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View topic - We need a level editor of SMS Rainbow Islands.

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We need a level editor of SMS Rainbow Islands.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:02 am
First off, use arsenal_51’s Good Ending Bug Fix patch as base.

I feel like this game needs more people trying to hack it, because I’ve played the game so many times, that I almost feel like it’s becoming repetitive, and I need a fresh experience with it, as is generally the purpose of ROM hacks. I want someone to make a level editor for the game, and a ROM hack WILL be made, even if I have to do it myself. We need a full level hack of SMS Rainbow Islands!
 
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:06 am
Well, I mean, you can always examine the code in emulicious and figure out how stages are drawn and where they're stored and create a program off that information or a plugin for Tiled.
Or commission someone to build the software for you if you have a budget for a project like this. I dont see the free/open source dev community hopping on this but i mean who knows. From my understanding this game came out on the MegaDrive as well as a ton of other m68k platforms so maybe its a bit more popular than im assuming.
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:14 pm
Last edited by Tom on Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
(this post was wrong, please delete it)
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Post Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:22 pm
Ok so, I decided to look into this after all.

Don't hold your breath, the tl;dr version is that I failed. But if you know a thing or two, please keep reading, you might be able to help me.

Premise: I used the 00EC173A rom.

Finding the level data wasn't that hard, per se. The problem is that it's scattered all over the place.

For example, look at location $12C00 in the rom. You'll see a $44 $09. For simplicity, let's refer to the $44 as "D" (I like ascii, sue me). So, D E F G are the tiles that make up the flowers right at the beginning of the first level, while the $09s seem to be some kind of flag (it looks like that you can change the palette and the mirroring with it, but I might be wrong). Not far from that, you can find H I J K (still with $09s inbewteen). Those are the fruits, still at the beginning of the first level. Looks simple so far, right? Well, that's where things become confused, even the adjacent platforms are nowhere near that rom location. The fact that there is plain text just a few bytes below isn't reassuring, and the level data doesn't resume until much later in the rom.

Furthermore, some of the data is also used for the hidden objects you can unveil by spawning rainbows over them. By trial and error, I was able to replace everything with the $44 tile (the upper left tile of the flower), but that's about it.

That's pretty much it, the level data is scattered all over the place without any seeming logic, and unlike music I'm pretty much bad at art so I don't have the slightest clue on how to find the pointers.

Looking at the ram in a savestate doesn't help very much, either, there only is a clean copy of the portion of the layout currently visible on the screen, still with the "flags" interleaved. Still, the data isn't scattered anymore, with the right formatting and a little bit of synesthesia you can actually see the level layout in there. See the attached images to see what I mean. You can use those values to find out the tile indexes, but... I can't make an editor with only this knowledge. Help me, and I'll deliver. If it's not too hard.
.png (1.58 KB)
Screenshot of the beginning of the first level, for reference
.png
Image1.png (1.67 KB)
Relevant ram at the beginning of the first level, viewed as ascii
Image1.png

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:26 am
Tom wrote
Ok so, I decided to look into this after all.

Don't hold your breath, the tl;dr version is that I failed. But if you know a thing or two, please keep reading, you might be able to help me.

Premise: I used the 00EC173A rom.

Finding the level data wasn't that hard, per se. The problem is that it's scattered all over the place.

For example, look at location $12C00 in the rom. You'll see a $44 $09. For simplicity, let's refer to the $44 as "D" (I like ascii, sue me). So, D E F G are the tiles that make up the flowers right at the beginning of the first level, while the $09s seem to be some kind of flag (it looks like that you can change the palette and the mirroring with it, but I might be wrong). Not far from that, you can find H I J K (still with $09s inbewteen). Those are the fruits, still at the beginning of the first level. Looks simple so far, right? Well, that's where things become confused, even the adjacent platforms are nowhere near that rom location. The fact that there is plain text just a few bytes below isn't reassuring, and the level data doesn't resume until much later in the rom.

Furthermore, some of the data is also used for the hidden objects you can unveil by spawning rainbows over them. By trial and error, I was able to replace everything with the $44 tile (the upper left tile of the flower), but that's about it.

That's pretty much it, the level data is scattered all over the place without any seeming logic, and unlike music I'm pretty much bad at art so I don't have the slightest clue on how to find the pointers.

Looking at the ram in a savestate doesn't help very much, either, there only is a clean copy of the portion of the layout currently visible on the screen, still with the "flags" interleaved. Still, the data isn't scattered anymore, with the right formatting and a little bit of synesthesia you can actually see the level layout in there. See the attached images to see what I mean. You can use those values to find out the tile indexes, but... I can't make an editor with only this knowledge. Help me, and I'll deliver. If it's not too hard.


Interesting find. Did you consider that levels may be made up of meta tiles? If each map is made up of meta tiles then finding the tile map may not be as easy and may require more work. It may become more apparent when the map is constructed on screen but there's still not a lot known from the info provided.

My question is how was your ascii image built? is that data from vram or ram? If you can, try seeing if the order that tiles exist in rom match the order they appear in vram as well. This may help in figuring out if what you're looking at is just a tile set or a tile map in memory.
Further more, it looks as if it uses a 2x2 meta tile based map with 4 tiles being grouped together to form one large 16x16 pixel tile. All of this though is just me assuming and guessing with the data you've provided but I think everything that Ive mentioned are good starts for continuing on with this.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:49 am
IllusionOfMana wrote
Did you consider that levels may be made up of meta tiles? If each map is made up of meta tiles then finding the tile map may not be as easy and may require more work.
Indeed, that's quite possibly the only reasonable explanation for the scattering of the data, I came to the same conclusion but I didn't mention it to prevent bias in other people's analyses. Either way, as I said, I know next to nothing about art, I usually work with music, so this is where I hit a brick wall.

My ignorance about art makes it impossible for me to address your other questions, too. I hoped it could be as simple as that time when I cracked the level data of Slider, where 1 byte = 1 tile (with some RLE involved, but still, it was simple enough even for me).

There is also something else I'm thinking about which might be problematic for a level editor, but like before, I don't want to produce bias so I'll keep it to myself for another little while.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:07 am
I'll look into it at some point. Maybe later today and post my findings here then. Even if graphics and maps are not together one thing I know is graphics are usually next to graphics and maps are usually next to other maps.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:23 am
IllusionOfMana wrote
maps are usually next to other maps.
Yeah, that's why I'm confused by the plain text right after the first portion of level data in the rom. The next area of level data is much further below. For the record, this is related to my other concern, editing the data might require to relocate the unrelevant stuff inbetween, possibly causing a domino effect and a pointer nightmare.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:55 am
Either the data is stored uncompressed in the ROM (which would be pretty unusual, I think) or there's some additional structure in there which you will need to unravel and rebuild in any level editor. Worst case, there may also be some compression applied to the data, making it harder to find by ROM inspection.

Tom, it looks like you've found raw tile data because it seems to match the VRAM format - which is 16 bits per entry (9 bits tile index, 4 bits flags, the rest unused - see http://www.smspower.org/maxim/HowToProgram/Tilemap for more). However as you've seen there's more than just graphical data to be seen. It's highly likely the data is based on "meta-rows" where each level is defined as a sequence of 256x16 pixel rows, which themselves are likely to be used multiple times across levels.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:34 am
In ROM at $d649 there is a table of 8 pointers.
Each of these pointers points into a table of (address, bank) pairs at $d659. The pointers just point into this table linearly so you can ignore the pointer table and just use the table at $d659.
The table at $d659 points to the metatilesets for the levels (Are there 8 levels?).
You just read this table as 3rd Byte * 0x4000 + (2nd Byte * 0x100 + 1st Byte) % 0x4000.

Edit: Starting from $7b06 there is a pointer table containing pointers for each sub level. So the entry for level X-Y is at $7b06 + (X - 1) * 3 * 2 + (Y - 1) * 2. You can also ignore this pointer table and directly use the values of the table pointed to at $7b46. The formula for finding the pointer to the level data is $7b46 + ((X - 1) * 3 + (Y - 1)) * 3 * 2. Every sub level has 3 words. The 2nd word is the pointer to the level layout data. So you can just add + 2 to the formula to directly find the pointer to the level layout data.
The level layout data is read from the same bank as the metatiles. So the formula for the layout data is 3rd Byte from metatileset table * 0x4000 + (2nd Byte from 2nd entry of this table * 0x100 + 1st Byte from 2nd entry of this table) % 0x4000.
The level layout data is stored row by row.
And you seem to be very lucky because everything seems to be uncompressed and thus easily editable. :)

The same information as Pseudocode:
Given level as X and sublevel as Y from X-Y.

metaTilesetEntry = $d659 + (level - 1) * 3
metaTilesetPointer = read(metaTilesetEntry + 1) * 0x100 + read(metaTilesetEntry)
bank = read(metaTilesetEntry + 2)
metaTilesetAddress = bank * 0x4000 + metaTilesetPointer % 0x4000

levelEntry = $7b46 + ((level - 1) * 3 + (sublevel - 1)) * 3 * 2
levelPointer = read(levelEntry + 2 + 1) * 0x100 + read(levelEntry + 2)
levelLayoutAddress = bank * 0x4000 + levelPointer % 0x4000

If you let level and sublevel both start from 0 for level 1-1 then you can always omit the - 1 for them.

The level layout data consists of indices into the metatileset. To calculate the start address for the metatile with ID metaTileID you can use the formula metaTileAddress = metaTilesetAddress + metaTileID * 4 * 2.
Each metatile consists of 2x2 tiles. 1st byte of a metatile is the tileID for top-left, 2nd byte of a metatile is the flags to use for the top-left tile (mirroring, palette), 3rd byte of a metatile is the tileID for top-right tile, 4th byte of a metatile is the flags for the top-right tile, ... followed by the analogous data for the bottom row of the metatile.

Let me know if anything is unclear or not working as intended or if you need more help. :)
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:22 pm
Last edited by Tom on Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:33 am; edited 15 times in total
Sorry for the late reply, I was out all day.

Yes, this is all wonderful information, thank you very much! I found all the pointers and all the data, I can start coding right now if I can unofficially "claim" the job (please interpret this with the correct spirit, I just wouldn't want two people to waste time over the same task, that's all, I'm not seeking for glory).

It turns out that the flower and the apple that I found weren't part of the level data at all after all. In fact, bonus objects (both visible and invisible) seem to be stored somewhere else. You can place the flower metatile in the level data, but it would act as background and hence not be collectable. Which brings us to the next two questions, how do bonus objects (and enemies) work, and how does the game know which metatiles are solid and which are not. I tried to place various kinds of walls by hand and you can walk on some of them, while you fall through other ones. This should be investigated.

The boss arenas seem to be outside from the level data, too. I doubt that anyone would want to edit them, though.

But that's something for tomorrow. Right now my task at hand is to handle the level data. Also, I'm curious about world 8, since there are only 7 in this version afaik. More to come.

edit: the level select displays an eight world indeed (also, see post below). I knew about secret islands in other ports, but I didn't know there was a secret island here as well. Good to know.

edit: it turns out that the first word, which is the same for the first three levels in each world, points to the upper chest area (no pun intended), which consists of 128 bytes (aka 128 metatiles) and is indeed shared between the levels in a world (except ?-4s of course).

edit: sup guys, see attachment.

edit: removed the wrong guesses I've been writing all night long (yeah, it's 5:19am here in Italy).

edit: I was calculating the level heights empirically (it's not that hard), but it turns out that the second byte of the third word is related to that. 3 means $340 metatiles, 5 means $540 metatiles, 7 means $740 metatiles, and so on. Interestingly enough, level 1-4 is only $400 instead of $440 despite the 4, it's probably related to the lack of the chest area. Not sure what the first byte of the third word is. Can't we just call them fifth and sixth bytes anyway? Maybe the third word isn't a word at all even if the first two words are words.

edit: improved the attachment (which is still very wip), but I should really take a break now, it's morning here in Italy. I'll rest a little bit but I'll make sure to proceed soon.
Image1.png (5.34 KB)
Getting somewhere!
Image1.png

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:16 am
Tom wrote


But that's something for tomorrow. Right now my task at hand is to handle the level data. Also, I'm curious about world 8, since there are only 7 in this version afaik. More to come.

edit 5: the level select displays an eight world indeed.


The 8th and final island is a "secret" one that you unlock by collecting the large diamond in each of the seven islands.
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:21 am
Yeah, I knew about the secret islands in some of the other versions, but I'm ashamed to admit that I never played the Master System version until yesterday or so, and I seemed to remember that some source stated that the secret islands aren't available in all the versions. It turns out that there is one, but only one.
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:27 am
Tom wrote
Sorry for the late reply, I was out all day.

Yes, this is all wonderful information, thank you very much! I found all the pointers and all the data, I can start coding right now if I can unofficially "claim" the job (please interpret this with the correct spirit, I just wouldn't want two people to waste time over the same task, that's all, I'm not seeking for glory).

It turns out that the flower and the apple that I found weren't part of the level data at all after all. In fact, bonus objects (both visible and invisible) seem to be stored somewhere else. You can place the flower metatile in the level data, but it would act as background and hence not be collectable. Which brings us to the next two questions, how do bonus objects (and enemies) work, and how does the game know which metatiles are solid and which are not. I tried to place various kinds of walls by hand and you can walk on some of them, while you fall through other ones. This should be investigated.

The boss arenas seem to be outside from the level data, too. I doubt that anyone would want to edit them, though.

But that's something for tomorrow. Right now my task at hand is to handle the level data. Also, I'm curious about world 8, since there are only 7 in this version afaik. More to come.

edit: the level select displays an eight world indeed (also, see post below). I knew about secret islands in other ports, but I didn't know there was a secret island here as well. Good to know.

edit: it turns out that the first word, which is the same for the first three levels in each world, points to the upper chest area (no pun intended), which consists of 128 bytes (aka 128 metatiles) and is indeed shared between the levels in a world (except ?-4s of course).

<s>edit: sup guys, see attachment.</s>

edit: removed the wrong guesses I've been writing all night long (yeah, it's 5:19am here in Italy).

edit: I was calculating the level heights empirically (it's not that hard), but it turns out that the second byte of the third word is related to that. 3 means $340 metatiles, 5 means $540 metatiles, 7 means $740 metatiles, and so on. Interestingly enough, level 1-4 is only $400 instead of $440 despite the 4, it's probably related to the lack of the chest area. Not sure what the first byte of the third word is. Can't we just call them fifth and sixth bytes anyway? Maybe the third word isn't a word at all even if the first two words are words.

edit: improved the attachment (which is still very wip), but I should really take a break now, it's morning here in Italy. I'll rest a little bit but I'll make sure to proceed soon.

No problem! I'm happy my infos are of use to you and that you actually make something out of it. 😊

Don't worry I gathered the information for you to make the editor so it's all fine! I would just appreciate some credit in the end. 😉

If you can compile a list of open questions I can look into them when I get home this evening.

I wonder if the OP is still interested as he has been quiet since his initial post.
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:14 am
Tom wrote
Yeah, I knew about the secret islands in some of the other versions

Iirc, Graftgold, the developers of the home computer versions became aware of the secret islands when working on the conversions, but their publisher wasn’t willing to extend the existing contract to cover three more. Shame, really, as the Amiga and C64 versions in particular are stellar efforts, otherwise.
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:42 pm
Calindro wrote
I would just appreciate some credit in the end. 😉
Don't worry, I'm never shy on credits.
Calindro wrote
If you can compile a list of open questions I can look into them when I get home this evening.
So far, the most outstanding question is how objects work, in particular bonus objects (both hidden and visible) and enemies, it would be neat to display them and edit them along with the layout.
Calindro wrote
I wonder if the OP is still interested as he has been quiet since his initial post.
Dunno, but I like to make editors and this is a nice game, so it's all good, I guess. I'll probably make a new topic for the release, though, for this very reason, I'd like to be in control of the first post since he's mia.

So, what now. The editor does work right now but it's still quite rough around the edges, it does no sanity checks at all (and I always used the 00EC173A rom for my tests, I should check the broken one as well). Furthermore, the fact that the levels within a world can use different palettes is something which is going to annoy me a lot in the near future.

I'm probably going to release a beta in a day or two, though, to gather some user feedback.

Also, I was thinking about a name for the editor. I do suck at naming things, but I thought that a pun would be nice. The French word for "rainbow" is "arc-en-ciel" (literally "bow in the sky"), I'm seriously considering to call this "arc-en-cieditor", but anyone with a sane mind can stop me before it's too late.

In the mean time, this is a face:


Did I mention that I suck at art? Yes, that, and naming things. But I do have positive qualities, I swear! Maybe.
.png (1.44 KB)
The same face, in-game
.png
Image1.png (7.29 KB)
This is a face
Image1.png

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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:42 am
Very good to see someone take interest in this game to work on what looks like a nice editor. Good luck on it.

Though as to OP, he repeated the post a few times on RHDN, so we had to moderate that.
Then he PM'd me there telling me to make an editor. I had to explain that for multiple reasons, no. (such as busy, lack of coding skill, only occasionally played other versions of the game)
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:59 am
Ah, angry beggars, a long standing fixture of the retro gaming scene :)
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:30 am
Thanks for posting that, KingMike, it's quite possibly the very one thing I needed to read.

As you can see, both Calindro and I in our most recent posts were wondering if the OP was still around, and the funny thing is that the OP sent me a private message, no less than one hour and a half after I made that post. Without many celebrations, not a greeting, not a thank, all he said is that I should upload the WIP of my editor to romhacking.net.

... no? I'm not?

In an attempt of maturity, something I sometimes lacked in the past, I didn't reply to the private message and I didn't post about it on the forum in a fit of rage, I took my time to watch and think, and then I saw your post. I can now post here with all the calm in the world.

It goes without saying that I stop working on the editor with immediate effect, too bad for the couple of sleepless nights I had, but it could have been worse, it's a good thing that this happened right before I was going to post an open beta, so I could know who we were dealing with.

Since I'm not a hoarder, though, I'll gladly share (privately, of course) the aforementioned beta with anyone else who's interested into editing this game, the editor currently lacks a few features, but it's indeed fully functional.
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:07 am
Tom wrote
Thanks for posting that, KingMike, it's quite possibly the very one thing I needed to read.

As you can see, both Calindro and I in our most recent posts were wondering if the OP was still around, and the funny thing is that the OP sent me a private message, no less than one hour and a half after I made that post. Without many celebrations, not a greeting, not a thank, all he said is that I should upload the WIP of my editor to romhacking.net.

... no? I'm not?

In an attempt of maturity, something I sometimes lacked in the past, I didn't reply to the private message and I didn't post about it on the forum in a fit of rage, I took my time to watch and think, and then I saw your post. I can now post here with all the calm in the world.

It goes without saying that I stop working on the editor with immediate effect, too bad for the couple of sleepless nights I had, but it could have been worse, it's a good thing that this happened right before I was going to post an open beta, so I could know who we were dealing with.

Since I'm not a hoarder, though, I'll gladly share (privately, of course) the aforementioned beta with anyone else who's interested into editing this game, the editor currently lacks a few features, but it's indeed fully functional.

Actually, I was already afraid of him having this attitude judging from the wording of his post...
Nevertheless, I for my part appreciate your work on this editor and I'll be happy to find out more for your editor like for example how the objects and enemies work. :)
But of course I don't want you to spend more time on this if it feels like a waste of time to you. ;)
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:34 am
@Tom Sorry to hear the OP got you upset with his demanding and frankly childish attitude. They appear to lack social skills at any rate.

However, I can't quite understand your reaction either. While obviously you have every right to pick up and leave the task, it seems a little reactionary. Are you sure you're not a little hot still?

You said yourself that you enjoy making editors. And here you have some really neat progress going on and an amazing editor taking shape. I've enjoyed reading your progress.

And even with OP being a jerk, how does that detract from the skill and creativity you are expressing? Even if the OP gets a hold of the editor at some point, so what? If you enjoy making the editor, who cares how it got started. It's a great project...maybe rethink how you feel about it and reconsider. If you truly do love making editors for the joy of making them, then this is a nice one to do. Any way, it's your choice. I would like to see it finished up, but it is what it is. Take care.
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:34 am
I think Tom it would be nice to keep working on this. Either way you shouldn't start or stop a project based on whoever entitled maniac sends you PM or even me posting, do them if you enjoy the prospect and the project. If we cancel our nice projects because of one entitled lazy apple we'd be cancelling everything.

(*EDIT* Funny that TheNameOfTheGame posted at the same time.. their message is more eloquent than mine!)
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:10 pm
It was more than obvious from my first post that he definitely wasn't taking my answer of "pay someone to do it". I'm surprised you took it on Tom, but if you love the game and making tools like this then all the power to you. I empathize with you on the sense of unease though, OP doesn't own the games IP, didn't even really ask you to make the editor, didn't help find or provide information in solving the stated issue, yet demanded you to do and not do things. However, dont let them dictate what you do.
I think you should finish it and release it or at least put it up on GIT so someone else can but that's just my opinion. Its up to you on what you want to do in the end.
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Post Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:13 am
I've never played this game and not really into platformers in general so don't have much to contribute to this discussion.

However with regard to the name of your editor Tom, I quite like Bow In The Sky, it even forms a nice acronym B.I.T.S
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:46 pm
Good to hear you'd save the work you've done, Tom.
Would hate to see the effort go to waste if someone appreciative were to want to continue to work on it.
As well, I'm sure here as well as DataCrystal on Romhacking.net would be a good place to post any information about the game you have found out to help anyone else who would like to hack this game sometime.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:01 am
Time for a sparse reply after a few days of silence.

Let me start by saying that it's easy to misunderstand people on the internet. People read what other people write, possibly in a language which isn't native for either of them, so there's always a chance that we don't get what they meant. This happened at least twice in this topic.

Even when he still had an account (which I see has been deleted in the mean time), the OP didn't have a location set in his profile, so I naively assumed that his tone was because of a language barrier of some kind. Further developments proved me wrong, but that's never been the problem, and that's where some of you didn't get my point.

Anyway, that's not important. Moving on.

As I said, I stongly believe that virtually every game deserves a level editor, I still do, and Rainbow Islands is no exception. My opinion on this matter never changed. After a brief hiatus, I actually kept working on the editor behind the scenes, and uploading the maps was a subtle hint of that.

I'm happy that I kept on working on it, because it faced me with some unprecedented challenges, and I took it as a chance to learn some new things in the process, I've been programming since when I was 4, but I am always happy when I can learn something new.

With all that said, I believe that the editor has reached a fairly decent level of completeness to be considered a working beta, and therefore I'm going to release it in the next minutes, but not in this topic, I'll create a new one, I already wanted to do so for logistical reasons, and a second reason is that this topic is now filled with unpleasant discussions I wish we can leave behind our backs. The new topic will be meant only for positive talking, feedback about the editor and whatnot, I will actively ask the forum staff to delete any inappropriate posts from that topic. That won't include criticism, of course, which will always be welcome.

That is all for now, but stay tuned!
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