Another “minor” update

This time around we’ve switched over to the 2013 default WordPress theme. Nothing overwhelmingly exciting, but atleast we have a fresh look. Color and other adjustments might be done later on. Mostly I wanted to get rid of broken design as some update within the past year broke the earlier theme.

Minor site update

We’ve switched to Disqus comments. At the moment it seems the old comments don’t yet appear, but they should (as I exported them). Hopefully they do.

Other than that I hope the new comments system works better than the native WordPress one.

On real life news I’ve finally caught myself a developer job. As a result I’m moving to Helsinki soon and generally things are good. I just lack the usual time to do all the stuff I’d like to do :)

Work again drains my energy

So the effects of summer holidays have worn off: I’m back to having busy days at work, so busy that I’m tired when I’m on my free time. This includes weekends which are largely spent resting. Unlike last year and year before that I’m not taking any pressure. I know I’ll have some easier time sooner or later. I’m also learning to going bed early. I don’t know when I get my first week that I’ve slept properly each day, but eventually it happens. I hope the cumulative effect of having enough sleep also means I have more energy, enough to do programming during my free time.

In the meanwhile you’ll get these random minor updates like the YouTube one or new replacement buildings.

Safe building palette

In this palette image any color that is different between Greenland, Wasteland or Winter World has been “disabled” by marking it in magenta (color ID 254). Useful if you want to draw new buildings for original game that look exactly the same in each environment.

Here is Charburner in Safe Palette:

Improving Charburner for Babylonians

Charburner is a unique addition in Return to the Roots. There was an existing old artwork for the building:

So I went ahead and improved it step-by-step, using the Storehouse wall and roof style:

The original graphic kind of works as an example of what happens when you try to have too much detail: it becomes so busy you can no longer tell what you can see. I simplified the building to the Storehouse style as it was a successful one and removed some roughness by using more colors of the palette. The building’s color is no longer too close to the wheat’s color so that makes it easier to distinguish the elements. As the roof is much lighter you can see the darker elements on the roof. I used some shading and shadowing techniques to make the pick-axe more visible. I also removed handles from the water buckets to reduce detail that didn’t matter.

If nothing else I hope this kind of postings give inspiration for someone to start learning pixelart.

Map header’s last unknown byte now known!

Earlier all documentation has stated one unknown byte in a map file header that is between player HQ locations and leaders. I now know the meaning of this byte: Map Editor sets it to 1 if the map is invalid, in it’s terms meaning there are no players set. The game reads this byte when selecting a map in Unlimited Play and ranks the map as Invalid Map. It however also shows map title and size.

I noticed this just a moment ago after having a look those demo maps that I made. I used Map Editor to generate a map of correct size, title and author information and then manually pasted the bytes with a hex editor. Only now I paid attention to what header content the maps had when I just happened to open them in a hex editor.

Because this byte is used like this I throw a recommendation that any map that works exclusively for RttR should set this byte to 0×02. This prevents users of the original game from trying to play the map file. Any non-zero value in this byte prevents the map from loading in Unlimited Play.