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Making a James Pond 3 level editor

Discussion in 'Engineering & Reverse Engineering' started by saxman, Sep 6, 2023.

  1. Hivebrain

    Hivebrain

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  2. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    Small update. I now have project files (largely) supported. Here are two Amiga-exclusive levels that I loaded straight from a project generated from that version of the game:


    Penguin Hideout (PENGBON1.LVL):
    JP3_22.png


    Penguin Hideaway (PENGBON2.LVL):
    JP3_23.png


    Anyone who followed my early work with this game may remember this video where I made an attempt to bring Penguin Hideout over to the Genesis version. Making projects cross-platform (i.e. Genesis and Amiga) should allow me to pull it off. But there is a bit of work to do on that yet. But definitely possible.

    Earliest release will be late December, after Christmas sometime. But I still see January as being more realistic at this time.
     
  3. PonyLoverForever

    PonyLoverForever

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    The editor looks good so far. I remember playing James Pond 3 on the Mega Drive, and the speed was totally influenced by Sonic. I didn't get that far into it know.
     
  4. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    Moment of truth...

    JP3_24.png



    ... not *quite* there. This is the very first time I've saved and imported a modified level into the game.

    By the way, Pond Packer 1.02 is available on romhacking.net, though I found YET ANOTHER bug after I released it. But the good news is, I think I finally have figured out all the problems with it.

    As for the level editor, I'm still thinking January. We'll see how quickly I can fix the issues pictured above.
     
  5. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    While testing my level editor for bugs, I created a brand new level for the game. I have attached the ZIP file to this post. It is in IPS format, so you will need the original ROM and an IPS patcher. Here's what I wrote in the included text:


    Still working on a few things, but I might be able to get the level editor released within the next couple weeks. Until then, you can enjoy the fruits of my labor!

    JP3_25.png

    JP3_26.png

    Edit:
    And here's a video of the level being played through in its entirety...

    https://rumble.com/v48n6e9-brand-new-james-pond-3-level.html
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2024
  6. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    Chedditor - Demo 1
    Version 0.50 Alpha

    DOWNLOAD --> https://www.romhacking.net/utilities/1806/

    Please read the included "Chedditor.txt" file for instructions on how to use it. There's a lot of information. The navigation style is a little unconventional and works best with an actual mouse (track pad is cumbersome). There were mixed opinions about it from the Sonic 2 HD artists, and different artists preferred different settings. Tweak it to your comfort. If you hate it, you can set it up to be keyboard-based navigation only.

    Don't rely on the F1 "help" -- a lot of that is leftover from Edit HD and Zone Builder.

    Let me know what you think. Let me know about any bugs or suggestions you may have. It's an alpha, so it's incomplete. However, it can successfully be used to create a new level, modify level chunks, generate project files, import the project file data back into the game, and it supports both the Sega Genesis and Amiga AGA versions. The map I released in the previous post was made entirely using this editor, so it's very capable of doing most of what you will need it to do.

    Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2024
  7. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    No updates to the editor itself to share, but I do have a tutorial video showing the basic flow of creating a level from start to finish. The editor in its Demo 1 state isn't necessarily intuitive as far as how to go about doing it all, so my hope is the video will make it less intimidating to folks using it for the first time:

    https://rumble.com/v4cwdfc-build-a-quick-james-pond-3-level-from-start-to-finish-sega-genesis.html

    That video is for the Genesis version. I may decide to do one for the Amiga version too at some point.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    What are the chances of having a feature that saves the entire map as a PNG?

    For the Sega Retro wiki - we're always looking for maps
     
  9. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    There's a decent chance of that being a feature. I was thinking back on how Stealth did something similar to dump complete maps of Sonic levels. I think it'd be a great feature to have in Chedditor.

    Fun fact: there are already maps of most of the levels from the Amiga version over at the Hall of Light website. However, the maps are not 100% the same between the two versions of the game. Some are the same, some are very close, some (like the third level) are cut down in size significantly, and at least one (Kentucky Fried Fiend) is replaced entirely with a new level. So there's still very much a need for a new collection of maps tailored to the Genesis version.
     
  10. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    I have a couple of small things to share...

    ~~~~~~~~

    1) New version 1.03 of Pond Packer --> Romhacking.net - Utilities - Pond Packer

    The new version fixes remaining bugs. It's using the same logic used in Chedditor, so it *should* work flawlessly.

    Unfortunately, when the submission was done, or approved, a duplicate version was created. So Romhacking.net has both 1.02 and 1.03, instead of just updating the existing page for 1.02 to 1.03. So don't use older links. Use the one in this post.

    ~~~~~~~~

    2) Blue Lake Woods I from Kid Chameleon given the James Pond 3 treatment --> Romhacking.net - Hacks - Blue Lake Woods I

    JP3_32.png

    It's not exactly an elaborate level, but it is yet another example of what you can do with Chedditor. I kept K-E open on one side of the screen, and Chedditor open on the other side. Then, I just matched things based on the coordinates in each tool.

    Pond Packer came in handy for this one, because Chedditor doesn't yet allow maps to be resized. So I had to decompress the level file, tweak the dimensions in a hex editor, and then compress it again.

    Included is an IPS patch. I also threw in the actual LVL file which can be used with the Amiga version of James Pond 3, or with Chedditor for editing purposes.

    ~~~~~~~~

    3) Just a small thing that I thought was interesting. As I mentioned before, some Amiga maps were modified from the Genesis originals. The third level was cut down significantly. For fun, I used Chedditor to port all the Genesis levels over to the Amiga version. When loading the third level, I was treated to this:

    upload_2024-2-20_20-7-41.png

    Surprisingly, the Amiga version doesn't allow maps to be quite as big as the Genesis version. You'd think having far for memory than a small amount of 64KB would mean the opposite. As far as I know, level 3 is the only one actually cut down in size. Others received edits for any number of other reasons.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2024 at 1:23 AM