the extreme difficult side and I really wish there was one that's more moderate in difficulty like the original Zelda II(ha...as if that was reasonably moderate itself ;) )

Keep up the great work and cheers!!  :thumbsup: :beer:

8-bit fan
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Revility on February 24, 2019, 10:06:04 am
If you want some sprinting help, I would be interested in helping out.  I still have all the edited towns from a broken version of my hack if interested.  The towns & inside the houses are more detailed,  but still the same layout.

Boomerangs could replace the fire ball spell.  Something to connect it more with other Zelda games.

One thing that could lower/balance difficulty is shield also giving reflect.  This makes a big difference going through death mountain.  Reflect is great spell,  but I tend to avoid using unless needed because of the cost & not wanting to keep applying the spell constantly.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on February 26, 2019, 12:33:00 am
Small update, here. I'm still struggling with an Overworld overhaul I'm working on, and I may be biting off more than I can chew. I'm on my third rewrite right now, and I can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. If it reveals too daunting, I'll have to abandon that part and go on with something else. My ideal goal for the Overworld is three parts:

- On-the-fly tile modification to make the Overworld less blocky and monotone.
- New tiles (as many as 40 more) by exploiting the fact that some tiles are always used alone (Grotto, Town, Palace, etc.) and never use the RLE repetition.
- Overworld map, called by the player if he has the corresponding item(s).

It's possible that these three things may conflict with each other, either by making the code really complex or unreliable, or because of a lack of graphics space. If I can pull it off, the Overworld will be beautiful and varied and will hopefully blow your mind. For the second point, I have already made a relatively silent demo some time ago, and I managed to lay down a 17th tile. It's feasible.

Spooniest, your idea of having invisible Demons on the Overworld is interesting, and worth a try. A few variations on this comes to mind. Having Demons visible, but with very small sprites, like a few dots, so that they are harder to distinguish. Also, it could be that Demons become invisible later in the game, or only in specific regions. Or, it could be set according to the difficulty level, which is a feature I intend to include in the hack. Removing the drawing part of the Demons in the code is quite trivial.

IcePenguin, to answer your various comments on Game Overs and such, the mechanics will be quite different in various ways. I want to make save/load points, so it's possible that restarting at a palace become irrelevant. But, it's not definitive, either. I'm almost sure I will ditch the lives system, and put in place a bunch of other features that will make up for it. As for the Pause Panel, I think spells are a bit weird and cramped like that, but it's the only way to make place for other things. The drawing of the pane may reveal difficult. With this layout, there's potential for 6 item spots, including their own digit spot. Heart and Magic Containers are already there, with their respective 1/4 parts counter. There will be a spot for a Sword, maybe a Fairy. The little counters for enemies to kill are cool, and may occupy a spot. However, I thought about another variation on that, so, we'll see. Experience penalty on death seems like an interesting idea.

8.bit.fan, about difficulty, I plan to make different difficulty levels integrated in the game itself. Ideally, there would be four, with the first two available right at the beginning, as a choice to the player. The two others would be unlocked, most likely by beating the game. The first difficulty level will be a bit easier than the original, and the second level will be a bit harder. I have also another thing in my plans about difficulty, but I'll keep it a secret for now.

Revility, thanks for the offer, any help is welcome, especially for graphics. I will probably aim for a mix of old enemies, with very few modifications, except for palettes, and new ones, either a more dangerous "upgrade" of the same enemy seen further in the game, or totally new sprites and behavior. As for secondary weapons, I did not decide anything on that, but I will probably be conservative on that point, because of the amount of coding necessary. I'm not putting the idea aside completely, either. As for the Shield/Reflect combo, it could be an upgrade for either spell, however I intend to use the Reflect mechanism in a few ways, so it still to be determined. Also, there may not be a Death Mountain in this hack, although it could be an equivalent.

Thanks for your ideas and comment, guys, and again, I'm sorry I can't show much in the visual department. Stay tuned for more news and concepts.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: IcePenguin on February 26, 2019, 09:54:43 am
- On-the-fly tile modification to make the Overworld less blocky and monotone.
- New tiles (as many as 40 more) by exploiting the fact that some tiles are always used alone (Grotto, Town, Palace, etc.) and never use the RLE repetition.

What do you mean by these?  When you say "on-the-fly tile modification" it makes it seem like you've restructured how the game draws the world map.  Is that correct?  Also, how does exploiting single tiles allow more variety?  I thought for sure you would've expanded the tables/data used for the world map tiles.  I've been doing lots of Zelda II hacking recently, so I'm highly curious about everything, ha ha.  :P

I was possibly going to look into increasing the tile amount for the world map, so any info you're willing to share would be great!  I'm excited to see how it looks, when you finally do reveal it.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on March 06, 2019, 08:45:12 pm
It's a technique that modifies the Overworld at the time of drawing using the same Overworld data, to make tiles more varied in appearance, like having a forest with rounded corners, for example, instead of having all tiles square and have a blocky Overworld. You could have a path that curves a bit. Stuff like that.

As for extra single tiles, here's an example. If every Town tile is only a strip of 1 tile in length, the code in raw Overworld data is 00. It means raw codes 10 to F0 are never used. The goal is to add ASM that will see these values as different individual tiles. If you consider Towns, Grottos and Palaces (terrain codes 0, 1 and 2 respectively), you can use 10-F0, 11-F1 and 12-F2 ranges, for a potential of 45 new individual tiles. Rock and Spider (codes E and F) are also good candidates. The two caveats with that is whether you want these tiles to be walkable or not, and how you want Demons to react to them when they collide with Link. The other limit is how much graphics space you have at your disposal for new tiles. Interestingly, the CHR bank for the Overworld has a lot of unused tiles. It also contains the graphics for Ganon on the Game Over screen, which could be recycled.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: IcePenguin on March 07, 2019, 02:04:55 am
It's a technique that modifies the Overworld at the time of drawing using the same Overworld data, to make tiles more varied in appearance, like having a forest with rounded corners, for example, instead of having all tiles square and have a blocky Overworld. You could have a path that curves a bit. Stuff like that.

As for extra single tiles, here's an example. If every Town tile is only a strip of 1 tile in length, the code in raw Overworld data is 00. It means raw codes 10 to F0 are never used. The goal is to add ASM that will see these values as different individual tiles. If you consider Towns, Grottos and Palaces (terrain codes 0, 1 and 2 respectively), you can use 10-F0, 11-F1 and 12-F2 ranges, for a potential of 45 new individual tiles. Rock and Spider (codes E and F) are also good candidates. The two caveats with that is whether you want these tiles to be walkable or not, and how you want Demons to react to them when they collide with Link. The other limit is how much graphics space you have at your disposal for new tiles. Interestingly, the CHR bank for the Overworld has a lot of unused tiles. It also contains the graphics for Ganon on the Game Over screen, which could be recycled.

Wow, that first part boggles my mind.  I need to see this in action, ha ha.  Would there be any reason for curved paths if Link cannot travel on them?  Unless you revamped his directional movements, as well?

That's pretty clever for expanding the tiles.  Considering how you phrased your initial comment on that, I figured you have to do a bit check, and change the tile depending on its length.  Makes a lot of sense!  Very cool!  Would you have to do something similar for interactions with Link and enemies?  For which tiles are walk-able, and what battle scenes they warp to?  (I don't mean increasing the environment types)

And yes, the CHR bank for the overworld does have a ton of free space.  How many new terrain types do you plan to make?  You might've said this already, but I don't recall.

Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Thanatos-Zero on March 07, 2019, 12:05:10 pm
Upgraded item graphics?

I had to under the limits, but I was able to still create new graphics.
Take a look on these.
Infidelity tried himself on some of his own, which I then updated.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/a88rhnmr8jbfvss/TLoL%20Items.png?dl=0
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: ultimaweapon on March 08, 2019, 10:27:14 am
Upgraded item graphics?

I had to under the limits, but I was able to still create new graphics.
Take a look on these.
Infidelity tried himself on some of his own, which I then updated.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/a88rhnmr8jbfvss/TLoL%20Items.png?dl=0

Those look awesome indeed. Would it be alright if I used some of those?
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on March 10, 2019, 12:19:09 pm
IcePenguin, no, there won't be anything like "free" movement on the Overworld, it will still be orthogonal. The graphics will be more detailed. And there will be ice tiles. And major modifications of the Overworld after specific events happen. And other secrets.

Ultima, about the upgraded items, it would be cool to have different graphics for each upgraded items, but it means as many tiles sacrificed for the entire length of the game, so it's a tough call. The only way to avoid that would be to use the functionalities of the MMC3 mapper, for example, but I don't think I'm taking that path. Changing the colors may not be "ideal", but it's something I did in a very short time and at zero cost graphics-wise. I know I'm going to remove the Magic Key, so this is 2 free tiles that can be reused right there.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Thanatos-Zero on March 13, 2019, 07:03:15 pm
Those look awesome indeed. Would it be alright if I used some of those?

Go ahead. Use them to your heart's content.
All what I need is that you credit me.
 ;D
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: SkyeWelse on March 16, 2019, 11:11:14 pm
I just saw this thread today and I just want to say that I really like the plan you have for this hack! Have you decided what to call it yet?

I also think it is nice that you are receiving feedback from Zelda II fans. I've beaten Zelda II many times and I love the game, though not as much as a kid due to how different it was from the original and getting pretty stuck right around that first major Death Mountain challenge to get the hammer. I would say though that first and foremost, unless you are trying to modify the existing game in a slight way to improve upon one aspect of it, I wouldn't worry about how close or how far you want to stray from the original mechanics of the game. People will be playing your "type" of hack to experience an all new way to play and an all new reason to play Zelda II again. So by that, I'd recommend going with whatever feels right to you.

Since you asked for opinions, even though I can appreciate the XP system of Zelda II, I never really "enjoyed" grinding. Most of the time I'd grind for a bit to cover some of the earlier levels that don't take much XP and then start completing Dungeons so that I could get a full level up by grabbing the crystal at the end maxing out the XP. I really think that taking that out of it and simply making more upgrades as far as items to seek out and explore would be much more interesting. You've already said that you will be expanding the world map, so there should be plenty more places to hide such items. Also, then you can have players really challenge themselves in extremely dangerous areas just to try and get to a weapon or armor upgrade that is meant for later in the game to try and achieve that reward early. In Ys for example, I *Always* risk my life in the mining cave where everything can one-shot me, in order to get one of the best shields in the game. I mean, why not? It's fun to challenge beyond what you are technically ready for!

As for Lives, I mean, sometimes Link just runs out of health and you need to count on those extra lives in order to  keep going. If that were expanded into extra health instead of "chances" at completing the goal you've sought out starting at full-life each time, I'm pretty sure it will greatly change the flow of how Zelda II is laid out.

Take for example this as a scenario:

Link can take 8 hits before dying or needing to start curing as of hit number 7 as he crossed a bridge with floating poison bubbles and other flying enemies and maybe a axe thrower at the end of it. Normally, this would be really hard to complete and if you died, you'd have to "GitGud" a few times to pass it. That can be a fun challenge to overcome, or it could be rather annoying.

If this was changed into say a longer life meter or less damage taken to the lifebar, let's say he had 14 hits now, it's much, much more feasible to pass this trial with the option of getting hit 14 times before death, but that might make it too easy. Then again, the fact that you are having to cure yourself and if you die even once, you're journey is over and you have to start over at Zelda's sleeping shrine, so maybe it would balance out in the long run. It's hard to say until you've tested the difficulty of the enemy placement.

Good luck on your project! Can't wait to see new updates for it!

-SkyeWelse
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Trax on May 07, 2019, 11:56:31 pm
Well, after quite some time, I managed to do a few things, but not as much as I'd hoped. So, again, sorry for the wait.

First, I had to put the "on-the-fly modification of Overworld Tiles" on the ice, because frankly, I struggled too much with it, and I had to go do something else before going crazy. Also, I think the idea was cool on paper, but the end result was relatively meh. I may return back to the problem later, but I'd give more chances to the Custom Tiles idea, which I already made work in the past. The other thing I feared is lag. I didn't experience any of it, as far as I can tell, but it could become laggy if too much work is needed every frame. It does produce a noticeably longer delay on the loading transition, but that is not important. All in all, I'll spend my time on more essential things.

Speaking of that, I spent already too much time on a new concept that existed in Zelda 1 : Trap Doors. I'm not sure if it's the correct name, because in real life, a trap door should be on the floor, right? But that's not the case. I'm talking about doors that shut behind you. Zelda 1 had them in spades, and you had to do something to make them open again, like killing all enemies or pushing a block. Some of these doors could not even be reopened, like a one-way entrance. Anyway, I also worked too much on that one, but even though it's not finished, I'm on my way to make it completely functional and make it work anywhere I want.

It looks like this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzZA85urhgA

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/lefttrapdoor.png)

I created my own data format to give every room the possibility to have either no door, one on the left, one on the right, or both. When you enter a room, there are a few frames where Link moves, but the player doesn't have full control of him. During these few frames, the code I wrote checks if the room has doors, and if it does, it draws one block every other frame, at the position desired. For now, the position is hard-coded, so if the ground is at another level, we will need to have provisions for that. I used the "Breakable Block" sound, which is played for 5 consecutive frames. I think it sounds good for a door, but it could easily be changed to something else. I initially tried the "Fire" sound, but I thought it was too subtle and quiet.

Not shown on the video is the equivalent for the Right Trap Door, which is a bit more complicated to code, because of the fact that Areas can have different widths, from 1 to 4 screens. So we have to use this information, conveniently stored in $D1, to select the correct position for drawing the tiles.

The major difficulty comes from the fact that we have to do two kinds of drawing when we want to change anything in the background, and that's applicable in every side-scrolling areas. The terrain in Level Data is made of blocks, 2x2 tiles. Each screen has 0xD0 tiles. Up to 4 screens. When you want to change something, you need to manually draw the 4 tiles that compose the block, AND you have to change the underlying block data. If you only draw the tiles, you will see the result, assuming the drawing occurs on screen and not in the "scrolling buffer", but as soon as you leave far enough, the tile will be erased by the scrolling mechanism, so when you come back, the old tile will be drawn again, because you didn't change the block data. On the other hand, if you only change the block data, and the tile is within the viewport, you will see no instant change, but when you go far enough and come back, the tile will be drawn as your changes dictated. And as if it was not enough, you also have to do some more math and bit manipulation to change the palette. That last one, I didn't do yet with my Trap Door mechanism, as the video demonstrates at the end. I draw blocks that are normally teal colored, but because the background color is set to grayscale, the instant drawing shows the tile in the wrong color. However, when I come back, the tile is redrawn using its natural color.

Confused much?

Anyway, there is more work to do, because to reopen the doors, you will need to kill all enemies in the room. The custom data I created will also contain an enemy counter, and every time you kill an enemy, this counter will decrease by one. Once the counter reaches zero, the doors will open. I think this mechanism will create a brand new dynamic in palaces (and maybe other places, who knows?) and force players to fight to the death to progress in the game. You will have to change the way you think about palace navigation.

So, what's left do do exactly?

- Make sure the Right Trap Doors work correctly, with all area widths.
- Make sure the custom data table has an enemy counter, and that some enemies (Elevator, for example) are "exempted" from the count.
- Make sure the door tiles have the correct color. If it reveals too hard to do, I could sacrifice this and just make sure the tiles have the same palette as the background.
- If time and motivation permit, add a third type of Trap Door (with the actual name), an horizontal one that blocks a hole in which you can fall.

Other than that, the name of the hack should contain Dark Fortress. Maybe Zelda II : Dark Fortress. Or maybe remove "Zelda" from the title, since she probably won't be part of the story at all. How about Adventures of Link : Dark Fortress ? Or something else, if you have any ideas. I also started working on another Overworld Map, but I won't reveal each one of them, because I can't spoil everything. All I can say is that it will involve a very big mountain.

Also, I decided that the concept of lives are officially out. There will be several changes to make up for it. I'm not fixed on how many mechanisms will change, because each time the game has to be reprogrammed represents quite a challenge. A quick list: no more dolls, small heart items, no instant kill from falling into lava, restart from different places after death, more fairies, enemy damage balancing and reserve fairy.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
Post by: Vanya on May 08, 2019, 02:32:48 am
Damn, that is some cool stuff.
One of the things that always turned me off of Zelda II was how little of the first game seemed to be brought over.
So the more stuff from the first game that could be reimagined for this new perspective the better.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: itemdrop on May 11, 2019, 09:36:13 am
Happy to hear your still at it trax. The trap door idea is very cool wondering if your planning to make a palace around this concept or sprinkle it hear and there. I've had to drop a lot of ideas after either not being able to get them to work or getting lower then expected results so I get dropping the overworld concept you had. While I think the overworld is one of the most least interesting things in Zelda 2 I'm sure you'll find way to make it fun and better i.e. the ice overworld idea you came up with. 
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: pleasejust on May 12, 2019, 02:26:33 am
I highly recommend using Zelda II Redux as a base. Or at least apply the same graphical and gameplay changes.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on May 16, 2019, 01:36:59 am
Redux is a nice project, in which I participated, but many of the features in it will be done differently in Dark Fortress. Plus, the goal of Redux was not to be a full fledged hack, but mostly a bunch of small modifications of what was considered irritating in the original.

Obviously, I will have to balance many things in the game, like enemy damage and experience. Actually, about experience, I want to go one step further, and make experience gains dynamic. For example, once you reach a certain level, or a certain region further in the game, enemies will start giving less experience. Hopefully, it will make grinding less attractive and encourage the player to go forward, explore new territories and fight stronger enemies. Enemy drops may also be more dynamic.

I also plan to make multiple spawning points for when you reload the saved game, or after death. Similar to A Link to the Past. Restarting at the beginning of palaces is not settled yet, but not out of the question. The HUD will be changed, but I have not decided on the layout yet.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on October 29, 2019, 12:56:00 am
After quite a long delay and being super busy with other projects, I found some time to work on basic features of the hack. Sorry for the wait. The project is not dead.

I replaced the "Ready..." screen (where we see a Link sprite and remaining lives) with a menu where you can choose from various locations in the Overworld that were previously saved. It works similarly to the Owls in Majora's Mask, and the "Start From" menu is similar to ALttP. You find the location, and when you reload your game later, or get a Game Over, you can start from different locations. The exact mechanism by which you will save those locations is not yet determined, but it will probably be a simple dialog, or maybe hit the statue with your sword, something like that. For now, the menu works correctly, and the loading process seems to work with the original ROM structure. I still need to see how it will react with the new ROM structure (16 banks, alternate way of loading maps and enemy data, etc.).

I think I will stick to 4 different places to start from, but it could be extended as needed. As the game becomes less and less linear, more starting locations will prevent excessive travel for players without compromising the exploration aspect of the game. The mechanism is not 100% as I want it, only because Link enters the area from the right, and I would like to have him appear at the middle, like in the original game in North Castle. Or maybe have him fall from the top, like he does after a "falling" animation. My current code seems to be working with any type of area: Overworld, Town or Palace, which is also interesting. Demo video:

http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/startfrom.mp4

So, obviously, the destinations are not shown, the goal is to show that you can start from different places. Also because I don't want to reveal everything. I'm not sure if North Castle will have this name, but the 3 other places will exist. One of which you already saw the Overworld map.

One of my attempts at making the Angel Shrine area with slightly different graphics:

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/angelshrine.png)

And, second thing. Lives are officially out of the game, maybe I already said that before. The game will be balanced accordingly. The Life spell will still be there, but its effect may change a bit. Falling into lava will only deal damage and bring you back to the side of the area (as if you were entering it), but there could be a few dangerous areas in the game where a fall will be fatal. And of course, the small damage from a fall can still kill you if your life meter is low enough.

But more importantly, Small Heart Item. Enemies can now drop a Small Heart Item, that you can pick by touching it. Link flashes briefly and recovers a small amount of life (that value will be tweaked). This item replaces the now obsolete Link Doll item, which gave an extra life.

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/smallheart.png)

Items dropped by enemies are bound to a random pick from a list of 8 values, so Magic Jars and Experience Bags are still there as possible drops. Demo video:

http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/smallheart.mp4

So that's it for now. Let me know what you think of all this.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: IcePenguin on October 29, 2019, 07:20:10 pm
Looks excellent, Trax!  The angel statue appears cool at first glance, but when really looking at it, it's hard to tell what it is.  Seems too detailed compared to its surroundings.  Maybe it could have features that are more easily recognizable, or a more simplistic design.  Unless that's the start of a complete graphical overhaul?

And, second thing. Lives are officially out of the game...
Awesome!  I really hoped you'd do this.  Can't wait to see it in action.

If you need help with anything, even simple things, I'd be willing to help out.  Just let me know.  :)
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on October 29, 2019, 11:31:52 pm
Yeah, it's not very good. I tried to use an image of a bronze statue from the Internet as a model, but the end result is meh. I certainly need help in the graphics department. But yes, I intend to have lots of graphics modified. Right now, I want to focus on the basic mechanisms of the hack, the things that are essential. My complete "to do" list is so large, some low-priority ideas are going to be ditched.

Next, I will use my time on the Pause Pane and the Selection Screen. The Pause Pane will have 8 spells, 8 items, counters for pieces of heart and magic containers, sword type and one or two surprises.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: NiO on October 30, 2019, 04:53:13 am
When you need help for sprites, dont hesitate to ask.

I have never played Zelda 2, but I would like to play a cool hack, with new ideas and graphics.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on November 10, 2019, 09:40:46 pm
More progress on the hack. New Pause Pane and Pieces of Heart and Magic Containers.

The new mechanics is now working and tested. Pieces (1/4) of Heart and Magic Containers. You need 4 pieces of each to make a full container and increase the corresponding bar. When this happens, both Link and the decor flash briefly, like when you pickup an item. I created new variables in VRAM (Cartridge RAM) that keep track of the count of each type. These values are to be saved along with the rest of the data in the saved game file.

If Link starts with 3 units of Life and Magic, it means 5 x 4 = 20 pieces for each, for a total of 40 items to find. This means more rewarding exploration of secret caves and spots in the Overworld.

The Pause Pane has also changed a lot. Spells now take one line each, instead of having an empty line every other row. This leaves space for more information to be displayed. The first section is not completely set. Keys will be moved there, and whatever takes the place of Crystals (maybe I will keep the same name) will be shown there, too. I'm planning to make a reserve Fairy that would be shown in this section, but nothing confirmed. Items in the third section will be different colors, and will change color (or maybe even appearance) as they are upgraded. The Cross will be replaced by something similar, and the Magic Key will be removed.

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/pausepanenewsprites.png)

The second section shows Sword Level, Heart Container pieces and Magic Container pieces. You can see that the Sword Level is at 0, but it's only a placeholder for now; the game will never have a "level 0" sword. I made new sprites for Heart and Magic containers. The only thing I need to correct is that the sprite of the dropped Magic Container doesn't have the correct palette code, and that's why it's shown as yellow on the game field, but blue on the Pause Pane. I want it blue everywhere. Other than that, I'd like to know what you guys think of these three new sprites. I made a few iterations of the Heart Container, and I'm not completely set on its appearance. See below:

(http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/heartpieces.png)

The Sword Level sprite in the Pause Pane implies that there will be more than one sword to find in the game. Attack levels will still exist, independent of the sword you're carrying. Stronger swords will deal more damage, and provide other bonus powers. It should be fun. Here's a video of the Heart and Magic Containers and the Pause Pane in action:

http://www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/darkfortress/heartmagiccontainers.mp4

That's it for now. Looking forward to your feedback...
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: itemdrop on November 11, 2019, 10:10:19 am
Love all the stuff your doing here, but I would say the heart and magic drops look to disproportionate to link. I feel like thy should be smaller. This could be just me and being use to the original game. 
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on November 11, 2019, 09:19:07 pm
Well, of course, the gameplay won't be like that, I only changed the drop items probability table and drop frequency to quickly collect these items and show how it works along with Pause Pane new display. These items will be hidden in caves and palaces, not be dropped by enemies. Unless I can make the bosses drop them, or something. The sprites have roughly the same size as the original. The normal items, Red/Blue Jars and Experience Bags, and now Small Hearts, are still going to be dropped by enemies.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: itemdrop on November 11, 2019, 10:07:32 pm
Sorry, thought you were using these to replace the regular drops. My bad.

I like the first Heart out out of the 4 above for whatever that's worth.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: IcePenguin on November 11, 2019, 11:10:28 pm
What about the traditional quarter heart display?  It wouldn't require too many tiles.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Trax on November 13, 2019, 09:32:41 pm
Well, I prefer to keep tile usage to a minimum. Having quarters for each step would "waste" tiles for something that is not that important. That's why the numbers are there, and numbers are already taking space in the graphics banks, so there's nothing lost. It would also make the code more complicated.
Title: Re: Zelda II Hack Project - Dark Fortress
Post by: Jeville on November 14, 2019, 02:49:31 am
I'd go with the standard Piece of Heart appearance which is the second one.