Suited and Booted N7-style

After finally getting all my notes tied together and indexed, I decided it was time for a bit more graphical tweaking. Tonight. I have attempted to recreate the N7 armour in the starbase.

I booted up RegenD, and went to the starbase, to be greeted by this happy little astronaut:-

Using RegenD’s VDP debugger, I was able to find out that this guy is actually 2 different sprites (legs and body), both using palette 1. Luckily, these are the only 2 sprites on-screen that use this palette. The first thing I noticed is that this palette has all the colours I need:-

A black, a nice deep red, and plenty of extra greys for shading. In theory, I could just recolour and tweak the original guy, and not risk breaking any other colours elsewhere!

So I knocked up a TLP palette file, loaded the ROM up, and tried to find the actual tiles that made this man… And I couldn’t. I couldn’t see a single one of them. This could be either

  • The tiles are stored at a strange offset. I tried offsetting the ROM in TileLayerPro, but I still couldn’t find them – although I didn’t try every possible offset. Or it could be
  • The tiles that make this guy up are compressed.

I fear it may be the latter. I dumped the VRAM during this scene, located one of the tiles (I think, not 100% on how VRAM is laid out), and searched for the hex in the main ROM – no results found. With the games title, font, and doorway graphics, they were quite visible in TileLayerPro when I had the right palette assigned, even if they were offset. As I could see nothing similar to this guy, but lots of “junk” tiles, I get the feeling he is compressed.

So I went for the second option to make him look like an N7 agent – hacking the palette directly. I pulled the palette from CRAM, reversed the endian-ness (sp? word?), and searched for it in the main game ROM. I got a single exact match on the first attempt – that must be the palette data. I made a little change to one of the colours, loaded it up, and one of the colours was now different! Success!

I started tweaking some of the palette, and it started looking pretty good – here is what the palette changed to:-

Changed the greys, made one of them red, tweaked a black to make the visor stand out. Lots of little changes took quite a while, as I was changing the hex by hand, and reloading the ROM each time to see what it looked like. After almost an hour, I got this little guy:-

I personally think he looks pretty badass! He definitely wouldn’t look out of place on the SSV Normandy. I’d still like to track down the tile data, to alter a few little things (the colour of the backpack, the fact he now has a grey outline, and a few embellishments), but for now he looks good enough.

At this point, I kind of freaked out though. “Oh no!” I said to myself, “what if that palette is used elsewhere in the game?!?!?!” – that could be a mighty problem. But I had a little play around, and for the starbase, external ship flight, and landing on planets, that palette never seems to get reused, so I may be in the clear.

So in the end, I’m 80% happy – the remaining 20% just gives me more motivation to get GensTracer working, so I can find the damn tiles…

Looking good, hanging in the space-hood:-