first of all, this program is amazing. i've always wanted to "redo" the nes library to at least a 16 bit version. this is a huge step, if not even a better one. the programmer has blown my mind. i can't wait until a year from now when there's a library of fully customized games available.
how to use it (i think)
when you open a rom and click on a sprite you are presented with customizations for said sprite.
- layer: the two major/most important options of the program are for "front" and "back" layer. think of an invisible wall in the direct middle of the 3d. would you like the sprite in front of or behind that invisible wall?
- depth: how thick the sprite is.
- zscale: how far the sprite is pushed on the on the z axis. think of it as how far the sprite is pushed towards you, the viewer. doesn't seem to be any value unless separating background layers.
- as: removal of shadows for certain pattern types.
- pattern: this is where it gets tricky. though the programming is super awesome, and it does a great job with the cylinders, i think 90% of sprites don't look good/benefit from cylinders. too many cylinders on the screen make it hard for my brain to process what's going on in the game. i stick with unknown (flat 2d) most of the time.
tips & tricks
save/back-up constantly. when you hit the save button it takes the program a little time to save. if you immediately close the program after hitting the save button without it finishing it will erase your 3dn file. the only way to know for sure is to wait a good ten seconds or what i do: (i have two monitors) i leave the folder open in another window and watch to see the 3dn file size change.
flickering: when you load a rom and play you'll probably notice most of the background objects flickering, or jumping around a lot. this is due to it's layer not being set to front or back. easy fix.
won't save/change edits: if you make edits that won't save when you re-check, make sure you press on all the drop-down menus and select the exact same thing, and hit adjust a few times. you should see the sprite change. if you don't then you probably have the pattern set on a cylinder instead of unknown. cylinders automatically set their depth to the closest you want it to be. sometimes it can't do what you want. (example: you keep making the depth 10, but upon re-opening it's always 5. that's the highest it can go for that sprite/cylinder.)
plan for the whole game. nes roms didn't have a whole lot of room for data, so images are recycled a lot. before you spend 4 hours making the best 3d eye-popping level the world has ever known, do a little bit of it and then play the whole level to see how it's effecting the rest of it. most notably this goes for any and all text.
only edit games you're good at. this doesn't have a typical emulator arsenal. no savestates, no cheats, no help. it's old school. you're on your own. in order to design levels you need to be able to get to the levels. we all know some of the best games are the hardest, but what's the point in investing hours of your time only to have 20% of a completed game?
sometimes sprites need double edits: when you finish a side scrolling game level, re-play finished levels and slowly walk forward (by tapping the d-pad right over and over) looking for background sprites to jump out for one frame. sometimes they're hard to notice unless you're looking for them, but once corrected the game will seem smoother than before.
did i mention to back-up your work?
i wish there was:
- a bit more room in terms of the z axis (front and back).
- zoffset. this would make anything possible from a design point of view.