world map excerpts

I should clarify that this is woefully incomplete not because I can’t remember any more of the map but because for some fool reason I convinced myself I could do the whole map basically screen-perfect from memory and then found out in the trying that that was a ridiculous, demoralizing thing to attempt.

And so these drawings, across three sheets of paper (measured out carefully to 16*8 screen proportions on the graph paper but pasted together not-to-scale here in order to make the emptiness a bit less sprawling), stop the moment I was Not Quite Sure about how a screen broke across to the adjacent one.  Or in a couple cases, a screen too late — I’m certain that on the left end of the central section I divvied up the screen real estate wrong.  And I knew it as I was doing it.  And so I stopped.

I’ve been meaning to come back to this one for weeks and weeks now, and I keep not quite having the will to make myself crazy on it again.  I know ninety percent of the remaining map reasonably well, but not well enough to glue it all together without a reference like this.  It’s a maddening little feat — and defeat — of memory, the way individual screens come to mind without effort but slotting them into one precise puzzle of map with a ballpoint pen just doesn’t happen.  How uncertainty over where the tiles of the map went moving from screen A to screen B blossoms into a kind of mind-melting circle of doubt.

Because, the thing is, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Zelda map. 

Not just as a kid, though to be sure I spent a great deal of time with it, it was one of my early NES loves and I’d scoured most of the map in great detail, burning every bush, bombing every rock wall, memorizing the locations of the heart container. 

But more recently, even, less than two years ago, I spent days building Hyrule’s overworld from scratch in Minecraft from reference maps.  I felt after that like I had the map tattooed in my mind, indelible, unforgettable.

And yet, here we are.  Memory fades.

Medium craft

I’ve mentioned that I love X-Com (oh hey, the Xenonauts Kickstarter hit its funding goal! And way early!), and one of the things that made it so great was the way a little bit of chance and quirks of the AI meant that the same setup for a given mission could play out a lot of different ways.

Which is a good thing, because one of the things that was not random was the layout of the actual alien ships themselves.  And there were a number of different ships in the game, on a size continuum from the teeny tiny probe that could house a single pilot on up to really huge four-story things that were fifty yards across and stood on four massive legs that were themselves each the size of entire small alien craft.

But the thing about a game like X-Com is that, because you end up loving it a whole lot and playing it to death, you see those same ship types again and again and again.  And maybe this time the ship landed near a barn, and maybe that time it was a crash and half the aliens are dead, and maybe one time the alien crew is spread out in the countryside trying to snipe my guys as they climb a hill vs. the next time when they’re all hanging out in the engine room pissing their xenopants, but: but the ship is always the same.  It’s the constant in the equation.

So the layouts got pretty familiar.  I can’t even remember for sure whether this was actually the “medium” ship or the “small”, and I may have goofed on the placement of some detail here, but there’s no question that this was the ship I was going to find if I chased down or shot down this craft type.

There were eventually mods written for X-Com that made it possible to use random layouts for the ship interiors, which is a pretty neat idea and something I’ve enjoyed playing around with occasionally.  But for those core, brain-searing memories of my earliest love affair with X-Com, the ships were always the same.  This ship was always this ship.

first screen and sword cave

The Legend of Zelda, generic first screen and sword cave, hospital by Josh Millard.

Something I made a while back but didn’t get around to uploading until now.  This is a Mapstalgia Challenge two-fer; it’s both a First Screen and a Zelda Time entry.

I don’t have enough lego blocks to do this to one-block-per-tile scale; at this reduced scale I had to be awfully abstract with the graphics.  You’ll note that the grey stripe above the red bonfires in the cave, buy cialis for your IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE, TAKE THIS stand-in.

It’d be fun to see an entire Zelda overworld done in block-for-block scale, but that’d sure be an awful lot of legos; Zelda maps were 11*16 for each screen, which is 176 blocks per screen.  And the overworld was 16*8 screens in size, so that’s 176*128 blocks or over twenty-two thousand total. LEGO will sell you bricks ala carte; 2*2 blocks run $0.15 each, so buying enough to put this together that way would cost about $3,400 total.  Oof.

A standard two-by-two block of the sort used here is about 5/8ths of an inch, so a world map made per the previous calculations would be a rectangle about 13.3 feet long and 4.5 feet high.  Hell of a wall mural!

cs_siege

It’s been ages since I’ve posted one of my own drawings here.  This is a map I couldn’t get enough of during LAN play, even though it was sort of terrible and invited the worst sort of mutual-camping behavior a map could manage.  Seems like by the end of every round there’d be a small pile of AWPs on the floor of the garage entry ramp and the blind corner where the canyon led to the central area, from Ts and CTs sniping and getting sniped ad nauseum while some brave souls would try to actually make something happen via the tunnels.

Myst Island

This game.  This game.  Did anybody not play it?

I kind of hate it for being, as an actual game, kind of a tepid antithesis of all the dynamic excitement of so many of the other games I grew up loving — even compared to other adventure and text adventure games, Myst was so static and sluggish, a game that played almost like sitting through a family vacation slideshow where Dad keeps forgetting where the “next slide” button is on the controls.  And this was the wild success that everybody leapt to emulate.  This was the New Gaming, the monetizable, broad-appeal approach that became damnably pervasive in the following years.

And yet I kind of feel sorry for it because, had it not been so wildly successful, had it not been so thoroughly overexposed, it’d probably be remembered fondly as a quirky thing out of the past, a unique and atmospheric bit of gaming history rather than the sire of a thousand play-alike knockoffs. 

The overgrown-Hypercard-stack-on-a-CD-ROM model that it bootstrapped was a doomed branch of game technology from the word go, though it’d take many years for that evolutionary dead-end to properly play itself out as gaming hardware and software matured and found better ways to present compelling graphics and atmosphere.

But all of that context, all of that hoopla about the game as a cultural artifact and a touchstone in the video game industry notwithstanding, there was a game under there, a game that for all its stodgy opacity and clumsy FMV drama still had its moments and was at least a little bit genuinely weird in a fun way.

I haven’t played it in years and years; I never played any of the sequels (other than five minutes of Riven and then a crash to desktop) or any of the remakes.  But it’s still there, in my brain, and I can still draw at least a poor, partial overhead rendition of an island that I never even had an overhead of in the game.  For all the shit it has gotten over the years, Myst was primordial; it made some sort of fundamental impression on me.  It’s exactly the sort of thing that Mapstalgia is about.

world 1-1

Drawn this morning after too much coffee.  I go back and play SMB1 now and then, sale probably not more than a year or two goes by, so this is relatively fresh in my mind, but I’m still feeling like I’m forgetting something and I think there’s probably not enough koopa troopas here.

SMB1 was the game that ate my brain as a kid and made the NES a serious obsession and something that I had to save up and buy.  I would sneak into my cousin’s room and play it whenever we had family get togethers, until an adult would come and find me and drag me back out to mingle until I could sneak away again.