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 Post subject: Videogame trivia: WTF???
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 1:18 pm 
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Have you ever come across video game trivia that sounds like total bullshit to you?
I don't mean those rumors that elementary school kids tell, for example about how to catch a Mew, that can be objectively disproven.
I'm talking about the "facts" from development internals that they constantly repeat on websites when they talk about these games.

Let me present you two examples:


There are various sources who claim that Mega Man is blue specifically because the NES color palette has more shades of blue than for any other color.

Whenever I hear this, I think to myself: Either that's some stupid misinformation that someone started to spread and now everybody parrots it. Or, if the statement actually comes from the developers, then I'm asking myself if they just make up stuff out of thin air.

Firstly, there are just as many shades of green in the NES palette. (What was the original color of Mega Man supposed to be anyway if it wasn't for the palette? Pink? Yeah, sure. Why do I suspect that Mega Man had been blue anyway?)

Secondly: The Mega Man sprite consists of two shades of blue. Two. So, it doesn't matter at all.

So, what's with this piece of information? Why do they say it?


Then there's another one: Mario's design, based on hardware limitations.

I get the part about giving him an overall and a mustache to distinguish his arms and face respectively. But what about this whole "We gave him a cap because we couldn't animate the hair" bullshit? Why would they have to animate the hair anyway? Did they intend to give Mario a huge mane? They didn't even animate Princess Toadstool's hair in "Super Mario Bros. 2", so why are we supposed to believe that hair animation would have been a requirement at all?


Do you have any explanation for the two or do you maybe have other examples about trivia that makes you thik that they're just talking bullshit?

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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 1:24 pm 
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Sometimes developers will say something in an interview which gets misunderstood or taken out of context, and later repeated incorrectly, eventually distorting the initial idea into some unrecognizable and untrue piece of inane trivia.


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 3:26 pm 
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I'm pretty sure both of the trivia you mentioned (I've actually already heard about both of those) are originally "true", but however it was probably slightly misunderstood and poorly translated form japanese. I doubt there is a clear evil intent to lie behind them.

There is not more shade of blues than of green but for instance if you want red, you're limited to the $x6 column, and for yellow/brown you're limited to the $x8 column. But if you also put graphics from those columns in the background, it's not going to look good, because you'll only see the black outlines moving, and the background and sprite colours will blend together.

With blue, it's easy to have a $x2 background colours and $x1 sprite colours, or vice-versa, both are blue and they don't mix. In any case Rockman/Mega Man can take multiples colours depending on it's weapon, blue is merely it's default colour (although it's the one you'll be seeing 95% of the time).

You also have to know that, in Japanese, green and blue are two shades of the same colour, they aren't considered as two distinct colours. So, any colour from $x9 to $xC, and from $x1 to $x3 will be considered "green-blue" for a Japanese developer, which makes it a lot of more shades than any other colour.


As for Mario, remember he was designed for the game Donkey Kong, which was to be released on arcades originally (before it was ported to all existing machines in the world). More specifically it had to be usable on the same arcade boards as Radar Scope, and was originally intended to be Popeye, they had very few time to remove all reference to Popeye (as they didn't get the licence), and add completely new characters instead.

I think it's simply a mistranslation, they never intended to animate the hair, but just to draw it. You probably already noticed that it's not easy to draw hair on a 8-bit sprite, any single pixel counts and it usually takes a lot of time to do what you want. If the pixel artists were not very skilled/experienced and had a short schedule, it's not surprising they decided to bypass the problem. As for the fact they draw a moustache accidentally by drawing a mouth, it' just proves that they sucked and had very poor experience with pixel art. It's very obvious you can't and shouldn't draw a mouth when viewing a character from side-view.


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 4:21 pm 
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FWIW, Bregalad's theory/explanation is more along the lines of what I concluded, re: there's probably truth in some of the statements except that the source likely comes from Japanese developers and the translation was done poorly (or the answer and/or context misunderstood by the person doing the translating).

For example when I paid a couple friends of mine to translate my CANDY 25 arcade cabinet manual from Japanese to English, the guy doing the actual translating (which he does professionally for Nikon) didn't know a whole slew of terminology/phrases used throughout the manual because they pertained to things like CRTs and some other things. When giving me the translated results he marked those (visually) as "questionable", as in "I don't know what this means / if the meaning is different than what I'm guessing then the context of this sentence changes". Thankfully the other friend doing the actual layout/editing/refactoring also spoke fluent Japanese (also doing professional translation on occasion) and had a lot of experience with arcade boards and video games, so his proofreading turned up a lot of stuff which got revamped to be more clear to English readers while still being accurate.

A lot of those early Famicom Japanese developer chats that got translated to English were done "poorly" (I use quotes because they probably did the best they good given their familiarity with Japanese and/or English), and were probably done hastily. When translating you really gotta have a small team of people who are familiar with the subject matter being discussed (ex. politics, hardware, video games, history, whatever) rather than just a single "generic" translator, otherwise important context is lost.

It also helps to have those types of people present during the actual interview, because if something isn't clear, the more technically-savvy can ask "So wait, when you said you couldn't animate the hair, was it because of X/Y/Z or because of something else?" rather than just respond "sou desu ne" or "sou ne" ("I see...").


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 5:04 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
There is not more shade of blues than of green but for instance if you want red, you're limited to the $x6 column, and for yellow/brown you're limited to the $x8 column.

Which is still perfectly fine if your sprite only has two shades of these colors.

Bregalad wrote:
But if you also put graphics from those columns in the background, it's not going to look good, because you'll only see the black outlines moving, and the background and sprite colours will blend together.

If that's the explanation, then
a) why don't they mention the background at all and simply talk as if Mega Man himself needed 20 shades of blue?
b) how come that two of the first six levels have exactly the same background color as Mega Man's light blue shade?
Image Image
Obviously, his color in relation to the background was of no concern to them.

Bregalad wrote:
In any case Rockman/Mega Man can take multiples colours depending on it's weapon, blue is merely it's default colour

Which already disproves the explanation that they gave him a blue color because they have enough shades of blue. Because Mega Man doesn't always wear blue, so its blue color has nothing to do with the availability of the palette.

Bregalad wrote:
You also have to know that, in Japanese, green and blue are two shades of the same colour, they aren't considered as two distinct colours. So, any colour from $x9 to $xC, and from $x1 to $x3 will be considered "green-blue" for a Japanese developer, which makes it a lot of more shades than any other colour.

As I said: Even if the technical statement is correct, it still doesn't matter: Mega Man consist of two shades only, so the sheer mass of blue colors is unimportant.

Bregalad wrote:
I think it's simply a mistranslation, they never intended to animate the hair, but just to draw it. You probably already noticed that it's not easy to draw hair on a 8-bit sprite, any single pixel counts and it usually takes a lot of time to do what you want. If the pixel artists were not very skilled/experienced and had a short schedule, it's not surprising they decided to bypass the problem.

I did this alteration (right side, left is the original) in about 10 seconds:
Image
Yeah, drawing a hat is so much easier than drawing hair.
However you translate it, it remains a bullshit statement. Animating hair isn't necessary at all and drawing hair would have been just as easy as drawing the hat, especially since they already drew a huge part of the hair and only coverd two pixel rows with the hat anyway.


Another statement that I read in a Nintendo magazine some years ago, which I cannot find anymore, is that Shigeru Miyamoto based the pipes in "Super Mario Bros." on a situation where he saw a child hiding in a pipe on a construction site.

I would have believed that. If SMB was the first game with pipes. But they originally appear in "Mario Bros." And in that game, they are part of the sewers. You know, the location that has pipes in real life. And it's not even the human player character that uses them, but the animals in the sewers. You know, again just like in real life.

So, the pipes in SMB are taken from MB. And the pipes in MB which are located in the sewers and are used by animals are inspired by...the sewers and animals that live there and that walk through pipes. In no way does a child hiding in a pipe fit in anywhere as an inspiration. (That's like creating a racing game and claiming that putting cars on the street was inspired by you playing with toy cars on the street in front of your house. Yeah, if that hadn't happened, I'm sure your racing game would have included ducks instead of cars.) The story could have only been true if MB had never existed and therefore, the pipes in SMB had been something completely new.
So, again: A bullshit statement.


About mistranslating or taking the statements out of context: O.k., can you come up with any possibility, be it real or just made up, where those above statements do make sense? What could Nintendo have said about the hair and the hat so that it would actually be a logical statement? And what could have been said about Mega Man's blue color that doesn't make me go "What the fuck are they just pulling out of their asses?"? Because I cannot imagine any context that includes the statement "we did a hat because of the hair" for "Donkey Kong" and "we made him blue because of the palette" for "Mega Man" that doesn't sound like utter bullshit. No matter if they talk about animating or just drawing the hair, either way is nonsense. Same with "Mega Man", even if they refer to the contrast between the sprite and the background. Because they definitely ignored that in two stages, so they can't name it as a motivation.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 4:48 am 
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Well, now that you mentionned it, yeah I have to agree with you, my previous argumentation/impressions pretty much falls, and those lines of trivia doesn't make any sense. ^^


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 7:35 am 
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Don't forget also, sometimes when someone is interviewed, they might make incorrect statements about work done by some other team member who isn't there. A producer, for example, may not know the technical details of the rendering engine as rigorously as the programmer who wrote it, but may still feel compelled to say something about it. A lot of times someone will repeat something they've heard, but in a very distorted version because they don't understand it very well. (I'm using producer for this example, because they often do P.R. and generally their job involves understanding the project on a high level, but not knowing the low level details very much at all.)

Example:

Lead Artist to rendering engineer: "We like the look of radiosity light mapping."
Engineer to Artist: "We can't do radiosity, but here is a simpler solution that looks slightly like radiosity and is inexpensive enough for real-time."
Producer to Public: "Our engine has real-time radiosity!"

This sort of thing happens all the time. Not even the source is reliable in a lot of cases. On an old game, developers may forget why things were done, or who did them, but will still say something because they get asked anyway. What is said might be a guess, or even just a joke, but when transcribed for an article this part of their tone may be entirely lost.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:39 am 
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I remember a Treasure interview where somebody compared the scaling in Turtles in Time with the rotation used in the Seven Force boss in Gunstar Heroes, stating that the rotation in GH was "real" and the scaling in TMNT was "fake" even though it is pretty obvious that both use prerendered rotation and scaling, because of the noticeable steps.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 2:49 pm 
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Another famous half-true story is the inspiration for Pac-Man. Of course, it's been repeated up and down the net that PM's creator was inspired by a pizza with a slice taken out. But I also remember a time when he corrected the story/translation and said that PM just looks like said pizza. (Wikipedia seems to have even a 3rd story...)

Post-rationalization is really tempting, so it's unsurprising when the storyteller and/or reporter conspire to embellish a rather dry story...

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 5:51 pm 
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psycopathicteen wrote:
I remember a Treasure interview where somebody compared the scaling in Turtles in Time with the rotation used in the Seven Force boss in Gunstar Heroes, stating that the rotation in GH was "real" and the scaling in TMNT was "fake" even though it is pretty obvious that both use prerendered rotation and scaling, because of the noticeable steps.

I think there's a little truth in this one, though. In TMNT, the same static image is just scaled up in obvious integer steps. The Gunstar Heroes rotation involves large objects made out of many movable parts that themselves all have pre-rendered steps, but that are moving fluidly based on trigonometry. At the very least, the Gunstar Heroes animation was much smoother and convincing than that of TMNT.

I'm assuming we are talking about Turtles in Time as that would be the contemporary game.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 6:29 pm 
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DRW wrote:
Bregalad wrote:
I did this alteration (right side, left is the original) in about 10 seconds:
Image


Now let's see that in-game:

Image

:? Hm... looks more like a du-rag to me. Also seems like his ears and eyes are floating.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 10:35 pm 
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To be fair, the Mario sprites are almost, if not exactly, identical to the arcade game, where NTSC artifacts wouldn't be a concern.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:02 pm 
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Image

Though, I imagine that this was originally just programmer art from a Japanese guy surrounded by whatever the 80s looked like in Japan (so Doraemon?). It could very well be that he did something like DRW or tried to do something really fancy from a cartoon, and couldn't figure out how to get the hair to not look like shit, or maybe the hat just looked better.

Also, don't be so quick to throw out the kid hiding in a pipe story. Yes, the pipes were in Mario Bros, but so were a couple other things we haven't seen in Mario games since then. Miyamoto could easily have been imagining a kid playing in a pipe in a construction zone which would be a decent inspiration to include pipes in SMB, which otherwise has no kind of plumbing references in it and could've easily done without. I don't think he was randomly playing Mario Bros one day and decided to throw the pipes into SMB, but he could've indeed taken their visual appearence from there.


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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 1:28 am 
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I think I fixed the hair thing, guys!

Image

I was always a bit skeptical about the claim that Luigi was originally in Super Mario 64 during development. Is there any data in the final rom that supports this? Not saying there has to be. Just wondering.

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 5:30 am 
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Jedi QuestMaster wrote:
I was always a bit skeptical about the claim that Luigi was originally in Super Mario 64 during development. Is there any data in the final rom that supports this?
Not that I know of, and lots of people have looked.


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