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General Category => Games => Topic started by: MacDeath on 22:53, 13 December 14

Title: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 22:53, 13 December 14
Recently at Amstrad CPC fans forum, got a topic on Barbarian II : dungeon of Drax.

I gave a look at the "graphics" from the Cartridge version (GX4000 exact port of the CPC one) and found quite some oddities to me... and hidden graphics actually.

= First : the game would use some raster/interrupt to somewhat completely change the palette between the "title" zone and the Game/score zone.
=Many many many inks are actually wasted.
=the colour/ink chart seems quite wrong as some double colours would get some textures to be unseen.

the Score zone palette :

the game zone palette :

General : there is one "Black" ink and one grey ink that always stays the same whatever the screen zone.
All other inks are changed, despite some colours being always common on both zones they are not placed at the same ink.
As if two different peoples worked on things separately and would no index colours the same way.

Score zone : quite very few actual pixel/data push.
5 inks for each life gems, and 2 inks for the life bar.
To change them colours, jsut change an ink.
seems quite some inks seem actually unused otherwise.
only "Data push" seems the life bars, one octet large (byte = 2 mode0 pixels) that would be coloured in black or in the life bar colours.

Game zone :
here for first level, we can se some unseen details thx to the comparison between the two pictures and the two palettes.

= sky : we can see it was supposed to have 2 colours.
= skull on pike : it was supposed to have 2 colours/lighting as well.
= some mountain peaks : supposed to have some pieces of the second sky colour.

Also there are a lot of colours that are actually unused or doubled for nothing, or poorly choosen compaired to c64.

Sprites : they are stored in "mode1" then converted.

=Common couleurs : pastel yellow and black and transparency.
= one ink is reserved for monster of the moment and would be changed according to monster.
=Pink for player

Would need to be studied further, be it the "bonus sprites to collect", and the other levels.

So point is : this games actually need a freaking patch to just correct the colour tables even harder than rick dangerous 2.
The game would look very much better with actually very few efforts.
Gotta check also if the GX4000 version could be patched to use PLUS colours, but even with only CPC colours the game obviously can be fastly patched for best.

would need to find the complete palette lookup tables for the whole game.

More details or oddities to come.
Are some interested in such patch ?
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: CraigsBar on 00:04, 14 December 14

More details or oddities to come.
Are some interested in such patch ?

Interested. Hell yes, the more decent or correctly made plus games the better.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 00:15, 14 December 14
The project first is to fix something that was most probably screwed during the game's mastering. and this game is basically a CPC game to begin with.

there seem to be more than meet the eyes with this game.
I was always thinking that the sky or some things seemed too simple or strange.

I managed to find that many things on the graphics for the Amstrad port are not displayed as they were intended to and as were on C64 version.

Basically more things are here, but a poor colour palette / ink settings actually hide this due to some inks not being the right ones from the CPC palette.

otherwise, a proper PLUS version would certainly need to be redone from scratches.
Such sort of game may not be the hardest to design/code actually, for an amstrad, especially a PLUS.

When I asked for some interested... I meant some coders interested to give it a look indeed.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Joseman on 03:40, 14 December 14
@MacDeath (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=221) i always like your mockups and graph work, i'm trying to "improve" some game on the graphic side too, some days ago i sent you a PM to talk about it. ¿have you received the Message?

Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Carnivius on 12:12, 14 December 14
I liked the game on my 464 but as I mentioned about the first game I really wished they had given us PROPER CPC sprites and not these goddamn 3 colour C64 ported 'cardboard cut outs'.  Thanks to the actual colours of the CPC I still think these games look best on the CPC rather than C64 but they could have looked spectacular if more effort was put into it...  Even the faces in the banner at the top could be great improved with some shading and depth...  Stupid...
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 17:39, 14 December 14
concerning the 3 coloured sprites, I was a choice in the "engine" that allows less Data used to store the sprites and eases portability from C64.

For the rest, the game suffers from going from "320x200" size to 256x200 (256x192?) speccy sized screen.
as the sprites are exact same size as C64 but playzone dramatically smaller, it becomes hard to play when around those lava rivers or holes... also the monsters are always closer.
When you see a monster coming from the other side of the screen, it had less distance to cover to be at you, when fighting around a hole : less space as well to escape or fight.

the "256 mode1 pixels" sized screen is a way to port code from ZX spectrum, but also gives some advantage for the code when you do graphics and animations. Sadly it destroys one of the advantage of CPC when porting games on C64, Speccy and CPC.

Mode0 actualy needs surface and scrensize to look better (need the biggest resolution available)

I agree concerning most graphuics : they were ported pixel wise from c64.
Sadly some palette/ink screwery got details to disapear.
And palette was badly ported.

Bright magenta is a colour you never want to see in an heroic fantasy game... unless you do a My Little Pony(Magic is Fiendish) themed one.
Should have used the Mauve instead (somber and cooler) or really another things. .
As usual from Britains talented peoples, instead of having graphics proted to CPC from atari ST, we have graphics ported from ST to C6 then to CPC. happy it didn't went the speccy way this time.

I think they had stupid deadline on this project... many screwed details are sign of Deadline to the death stupidness release.
Just a graphic artist working on the CPC like 4 days could really have done it better.
Few used colours on many parts of the screen and palette mismatches only denote that the graphics were ported straight from C64 in one day with close to no pixel re-doing. No c64 pixel were harmed in this game !

then fastly done mockups :

on this 4th (short) level you can see the lighting on the CPC is screwed.
check the pillars (they are not well designed to begin with)
order on C64 (dark to light)
=dark grey - Mauve looking blue - Cyan (bright)

on CPC :
= Blue (not darkest one) - Cyan (bright) - dark cyan

they inverted to shades at one point, which screew up the whole balance.
Look at doors... also the bricks are lighted by a too much light shade (bright cyan)
and to use bright Magenta for those bricks is a definitive non-non...

Bricks : light comes from upper-left. (expt for the flipper right wall/door)
vault and pillars : lights is inverted so seems to come from the right.

and too many "primary" colours.
Blue is the medium one, cyan is the medium one, magenta is the medium one...

So check the difference with the slightly retouched one.

For the head/title zone, As Carnivac told they messed it up.
I have a rule : never put pink and orange on the same hue gradiant on CPC... it doesn't goes well. to me they are hues/shades of equal level.

despite the fact they use palette change to get the changes in this screen zone, they could have done better a lot with few pixel art effort.
And we don't get to see Marianna's face... damn 64K specs... :laugh:

Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 17:56, 14 December 14
Speccy version :
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M273bGfywQ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M273bGfywQ#)

sounds and feels like the CPC one, most certainly same Z80 code and speccy port.
funny detail : the level2 (cave) uses the same pixels as CPC/C64 for backgrounds... wide mode0 like pixels... cheap port!
colour clashes catastrophic results as well.

C64 :
www.youtube.com/watch?v=E21I6bMR9wY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E21I6bMR9wY#)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cM9LEzW3o4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cM9LEzW3o4#)
The reference one as usual.
the 160x200 (mode0 equivalent) gives best result.

CPC/GX4000 version (somewhat the exact same minus a few intro pages or things)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nPQiHdS5PY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nPQiHdS5PY#)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9lHUxd9W9Y (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9lHUxd9W9Y#)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4y0Brl61UU (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4y0Brl61UU#)

big 8/16bit wars :
www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjXizpadtwM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjXizpadtwM#ws)

the Amiga/ST version can be of help to get what CPC could get for some backgrounds (cave per exemple) as CPC was less limited by the 4 inks per character as C64.

Basically BarbarianII was quite disappointing compared to Barbarian "1" and looks like a somewhat cheap sequel on some aspects.

So dear hackers :
=please find the tiles sets.
=please find the colours/inks tables.

so we may apply a slight edit and patch to fix a few things here and there.

Concerning sprites, would need  whole other system, like full 4bpp sprites or even 3bpp sprites (in 8 colours) but then it would radically change the game and performances and RAM used.

Else, to get the graphics as a basis, and go for a brand new port in fullscreen, multi rasters with sampled sounds madness. :laugh:

16biters :

PC ega (hahaha, fixed palette sucks)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq-3zBfwC6U (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq-3zBfwC6U#)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsavXCrRyig (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsavXCrRyig#)

Miga (ST port ?)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-74lywR964 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-74lywR964#)
fancy extra animations and musics obviously.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 18:29, 14 December 14
Also lets do a Prince of Persia esque Barbarian III : Doom of Drax...

And perhaps... Princess Marianna I : gang bang in the dungeon
(still not sure about the gameplay though)
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: dlfrsilver on 21:21, 14 December 14
Barbarian 2 is indeed an ST port on amiga.

and well i can't believe they failed so bad on the color palette AGAIN, because it's coming from the C64.

Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Carnivius on 23:13, 14 December 14
Heh.  Yeah on my CPC I had to suffer lazy Spec and C64 ports.  On my Amiga I had to put up with the same from ST ports too.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Optimus on 12:46, 15 December 14
C64 sprites are indeed 3 color, thus I see games with perfect scrolling and hw sprites but something is off compared to CPC versions. Like cardboard as you say. Also, the size is smaller because they only have 8 and with limited size (something like 21 * 12 I think. Strange numbers). Then I check the detail on the Renegade sprites and I am like wow, so many shades in the arm of the hero. So yeah, being able to put all those 16 colors close to each other is a gift. And no hw sprites while not nice, at least gives some freedom of creativity, like not always being based on generic hw scroll and hw sprites, but design our own sprite routines with whatever size and colors we want.

Although there was this trick in some CPC games, where the palette is ABCD EEEE FFFF GGGG so that it's possible to not need a mask. Maybe they are using it here? Or is it just a lame port of C64 sprites?
Ghost and Goblins use it so well (and not look like cardboard still) and I never noticed till recently.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Carnivius on 13:07, 15 December 14
So yeah, being able to put all those 16 colors close to each other is a gift.

Exactly.  Probably the biggest advantage the CPC had graphically compared to the Spec and C64 (and even the NES come to think of it) which is why I was pissed off everytime I saw yet another cheap ass Speccy port that hadn't even had the graphics shaded, or another C64 port with it's bland 3 colour sprites.   The CPC was capable of so much more than that garbage.    Developers like that treated us CPC owners as if we'd just buy any old lazy shite... and for some reason we still actually went and paid for a lot of it.   I think I'll go give £10 to a random guy on the street to just spit on my face cos that's pretty much shows the same level of respect the devs clearly had for us...
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: dlfrsilver on 17:07, 15 December 14
hey :)

Look what i got below :D ![attachimg=1]
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 20:22, 15 December 14
Barbarian (I & II) don't use the same method as Ghost n Ghost, to produce sprites.

Barbarian games are not in dual playfield.

the sprites are stored in 2bpp (= mode1) then converted into the "VRAM" bank into mode0 (in 4 colours then) the way ASCII characters can be converted from high res mode into low rez.

This was very often used by Palace software (Barbarian, Cauldrons also I guess, Antiriad as well) as it was a nice way to port C64 stuffs as they were.

While sprites fails to accont for the CPC's many colours, it was anyway efficient and those games are somewhat fast enough (most of them had no scrolling anyway)

in other threads I told about the possibility to do the same but to convert 3bpp (=8 colours) graphics into Mode0 (4bpp...) and a polish dude (sorry, forgot name) suggested a code for this.

there :
drawing packed mode 0 sprites (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/programming/drawing-packed-mode-0-sprites/)

"3bpp packed sprites" by ssr86.

but to apply this here would really need a large mod/redo of the whole games.

2bpp graphics actually use few space. 3bpp are somewhat odd and need 1,5 time the datas and may even be longer to convert/process... 3bpp being odd number, may set bigger limitations as well concerning sprites size.
to turn 3byte into 4 bytes... need to stay in multiples of 3 bytes I guess. So final graphic/sprites would be multiples of 4 bytes (8 Mode0 pixels).

Anyway, many monster could benefit from the fact they use black + pastel yellow + 3rd custom colour.

Many colours can dither well with pastel yellow : orange, greens, pink... so extra lighting could be added to some sprites. especially those with big surfaces (dinosaurs, dogs of gozers, and big orange dude and so on)

The cartridge version is really the disk version except that it loads from the cartridge... but this needs to be checked.

there may be ways to get the game to use the ROM instead of the RAM and therefore freed a few RAM banks for extra process.
But if the 128k ROM is full, may need to go for a 256K or 512K sized ROM to add things (or X-Mem version as well...)

BTW a 128K RAM version as it was already often done is clearly reachable.

check Rick dangerous 128, barbari... Death Sword 128, R-Type 128 (not sure such heavy re-do is possible without the source... well, perhaps).

But a costless patch jsut to have a better palette and the hidden graphics being revealed wouldn't add anything at all actually... jsut perhaps swap a few colour numbers in the "Palette lookup table".

Same to edit the graphics... just need to find them and modify them with no screw on the tilemap or spritemap...

If you compare the 8bit C64/CPC version to 16bit ST/Miga versions, the C64/CPC/GX4000 have a lot of plain tiles... cheap way to gain RAM/datas as well, while the ST/Miga includes far more textured tiles.

Floor and roofs are plain colours on CPC, textured in 16bit versions.

So to get this 16bit full feeling, need to edit the whoel tileMap and add extra tiles as well.

Also can't realistically get the CPC going from speccy sized screen to C64/ST sized one.

So, need to check if a simple patch or a whole new game engine... but a simplest patch would already be great to get the game the version it deserve... so it would look as it should look.

Concerning a PLUS colours patch, not sure if actually easy... the colours are coded in 12 bits instead of 5 bits for the CPC.
so it may need some more bytes here and there. :laugh:
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: dlfrsilver on 21:42, 15 December 14
i tried to rip the CPC BB2 tiles and maps. The graphics are compressed or encrypted.......

BTW, what do you think of my 16 bits (amiga) tile & maps rips ? (amiga tiles are 32x32) ?
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 00:02, 16 December 14
as the background is done screen by screen with no scrolling, it may be tiled in 32x32 I guess.

Nice tilemap/set...
but not really usefull in our case.

To make a new port from scratch : nice.
To patch the existing game simply : not so usefull beside helping to choose the inks/colours.

well I guess soem tiles could get extra pixel work easily, but we can't seriously modify the whole tilemap or tileset and far too ambitious patches always go vaporware unless done by Fano in 128K...  :D

I was more thinking about a patch the way deathsword 128 was done.

Barbarian2 was a great CPC game.

it doesn't need a lot to become "better".
Nicer graphics is a way to get it "better".

and those patches are more way to repair the sequels of silly deadline and crooky men in ties demanding cheap ports in no time.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: dlfrsilver on 01:20, 16 December 14
yes, since you ask for the tiles, i got them for you ;)

Do what you want, the result will be good whatever ^^ !
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 03:11, 16 December 14

another proof of palette screw up via automatic colour choice.

C64 :

sooo... the Barbarian 2 logo is a dead giveaway.

instead of going from Dark red-orange-pastel yellow... we have this...

no job done to reassign colours to the graphics per elements.
they jsut put the exact same graphics, then switched the palette.

while it doesn't look that bad for the human characters (seriously ?, green metal boobs ?) it fails a lot with the Logo and the big daemon.

as you may see, the c64 dark brown was even plainly replaced by another Black, details disapearing (check Maria-nna's hairs...)

So this picture only uses 11 colours on CPC...
Contrary to C64, CPC could have pulled a decent 16 colours...
while c64 had to limit to less than 16 colours because some may not be used on this (who would put magenta on this ?), and had attribute limitations as well...
CPC has enough extra shades and hues (hybrid colours, dark, medium, light) so this could have been quite better and more detailed.

to add insult to injury : look at the axe or floor... darker grey was replaced by bright cyan while lighter grey was replced by dark cyan... failed at gradient hues !!!
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: McKlain on 10:14, 16 December 14
The floor got totally fucked up on the cpc version.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 19:21, 16 December 14
Fastly done from the CPc version, would need to go from the C64 version to have a bit more details layers, and also actually redo some pixels/gradiant layers/ditherings/lightings at some points.

Daemon skin could use like 3-4 shades but this need proper re-pixeling... hairs and axe shaft need to be redone as well, human skin could get a light lighting in pastel yellow.

Axe metal effect could be redone in "golden/bronze" instead of cyan+grey... some antialiasing (slight) to humans shapes/contours, and jewelries (tiaras) need some extra punck/details.

The Barbarian logo could use a few more gradiant levels : dark red, red, orange, yellow... perhaps even add a little pastel yellow and white pixels...

I think this version uses somehting like 14-16 colours...
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Gryzor on 19:30, 16 December 14
Ahhh I was expecting a mockup of the loading screen...

Recently at Amstrad CPC fans forum

Yeah, because here we mostly talk about the weather or recipes :) [/ot]
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 19:33, 16 December 14
Amstrad CPC fans forum is a french forum from BDC Iron (also known as ghost, ghost of Iron, Gob, or less charming names from some other french amstradists... :( )

:: Connexion (http://amstradcpc.forumforever.com/t122-Adaptations-CPC%2B.htm?start=15)

Ahhh I was expecting a mockup of the loading screen...
I wouldn't call this a mockup, but a remake or re-colour... or remaster perhaps.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: gerald on 19:42, 16 December 14
Amstrad CPC fans forum is a french forum from BDC Iron (also known as ghost, ghost of Iron, Gob, or less charming names from some other french amstradists... :( )

:: Connexion (http://amstradcpc.forumforever.com/t122-Adaptations-CPC%2B.htm?start=15)
I really love those 'forum' where you have to register before seeing what is being discussed there  :(
 Correct name is private club, not forum !
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 19:45, 16 December 14
off topic :
oops yeah... that's part of the french scene culture with clans and peoples not wanting some other to come spy... sorry.
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: Gryzor on 20:01, 16 December 14
Truly wtf concepts...
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 20:10, 16 December 14
Back to topic dudes (and dudettes ? whatever)...

so yeah, the graphics seem to be crypted/compressed ?

the sprites seem easy to find in the RAM though.
I guess I'll need time to check all levels for hidden graphics and palette screweries...
 if someone is willing to give it a look too, please go on.

I will try to do a mockup of the first level with proper paletting, so we may see the few missing parts.
sky may definitally look quite better.

I suspect a part of the doors in the second level to also be "hidden", not sure.

check the backdoor (not Marianna's one, oh wait...)
can see some "missing" parts in darker blue... seriously, they must be there on CPC as well.

PS : perky perk to you all.
todo : go fullscreen with this one so the full sword, and bigger... logo.

Compare :
Title: Re: Barbarian 2 oddities...
Post by: MacDeath on 20:35, 21 December 14
Romhacking.net - Community - Pyron (http://www.romhacking.net/community/3226/)

found out that to hack old game to enhance the colours is quite common on other formats.

do some of you know the full list of such things for the Amstrad games ?

it seems that each time this sort of thing is talked, everyone (often including me) would them go full mods and redone game...
But fact is that many game would only need slight palette re-assignation and few pixels done on the tiles here and there.

Most Richard Aplin games are in this case per exemple, but the shinobi treads went the ways where everyones suggested of the same treatment as R-Type, lol.

anyway, are there articles or methods on ways to hack games in order to simply find the palette routines or tiles displaying/storing aspect of the engine ?

is there a proper list or patched/moded/hacked games with colour or graphic correction only ? or heavier mods ?