Please welcome, ladies & gentlemen in the following text from our series "Do It Yourself" by
Adam Slodowy (I have to tell you, that Adam is a kind of Polish MacGyver, witch only one exception:
Adam is a real person). Forgive this little joke, this episode is leaded by me (Peter), of course.
Our today's subject is of course making a map for Atari XL/XE game.
At the beginning, what do we need? Here are the necesarry tools and materials:
1. Atari XL/XE emulator, Atari800WinPlus in newest version is recommended,
at present 3.1 (it sounds almost like prehistoric Windows).
2. Graphics program for PC. I prefer Paint Shop Pro 4. It' old, yes, but it will be
more than enough, and besides it was distributed on Chip CD with free registration.
3. A game, that we want to map, exactly the atr or xex version for emulator.
I presume, that everyone knows, how to run a game in emulator, if not, read
the builded-in help.
So, let's run a game and start our mission. Being on every one location press F10 -
screen shot. I suggest you giving clear names for screenshots, with it's posintion included, like:
game-xx-yy, where xx and yy stands for horizontal and vertical coordinate axis. If a starting point
is placed in upper-left corner of map, start namig with "00-00" coordinates. If not, or we don't know it
yet (as it is usually happens), I suggest starting with "50-50". When going down and left we should
decrease appropiate coordinates, going up and right increase them. Please do this with care,
especially when we stuck in a blind way and need to go back to the branching. Possible mistakes show up
when building a map, when suddenly we realize, that for example we have to enter a location through
Making a screenshot please pay attention that our hero should be visible on empty
background - so that it will be easy to remove him during making our map. Of course - sometimes it's
not possible, some games have graphics background. In that case we have two ways. One is to make
two screenshots for each location, with our hero in another place of a screen, and then compile
the final screenshot from two of them. Other solution - snatching that game graphics is usually made of
repeatable elements - is to remove our person with adequate element taken from other place on screenshot,
or even from other location.
Do we have all screenshots allready? It is time to assemble our map. Start Paint Shop
(or other favourite proggy), make a new, blank picture with big size (4000*2000) and make a proper color
palette. That is important point of out work, if we want (of course we want!) to preserve original colours.
To do this we need a screenshot will possibly ALL 256 Atari colours. I'm using a screenshot from old Atari
Graphic Demo (1985-86 year), it shows matrix ;) 16*16 squares which shows all Atari colours. To be honest,
PSP shows, that there is only 240 different colours, but it's nothing wrong with that. After opening this
shot in PSP, choose option "save palette" from menu "colors" and name it "atari". Since then we have
to load this palette for each map we are making.
At last: it's time to open first shot and determine a work area of game screen
(I mean only the gaming area: with no border, menu, remaining life and such items). Sometimes it's not
possible on an exact screen, and have to choose other, more filled with graphics. After selecting
a working area the best way it to save it ("selections" menu - "save selection"). This way we do not
need to make a new selection for each screenshot. Once have our area selected, we just have to copy it
(ctrl+C), switch to picture with our map and press ctrl+E. Next we determine thr right place for this
shot and click with the mouse. Each following fragment we just stick on to the ready part of map.
Then, we remove the unwanted elements, like our personage at first. It may happen, that presumed area
for full map is to small, so just make a bigger new, blank picture and copy an assembled part of map
to the new document. Ater assmebling all elements it's time to final polish: cut, add an title
(preferably also from screenshot) and a map legend. Then just save finalized map to a file
(I suggest you using the PNG) and... that's all. No, there is only one thing to do: prepare to making of
a next map.