Custom artworks are duplicated

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mat
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Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by mat »

After extracting Emerald Mine Club into the appropriate folder, when you want to change custom graphics, some entries on the graphics list are duplicated. For instance, Amiga Mine 1 appears 3 times on the list. Not all duplicated versions work well (change the graphics) though the game tries to load new artwork. Also, I found levelsets that has no duplicates, from which you might select graphics you can play with, but there's no effect after choosing them: e.g. Amiga Mine 2 or Ami Dasher (they set default R'n'D theme, although they have their own artwork).

Custom sounds and music are ok (at least with EMC pack), but it seems they may have the same bug...
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Holger
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Re: Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by Holger »

First of all, welcome to the R'n'D forum, mat! :-) (Forgot that when I already replied to another of your posts...)

I really appreciate that you (apparently) take a fresh look at R'n'D, mentioning some of its oddities that long-time users maybe do not notice anymore!
After extracting Emerald Mine Club into the appropriate folder, when you want to change custom graphics, some entries on the graphics list are duplicated. For instance, Amiga Mine 1 appears 3 times on the list.
Yes, that's right. Especially when looking at the EMC collection with its high number of level sets (of which many have custom artwork), this really does not work well at the moment.

The reason why Amiga Mine 1 appears 3 times on the list (with exactly the same names, which is even worse), is the following: That level set comes with two different artwork sets for the game element graphics -- one that was designed for the Amiga ECS chipset (old Amiga 500 style), and another one (with more colors) that was designed for the Amiga AGA chipset (newer Amiga 1200 style). These should be named as such (like "Amiga Mine 1 (ECS)" instead of simply "Amiga Mine 1", for example). These two artwork sets are referenced from the level set's file "levelinfo.conf" for the two modes (that can be selected from the setup menu).

As many EMC level sets share the same custom graphics, these artwork sets (graphics, sounds and music, if available) are not part of the level set, but exist as separate sets (with no levels, but only artwork) that are referenced from the level sets that use this artwork (to prevent numerous diplication of always the same artwork over many level sets).

Additionally, many level sets have individual title screens -- these exist as small level set specific graphics sets which only contain definitions for these title graphics (but no additional element graphics, for example). As R'n'D currently does not now this (that this graphics set does not contain graphics that could be used by another level set in a reasonable way), it just offers these "custom graphics" (that are in fact only a few title screens) as another custom graphics set.

Therefore, "Amiga Mine 1" has the following graphics sets with the same name:

- "Amiga Mine 1" (that should be "Amiga Mine 1 (ECS)")
- "Amiga Mine 1" (that should be "Amiga Mine 1 (AGA)")
- "Amiga Mine 1" (that should be omitted, as it only contains the title screens for that set)

To improve this, R'n'D should be changed to make a reasonable decision about what artwork sets to show, and which to omit, I think. Besides omitting title-screen-only graphics sets (which would have to be detected), it could be argued that all these ECS and AGA graphics sets (and probably all the other graphics sets from the EMC collection that do not differ between ECS and AGA graphics) should not be displayed at all (as many of them do not differ much).

Instead, things could be changed in a way so that artwork sets would have to set a flag saying "this artwork set could reasonably be used as an alternative artwork set by other level sets", and let R'n'D only show these few sets (unless a setup option "show me ALL artwork sets" is selected that is "off" by default). This would reduce selectable artwork sets massively (as only manually "flagged" sets would be displayed by default), but may make sense that way.

As I am currently working on an update of the EMC collection, I will try to at least add "ECS/AGA" to the corresponding artwork sets. Not showing the title screen "artwork sets" will require a little bit more concept and programming work...
filbo
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Re: Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by filbo »

Even though I was an Amiga user back in the day(*), whenever I see that choice of 'ECS vs AGA' I am uncertain which is expected to be 'better'. Searching the internet for information about the chipsets, I see both supported a wide variety of resolutions and color schemes, so in fact knowing which chipset is 'better' is not dispositive. What's really needed is to know how R'n'D (in emulation of EMC) intends to use them.

Does the overall R'n'D display change size (number of pixels per direction)? Color depth?

So if there's room onscreen, I'd prefer to see things like 'Amiga Mine 1 (ECS - 640x400 6-bit)' vs 'Amiga Mine 1 (AGA - 800x600 9-bit)' -- with the actual stats, not my fancifully made up ones. If they differ only in color then '(ECS - 6-bit color)' would be good.

This should appear in the pick menu for choosing custom artwork sets; and more especially in Setup > Game Engines > Emerald Mine > Amiga Graphics Chipset, where you're offered 2 3-letter-gibberishes with no guidance.

(*)Waaay back in the day -- I bought an Amiga A1000 the first day it was released in the US, and never owned any later models, so I was firmly stuck in what was eventually known as 'OCS'. But with some klunky 40MiB hard disk and 2MiB of external(!) RAM in a device called a 'RAMBO-ard'(!!) (Now I am paying $20 extra to get the 64GiB, not 32GiB, tablet model for my youngest daughter to take with her to boarding school... 35y of progress, I guess RAM has been growing at a rate of around (2^(3/7)) compounded per year...)
filbo
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Re: Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by filbo »

So now I go comparing... most of the image files in gfx_amiga_mine_01.{ecs,aga}/graphics are identical! Only emc_players.pcx and emc_objects.pcx differ; and both have the same resolution, and appear visually indistinguishable to me when I flash them back and forth onscreen. The AGA 'objects' file has 8-bit color while ECS has '4 planes each of 1-bit colour' (which seems to nevertheless act just like 4-bit color...) ImageMagick `compare *.pcx foo.png` does see differences, but I'm not sure I would be able to notice them in gameplay even with careful study.

I'm sure there are levelsets where there's a big difference (in fact I know I've switched between and seen big differences). But not the ones I arbitrarily chose to study.

I then compared gfx_amiga_mine_01.* to gfx_amiga_mine_03.*; again, other than trivial name changes in the .conf files, and graphical image changes that `compare` could see but my eyes couldn't, they are identical.

So yeah, determining which to show in a dynamic menu of possible artworks to borrow seems ... challenging.
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Holger
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Re: Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by Holger »

Even though I was an Amiga user back in the day(*), whenever I see that choice of 'ECS vs AGA' I am uncertain which is expected to be 'better'.
AGA ("Advanced Graphics Architecture") is better than ECS ("Enhanced Chip Set").

However, what's "better" for the user may depend on which graphics set looks more "authentic" to what you have seen when you played the original game on your Amiga back then (which might have been equipped with ECS or AGA graphics).
What's really needed is to know how R'n'D (in emulation of EMC) intends to use them.

Does the overall R'n'D display change size (number of pixels per direction)? Color depth?
No, only the number of colors is affected here. Screen resolution is (and was) always the same.
This should appear in the pick menu for choosing custom artwork sets; and more especially in Setup > Game Engines > Emerald Mine > Amiga Graphics Chipset, where you're offered 2 3-letter-gibberishes with no guidance.
Yes, that's right! :D
So now I go comparing... most of the image files in gfx_amiga_mine_01.{ecs,aga}/graphics are identical!
Yeah, right -- that's all the menu and stuff like that. If I could use another instance of indirection (using some sort of "base graphics set"), duplicated artwork in the EMC collection could be even further reduced. But it's not supported for now (and would add even more confusion ;-) ).
Only emc_players.pcx and emc_objects.pcx differ; and both have the same resolution, and appear visually indistinguishable to me when I flash them back and forth onscreen.
That's strange! Just compared "gfx_amiga_mine_01.ecs/graphics/emc_objects.pcx" and "gfx_amiga_mine_01.aga/graphics/emc_objects.pcx" that way, and for me, they differ a lot! Just look at the totally different shape of the boulders, the font color and the color of the "gate" elements, for example. Besides that, the ECS variant has only 16 colors, while the AGA variant has 62 colors.
The AGA 'objects' file has 8-bit color while ECS has '4 planes each of 1-bit colour' (which seems to nevertheless act just like 4-bit color...)
"4 planes each of 1-bit colour" is the native Amiga internal graphics (and also IFF/ILBM) format, which was used for the bit depths less than 8 these days. For example, the Amiga Workbench had only four colors, which was internally represented by two monochrome (1-bit) bit planes, where two bits at the same position in both bit planes were put together to get 2 bit color depth, which results in background color and three foreground colors... :-)
(*)Waaay back in the day -- I bought an Amiga A1000 the first day it was released in the US, and never owned any later models, so I was firmly stuck in what was eventually known as 'OCS'. But with some klunky 40MiB hard disk and 2MiB of external(!) RAM in a device called a 'RAMBO-ard'(!!) (Now I am paying $20 extra to get the 64GiB, not 32GiB, tablet model for my youngest daughter to take with her to boarding school... 35y of progress, I guess RAM has been growing at a rate of around (2^(3/7)) compounded per year...)
Very cool! The original Amiga (later called "Amiga 1000") was way too expensive for me these days, and I had to wait for the much cheaper Amiga 500. Later, I upgraded to an Amiga 2000 (from the money I got for my first commercially released game "Mindbender"). Never got one of the later models, like Amiga 3000 or 4000 though...

(My good old Amiga 2000 is still alive, but unfortunately the harddisk broke last year, so I can only run it in emulation now, running from the disk images that I fortunately took before the hard disk died.)
filbo
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Re: Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by filbo »

Comparing those two files now, they're clearly different. I must have had some error on my command line. But comparing them with imagemagick `compare` produces a result that looks the same as last time -- and I thought I had command-line-edited my way from one operation to the other. So who knows.

I agree now that they are clearly different...

> AGA ("Advanced Graphics Architecture") is better than ECS ("Enhanced Chip Set").

Right, I can determine that with some memory or google searching, but it isn't immediately obvious, and I have relevant past experience. I would think most users would have zero clue.

I got a hint here, and I think noticed in the past, that you sometimes think of R'n'D as really targeted only at people who are nostalgic of their Amigas. I think it has broad appeal to anyone, whether they're currently 6 or 75, with any past gaming history. I mean of course it is relentlessly 'retro' and some people would reject it out of hand for not having enough 3D immersive realtime shooting or whatever, but, eh, whatever...
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Holger
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Re: Custom artworks are duplicated

Post by Holger »

Right, I can determine that with some memory or google searching, but it isn't immediately obvious, and I have relevant past experience. I would think most users would have zero clue.
You're absolutely right, of course.

To solve this issue technically, I would have to change the "boolean style" setup option (which is limited to 2 or 3 characters for "on/off", "yes/no" style options) to a select list with only two entries, which would allow for option names with full screen width, to extend the (for most people) meaningless "ECS" and "AGA" to something like "ECS (classic graphics)" and "AGA (more colors)" or something like that.
I got a hint here, and I think noticed in the past, that you sometimes think of R'n'D as really targeted only at people who are nostalgic of their Amigas. I think it has broad appeal to anyone, whether they're currently 6 or 75, with any past gaming history. I mean of course it is relentlessly 'retro' and some people would reject it out of hand for not having enough 3D immersive realtime shooting or whatever, but, eh, whatever...
:D

To be honest, it is sometimes a little bit too much targeted to only be my personal programming playground, I'm afraid... ;-)

But every now and then, I try to make it more accessible to people not being old, nostalgic Amiga geeks (as you are right of course that most people that play it are *not* some of those). Therefore, it is helpful to remind me of things like the above from time to time!
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