Screenshot map

Screenshot map

A screenshot map is a map of a location within a video game compiled from various screenshots. The screenshots are usually taken using an emulator in order to achieve "pixel-perfect" quality. Adjacent screens are pasted together in an image editing program, and the onscreen sprites are usually removed. The maps allow people to see large in-game areas (usually referred to as "levels", "stages" or "worlds") in their entirety. More accurately, these are maps as much as they are omnipotent views of (fictional) locations.

Screenshot maps were a common feature of the tips, hints and walkthroughs sections of game magazines throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as "Nintendo Power". They are fairly rare in modern gaming due to the dwindling number of games rendered in only two dimensions, but are popular in retrogaming where the two required ingredients—2D and emulators—are both common. The current uncommonality of these maps and the reminiscence of older two-dimensional games lead to the creation of many screenshot maps for nostalgia rather than just navigation.

Some mappers prefer to leave the areas completely untouched, while others prefer to put accompanying strategies or other relevant information directly on the image. Mappers may choose to fill in areas the original game designers left blank with tiles copied from other sections to create a more continuous, picturesque image. When adding to or altering in-game elements, one addresses the question of whether priority is placed on accuracy or aesthetics, and the approach chosen depends on whether its purpose is navigational or nostalgic.

Creation

As their names suggest, "screenshot maps" are maps constructed primarily from screenshots. In the most common creation process, the screenshots are taken during play and are then spliced together in an image editing program. This can be a time-consuming process largely dependent on the size of the area mapped, as there could be hundreds of screenshots used, with each screenshot carefully hand-placed to ensure that pixels are aligned correctly.

While screenshots are usually taken while playing, for some games it may be simpler to rip images and/or layouts directly from the data in the game's code. Another advantage of this method is that information which would not be visible from screenshots during normal play (eg. invisible objects, difficult-to-reach areas, etc.) may also be extracted. Dynamic elements will typically be harmonized by default when using this method.

Some games may use parallax scrolling, so such a basic approach may not lead to an aesthetically pleasing map. The background layer(s) should be assembled separately from the foreground before being combined.

Dynamic elements (animated tiles, moving platforms, etc.) should also be harmonized. Sprites, especially the main character sprites, are usually edited out, with some common exceptions, such as bosses.

The mapper may also choose to label points of interest, such as the locations of items or treasures, boss characters, the paths of doorways and warp points, etc. They may also add gameplay tips relating to the area that is mapped.

Due to the highly volatile nature of pixel art it is preferred to use lossless image formats such as PNG.

External links

* [http://www.vgmaps.com VGMaps.com: The Video Game Atlas]
* [http://ian-albert.com/misc/gamemaps.php Video Game Maps @ Ian-Albert.com]
* [http://maps.speccy.cz Speccy Screenshot Maps]
* [http://www.nesmaps.com Nintendo Game Maps]
* [http://www.snesmaps.com Super Nintendo Game Maps]
* [http://hol.abime.net/hol_search.php?N_nb_game
]


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