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Old 21 September 2021, 14:09   #121
UnnamedCourier
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See, this is really great! Exactly the kind of stuff I hoped to see come out of actually going through the files.
Of course the real question is is anyone a bad enough dude to try and fix the bugs in the AGA version....

Edit:
Some more observations - the makefile for each graphic set actually includes multiple trees defined in it, but these are commented out. It seems it was intended to have more than one tree in each set, but who knows how far that support went..

Last edited by UnnamedCourier; 21 September 2021 at 18:15.
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Old 21 September 2021, 18:31   #122
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Originally Posted by Cherno View Post
480*384 doesn't work, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other non-square sizes would also not yield useable snapshots. My guess is that the differing width dimensions cause errors in the saving routine. Maybe there's a nested loop that uses only width or only height for both loops
Problematic resolution removed, thanks for testing. I hope its last fixed version
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Old 21 September 2021, 20:52   #123
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Thanks! The 480*384 size might have been what they originally used, since it matches the size of the world map closely.

Last edited by Cherno; 21 September 2021 at 21:53.
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Old 21 September 2021, 21:31   #124
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That was the intention to add resolution to fit original image size, but after consideration rendering stops at 384 and last pixels only present height map so that image is useless. I think better to render 640x640 and crop, or mix more images and copy good elements to make custom image.
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Old 21 September 2021, 21:53   #125
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Old 22 September 2021, 10:41   #126
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Something else I found that may or may not have been already known:
Map files contain information such as their description texts, what enemies they contain (they can only have two), what graphical tileset they use, etc.
However, the game does not actually use these.

What actually happens is this information is essentially sliced off of each map file when they are assembled at compile time into the file locations.dat. This is what the game refers to when loading a map to show the description on the map/loading screen, what tilesets to use when running the map, and what enemies to load.

Therefore, if you make a custom map and replace a retail game map file with it, the game won't actually use what you set in that map. It will still show the descriptions for the old level, load the old enemies and will use the old tilesets. I thought it was weird that the new AGA maps all used the same puppy enemy and assumed it was a running joke, but it's actually because I was testing it using the same old map slot!
What I might try doing is making a new locations.dat file for the new maps replacing old ones so that it matches their actual settings as per the map editor. I'd like to also change what is set in the game's main menu and add the new maps as actual choices there, but that seems extremely involved - it appears you need to change the main executable code, add the new names in the different english text files, and even then there may already be a hard limit for those entries (each piece of text has a number and maps are only like two thirds through that, so it would disrupt later text).

Another thing I noticed: The first campaign level in the AGA version is different to the retail game. It uses rats instead of bat enemies, and has changes made to the "pillar" buildings to the top right and bottom left. I'm not sure how many other levels have changes like this.
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Old 22 September 2021, 15:02   #127
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Remember my old locations.dat edits, and one thing is ignored from it and loaded from map - map sky color. In map editor monsters have "Load" button, but you can place any enemy. I don't remember which gfx or properties goes to locations.dat, so ED-209 can have a bat gfx.
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Old 22 September 2021, 21:21   #128
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Do you remember what you changed? I actually went ahead and generated a new locations.dat using the official tooling. I replaced all the 4 player action maps with the new ones using the same numbers and ran the script. This seemed to work correctly, and generated an RNC compressed file that definitely has all the levels in. However, when I go to load the new levels in-game, it crashes.. All old levels seem to work fine, it's just the new ones. Really not sure what's wrong. I might just meet half way for now and edit the old mapss to use the correct settings for the new maps so I can just replace the files later, as at least then it will have the correct tilesets and enemies loaded.
I wonder if it's something like the text descriptions not matching those in the executable?
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Old 22 September 2021, 21:42   #129
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Only campaign. All this data Disk, File, Picture... seen in editor, but need edited in locations.dat plus maps dots positions for custom worldmap, map links, remember my first map is 04 so link dropzone 13 do 04, texts presented on worldmap and map loading, map loading picture or none, music. Maybe maps is set in editor as training, campaign or short action? I don't remember it's ignored or not.

Last edited by Doomer; 22 September 2021 at 21:51.
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Old 23 September 2021, 00:02   #130
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I figured it out! Was quite obvious in retrospect. Of course, now the game is using all the metadata for the actual level from its file. But I've copied this level from somewhere else. So where it is now going to be file 33.map or whatever, the actual map number set in the editor is actually XX. Therefore they need to be re-saved with the number I plan to set them as to work! Once I did that and compiled a new locations.dat it worked fine.
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Old 23 September 2021, 11:30   #131
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Something based on above post - download the AGA Levels and extract it over the main directory of the AGA game and it will replace the 4 player levels (and one 3 player level) with the new AGA maps with everything set up correctly. Therefore the levels will play with the right tileset, enemies, etc.

Level map
Big Cheese = Tree World (looks a bit weird with the ugly AGA trees sadly)

Leisure Centre = Let's Get Together
Skeletal Hall = The Heart of Chaos
Urban Development = The Cathedral of Pain
Shopping Mall = Fear of the Dark
Lemming Wars #2 = The Grid

As a bonus I've also attached ADF images of Hired Guns 39.26. This is the unreleased final bugfixed OCS release of the game.

EDIT:

I've also been messing about trying to include more menu options. I thought I would restore the Tree World level, as there are enough spaces on the 3 players menu for it. This... didn't go great. I made a new text phrase entry for it at the very end, but it just shows it as a blank space. Using existing map names there would work however. Also I have absolutely no idea how it knows what level to load from the menus. Currently it just uses the entry as a "next page" one and goes to the next list of levels. It's almost like I have no idea at all about Assembly programming! I should try recompiling with some of the more exotic compile time options like the Cheat mode and see what they do.
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File Type: lha HGAGALevels.lha (55.6 KB, 19 views)
File Type: zip Hired Guns v39.26.zip (3.47 MB, 32 views)

Last edited by UnnamedCourier; 23 September 2021 at 19:01.
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Old 23 September 2021, 19:49   #132
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You know, it would be great if Steve Hammond could come back to the EAB and share his thoughts on this historic release. Or Graeme Anderson who was interviewed some years ago, or even Scott Johnston himself! Of course, its been almost 30 years and those people now surely lead vastly different lifes than back then and have other things to do, but it still would be interesting to hear from them. I like to think that at least some of the devs check back on their old games every now and then and smile when they see that people still care about what they created long ago.

Now back on topic! After playing around with the Fractal Landscape generator, I would agree with your first assessment that it was indeed a VistaPro image, as the landscapes that the bundled generator produces looks superficially similar, but upon close inspection it becomes clear that on the official worldmap, the mountains are far more detailed while still being crisp pixels, same goes for the plains. Not sure what role the Fractal Landscape program plays in this release, but I don't think it was used, not even as a base bitmap that was then retouched by hand. That would have been far too much work to get to the result we got in the end. Now I have to try and get VistaPro from somewhere to do some more testing!

Last edited by Cherno; 25 September 2021 at 07:36.
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Old 23 September 2021, 20:25   #133
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I did the intverview with Graeme, maybe I can contact him again.
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Old 23 September 2021, 23:29   #134
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Yeah, I think either Vista Pro was used, or there must have been later versions of the fractal generator not in the source. It's interesting too that the retail game map seems to be "map3" and the AGA version is now "map4". What did Maps 1 and 2 look like I wonder?

To be honest it's a shame that this was all released so late. Obviously there were legal repurcussions, but we're really the last generation of people who will ever be interested in Amiga games. Imagine this came out 10 or 15 years ago, there'd be enough people around still for it to have been a lot bigger event and a lot more people doing interesting things with what was released.
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Old 24 September 2021, 04:08   #135
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I'm just so happy it was released at all. To think that I ripped hundreds of graphics from savestates and screenshots by hand, and now it's all just there ready to be used. Really a dream come true! Now if someone could do the same for Hunter...
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Old 27 September 2021, 04:15   #136
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That guy with Alien body - could be this one? Not DMA Design guy probably, but Wiz n Liz has the same publisher

They are Jon Burton and Andy Ingram from Traveller's Tales. Puggsy (by Traveller's Tales) had a section in it where you could shoot Wiz'n'Liz's wabbits, so as vengeance Wiz'n'Liz has a mini-game where you throw tomatoes at those two. You can see Puggsy there hanging from the stocks.

Last edited by FromWithin; 27 September 2021 at 12:32.
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Old 27 September 2021, 10:01   #137
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They are Jon Burton and Andy Ingram from Traveller's Tales. Puggsy (by Traveller's Tales) had a section in it where you could shoot Wiz'n'Liz's wabbits, so as vengeance Wiz'n'Liz has a mini-game where you throw tomatoes at those two.
I love this kind of information! Thank you Mike.
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Old 30 September 2021, 15:52   #138
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Oh yeah, @Cherno, you should check out the file sources/equates.i it has a ton of info I think you will like such as the data structures for map cell types in the game and comments explaining what values mean. Also has more info on the Fitness Boost cell type and how it works.
And it has leftover values for interesting stuff, like there is an item category called "AT_HAND2HAND" that shows that there really was going to be melee combat at one point.
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Old 30 September 2021, 17:57   #139
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Thanks, I started working on figuring out the map structure. I pretty much have to start at zero because I have no experience with Hex editing whatsoever. I already figures out where the cell data array is located in the binary file, but the way values change based on empty/block/exit/opaque etc. is still a mystery to me.
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Old 30 September 2021, 18:04   #140
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I think that kind of thing is exactly what's in the file, as an example:

Code:
;Cell type 3
;	Bits	Meaning
;	0-7     item type
;       8-15	item damage
;	16-23	item ammo
;	24	sky visible when facing north? (0=no, 1=yes)
;	25	sky visible when facing east? (0=no, 1=yes)
;	26	sky visible when facing south? (0=no, 1=yes)
;	27	sky visible when facing west? (0=no, 1=yes)
;	28	hatch and remove egg?
;	29	no monster allowed to move here (reset by a player moving here)
;	30      don't leave question mark (set when pushed a non-metal block)
;	31	not used
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