Minecraft Monday: Title Screens Always Take Forever

Mega Man 2 Title ScreenAs of the writing of this, I still have a little work to do on the Mega Man 2 Title Screen for my Mega Man Land project. All that’s left is the actual logo of Mega Man, which as I said a couple weeks ago during my Mega Man 3 work, has proven to be a pain. So I’ve been taking the whole screen a little slowly – tackling it one section at a time to make sure I didn’t miscount. Unfortunately that plan didn’t quite work out for me. I’ve already made one counting mistake, luckily one that wasn’t a tough fix. As for those details that I mentioned in last week’s post, the building and Mega Man himself; those were actually really quite simple to do. The building’s toughest part was not losing count on the vertical edge. Once I had that set, the sections are all divided up enough where the count wasn’t enough to really be an issue. The windows, which have some extra detailing in them, also went really smooth.

The biggest problem I have with doing the Title Screens so far though is just the sheer amount of black wool I need to place. And it’s really not even a problem, it’s more that it’s just such a slow process that it makes me less interested in doing the screen for long periods at a time. The Stage Select screens are a different beast because there’s so much going on – even though there’s a lot of blue wool in each screen, it’s broken up with all kinds of extra stuff. And the Sprite Field is totally different as well, in fact, the sprites have become my favorite part of the project. They’re quick to do, they look super cool when their all finished, and I think they add a little bit of extra flair to the project.

Megaman 2 Stage Select

So going into this week the plan is to finish up the Title Screen and get going on the sprite field. Depending on how fast the Robot Masters go there’s a good chance that I’ll finish it all this week. The question with this one is what to put in the extra space – there’s no Doc Robot or Protoman to fill the blank space. My early ideas are the three Item power-ups as well as Doctor Wily in some form. Then it’ll be on to the game I’ve been dreading – the original Mega Man. I’ll explain why when we get to it.

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Minecraft Monday: A Simple Project at Last

Mega Man 2 American BoxIt’s a funny thing – when I started this project, it was originally just going to be Pharoah Man; he’s my favorite Robot Master after all. When it ended up being easy enough to do though and I decided to create the whole “love letter to Mega Man” project, I was in a bit of a weird situation. I had started not at the beginning, but right in the middle of the series. Since then I’ve gone backward in the franchise, which has given me a pretty unique view of the design process with the Stage Select and Title Screens. That perspective is super apparent now that I’m working on Mega Man 2.

 

Megaman 2 Stage SelectLet’s start with the Stage Select screen, since it’s the part I just wrapped up with. Mega Man 3, as I mentioned in my updates while I was working on that screen, has a ton of detail in there. The portrait frames are pretty complicated – the lights on the corners are actually bulged out, so it’s not a perfect square. That makes it a little more complicated to go through them. In Mega Man 2 the portraits are just simple squares – 45×45 pixels. The lights for the corners are simple squares too. The design is much more simple too – just full bars of colors – compared with Mega Man 3, which had a lot more detail in the bars. The field aside from the portraits is also much more simpler – just a few bars of color in Mega Man 2, compared with the “Mega Man III” that repeats all throughout the field. So after spending a couple weeks working on Mega Man 3, I have been very happy to see the simpler design. The Robot Masters have actually been pretty simple too – the color scheme is much less involved – with each bot really only using a couple colors. The problem comes from Bubble Man – his green colors don’t quite match up. I’m alright with the final result, but it’s definitely not perfect. The only really other issue was with Quick Man – his boomerang actually breaks through the portrait, so it took a little double checking to get it down.

Mega Man 2 Title Screen

As for the Title Screen – unlike Mega Man 3, which I think is pretty much the peak of the early games complexity in Stage Select; Mega Man 2 is the peak in the early games complexity on Title Screens. With the building, Mega Man himself, plus the whole logo, there’s a lot going on. They went the total opposite on Mega Man 3 – it’s a full black screen after all. After that they decided to add in just a few little bits of details to give it a bit more energy. I’m actually pretty excited to see how it ends up with the color palette that Minecraft has.

Minecraft Monday: Mega Man 3 Finally Finished With, Progress Continues On

Mega Man 3 Box ArtWhen I started this whole project, I knew that this was going to be a huge undertaking. Six NES games to do, plus two more 8-bit styled ones in Mega Man 9 and 10 – not to mention the possibility of doing the fan-made 8-bit de-makes of Mega Man 7 and 8. That’s a whole hell of a lot of Minecrafting to do. What I didn’t expect was that Mega Man 3 – the second game I tackled – would be so damn frustrating. I already have mentioned my continual messing up while doing the Title Screen, and also found another small error I had made in the Stage Select. Thankfully, it was only two blocks that needed to be fixed, so it didn’t mess up much. I only even found it because I was going overly detailed with one of the new additions to the sprite field. I decided to put in Break Man (Proto Man)’s portrait in, which was actually pretty cool, thanks to his scarf breaking out of the border. I did something similar with Dr. Cossack in Mega Man 4, but since Break Man is actually named like the other Robot Masters, I put his name below the portrait too. Of course that meant applying the background too – I made sure that the placement of the “Mega Man III” matches up with the center portrait on the screen. That’s where I found my error – I had messed up on the “M” in Man on a couple in the screen.

Megaman 3 Stage Select

Once that was dealt with though, I had a bunch of blank space to fill in with the sprite field. After digging around for a good sheet of Rush, I was able to put in Rush with Coil and Jet in there, along with all of the weapon energy and health energy pick ups. I got a little lucky there, in that there was just enough space for each pick up. While I was in pick up mode, I finished up the buffer zone between games, carpeted the whole thing, and called Mega Man 3 completed.

Megaman 2 Stage Select

I was still feeling the Minecraft though, so I went ahead and moved on to Mega Man 2. I set up four stacks of 64 blue wool, switched to survival, and set up the bottom row of 256 for the Stage Select. The thing with Mega Man 2 is that the Stage Select is a lot more sparse than Mega Man 3 – there’s not much going on, so to get started there was some counting of pixel rows. Moving back a game also adds in another little detail – for each Robot Masters’ name, in the later games, the white pixels are bordered with a row of black to add some depth. That row of black doesn’t exist in Mega Man 2, so the letters look a little weird right now. Since I was on a roll, I went ahead and finished up Metal Man and Flash Man – both were pretty easy to do, although Metal Man isn’t quite an exact match. The early Mega Man games use what is basically a really dark magenta color for deep red – which doesn’t exist in Minecraft, so I just used red wool and pink clay, like I have for the rest of the red Robot Masters. All in all, the Stage Select should go pretty smooth, it’s the Title Screen I’m looking at – there’s a lot more going on with it than any other one.

Minecraft Monday: Mega Man 3 Sprites Completed, Buffer Zone in Progress

I shared last week how I went about tackling the Robot Master sprites for Mega Man 3. Much like with those sprites, I took a little different approach to the Mega Man sprites with the weapons. With Mega Man 4, they were all bundled up together into one set – which looks alright with the fences I use for dividing and orientation removed. With this set though, I wanted to take a little more organized approach, hence my breaking the Mega Man sprites out into a separate section. In order to keep everything on one level, my plan was to put a standing sprite of Mega Man (with one exception), and the weapon’s sprite below him, followed by the menu icon. Aside from Top Spin, the plan worked pretty well – there’s a little variation, thanks to the fact that some weapons have big sprites – Spark Shock and Shadow Blade – while others are really quite thin – Gemini Laser and Needle Cannon.

So the organization worked out pretty well, but there were a couple other little things that still rub me wrong a little. First is Top Spin. As a Mega Man fan, it’s a crap weapon – I only think people use it to kill Shadow Man, and that’s it. It’s unreliable with its energy usage, and on top of that, it’s a melee weapon that requires you to spin into enemies with – and you can only use it while jumping. From a Minecraft pixel art perspective though, it’s even more annoying. One of the two colors for Mega Man’s armor is easy to match – the grey on his legs, hands and helmets. The problem is with the highlight color. According to the game artwork – it’s supposed to be a yellowish color:
Top Spin ArtHowever, the in-game sprite coloring looks a bit different. That yellow, which would be no problem replicating in Minecraft, isn’t in the sprite:Top Spin Sprite

Instead, that looks a lot like a pinkish-grey color. And while there is is a pink wool, and even pink clay, both have too much red in them to really act as an analog. So I ended up using the pink clay, but I’m not super happy with out it turned out. If there’s an update down the road that offers a better option, this is definitely one detail that I’ll go back and change. The other issue was also with Top Spin. It doesn’t actually have a weapon sprite – when you fire it in mid-air, you spin around a whole bunch – that’s the attack. So I used the jumping sprite for Mega Man, but instead of also using the crappy pink color for the spin lines, I just decided to forgo them completely. So Top Spin is a little off compared with the rest of the Mega Men.

Once I had finished up the Mega Man work, I decided to look at the buffer zone between Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 3. I had originally planned on putting in various sprites of Mega Man, Proto Man, Rush and even Robot Masters that I liked. What I instead went with was a repeating pattern of the 1-Up power-up (Mega Man’s Head) and the E-Tank pick-up. I had left a bit too much space horizontally, so when I go ahead on to Mega Man 2, I know to leave a bit less, to give me a nice even split. I think 20 blocks will let me have two free spaces on either side of the widest parts of the sprites. But the nice thing is that with the white carpet placed down after, it looks pretty good. It’s certainly better than just having blank space – it gives a bit of a feeling like wallpaper to me.

Which brings me to my plan of attack for this week. I still have a bunch of free space in the sprite field, so much like I did with Mega Man 4, I’m going to add in an extra portrait. Instead of making the one for Wily, which would go with theme, I think I’ll do Break Man (Proto Man) and if there’s still space enough, I will do one of the busted ones from the Doc Robot phase. After that’s handled, I need to extend down the buffer pieces down to the sprites, carpet it, and then it’s on to Mega Man 2. I would say I’m probably only a couple hours away from moving on, which I can’t wait. Mega Man 3 definitely has been a much more complicated project than Mega Man 4 was. I don’t expect Mega Man 2 to be that rough, but I will be making sure to not add in more user error like I did this time around.

Minecraft Monday: Mega Man 3’s Stage Select Falls, Title Screen Putting Up Good Fight

Mega Man 3 Box ArtI mentioned in last week’s update that the Stage Select screen was proving to be a pretty complicated build, thanks to being pretty full of stuff. With Mega Man 4, the Stage Select was really straightforward – the background between the portraits was really simple, and let me use potions of swiftness to finish them really quickly. In Mega Man 3 however, the repeated use of the “Mega Man III” logo throughout the background made me take a different approach.

Instead of going straight across like I did in MM4, I went with instead putting down as many of the “Mega Man III” first, then when they were all put down, and the portraits were completed, I threw on the potion of swiftness and finished out the blue in the background. I don’t really know how much time difference this actually amounted to, mainly because not only did I not actively time my progress with MM4, but also since this is my third full screen project, I have a bit more thought out plan. The total time on the Stage Select for Mega Man 3 was right around eight hours or so – probably a bit more.

In the end, I’m pretty happy with the final product – Snake Man’s green is a little darker than the actual sprite, and for the most part, I went with colors that would probably fit better with a more “realistic” art style. The faces on the Robot Masters – especially on Top Man – in the actual sprites use the same color for the shadows, as they use for the highlights on the red armor. While I could have gone with using the pink clay for both, thanks to the dyed clay options, the light grey clay looks really good next to the white clay as a shadow. It looks a bit more lifelike, and I think it works.

Mega Man 3 Title Screen

Since I finished the Stage Select, I dove right into the Title Screen. I was expecting it to go relatively quickly, mainly because there aren’t much in the way of details. With Mega Man 4, the Title Screen had the large helmet in the lower third, that broke up the black background. In MM3, the whole screen is just black – with the “Mega Man III” at the top, with only “Game Start” and “Pass Word” below it. Everything else is black. It’s good because I can use potions of swiftness, bad because I get bored. The only other issue with the Title Screen is that there is a dark red color used in the “III” and at the top of “Mega” and as I’ve mentioned in the past, there really isn’t a great dark red block. Netherack has sections in it that are dark, but the texture ruins it. So I’m going with just doubling up – red wool and red clay, and hoping it looks good still. After that, it’s on to the sprite field, which I also have a better plan for, in order to make it look a bit more organized. I’ll show what I mean in next week’s update.

Minecraft Monday: Mega Man Land’s First True Completed Section

I mentioned in last week’s status post with my Minecraft Mega Man project that I had basically finished the Mega Man 4 section. Well over the New Year holiday week I managed to sit down and truly finish out that section. Both the Stage Select and Title Screens were already done, and now all eight Robot Masters have their initial sprite created, along with Mega Man using each weapon. While I was working on that sprite field, I decided to also include the actual weapon sprite, as well as the icon that is in the pause menu for each weapon. Looking back I would have liked to put a bit more organization in how I aligned them – as it is, they’re put down in the order I would suggest tackling them in the actual game, but it looks kinda sloppy from above. If I was starting over right now, I would have separated out the Robot Masters from the weapon stuff – still using that order. I would have put the RMs and Mega Man sprites in separate groupings, finally putting the pause icons grouped together at the end.

Skulll man

In the end, the nice thing that came out of the rather messy organization that I went with is that I was able to put in an extra Mega Man sprite using the Wire Adapter, firing it from the very bottom to the top of the field. I got lucky as well in that I had just enough space to put in Dr. Cossack’s mugshot as well. In the end, I’m pretty happy with how Mega Man 4 turned out, and it’s encouraging moving forward to have a pretty solid base down. OneDrive is still being kinda weird, only allowing me the option to embed my whole Xbox DVR folder, so instead I can present to you a link where you can check out the final product here.

Megaman 3 Stage Select

And so with that section of this grand scheme of mine done with, I started late last night on the next step. I moved on to the Stage Select screen for Mega Man 3 – which I’ve mentioned before as the one screen that I have been the most apprehensive about doing. Last night’s work – about 2 hours worth – showed me two things. First was that it still feels really good to put the final touches on those mugshots – pulling up after and looking at it and seeing just how good it turned out is an awesome feeling. The other was that this is going to be much slower going than Mega Man 4 went. The added “Mega Man III” that is littered in the background slows down filling in that section of the screen; while the actual mugshots have a bit more complicated frame around them, which does have a pattern that makes it not totally insane, but it will be a bit slower going I think. As far as progress, I just completed Gemini Man last night, picking a corner piece to start with, which gives me a bit of flexibility as for where to go next. My thought is finish the bottom row – meaning Magnet Man and Shadow Man – along with the “Mega Man III” details before heading up a row. One thing that I’ll be dealing with soon is the amount of red in the mugshots – Magnet Man, Top Man, and Spark Man all have red color schemes. Which is one of the two major colors Minecraft doesn’t do particularly well – the other being green. The nice thing is that with the new dyed clay options, there are a few more potentials – I used the clay while doing the sprites for Mega Man 4. If they give me the better look, I’ll use them for the red ones – I doubt I’ll need to with Snake Man, since he’s a bright green for the most part.

In the end, Mega Man 3 could end up looking really really slick, but both the Stage Select and Title screens are going to be tough sledding. The Title screen in particular is a whole lot of nothing – lots of Black, which might make it easier to slip up. That’s a ways off though, for now, I’m focused on the Stage Select screen.

Minecraft Monday: Mega Man 4 Rogues’ Gallery

Mega Man 4 Stage SelectWhile I haven’t exactly been working quite as diligently on Mega Man Land within my Xbox One Minecraft world over the Christmas week – especially considering my birthday was last week too – but I certainly have made good progress on it. In last week’s update, I showed, or at least tried to show, the two major sections of the Mega Man 4 area – the Title and Stage Select screens; as well as set up my plan for the Robot Master sprites.

Pharoah Man

The initial plan was to build them up vertically – and that plan quickly changed as I was working through building Toad Man. Going vertically – which may have looked real cool, but probably would have obscured the view of the bigger screens – was going to be a much slower process than I liked. The big issue boiled down to the fact that the RM sprites have so much diagonally set lines – which going vertically with no backer makes it more time consuming, since you have to frame it up. The other option would have been going through each line in the sprite, individually to build them, which again, would be real slow going.

Also I made a second and third addition to the “sprite sheet field” that has made it a bit more complicated/cluttered but in the long run I think will help it look even better. The original idea was to just put the eight Robot Masters initial sprites, in the order that I play them, along with signs with their DWN number, weapon, and weakness. While that is still the plan, I also added in a second sprite of Mega Man, using that RM’s weapon, along with the actual weapon sprite. Using the sprite of Mega Man actually firing the weapon results in a few changes across the board – the Rain Flush and Pharaoh Shot both are thrown weapons, while Flash Stopper is a full screen flash weapon (meaning the sprite is just Mega’s standing sprite) and Skull Barrier is a standing shield weapon. The rest are of course regular shooting sprites, but the variation in size within the RM’s also means that there aren’t quite perfect straight lines across the board.

Drill Man

The other addition I made, which will probably be changed around with the later games at least, was adding in the weapon tile in that same field. With Mega Man 4 they added in a full screen pause menu that featured all of the weapons, along with a small, 16×16 tile illustrating the weapon. I took that tile and dropped it into the field surrounding the Mega Man sprite. While they look fine there, again, there’s a lot of variation which makes the placement of the tile a little bothersome. Moving forward, if the game has a tileset for the weapons, I’ll probably break out the pause menu as a third screen project. That should work fine with the games after Mega Man 4, and I can probably finagle something for Mega Man 3, the first two games will be a little different.

Skulll man

As far as actual progress, I’ve got two more Robot Masters to build – Dive Man and Drill Man – along with their weapon sprites. Beyond that there’s the matter of cleaning up the whole Mega Man 4 field, looking at the blank space I have left and maybe making a few last minute upgrades to make it look even better. One thing I definitely want to look at is whether it’s worth taking a look at Ring Man, Drill Man and Bright Man’s portraits to see if the new dyed clay blocks would make them look closer to the actual art from the game. Anything else would just be extra fluff to make it look nice, and would also help me space it out on either side for Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 5. And as far as the next true step – I will be heading backwards through the series, starting with the Stage Select for Mega Man 3 – which I’ve mentioned will be a tricky deal. It’s a slow process for sure, but I always get a little surprised when I finish a section, fly way up to look it over and see it from above. It really does look pretty damn cool, and I am really liking the overall plan for sure.