July 5, 2014
I’ve been working
on the project again lately, off and on, without actually posting
progress. My attention is
completely focused on
Recently, a fan discovered that I created a Twitter account several years ago and forgot about it. He has convinced me to start posting frequent, random thoughts instead of just ramping up for a diary entry that takes me over an hour to compose & edit. I’ll still write these entries, of course, when I have a lot to say. What do you think? If I get lots of followers, I’ll be more encouraged to post actively! ;)
November 17, 2013
Here’s a really
quick update on the latest tile work.
A week ago, I was working on
Having reached this point, I also determined many of the new global tiles that will allow certain outdoor objects to appear anywhere in the game. I’ll just paste the October 22nd list here and comment beside each entry.
- Invisible water-wall, to keep Link from swimming too far into the ocean – confirmed!
- Dungeon window, for reuse outside multiple above-ground dungeons – confirmed!
- Wooden bridges – already possible with non-global graphics.
- Making the large mushroom global, thus freeing seven town tiles – confirmed, and now hookshot-ready!
- Rocks that can’t be lifted and aren’t symmetrical – confirmed!
- Bushes that can’t be cut nor lifted and aren’t symmetrical – thought of later, and confirmed!
- Plaques with messages on them, for when sign posts aren’t formal enough – just one tile; confirmed!
- A grassy edge to the dam’s pavement – still not sure, as it will take either two or four more tiles.
- Pit edges normally seen indoors (jagged style) – thought of later, and confirmed!
- Some surprises I won’t list here. ;) – confirmed, too!
Of course, ‘confirmed’ means I have tiles tentatively available for these ideas, and I believe I’ll actually use them as such. But, things can change, depending on greater needs that may arise later.
November 16, 2013
I must tell the
world: My seven year-old son has
not only escorted Zelda to Sanctuary, but also retrieved the Pendant of
November 3, 2013
Well-come… to the latest exciting episode of Quest Impossible! In this show, we follow the twists, turns, and exploits of Calatia development, from start to a very long-awaited finish!
This time, we have super-graphics-experts Josh and DarkPrince909 on stage, working night and day, and often on Zelda3C too, to bring all their talent to physical form! Quickly! Show us what we’ve won!
That’s right! Meet the lovely new pine trees that pop up throughout the monarchy!
First up, this is the official unveiling of the pointy pine tree, not to be confused with the mellow pine tree shown in a previous episode, the latter of which will be used in what was formerly known as, “The Dark World.” Ooooh! Makes you want to hang sparkling decorations all over it, right? Note also the house bricks, which still need improving, but turned out to at least look better than the screenshot from two episodes ago.
Next we have a few more pine trees, including two that overlap each other! The overlapping tiles were drawn by yours truly, showing once again that I’m still in the graphics fray! But what’s this? Link is trying to move a leafy tree to the dam so he can climb it and ascend the dam? No, no, folks, I assure you that can’t possibly happen. Link, why don’t you try burning the tree with that candle, like you did in days of yore? Just kidding, that can’t happen either. Or can it..?
whisked across the way to
Here we are again, deep in the forest, where not two, but four pine trees overlap at once! As you can see, Link can’t take his eyes off of them! Truly, any number of pine trees can overlap; entire walls of them may exist elsewhere in Calatia!
And that, friends and fellow citizens of Calatia, is the end of the latest enthralling installment! Do feel free to write, if only to tell me never to use my game show ‘voice’ online again!
Next time on Quest
October 22, 2013
Only one month left until A Link Between Worlds! I’m so excited!!
I realized that my new pine tree screenshots were going to take a little longer, so I should at least post a quick entry in the meantime. So, here’s a promise that you will see updated trees in their natural environments very soon. :)
There are actually two versions of the pine tree, one from each artist. The tree I already posted? An improved version will be the “Altered Future pine tree.” (This is the first piece of information ever released about this game’s Altered Future.) The “Peaceful Past” tree has a pointier style, as opposed to sagging.
Over the weekend, I drew the “overlap tiles” for both trees that allow them to grow close together. I also drew a mini version of each tree, as I had done before. Now that the number of required tiles is determined, I’m thrilled to say that I’m only using 21 of them instead of 56! This leaves 35 tiles free to use anywhere in the overworld.
Here are some new tile usage ideas:
- Invisible water-wall, to keep Link from swimming too far into the ocean
- Dungeon window, for reuse outside multiple above-ground dungeons
- Wooden bridges
- Making the large mushroom global, thus freeing a few town tiles
- Rocks that can’t be lifted and aren’t symmetrical
- Plaques with messages on them, for when sign posts aren’t formal enough
- A grassy edge to the dam’s pavement
- Some surprises I won’t list here. ;)
Asking for tree graphics from the artists caused a swell of activity from both of them; not only did they submit really good trees, but they have unleashed the full menagerie of monsters for graphics considerations. We’ve had a lot of emails back and forth about how enemy appearances will change, and how to manage sprite palettes in various parts of the world. It’s been exciting and we’ve learned a few new things about the game.
From here, I’m
going to load up that tile set with alternate pine tiles, and some of the
tiles listed above, and a tile I need for
October 4, 2013
What! I haven’t updated since the end of last month? What is wrong with me?
So I was on Zelda tropes recently (it’s so huge, I couldn’t begin to read it all!) when I found myself reading about timeline theory again. Until recently, I’ve always held stubbornly to the belief that somehow, all Zelda games exist on a single timeline, and that nothing so epic as Zelda could fracture itself by paradox into multiple histories, or worse, a multiverse. According to Nintendo, I’m wrong on both counts.
The tropes page, which is full of spoilers (this diary page is spoiler free) made reference to the Hyrule Historia book I received for my birthday, but haven’t read in depth yet. On page 69, which is also full of spoilers, Nintendo has mapped all the main Zelda games onto a timeline, which splits at Ocarina of Time (of course). I won’t go into detail about the game’s ending because, believe it or not, there are people who haven’t played this game yet. But Nintendo says that, beyond the time branches that lead either to Majora’s Mask or Wind Waker, there is a third branch where Link is actually defeated.
This “alternate reality” leads to most of my favorite Zelda games, starting with A Link to the Past and ending at Adventure of Link. (OoS/OoA, LA, and LoZ between them) So in order for those six games to occur, the Hero of Time must DIE at the hands of Ganon. All these great tales, spun from tragedy.
So the next time you’re playing Ocarina of Time, make sure you let Ganon win or Quest for Calatia will never exist. And neither will Outlands.
Speaking of QfC, my
progress has been going backwards again.
(This still means forwards.)
A long time ago, I made the short-sighted decision to spend nearly all my global tiles on amazing pine trees. Having given this some deep, careful thought, there are several other things I would much rather have throughout Calatia. (Nintendo spent most of theirs on allowing houses to be placed anywhere.) I worked really hard on these trees and my wife loves them, to the point that we almost argued about scrapping them. It is with wistful sadness that I now let them go, for the sake of the greater good.
The pine trees have been a bit controversial. Some people have said they don’t fit in because there are no dark borders around them. For myself, I’ve been afraid they’re too tall, causing visual obstructions when fighting enemies while behind them. They’re only slightly symmetrical, which looks great, but is very tile-expensive. Oh, and they aren’t drawn at a top-down perspective, which sometimes makes them appear to be lying on the ground. (See, Reshaper256, I didn’t forget!)
This isn’t to say that Calatia won’t have pine trees! DarkPrince909 has already drawn a new one, and while it still needs a little tweaking and more detail, it addresses all the problems listed above. Here’s how it looks so far (with leafy tree included for color / size comparison) :
It looks Zelda-esque to me, though again, it might be improved a little. After all, you can see individual leaves in the standard tree. The images below do have new-pine adjustments, but they’re extremely minor. These show comparisons between my old trees and his new ones:
There’s also a smaller pine tree coming to replace the mini one shown in the upper left image.
It seems that almost everything I create in this game eventually finds itself overhauled. I guess that’s all part of the process. Hmm, the front wall of that house needs a touch-up, too!
So, will there be a public outcry against losing the old pine trees, or will most people embrace these new ones? If you have an opinion, please weigh in!
September 26, 2013
Today I’m writing to let you know that my time-management strategy is working out well! I hadn’t factored in “lunch with co-workers”, but otherwise I’ve worked daily on this project! There’s a certain momentum that hits me when my mind get wrapped back up in Calatia; this time I’m determined to keep making strides toward the game’s eventual completion.
The lunch after I last wrote, I focused on the areas nearby the dam, creating more cliffs and trees. The dam’s sheer height makes for lots of surrounding ledges. There wasn’t anything complicated to sort out, like so many other things. I just had to ask myself things like, “Will a ladder look good here or here?” and “How much space should I leave open for fights with molblins?”
The next lunch, I began
the process of studying
The day after that, I found myself reading many of my past diary entries. I had such thoughts as “Wow, that was a long time ago,” “I was planning to do that?” and “Oh, I did get that fixed? Good to know.” It’s amazing how many fine details I relearned just by reviewing my own writings. I actually saved myself from some confusion for later on, when I revisit certain respective areas.
That night on my way home, the muse found me while I was thinking through the game’s story. I was already pretty happy with the overall concept, but since it’s a time-travel story, there were some points where one could cry “Paradox!” and I wasn’t sure if I could use the Triforce as a band-aid to explain them away. I’m thrilled to say that I’ve worked all that out now, with fresh twists and explanations that don’t shatter the space-time continuum. I’ve also ironed out where the story was weak and where some things happen “just because.”
So, as I was driving, I began having “realizations” about the events, which led to a flood of ideas that I COULD NOT WRITE DOWN. This has happened before, but I’ve recited them to myself over and over, written them down at a red light, or had my wife take note of them. This time it was pitch-black on a long, lonely freeway. I wanted to record myself, but I found that my Android didn’t have any kind of recording app pre-installed. Then I thought of the mysterious “microphone button” that appears in the touch-screen keyboard when I’m texting. [Public service reminder: Never text and drive!] I used this button to send a series of voice-to-text messages to my wife. I then spoke a text message explaining myself because she was at home reading these, thinking “what the heck?”
The first one especially threw her. Because I wasn’t annunciating clearly enough, it read, “Put water behind shower you were blocks for future more for presents.” Put water behind shower?? It was supposed to read, “Put water behind tower, use blocks for future, more for present.” When I got home and we were done laughing, she suggested that I voice-text myself so that I can find my notes all in one place. (And so she can watch her Korean shows in peace, lol!) That works, and so I’ve been recording my on-the-road ideas this way ever since.
The phone’s voice-recognition is actually really good -- it recognizes big words and names of characters such as Zelda and Ganon, though it spells Ganon with two ‘n’s. It usually gets the word ‘Triforce’ right too, but my jaw dropped when, one time, I said “the Triforce of” and it wrote “Rihanna SM bold” instead! (Does this thing expect to be hearing about pop culture?)
Over the weekend, I spent
several hours working on
Even after familiarizing myself once more with the ins and outs of the tower’s tile placement, I still made great strides toward revamping it. I replaced the single-palette approach with a full three-palette layout, abandoning a greedy assumption from my past that I could instead use those colors elsewhere in the game. Then, since the tower no longer has to bear the tile-based responsibility of containing tombstones (a hold-over from Zelda 3’s Sanctuary), I found myself with 18 new tiles at my disposal. After much struggling and decision-making, I have incorporated each of them into the tower’s 3rd and final design, which will look many times better than it does now. (The first design was almost completely 2-D, I’ll admit, back when I first started overworld editing. Ah, the learning process.)
So, tomorrow I will clean up the data records of existing Epoch Tower blocks, which weren’t maintained perfectly when I first started creating buildings, and then I’ll draw its new tiles and redraw many of its existing tiles, filling them with more detail while taking advantage of all the extra colors. This tower is a pivotal part of the story, so it has to look its best!
I don’t think this will take too terribly long, and it will be great to finally have it done. I’m very anxious to move on to the next area of the game!
September 16, 2013
During my hour-long commute this morning, I thought to myself, “Great. I made some progress Saturday and Sunday, but now I have to wait a whole week before I can do any more.” Then I realized that this is a flaw in how I manage my time. Sure, most nights are spent with family or taking care of life’s issues, but my lunch breaks could be wide open if I get tenacious about it. Usually I’ve spent that time on email, or on Facebook, or reading a book or playing a 3DS game. I’ve considered working on Zelda3C, even tried it from time to time, but it’s hard to deal with the game’s complexities and re-learning how things tick in just the span of an hour.
The solution, I’m finally realizing, is NOT to work on time-consuming things during lunch. Big goals are meant for consecutive weekend hours. However, as I saw yesterday, there are a myriad of little goals that eat up my weekend along with the bigger tasks. Today I’ve made a list of many small things I can take care of during my one-hour lunch break.
For comparison, “big” tasks are things like experiments and testing, creating new buildings, managing data at a global level, or writing new code for my editors. There’s no way I could efficiently tackle those without getting really deep into them.
So here are most of the tasks I can do during lunch, in no particular order. If I keep at it, I can be working on Zelda3C every day!
- Clean up the “ideas” sheets. I have a list of features and concepts for each overworld area of the game. There’s even an Index sheet where I can click a location name to jump to that area’s notes & plans. Trouble is, these individual lists get long, and so I end up with duplicate or conflicting ideas. Generally I clean one up as I begin work on that area, but if all the lists were maintained constantly, I would be much better off when new, unplaced ideas or ASM hacks come along.
- Add post-it scraps to notebook and ideas sheets. This goes along with the first task. I have huge stashes of ideas written down on post-its, napkins, the backs of receipts, or on anything else that was handy when inspiration struck. Text-based ideas (“Use this sprite in this manner!”) should go straight into the idea sheets described above. Puzzles and situational drawings, however, get taped into a physical notebook and referenced by an area’s list. For example, “Cool block-moving hookshot puzzle” gets attached to page 46 and listed digitally as 46B because I already have a 46A puzzle displayed on that page. Again, there are still a lot of these sketches and concepts that need “processed”. I’d also like to say that the notebook’s cover is gold-colored. ;)
- Process Erock’s experiments and puzzles. Erock has become obsessed with trying various indoor elements together in new and creative ways – the very state I would be in if dungeons were my current focus. He sometimes floods my Inbox with news and submissions. It’s very exciting stuff, yet I don’t have time to tackle these heaps in one sitting. One email at a time, however, should be doable. I actually have yet another spreadsheet where I’m organizing such concepts by the item(s) Link uses or by the types of dungeon objects involved. It’s the only way to make things accessible for when it comes time to set up a specific type of situation.
- Create new 32x32 blocks to polish existing areas. That’s right, actually making changes to the ROM! Scattered throughout Calatia are individual flaws where the required block *almost* exists, but one small piece of it is wrong. For example, I placed a block that contains the water where I need it, the mountain wall in the right position, but then the top was sand when it should be grass. I went ahead and used that block so that I could move on, knowing I’ll have to go back and create a very similar one from scratch.
- Create easy “nature” areas that don’t require dealing with special graphics. Throughout the overworld, much of what you see consists of graphics that are always loaded, like trees, mountains, water, fences, etc. There’s nothing to complicate them like functionality, palettes, new pieces (mostly)... So, every time I have a spare moment, I can be putting down more hillsides, more trees, more river banks, as long as I know for sure how the area I’m in will be shaped.
- Figure out the status of some of my editors. The last time I was making new blocks in my custom Excel editor that is too-complex-and-confusing-to-distribute, I left various pieces of rivers and waterfalls on my canvas. Did I actually turn those into real blocks, or were they ready to go into Hyrule Magic? This is an example of preparation work I can do so that when the weekend gets here, I can jump right in.
- Organize music plans for others to tackle. I have a new offer from another musician to compose & transpose tracks into Hyrule Magic; I need to definitively decide what I need and what submissions I’m keeping. It’s not good to keep talent waiting.
- Organize graphics needs for others to tackle. Although I’m a pretty good pixel artist, it saves time to let others draw for me, especially with sprites. Outdoor areas, however, are too tile-specific to “outsource”, at least so far.
- Organize ASM wishes for others to tackle. There are definitely more ASM hacks I really want but don’t have yet; knowing if they’re possible and having them developed will let me test their usage earlier on.
- Read about existing ASM hacks that already exist and ask questions of other Zelda 3 hackers who are willing to help. As I recently learned a few weeks ago, “All you have to do is ask.”
- Last but not least, update this diary page! Yes, this particular entry has taken me the whole hour to compose, but writings don’t have to always be so in-depth. Many people have written saying they still check my diary every few weeks or months to see if there’s anything new. I want this page to be worth keeping up with, for those who like to follow along, and for those who like to make sure the project hasn’t died. I never intended to go so long between posts, but my silence has been reflective of not having anything new to write about. Too often I’ve filled this space with reasons, though very legitimate, for not being able to work on the game. If I stay focused on the bite-sized needs I’ve just described, I’ll always have something to write about. :)
September 15, 2013
Hello, again! Today was a happy / frustrating day. I’ve been working on Calatia intermittently while being frequently interrupted to deal with the latest work at home. Lately our troubles are Neapolitan: Mold, Fleas, and Verizon. (Which of the three is worst?!) For some reason, Verizon thinks we should pay our hefty Android bill even if we have a new car payment AND repair costs to our other car. Inexplicably, adopting that kitten from the side of the road has become itchingly regrettable. And mysteriously, the slight leak in my roof is causing new life to grow. But I digress.
This is the first time in eons I’ve posted within a week of a previous post! The fun parts of my day have been devoted to re-acclimating myself to the DEEP inner-workings of Zelda 3. I did so by tackling that Door of Evil that so desperately required an ASM hack. Getting it to function correctly took some trial & error, as I had forgotten some rules about building doors that actually lead indoors. But now, it’s beautiful and functional. It was a long time coming.
From there, I cleaned up a collection of unpolished mountain ridges along the sides of the dam’s east cliff-side. It’s amazing how many ways Link can get stuck by jumping off a tall ledge, and boggling how he can end up walking on bushes that were too close to a diagonal wall. He can even walk north into a corner where a diagonal wall and vertical wall intersect, causing the whole screen to vibrate as he reaches its limit. Did Nintendo have these problems when they were laying out tiles? Fortunately, I’ve solved every one of ‘em.
At the end of the night, there was a case where I have a small passage leading south, off-screen, but because I wasn’t in full-screen mode, my Taskbar was actually hiding the bottom row of 16x16 blocks. This means that someone with a similar configuration would never see the path, leaving them hopelessly stuck. So, I had to decorate that path, so to speak, so that it’s obvious even if the bottom of the screen is obscured.
I still have more terrain to create surrounding the dam, but I’m closer than I was yesterday!
September 10, 2013
During the past month, I’ve been in touch with several fellow Zelda 3 hackers out there. (There are quite a few, nowdays!) Two people in particular, Seph and Erock, pulled me into their collective social gathering to knock some sense into me and find out where I’ve been stuck, and how they can help. Indeed I was stuck – I never could get an important event to occur at the near-center of the overworld. Seeing no solution save for a lot of trial & error, or re-envisioning this hub in a less amazing away, I had become frustrated and lost sight of the game. (With real life pounding down on me, of course!)
MathOnNapkins quickly gave me the ASM code I need to make the event function at the right place. Surprise! I should have asked for help a long time ago! :) As I have written previously, I needed the “Castle Gate Opens” event to occur in a different area and to use a different arrangement of 16x16 blocks. The latter overlay was the easy part; now with this issue resolved, there is nothing stopping me from working on this area!
I was also contacted recently by a musician who has experience working with Hyrule Magic’s music editor. I’ve enlisted the aid of composers in the past, yet lost touch with them, at least for now. This marks the first time since Sephioth3 that I’ve been offered help with actually transposing music into the game.
As for real-life concerns, my time-consuming brother (that I love very much, lol) has moved out-of-state, while other obligations have recently been lifted. Now it’s up to me to FOCUS. When I’m not spending time with my wife and kids, I need to be right here, laying out the overworld and moving this project forward.
I’ve made some slight adjustments to this site’s main page today. I see my wish list and screenshot gallery still need some attention. I’ll start making myself reminders to post updates, however big or small, so that readers can follow along again. If you want to drop me a line and welcome me back, I’ll be grateful to know that people are still interested in this quest I’ve undertaken. ;)
April 22, 2013
Hi again! Long time! Again.
The bad news? Until recently, this year I’ve been the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I had “walking pneumonia” – horrible weight on my lungs, serious coughing-up nastiness, complete loss of voice for a few weeks, etc. This led to inner ear infections, which led to Bell’s Palsy, in which half my face could hardly move at all. Only one side went up as I smiled, and only one eye blinked unless I made a conscious effort to blink both. I’m 95% recovered now, but it was both scary and exhausting.
The good news? While I was sick, but before my facial paralysis, I was interviewed for an actual Zelda documentary! (what timing!) It is entitled, “It’s Dangerous To Go Alone.” Even though my voice was just returning, we talked about the development of Zelda Outlands, Quest for Calatia, and the Zelda series as a whole. I even got to meet Joel Musch, the director of the Zelda movie, “The Hero of Time”! He, myself, and many other contributors to Zelda fandom are featured in this documentory.
Although I’ve continued to be slammed by life’s pressing needs, I can say that this interview forced me to revisit ideas and past successes that have been mostly “out of sight; out of mind” for far too long. I enjoyed running around various parts of Calatia while the filming crew watched in awe. ;) I’m sure some of that footage will make it into the movie; I hope you don’t mind a few minor spoilers with its content!
So, today is a special day – the first trailer for the movie is now up! It’s on the official web site, which is actually a playable game! Please check it out, and enjoy! Also, the movie has a Facebook page; if you like it, please like it!