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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:41 pm 
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In this Iwata Asks column, click on Bonus 1: Ancient Documents from 1985. Interesting stuff!

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Nakago: Last time we talked about how the first Zelda only had dungeons. This is the planning sheet for the dungeon select screen we drew up back then. The title is “Adventure Title,” so we hadn’t decided on The Legend of Zelda yet. And that’s Miyamoto-san’s signature.


Original overworld map:

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(Larger version stolen from the header)

Quote:
Nakago: You drew the stuff on the left, Tezuka-san, and the right side is Miyamoto-san’s. If you look closely, you can tell how marker was used to make small dots. These are rocks, and these are trees. And you can see Miyamoto-san’s personality. At first he’s making individual dots, but as he gets tired of it, toward the top, he just fills in a bunch of space!


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Quote:
Tezuka: Basically, we were going to make lots of dungeons using one square per room, and lay them out like a jigsaw puzzle.

Iwata: In order to fit in as many dungeons as possible given the limited memory, you were making them like you were doing a puzzle.

Nakago: Right. Tezuka-san said, “I did it!” and brought this to me. I created the data exactly in line with it, but then Tezuka-san made a mistake and only used half of the data. I said, “Tezuka-san, there’s only half here. Where did the other half go?” and he was like, “What?! Oops, I messed up…” But Miyamoto-san said it was fine just like that.

Tezuka: Heh heh heh. (laughs)

Nakago: So, using the half of the memory that was left over, we decided to create the Second Quest.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:07 pm 
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I especially like the grid with the concept sketches. They get the idea across but you don't have to be a great artist to draw them.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:26 pm 
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Heh, I found the sheets more interesting than their content! This one for example:

UncleSporky wrote:
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It's interesting how they have grids for the tiles, the blocks affected by attribute bits (2x2 tiles), and the blocks affected by attribute bytes (4x4 tiles) forming the name table. The 4 crosses at the 4 corners are probably there to indicate the safe area where critical information should be.

At the right we can see a "COLOR GENERATOR DATA TABLE", where background and sprite palettes are defined. I wish I could read that part better.

At the top left corner there are the addresses of the name tables, which appear to be called "BG1" through "BG4". And next to them is a diagram showing what attribute bits affect which tiles.

I wonder why they put the extra name table rows at the bottom like that, since they are actually used for attributes, and there is no place to write attribute table information.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:47 pm 
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Zelda is known to use 8x16 sprites, so it's interesting to see that they originally laid out the tiles for 8x8 sprite use.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:08 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
It's interesting how they have grids for the tiles, the blocks affected by attribute bits (2x2 tiles), and the blocks affected by attribute bytes (4x4 tiles) forming the name table.

I bet someone wants me to make a printable nametable graph paper and post it on the wiki.

Quote:
The 4 crosses at the 4 corners are probably there to indicate the safe area where critical information should be.

This gives the official safe area for the NTSC NES: (16,24)-(239,215). Until now, I'd been using the PocketNES visible area (8,16)-(247,229) as the safe area based on empirical results from newer TVs, but then that sort of matches the safe area used by games like Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary whose manuals caution that the game "uses the entire screen; older TVs with rounded corners may hide some of the picture."

Quote:
I wonder why they put the extra name table rows at the bottom like that, since they are actually used for attributes, and there is no place to write attribute table information.

Notice how it's in groups of 8 bytes, where each group represents one row of attribute bytes.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:55 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Notice how it's in groups of 8 bytes, where each group represents one row of attribute bytes.

Still not very friendly, because it's not arranged as it is on screen and it only has room for bytes, which have to be calculated before written there.

It would be more useful if it was a square with an 8x8 grid and each cell had a 2x2 grid where you could write bits to (consulting the second and third columns pf the "COLOR GENERATOR DATA TABLE"). Then, when transferring the data to the game it would be easier to convert the individual bits into bytes using the order shown at the top left corner of that sheet.

This square would be more useful in that sheet than the one with sprite palettes I think. A separate sheet could be made for sprites, with a huge gridded area for people to draw as many sprites as they could, and the box with palette information.

Anyway, the interesting thing here is seeing how they did things back then. And to see the official names they used for things. I doubt it would be very productive to draw game screens to sheets like this when you can do it directly in the computer nowadays. Unless you were away from computers, of course.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:12 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
Unless you were away from computers, of course.

Bingo. I have an ASUS netbook running Ubuntu, but it's a pain to use a nametable editor like NSA or 8name, or even a traditional paint program like GIMP, to sketch things on the bus. It's cheaper to give my artist a few templates for brainstorming sketches than a Wacom tablet. And a couple of my team members are under 18 and thus have limited access to electronic devices between when they finish jobs at school and when the bell rings.

Thanks for the suggestions; I'll see what I can do with them.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:48 am 
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I want a pile of such empty paper sheet !
Seriously, I always draw things on hand before entering them in the computer, and regular paper does the work, but less good that such paper would !

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:34 am 
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I used to draw sprites on ordinary A4 graph/grid pads back when I was in school. They're cheap and available pretty much anywhere, not just in speciality stores.

I wish Nintendo (as well as other game companies) would release as much of their old design documents as possible, and in higher resolution. It's interesting to see these notes and sketches, and it's really not that far off from what a friend and I did in fifth grade when we drew up game ideas, except that none of us knew how to program back then and all the documents are long gone.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:15 am 
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mic_ wrote:
I used to draw sprites on ordinary A4 graph/grid pads back when I was in school. They're cheap and available pretty much anywhere, not just in speciality stores.

I wish Nintendo (as well as other game companies) would release as much of their old design documents as possible, and in higher resolution. It's interesting to see these notes and sketches, and it's really not that far off from what a friend and I did in fifth grade when we drew up game ideas, except that none of us knew how to program back then and all the documents are long gone.


I still have a folder of sketches a friend and I did [on regular graph paper], basically trying to 'simulate' Zelda on a Commodore Amiga. We'd sit nose-to-screen and record every pixel of each 16x16 block, then translate it into the Amiga. I had a completely walkable overworld map running...but it was SLOOOW. [At the time it was written in BASIC!] We also captured the music for the intro and underworld themes on staff paper.

I also still have a folder of data of a game that we came up with that was in the Infocom text-based-adventure style.

Man, I really need to see if my Amiga still has a breath in it. So much of my early teen years is on those 3.5" disks...probably almost dust by now.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:51 pm 
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Here's a start. You might want to color it cyan before printing it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:36 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Here's a start. You might want to color it cyan before printing it.

Nice... Why not put the sprite patterns in as well? I think you can squeeze them at the bottom. I also miss that block that indicates the order of the bits in an attribute byte, I never remember what it is.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:37 am 
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YOU ROCK TEPPLES thank you !!

Instead of "Squeezing" stuff I'd rather go for spparate sheets which are large enough but oh well.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:49 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
Instead of "Squeezing" stuff I'd rather go for spparate sheets which are large enough but oh well.

There's plenty of white space at both sides of the background patterns, so why not shift it to one of the sides so the white space can be used for the sprite patterns? I don't think anything would be reduced.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:21 am 
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"Justburn" on #nesdev actually made a really nice one. (it had the pallet for colour reference for example.) If I had more time i'd post a link.


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