Friday, March 25, 2011

Tileset Reflections: The Classic Tileset

Classic Tileset
Creator: Nintendo
Updated By: Phantom Menace, War Lord, and _L_
Notable Games [to be filled by votes submitted by the community]
Highlights [to be filled by votes submitted by the community]

It would be pointless to start a history of ZQuest tilesets without mentioning the one that started it all, the Classic tileset. It is from this one tileset that the original batch of combos, animations and sprites came from. As it is well-known, the graphics of the classic tileset are exactly like that of the NES game, the Legend of Zelda. Therefore, the ultimate credit for this tileset, and, indeed, all of the ZQuest appropriately belongs to Nintendo. However, as will be discussed, it was this classic tileset that would be shaped alongside the development of Zelda Classic, and it would be improved by the sheer process of Zc's creation.

Shallow Water is a new combo type as of 2.5, and true to form, the Classic Tileset gets the addition added to itself.

How did Nintendo's graphics wind up in the magical world of Zelda Classic? Once upon a time, a person named Phantom Menace took a ROM of the original Legend of Zelda that we all know and love, and then he used the magic of coding (and the virtue of patience) to start the program Zelda Classic (ZQuest was not originally conceived). The program was only meant to be used as a means of playing the original Legend of Zelda on the computer. However, as an extension of this, Phantom Menace wanted to create a system capable of making his original goal possible. ZQuest was therefore originally meant to design an exact clone of the original Zelda game He worked long and hard on his programs, but there are always flaws developing a new system (consider the five-year development of ZC 2.5), and, as a result, progress was slow.

Eventually, he was starting to make some progress, but there was enough bugs and glitches to start discouraging him. Enter War Lord, who inspired Phantom Menace to continue, for War Lord had made his own Zelda clone. Together they successfully completed Zelda Classic and ZQuest 1.0. To the modern community, the limitations of ZC 1.0 would be horrifying. It designed solely to make a Zelda I clone, and thus all the “necessary” features of ZQuest (millions of tiles, an attractive interface, the many combo types, etc.) did not exist. Not long after his bold achievements, Phantom Menace would help to improve the system further by adding in items and basic capabilities from various other Zelda games, particularly BS-Zelda and the ability to make basic tilesets. This all came to being in ZC and Zquest 1.84. It was very sophisticated in relation to ZC 1.0. Phantom Menace’s last contribution was to make one of the hardest Zelda fan games of all time: Demo.qst (which we will discuss in depth later in this history project). Then having completed his heroic duty and proved his courage, Phantom Menace went off to seek other pastures.

Development did not stop with his leaving. In fact with War Lord and the growing body of programmers working and with a rapidly growing fan-base the historic ZC 1.90 was soon after released. It featured many of the “bare-essiential” features of ZC. It allowed for use of new and different items, dungeon templates, three packed in tilesets (Classic, Newfirst and BS), along with many smaller things. However, it only allowed for five pages of tiles, which, to we who used it or who still use it, it remains an endearing mark of the past (to everyone else it must be close to horrifying). To those of us who have used (and who may still be using) ZC 1.90, we can all appreciate the sheer revolutionary features that were. Afterwards came the beta ZC 1.92 came, and it completely melted fans’ minds with the modern 256 pages of combos/tiles, new enemy tiles and (of course) new weapons. 2.10 made vast improvements to the ZQuest interface, though it only introduced a few new items and enemies. The last major jump is still in development (that’s right ZC 2.5). The insane changes we all know about are still being perfected, and this chapter will be completed in some distant day.

How does this tie in? As ZC and ZQuest were developed, so also was the Classic tileset being developed. It was and the first thing that is seen when ZQuest is first opened. Although 1.90 contains all of the original tiles, 1.92 and 2.10 each added small chunks to the tileset (adding in new enemies, terrain tiles, etc.). Not different enough for a new tileset release, the changes were meant mainly to ensure that users knew that the next installment of ZQuest was going to be bigger and better than ever. The Classic Tileset was then boosted to be just as “advanced” as the majority of the tilesets. The new items have all been implemented (thanks to _L_) . New tiles, new palettes, NPCs, Warps, and alternate dungeon tiles are not new, but when applied to the Classic Tileset, it enhances the original Zelda experience tenfold.

New tiles and palettes make everyone happy

Not to say that is perfect. The tileset was at one time incomplete. It may have had all the tiles, but the original Classic Tileset possessed the wrong color palette. The Satellite, a PureZC user, on November 2nd, 2007 issued a corrected Classic Tileset to fix this, on the grounds that the imperfect color scheme was too bright. The Satellite’s changes were later molded into ZC 2.5, and thus the palette is fixed, thus marking the official completion of the Zelda I replication. The Classic: Corrected Palette Tileset will be discussed later in this history.

Its longevity is quite a feat, one that no other tileset has (and most likely never will) usurp. It has maintained a popularity despite the equally enticing other tilesets, as well as the super-giants: the Sun Tower, BS-Zelda, Dance of Remembrance and Pure tilesets. Why is it still popular? Long story short, because it is familiar to everyone, and the charm of the original Zelda raises it head and shoulders above all competition.

It is a very easy-to-use tileset. Most tilesets require a great deal of patience and a good eye. To the beginner who knows not the many functions of ZQuest, DoR and Pure are the scariest thing ever conceived. The Classic Tileset has easily recognizable functions, and just by sitting down for a couple of hours, anyone can figure out the basics (not to say video guides are not helpful, that is how I learned). It also beginner’s friendly in making his or her first quest, which is a very rewarding accomplishment. Not to say that the tileset involves no talent to make a quest. As it is so recognizable, the slightly misuse will be picked up instantly, not to mention that due to its frequent appearance, it takes creativity to make a classic with the Classic Tileset. Also, it offers the simple pleasure to sit down and put a great level idea into physical being right away, without having to wait for a tileset to import. Also to a quest player, the easily recognized graphics and functions of the Classic Tileset immediately eases the Zelda fan into a (hopefully) enjoyable gaming experience.

It is also a treasure for budding tile designers. The simple, well-known eight-bit tiles allow for easy editing. As a statement of its appeal, there are five other official tilesets that are meant to improve the Classic Tileset (Rebirth, Zero, Corrected Palette and the two Demo Qst tilesets), not to mention the many others that were modeled or inspired (in part or in whole) by the Classic Tileset. It is also less daunting, working with eight colors per c-set (or palette), it seems like an easier job. On the other hand, editing the familiar tiles that everyone knows is more demanding. If you botch the Classic Tileset, everyone will notice immediately and the result always looks bad. Then again, design the changes well and everyone will appreciate it more.

As far as quest appeal goes, there are still quests being made with the Classic tileset. As discussed, the ease of the Classic Tileset prompts many newcomers to practice with the original set (and we have all worked with the Classic Tileset sometime during our lives). But even when a new version of ZQuest comes out, what is the natural thing for a person to do? Check for the new features, which, as of 2.5, are completely integrated with the Classic Tileset. When a new feature is released, do you wait to import Origins III to see what that feature is, or do you first examine it in the Classic Tileset (even if it is just a matter of being lazy). As the Classic tileset is so infused with ZQuest, it receives all of the new goodies and capabilities. As a result, every first batch of quests to come out with every new ZC release, there was always one or more Classic Tileset Quests. Speaking of which, those same Classic Tileset Quests are still fun to play. I am still (at the time of this writing - you might be reading this article twenty years from now for all I know) playing Oracle of Secrets and Planet Quest, and I am sure I am not alone in playing 8-bit quests. In fact, do not be surprised when other Classic Tileset Quests are made and people play them eagerly. Why? Because of the simple reason that they are fun. No matter the graphics or the hackneyed use, the Classic Tileset remains the utmost simplest tileset to just plug in and design/play. Anyone who starts a classic quest expects to get knee-deep in that which all gamers like: gameplay. Also consider how a third and fourth quest were added in the classic tileset. As quest development progresses, the Classic Tileset shall not be forgotten.

This, therefore, is the ultimate point to be made of the Classic Tileset. Its original conception by Nintendo was for others to have fun. It was ported to Zelda Classic and ZQuest for people to have fun playing and designing. The Classic Tileset's ease of use and familiarity makes it a fun and desirable means of spending a lazy Saturday afternoon. It is also a common point around which all ZQuest fans can relate .

The Classic Tileset is an essential component of the software and community. In reality it would take what? Maybe a day of coding (with many luxurious breaks) to replace the Classic tileset with ANY other tileset. But, ZQuest will not be the same without having those familiar green tiles to greet us as we open the program. The program, and therefore the community is inexorably tied to this simple, but timeless set of 8-bit colored images. As long as Zelda Classic exists, so will the Classic Set.

Any errors or additions in this history should be addressed at once, please contact me (or anyone else who is authorized to fix such articles) IMMEDIATELY so that we can fix what needs to be fixed.

Please offer votes as to:
a) Best quests using this tileset
b) Best loose tiles made from or for this tileset.
c) Best overall use of tileset

Please e-mail me or PM me at PureZC to cast your votes by ballot, and I shall process them and add where they need to be.


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