Workflow for mapping

Questions about the content creation procedure go here, including using Forge, Anvil, or other editors, or operating emulators like Basilisk II.

Workflow for mapping

Post Jul 30th '19, 14:26

Hi! I'm trying to get the gist of mapping, after not doing anything for way too many years. I searched around the various platforms dedicated to discuss Marathon (mainly here on the Pfhorums and the sticky thread in this forum section) and I tried to get the most updated workflow for content creation for the game (some of the sources of the sticky thread aren't available anymore)

As far this is concerned I got...

Tools available for nowaday systems:
  • map planning, heights, placing objects/monsters/liquids/etc with Weland, instructions are the same of Forge (excluding visual mode)
  • texturing and lights and activating tags with Vasara or Visual Mode plugins running under Aleph One
    (Having the same map open either in A0 and in Weland is not possible, right? I get a quite verbose error from Weland if I try.)
  • terminals written in a simple text file using the same notation from the original manual
  • change (basic) textures, weapons, objects and monsters bitmaps, sounds, phisics models with Shapefusion, using the same instructions from Anvil
  • change (high resolution) textures, weapons, objects and monsters with plugins (but they must match the basic textures) written in MML (some familiarity with markup language might help)
  • convert high-res textures in DDS format with Aorta or Gimp
  • eventually, further behaviours changes using .lua (programming knowledge required)
  • merge everything with Atque

Tools available only for the original mac systems
  • emulation: SheepShaver and/or Basilisk II. Then:
    • Forge (version 1.0.4, beware of the limits if opening maps done with more than 1024 levels etc.)
    • Anvil (version 1.0.3 to get around Shapefusion quirks in dealing with colour tables, 1.0.3b4 for auto-populate new frames features, but beware the bugs)
    • Wail for sound editing
    • Chisel for map effects
    • Hackvil

Did I forgot or got it wrong with something? I think it might be fun to make a proper "Mapping for Dummies" with the new tools, but as one of the aforementioned dummies, I can go only so far.

By the way, I'm on Linux (Mint) but I'm not exactly what you call a power user, so at the moment I'm persevering in the heresy of having downloaded all the .exe files and threw them in Wine (they run!) I'll eventually try to get how to properly compile all the tools for my platform.

EDIT 3Aug2019: updated list
Last edited by Juzo-kun on Aug 3rd '19, 08:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Juzo-kun

Post Jul 30th '19, 15:13

Sounds mostly correct, except that I wouldn't call MML a programming language (it's just static markup like plain old fashioned HTML), and also for that high-res texture step, you'll probably want to convert your high-res textures to DDS using Aorta.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Jul 30th '19, 19:27

Pfhorrest wrote:Sounds mostly correct, except that I wouldn't call MML a programming language (it's just static markup like plain old fashioned HTML), and also for that high-res texture step, you'll probably want to convert your high-res textures to DDS using Aorta.


I forgot about Aorta, oops. I used Gimp 2.8 to convert to DDS, also I'm sure ImageMagick can... I was asking if Aorta has some specific configuration optimized for the engine, or it can be substituted by Gimp or IM. (I'd say yes, my test on the jjiaro texture set apparently worked, but I didn't test anything else.)

I'll amend my initial message with your corrections!
User avatar

Juzo-kun

Post Jul 30th '19, 19:52

Yeah, think of MML as a preference file for your level - it just sets settings like a physics file does, except you're wrtiing it in a text file. Lua requires actual logic and math to craft, MML only requires proper syntax (grammar).

Gimp works great for coverting to DDS, saves you a step if you're already editing things in it.

If you get SheepShaver and/or Basillisk II set up, it's still worth having Wail (for sound editing) and Chisel (for map effects), several versions of Anvil, and even Forge 1.0.4

If you do much colour table editing, use Anvil 1.0.3. Shapefusion doesn't check for "safe" colours which can lead to having too many colours in your tables, resulting in A1 substituting things at you; and ShapeFusion's copy and paste, while less prone to crashing than Anvil's, often distorts colours horribly. Also, ShapeFusion cannot increase or decrease the number of colours per table.

When creating new sequences, Anvil 1.0.3b4 and Hackvil's behaviour of auto-populating new frames can be very handy - just beware of the bugs involved. But, that's a matter of preference.

Forge can come in handy when dealing with monster and item parameters, because Weland doesn't calculate the number of starting positions for you.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Jul 30th '19, 20:12

Examples of problems caused by using ShapeFusion for colour table editing:

This fighter should be dark blue and his armour should not glow, but because Shapefusion doesn't have a picky mode for choosing colours, the collection ran out of colour space and the dark blue got substituted with this light blue that happened to be set to glow:

BiggerGunsNearby_0006.jpeg


Again with a fighter, IIRC it should have been a reddish hue, but again, Shapefusion not being picky resulted in the red-purple being swapped for a light purple that happened to be set to glow:
SecondtoLastoftheMohicans_0007.jpeg


Both problems, in M1R and Eternal, respectively, were solved by cleaning up the colour tables in Anvil 1.0.3.

Now, once you have your colour tables set up properly with Anvil, you do have to use Shapefusion to specify which colours glow, so you can't use Anvil for all your colour table needs.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Jul 30th '19, 21:55

If you get Basilisk II/SheepShaver set up, I also strongly recommend getting Chisel. There are still several effects for it that don't really have adequate equivalents; I've used its clean-up feature within the past year for both Eternal's "Unwired" and the final level of WMAiD, just off the top of my head. I'm not aware of any utilities for other operating systems that reproduce some of its functionality. The only problem, of course, is you're limited to the traditional restrictions of Infinity maps, such as 1,024 polygons and 384 objects, so you'll want to clean up your maps before they get to that state, if possible.

That's good to know about glow not being set properly in Anvil. That's been driving me crazy with some of Chronicles' colour tables, so thanks for the information, Lia.

Lastly, good luck, Juzo-kun! This community needs more active mappers these days. Maybe more people would be active if more people were making new levels.
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” —V, V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

“If others had not been foolish, we should be so.” —William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Last.fm · Marathon Chronicles · Marathon Eternal 1.2 · Where Monsters Are in Dreams · YouTube Vidmaster’s Challenge
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The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 3rd '19, 08:40

So many information, thank you! I guess I have to amend a lot of things in my initial list!

Yes, I usually work in Gimp. ...Well, Krita, actually, then I import the whole sprite sheet in Gimp because it's easier to convert images to a specific indexed colour table -- and as you said, exporting in DDS. Every once in a while I go with ImageMagick for bulk conversion, but I never used it specifically for Marathon. I'll search into Basilisk II or Sheepsaver... come to think of it I'm sure I have an ancient Powerbook with Classic environment, if I recall correctly Marathon can run on it.

...d'oh, Basilisk II is in the repository! [tux] now I'll do my work and look into how to make it work... if I can. As I said I'm not what you call a power user, ehm.

Regarding color table editing, I was thinking about starting from some of the creatures (like the Spht) and having all the images already converted with the same colour table in Gimp, then getting that exact same palette in Shapefusion, then pasting the images. I guess the first three indexes in the palette are reserved transparency (usually RGB 0,0,255 or RGB 255,0,255 or 0,255,255). If I got it correctly this process is a hit-and-miss, right? I'll still have mismatches?

(...that pfhor is good for a rave party ;) )

Thank you again for the information, I hope to be able to make something worth something sooner or later...
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Juzo-kun

Post Aug 3rd '19, 09:09

Yeah, it can be hit or miss. Even if you have identical palletes in the source and destination, or even if you are copying bitmaps within shapefusion within a collection! The only good point is Shapefusion handles extremely large bitmaps such as the SMG reloading without crashing.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Aug 5th '19, 10:52

Placing it here because I didn't find anywhere else; the Aorta manual link in the sticky threads is non-functional and my search didn't go anywhere, so I went by trying it out: to merge maps, follow the file/folders structure coming out when you split a complete map file with Aorta -- which is slightly different to the one in the old infinity/Forge manual.

[I wasted a truly embarrassing number of hours on this]

ravenshining wrote:Yeah, it can be hit or miss. Even if you have identical palletes in the source and destination, or even if you are copying bitmaps within shapefusion within a collection! The only good point is Shapefusion handles extremely large bitmaps such as the SMG reloading without crashing.

Good to know, thanks!
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Juzo-kun

Post Aug 5th '19, 17:08

Since Shapefusion and color palletes have been brought up a few times, I thought I should mention that landscapes are bugged with Shapefusion. It will turn completely black when you try to use a new landscape. I use a patched version I found here that works for me on Windows 10
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=37869&p=161155&hilit=patch#p161155
But you could always bypass this by using external landscapes, seems that's what everyone else does.
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Flowers

Post Aug 5th '19, 19:41

ShapeFusion uses this algorithm to quantize bitmaps: https://www.compuphase.com/cmetric.htm

For direct matches, it should always get them correct. Especially copying and pasting a bitmap in the same collection.
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Aug 5th '19, 21:14

I’ll try the latest Windows build, then. It doesn’t seem to get them exact on the Mac version, but I know that build is really old and doesn’t have a lot of the features/bug fixes of the more recent Windows/Linux builds. I’m certain that I was using the exact colour tables from the game when I converted the bitmaps to indexed colour in Photoshop, though. I don’t know what the issue there was.
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” —V, V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

“If others had not been foolish, we should be so.” —William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Last.fm · Marathon Chronicles · Marathon Eternal 1.2 · Where Monsters Are in Dreams · YouTube Vidmaster’s Challenge
User avatar

The Man
Sarasota, FL

Post Aug 5th '19, 22:01

Since the colour mismatching seems to happen most often and most egregiously when copying and pasting, even within a collection, while bitmap import is nearly always perfect (bitmap import still seems to screw up the darkest colours, nothing you'd notice by eye until you turn on glow and bloom), perhaps there's some translation that happens between ShapeFusion and the system's clipboard that isn't going right?

For example, if the clipboard is storing RGB data and Shapefusion indexed colour data, a lot of info is going to be stripped out and re-made. Or, perhaps the system's colour profile is getting in the way - I know that always causes havoc when I neglect to check the "don't save colour profile information" box in GIMP when saving an image for use in Shapefusion or Atque.
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ravenshining
Hawai'i

Post Aug 6th '19, 11:43

The system color profile could have something to do with it. I don't think Shapefusion has control over that, unfortunately.

Can you provide an example of ShapeFusion importing colors incorrectly from bitmap?
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Aug 11th '19, 17:48

I tried pasting some example image in the jjiaro wall collection, saving as .png from Gimp with the color profile stripped away, and I didn't notice any particular mismatch. I'll try with something other and checking the glow.
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Juzo-kun


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