[Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

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Roobar
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by Roobar »

You can always promote your editor in social networks.
I'm pretty sure there is interest in this game as every once in a while people are asking Apogee for a remake. Crystal Caves HD, for example, has over 900 (!) fan made levels in Steam workshop so far, which goes to show that when something is done right, there is interest in that. In comparison, there is a level editor for the dos version of CC for quite some time, but for some reasons (game limitations, difficulty etc ) almost nobody made levels for it.

I really tried to make a level or two with your editor, as I like to have an HP episode in my "portfolio" of level packs, but i didn't made much progress as I didn't get used to the editor and so on. Same thing with Secret Agent for dos happened to me when I tried it.

Also, one more minor thing to point is that your editor doesn't remember some settings or the position where you left.
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by Hisymak »

Roobar wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:43 You can always promote your editor in social networks.
I'm pretty sure there is interest in this game as every once in a while people are asking Apogee for a remake. Crystal Caves HD, for example, has over 900 (!) fan made levels in Steam workshop so far, which goes to show that when something is done right, there is interest in that. In comparison, there is a level editor for the dos version of CC for quite some time, but for some reasons (game limitations, difficulty etc ) almost nobody made levels for it.

I really tried to make a level or two with your editor, as I like to have an HP episode in my "portfolio" of level packs, but i didn't made much progress as I didn't get used to the editor and so on. Same thing with Secret Agent for dos happened to me when I tried it.

Also, one more minor thing to point is that your editor doesn't remember some settings or the position where you left.
Thanks for your comments.
Actually I'm not aware/don't visit those social networks or other sites you mention I could promote my editor on, so you can give me some links or tips I'd be happy for.
I was thinking about the situation with my editor, considering what you say about the Crystal Caves HD remake editor. I never played the CC HD remake and never used the editor myself, but I watched a video on Youtube showcasing the editor, so that I could make a picture about how it looks and works. So here are the main points I came up with.

1. The CC HD editor is a NATIVE level editor which was made by the game authors and is directly integrated into the game. It has fancy graphics design (matching the game's graphics style), fancy controls (how the game authors imagined and designed it), and just overally is qualitatively equal to the game itself. On the other hand, my Hocus Pocus editor is a fan-made, 3rd-party, external tool, whose creation was preceded by reverse-engineering the game's internal data formats. It does not have any fancy look and is just a standard Windows application, because I don't have much graphical skills and have limited personal time and resources to make anything better. I'm also missing the original game author's mindset about "how they originally meant this and that to be used or made", so I came up with my own ideas about how to paint tiles into different layers, the different editing modes etc. As I'm not a professional game or application designer and do this as a free-time activity, I might be missing ideas about how to make the controls better and user-friendly. Feedback, ideas and suggestions from the users is important, so I value your comments and notes.

2. The CC HD game has a NATIVE support for playing and distributing user-made levels, whereas Hocus Pocus has been always distributed as a stand-alone static game with NO native means to distribute and play custom levels. As I could see and understand, CC HD has integrated Steam Workshop, where you can just directly publish your custom-made levels and play other people's levels - it's just a few clicks within the game's menu. Easy and simple for average players with none or basic IT skills. With Hocus Pocus things are much more complicated, as there's NO official site or native internet storage where people could upload their creations. As the game does not have any native option to launch a custom level, you have to overwrite the original levels with your own, and launch them like a regular episode. There are basically two options how you can distribute your own levels:
a) Export a level in editor's format (*.hpm). In order to play such level, you must run the editor, open the level in it, and manually save it into the game file. This is the least convenient method, as you must explicitly know what to do and which game's level slot to save into. In order to make this method easier, I came up with "Apply mod patch feature". The modder will create a .ini file with description of the mod (list od level files and which slot they should get imported into) and the player will just point to a folder with level files and ini file, and editor will do all the patching. This way you can also distribute more modded contents, such as custom music, custom graphics and even an exe patch.
b) Distribute the already-modded full game. You as a modder would do all the modding (new levels, new graphics) on your side, and will send out modded game files such as HOCUS.EXE, HOCUS.DAT and others. The player would just download and run the game, without any hassle with the editor. This is the easiest and most convenient method, but brings questions whether it's legal to do so. I personally do not see any problem in doing this, definitely should be okay for distributing modded demo version (which should have enough resources for being capable to run a reasonable mod), or even distributing full version in case you erase all the original content and keep just your custom content.
I think that distribution of Hocus Pocus mods would be pretty much same/similar to distribution of Commander Keen mods - put WIP mods on forum threads and complete mods on Keen Wiki or Modding Wiki. I don't have better ideas how to do that, do you?

3. The CC level format is simpler and easier to understand. When I saw CC HD level editor in action, I pretty much agree how easy and joyful it is to use. The CC levels are easier to design and create, because there is just one main layer to work with. You can just paint walls, decorative tiles, pickup objects, monsters and other action objects. The background is solid, there's nothing like windows or other decorations or patterns in the background. The walls and tiles are pretty varied and colourful and straightforward to place, whereas in Hocus Pocus you have just very small selection of tiles, and most of level design is done through painting decorative patterns, therefore there's need for a special pattern mode. As I already said, the pickup objects in Hocus Pocus are done in quite silly way, as you must BOTH put the respective tile in tile layer AND object reference in the object layer. I tried the best to automate this in the editor, and needed to deal with other quirks like the Hidden layer.

4. The CC HD level editor and mechanics to play and distribute custom levels were made easy and simple, targeting average players and computer users with no special modding and technical skills. This is not so easy to achieve for Hocus Pocus, unless a similar HD remake is made as well.
For modding Hocus Pocus, you much have more modding/technical skills and well-understand the Hocus Pocus level format and game mechanics. As I said, this is pretty much same or similar situation as with Commander Keen. However, Commander Keen still has loads of mods, and people actively doing complex game patching and sophisticated modding tools, like Abiathar. Commander Keen is probably just better, more popular and better designed so people are more tempted to overcome technical the obstacles and learn needed skills to do modding, than Hocus Pocus.

So that's it.
According to your feedback and suggestions, I can Imagine these items on my TODO list to improve the editor and make it more appealing to use:
- Customizable controls. As everyone has got used to different controls scheme, I could make a menu where you can select and customize which mouse button would do which action.
- Zoom-in/out feature. Althrough it would require some redesign and deeper changes, I can imagine it being doable.
- Add more preferences, such as preserving the GUI or other personal settings.
- Write some better/more sophisticated help/manual, or record some video tutorials
- Improve Pattern mode
- And more...

The question is, whether it is worth the time investment. I don't have much free time these days and already spend one third of day sitting in front of the PC, so I must choose wisely where I spend my personal time. If I take lots of effort in improving the editor and then find out that nobody would use it anyway, then... I wouldn't do that.
But thank you for your opinion.
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by shikadi »

I tried the level editor and for the most part I think it worked well and didn't a detailed guide to describe the basic function of it. The only thing that bothered me was that double clicking was the shortkey for flood fill, I often had that happen accidentally. luckily undo worked every time.

I no longer had Hocus Pocus on my laptop, so I downloaded a new one. But It' not exactly like i remembered, lava kills instantly and the main character is not wearing his robes, is this a beta version maybe?

Anyway, I made some levels for that version to test out the editor. I omitted switch puzzles in the levels, because I never really liked that aspect of the game.

Download some levels

As this was the shareware version, only the first set of levels can be accessed. I have saved games for all levels from 2 to 9 for testing purposes. However, these savestate are on the hardest difficulty. I tried to complete every level on hard while getting both the time bonus and the get all items bonus. Except for level 8, where I gave up on the "get all items" bonus because that level was way more difficult than anticipated. Shooting up didn't work to destroy shootable bricks.

The download link includes the exe and the dat file, I hope that' everything that is required.
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Roobar
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by Roobar »

This is really cool, but this is indeed the beta version! It's much harder, so you can convert it to the final version and it will be much better.
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by Roobar »

Hey thanks for the tip! I just put a clean installation of Hocus Pocus 1.1 in a folder, put the mod in the same directory and put the editor there as well. Then as you said, I used the editor to apply the mod patch. And it worked!

It was worth it because the mod is well made. I especially like the last two level designs🙌.
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by shikadi »

I have no clue how do transfer the levels to a different version, so I am glad you figured that out.

In the demo "lava" tiles instantly kill you, so the bottomless pitts in level 7 and 8 had those and you didn't fall endlessly in the demo version.

The high jump potion in level 2 can be used to get treasure in the bottom-right corner.
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Violet CLM
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by Violet CLM »

I finally got around to making Hocus mods playable in-browser, like I talked about in this other thread. Use the "Restore an old game" menu as a level select (all on Moderate difficulty), if you want to skip ahead.

I included all the extant mods I could find... there's a great brown castle out there, but the download link no longer works.
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Re: [Update] Hocus Pocus Level editor v1.2

Post by Hisymak »

shikadi wrote: Sun May 28, 2023 13:45 Anyway, I made some levels for that version to test out the editor. I omitted switch puzzles in the levels, because I never really liked that aspect of the game.
Oh yes, thanks for the new levels! I played through them a few times already and finally would like to comment on these.
The levels are pretty good and nice, rather small, but still challenging enough. The design goes well with the original level design. I really enjoyed finding the secrets, like the one involving jumping potion in level 2, or the secret in level 5. I also like how you used more monster types.
The hardest levels were level 3, where I died several times, and after all I learned the actual trick how to go through the hard part. Maybe you could add some more wizard messages with some small hints, I always like wizard messages being placed in the levels. And the last level was the hardest one, with shootable walls puzzles and bottomless pit, where I died many times as well. It's bad that the game bugs and let you fall infinitely and I need to manually restart the level, that could probably be fixed by adding a bottom wall with endless lava.
There were also quite many tile errors in the early levels which could be fixed too, and maybe you could place some more extra firepowers in several levels, as shooting monsters with a single bold can get tedious.
But thanks for this nice mod, I really enjoyed it, and thanks for testing out the editor.
Violet CLM wrote: Sat Mar 23, 2024 20:18 I finally got around to making Hocus mods playable in-browser, like I talked about in this other thread. Use the "Restore an old game" menu as a level select (all on Moderate difficulty), if you want to skip ahead.

I included all the extant mods I could find... there's a great brown castle out there, but the download link no longer works.
That's nice, thanks for that. It's really easy to play mods that way!
I think I have the Brown castle downloaded somewhere. Will post it when I find it.
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