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King Zenith

First Images from the EBLASTOR - DQ8 World Map

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Made some new progress on the DQ8 Mapping tools and I think I am finally ready to start actually producing stuff.  It's going to be a pretty big job I think, but I am really hoping the end result will both look nice and be useful.

 

So, what is the EBLASTOR?  That is the stupid name I came up with for my method of ripping this DQ8 map.  It stands for Empyrea-Based Low-Altitude Scanning TopopgraphinatOR.  A year or so ago I showed some results from my first crack at it, and while I was pretty happy with it then, I think things have gotten better since.

 

 

Here is a quick look at the OLD CRAPPY RESULTS, which have now been improved upon (I believe):

 

Old Crappy Map Sample:

 

Previous_Best_Now_Sucks.png

 

 

--> That sample shows a bit of Argonia near the bottom and leads up to Arcadia near the top.  It actually looks ok if you are zoomed out, but when viewing it at 100% scale, it looks grainy and really pixelated.

 

 

With some tweaks to the process and an increased internal resolution rendering, I am starting to get better results and here is a quick sample (unfortunately not of the same area), showing what I believe to be improved detail and overall higher quality:

 

New Not-As-Crappy-Sample:

 

EBLASTOR_Demo_Strip.png

 

 

--> This sample shows Ascantha and the Mole Hole in the southern portion of the image, and then you can see just a sliver of the Tower of Alexandria as you look further north. 

 

 

It's not perfect since you can still see a hint of pixelation, but I think this is as close as I can get, and frankly, I think it's good enough. 

 

 

Last night I started production in earnest on this, by setting up Empyrea to fly north in a slightly-off-cardinal orbit starting on the western edge of the map.  With this set-up, she will make vertical strips that have 50% side-lap by the time she returns to the same latitude after crossing the "north pole".  This orbiting pattern means I don't have to control her flight and I don't ever have to try to match up adjacent strips, which is incredibly hard to do as her flight direction is very "touchy".  Videos are recorded as she flies and she is set at the lowest altitude that she is capable of, giving the highest resolution and lowest perspective distortion possible with this approach.  The videos are then dumped to frames which are passed into my mapping tool for strip making and mosaic.

 

 

So, there you have it.  I made this topic to hopefully keep me motivated to continue on this, as I sometimes burn out on longer projects like this one.  I hope to post more progress as it is made.

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The first is fine, but it's definitely grainy and pixelated.  The second looks very cleaned up, and about what DQ8 from Empyrea is like on a high quality computer with an emulator and the graphics are cleaned up.  That's as good as it gets outside of ripping the game to disk, then reskinning the maps, then doing your whole shabang, but then it wouldn't be DQ8, it would be "the game formerly known as DQ8".

 

You're not going to get much better than this, aside from maybe some extra buffering effects to smooth some of the jaggies, but honestly, is that even necessary?  No, and it would be tedious.

 

That will be a lot of GB of storage though, lol.  Very nice Zenith.

Edited by ignasia7

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Wow big change, great work.

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Awesome work!

Abbreviation makes me lol hard though [language differences :P]

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It's definitely coming along - quite impressed. Certainly worthy of appreciation from those of us who are die-hard DQ8 fans. Keep at it, o' great DQ cartographer.

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Thanks guys.  I'm hoping this goes pretty smoothly (albeit somewhat slowly), but I am expecting there to be a few bumps in the road. 

 


You're not going to get much better than this, aside from maybe some extra buffering effects to smooth some of the jaggies, but honestly, is that even necessary?  No, and it would be tedious.

 

That will be a lot of GB of storage though, lol.  Very nice Zenith.

 

Yeah, I have played with a bit of filtering and I can absolutely get rid of the jaggies, but the cost is a bit of lost detail in some areas.  If I really wanted to get fancy I could try to make a mask so that the filtering is only applied where needed.  I figure that is something that can be done on a version 2 of the map though, since it could theoretically run on the finished product if desired.

 

As for storage, you're sure right about that.  My working folder after one day of work was 90GB.  I have to fully process each strip before I can move on much further or I will run out of space.  I am wondering how big this map might be when it's done (both in terms of MB and dimensions).  I'm guessing about 13,000 pixels x 13,000 pixels for dimension and 200+ MB at full res (with standard PNG compression). 

 

I guess we will see if that's even in the right ball park when this gets further along.

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You've out done yourself on this one Zen! This will be absolutely amazing when its complete. Cannot wait to see the finished product!

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Thanks!

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Excellent work my friend.  Looking forward to the final product!

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Looks beautiful!

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Heads up KZ - was flying low-alt last night and ran smack into the godbird's eyrie >.< Don't know if your preset flight path will run you into it and/or if it'd mess up your progress in any way once you get there. Just an FYI.

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Thanks for the heads up.  That's definitely something to look out for.  I am hoping my flight path will have me narrowly miss it, but with my luck I will head straight into it.  We'll have to see what I end up doing there.  Some other high altitude places might complicate things too, with scan-width being reduced.  When I fly over Savella, I am not too high off deck and I don't know yet what that will look like.  I might have to do some custom work in places like that, like capturing them from a higher altitude and then scaling them.

 

Hmmm, well thanks again for the tip!

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I'm starting to move again on this project since I have finally been able to use CheatEngine to help me streamline a couple of the tasks.  With that said, here is a prototype sample of the Dark Ruins island (see below).  This is definitely not the final version since there are some things I would like to change right off the bat.

 

1) Time of day.  This was captured pretty early in the morning and I think I would rather capture everything closer to noon.  It's a bit too dark otherwise

2) Cloudiness.  I am not sure how much control I will have over this, but I would like to at least try to reduce the cloud cover on the south-west portion of the island

3) Perspective removal.  I think I can do a bit of a better job reducing left-to-right perspective issues.  I can't really afford to be too picky, but I feel like my process changed too much just while working on this one island, that I really need to redo it to make it more consistent.

 

Anyway, here it is.  Looking forward to adding treasure chest and infamous monster location info directly onto the map when it's done.  For chests, the contents will be listed as well as info about whether you need a thief's or magic key to open it.

 

Dark_Ruins2_Clean.png

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It looks great, great job!

 

I have two ideas how to deal with the clouds:

1) I'm afraid turning them off in game code will be very hard to impossible. You can however use texture editor to find cloud textures and make them invisible.

2) Use EBLASTOR a few times (2-3 will suffice, I think), then merge the maps using min blending (clouds are lighter, so they will have higher RGB/CMYK values).

 

I wish could help you directly, but unfortunately my notebook isn't powerful enough to emulate PS2 games :/

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Thanks Sk8erpunq!  I appreciate the comments and pointers.  I definitely could do option 2, I just need to decide how lazy I am.  Option 1 sounds fantastic though.  Could you elaborate on what this "texture editor" is, and how I might go about learning the ropes?  If that somehow works (and can be applied to DQ9 as well, I will re-re-do the DQ9 Starflight map as well with no clouds.

 

The map above was only possible as a result of your help with using Cheat Engine.  Manually setting up the flight lines to point due north was proving incredibly difficult and really frustrating.  Now I have a hot-key mapped that instantly repoints Empyrea to due north and adjusts her pitch downward to the desired angle.  That alone has saved me a ton of time and made this process actually do-able.  So, thanks!

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My pleasure!

For PS2, this tutorial should explain everything.

I tried finding something similar for NDS, no luck yet. I'll have to dig deeper.

 

You're giving me too much credit. I merely told you it might be possible and which tools to use.

 

Edit:

My bad, the tutorial I linked you to isn't even close to what you want to do. Sorry. 

I'll have to research this some more.

Edited by Sk8erpunq

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No problem.  I appreciate the help!  Texture ripping is kind of cool too though, so I may just look at that tutorial anyway...

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Thanks for the tut link, Sk8erpunq! Will come in handy for making DQVII-2 tilesets! (DQV and DQVIII)

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Ok, I would say the kinks are all ironed out now and this map is in full production mode.  I have been working my way across the North East Continent (from west to east).  Included so far are the West Trodain Church Area, Purgatory Island, the Area where the magical ship is found, Trodain, Hilltop Hut, and obviously all the innocuous places in between.

 

Here is the work-in-progress version (below).  Please ignore any weirdness with clouds over the ocean.  All ocean areas will be stripped out and added back in a nice consistent fashion at the end of this project.  The only remaining on-land artifacts that I will deal with later are some intermittent white streaks from where Empyrea's sparkling effect has snuck it's way into the useful portion of the frames.  Those are easily retouched using the healing tool in GIMP, but I won't bother until the end.

 

NE_Continent.png

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Wow, that looks amazing KingZ, great work!

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 Thought you were going to replace the cloud textures with something completely transparent? Otherwise it's looking pretty damn good!

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Thanks! I'm pretty happy with how it's coming together now. 

 

Regarding the clouds, I would love to do that, but I haven't the first clue how to.  I noticed that cloud cover was really only an issue over the ocean (which I will fix up as best I can later) and in coastal regions.  I think version 1 of this map will be OK with some cloud cover in it.  Gotta just call it "good enough" so I can move on with it.

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Looks great to me, good work :)

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Wow, very nice looking, anything with DQ VIII gets my attention!  

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