Ok, if you see this article, it means I thought it ended up being kind of ok.
I am not going to guide you through the entire process of making a conversion, as it takes days, and most of it can just be found in the various tutorials on how to make a tileset anyway (yes, I am gong to assume you know how to make an image, a palette and a mask). I will, however, give you some tips to get a higher rating for your hypothetical conversion (which will be of a JJ1 planet for the purpose of this article). JJ1’s screenshot key, in case you have forgotten/never knew, is Backspace+F2.
1: Get EVERYTHING.
I don’t CARE if you have a tile which is very similar to that other tile, if it’s in the original planet, it needs to be in your tileset. Enemies and pickups aren’t a must, but that layer 4 background tile with shading on one corner of it is. Once you’ve finished, go through all the levels of your planet at least twice very carefully, looking for any tiles you could Possibly have missed. This includes the text things here and there in JJ1. The ones that come to mind are in Holidaius, Turtemple and Lagunicus (two of them, and very hard to find), but there may be more.
2: How many levels are there?
Nine of the planets have guardian levels. Don’t forget to look through these levels for tiles you don’t have as well, such as the Eggs in Dreempipes. Depending on what the boss is like, you may or may not want to include it in your tileset. It’s really up to you. By the way, the elevensecret levels are in Diamondus, Technoir, Scraprap, Nippius, Marbelara, Battleships, Industrius, Stonar, Deserto, Holidaius and Candion. (thanks for the help, JelZe, Nick). Anyway, search the secret levels carefully. They USUALLY have tiles not in the normal levels. OMF bots, say. The silouette of the Jazz team in Deserto. The 2×1 blocks in Nippius.
3: The colors don’t match!!!!
Yes, the colors don’t match. I can not be certain you will have this problem, but >CelL< and I both seem to, so the odds are fairly good you will. Each JJ1 level (I’m pretty sure) has at least two different palettes, which are very similar but have slightly different RGB values. The palettes of a second level of a planet will be different from those of the first level, in that they will be darker. This is annoying because often (if not always) the second level will have tiles not in the first level. Use paitence and the Color Replacer tool, not to mention beta testers, and you should get through this.
This may seem obvious, but get ALL the animations. (make sure you have animations on) No, you don’t have to get Jazz spinning through the air, or the enemies, but every animation in the tileset should be gotten. Every frame of it, too. JJ1 animations usually have 4, 7 or 8 frames. Now, the best way to capture animations is to hold down Backspace and F2 until JJ1 exits (as it will exit once you have taken ten screenshots, for some reason). When opening a series of animation screenshots, never use the first one. The smoothness of the animation takes a little while to start, and the first frame will be totally out of it. If two consecutive frames don’t seem like they go together right, you may have missed one. Go back and get the animation again.
5: Add tiles.
Do not be afraid to add tiles, though you should probably avoid adding in all new ground/background types which you feel “might fit in”. They usually don’t. However, adding tiles to increase functionality of tiles (slopes in paticular), that were probably in the original tilesets but not in the levels themselves (did you know that Sluggion never actually had walls for the grassy platforms?) is perfectly all right, not to mention encouraged. Other musts for a conversion are hooks, vines, poles, spikes (if not already there), signs (feel free to use the ones from JJ1), a textured background, and (usually) sucker tubes. Include a belt if you want. Try to make all of these fit in with the tileset, as we don’t want to see a highly futuristic sucker tube in Jungrock, say.
6: Look closely.
I’ve said this before, but I feel I should repeat it. As a general rule, walls (of most any type) usually have at least one variation. A rocky wall may have different formations of rocks, a block may look slightly different, etc. The same applies to animations (JJ1 has many animations which are just a few dots changing brightness) and layer 4 backgrounds. Sometimes these variations will be obvious, sometimes not. Oh, and play with high detail so you can get the planet/sun/moon/whatever floating in the background if there is one.
Ah, bugs, most anyone’s worst nightmare. Believe it or not, JJ1 did have bugs. Some tiles just did not fit together. For example, the layer 4 backgrounds in Holidaius had multiple shades of black. As a general rule, if you can, include fixed versions of these tiles, but also include the unfixed version for those “complete accuracy” nuts. And again, add new tiles if you must.
8: Tile placement.
While getting the tiles, do not worry much about tile placement. Plop tiles in your image so that you know what they are, but little more. Once you are finished, create a NEW image with all the tiles in it, only placed in a more user-friendly way. Now that you know there IS another kind of block, it looks better next to the first one then down at the bottom where you stuck it after finding it in your final run through. Make sure you do not leave ANY tiles behind, of course, and keep in mind you are likely to find tiles you missed previously while doing this (such as the |_ corner.. you get the idea).
Unless you’ve got something that JJ2 and JJ1 handle much differently (like the eeeevil tree leaves in Raneforus), try to have the mask be as like as possible to what it was in JJ1. If the entrance to the pipes in Dreempipes are sloped a little, put in that slope. Always remember that you can make more then one copy of a tile, with multiple masking, if something’s paticularly impossible. (This isn’t at all necessary, but you might want to insert some message somewhere saying where this planet is in JJ1, so reviewers can get a look at the original material)
10: Be creative.
As a general rule, the more cool stuff you add to a tileset, the more people like it (unless you go seriously overboard). Add animations for the moving blocks in Pezrock! Add animations for the rockets in Industrius! If it’s a cold tileset, have snow work. If it seems appropiate, have at least one of the shootable pole objects work (Small Tree and Jungle Pole are paticularly useful). Include multiple textured backgrounds! Create a night version! You name it! It’s YOUR conversion, remember.
11: Include an example level.
Make the example level any type of level you want, as long as it shows how to use at least 75% (preferrably) of the tileset. Single player level, small battle, full fledged treasure hunt, complex single player episode, whatever. I personally recommend Single Player, as JJ1’s tilesets were all built for single player (though I’ll admit some seem more like multiplayer tilesets.. Medivo, for instance), and you have more freedom with what to add.
12: Beta test.
Get someone (more then one person if you like) who is good at beta testing. Opening a small player limit public server is ok, opening a private server and letting whoever hacks in beta test is probably not. Fix anything they find. Believe me, conversions are as likely to have problems as anything else, if not moreso (remember the palette problems?).
13: Shameless ways of getting higher ratings:
There are two ways that I can think of to do this. The most obvious is to convert a planet that either has not been converted, or has been converted so horribly that it hardly counts. The second is to include funny messages (avoid politics) in various places. People are known to raise ratings for both of these things.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.